Jump to content

Listen Laddie, ye can spend big bucks at Chelsea or ye can win great things with Arbroath - Choose!

Brian of Nazareth

Recommended Posts

Aye that's Right! Whilst all you lot spend millions, I am in the enviable position of taking Arbroath to the Champions League before seeking world domination with Greece!( or the Riviera Challenge as can be found here.) This has to be one of the most engaging challenges I've tried and it motivated me to write about it. At present I've typed up well into the second season and I still haven't lost the desire. This will probably be updated once or twice a week, so don't think I've abandoned it icon_smile.gif

Leagues Running with EP3, Greece (National A only), Scotland ( Div 3 and above) and Spain (Div 2 and above).

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Red Lichties appoint Rod Davies

The shock revelation came after the dismissal of present incumbent, John Brownlie. It

came soon after Brownlie had in fact signed a new deal. Apparently though it seems it was merely a smokescreen to provide those behind scenes to announce their new manager, Mr Rod Davies.

In his press conference, Davies admitted even he didn’t expect to get the job. “ Who would expect it? I am an Englishman at 36 with only my years at Kidderminster and Hereford United as experience. I guided Kidderminster to a play off victory and kept them in the second Division for 2 years before I helped Hereford weather a stormy return to league football for two years before taking this job. Still I am a football enthusiast and I will bring something to Arbroath. I guess there are many critics out there, fans maybe disgusted by the clubs decision, but all I ask is patience, for I do know Scottish football to some degree…â€

Davies continued to claim how his knowledge from various sources would benefit the local seaside town. Finishing he gained a mini cheer from the room, proclaiming that his Arbroath side would one day “shít on the English bástards†. False optimism perhaps but at least his heart is in the right place. Time will tell as to the wisdom of decision to appoint Davies as manager based on a solely English curriculum vita. At the Herald here, we’re not so sure and I personally have ten quid on him being out by Christmas.


I wasn’t overly ecstatic by some of the welcomings I received from the press and the Arbroath faithful, remind me never to visit the local Arbroath Arms any time soon. I think the anti-English remark may have pacified a few of the disgruntled but then not everyone is going to be happy with change. Sitting in my new oak enamelled office I took in the surroundings. The dusty bookshelf that looked as though it hadn’t been touched in a century, peppered with the odd modern book whose brightness in colour looked so peculiar against it’s older relatives, the filing cabinet on the right hand side of the desk, seemingly brimming already with contracts, forms and letters.

Posters of the side, teamsheets from years gone by when Arbroath defeated Rangers or Celtic, there was an air of foreboding about the place. John Christison had been very forthright in his interview with me over how he wanted the club to progress. Foundations were the key, and establishing ourselves in this league were the priorities, that and ensuring Arbroath had the finances to survive without threats of the Receivers, as had affected many smaller sides. The place smacked of a long unfulfilled desire to play at the highest echelons of Scottish football. To play regular football with the giants of Rangers, Celtic and Partick Thistle. This was the dream – and I so wanted to take them there.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Aye that's Right! Whilst all you lot spend millions, I am in the enviable position of taking Arbroath to the Champions League before seeking world domination with Greece!( or the Riviera Challenge as can be found here.) This has to be one of the most engaging challenges I've tried and it motivated me to write about it. At present I've typed up well into the second season and I still haven't lost the desire. This will probably be updated once or twice a week, so don't think I've abandoned it icon_smile.gif

Leagues Running with EP3, Greece (National A only), Scotland ( Div 3 and above) and Spain (Div 2 and above).

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Red Lichties appoint Rod Davies

The shock revelation came after the dismissal of present incumbent, John Brownlie. It

came soon after Brownlie had in fact signed a new deal. Apparently though it seems it was merely a smokescreen to provide those behind scenes to announce their new manager, Mr Rod Davies.

In his press conference, Davies admitted even he didn’t expect to get the job. “ Who would expect it? I am an Englishman at 36 with only my years at Kidderminster and Hereford United as experience. I guided Kidderminster to a play off victory and kept them in the second Division for 2 years before I helped Hereford weather a stormy return to league football for two years before taking this job. Still I am a football enthusiast and I will bring something to Arbroath. I guess there are many critics out there, fans maybe disgusted by the clubs decision, but all I ask is patience, for I do know Scottish football to some degree…â€

Davies continued to claim how his knowledge from various sources would benefit the local seaside town. Finishing he gained a mini cheer from the room, proclaiming that his Arbroath side would one day “shít on the English bástards†. False optimism perhaps but at least his heart is in the right place. Time will tell as to the wisdom of decision to appoint Davies as manager based on a solely English curriculum vita. At the Herald here, we’re not so sure and I personally have ten quid on him being out by Christmas.


I wasn’t overly ecstatic by some of the welcomings I received from the press and the Arbroath faithful, remind me never to visit the local Arbroath Arms any time soon. I think the anti-English remark may have pacified a few of the disgruntled but then not everyone is going to be happy with change. Sitting in my new oak enamelled office I took in the surroundings. The dusty bookshelf that looked as though it hadn’t been touched in a century, peppered with the odd modern book whose brightness in colour looked so peculiar against it’s older relatives, the filing cabinet on the right hand side of the desk, seemingly brimming already with contracts, forms and letters.

Posters of the side, teamsheets from years gone by when Arbroath defeated Rangers or Celtic, there was an air of foreboding about the place. John Christison had been very forthright in his interview with me over how he wanted the club to progress. Foundations were the key, and establishing ourselves in this league were the priorities, that and ensuring Arbroath had the finances to survive without threats of the Receivers, as had affected many smaller sides. The place smacked of a long unfulfilled desire to play at the highest echelons of Scottish football. To play regular football with the giants of Rangers, Celtic and Partick Thistle. This was the dream – and I so wanted to take them there.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Aye that's Right! Whilst all you lot spend millions, I am in the enviable position of taking Arbroath to the Champions League before seeking world domination with Greece!( or the Riviera Challenge as can be found here.) This has to be one of the most engaging challenges I've tried and it motivated me to write about it. At present I've typed up well into the second season and I still haven't lost the desire. This will probably be updated once or twice a week, so don't think I've abandoned it icon_smile.gif

Leagues Running with EP3, Greece (National A only), Scotland ( Div 3 and above) and Spain (Div 2 and above).

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Red Lichties appoint Rod Davies

The shock revelation came after the dismissal of present incumbent, John Brownlie. It

came soon after Brownlie had in fact signed a new deal. Apparently though it seems it was merely a smokescreen to provide those behind scenes to announce their new manager, Mr Rod Davies.

In his press conference, Davies admitted even he didn’t expect to get the job. “ Who would expect it? I am an Englishman at 36 with only my years at Kidderminster and Hereford United as experience. I guided Kidderminster to a play off victory and kept them in the second Division for 2 years before I helped Hereford weather a stormy return to league football for two years before taking this job. Still I am a football enthusiast and I will bring something to Arbroath. I guess there are many critics out there, fans maybe disgusted by the clubs decision, but all I ask is patience, for I do know Scottish football to some degree…â€

Davies continued to claim how his knowledge from various sources would benefit the local seaside town. Finishing he gained a mini cheer from the room, proclaiming that his Arbroath side would one day “shít on the English bástards†. False optimism perhaps but at least his heart is in the right place. Time will tell as to the wisdom of decision to appoint Davies as manager based on a solely English curriculum vita. At the Herald here, we’re not so sure and I personally have ten quid on him being out by Christmas.


I wasn’t overly ecstatic by some of the welcomings I received from the press and the Arbroath faithful, remind me never to visit the local Arbroath Arms any time soon. I think the anti-English remark may have pacified a few of the disgruntled but then not everyone is going to be happy with change. Sitting in my new oak enamelled office I took in the surroundings. The dusty bookshelf that looked as though it hadn’t been touched in a century, peppered with the odd modern book whose brightness in colour looked so peculiar against it’s older relatives, the filing cabinet on the right hand side of the desk, seemingly brimming already with contracts, forms and letters.

Posters of the side, teamsheets from years gone by when Arbroath defeated Rangers or Celtic, there was an air of foreboding about the place. John Christison had been very forthright in his interview with me over how he wanted the club to progress. Foundations were the key, and establishing ourselves in this league were the priorities, that and ensuring Arbroath had the finances to survive without threats of the Receivers, as had affected many smaller sides. The place smacked of a long unfulfilled desire to play at the highest echelons of Scottish football. To play regular football with the giants of Rangers, Celtic and Partick Thistle. This was the dream – and I so wanted to take them there.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Aye that's Right! Whilst all you lot spend millions, I am in the enviable position of taking Arbroath to the Champions League before seeking world domination with Greece!( or the Riviera Challenge as can be found here.) This has to be one of the most engaging challenges I've tried and it motivated me to write about it. At present I've typed up well into the second season and I still haven't lost the desire. This will probably be updated once or twice a week, so don't think I've abandoned it icon_smile.gif

Leagues Running with EP3, Greece (National A only), Scotland ( Div 3 and above) and Spain (Div 2 and above).

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Red Lichties appoint Rod Davies

The shock revelation came after the dismissal of present incumbent, John Brownlie. It

came soon after Brownlie had in fact signed a new deal. Apparently though it seems it was merely a smokescreen to provide those behind scenes to announce their new manager, Mr Rod Davies.

In his press conference, Davies admitted even he didn’t expect to get the job. “ Who would expect it? I am an Englishman at 36 with only my years at Kidderminster and Hereford United as experience. I guided Kidderminster to a play off victory and kept them in the second Division for 2 years before I helped Hereford weather a stormy return to league football for two years before taking this job. Still I am a football enthusiast and I will bring something to Arbroath. I guess there are many critics out there, fans maybe disgusted by the clubs decision, but all I ask is patience, for I do know Scottish football to some degree…â€

Davies continued to claim how his knowledge from various sources would benefit the local seaside town. Finishing he gained a mini cheer from the room, proclaiming that his Arbroath side would one day “shít on the English bástards†. False optimism perhaps but at least his heart is in the right place. Time will tell as to the wisdom of decision to appoint Davies as manager based on a solely English curriculum vita. At the Herald here, we’re not so sure and I personally have ten quid on him being out by Christmas.


I wasn’t overly ecstatic by some of the welcomings I received from the press and the Arbroath faithful, remind me never to visit the local Arbroath Arms any time soon. I think the anti-English remark may have pacified a few of the disgruntled but then not everyone is going to be happy with change. Sitting in my new oak enamelled office I took in the surroundings. The dusty bookshelf that looked as though it hadn’t been touched in a century, peppered with the odd modern book whose brightness in colour looked so peculiar against it’s older relatives, the filing cabinet on the right hand side of the desk, seemingly brimming already with contracts, forms and letters.

Posters of the side, teamsheets from years gone by when Arbroath defeated Rangers or Celtic, there was an air of foreboding about the place. John Christison had been very forthright in his interview with me over how he wanted the club to progress. Foundations were the key, and establishing ourselves in this league were the priorities, that and ensuring Arbroath had the finances to survive without threats of the Receivers, as had affected many smaller sides. The place smacked of a long unfulfilled desire to play at the highest echelons of Scottish football. To play regular football with the giants of Rangers, Celtic and Partick Thistle. This was the dream – and I so wanted to take them there.

Link to post
Share on other sites

However this is a club who have never won a league title, and only claim to fame is the malling they handed out to Bon Accord in 1885 when they won 36-0 a record that still stands today. The oldest club north of the River Forth, formed in 1878, it had switched grounds from Hospitalfield to Gayfield in 1880, beating Rob Roy in the Scottish Cup in their first match. Ned Doig is Arbroaths only international, winning 2 caps for Scotland in 1885-1886. He had replaced Jim Milne, keeper in the 36-0 win over Bon Accord. For a club who’s best Cup record was a semi final appearance in 1947, I would have work to do to create a side capable of holding their own in the top flight, that’s if we ever get there of course. Last season the club finished 7th in the first division and for a side of part-timers that’s something encouraging to work on. A repeat of that and maybe the chance to wallop rivals Montrose in the cup competitions would be a good start to build on.

Having analysed the clubs history, it was time to turn to events at the new Gayfield Stadium, which holds a little under 6,500 and so I sat in the hard wooden seat, made only slightly more bearable by the woollen lining that barely covered the head and neck rest, never mind the whole chair, and I stared out the window, preparing to call in some of my friends form England to assist me at Arbroath.

Sitting at my desk, facing me at the chair was the Declaration of Arbroath. It was expected of every new incumbent to read through this document. The people here are proud of their community, northeast of Edinburgh, and of their football club in particular. Since finishing runners up to Alloa Athletic in Division 3 in 1998 the club has made steady progress under the careful stewardship of John Christison, the club chairman and the manager John Brownlie, and in 2001 after 3 years in Division two the club secured promotion to the First Division as they finished runners up to Partick Thistle, now in the Premier League. For now though it is clear my heritage south of the border could cause problems.

Link to post
Share on other sites

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

Declaration of Arbroath

To the most Holy Father and Lord in Christ, the Lord John, by divine providence Supreme Pontiff of the Holy Roman and Universal Church, his humble and devout sons Duncan, Earl of Fife, Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, Lord of Man and of Annandale, Patrick Dunbar, Earl of March, Malise, Earl of Strathearn, Malcolm, Earl of Lennox, William, Earl of Ross, Magnus, Earl of Caithness and Orkney, and William, Earl of Sutherland; Walter, Steward of Scotland, William Soules, Butler of Scotland, James, Lord of Douglas, Roger Mowbray, David, Lord of Brechin, Euan Alexander, Lord of Iain Bartholomew, David Graham, Ingram Umfraville, John Menteith, guardian of the earldom of Menteith, Alexander Fraser, Gilbert Hay, Constable of Scotland, Robert Keith, Marischal of Scotland, Henry St Clair, John Graham, David Lindsay, William Oliphant, Patrick Graham, John Fenton, William Abernethy, David Wemyss, William Mushet, Fergus of Ardrossan, Eustace Maxwell, William Ramsay, William Mowat, Alan Murray, Donald Campbell, John Cameron, Reginald Cheyne, Alexander Seton, Andrew Leslie, and Alexander Straiton, and the other barons and freeholders and the whole community of the realm of Scotland send all manner of filial reverence, with devout kisses of his blessed feet.

Most Holy Father and Lord, we know and from the chronicles and books of the ancients we find that among other famous nations our own, the Scots, has been graced with widespread renown. They journeyed from Greater Scythia by way of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Pillars of Hercules, and dwelt for a long course of time in Spain among the most savage tribes, but nowhere could they be subdued by any race, however barbarous. Thence they came, twelve hundred years after the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea, to their home in the west where they still live today. The Britons they first drove out, the Picts they utterly destroyed, and, even though very often assailed by the Norwegians, the Danes and the English, they took possession of that home with many victories and untold efforts; and, as the historians of old time bear witness, they have held it free of all bondage ever since. In their kingdom there have reigned one hundred and thirteen kings of their own royal stock, the line unbroken a single foreigner.

This is the attitude I face as I approach the Scottish side. They all know it, and those who were brought into Arbroath were certainly made aware of it. It can only be good though and it is something I will endeavor to bring to my Arbroath side. If my years at Kidderminster and Hereford had taught me anything, then it was that with a never say die fighting spirit you can achieve what you want to achieve. I’ve staved off relegation before, and I will do it again here if I have to, although I’m looking upwards this season, in spite of what some pessimistic journalists may wish to write. Their words mean nothing to me.

The high qualities and deserts of these people, were they not otherwise manifest, gain glory enough from this: that the King of kings and Lord of lords, our Lord Jesus Christ, after His Passion and Resurrection, called them, even though settled in the uttermost parts of the earth, almost the first to His most holy faith. Nor would He have them confirmed in that faith by merely anyone but by the first of His Apostles -- by calling, though second or third in rank -- the most gentle Saint Andrew, the Blessed Peter's brother, and desired him to keep them under his protection as their patron forever.

The Most Holy Fathers your predecessors gave careful heed to these things and bestowed many favours and numerous privileges on this same kingdom and people, as being the special charge of the Blessed Peter's brother. Thus our nation under their protection did indeed live in freedom and peace up to the time when that mighty prince the King of the English, Edward, the father of the one who reigns today, when our kingdom had no head and our people harboured no malice or treachery and were then unused to wars or invasions, came in the guise of a friend and ally to harass them as an enemy. The deeds of cruelty, massacre, violence, pillage, arson, imprisoning prelates, burning down monasteries, robbing and killing monks and nuns, and yet other outrages without number which he committed against our people, sparing neither age nor sex, religion nor rank, no one could describe nor fully imagine unless he had seen them with his own eyes.

Seems as though me being English could cause one or two arguments against the more traditional folk in these parts. It is also at this point I racked my brain, eager to think of any Scottish relatives I may have, anything to convince them I’m not a pure bred Englishman.

But from these countless evils we have been set free, by the help of Him Who though He afflicts yet heals and restores, by our most tireless Prince, King and Lord, the Lord Robert. He, that his people and his heritage might be delivered out of the hands of our enemies, met toil and fatigue, hunger and peril, like another Macabaeus or Joshua and bore them cheerfully. Him, too, divine providence, his right of succession according to or laws and customs which we shall maintain to the death, and the due consent and assent of us all have made our Prince and King. To him, as to the man by whom salvation has been wrought unto our people, we are bound both by law and by his merits that our freedom may be still maintained, and by him, come what may, we mean to stand.

Yet if he should give up what he has begun, and agree to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King; for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom -- for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.

I now cling to the memory that one of my Grandparents was Scottish. It might just be enough. Despite, all that though I couldn’t help but admire the words and camaraderie instilled in the men, by such figures as Lord Robert. He was clearly someone I will be looking to respect. A portrait, or quote from the man would certainly not go amiss in this office.

Therefore it is, Reverend Father and Lord, that we beseech your Holiness with our most earnest prayers and suppliant hearts, inasmuch as you will in your sincerity and goodness consider all this, that, since with Him Whose Vice-Regent on earth you are there is neither weighing nor distinction of Jew and Greek, Scotsman or Englishman, you will look with the eyes of a father on the troubles and privation brought by the English upon us and upon the Church of God. May it please you to admonish and exhort the King of the English, who ought to be satisfied with what belongs to him since England used once to be enough for seven kings or more, to leave us Scots in peace, who live in this poor little Scotland, beyond which there is no dwelling-place at all, and covet nothing but our own. We are sincerely willing to do anything for him, having regard to our condition, that we can, to win peace for ourselves.

This truly concerns you, Holy Father savagery of the heathen raging against the Christians, since you see the, as the sins of Christians have indeed deserved, and the frontiers of Christendom being pressed inward every day; and how much it will tarnish your Holiness's memory if (which God forbid) the Church suffers eclipse or scandal in any branch of it during your time, you must perceive. Then rouse the Christian princes who for false reasons pretend that they cannot go to help of the Holy Land because of wars they have on hand with their neighbours. The real reason that prevents them is that in making war on their smaller neighbours they find quicker profit and weaker resistance. But how cheerfully our Lord the King and we too would go there if the King of the English would leave us in peace, He from Whom nothing is hidden well knows; and we profess and declare it to you as the Vicar of Christ and to all Christendom.

Maybe I should champion for complete Devolution?

But if your Holiness puts too much faith in the tales the English tell and will not give sincere belief to all this, nor refrain from favouring them to our prejudice, then the slaughter of bodies, the perdition of souls, and all the other misfortunes that will follow, inflicted by them on us and by us on them, will, we believe, be surely laid by the Most High to your charge.

To conclude, we are and shall ever be, as far as duty calls us, ready to do your will in all things, as obedient sons to you as His Vicar; and to Him as the Supreme King and Judge we commit the maintenance of our cause, csating our cares upon Him and firmly trusting that He will inspire us with courage and bring our enemies to nought.

May the Most High preserve you to his Holy Church in holiness and health and grant you length of days.

Given at the monastery of Arbroath in Scotland on the sixth day of the month of April in the year of grace thirteen hundred and twenty and the fifteenth year of the reign of our King aforesaid.

