Brown Ferguson starts his first full season in charge at Ochilview after taking over from Scott Booth last March and although it took a four game play-off battle, he succeeded in saving the club’s League One status.
This looked anything but a certainty as the four post-season matches loomed and as news of the Warriors’ financial difficulties emerged around the same time, Ferguson’s achievement rightly sees the former assistant start season 2015-16 in the top job.
There is already a better spirit about the plane than there has been for a long timeStenhousemuir chairman Gordon Thompson
It’s a challenge he is relishing and after a pre-season of hard work when he has had to build an almost entirely new team, he is pleased with the progress made in that department.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to manage the team this season and looking forward to the start,” he told Game On, “I’d also like to put on record the support I have had from the board since I took over.
“They have been great with me. They have been up front and kept me aware of the financial situation from the beginning which has enabled us to recruit accordingly.”
The manager and his staff certainly can’t be faulted for endeavour in that regard and with a no doubt limited budget the personnel that has been assembled for the new campaign is impressive – at least on paper.
Pre-season results have been none too bad either. Five goals scored against a Hearts team and Dumbarton is an immense improvement on last term when, but for the 15 counters of player/coach Colin McMenamin, the club would have been relegated.
The previous year’s accent on youth clearly didn’t work. At times it was painful watching callow, albeit talented, youngsters being brushed aside by grizzled experienced pros in teams like Forfar and Morton in a league traditionally littered with older players who have played at a higher level.
Ferguson has addressed that problem, “As assistant I was part of what happened last season,” he continued, “I don’t disassociate myself from that, but we have tried to change the age profile and apart from good professionals like Stuart Malcolm, Colin McMenamin and Mark Gilhaney, the rest we have brought in have an abundance of experience at higher levels while still being relatively young.
“You have to get the right type, you need the middle ground and I’m confident we have got that right. The Academy youngsters will be around the squad as well and there are several who have been impressive in pre-season, so we are optimistic about the future.
“The lads here have all bought into our vision and there is a really good atmosphere about the ground.
“The big picture for the season, is stability on and off the park and the fans can be assured there will be no lack of effort from everyone involved at the club.”
Only keeper Dean Shaw – on loan at Camelon last term – Fraser Eddington, Anthony Marenghi, Jamie McCormack, Colin McMenamin, Ross Meechan, Kieran Millar and Ciaran Summers remain from last term, but all deserved to be retained. The younger players, Eddington, Millar and Summers are big talents and should flourish amongst the added experience.
Gordon Thompson also starts his first full season as club chairman and he echoed his manager’s words, “After a difficult time, stability off and on the park is the first priority this season.”
Alluding to the revelation midway through last term that the club had financial problems Mr Thompson added, “We’d rather not have gone through it, obviously, but maybe it requires adversity to bring out the best in people.
“There is already a better spirit around the place than there has been for a long time.
“This is more than just a community club in name, but a vital part of the area and it would be great to see more get involved. The fans have responded brilliantly to the recent setbacks and with them, “Bomber” (Ferguson), the players we now have and a renewed spirit, the new season can’t come quick enough.”