If I can get these men to follow my lead then my life will pass so much the better, surely something that can benefit Arbroath. They have the passion and historical figures to look up to here, let’s hope this can be transferred to the battlefield, er football field. I suspect it is also time for me to start regularly visiting the local chapel more often…


Authors Note For more info on this Declaration go here icon_smile.gif

Link to post
Share on other sites

so did you spot the wee addition in there Euan? icon_wink.gif

That was an exhausting document, no question about it but one that gave me a better idea of how to approach the coaching. As I was considering searching the area for a suitable apartment, my current bed and breakfast arrangement was limited; the knock at the door saw Mr. Christison enter with the coaching staff on hand to introduce me to those willing to help. For a split second I was tempted to affect a strong Scottish accent to get them to like me first off, before realising I’d probably butcher it and have the reverse effect.

In all the people helping me are a good bunch. My assistant manager Stevie Kirk joined in November of 2000, helping John Brownlie but he seems perfectly content to work for me, and although he has clearly studied the Arbroath Declaration in detail my English heritage fortunately matters not to the former Partick Thistle, Methil and Falkirk player and coach. I assume he is also sponsored by local company Tayblast Services Ltd, given the large logo spread across his otherwise white t-shirt, and down the side of his Maroon tracksuit bottoms. Steve had been working with the players this week in preparation for the upcoming friendlies. As I settle in Steve will take charge initially while I make my observations of the squads ability. With 4k in the kitty I won’t even bother considering additions to the squad though. As John Christison remarked, they run a tight ship here to just keep it afloat and I’ll try to keep it that way.

Jake Ferrier, a 40 year old coach has been at Gayfield since March of 2000 where up until that point he had been the assistant manager of Brechin City. Looking for a role that was more specifically focussed on the coaching side, he chose to join us in an instant and once again he welcomed me with open arms. Perhaps it had something to do with him wanting my support so he could stay at his home town team. Also another fellow dedicated to the Declaration, and he attends church religiously, in both senses of the word!

Dave Gorman, the former East fife keeper joined the club in Autumn 2001 and will be working mainly as the goalkeeping coach. His previous experience of Englishmen was a bizarre one as he was one of the first Dave Gormans to be spotted by the “comic†Dave Gorman in his quest to find 54 other Dave Gormans as a result of losing a bet. Dave Gorman (mine), did not bring his son Dave Gorman along with him to the club.

Gordon Wallace is one the key coaches at the club, with plenty of experience. He was a former Forfar Athletic coach who joined Gayfield in the summer of 2001 as a Youth Development Coach. He is a central figure in the Skill-seekers programme at the club which focuses on finding young talent and moulding them into first team material.

Jim Crosby is the club Physiotherapist. A Physiotherapy graduate from Queen Margaret's College in Edinburgh, Jim spent almost 8 years as physio at Dens Park with Dundee FC and has worked with the Scottish Hockey Squad as both player and physio. Jim also works as a Physiotherapy Consultant with BUPA and runs his own Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic in Arbroath.

John Graham is my scout, he is currently off duty on holiday with his family, not looking out for players I might add in Spain so I didn’t get a chance to speak to him in person. I suspect if I ever reach the point where additions are essential he will be my first port of call.

Overall then I was happy meeting the fellow workers who seemed to welcome me. I would never have moved them on for several reasons anyway, the biggest being that my knowledge of Scottish football is scarce. Like many Englishman there is a major focus on English football, with a brief scouring of the Scottish Premier League, and even then I am limited in my understanding of the likes of Dundee, Hearts and so on. This will be a challenge no doubt but one I am ready to take. The sun has started to come out now on this breezy July summer day and I’m staying positive.

Suddenly the intimidating surroundings in these offices do not appear quite so. The hallmarks of Brownlie’s reign still remain but no longer are they the blueprint to follow, but merely another example of what can be done, and there’s plenty of time for me to make my own impressions. Before that though I must see what my players are capable of and the series of friendlies with: Spartans, Elgin City, Gretna and Peterhead ( all away ), and Motherwell and Hartlepool at home to round the summer off should give me an indication of what’s possible.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Pre-Season Analysis, 8-28 July


8/07 Spartans 1 :1 Arbroath Feroz 14, Wilson pen 52

14/07 Elgin City 2 :0 Arbroath

17/07 Gretna 1 : 1 Arbroath Orminston 8, Feroz 83,

20/07 Peterhead 1 : 1 Arbroath McDonald 13 Cargill 25

25/07 Arbroath 0 : 1 Motherwell Clarke 47

28/07 Arbroath 2 : 2 Hartlepool Brownlie 24, Swankie 34, Lewis 41, 45.

The month started with a couple of letters from the SFA. The first informed me of the draw for the League Cup 1st round – where we would be facing a tricky tie away to St. Mirren at Love Street. I knew that St.Mirren had recently been an SPL outfit so that would be a tough game for us and the second reported the draw for the CIS Challenge Cup first round. Falkirk away at Brockville Park. The latter tie was now our second competitive fixture of the season whilst the former would not come around until the middle of September.

Steve Kirk selected the side for Arbroath as I watched patiently from the bench as we played Spartans. I remember a story about how the Spartans fought at the battle of Thermopylae many years ago and were vastly outnumbered. This lack of support clearly continues to today as only 3 people attended the match at City Park in Edinburgh. It finished 1-1 with Craig Feroz scoring our goal. From what I saw Feroz and Gavin Swankie clearly work well together up front. Gary Bowman on the left of midfield also starred.

In between that and the game with Elgin City at Borrough Briggs in Elgin, young centre half Euan Graham injured himself after failing to warm up properly and would miss 3 weeks of training – a critical part of the pre-season routine. As the pre-match warm up Jim Gardner twisted his knee so I had to alter the line-up slightly. Again for this game Steve had most influence in the selection of the side, but I tinkered with it slightly employing a more attacking 442 strategy. We were defeated 2-0 and the game certainly showed up a few weak spots, Craig Hinchcliffe had a terrible time with the goals, so he’ll have to work harder if he’s to maintain his regular first team spot. John Cusick and Dennis Connaghan put in good performances coming on in the second half in defence though.

Because all the squads had been put together in the first training session I took with them it was important that everyone had a fair crack at the whip before I made my final choices over who would be first teamer, reserve player and who could do with a year in the U18’s to progress there. Rookie keeper Tony Woodcock was one of many making a first start against Gretna in their small Raydale Park stand. After going behind early to a David Orminston strike we failed to respond and it took the introduction of Kevin Heenan and Craig Feroz to force an equaliser. Feroz struck with 5 minutes to go to give us a share of the spoils. Sadly, whilst putting a solid performance in midfield, young Darren Spink tore a calf muscle and will miss 2 months of football.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The Peterhead tie was a chance for those who had half impressed but were still on the cuff of my plans. A mix of probable regulars and a few in need of another run out to prove themselves took to the field on a hot Saturday afternoon. A 1-1 draw was the end result as Andy Cargill rounded off a decent move low into the bottom right corner. That 25th minute effort levelled Peterheads. However after that, and despite substitutions we were unable to create anything of note. Paul Brownlie impressed up front alongside Craig Feroz and then Gavin Swankie.

At the moment I am not concerned about not winning against what might be described as lesser teams as we are a first division side. However I still take the view that we are second division standard side that on paper is playing in the first. Motherwell would be a good indicator of what our capabilities were so I put out what I thought would be my strongest side. Motherwell meanwhile had a transfer embargo placed on them by the SFA for failing to play their players wages. Just before the Motherwell game I was made aware of the fact that several of the squad were entering the last year of the contract and Steve advised me to seriously use the last two games to make some quick decisions.

The coaches feedback will always be invaluable to me as I learn my way around. Brownlie, Cargill Connaghan and Cusick were the only players so far I was sure about extending their deals. While talking to some of these players I was quietly pleased by Dennis Connaghans willingness to drop his pay by £30 to £120 per week if it would help finances. That’s the spirit I’m looking for in this squad. The match ended in a 1-0 defeat, David Clarke grabbing their goal just after the break but I was pleased with the attitude of the players. They put the effort in, closed down well and competed with Motherwell as best they could, and John McAulay put in a stunning display that earned him a man of the match award at the end. Another pleasing aspect of the game, my first home match in charge, was the attendance of 6398. The ground was near packed as the fans were right behind their side, paying the much needed ticket fares. They applauded the side off.

A little tinker here and a little tinker there and I was set for the Hartlepool game.

I was slightly upset by John Cusick’s attempt to rock the boat by rejecting a contract offer, stating the club did not have the financial clout to keep him at the club. Over time I hope this attitude changes, but for now he has been offered one more slightly higher – and we’re talking £20 higher wage as a take it or leave it offer. Connaghan on the other hand had no problems securing his future at the club which was a good start. The more chats I had with the players over the plans for the season the more my accent seem to acclimatise itself to its surroundings and on a call home, my friend almost thought I was someone else. Maybe the English thing won’t be so hard.

1 hour before kick off against Hartlepool and it was good news. John Cusick had verbally agreed a new contract. It seems a chat with Steve Kirk and Dave Gorman had done the trick. The paperwork would be completed this evening. That boosted the side once more, with only a change in goal and up front from the ‘Well game.

Having taken a 2 goal lead through Paul Brownlie and Gavin Swankie on the half hour mark it was irritating to see it crumble by the half time whistle. In the second half I and Stevie attempted to rally the boys into finding a winner but alas it was not to be and the 6000 strong crowd left mildly happy, but still wishing they had held on for the win. Kenny McMillan also starred in midfield.

With the pre-season results over and done with I know had only a little time to compile a few thoughts on the players, which squad they would play for and who would start. Being a tight knit community of just 26 players it was hard to leave some players out but eventually I came to a decision.

Link to post
Share on other sites


Gary Gow. 25 y/o, 3 Games, 3 Conceded, First Team

Gary had a good pre-season as he approaches his first season in Arbroath colours. He joined from Premier Division side Partick Thistle after failing to hold down a spot there. This man has good handling skills and can stop well but he also has a tendency to punch when catching it would seem the better option. Played well in the 3 games he had and I suspect he will start as my number 1, although this is a far from guaranteed position.

Tony Woodcock 18 y/o. 2 Games, 3 Conceded, First Team

At 18 this young fellow has the ability to become a fine keeper one day if he continues to work hard. With progress Tony could probably reach SPL levels in about 4-5 years time. He throws well, catches well and is confident in his 6 yard area, although sometimes his youthful enthusiasm does see him caught out on occasions, as shown in the game against Hartlepool. Still, an adequate back up and I wouldn’t be afraid to use him if I needed to.

Craig Hinchcliffe 30 y/o 1{1} Games, 3 conceded, Reserve

When I arrived here Steve told me he was the regular keeper for a few seasons at Arbroath and due to his experience I was looking to him initially to start. However a poor pre-season has seen him slip down in my estimations. Dave Gorman though believes this is merely a blip which he can recover from. As such I’ll play him in the reserves for a couple of weeks to see how he plays. Seeing as all 3 squads work so closely together, he will never be too far from my plans.


John Cusick 27 y/o, D/DMRC, 4 Games First Team

Rebel rebel as David Bowie might say. Thankfully he signed a new contract in the end but his ability in defence makes him stand out as a regular this season. 7 goals in 61 games is no bad return either, hopefully adding that little bit extra going forward. He had a decent pre-season although at times I felt he was holding himself back, maybe not wanting to risk an injury this early. Still, I expect him to start as my right back this year.

Paul Dirno 17 y/o D/AMRC 2 Games (+ 2 Sub ), Reserve

Paul is a quiet lad, brought up well, who seemed a little off put by my presence at the training ground. However he played well in the games he had, both in defence and midfield. At the moment I would classify him a defender / wing back but it is difficult to see how he will develop which is why I’ve given him to the reserves where hopefully Gordon Wallace will be able to coax the best out of him.

Ross Currie 20 y/o D/DMRC 2 Games ( 1 sub ), First Team

Ross certainly has potential which is why I put him in the first team, but he will have to work hard to hold down a regular spot. He is keen, with no inhibitions when it comes to getting stuck, but he doesn’t have what I’d call a football brain. His tactical awareness is slim but that will come with practice. Might be pushed back to the reserves if he doesn’t get games soon.

Steve Florence 30 y/o, D/DMRLC, 4 Games (+ 2 Sub ), First Team

Steve is the ultimate Arbroathian. He joined the club as a youngster in 1989 and has been with them ever since making over 316 appearances in his time. He will without doubt be my starting left back. His pre-season could have gone better though and sadly I will have to work on my relationship with Steve. His fanatical devotion to the Declaration made life somewhat difficult.

Andy Dow 29 y/o, D/MLC 2 Games ( 1 sub ) First Team

It is difficult to place Andy in the side as I find him equally able in defence or in the middle. His left foot helps, but at defence he is more cover for Steve, so a midfield slot maybe his best chance of regular football. A good enough pre-season to convince me of his worth to the first team though. Having come from Motherwell last year I suspect he will be looking for regular action, and hopefully his pedigree will show.

Dennis Connaghan 26y/o, DC 3 Games First Team

A former Queens Park player, Dennis fell out of favour at Partick in the summer and went on loan to Livingston before joining Arbroath this summer. At 26 he has several good years ahead of him and on the back of an excellent pre-season he will be regular. His willingness to sign a new contract impressed me greatly and hopefully this kind of attitude will spread. Dennis, I don’t think has seen much of the Declaration given his openness towards a fondness for England. Hmm. He is currently a strong candidate for the captaincy, although it could well go to Steve, the Arbroathian.

Euan Graham 17 y/o, DC 0 Games. Reserve

Due to an unfortunate injury I haven’t been able to see much beyond the couple of training sessions I was with him. He’s young and will improve but not a challenger for the first team spot yet. Gordon and Stevie will both work on the lad as he gets some reserve games under his belt.

Eddie Forrest 23 y/o DC, 2 Games, First Team

Eddie is a vocal lad who has been enthusiastic in training, and enthusiasm is infectious. If only some of Dennis’ talent would infect Eddie. He’s the friendly excitable young lad you simply hate to leave out on energy and effort alone, but, although he’s another player coming from Motherwell he still needs work to maintain a spot. An average pre-season didn’t help his chances either. He’s a capable back up though.

Darren Spink 17 y/o D/MC 1 Game ( 1 Sub ) Reserve

Another young talent who sadly had his pre-season cut short by injury and it will be at least 6 weeks before we see him back in a full training programme again. It was a crying shame, because a good pre-season and plenty of praise from Youth Development Coach Gordon Wallace and Jake Ferrier, might have seen the lad push for a place in the first team squad.

Innes Ritchie 28 y/o DC, 3 Games ( + 2 sub ) First Team

Innes’ pre-season could have gone better but he is still a player held in high regard by the coaching staff. His 6â€4 stature and 16st build is imposing for most attacking sides. His heading and positional play is superb but his distribution and tackling is erratic to say the least, hence my concerns over whether his position is as safe as he may think. I’ll start with him nevertheless.

Link to post
Share on other sites


Greg Henslee 18 y/o D/MR, 3 Games, Reserve

Although he had a decent enough pre-season with good games against Elgin and Gretna, Greg is still young and has a lot to do if he is to make a mark on this side. His defensive abilities are weak at present, and his competitors in midfield are noticeably better so he’ll be working in the reserves this year. He’s also currently injured, with a gashed leg.

Kenny McMillan 19 y/o, D/MC, 2 Games (+ 2 Sub ) 1 MoM First Team

Young Kenny has impressed me most, a good friend of Eddie Forrest it seems the two add energy to the side and Kenny’s pre-season went better than Stevie Kirk expected which means Kenny has been brought into the first team fold. He played his best game in the centre of the park so midfield would seem his position to hold onto, although he has the tackling tenacity to make an adequate centre half if called upon to do so.

James McAulay 30 y/o SW/D/MRC, 4(1) Games, 1 MoM, First Team

James is one of the characters on the training ground who first welcomed me. Marrying into an English family, he himself knew the flak that can sometimes be expected in these parts, so he helped me to get to know some of his team-mates. Add to that his versatility and experience and he was a very useful player to have. Based on pre-season I think centre midfield is his most suited position, that and the profligacy of centre halves competing for the two spots.

David McInally 21 y/o D/ AMLC 2 Games, First Team

Another one of those defender slash midfielder players, David will probably be looking to cement a place on the left wing rather than left back. With Andy Dow and Steve back in the left back slot, he could struggle for first team action. He had games last year but it will be a challenge to hold his spot. I may move him to the reserve under Gordon’s watchful eye if it helps. I l do like him though, first class attitude, solid pre-season and a bit of a joker in the dressing room.

Gary Bowman 27y/o, ML, 4 Games, First Team

Gary has joined us from St. Mirren after failing to establish himself during their SPL year. His pace and threat from set-piece play clearly make him someone who could play an active role in our season and his contributions in pre-season tended to suggest so. However he is weak in a few departments. His physical presence is lacking somewhat and he can be a little timid sometimes, waiting for the ball to come to him rather than going and getting it himself. An odd attitude for a Declaration devotee but one that could harm his prospects.

Andy Cargill 26y/o MRC, 3 Games ( +2 sub ), 1 goal, First Team

Andy is in his second year here at the club and he certainly has the ability in my opinion to make an impression in the league. Steve and Gordon aren’t so sure and still feel there’s plenty he can improve on but after a solid pre-season, including a goal against Peterhead, I can see him being involved in most of our games this year. Fast and tough tackling, he’ll be a handful for many opponents I hope.

Paul Farquharson 18y/o AM/FL 2 Games, Reserve

Another bright player who arrived under the Seeking Skills Scheme. He can run that’s for sure and his work ethic is excellent, however as his pre-season performances highlighted he has a lot of work to be a first teamer so reserve action will suit Paul best. With a bit of luck and if the side played to his strength he could play a useful back up role this year.

Jim Gardner 34 y/o AM/FL 1 Game, ( +2 Subs ) First Team

Jim has been one of those pros encouraging all the youngsters and his presence and his experience will certainly be valuable this year. Jim, a former Motherwell, Cardiff and Stirling player has the ability to create chances for the front men and hold up play where required. A lack of pace could be important. Still with a small squad like ours he is certain to have an important part to play this year.

John McGlashan 35 y/o, AMRLC, 4 Games ( +1 sub ), 1 Assist, First Team

John is in his 3rd season at Arbroath and having been a big part of the previous two seasons at Gayfield I expect him to continue that here. His pre-season was a little disappointing although I had changed his position a couple of times. Technically he is fairly weak, but if you want a solid grafting midfielder then John’s your man. Might be starting as a sub to begin with.

Forwards, Strikers

Paul Brownlie 24 y/o FRC 5 Games ( +1 sub ), 1 Goal, 1 Assist 1 MoM, First Team

Paul is an excellent forward with potential to get even better. I was impressed with his pre-season performance and he was able to adapt easily with whichever person I chose to partner him. More an assistant striker rather than an out-and-out goal getter but still he will play a key role. He scored a good goal against Hartlepool to round off his pre-season. A probable starter.

Kevin Heenan 20 y/o FRC, 1 Game ( + 4 subs ), First Team

At 20 Kevin has had already 2 seasons of regular football with Arbroath under his belt. He is one of the players Gordon seems to enjoy talking about often, although this is to do with more his tales of woe and joy when the lad was coming through his Skill-seekers project. For me, I don’t know how often he’ll start. He’s worthy of a place in the first team squad, but his pre-season did not go as well I hoped it would. A chat with the lad made me realise that he is having some personal problems to deal with at present, so I’ll give him my support for now. Needs to work on his technical skills like passing and crossing if he’s to establish himself in my side though.

Craig Feroz 24 y/o FRC 3 Games ( +2 sub ), 2 Goals, 1 Assist 1 MoM, First Team

For Craig, making an impression was vital for the lad. A history of loan moves at various different clubs gave him no permanent base and it was difficult for him to settle anywhere and improve. Since released by Brechin and picked up by John Brownlie a month ago, I have to question some of the clubs sanity, those who loaned him out all the time, and those who never made the loan permanent. An excellent pre-season showed why’ll he be a regular starter up front. An eye for goal, good awareness of his colleagues and another hard working front man. Very pleasant guy to work with too.

Gavin Swankie 18 y/o, FRC, 3 Games ( +2 Subs ), 1 Goal, 2 Assists, 1 MoM, Reserve

Gavin played very well in his pre-season games and showed all the qualities you’d expect of a confident outgoing 18 year old. Arrogant on the ball, energetic pacy and a ruthless finisher. However on the advise of Gordon I’ll be placing him in the reserves for a couple of weeks while I give Kevin another chance to prove himself. He won’t like my decision!

--- -

So that’s my squad analysis completed. We have no out and out striker, and neither of the forwards is particularly capable with their left foot. We’ll therefore attempt to play to their strengths. In a fully fit squad then my first eleven would line up like so in an experimental 4-3-2-1.

Gow, ( r-l) Cusick Connaghan Ritchie Florence ( c ), (r-l) Cargill McAulay Bowman, Feroz McGlashan, Brownlie.

Subs: Woodcock, Currie, McInally McMillan, Heenan

Link to post
Share on other sites

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

Herald Preview the Scottish Divisions

…. And now for Division One.

Alloa Terry Christie’s side have enjoyed mixed fortunes over the years. Since 1998 there’s been 3 promotions and 1 relegation as they’ve gone from 3rd division to a very capable first division side. Winners of the Challenge Cup in 1999 they will be one of the stronger outfits in this division. Gregg Watson, Ian Little and Scott Crabbe will all be key to Alloa’s potential success this season. Prediction 4th

Arbroath – managed by a complete unknown in Rod Davies I would fully expect them to struggle this year. Long serving pro Steve Florence and Craig Feroz look to be important players this year. Gordon Wallace’s youth development programme is famed in lower league football so any finds there could be key to whether Arbroath stay up or not. Prediction – 10th

Ayr United Long established members of this division, Ayr will be trying to go one better and compete for a promotion spot. They have the players in Paul Lovering to do so and it will be interesting to see how striker Stewart Kean develops this year. An injury free year could see them go the distance. Prediction – 3rd

Clyde It’s going to be a tough season for Clyde and Alan Kernarghan’s side will have to be at their best to avoid a relegation scrap. In Pat Keogh they have experience and Paul Shields a former Celtic prodigy they have a precious talent, but for a side not yet established in this league I foresee trouble ahead. Prediction 9th

Falkirk Easily one of the better sides in this division, Falkirk have quality through out their side and will be looking for a swift return to the Scottish Premier League. With player manager Owen Coyle , ably supported by the supremely talented youngsters of Mark Kerr, Colin Samuel and Lee Miller. Prediction: 2nd

Inverness Caledonian Thistle A side that has developed steadily over the years, since winning the Third Division in 1997, Caley, under John Robertson will be looking to build on a side that has finished mid table in past seasons. In Derek Wyness and Steve Hislop they have a potentially frightening forward line. Prediction: 6th

Queen of the South John Connelly’s side have had a quiet history to report over in recent years, however this year with the likes of Andrew Aitken, John O’Neill and young forward Derek Lyle providing quality in all areas of the side, they will be one of the most competitive outfits in this division, but the lack of a truly class player may cost them. Prediction: 7th

Ross County – a side destined to struggle this year, as they simply don’t have that raw talent that can make a difference. Notable players like Greek midfielder Anastasios Venetis and Steven McGarry will have to be on top form if they are to maintain their position in the league this year. They may be fortunate that Clyde and Arbroath are even worse. Prediction: 8th

St. Johnstone The former SPL side will be desperate to return to the days when they were the 3rd placed side behind Rangers and Celtic, and runners up in the League Cup in 1999. They have talent, in Chris Hay, Jim Weir and Darren Dods, whilst in Ezenwa Panther, they have simultaneously a dangerous left footed winger and an outright contender for best name ever. Prediction; 1st

St. Mirren Jim Coughlin’s side are also another side who will be looking to finish amongst the front runners this year and with a very impressive forward array that includes Martin Cameron, Mark Roberts and Brian McGinty they certainly could prove to be dangerous. Their defence could prove to be the weakest link. Prediction 5th


Link to post
Share on other sites

August Round Up


Sat 3/08 A v Queen of the South, Wed 7/08 (CC) A v Falkirk, Sat 10/08 H v St. Johnstone, Sat 17/08 A v Falkirk, Sat 24/08 H v Ross County, Sat 31/08 A v Clyde

As the new season began, at least I had the bookies odds to comfort me. Sometimes reading the Herald can be quite depressing. We’re 50-1 to get promotion, and presumably odds on favourites to go down. The sports Journalist Iain McAndrew was clearly enjoying tormenting us. When we’ve played at least 6-8 games then he can comment on us.

Shocking news arrives on Saturday morning as we prepare for a trip to Queen of the South, Gordon Wallace has taken up a post as Assistant Manager at Clyde. I was put out by his decision to move without even speaking to me, but I have to carry on. In case I was in any doubt the remaining coaches assured me they were not moving. Well I had £8,000 compensation to work with now but that will have to wait. The lads have their first match to get through first.

The match itself was a difficult game for us and after 10 minutes we had a linesman’s flag to thank for Derek Lyle not scoring. From then on I tried shouting out chapters of the Declaration, it worked to an extent but it also yielded 3 yellow cards for our midfield stars. Derek Lyle sadly put the home side ahead just before the break, as Ross Currie slipped when running back. On 61 minutes I took off Ritchie and Bowman, replacing them with McMillan and McInally, whilst ordering the side to take full advantage of the whole width of the pitch. Sadly it only led to a second Queen of the South goal with Derek Lyle setting up Brian McColligan and later on John O’Neill sent Palmerston Park wild with a fine third after we lost possession yet again in the middle of the park. 3-0 to Queen of the South at the full time whistle. We played with spirit but all too often we gave away the ball in dangerous areas to a side that many pundits believe will be challenging for the promotion spots.

Some good news arrived the morning after as Tony Woodcock extended his contract on reduced terms but Andy Cargill and Steve Florence are looking for serious increases in their contracts before signing again. On the eve of the Challenge Cup tie away to Falkirk, they both signed contracts, Andy at an increase of £110 p/w and Steve at £150 p/w extra. Thankfully the board can afford this just.

Going into the Falkirk tie, I resorted to a simple 4-4-2 strategy, moving Cargill onto the right side and replacing McGlashan with McMillan in the middle. We survived until half time with McAulay and Innes picking up yellow cards for their efforts. Sadly though we started the second half badly, as Owen Coyle and Kevin James each struck in the opening 10 minutes. A good finish from Coyle from the first but Ritchie’s marking was terrible for the second. Sadly McAulay got himself injured in a 50-50 challenge and was replaced by McInally, and at the same time Currie came on for the poor Innes, and Heenan replaced Paul Brownlie. I doubted it would make much of an effect but they could do with the minutes. With 20 minutes remaining Falkirk made it 3 with Kevin Christie nodding home another corner. Our set piece defending was abysmal this evening. That was as bad as it got though and that was one less competition to worry about. I now have to work seriously hard on my defence.

Two 3-0 reverses was not how I was looking to start the season, and the departure of Gordon had certainly not helped but I had to get tough in training. There was an increased focus on set piece play and cross-country runs around Arbroath were now a regular feature. We may be the underdogs but we are most certainly not going down without a fight. That evening saw most of the residents perk up slightly as Scotland came away from the Faroes with a 4-1 victory, thanks to a David Weir hat-trick ( icon_redface.gif ), which means they are top of their qualification table.

On Friday I was gutted to learn of two new long term injuries. Gavin Swankie pulled up with a muscle strain in the reserves and Jim Crosby says he will miss a month whilst Andy Cargill injured his calf on Wednesday but elected not to tell anyone and 20 minutes into a training session he was lying prostate on the ground in agony. He’ll miss 2 months.

For the St. Johnstone game on Saturday, our first home game of the season, Eddie Forrest was brought in for Innes Ritchie and Jim Gardner replaced Gary Bowman on the left wing. McGlashan returned to the right with McAulay and McMillan in the centre. Playing the clear favourites for promotion was always going to be hard but we shot ourselves in the foot when we let Kiegan Parker in to score in the 4th minute. Such an early goal was the exact opposite of what we needed and for the rest of the half we were playing catch up.

At half time I basically reminded them we needed to stay positive if we were to keep this match a competitive one and 4 minutes after Craig Feroz and Paul Brownlie both had 1 on 1’s with their keeper but sadly missed. However that was the attitude I was looking for. As the game swayed to and fro the crowd began to think we might take something from this game, that was until Gary Gow’s mistimed run to meet ball ended disastrously as Chris Hay picked it up first and lobbed the stranded keeper to make it 2-0. 10 minutes later and our problems worsened with the dismissal of Craig Feroz for what apparently was a bad challenge. Having witnessed it from only 4 yards away I saw clearly that it was ball first. A minute later and it was 10v10 as St. Johnstone’s captain Ian Maxwell was given his marching orders for a professional foul. The crowd smell an opportunity. On 78 minutes and they were in full voice as Paul Brownlie volleyed home from a great free kick from Dennis Connaghan to reduce the arrears. It was suddenly game on again. Unfortunately that goal also made St. Johnstone realised how delicate their lead had become and they reverted to a defensive style which worked for the remaining 12 minutes or so. It was another defeat for us but from my point of view it was progress.

Immediately after the game, the referee notified me that unless I appealed Craig Feroz had an automatic 2 match suspension coming his way after hitting 32 disciplinary points. That was one thing I needed to research quickly. What are disciplinary points?

I had plenty of time to lodge an appeal, which I did before our next game the following Saturday. This time away to Falkirk in the league. After our recent meeting I would have to shake things up a little.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The midweek break proved to be even less fun, with Innes Ritchie injured for 2 weeks with a ruptured spleen, and the SFA amazingly did not think I had grounds for appeal. When the Herald rang up for reaction I at least managed to turn them down. I’m not going to cause any more controversy than is necessary. Ross County also offered Craig Devlin and £3000 for Paul Dirno, my young right back. I turned down the offer simply because I believe Dirno can be a very good player for us and the way our side is dropping like flies he’ll get a chance soon enough.

In the second round of the CIS Challenge Cup, Elgin City, Raith Rovers, Stirling, East Fife, Falkirk Queen of the South and St. Mirren all won through to the next round overcoming Albion Rovers, Cowdenbeath, Dumbarton, Ross County, Aidrie United, Forfar and St. Johnstone.

As we departed for Falkirk, Jim Crosby to everyone on the bus to my surprise that he was retiring at the end of the year. It was certainly unexpected but he of course received a warm reception and many thanks for this and all that. As for the game itself Kevin Heenan came in for Feroz and Ross Currie replaced Cusick at right back.

We competed much harder this time round, aware of what the challenge was, and although Falkirk had their fair share of chances Paul Brownlie had 2 good chances to put us ahead, another one on one situation and a 25 yard free kick that went wide. Unfortunately we ran out of steam in the second half and on the hour mark Lee Miller fired a stinging shot past Gary Gow into the net to give them the lead. From that point on we were chasing a lost cause as our superior opponents controlled the tempo of the game and finally after a rare attack from us in the last minute a counter saw Lee Miller prod home a Mark Kerr centre. Another loss and keeping spirits up was going to be a mite tricky on the bus home. Personally for me we’re not doing too bad – but for the critics in the press and amongst the traditional folk of Arbroath – it’s blood.

In the reserve game that night, where Arbroath beat St. Johnstone, Craig Hinchcliffe, Euan Graham and a Man of the Match display from Greg Henslee all caught the eye. They’re certainly pushing hard. Euan in particular may get a call up soon given that Eddie Forrest injured himself riding home from work and will miss 3 weeks training.

Motherwell now have receivers in to control their finances, a situation I never want to be in, although I have looked at a couple of players who’s experience might help us get through these injuries. In the Challenge Cup Ayr won their second round draw with East Stirling, whilst East Fife, Falkirk and St. Mirren all won through overcoming Elgin, Stirling and Queen of the South respectively.

Having gained the advice of Steve and Dave over potential new players to the club, I’m currently looking at Roddy Grant, an experienced forward at Brechin. At 35 and with good coaching abilities I’d be looking for him to partly help fill the role which Gordon vacated. Last season he had a good season for Brechin with 10 goals from 25 games, and now available on a free transfer, I’m hoping to persuade him to join the Arbroath clan.

On Saturday 24th we faced Ross County at Gayfield. Euan Graham was called into the seniors for a spot on the bench. To accommodate injuries we now had a back line of (r-l) Currie, Cusick Connaghan Florence. Bowman took his place on the left with John McAulay going out on the right of midfield. Andy Dow joined Kenny McMillan in midfield whilst Heenan retained his spot alongside Brownlie. Gary Gow only just kept his spot after Dave Gorman reported an increased effort in training, something that had passed by me.

A tough first half saw us hustle and bustle whilst Ross County elegantly moved the ball around testing Gary Gow with some long range efforts. Once McGarry had given County the lead just before the hour mark I moved McAulay back inside, replaced Dow with McGlashan and Bowman with McInally to try and get some width into the side. I also instructed, with a rush of blood to the head, to go full pelt for the Ross County goal. With 15 minutes remaining and the game was tied. County had been taking the ball forward through Chris Gray but John Cusick intercepted and a long ball forward was chased down by Brownlie and Heenan. Brownlie created the distraction for County keeper Tony Bullock and Heenan swept home into an unguarded net and 3000 fans celebrated. Heenan could and perhaps should have made it 2 with a free header coming from an indirect free kick 6 minutes later but it wasn’t to be and the game ended all square as we picked up our first point of the season.

A vital point then for us as it gets us off the mark in the league and I was impressed with our second half display, especially once the subs had come on. Currie, Florence, Dow and McInally all picked up yellow cards but the spirit is there and hopefully we can use this as a platform to work from. Heenan and sub McGlashan were terrific.

After that game Mark Dobie rejected our contract offer, although I wasn’t too surprised. The 39 year old Gretna veteran was asking for way beyond what I was prepared to offer him. I’m still keen that Grant will join us though. Our reserves fared less well against Greenock Morton, going down 5-0, although Dirno had a decent enough game to make me think of him when it comes to selecting a side against Clyde next Saturday.

On Sunday evening as I was settling down to a meal at the small village style restaurant outside the Abbey, my mobile rang to inform me that Roddy Grant had agreed terms and would be completing the formalities tomorrow morning for which a press conference had been called. It actually turned out there would be £1,000 compensation but I was prepared to accept that.

Monday say a cheeky bid from Clyde to take Paul Dirno away from me for 6k plus a 20% sell on fee. It was a reasonable offer but as I stressed earlier, Paul is a player I like – as does Gordon Wallace evidently enough. I’ll have to watch out for more poaching attempts from him.

In the weekly injury slot this time is John McGlashan with a slight thigh strain. Fortunately though it’s only going to mean a week’s lay off but I am a little frustrated that this happens on a weekly occurrence. In the Challenge Cup St. Mirren moved into the final with a 3-0 victory over East Fife, whilst Raith Rovers secured a semi final berth with Falkirk after beating Ayr 3-1.

With a tough trip to Clyde, facing Gordon’s new side there were only two changes to the side that drew with County. Bowman had picked up a slight knock and wasn’t fully fit so Jim Garner came in. Paul Dirno made his first start of the season replacing McGlashan on the right side of midfield. Roddy Grant started from the bench. The half started well for us and we had a chance through Kevin Heenan to open the scoring but soon the game settled into a midfield battle with few chances to either side. Clyde then took the advantage after against the run of play scoring in first half stoppage time, the worst possible time, through John Potter’s header from a Sloman centre. The joy on Wallace’s face made me feel even worse.

On the hour mark McConologue made it 2-0 and we were heading for another defeat. Loose passing after that meant we were never able to get a move going and hence never threatened their goal in what was a very disappointing afternoon for us. Roddy Grant had come on for Heenan before the second goal but he was unable to help. The day ended disastrously with a third Clyde goal as McConalogue exploited our open defence to knock the ball past Gow.

That result saw us end the month bottom of the first division with a negative 9 goal difference already. We will have to tighten up pretty sharpish if we are to improve.


Sat 3/08 Queen of the South 3 Arbroath 0 Lyle, McColligan, O’Neill

Wed 7/08 (CC) Falkirk 3 Arbroath 0 Coyle, James, Christie.

Sat 10/08 Arbroath 1 St. Johnstone 2, Parker 12, Hay 58, Feroz s/o 67 Maxwell s/o 68, Brownlie 78

Sat 17/08 Falkirk 2 Arbroath 0 Miller, 61, 90.

Sat 24/08 Arbroath 1 Ross County 1 McGarry 58, Heenan 76

Sat 31/08 Clyde 3 Arbroath 0 Potter 45, McConalogue 60,90


Wallace Out – Clyde – 8k

Grant In – Brechin 1k.

Table after 5 games

edit - there will be a table coming up soon - Fecking CM4 icon_mad.gif

[This message was edited by Brian of Nazareth on 20 September 2003 at 19:20.]

[This message was edited by Brian of Nazareth on 20 September 2003 at 19:21.]

Link to post
Share on other sites

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">


1. St. Johnstone 4 0 1 11 3 +8 12

2. Falkirk 4 0 1 10 4 +6 12

3. ICT 3 0 2 8 8 0 9

4. Queen Sth 2 2 1 10 7 +3 8

5. St. Mirren 2 2 1 7 5 +2 8

6. Alloa 2 1 2 6 6 0 7

7. Ross Co. 1 2 2 6 10 -4 5

8. Ayr 1 1 3 6 9 -3 4

9. Clyde 1 1 3 3 6 -3 4

10. Arbroath 0 1 4 2 11 –9 1


icon_biggrin.gif About time too!

[This message was edited by Brian of Nazareth on 20 September 2003 at 19:31.]

Link to post
Share on other sites

surprisingly short month this one

September Review

Despite my best efforts when the monthly awards came round there were no familiar Arbroath faces in there. Peter Weatherson, Lee Miller and Terry Christie all walked off with the gongs for August. Falkirk meanwhile secured their spot in the Challenge Cup final beating Raith Rovers 3 –0 in midweek.

With no game on the first Saturday I was able to mix up the training a little more and try some new practices out. Set piece defensive work was crucial to us, as was working on our attackers finishing in the box. Feroz was back from suspension and Ritchie, Bowman and McGlashan were back from injuries too.

Moments before we were due to travel to St. Mirren for the League Cup clash Eddie Forrest was declared fit by Jim Crosby to play so I put him in my 16. McGlashan returned on the right and Craig Feroz took his place upfront alongside Paul Brownlie. It mattered not who started the game as St. Mirren dominated the game from start to finish. Mark Roberts and Brian McGinty had them 2 up by half time, A Martin Cameron strike made it 3-0 5 minutes after the break. Jamie McGowan made it 4 on the hour mark and just when it couldn’t get much worse, Feroz got himself sent off after an act of petulance borne out of a frustrating evening. I can’t defend him this time for kicking out at Mark Roberts. Cameron added a second for him and a 5th for St. Mirren on the night after 75 minutes before the final whistle eventual sounded. Love Street, Paisley were delighted, I was mortified.

Taking on a job like this was always going to be difficult but no matter how hard you prepare mentally for the setbacks that occur it is always a galling feeling to lose 5-0. We were run ragged all night and only David McInally, a second half sub can come out with any kind of credit. There is much work to be done before Saturday.

After sub standard performances and red cards, Feroz has been dropped into the reserves for now, until he learns to control himself. He may well have had a good pre-season but that means nothing to me now. Gavin Swankie, still a few days short of match fitness has been promoted in his place.

For the home tie with Alloa it was imperative that I conveyed a positive message to the fans, that they were not in for a miserable season and that there beloved stars would come good. Woodcock retained his spot, as he was not at fault for the goals, whilst Roddy Grant was given a starting role alongside Brownlie. McInally started on the left and Cusick regained his right back slot with Eddie Forrest moving in at centre.

A poor start gave Alloa the advantage as Gareth Evans nipped in behind a dozing defence to give them the lead. To say I was furious was an understatement. The fans certainly made their feelings known although sadly they blamed me. After McInally went off injured, with Jim Gardner coming on, Alloa still put the pressure on but we had a great chance to level before half time as McGlashan set Brownlie free, but Paul dribbled and dribbled and dribbled straight into the keepers hands. He must learn to shot when he has the chance! That was the best we had in the whole game and it was another infuriating defeat.

McInally’s injury was not serious and he should return in time for the trip to Ayr on Saturday. The reserves meanwhile picked up a win with Greg Henslee again playing particularly well. Gavin Swankie also returned to full training and after some extensive ball work and fitness routines, I reckon he was fit enough to be apart of the side that will take to the field against Ayr.

For the Ayr game, Ritchie came in for Forrest at the back and Heenan took a starting role with Swankie on the bench. A tough opening half saw most of the chances fall Ayrs way but thankfully we survived until the break. Amazingly we took the lead as Heenan took advantage of a dallying Ayr keeper to lob from 30 yards in the 56th minute. Sadly the lead only lasted 4 minutes as Ritchie headed past his own keeper to level things up. From that point on I thought we would hold on to the lead but alas in the 89th minute James Grady beat our feeble attempt at an offside trap to score. It was a devastating strike, considering that we had been leading the game but once again we came away pointless.

The week wouldn’t be complete without an injury and this time it’s Steven Florence my left back who twisted his wrist in an unfortunate incident late in the day and will probably miss the game against Inverness next week.

In midweek the second round of the league cup took place and there were victories for Motherwell, Kilmarnock, Hibs, East Stirling, Forfar, Peterhead Hearts, ICT, Partick Thistle, Queens Park, Raith Rovers and Ross County.

Ahead of the important clash with ICT Darren Spink injured his groin in training as he attempted to recover from his previous injury. He’ll sadly miss another 3 weeks. The game with ICT is of crucial importance for us as we really need to get a win soon. Andy Dow for Steve Florence at left back and Jim Gardner in for Gary Bowman on the left of midfield were the only changes. Our hopes for a solid start were shattered inside 40 seconds as Dennis Wyness slotted ICT ahead. ICT proceeded to dominate the game before we finally began to edge our way back into it in the closing minutes of the half and thankfully Paul Brownlie nodded in at the near post from a Jim Gardner corner to level things at the break. Then on the hour it went pear shaped. Kevin Heenan through a fit after being substituted after he was having a bad game, and then Steve Hislop put ICT ahead 2 minutes later. Stuart Golabeck completed our defeat in stoppage time. Oh dear oh dear.


Wed 11/09 LC St. Mirren Arbroath Roberts, 25, McGinty 43, Cameron 49, McGowan 60, Cameron 80.

Sat 14/09 Arbroath 0 Alloa 1 Evans 15,

Sat 21/09 Ayr 2 Arbroath 1 Heenan 55 Ritchie O.G, 60, Grady 89

Sat 28/09 Arbroath 1 ICT 3. Wyness 1, Brownlie 45 Hislop 64, Golabeck 90.

League Goal scorers

1.Kiegan Parker St Johnstone 8

2. Lee Miller Falkirk 8

3. Steven Hislop ICT 7

4. Peter Weatherson Queen of Sth 5

5. Chris Hay St. Johnstone 5

League Assists

1. Chris Hay St. Johnstone 5

2. Derek Lyle Queen of Sth 4

3. Mark Roberts St. Mirren 3

4. Kiegan Parker St. Johnstone 3

5. Dennis Wyness ICT 3


<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">

Team W D L F A GD Pts

1. St. Johnstone 6 1 1 17 4 +13 19

2. ICT 5 1 2 13 9 +4 16

3. Falkirk 5 0 3 12 10 +2 15

4. Queen Sth 4 2 2 15 10 +5 14

5. St. Mirren 4 2 2 12 7 +5 14

6. Alloa 3 1 4 8 11 –3 10

7. Ross Co. 2 3 3 10 14 –4 9

8. Clyde 2 2 4 5 9 -4 8

9. Ayr 2 1 5 9 14 –5 7

10. Arbroath 0 1 7 4 17 –13 1


[This message was edited by Brian of Nazareth on 23 September 2003 at 1:57.]

Link to post
Share on other sites

balls to that table, and curses aplenty to Si for not putting print to file options in

October Review

What a terrible two months this has been. I’m aware that it was always going to be a battle to stay in this division but I thought we would have more points on the board at this point. Sitting at my desk, chewing my pencil end fretfully staring at the large wall portrait of Lord Robert was not getting me anywhere. Improvements had to be made on the football field but how?

The awards were announce once again in the monthly circular from the SFA, and once again there is no Arbroathian mentioned. Funny that. Lee Miller, Steve Hislop and St.Mirren’s manager John Coughlin picked up the awards instead. I am actually banking on the curse of the manager of month award working in our favour as St. Mirren travel to Gayfield on Saturday to open the month of October to us.

I decided to make a few changes for the game, I mean we could we hardly be performing worse in the league so there’s nothing to lose. Hinchcliffe makes a rare start between the sticks, behind a back line of Cusick, Connaghan Forrest and Florence. Gardner stays on the left wing, with McGlashan on the right. McAulay and McMillan took up centre stage, behind Heenan and Brownlie. This time the side is going to play a more cautious style, trying to play the ball specifically down the flanks and if they struggle with that we’ll just boot the ball up field and see what the result is.

Well a fat lot of good that was as we made another blistering start to the game, conceding in 81 seconds. It seems we are trying our hardest to achieve the status of side fastest to be relegated ever. Mark Roberts was the scorer. After that we played an abysmal game of football which was appropriately jeered to by the home fans. Passes were far from being accurate and we had absolutely no sense of purpose. In the second half, our pathetic display allowed Alistair Mitchell to run the length of the pitch and score his sides second. But even before that goal had gone in in the 47th minute we were clearly out of it. Utter tripe. Martin Cameron soon added a third before our best chance from Kevin Heenan sailed 4 yards wide. What had I took on here?

It ended 3-0 and I was completely disgusted with the side. The coaching side were as perplexed as anyone, having seen this side make 7th spot last year, it was looking increasingly unlikely that would happen this year. If we ever make it to 7 points I’ll be shocked.

That result got the board talking. Another defeat was taking it’s toll and although recent reports and polls in the media suggested fans and board members were satisfied with my “fight†against relegation, there’s only so long the Lichties can go without winning before I find myself catching the next flight back to Birmingham.

Asked for a comment in the heat of the aftermath of that defeat by the Herald I launched into a fairly unfair tirade against Paul Brownlie. He’d had a bad game but to single him out for criticism was in hindsight a mistake on my part. Still it came as no surprise to me when the Herald rejected my request for a retraction of my comments.

I’m 7 points off 9th position already which is terrible and now we have a challenging home tie with Queen of the South to deal with. It’s a home game again and although I know the fans are desperate to see their brave Scots win a game I’m beginning to despair – but then again I’m English – we like to quit. The criticism in some parts has reached unbelievable levels, and on more than one occasion I’ve overhead references to a certain Declaration and the section will proclaims Scots will never subside under English rule.

In midweek Steve reminded me that Paul Farquharson’s contract was up in 3 months time. Having settled down with the lad and told of him how I felt that with a little luck and hard work he could be a real talent at this club he surprisingly admitted he was prepared to take a £15 p/w pay cut to sign. Good lad. Looks like Connaghan’s influence has spread already.

Link to post
Share on other sites

There was a week off in the schedule, allowing us to work more intimately with skills such as passing a ball in a straight line and thwacking the ball clear when there’s danger approaching. That and don’t pass wildly across the face of goal to no-one in particular. If we can master these basics we have every chance of improving.

Spirits were at least raised in the camp after Scotland’s 1-0 win in Reykjavik, courtesy of a smashing Paul Lambert drive, keeps them top of the qualifying table. On a personal note I cursed Emile Heskey’s goal for England against Slovakia ( who drew 1-1) as it meant Sven would probably continue to select him. Then I cursed England for not beating Slovakia – irrationally footing much of the blame ironically at someone who can’t keep his own footing too well.

The international results caused a bit of banter on the ground, with all the Scots taking the mick out of England’s draw, while I, good natured as I am, sent them on 5 laps of the training ground with 10 push-ups after each lap. Sadly though on Wednesday 16th, the day of the second round of Internationals there was another injury to cope with. Seeing as we haven’t had one for a good few days it was no surprise Jim Gardner’s turned out to be a biggie. 2 months with a torn off groin will be a big blow to us.

On Thursday though I had cause to cheer as England’s 5-0 win over Macedonia was achieved without an Emile Heskey in sight. Germany’s 6-0 mauling of the Faroes also meant they overtook the Scots on goal difference. I was tempted to mention it in training but thought better of it – especially as some of them already detest my Englishness as it is.

For the Queens game, Cargill was recalled in place of McGlashan and Feroz replaced Brownlie up front. I’ve also decided, against the better judgement of my staff to play a 4-1-3-2 formation to see how we cope. We were doing fine until the 18th minute. Connaghan trips Ferrie and gets sent off. Penalty converted by Andrew Aitken and I sensed another depressing afternoon. Sitting on that poorly constructed bench as the sharp October winds bite at your face is unpleasant in the best of circumstances.

I soon wished I were elsewhere though as Derek Lyle scored on 34 minutes to compound the misery and my record as Arbroath manager was building up to be a complete disaster. The second half wasn’t so bad and we had some chances of our own, even converting one of them. Roddy Grant finished well from a crap miss hit of a cross from Bowman. Sadly though that was all we could muster and it was defeat number whatever. Although Dennis was blatantly last man when he tripped Ferrie in the area I appeal anyway as it gives me something to do to pass the time other than spend 40 minutes beating off requests from journalists for interviews with the Herald or Radio Arbroath.

On Sunday I was not surprised to receive a warning from the SFA for outrageous cheek by questioning the officials decision yesterday. Well it was worth a shot. In the afternoon after the morning session I settled down in a pub and watched Falkirk, through Lee Miller and Owen Coyle help Falkirk secure a 2-1 victory in the Challenge Cup Final. My day got better after than when Jim Crosby phoned to say Steve had buggered his groin again and would need a month on the sidelines to recover properly. Fantastic.

In midweek it was the third round of the league cup and there were victories for Forfar, Hearts, Hibs, Aberdeen, Motherwell Kilmarnock and Queens Park over East Stirling, ICT, Raith Rovers, Livingston, Partick Thistle Peterhead and Ross County respectively.

On Sunday the coach trip up to Perth to face St. Johnstone was a pretty despondent one. While Steve and Dave tried to keep spirits up, I contemplated which irrelevant and no doubt ineffective and useless tactic I would try out against the 1-6 favourites for the clash. I elected that sticking the status quo was as good as any so it was the same line up in a 4-1-3-2 formation. Inside 20 seconds I though we’d managed to surpass our levels of ineptitude when Parker hit the net but it was ruled out for offside. The forward though put the home side ahead on 8 minutes and many in the crowd, including me expected them to go on and add a couple more. Amazingly though it was us who scored next, Gavin Swankie was pulled down in the area and the young striker buried it into the net and we were level. What shocked the crowd even more was the events in the 34th minute. Arbroath were awarded a free-kick about 40 yards. Out. Paul Brownlie took it. Paul Brownlie scored. At half time we were still 2-1 up and I prayed like never before.

On 50 minutes I thought I was about to orgasm. A Jim Weir free kick was intercepted by Kevin Heenan and the youngster broke free to power a shot past Kevin Cuthbert in goal. 3-1 Arbroath! There were odds of 10-1 on us winning this game before kick off. I wonder if any punter is getting excited – somehow I doubt it. Then on 66 minutes Kiegan Parker set up McCulloch to make it 3-2. Now I was panicking. Bowman came on for McInally and a defensive approach was adopted. It worked. Until the 90th minute. Tommy Lovenkrands was unmarked in the box. Tommy Lovenkrands scored in the final minute. I was a broken man leaving that field. To be so close to winning your first match in charge against the clear league leaders and have it snatched away from you is so cruel. However I will only praise the lads for a brilliant spirited performance. It was such a shame we could not hold out.


Sat 5/10 Arbroath 0 St. Mirren 3. Roberts 2, Mitchell 47, Cameron 51.

Sat 19/10 Arbroath 1 Queen of Sth 2 Aitken 19, Lyle 34 Grant 63

Sat 26/10 St. Johnstone 3 Arbroath 3 Parker 8, Swankie 25 pen, Brownlie 34 Heenan 50 , McCulloch 66, Lovenkrands 90.

Table after 11 games

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">

Team W D L F A GD Pts

1. ICT 7 1 3 19 12 +7 22

2. Falkirk 7 1 3 20 14 +6 22

3. St. Johnstone 6 2 3 20 13 +7 20

4. St. Mirren 6 2 3 18 11 +7 20

5. Queen Sth 5 2 4 18 15 +3 17

6. Alloa 4 2 5 15 16 -1 14

7. Ayr 4 2 5 14 16 -2 14

8. Ross Co. 3 4 4 13 17 -4 13

9. Clyde 2 4 5 8 14 -6 10

10. Arbroath 0 2 9 8 25 -17 2


[This message was edited by Brian of Nazareth on 26 September 2003 at 18:50.]

[This message was edited by Brian of Nazareth on 26 September 2003 at 18:51.]

Link to post
Share on other sites

November Review


Sat 2nd H v Falkirk, Sat 9th A v Ross County, Sat 16th H v Clyde, Sat 23rd, A v Alloa, Sat 30th A v St. Mirren.

To say this season has so far been a disaster so far is not entirely wrong. The results have been poor, players have under performed and Gordon Wallace has buggered off to Clyde. However, although the table is grim reading the players attitudes can on the whole be commended. There were slips where a kick up the behind was needed for one or two players but the St. Johnstone game is a case in point. Written off as the whipping boys of the league and we were seconds away from a fantastic 3-2 victory. That’s the spirit we have. At the beginning of every week, John Christison reads a passage from the Declaration of Arbroath and makes analogies with the community and the football side. Call it a sermon if you will but no one is giving up easily – we still have a lot of matches to play.

True the last day of October was a nightmare scenario of crippling injuries. Paul Brownlie will be with Jim Crosby for the next 3 weeks. John Cusick faces 2 months away with a torn groin muscle, as does Ross Currie, after a training ground ruckus, designed to inspire a sense of togetherness went spectacularly wrong. However, as the saying goes, everything evens itself out in the end. Let’s hope its not too late before that starts happening.

The first match of November was a clash with Falkirk, the first at Gayfield. In the previous encounters we went down 2 and 3 goals to nil so we can only improve. Bearing in mind injuries I still decided to persevere with the 4-1-3-2 formation as it was clearly a way of enabling to utilise our strengths. Gow retained his place in goal, behind a line of Dirno, Connaghan, Ritchie and Dow. John McAulay continues in his holding role behind the 3 midfielders of Cargill, McGlashan and McInally. Heenan and Swankie are the front two.

Unfortunately though old habits die hard, and such was the case when it comes to focusing from the off as Lee Miller scored in 35 seconds. This is an all too familiar trait which frankly písses me off as it so easy to avoid. Desperate to get back into the game we lostit in the 35th minute, as McGlashan scored an unfortunate own goal from a Mark Kerr cross. McGlashan then completed an awful day personally as he got himself sent off in the 56th minute after two ridiculous cautions. A fine will be issued sometime tomorrow. Having gained respite through an Eddie Forrest penalty on the hour mark after Heenan had been bundled over by Brian Reed, the referee destroyed our chances, or so I thought by dismissing Roddy Grant, a sub along with Forrest for heaven knows what as in an Arsene Wenger fashion “I did not see the incident.†However, as we proved against St. Johnstone we are no pushovers and to the crowds delight instead of folding, we doubled our work rate and McInally’s fine centre found lone front man Kevin Heenan waiting to score a delightful tap in after 66 minutes. The question now became – could we hold out?

We did. For 91 Minutes. Unfortunately there are 92 minutes in this game. Another old habit refusing to lie low. John McAulay had already departed injured, to join the throbbing clan in the p5hysio room, when Lee Miller found space in the area to bundle in the winning goal. We didn’t deserve such rotten luck, we really didn’t. The dressing room was a picture of woe after that game. We had 9 men but fought back and levelled against a far superior side and competed as hard as we could, busting our guts to secure a valuable point, but we were denied by a heartbreaker once again. Consoling the individuals was tough, as even I failed to find the words to explain why they are experiencing such a bad run of form. When this whole luck idea changes, we’re in for one hell of a run!

After the game it was bad news for John. In overstretching to trap a pass he’d injured a calf muscle and would miss 3 weeks. My team was disappearing from underneath men and I felt so helpless. Sitting down in the office, not wanting to look up at the fearsome eyes of Robert hanging on the wall, I felt overwhelmed. A small pile of envelopes was building up on the side of my desk. I knew what they were. It had been the same since I had taken the job. Hate mail. And more of it seems in recent weeks. True this may only be a minority of the fans, no more than 50-100 tops but it was enough to trouble me. I needed help, not criticism solely based on my nationality. I decided to work with things I had to do, like typing up the official form that would be finding it’s way through the letterbox of John McGlashan in the next day or two, or writing, well at least wanting to, the obscene letter to the SFA telling them why they can shove Roddy Grant’s ban up where the sun don’t shine.

Midweek saw the League Cup, and for the Glasgow sides it was their first match in the domestic cup season, with Europe taking up their time. Celtic overcame Rangers 2-0 in the third round whilst in the fourth round, Aberdeen beat Queens Park 3-2 after extra time with Paul Sheerin nicking the winner, a solitary Mark de Vries strike saw Hearts defeat Forfar, and Kilmarnock beat Hibernian 2-1 with Chris Innes getting an early winner. Whilst watching the Rangers – Celtic game ( another country where the big 2 get all the focus I see ) on the television, I picked up an automated email response from the SFA. The bástards couldn’t even be bothered to write a letter – instead it’s a “I’m sorry your appeal has been unsuccessful for case no. 002733.†Gits.

On the day of our tough trip to Ross County I was irritated but not surprised to learn that Innes Ritchie had strained a ligament and would miss a weeks training. Say what you like about the strength of the spirit in this squad but their calves aren’t half weak! With all the absentees I have now it seems pointless working with a first team and reserve in tandem, so I’ve pooled both squads together in training to hopefully give me a few more option.

A reshuffled side included Tony Woodcock in goal and Kenny McMillan in the holding role. Greg Henslee, who had bided his time in the reserves gained a first start today whilst Euan Graham and Darren Spink both had bench warming duties. Our obligatory bad start took longer than I expected to arrive. In fact we lasted a full 16 minutes before Steven McGarry scored. That sadly was the catalyst for a Ross County onslaught. First Kerr Dodds and then a Steven Ferguson penalty put the home side 3-0 to the good by the break. We were beaten. The pained expressions on the faces said it all. I always felt sorry for the boys out there, when you have young Paul Dirno running to the ends of the earth with a cheeky smile on his face, with boundless enthusiasm. In that dressing room he was dejected. Dennis Connaghan, captain fantastic in our defense was simply there holding his head in his heads, at a loss to explain it. How do you motivate a side who have only known defeat? All I could say was just “Do your best, it’ll turn out alright.†What kind of coaching is that? McGarry’s second in the 51st minute killed it stone dead, and 5 minutes later our away fans had gone.

What drives me really is that I know the side can compete in this league. I know it, the coaches know, the board does and so do most of the fans. The only people who don’t I think are the players. Handing round letters of support that I had been given by kind Arbroathians were hopefully something the players might take to heart. Phrases like “ Heenan’s a real threat, if only he knew he had so much talent†or “Eddie Forrest is my favourite player because of his commitment and attitude – I hope he never loses it†were what I hoped might inspire the players. You wouldn’t have guessed it but Greg Henslee ruled himself out of our home game with Clyde after suffering a knee injury. You’d think he’d at least be consistent and choose his calf.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Cheers Joe, I knew about the print function by the way icon_wink.gif Glad you like the story - if only the results were as good icon_frown.gif

Before the Clyde game on the 16th and the return of Mr Wallace, Arbroathians had something to celebrate in that near rivals Montrose had sacked their manager John Sheran as the club lie 9th. If only we were anywhere near 9th spot. The rumour mill going round at the moment puts John Duncan as favourite to take over. I will have to check my training schedule as Darren Spink’s recurring groin injury strikes again. There’s another month out for the unfortunate lad. Looks like conscription could be returning to Scotland quicker than many might have imagined.

By the time the Clyde game arrived I’d lost Kenny McMillan as well. A weeks long injury with a groin problem. Another one. Either these people get a serious amount of action at home or my training’s screwing them up. I suspect it’s the latter. With Gow back in goal I’m given little choice over the line up. Forrest and Connaghan stay as centre halves, with McInally coming back as a left back and Paul at right. Andy Dow takes up an unfamiliar role for him behind the midfield 3. Cargill, Bowman and a welcome return for Paul Brownlie complete the midfield line up whilst Heenan lines up alongside Feroz.

For once the half went our way. We didn’t score but we ran the half, controlled the pace and had chances. We were aided to a degree by the dismissal of Pat Keogh in the 25th minute. We were in with a chance. The players at last knew and so did the crowd. The momentum continued in the second half as Feroz and Heenan both forced corners early on. In the final minute of the game we were awarded a free kick 23 yards out. McInally stepped up to take it. It was direct. It was struck firmly, hit the crossbar, bounced down on the line and cleared to safety. The final whistle blew. I was gutted. We had played our hearts out that afternoon with all our players showing nerves of steel. People chased down balls, supported each other and communication was certainly not a problem! It was the best we’ve played both defensively ad offensively and the crowd certainly appreciated it. Considering we had 10 people missing through suspension or injury this was a damn good display. Another point will help. We are still 14 points from safety but every little bit helps. With 3 away games in a row to come now, we are going to have work so darned hard – but you know – we replicate this again and we’ll be ok. The smiles on some of the faces was a refreshing lift.

The midweek action continued in Scotland as Celtic thrashed Motherwell in the League Cup quarter final 5-0. For us though Feroz was out for 2 months with a dislocated shoulder. I swear there’s a jinx. I’m currently searching through the moth eaten, cobweb strewn book case that adorns one wall in my tidy office for any books that may solve a mystery as this is unbearable.

As we travelled to Alloa, we had to stop to mend a puncture. Euan Graham stepped off to go the toilet, he ended the day in A&E with a dislocated shoulder. 2 months for him as well. Kenny McMillans return to training was timely. At least we now had exactly enough fully fit players to travel. But at 16 there was no room for injury. Swankie in for Feroz was the only change.

7 minutes in and there was a goal. Alloa scored through Robert Sloan’s firm header and we were in trouble again. Raising spirits became harder the worse our winless run went on. We failed to make any inroads at all into the game and the injury to sub Paul Farquharson in the 51st minute was typical. We never gained any momentum and soon lost the game completely. Today also saw the dismissal of Ayr manager Campbell Money. Ayr lie 8th with 17 points. With me still on 3 – I’d reckon they’re fairly safe.

The following week it was great to hear the words “I’m fit coach, ready to play†in my office! John McAulay will be available to me for the impossible trip to St. Mirren, as will Steve Florence, also recovered and Grant and McGlashan, no longer suspended. Of course no week is as good as that and Gary Bowman will be out for 2 months. Another dislocated shoulder injury and I’m considering hiring a P:I to look into the extra curricular activities of my players. There has to be some rational explanation as to why I’m reading sick notes from Jim Crosby every second day!

During the midweek, Rangers and Aberdeen flew the flag in Europe, with the Ibrox side defeating PSG 2-0, and Aberdeen suffering a heavy 4-0 loss against Sporting.

Against St. Mirren, Grant, Hinchcliffe, Ritchie and McGlashan all regained starting roles as I attempted to seek out that elusive win. St. Mirren have been playing some excellent solid football under John Coughlin. 10 minutes in and Heenan is crumpled in a heap on the floor, not a good sign. With a broken arm and a four week lay off I was ready to give in. On comes Gavin Swankie. 20 minutes later and after resisting some intense pressure Martin Cameron strikes against us once more. We crumbled. He scored 3 minutes later as well. McGlashan was then taken off on a stretcher a few minutes later to absolutely no-one’s surprise. In the second half we continued to struggle. Any attack we tried was broken down quickly or intercepted before it even had a chance. Our passing was sloppy and slow and disturbingly for once the passion was questionably absent. Dennis Connaghan was then unfairly dismissed again as our season lurched from one blow to another. I’ll appeal, fat lot that will do given the ignorance of the SFA. To complete another great day out, Greg Henslee picked up 2 bookings in as many minutes and we were down to 9 again.

One thing I’ve often learnt from other coaches is that no matter what the score, all you should care about is effort and commitment. If you try your hardest and don’t won then that’s ok. After 16 games I would like to contest that view. We are now 17 points from safety, and although we have not reached December, relegation seems a foregone conclusion. The words from the Herald from the moment I arrived returned to haunt me again. Another phrase also comes to mind. “Winners never quit, and Quitters never win, but those who never win and never quit are idiots.†Another comforting thought.


Sat 02/11 Arbroath 2 Falkirk 3. Miller 1, McGlashan O.G 35, McGlashan s/o 56 , Forrest pen 60 Grant s/o 62 Heenan 66 Miller 90.

Sat 09/11 Ross County 4 Arbroath 0 McGarry 16, Dodds 21, Ferguson pen 31, McGarry 51

Sat 16/11 Arbroath Clyde Keogh s/o 25.

Sat 23/11 Alloa 1 Arbroath 0 Sloan 7

Sat 30/11 St. Mirren 2 Arbroath 0 Cameron 32, 36, Connaghan s/o78 Henslee s/o 90

Table after 16 games

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">


1. Falkirk 11 2 3 32 18 +14 35

2. St. Mirren 8 4 4 30 20 +10 28

3. Alloa 8 2 6 23 18 +5 26

4. St. Johnstone 7 4 5 28 19 +9 25

5. Queen of the South 7 4 5 28 23 +5 25

6.ICT 7 3 6 26 25 +1 24

7. Ross County 6 4 6 23 25 -2 22

8. Ayr United 6 2 8 18 25 -7 20

9. Clyde 3 6 7 13 23 -10 15

10. Arbroath 0 3 13 10 35 -25 3


*Thanks to Euan for the tip icon_smile.gif*

Link to post
Share on other sites

December Review

So another winless month leaves us in serious trouble. Terry Christie Lee Miller and Derek Lyle picked up the awards again, and no Arbroathians involved I see. If only there were prizes for effort against the odds. Odds like the Scottish Football Association for example, who sent me another rejected appeal notification, something that helped fuel a feeble coal fire in the left hand corner of the room. And some fire too. Its purpose, I assume, is to heat up the room, which it fails miserably at, hence why I’m now having to wear my insulated fleece all day long as the cold winds arrive.

On the same day as the Scottish Cups get underway in various parts of the country so we take to the road to face Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Steve and Dave are amazingly optimistic at the moment, although I suspect a smokescreen for more worrying thoughts. Thoughts I too share. However that cannot be dwelt upon when it comes to the football field. We have to stay positive, hustle the ball, make those challenges and play in quickly up field down the wing.

A fairly desperate squad now sees 2 goalkeepers on the bench, such is the limitations available to us. A decent enough opening sees chances fall our way to Brownlie and Grant but sadly we are unable to capitalise and Ross Tokely’s goal on 40 minutes signals that inevitable decline. We continued to defend stoutly in the second half but never showed a hint of threatening their goal so eventually they settled for what they had and now I had to contend with players in tears as they walked off the field. It was a tough experience out there. You work so hard, you play as best you can and you continually get nothing. For the likes of Dirno and Swankie and other youngsters it certainly knocks your confidence.

The midweek gap, when we tried to focus on making sure we kept possession and cut out all those silly mistakes was helped slightly by Jim Gardner’s return to training, although Jim did advise me to go easy on him for now.

After a full week’s work on the ground we were entertaining Ayr at Gayfield. Time is running out on us now and a win is imperative. I still tell the lads I only care about 100% effort but they all know how vital every home game especially is to us. We only lost 2-1 at their place earlier this year so we can compete. Gow returned to goal, behind Dirno Ritchie, Forrest and McInally with McAulay Cargill McMillan and Gardner in midfield. Roddy Grant and Paul Brownlie paired together up front.

Our early hardwork was undone by James Grady’s strike in the 12th minute, condemning us to another game of catch-up. The players were certainly up for it but I had to order them to cool down as 4 players soon picked up yellow cards for questioning the ref’s decisions. The ref was right on all occasions which made it even more irritating. I know the players are desperate but it is easier with 11 men on the field. At half time – I switched Florence and McGlashan on for McInally and McMillan, who had picked up cards to try and instil some urgency about our side.

The result was immediate – James Grady scored again. 20 minutes later and he had a hat-trick picking up a loose ball from Andy Cargill. There’s no saving us now.

I was so frustrated by our efforts that game. We lacked everything. Effectiveness, talent, passing desire and intelligence. The players are miserable – which has knock on effects on their private lives and know I have angry wives or girlfriends or boyfriends asking why their partner is depressed. If ever I needed a challenge to prove to people I was a good coach this was it. Although now I’m planning life in division 2. I see no way of us winning a game this season if we continue in the same vein we are. Effort is given every week by some people, sadly not all. I’m tearing my hair out here.

By the following week’s game away to Queen of the South, who have already overwhelmed us twice this year, I at least had the services of John Cusick again who was fully recovered. Of course Roddy Grant and Innes Ritchie made sure there was an uneven trade on the injury front and they were out for 3 weeks and 10 days respectively.

I changed the side around once again, employing a cautious 4-5-1. Until we learnt to stop the ball going in our net, I saw no point in trying too hard to score at the other end. We’ve tried this season and been thrashed several times. Gow lined up behind a back 4 of Dirno Forrest McAulay and Florence with a midfield 5 of McGlashan, McMillan, Dow, Cargill and Gardner with Paul Brownlie the lone frontman.

It occurred to me while playing this game that of my starting eleven only one had scored this season and that was Forrest with one penalty. Swankie was on the bench and he had scored one as well. What a pathetic record that is. However in the first half I was impressed – we made it to the break 0-0 and I asked for more of the same in the second. Something blatantly ignored 2 minutes in as Derek Lyle volleyed home to give the home side the lead.

Steve Kirk yelled at the players to close down our opposition all the time and hit it long but I don’t think our words were listened to by anyone. All our players thought about was how poor they were – being so self critical at the training ground was so depressing and upsetting. I hadn’t seen a smile in a long time. No jokers, no positivity. Injuries and results had ripped through us like a demolition ball leaving a mess for me to try and pick up. Once Lyle had scored we tried to defend that. Trying to defend a 1-0 deficit – oh dear. With 15 minutes to go I simply yelled for them to push up and get a f*cking goal. Cargill then ranted one too many times and picked up another red card. Discipline in our side is so poor it’s untrue. John O’Neill then lobbed Gow to make it 2-0 after our players passed it straight to Queens. There’s only so many times I am prepared to bang my head against the panels of my desk. This was stupidity of the highest degree. Well I thought it was. That came 2 minutes later with McMillan’s decision to head butt O’Neill for celebrating. For the love of God Almighty why! Shaun Ferry soon made it 3-0 in the 89th minute before Peter Weatherson made it 4 30 seconds later. Gavin Swankie scored his second goal of the season to make him second highest goal scorer at the club and give the players a lift, if it can be called one, before we managed a second thanks to a penalty which Swankie won and converted. 4 goals in the last minute - not a bad spectacle for the onlookers.

Well we got 2 goals, pity we let in 4 really. It begs the question why wait until we have 9 men and 4 goals down before scoring – kind of the wrong time lads. Of course I knew Queens had let up at the end but even so I am still angry. Some of the lads managed to break into an ironic rendition of “We Are the Champions†for scoring twice, although that ended fairly quickly after I told them to shut the flying f*ck up and work out why they couldn’t have done it before. Heads were low and there was an eerie silence for the rest of the trip back.

Link to post
Share on other sites

icon_mad.gif Grady - :death: icon_frown.gif

Getting up each day preparing for another game was getting all the more harder now. It was Christmas time, the time to be merry and all that bollocks. I’m fed up and trying to work out how to change this winless streak we are having. The Herald have gleefully been reporting our demise, something that has no doubt gone down well with Montrose, our close rivals in the third division.

Before the inevitable misery we were bound to suffer on boxing day against St. Johnstone, Cusick hurt his groin again and will be missing for 4 weeks. Darren Spink finally has a spell of availability. With Connaghan back we had a couple more options. However I let Steve pick the side to see if his ideas could help. He would bark out all the orders this match and make the changes he felt necessary. I was just going to observe from a distance.

We continued with the 4-5-1, with Hinchcliffe playing in goal, with Florence, Connaghan, Forrest, and McInally in defence, Swankie, McAulay Dow, Henslee and Gardner supporting Paul Brownlie up front. I was pleasantly surprised by how we dominated the first 40 minutes with chances a plenty for Brownlie – a man who clearly refuses to shoot unless he is actually on the goal line and Jim Gardner. The bubble of positivity and hopefulness was burst by Chris Hay’s goal in the 44th minute. Dejection sets in swift with this side and it took a while in the second half before we recovered but recover we did and impressively we levelled following good work by McAulay who set up a chance that Paul Brownlie could not miss! What the hell is it about playing St. Johnstone? Anyway we continued in the same verve afterwards and Brownlie should have put us ahead in the 65th minute but missed a shot. I thought we were going to be punished as usual, but it seems something has snapped in these players minds and in the 80th minute we had a goal. Paul Brownlie scored again from a corner! We were 2-1 up with 10 minutes to go! Could it be? Our first win of the season?

Well no. What my players fail to realise is that once 90 minutes has passed there is what is known as injury time – and it is crucial to concentrate here. We didn’t and Peter MacDonald levelled. I cried. The fans were literally in tears. They thought this was a gift from Lord Robert, a victory at last to celebrate and cherish for evermore but no. Like the last St. Johnstone fate struck a cruel cruel late blow and the players were numbed by it. Trying to console them and congratulate them fell on deaf ears. They had given everything and failed once more. It was devastating.

However know I was more optimistic for 2003. We had recorded no wins by the end of the calendar year but I was determined to get as many as possible in the second half. We had the ability – we just needed to think we could do it.


Sat 07/12 ICT 1 Arbroath 0 Tokely 40.

Sat 14/12 Arbroath 0 Ayr 3. Grady 12, 46,66

Sat 21/12 Queen of South 4 Arbroath 2 Lyle 47, Cargill s/o 77 O’Neill 82, McMillan s/o 83 Ferry 89, Weatherson 89, Swankie 90 Swankie 90 pen

Thus 26/12 Arbroath 2 St. Johnstone 2. Hay 44 Brownlie 61, Brownlie 79 MacDonald 90.

Table after 20 games

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">


1. Falkirk 14 2 4 40 23 +17 44

2. Alloa 11 2 7 31 22 +9 35

3. Queen Sth 10 4 6 38 28 +10 34

4. St. Mirren 9 5 6 37 28 +9 32

5. St.Johnstone 8 6 6 34 27 +7 30

6. ICT 8 5 7 32 31 +1 29

7. Ayr 8 3 9 26 32 -6 27

8. Ross County 7 5 8 30 32 -2 26

9. Clyde 4 6 10 18 32 -14 20

10. Arbroath 0 4 16 14 45 -31 4


[This message was edited by Brian of Nazareth on 09 October 2003 at 22:27.]

[This message was edited by Brian of Nazareth on 09 October 2003 at 22:28.]

[This message was edited by Brian of Nazareth on 09 October 2003 at 22:29.]

Link to post
Share on other sites

2003 – January Review

The whole Auld Lang Sine passed with little fuss. I was more concerned with Arbroath. The Declaration was sitting on my desk as I searched for some form of Divine inspiration. Never will the Scots be under the rule of the English it says. Well I’m attempting to help these Scots regain some pride for a savaged season. Surely that qualifies as something worthy of help? 22 points from safety. 7 wins and a draw would pull us level assuming Ross County and Clyde didn’t pick up any points then. We are more than half the season gone and we’ve registered precisely 4 points. If I wasn’t the manager I would have laughed.

The year arrived at least with the news that Ross Currie and Kevin Heenan would be available for our impossible trip to Falkirk, runaway league leaders on the 4th even if Greg Henslee was going to be out for 2 months. My inbox slowly piled up as letters or faxes from various footballing federations announced who was winning what and none of them surprised me. Few interested me. Of those that did it was still a little depressing. John O’Neill picked up the Player of the Month award whilst Lee Miller and Terry Christie continued their by now customary routines of accepting awards.

For the trip to Falkirk, Innes Ritchie replaced an injured Connaghan – injuries in this side again? Never! Andy Cargill replaced Henslee in midfield and once again Steve took control. We were playing the chasing game 111 seconds into the game after Lee Miller proved why he is picking awards up all the time. However at least this time we responded positively and closed down markers and didn’t give Falkirk too much time on the ball. Well that’s what we were doing until 5 minutes before the interval. Falling asleep is a serious no-no in football but it’s something afflicting my team quite severely at the moment and 2 goals from Colin Samuel and another for Lee Miller in 5 minutes destroyed us. Boy were there some red ears out in that dressing room. I was apoplectic with rage. Steve was kicking boots all over the place until I warned him of what could happen since the Beckham Ponce ruling had come into play 2 months ago. Nevertheless despite our blue words the battering continued in the second half and I was thankful there was only 1 further goal to come, a Kevin James header late on.

My Kingdom! My Kingdom! My Kingdom for a win! I am desperate well I have been for a few months now but we seriously run the risk of going through the entire season without registering a win – it is frankly a notion I refuse to tolerate.

Something that was genuinely pleasing was going into Ross County’s game with no further injuries. I suspect we’ll make up for that glaring omission sooner rather than later though. Either that or lucks changing and we’re about to go on a huge winning streak. I feel the latter is wishful thinking. An email from my friends at the SFA told me we would be facing Motherwell in the 3rd round of the Scottish Cup. Ah well at least we’ll be losing to a Premier Division side in that one.

McMillan replaced Andy Cargill in midfield as we walked out onto Gayfield against Ross County. It’s quite hard to differentiate why this is more of a must win game than all the others but with Ross County the side we need to catch, taking 3 points off them is a good idea. Amazingly we didn’t concede early and had much of the early possession again. Sadly though we were unable to convert any of the opportunities and we were level at the break. This time though we were positive in the dressing room. Paul showed some leadership with some encouraging words before we went all North American, huddled up and shouted 1! 2! 3! Arbroath!!

We set out a team on fire going for that win and the crowd sensed it. All we needed was a breakthrough. It arrived on 55 minutes. Kenny won the ball in the middle of the park and played in Paul Brownlie and our star striker finally decided to shoot early and it went in the net! We were a goal up and the crowd were ecstatic. Ross County were not as good as St. Johnstone. Now we had to concentrate like never before. I was sweating so hard with nerves on the touchline. I refused to make subs, and in the 76th minute Brownlie had rounded the keeper, and he was dribbling the ball right into the net. After many yells of “Hit it! He did. Yeeeeahhh.oooooooohhh! He missed. From 2 yards. The idiot. How do you miss an open goal from 2 yards when no one is pressuring you? The mind boggles.

The match continued though, but we were dominating as the match entered it’s final stages. I hoped the players needed no reminding how crucial this part of the game was. The clock ticked down. We had the ball. Then Ross County had the ball. And they attacked our goal in the 93rd minute of play.

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

My god no. Please not again I thought. Martin Wood exchanged passes with Shaun Kerr and he was through on goal. It was a simple finish. All he had to do was stroke it past Hinchcliffe to level it up. The ball left his feet and moved at pace towards the goal. Hinchcliffe dived to his right, as outstretched as he was. But the ball bounced over his fingertips. I gasped. Then I heard cheering. Bugger. Bloody buggering Arses! It had all gone wrong again! Then I opened my eyes and relaxed! It was our fans cheering. The keeper had the ball in his hands, I guess it must have hit the upright, but we were still leading 1-0 and that was what counted. Then Hinchcliffe kicked the ball long, and Callum Murray blew his whistle. The game was over. It had finished. Some players laughed. Some of them cried. All of them were tired. We had won our first game of season on Saturday 11th January 2003. A day to remember for everyone out there I’m sure. The relief was so evident. That was one big monkey on our backs! Now we could focus on moving up the table – or trying our bloody hardest to do so.

As I turned back towards the dressing room I caught a glimpse from John Christison. He was one happy man

Link to post
Share on other sites

The home clash with Alloa the following week couldn’t come soon enough for the lads who were all eager to add to their solitary victory gained this year. There was another injury trade to contend with though as Gavin Swankie twisted his knee, requiring a 3 week rest, while John Cusick inspired by our win declared himself fit ahead of schedule to be a part of the team against high flying Alloa.

Now I am under no allusions that Alloa are a much different prospect to Ross County. A draw here would be excellent. Heenan replaced Swankie in midfield. The first half was a tight affair and thankfully we managed to keep a clean sheet until half time. After the break the spirit continued and we started to control the game. Unfortunately we weren’t helped by a terrible ref who only warned Derek Ferguson for a dangerous two footed challenge whilst booking Forrest, Heenan and Gardner for the most innocuous challenges. Still we weren’t conceding and keeping the ball very well. Steve, Jake and I were all thoroughly impressed by our renewed optimism. We never found a goal in the end but we had gained another valuable point to make it a season best 2 game unbeaten stretch. We had doubled our seasons points tally in two games!

Link to post
Share on other sites

The final game in January was a cup competition. We were to face Motherwell in the third round. It is a game that frankly I care little for. I see it is a threat to the squad where our key players may get injured unnecessarily. I was going to bring in Farquharson for the game but sadly he was injured, as were Cargill and Gow. Tony Woodcock started behind Currie, Graham, Ritchie, Dirno. McGlashan Dow Spink McMillan and Gardner were in midfield behind Roddy Grant up front. ]

This afternoon’s tie was nothing more than a chance for those who haven’t played in a bit to get a game, and to see how far behind the higher tier we are. Roddy Grant became injured early on and Kevin Heenan was put on with the express instructions of not to get injured. We survived until the break all level and after half time we matched Motherwell very well in many areas to my clear satisfaction and suddenly I realised that maybe a stronger side might not have been so bad after all. It took an 87th minute strike from Scotland’s wonderkid striker James McFadden to dispose of us so I was certainly satisfied with our performance against a side also struggling at the bottom of the SPL.

That ended our competitive month in January and for reasons I hope are obvious I really was pleased with January. The Falkirk game was an aberration on an otherwise fine effort by the side. Gary Bowman’s return to full fitness was especially welcome given that Jim Gardner was out for a week after another pulled muscle. Jim Crosby again requested an assistant temporarily to help him out and I certainly tried to look for one but unsuccessfully for the time being. Kenny McMillans neck injury that would keep him out for 2 weeks was the only down point that ruined my quiet evening in at the office, appreciating my surroundings. My imagination did play tricks on my eyes though as I swear Lord Robert smiled upon me from that vast portrait.


Sat 04/01 Falkirk 5 Arbroath 0 Miller 2, Samuel 40, Miller 41, Samuel 43, James 89.

Sat 11/01 Arbroath 1 Ross Country 0. Brownlie 53 !!!

Sat 18/01 Arbroath 0 Alloa 0

Sat 25/01 SC Motherwell 1 Arbroath McFadden 87

Table after 23 games

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">

Team W D L F A GD Pts

1. Falkirk 15 2 6 46 27 +19 47

2. Queen Sth 12 4 7 42 30 +12 40

3. Alloa 12 4 7 35 24 +11 40

4. St. Mirren 11 5 7 42 30 +12 38

5. ICT 10 5 8 41 34 +7 35

6. St. Johnstone 9 6 8 40 35 +5 33

7. Ayr 10 3 10 31 38 -7 33

8. Ross County 7 6 10 31 38 -7 33

9. Clyde 5 6 12 21 38 -17 21

10. Arbroath 1 5 17 15 50 -35 8


[This message was edited by Brian of Nazareth on 18 November 2003 at 2:18.]

Link to post
Share on other sites

woohoo - a neat table icon_smile.gif

February Review


Sat 01/02 H v St. Mirren, Sat 08/02 A v Clyde, Wed 12/02 H v ICT, Sat 15 /02 A v Ayr

As February approaches I’m only all too aware how vital our games are from here on end. If we fight like we have against Alloa and Ross County we have every chance of at least finishing above Clyde. Relegation still looks odds on to happen but until I officially receive the form telling me we’re relegated Arbroath will battle on. I’ve already had to turn down bids for Ross Currie and Euan Graham from Airdrie United and Clyde. Thankfully the close of the transfer window will end speculation in the Herald I’m about to lose my star players.

Martin Cameron, Lee miller and John Robertson of ICT picked up the respective awards for January. For the home clash with St. Mirren that opens February I’m returning to my full strength side as much as possible. Cusick is at right back, Florence at left, with Connaghan and Forrest at last reunited in the middle. Heenan Bowman Spink McAulay and Andy Dow are the midfielders supporting Paul Brownlie.

We have the taste for winning now! A superb start to the first half saw me hopeful of our chances this year. Kevin Heenan tucked away a 7th minute penalty for his 5th of the season, after McGowan had fouled Dow in the box and then to the crowds ecstatic delight Paul Brownlie finally successfully dribbled round a keeper and fired emphatically home to give us a 2-0 lead after only 15 minutes! The confidence was there and Brownlie was so close to making it 3-0 on 20 minutes but Ludovic Roy made a comfortable save. Then Brownlie struck the upright after 36 minutes from a free kick and on the half time whilst I almost thought it was through as Brownlie powered home a Gary Bowman centre but it was called offside. Now there was a dodgy decision if ever I saw one.

After the break St. Mirren came at us but we defended resolutely and on the hour mark McGowan was sent off for arguing with the ref. For once it was now numerically an advantage to us – or so I thought. Mark Roberts then proceeded to pull one back for the away side and nerves rang round Gayfield. You could feel the tension. However their sending off affected them and we controlled the game for a while. When I subbed Brownlie for Craig Feroz he received a standing ovation from the crowd. McGlashan replaced Bowman and Currie replaced Cusick in the 84th minute as I sought to save legs. Then the final whistle arrived quicker than I had imagined and we had secured a second victory! Gayfield was euphoric at this point as we celebrated passing the double figure milestone.

However I felt saddened by it for a reason. We had competed so well and taken fine goals but why take so long to show it? If truth be told our situation is dire and I would be surprised if we are still playing in this league next year. It was a shame but nevertheless it gave the side hope. Maybe – just maybe.

In midweek sadly we had our customary injury again as Gavin Swankie twisted his wrist making him a strong doubt for our trip to Clyde on Saturday. In the League Cup Semi Finals, Aberdeen were defeated by Celtic 2-0 and Kilmarnock convincingly beat Hearts 3-1. John McAulay and David McInally signed contract extensions on reduced wages, and Ross Currie extended his deal but took a £50 increase p/w on his pay. We’re still financial sound though which is good news. All three deals were due to expire in June this year. After a few days managerless bottom of the second division side Stranraer appointed Campbell Money as their new manager replacing Billy McClaren.

For the Clyde game I kept the same side more or less together as we now sought a vital point or 3 at Clyde, the next side above us in the league. It was important not to lose this match. The first half though did not go too well for us. Paul Shields gave Gordon Wallace a smile and Clyde a half time lead which we’d have to eradicate in the second half if we were to at least challenge for 9th spot in the league. Sadly Paul Shields second goal killed off our hopes with a second in the 55th minute and the side were down beat. They knew how important this game was. Sadly Steven Watson’s 76th minute header finished the game and I was furious. Maybe our future is a foregone conclusion but that is absolutely no excuse for defending like that so nonchalantly. Whatever league we are in next season the only thing I know is that some people may not be around at Arbroath much longer.

After the game John Christison expressed his anger in person to the squad at how they’d let a golden opportunity slip. I hope they take that on board. We are still a division one club. Ross County and Clyde are both on 27 points now – 16 points ahead with 11 matches remaining. A tall order maybe but I am going to make certain this battle goes right down as far as it can. There are no quitters at Arbroath. It seems another Declaration lesson is in order.

Link to post
Share on other sites

In midweek we had a game at home to Inverness. A tough side at the best of times – now we had to show how much we wanted to stay in this division. Gary Bowman is out for another 2 months with another groin injury, so Jim Gardner replaces him. Andy Cargill comes in for Darren Spink in the middle. The first half was an open affair with good chances wasted by both Heenan and Brownlie whilst Hinchcliffe saved well from Hislop at the other end but at half time there was no score. We were getting better and defending but we had to continue that for the whole game if we were to get something from the game. We defended solidly the whole game and it became even more important after Paul Brownlie had to come off injured with Feroz replacing him. Darren Spink also replaced the yellow carded Andy Cargill. Unfortunately try as we may the deadlock could not be broken and we had to settle for a 0-0 draw. At least it’s nice to say we “settled†for a draw now.

However most people at the club realise how important those 2 dropped points could be – making for a fairly despondent atmosphere after the game. Even worse followed that game as Jim’s medical tests after the match were not encouraging. Paul Brownlie would miss 4 weeks of action and Eddie Forrest and Kevin Heenan would both miss a week. It really has not been a lucky season at Gayfield.

There was no time to reflect on that draw though as we had to make a daunting trip to 4th placed Ayr on the Saturday. Ayr are very much a club on the up so we would have to be working at 200% to get a result here. Spink came in for Cargill, with Swankie taking Brownlie’s front man role with Feroz on the right of midfield.

The first have was a tight game, just what I wanted and we managed not to concede in the first 45 although Andy Dow left the field injured to be replaced by McGlashan. After the break though James Grady struck in the 52nd minute to hand Ayr victory. We closed them down all game but sadly we never got a grip of the midfield battles and Division 2 football took a step closer. Fortunately Ross County and Clyde suffered heavy defeats but it’s almost certainly too little too late. TO make life more challenging than it already was Andy Dow would miss 2 months with a groin strain, so he was unlikely to play any real role again this season.

Craig Forrest’s neck injury from which he has just recovered seems to sadly be contagious somehow as Steven Florence is out for 3 weeks with the same problem. In all my time in England, I never ever saw such a horrific injury strewn season.


Sat 01/02 Arbroath 2 St. Mirren 1 Heenan pen 7, Brownlie 16 McGowan s/o 60, Roberts 62

Sat 08/02 Clyde 3 Arbroath 0 Shields 23, 55 Watson 78.

Wed 12/02 Arbroath 0 ICT.0

Sat 15 /02 Ayr 1 Arbroath 0 Grady 52

Table after 27 games

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">

Team W D L F A GD Pts

1. Falkirk 17 3 7 50 29 +21 54

2. Alloa 15 4 8 41 27 +14 49

3. Queen Sth 14 4 9 50 36 +14 46

4. St. Johnstone 12 6 9 47 39 +8 42

5. Ayr 13 3 11 36 41 -5 42

6. ICT. 11 7 9 43 37 +6 40

7. St. Mirren 11 5 11 45 37 +8 38

8. Ross County 8 6 13 34 46 -12 30

9. Clyde 7 6 14 29 45 -16 27

10. Arbroath 2 6 19 17 55 -38 12


Top Goal Scorers

1. Kiegan Parker 18.

2. Derek Lyle 16.

3. Lee Miller 16

4. Dennis Wyness 15

5. Steven Hislop 15

Top Assists

1. Lee Miller 11.

2. Chris Hay 10.

3. Derek Lyle 10.

4. Martin Cameron 8

5. Dennis Wyness 8

Link to post
Share on other sites

March Review

After a disappointing February where we missed out on a few valuable points we are now in the unenviable position where we could be relegated by the month if results don’t go our way and we lose all ours. Unsurprisingly none of the letters from the SFA told of awards winging their way to Gayfield. Terry Christie, Richard Walker and Bobby Mann picked all those up. We have to start March with a home clash with Queen of the South a side that has troubled us all year. Now is the time for team work. For spirit. For 110% commitment. Heenan replaced Feroz in the right wing in an otherwise unchanged side.

In the first half we were excellent. Good hustling and closing down the Queens players helped to settle us early on and Swankie was inches away from connecting with a Gardner centre that would have almost certainly seen us score in the 5th minute. However we worked hard and were patient. Accurate passing for a change gave Swankie a sight at goal in the 35th minute but Thompson pushed him and we had a penalty. After much nail biting and finger crossing moments Gavin Swankie slammed it home and that was how it stayed until the break.

The pressure intensified on Queens goal after the break as we searched for decisive second goal to kill the game and give us some breathing space. It never materialised, but neither did a Queen of the South equaliser and finally we had beaten them this year. McGlashan and Cusick both made sub appearances and Jim Gardner was nominated man of the match. It was another terrific display by the lads and I was delighted for them. Clearly they were focused on the task at hand. It’s clearly painful to consider why they weren’t so earlier but that can’t be changed – we can only play our hearts out in the remaining games and see what bears fruit. Both Clyde and Ross County were defeated as well, which gives us hope with 8 games remaining. We are still 15 points from safety which may well be too much but we are still alive.

Unfortunately Kenny McMillan was carrying a slight strain in the match and it worsened to the degree where he has now ruled himself our for 2 more weeks. Andy Cargills 2 month lay off also meant some re shuffling to the side before we travelled to St. Johnstone. We’ve gone so close against the pre-season promotion favourites twice before but this will be a harder proposition as St. Johnstone are a side on the up now. John Cusick and David McInally were brought into the line up to replace McMillan and Cargill. Containment is the key against St. Johnstone, especially against Kiegan Parker.

St. Johnstone began brightly and opened the field up, something Steve and I had been keen to prevent happening but it also allowed us chances on goal and crucially in the 10th minute Swankie won another penalty. But he missed. It was a big miss and on the half hour mark Chris Hay punished us by giving the home side a 1-0 advantage which they held until the break. After the break it became almost mission impossible as Kiegan Parker scored in the 58th minute. After that they had the momentum and unfortunately our only goal was damage limitation in a game that could have turned out so differently had Simon Miotto not held Gavin Swankie’s penalty. Gavin himself was disconsolate at the final whistle as he was only too aware of the significance of that miss. Ross County and Clyde drew 0-0 with each other as they moved a point further ahead and now our task becomes much harder.

Henslee and Brownlie’s return to training boosted us somewhat as we tried to prepare for the oh so tough game with Falkirk at Gayfield on Saturday. Having already beaten us 5-0, 3-0, 2-0 and 3-2 this year they certainly hold the upper hand. Add that to the fact that as table toppers they are brimming with confidence and players like Mark Kerr and Lee Miller and many an Arbroathian will be worrying. This is a game where we have to show bottle. For it Paul Brownlie goes straight back into the line up at forward with Swankie in midfield. Cusick replaces Ritchie as a centre half.

The first half was a tight one and a lucky one for us. Falkirk’s forwards were off form and we were thankful for that, however once we got to half time all square we had a damn good chance of holding on. After the break I was getting quite agitated on the line as Falkirk seemed as though they were going to score at any moment. Then on 76 minutes there was a goal. But not for Falkirk! Darren Spink, who had been having a superb game in the centre took a free kick on the half way line and from an angel he picked out McAulay in space on the edge of the area and the experienced man hit a fantastic volley into the roof of the net! The crowd erupted as we scored. From that I took off Spink and Swankie as a precaution and asked Steve to get them hitting it long, tackling hard and getting behind the ball. We were not losing this lead! Indeed we weren’t as in the 85th minute Gayfield was the happiest I’d seen in a long time. A through ball from man of the match Jim Gardner found John McGlashan in acres of space and the sub fired home a second to secure the points! It was an excellent victory, one that I’d prayed for, for a long time and now we had at last beaten Falkirk! What the heck is going on with this side! Sadly though Kevin Heenan had to leave the field injured late on. Alloa’s victory over Ross County and Clyde’s draw with St. Mirren helped lift spirits. It was still possible – but only just.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The next two fixtures took on a whole new level of importance. Ross County away and Clyde at home. Boy were those big games for us. We now lie 13 points behind Ross County with 6 games to go. The hard work cannot stop and there are no rooms for errors but the atmosphere has lifted at Gayfield and even the Herald have had a couple of nice things to say about us.

In other news during the week, Rangers have almost clinched the SPL title, and Livingston have replaced sacked manager Jim Leishman with Alex Smith. Livingston are 7th the SPL. Rangers then went on to qualify for the UEFA Cup semis with a convincing 7-0 aggregate win over German side Kaiserslauten.

Then on Saturday we had our big game. Ross County away. The permutations were varied. We win and we’re 10 points behind with 15 still available. We lose and we’re relegated. Euan Graham was rendered useless for two weeks after suffering concussion in clash of heads in training today. John McGlashan replaces Kevin Heenan on the right of midfield. John McGlashan was replaced on the bench by Kenny McMillan. I was determined we were not going to go down today.

The first half went as planned. No goals conceded, although none were scored either it set the second half up for a very exciting and tense affair. Connaghan and McAulay had to continue their superb form in the second half to cope with an inevitable Ross County attack. We were struggling to cope with them though, as we sort to improve a terrible away record of just 1 point all season. Craig Hinchcliffe was keeping us in this game the entire second half as McGarry and Winters threatened to relegate us there and then. We had no chances ourselves so I simply prepared for the worst whilst hoping we’d get a win. In the end it was a compromise a 0-0. Another point away from home is always good but at this late stage it could prove costly.

w we beat Clyde on Saturday we can still be relegated if Ross County get a win at Ayr. This is one of the few games in my career I hope when I will be cheering on Ayr.

In other news, whilst Raith Rovers were being put into receivership, the last Scottish Cup quarter final was being played. Rangers beat Hibs 4-0 to join Celtic, 2-0 victors over their least favourite lower league side Inverness Caledonians, Dundee 3-1 conquerors of Motherwell and Dundee United, 4-0 winners against Livingston, in the semi final. On the 26th, I watched Celtic trounce Kilmarnock in the League Cup final with Larsson and Sylla amongst the goal scorers.

The very end of the month saw Internationals again with the Euro 2004 qualifiers. I was surrounded by plenty of rejoicing Scotsman pouring down the whisky ( not wishing to stereotype or anything ) as the resounding beat Iceland 3-0 at Hampden with all the goals arriving in a pulsating 20 minutes. Martin Cameron and Steven Thompson were the scorers. I also had personal satisfaction in noting England’s 3-0 win in Liechtenstein, a Robbie Fowler hat trick as he scored in the 30th, 60th and 90th minutes.


Sat 01/03 Arbroath 1 Queen of the South 0 Swankie pen 36

Sat 08/03 St. Johnstone 2 Arbroath 0 Hay 29, Parker 60.

Sat 15/03 Arbroath 2 Falkirk 0 McAulay 76 McGlashan 86

Sat 22/03 Ross County 0 Arbroath 0

Table after 31 games

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">

Team W D L F A GD Pts

1. Falkirk 20 3 8 56 32 +24 63

2. Queen Sth 17 4 10 59 38 +21 55

3. Alloa 16 5 10 46 35 +11 53

4. ICT 14 7 10 51 43 +8 49

5. St. Johnstone 14 6 11 52 45 +7 48

6. Ayr 14 3 14 41 28 +13 45

7. St. Mirren 12 6 13 49 44 +5 42

8. Ross County 8 8 15 37 52 -15 32

9. Clyde 7 9 15 32 49 -17 30

10. Arbroath 4 7 20 20 57 -37 19


Link to post
Share on other sites

April Review

Despite the woes at the club continuing in April, as Jim Gardner and Tim Woodcock managed to injure themselves again I had some welcome and happy faxes to print off and hang up on the notice board outside the small equipment hut near to this office. First off, although the messages were clearly templates with names added, I felt a sense of pride about receiving the award for March’s Manager of the Month. Also to be congratulated was Craig Hinchcliffe who won Player of the Month for March as recognition of his importance between the sticks. As a reward, we offered him a £30 pound increase on his contract that was due to expire this summer.

The week then had it’s ups and downs again. David McInally was injured for a week but McGlashan took a £200 pay cut per week on his extended contract whilst Hinchcliffe signed his new 3 year deal. In the second round of internationals that game there was more cheering from the pot bellied folk who propped up bar tables as Scotland moved to the top of their qualification tables with a 1-0 victory in Lithuania. Even I was shocked by that one. I was thankfully able to join in the celebrations albeit for a different reason in that England had thrashed Turkey 3-0 but all the same I felt I was becoming accepted in the Arbroath area. Jim Gardner then signed an extended contract with a £20 p/w increase. We are still under budget though which is good.

However once all that had passed it was back to the serious work again. Clyde would be tough and by now absolutely no-one needed telling it was a must win game. If we didn’t we were relegated no matter what happens here on after. With Woodcock, Dirno McInally Gardner, Bowman Cargill and Dow all out through injury we’d have to be strong and focused. Currie Cusick Connaghan and Florence protected Hinchcliffe in goal whilst Paul Brownlie was supported by McGlashan Spink Swankie McAulay and Heenan.

In a bruising first half encounter where both sides’ desperation was evident, we managed to subdue Clyde’s early enthusiasm and for the final twenty minutes of the half we were on top and deep into stoppage time we buried one of our chances as Gavin Swankie’s cross was headed home by the outstanding young midfielder Darren Spink ,ironically one of Gordon Wallace’s best finds for the club.

In the second half we dominated the entire proceedings for a change! Gayfield had rarely seen such great football from the home side which made me a little sad. After Heenan hit a post in the 72nd minute, he crossed 3 minutes later and found Paul Brownlie to volley home a decisive second goal. I regretted not bringing him off straight after as he soon made things interesting by getting himself sent off with 10 minutes to go – it was his second yellow so I can’t appeal directly – I’ll have to hope the ref is willing to rescind one of them. I brought Swankie, Cusick and Spink off after that to save legs, Henslee Ritchie and McMillan all came on to help control the final few minutes and they did so as we recorded another home victory! It was a great win but would have little significance if Ross County had won at Ayr. We wouldn’t find that out until Wednesday as the game had been put back after weather conditions called off the Saturday fixture.

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Settling down into the slightly worn leather chair, arriving a full hour early I ordered a Newcastle Ale and awaited with baited breath for Ayr v Ross County. Fortunately the pub had managed to hook up to some illicit cameras to broadcast the game - which had potential repurcussions for Arbroath.

Through out, I was bawling at the grainy video feed, unsubtly cheering for Ayr to win - like I said a one time thing - to give us hope. Realistically we were down but I couldn't give up hope of a miracle. Then Stephen McGarry scored for Ross County 10 minutes before the half time whistle. Arse. As the half time came, I felt the piercing and also disconsolate gazes of fellow supporters. Another pint arrived - and although it had evidently been spiked - I was not complaining.

On the hour mark it was 1-1 again and I struggled to keep cool. James Grady had blasted home a scrappy effort to tie it up. It would be interesting to see who had the most hunger to win this. Ross County were desperate to avoid the drop whilst their opponents were pretty much in obscurity. Safe from relegation but they weren't going to climb anywhere fast.

As the game ticked down into it's final few seconds I was at least thinking it was only a point - now if County could just lose all their remaining fixutres whilst we won ours... when James Grady belted a beauty home from 25 yards! 2-1 Ayr and the room was electric. Although our hopes looked bleak, any scrap of optimisim was snatched upon and usually used as an excuse to get wasted. Well I don't see anyone complaining!

Let’s hope Ayr could continue to help us out by winning at Clyde on Saturday. Elsewhere in midweek it was the UEFA Cup semi finals and Rangers came away from Olympiakos with an impressive 2-1 victory. Should they win that they have a strong chance of facing Manchester United who defeated another Greek side PAO 2-0.

The weekend saw us return to the small matter of having to win at 4th placed, promotion chasing Alloa to keep our hopes alive. That and praying that Lord Robert is up there somewhere looking down on us kindly. Perhaps he’ll inspire ICT and Ayr to defeating Ross County and Clyde this afternoon. I can only hope.

The only change made to the side was enforced. Paul’s suspension meant a chance for Heenan to return to his attackers role and Jim Gardner came in on the left wing. Nerves jangled in the opening minutes as Craig Hinchcliffe saved us with 2 terrific early diving stops, whilst Kevin Heenan narrowly missed the Alloa goal. Learning that Clyde had taken an early lead was a blow but at least our fans had not picked up on it. Or if they had they didn’t show it. We continued to fight our cause as I expected them too and deservedly went in level at the break. Ayr had equalised at Clyde to given us a welcome boost but now we had to go out and find a goal. It was 45 minutes of Division One football for us.

On the hour mark it was still level but ICT had scored twice in quick succession at Ross County, we had to take advantage of this! The in then 67th minute there was a goal in this game. For Alloa. Ian Little fired home under Hinchcliffe and we were in trouble. 17 minutes later and it was 2-0. Their captain Gregg Watson headed in a corner and it was over. We couldn’t find a goal back from this. Ayr were now winning 3-1 at Clyde, as were ICT at Ross County – but it was immaterial – we were relegated now and would be playing in division 2 next season.

The players knew it and they were dejected. The good luck wishes and commiserations of the Alloa staff was nice but it would not console anyone connected with Arbroath. I’d never tasted relegation before and I certainly didn’t want to again. I felt sick and terrible as if I’d been winded. One thing I will be grateful for though is the Alloa crowd. They cheered their team off the pitch as they would but when our players went over to apologise to our fans and thank them for our support they applauded and there were audible shouts of good luck, and commiserations. They respected us and it was a humbling experience. The Herald had grown excited in recent weeks about our renewed form and some of the more optimistic of them predicted a miracle comeback. So did I, I guess in some ways, well my heart did, but deep down inside me it was always going to be mission impossible. By Christmas we were 22 points from safety and without a win. That is, as it proved today, relegation material.

That same day Raith secured promotion out of the second division so they were the first side to replace us. I suspect the emotions at Raith would be somewhat contrasting to how we felt travelling back to Arbroath. But anyway we had given it our best shot and the last few weeks had put smiles on the Arbroath inhabitants and that is at least some consolation. This experience should I hope only prove beneficial next season as we look to get ourselves back into this division as soon as possible. I hope the old saying “One step backwards, two steps forward†can be applied to Arbroath.

Even though our season still had games to play, we could still technically catch Clyde for example, injuries seemed to continue as usual. Gardner and McAulay both went down with 3 week lay offs. In the Scottish Cup semi final Celtic defeated Rangers 2-1 where they will meet one of the Dundee’s.

For the trip to St. Mirren, who had been put into administration a few days earlier, I made a few changes. Lee Walker and Paul Farquharson from the reserves were given starts. Roddy Grant played up field and Euan Graham partnered Eddie Forrest. Craig Feroz played wide right with Currie McMillan and Spink in the centre.

I was hoping that this was a game we could get a goal or two from and give the fans something to cheer about. A win was unlikely given the side I put out, and after Craig Easton scored in the 4th minute it became even less likely. On 36 minutes the game became one of retaining pride after Scott McLean grabbed another.

In the second half Paul Farquharson got himself sent off for petulant play and we were dead. That was our hopes for maybe challenging 9th spot extinguished and now it was set in stone that we had finished bottom of Division One this year. Many other titles were decided today with Rangers 2-0 win over Dunfermline handing them the SPL title, while Falkirk’s 2-0 win at St. Johnstone saw them champions of Division One as they returned to the SPL, pending a groudn inspection. Unsurprisingly Lee Miller was one of the scorers. Queens Park won promotion to the second division, although the Championship hasn’t yet been decided there yet. Rangers and Manchester United then set up a mouth watering UEFA Cup final after they both won in midweek against Greek opposition.


Sat 05/04 Arbroath 2 Clyde 0 Spink 45 Brownlie 76 Brownlie s/o 79

Sat 12/04 Alloa 2 Arbroath o Little 60, Watson 77

Sat 19/12 St. Mirren 2 Arbroath 0 Easton 5, McLean 36.

Table after 34 games

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">

Team W D L F A GD Pts

1. Falkirk 22 3 9 65 38 +27 69 C

2. Queen Sth 18 5 11 65 45 +20 59

3. ICT 17 7 10 62 45 +17 58

4. Alloa 17 5 12 49 39 +10 56

5. Ayr 17 3 14 49 51 -2 54

6. St. Johnstone 15 6 13 55 54 +1 51

7. St. Mirren 14 6 14 53 47 +6 48

8. Ross County 8 9 17 40 58 -18 33

9. Clyde 7 9 18 33 58 -25 30

10. Arbroath 5 7 22 22 61 -39 22 R


Link to post
Share on other sites

May Review

As the season ends it’s final month, I’ve already got to look to the future with Arbroath. The board have told me I’m staying put for now as the end of season fight saved my job but we need to be finishing amongst the front runners next season.

For our final game at Gayfield this season a few more changes were made as more players were given a chance. Today was all about pride. We had to win this one for the 4500 fans who turned up to watch us. What a flock. The highest attendance of the season once we’ve been relegated.

They were cheering on 25 minutes as Gavin Swankie latched onto a Steve Florence long ball to score and half time we were leading a division one side. We should be contenders next season I’m sure of it – I’d be disappointed if we weren’t. Of course it’s the poor defending that gave Stephan Whelan a late equaliser that needs to be worked on next season to make a challenge next season but we have a few months to work on that.

Also today Craig Levein was sacked by Hearts unsurprisingly. An awful run from the Edinburgh side saw them slip from European contention in late January, right the way down to the foot of the table, 6 points behind a very grateful Aberdeen, with just 2 games remaining. One team we won’t be seeing next season is Cowdenbeath who were relegated from the second division, whilst one we will is Albion Rovers, who were promoted from the third along with Queens Park. There is one final game to see who wins the title there. Ironically we have ended up with some silverware though as Arbroath reserves won their league. The future’s bright at least!

Onto our final fixture of the season then and a trip to Inverness. Relegated sides tend to play with ease now the pressure’s off them. I hope this is the case today as I would dearly love to end the season with a victory. Inverness meanwhile are eager to hold onto their second spot in the table so obviously it won’t be easy – but then again when have we ever had an easy game this year?

Once again I made a few more changes to the side as we looked to keep it tight initially and then maybe nick a goal or two here or there. The first half was tight as I expected but it opened up again after the break when, upon making substitutions, an all out attack was ordered. Let’s find a winner I was hoping. Tim Woodcock was having an outstanding game in goal for us which is of course promising for us, but sadly that’s where all the action was so a 0-0 draw was a good result for us. At least we ended the season unbeaten though.

Elsewhere though there was plenty of drama and I felt so sorry for Ross County who were relegated alongside us on the final day after spending every other week outside that zone. Clyde’s 0-0 draw was enough the lift them up ahead of County by 1 goal after Ross County lost 4-0 to Falkirk! If only Falkirk hadn’t been such heartless fools. That must hurt. Hearts relegation to the first division was confirmed after they failed to beat Dundee to even give themselves a chance. New manager Walter Smith will have plenty to chew over there. As runners up to Raith Rovers, Forfar clinched a spot in the First Division again on the last day to the dismay of Brechin, so long besides Raith at the top. In the third it was Queens Park who clinched the title by winning their last game 4-2 over Montrose. The Arbroathians enjoyed that one.

With our relegation confirmed Paul Brownlie was informed by John Christison that his wage has dropped by 10% in accordance with his new contract. He will now be on £117 per week. He’s still happy playing for us though.

In the awards section it was Falkirk’s player manager Owen Coyle who picked up manager of the year, after leading by example with 17 goals himself complimenting Lee Miller’s tally. Ayr’s defending Paul Lovering picked up the players gong.

Scottish Division One Team of the Year:

Allan Ferguson ( Falkirk )

Mark Campbell ( Ayr )

Mark Dempsie ( St. Mirren )

Paul Lovering ( Ayr ) –left back

Alan Gray ( Queen of Sth ) – right back

Stephen Cosgrove ( Clyde)

Steven Ferguson ( Ross County )

Mark Kerr ( Falkirk )

Dennis Wyness (ICT)

Kiegan Parker ( St. Johnstone )

Lee Miller ( Falkirk )


Andy Goram ( Queen of Sth )

Mark Smyth ( Ayr )

Aaron Black ( Ayr )

Paul Hartley ( St. Johnstone )

Martin Wood ( Ross County )

That week the Scottish were celebrating Rangers victory over Manchester United in the UEFA Cup final something I took a little stick from for being simply English! Barry Ferguson grabbed both goals. The following week Juventus took the Champions League title defeating Inter Milan 3-1 with Del Piero an inspiration. The month of May ended with a 2-0 victory for Celtic over Dundee in the Scottish cup.


Sat 03/05 Arbroath 1 Ayr 1. Swankie 25 Whelan 59

Sat 10/03 ICT 0 Arbroath 0 .

Final Table

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">

Team W D L F A GD Pts

1. Falkirk 22 3 9 65 38 +27 69 C

2. Queen Sth 18 5 11 65 45 +20 59

3. ICT 17 7 10 62 45 +17 58

4. Alloa 17 5 12 49 39 +10 56

5. Ayr 17 3 14 49 51 -2 54

6. St. Johnstone 15 8 13 57 55 +1 53

7. St. Mirren 14 6 16 54 54 0 48

8. Clyde 8 10 18 37 58 -21 34

9. Ross County 8 10 18 42 64 -22 34

10. Arbroath 5 9 22 23 62 -39 24 R


Link to post
Share on other sites

Close Season / Division One / Arbroath stats

Top 5 goal scorers

1. Dennis Wyness ( ICT) 23.

2. Derek Lyle ( Queens ) 23

3. Kiegan Parker ( St. Johnstone ) 21

4. Lee Miller ( Falkirk ) 20

5. Colin Samuel ( Falkirk ) 19

Top 5 Assistants

1. Lee Miller ( Falkirk ) 16

2. Chris Hay (St. Johns) 11

3. Derek Lyle (Queens) 11

4. Dennis Wyness (ICT) 10

5. Stewart Kean (Ayr ) 10

Yellow Cards

1. Ross County 66

2. Arbroath 64

3. Queen of South 56

4. Ayr 54

5. St. Johnstone 8

Red Cards

1. Arbroath 10

2. Ross County 8

3. St. Mirren 4

4. Alloa 4

5. Clyde 3.

Arbroath stats


1. John McAulay 33

2. Paul Brownlie 29

3. Dennis Connaghan 28

4. Steven Florence 26 (2)

5. Kevin Heenan 22 (5)


1. Paul Brownlie 8

2. Kevin Heenan 5

3. Gavin Swankie 5

4. Eddie Forrest 1

5. Roddy Grant 1

6. John McAulay

7. Darren Spink 1

8. John McGlashan


1. Jim Gardner 4

2. Kevin Heenan 3

3. John McAulay 2

4. Gavin Swankie 2

5. Paul Brownlie 1


1. Gary Gow – 35 from 15 games

2. Craig Hinchcliffe – 24 from 18 games

3. Tim Woodcock – 12 from 6 games.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Close Season / Pre-Season June-July Part One


For his heroics the latest SFA circular informed of Clyde’s Alan Kernaghan picking up the Manager of the Month Award. Paul Shields was nominate player of the month whilst Lee Miller made up for missing April by collecting his customary award. Maybe they should call it the Lee Miller award.

On a cool breezy June day I was at the office, as a final sorting out papers before I take a 10 day vacation to first England and then Canada, and it was there, with my television resting peacefully on the foldaway table, that I watched Scotland succumb to a Michael Ballack strike and resign their leadership at the top of the table on goal difference to Germany. Turkey’s draw with Slovakia cheered me up a tad whilst I watched several hundred very melancholy folk stream from the pubs, píssed, towards their homes yelling “Bertie the Bástardâ€. Apparently he threw that game for his own national side to win. Couldn’t be that Germany out played them obviously.

Before I left it was gratifying to learn that Euan Graham, whose contract expiry had managed to circumvent my attention somehow was asking for a reduction in wages of £20 as the club deal with the effects of relegation. I hoped that would be sorted by the time I got back from my break in England, where I was secretly going to watch the England Slovakia match after some family members managed to buy some tickets.

It was a decent enough game with a brace from Michael Owen enough to keep us top. With Germany slaughtering the Faroes I suspect the Scots aren’t in such a great mood now as their once optimistic hopes of automatic qualification have been brought back down to reality.

When I retuned from my break of celebrating with fellow England fans and touring the scenery of Canada on the 20th of June it was irritating to learn that there had been a mix up with Graham’s contract. Apparently some cheeky fellow who claimed to be representing Euan had asked for the pay cut and when Euan discovered the new terms he was mortified and discussed the matter in person. His agent had been unaware of the ‘talks’ as well which is why the new demands of £230 pounds were a little disappointing. Eventually he settled for £210 though – still keeping us under budget.

I also learnt of three new arrivals to the Under 18 side. That afternoon I invited them for a quick session to cast an eye on them and boy have we some prospects! Paul Pirie is an astonishing talent. I’d love to keep him but it looks unlikely given that Sunderland and Leeds have already expressed an interest in the 15 year old! Still it proves our Youth programme is still effective! John Graham, 15 year old sibling of Euan is a hard working defensively based midfielder and apparently is the next John McAulay according to Jake, so we’ll keep tabs on him. Scott Reid at 16 has some potential but he’ll have to work hard. Both will be playing Under 18 and reserve football whilst Paul Pirie, even though he’s 15 might get a chance at first team level – assuming he doesn’t hop across the border to Sunderland or Leeds. If he does remember where you heard him first – Paul Pirie!

The board in their wisdom have told me only a respectable position is necessary this season. Apparently John Christison won’t be putting too much pressure on me for a promotion challenge! That’s nice but really I thought the club would have more ambition than that! Anyway the Herald automatically think we’re promotion candidates, and the genereal feeling from many of the villagers is that we should be challenging for a promotion this year. It also turns out Kevin Heenan was voted Fans Player of the Year, something that does not surprise me- although I suspect Paul Brownlie came a close second.

Paul Pirie is turning out to be quite the irksome arrogant upstart. Clearly he knows he is talented, and other forces have persuaded him of that fact and now this precocious 15 year old feels we cannot offer him a suitable wage. Well laddie there are folk here who have survived perfectly happily on less that £100 per week throughout their careers. Laughably his agent has told us he’s considering his options and wishing he hadn’t joined this club. Way to appreciate the training and encouragement. Just shove it in Jake Ferrier’s face why don’t you. Mind you when he no doubts reads reports that an English Premier League side are interested you’re going to inflate your ego. If he goes – it’s no loss as we never had him before but it would be nice to see how good he really is once he gets out there on the pitch.

Elsewhere Craig Levein had found employment again, now with Partick Thistle in the SPL again. Maybe he can achieve the dubious honour of relegating two sides in succession. As June ends and we enter the pre-season friendly month of July – in which Steve Kirk has already organised a series of matches, I browsed the free transfer player database supplied by the PFA for Scotland. There were some several high profile players looking for clubs both in the United Kingdom and abroad. Based on reputation and the manager reports that accompanied some of the individuals marked up there, I consulted with John Christison before trying to lure some of them to Scotland. Any signing would have to stick to the pay structure here so I doubted any of the several I offered contracts too would arrive. Somehow I don’t see Alen Boksic or Alessandro Costacurta plying their trade in Arbroath

Link to post
Share on other sites

bad news about the relegation icon_frown.gif although it did seem like merely the conformation of what had seemed inevitable. and the silver lining is that at least your pre-season prediction came true icon_biggrin.gif

better luck next year. red lichties for the title icon_cool.gif

p.s. please add all the standard 'it's a good story as well' praise icon14.gif

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Cheers Terk. I have to admit relegation when it came wasn't much of a shock given that it took us 5 months to win our first game icon_biggrin.gificon_frown.gif Still next year should be a little less depressing anyway

Pre-Season Part 2 – July

As soon as I’d made those bids however I was inundated with messages on my computer. By offering the contracts early I’d forced a reaction from fellow sides still unsure as to whether to go for it. Now they’re all speculating in the hope of accumulating and I see my chances of success whither dramatically. Then came the list of rejections. Denis Irwin said no, Paul Ince said no, Andrei Kanchelskis said no, Sensini said no, Valerio Fiori said no and so did Alen Boksic and Dennis de Noojer. Ah well I tried. Another target, aging Dutchman Henk Vos moved to Ciudad de Murcia instead.

After a warm up match with Forres Mechanics, which we lost the Sunday papers reported in earnest about Paul Ince’s move north of the border to join a Scottish side. Yes that’s right. He joined Dunfermline. Sadly Josu Urrutia joined Levante ahead of us. Boksic and De Noojer rejected my second attempts. One star didn’t. One Internationally renowned World Cup winner didn’t reject us this time round. He missed the attention of newspapers in silly season so Monday’s announcement would be even more shocking. John Christison was ecstatic to bring in such quality. As was I. The lift he would provide relegated side was enormous. The signing almost overshadowed the next email I received. We were up against Stenhousemuir in the Challenge Cup 1st round! Ok maybe it did overshadow that somewhat.

Link to post
Share on other sites

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Shock as Sensini signs in for Davies at Arbroath

Arbroath, the little town north east of Edinburgh, famed for the historical relevance of the Scone in it’s delightful Abbey sent shockwaves across some parts of the footballing world by bringing in Roberto Nestor Sensini on a free transfer. The Argentinean star, with over 60 caps to his name who was released by Udinese in the summer has joined Arbroath Town on a free. With over 460 games of top class football at mostly Parma and also Lazio and Udinese it is with wonderment that we enquire why he decided upon Arbroath as he spoke through an interpreter.

“ Well I wanted a challenge, I’ve won honours in Italy and maybe I can no longer sustain the quality required to be a regular in that side so instead of being a bit part player I came to a side where I will play a lot. Mr. Davies was the first manager to make contact with me and I certainly admired his boldness. How many other sides of this stature would consider approaching someone of my calibre. His honesty impressed me and with no other clubs providing an interest it was only really a decision of whether I wanted to continue playing or retire – so it was an easy choice!â€

Sensini at 36 is of course nearing the end of his career but what a coup all the same for John Christisons well run club. Famed for his strict financial management that has kept the club afloat whilst others have struggled, it is pleasing to note that Sensini did not come for the money! He is sure to provide some quality to a side who should be looking at Promotion this season. Also joining Rod Davies’ Arbroath side is Kilmarnocks young pacy left winger Robert Campbell on a 9 month loan agreement. The Sensini deal I think is an example of that phrase made famous by David Jason’s Only Fools And Horses character “Del Boy†– He Who Dares Wins! I’m sure the fans at Gayfield will now me looking forward to the season with more optimism.

Manager Rod Davies was clearly in buoyant mood too. “ Sensini may be at the twilight zone in terms of his career but his expertise and experience will be a valuable asset this year and I’m sure he’ll add a whole new and exciting dimension to Second Division football in Scotland. Rob Campbell has joined us to get some first team experience too and I’m sure he will get it here if our injury crisis of last year is anything to go by! I’m still looking for more additions without financially harming us in anyway, so I’m sure Gayfield will be a much happier place this time round!â€


That piece in the Herald will adorn my Office for a while to come now, although at the moment it’s simply a piece of paper strewn on the desk until I can find some drawing pins or blu-tak to put it up with. That evening Steve took the boys up to East Fife for a friendly where Sensini made his debut. He was replaced at half time in a 0-0 draw. Now we’re one of the more competitive sides in this league I need to focus on our attacking prowess rather than worry about the defence – so the trusty 4-5-1 formation will be abandoned in the next few friendlies to see what we have.#

Having noted on the database of the available for transfer section of the FIFA site that Peter Nielsen was negotiating with Aston Villa and Werder Bremen I feel any further bid might be considered insulting. That night I applied with some cheek for the vacant job as Brazil head coach. I’m not confident.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the kind words Stu. I know I should probably write this in your thread but congrats on the Slovak Cup win (-I'm a bit behind icon_frown.gif and Eddie Forrest is an excellent defender icon_wink.gif ) Hopefully there'll be a much happier season coming up for Arbroath though.

On Sunday 13th Gordon Wallace came to visit Arbroath again with his Clyde team, and it was the second division side who made the most impression as, lining up in a new attacking 4-4-2 formation we won the tie 1-0 although it could have been much higher if we knew where their net was. Kevin Heenan scored the only goal with a superb 35 yard chip effort that stunned almost everyone watching. Sensini was superb at the back, but little Paul Pirie struggled to impress again. Too good for the club then Master Pirie? I think not. He should develop into a talent with hard work and a head screwed on right, however he is clearly being advised badly. I wonder if Roberto Sensini could have a word with the young rapscallian. Today I also learnt that Roddy was going to step down from the playing side and concentrate on the coaching aspect of football, an area in which if truth be told he is much more valued.

Then the voodoo struck once more and John McGlashan and Craig Feroz both suffered the same injury within minutes of each other. 4 weeks for the pair with groin injuries. On Friday 18th Steve in his wisdom arranged a friendly with Montrose – our town rivals. With it bound to pull in the punters and our slight edge in talent it’s an understandable choice.

In the early minutes young Paul Pirie was showing some fine touches and I really felt a responsibility to help this lad develop – if he allows me too. Leeds interest has dissipated so Jake and Steve will help look after him. Just before the break his cross was met by [b[Roddy Grant[/b] who was using this chance to keep himself fit. At right back Scott Reid was playing a superb game and as Jake commented, “ if we can keep these young lads together, they can grow into a serious force in this division.†Lets hope so.

The game finished 1-0 but again it is a match we dominated to the 1200 strong crowds delight. Training sessions will now be incorporating a penalty shoot out competition at the end because Gavin Swankie’s effort today was utterly dismal. Darren Spink put in another determined display and I regretted how much football he missed through injury last season.

However I’ve sent him to rehab to make sure that his ligament and muscle injuries became eradicated for good. He’ll miss 4 weeks but I’m hoping it’ll be worth it. In the mean time he’s one the of the several players whose contract is entering the final year. I have them all on my spreadsheet at the moment, as do Steve, Jake, Dave and Roddy and deciding on them will have to be managed carefully. Roddy has already admitted he won’t be signing an extension whilst several need to perform this year before I make a judgement. Paul Dirno and Spink are the only ones offered for now. Andy Dow, Innes Ritchie, Craig Feroz, Gary Gow and Greg Henslee will have to wait. John McGlashan will be 37 next year and on £200 a week he probably won’t get an extension. If he does I won’t be deciding on that until next year.

Another terrible morning and I despaired as young Scott Reid he had to contend with a nasty training ground injury which will keep him out for 3 months. As part of his recovery he’ll go to rehab, to sort it out at his young age. It was a shame because he was showing some really infectious enthusiasm on practice. Another solid first half of football saw 2 goals for Swankie, 1 of them a good penalty – which makes a change! It finished with Kevin Heenan clearly not practiced enough in the art of penalty kicks as he blazed his effort over. A good work out though all the same.

Sadly though after that game I’d completely forgotten about Jim Crosby’s retirement – the man didn’t even say when he was leaving! Without him it took me a while to realise Paul Pirie had hurt his thigh, something that I could only guess meant a 2 week or so lay off.

The following day, it proved that Paul Dirno’s new contract proved important as Leeds United bid 8k for his services! He hasn’t even impressed often enough in an Arbroath shirt but here he is, being pursued by top clubs. Well I say top clubs I actually meant Leeds United. The bid was negotiated to something a lot higher, but still well within a Premier League clubs balance, even Leeds.

Before our final warm up game away to Lossiemouth, Leeds withdrew their offer for Dirno, clearly indicating how little they want him and Dundee backed down from their attempt to sing Ross Currie. Both were a little upset with the high fees demanded for them but thankfully they are both willing to commit themselves to Arbroath. Spink returns from his physiotherapy course – something which should prevent further injuries occurring.

The Lossiemouth game proved to be a suitable way of warming up the players nicely before the kick off at home to Airdrie United next Saturday. A Kenny McMillan strike and 1 apiece from Paul Brownlie and Jim Gardner saw us comfortably win as 22 players all got a run out. The bookmakers though still don’t think that our relegation battle means we’ll be up there. We’re outsiders at 5-1 with mid table a realistic aim! With my gambling credentials I staked a 500 pound bet on us getting promoted.

Pre-Seasons Results

Sat 03/07 Forres Mechanics 1 Arbroath 0 Jim Jack 39.

Tues –8/07 East Fife 0 Arbroath 0

Sun 13/07 Arbroath 1 Clyde 0 Heenan 48

Fri 18/07 Arbroath 1 Montrose 0 Grant 41

Fri 25/07 Arbroath 2 Stranraer 0 Swankie 14, 36 pen

Mon 28/07 Lossiemouth 1 Arbroath 3 McMillan 9 [/i] Gardner 64 Adams 70, Brownlie 76

[This message was edited by Brian of Nazareth on 07 January 2004 at 22:28.]

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Pre-Season Analysis

With no exits in the summer we have a side that has only been strengthened since the sickening relegation last year. Sensini will play a crucial role in the heart of the defence and his experience will be invaluable to the youngsters whilst Robert Campbell will give us a youthful enthusiastic mix of pace and raw talent waiting to be unleashed on the second division. Competing with Gary Bowman and David McInally should keep us secure on that front.

As for out original squad well my ideas have changed slightly to this time last year. Craig Hinchcliffe has fought hard to become the clubs number one again, and Gary Gow will have a serious level of improvement to make if he is to challenge for the role, whilst in defence, Ross Currie, Eddie Forrest and Euan Graham have all made huge strides towards first team spots. They played solidly in the latter half of last year and will be pressing the current first team side all the way.

In midfield Darren Spink was a revelation last year once he managed to stay fit for long enough, and with the experience of John McAulay and McMillan we have a solid base. Creative flair could come from the promising, but petulant Paul Pirie, or John McGlashan as the aging pro enters what is probably his final year with us.

Either one of the forwards could drop back into midfield where required as demonstrated last season, but Gavin Swankie seems to have made it too hard to drop based on form and Kevin Heenan and Paul Brownlie should play prominent roles this year. Craig Feroz has a lot of work to do to force himself back into my thoughts.

Greg Henslee will have to play out of his skin to convince me of his worth. So far I’ve already emailed a few clubs, thanks to Steve’s suggestions over his availability. Not many positive responses in all although Elgin were willing to offer 4 sub standard players with no money for Greg Henslee. Not what I was looking for but still worthy of consideration and negotiation. Dumbarton also attempted a similar ruse but when I checked the players offered medical records I rejected the offer instantly. Fancy offering me players who were crocked for 2 months, not to mention well below the quality we already had at the club.

Link to post
Share on other sites

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

The Herald’s Football Preview

…and now onto Division Two

Airdrie United The unpopular side created after Airdreonians were forced out of business will be looking to secure their place in the division this season. After Sandy Stewart took them to 4th last season in which they enjoyed an injury free and somewhat fortunate season, the fans will still be looking for the team to challenge for a promotion spot, although mid table is a more probable outcome. The form of Alan Gow and Jerome Vareille up front will be crucial. Prediction 5th

Albion Rovers Albion Rovers promoted after finishing runners up in the third division will be in for a long slog this season down at the bottom. Stuart Hamilton will have to get the most out of the experienced Jim Mercer and Mark Yardley if they are to beat the drop. There is of course the extraordinary 18 year old Kristopher Myles to come through this year. With records showing he was playing for Falkirk as long ago as 1984 the teenager must be protected from burn out after playing professional football since he was two. Then again I think someone at the office has been fiddling with our database. Prediction – 10th

Arbroath Town After an emotional season last year where they looked dead and buried in the first division only to mount an almost remarkable comeback, Rod Davies will be looking to find a way back into the First Division as soon as possible. However it will certainly not be an easy job so Sensini may prove to be the difference. Darren Spink and Paul Brownlie will be crucial in the midfield and forward roles. Prediction 2nd

Berwick Rangers Struggling to survive last year, finishing in 8th spot, Berwick will be in for the same kind of season this time round. With their influential right back David Murie out for 2 months the other players will have to show some leadership and work doubly hard in the early games. Paul Smith could face barracking from certain quarters of the Berwick faithful if they fail to get off to a respectable start. Prediction: 9th

Brechin City Brechin have in recent years spent many years to-ing and fro-ing between the third and second divisions. However last season they finished 3rd, just missing out on promotion so they will be a tough outfit for any side to contend with. Dickie Campbell will be relying on the talents of Omar Daley and Greg Miller in midfield to supply Chris Templeman with the scoring opportunites. Prediction: 1st

Dumbarton Much of how Dumbartons season unfolds will be the performance of their midfield warhorse Barry Donald. A regular last season his influence will be huge in helping Brian Fairley’s side fight off another relegation battle since they won the third division in 2002. Last year they managed 7th and it will be something similar again come may provided they work hard and have an injury free season. Prediction 8th

Queens Park After spending a couple of years bobbing up and down between the second and third division, Queens Park will be looking to secure themselves in this division. They have the quality to survive in this league with the impressive striker David Menelaws who may shock a few defences this season. James Allen’s contribution from midfield will also be key as Kenny Branaghan attempts to find some stability. Prediction 6th

Stenhousemuir Having added Gary Dinwoodie to the side from Coldstream in the summer, John McVeigh’s side will be hoping for a repeat performance of their 5th place last year. Perennial mid table specialists, they neither have the quality to sustain a promotion challenge whilst having enough to stave off relegation. They will have to fight hard though this season if they are to achieve that. Prediction 7th

Stranraer After finishing 6th last year, Campbell Money’s side will be looking to improve this year. They have the ability to challenge for a top 2 position but might fail at the last. Steven Aitken and John Fallon, will like last season be very important in deciding the fate of Stranraer this season. Prediction 4th

Ross County Relegated last season along with Arbroath Town, County will again be looking to bounce right back up after a last day agony at Falkirk. They have the quality and Steven McGarry will no doubt thrive amongst the slightly weaker defences. His relationship with David Hannah will be an exciting one to watch. Dave Mosson has the players, it is now up to him as to whether he can utilise them correctly. Prediction – 3rd


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

August Review


Sat 02/08 H v Airdrie United, Tues 05/08 H v Cowdenbeath ( CC ), Sat 09/08 A v Stranraer, Sat 16/08 H v Queens Park, Sat 23/08 A v Albion Rovers, Sat 30/08 H v Ross County

Going into the first match of the season against Airdrie United it was imperative we got off to a good start to show the fans what we were capable of. Before the game commenced I’d agreed with Elgin City a deal to rid us of Greg Henslee. They would pay us £5,000 and 19 year old rookie striker Gregor Black into the bargain. Gregor looked a useful player, someone we should be able to improve, if the deal goes ahead.

Lining up against Airdrie, were Craig Hinchcliffe behind a back four of Cusick Sensini Connaghan Florence, with Heenan, Spink McAulay and Gardner in an attacking midfield. Paul Brownlie and Gavin Swankie were the forwards.

A tight first half saw little goal mouth action although Darren Spink came so close with a swerving effort from 30 yards which would have made an early contender for goal of the season. The second half much of the same as the crowd cheered the side on desperately hoping for a victory to kick start the campaign. Sadly no goals materialised and we had to settle for a draw. However it’s better start than last year already! Connaghan and Sensini ran a tight ship at the back while there were promising signs in our forward play.

Two days later and another arrogant up start refused to sign. Gregor Black, with only a handful of games in Division 3 found our basic wage offer of £170 to be a complete joke but then he stressed his desire to continuing negotiating, probably because Elgin wish to have no further contact with him. However if he was going to have that sort of attitude I pulled out of negotiations. He’s not that talented, he’s unproven and he can go look for football elsewhere as far as I’m concerned. That did mean Greg Henslee’s move would be cancelled. Greg though would be given a chance to earn a reprieve be being part of the squad hosting Cowdenbeath in the Challenge Cup first round on Tuesday.

For that game, Kevin Heenan swapped roles with Gavin Swankie whilst Paul Dirno replaced a slightly injured John Cusick at right back. John had stubbed a toe walking out of the canteen in training so it wasn’t worth risking. Eddie Forrest and Rob Campbell also gained first starts of the season.

Graham Brown then opened the scoring in the 7th minute as I fumed on the touchlines. We may be a division lower but that doesn’t mean we can avoid putting in 100% effort every game. Our prospects were not helped by Paul Brownlie’s injury on the half hour mark. It stayed like that until half time where I attempted to remind the players there was no room for cockiness or arrogance in this game and they would have to earn every single goal they score this season.

The second half saw a slightly improved Arbroath go close on a couple of occasions but nothing went in. Cowdenbeath adopted a defensive ploy that nullified our threat so I went back to 4-5-1 with the midfield pushing strongly up. Subs were made with McMillan and Sensini coming off to stop their yellow cards descending into a red mist. As the match went into injury time I consigned myself to another defeat until Greg Henslee, set free by Campbell charged into the area before being checked by David White – a penalty! In the final minute of added time and Gavin Swankie was there to take it – with such an erratic hit or miss record I wasn’t going to celebrate just then. Moments later I did as he thundered it hard into the top corner and we deservedly levelled. Now it was extra time.

50 seconds into extra time and Roddy Grant finally scored after a host of poor misses in normal time, following a long ball from Innes Ritchie. It was so infuriating to try and think why we hadn’t done that before. We were dominating the half against a deflated Cowdenbeath side but an injury to Gavin Swankie meant we were down to 10 men, with all subs already used. As if that wasn’t enough Kevin Heenan’s refusal to let a minor incident die down saw him march with 5 minutes of extra time remaining. I really am going to have to work on this attitude problem in our side. Hinchcliffe then kept us ahead with a fantastic reflex save, worthy of any SPL side, as we struggled to cope with Cowdenbeaths 2 man advantage. Then thankfully we sealed the tie as after a break away attack forced a corner, Robert Campbell swung it in for the head of John McAulay and it was 3-1 and game over. Gayfield let out a sigh of relief and cheered both our first win of the season and my first ever cup win with Arbroath.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The following morning as I arrived at my office I learnt that David McInally had injured himself in a collision with a goal post and would be out of action for around 4 weeks, according to the hospital. I really need to get a club Physio in soon although it was easier said than done. Like usual, checking up one found little to cheer me. No-one was interested in us. Calling Jim Crosby was out of the question as he had already insisted several times he wouldn’t stay on at all.

As John Christison dropped down at the training ground to tell me we were up against Berwick Rovers in the second round at Gayfield I told him about my plans to bring in another coach, Dean Cross, to help out on a temporary basis. Thankfully he agreed and 2 phone calls later Dean was heading up the M1, from his home in Banbury to work with us part-time. Another Englishman in would also help my sanity. Scott Jack of Airdrie once again rejected me. I first contacted him when they visited on the opening day and he said he’d think about it although he was quite happy where he was.

For the trip to Stranraer, who unbelievably offered me 3 even more abject players than Dumbarton for Greg, I decided to return to 4-5-1 and let Steve bark out the orders. Heenan played the lone man, with Campbell and Swankie on the wings. Brownlie was injured quite badly and I’m not sure how long he’ll be absent from the side. In the middle McAulay and Spink were looking after Master Pirie making a start in the supporting strikers role.

The first half was a frenetic mess of tangled legs and combative fighting as we sought to impose ourselves on the game. Pirie, Campbell and McAulay all picked up cautions as a result. In the second half, the introduction of McMillan helped a little as he replaced Pirie, but chances were still rare. From a long Steve Florence throw Robbie Campbell should have done better, especially with Heenan waiting in the centre whilst Heenan himself sent a fizzing shot over the bar late on. So we’ve had two 0-0’s to start the year. Defensively I can have few complaints and at least we’ve registered a couple of points but hopefully with time our attacking force will pick up and we can get a few wins under our belt. Campbell’s pace clearly frightened the hell out of Stranraer but work needs to be done on how we can utilise this to our advantage.

After that Christison asked if I would like to consider Cowdenbeaths offer of Kevin Gordon in a straight swap for Henslee. I saw Gordon on Tuesday and frankly he is liable to be sued under the trades descriptions act if he claims to be a footballer. Rejected in an instant. Gretna’s subsequent offer was more like it. £1,000 plus a 20% sell on fee. I pushed it up to £4,000 to see if they would bite the bullet. If they didn’t I’d just offer him to them for a grand. Sunday morning though saw a promising deal. Stranraer having learnt not to offer crap, were willing to pay £6,000 and Andy Scott for Henslee. Andy Scott was a 22 year old striker who had a little skill about him. He could certainly provide a little more cover in case of injuries.

Link to post
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...