Real Football for Real Fans
Stirling Albion F.C. Official Magazine
6th August 2011
And so it begins
INTERVIEWS! New boys Sam Filler and Marc McCulloch talk to The Albion about joining the Binos
The Albion kickstarts the Binos’ league campaign with everything you need to know about the season ahead
Kit man special
The Binos face a tough trip to Almondvale to compete against Livingston in the second round
Your A-Z guide to this season’s Albion players
Jocky’s Corner|Season Preview|Home & Away previews|MATCH REPORTS
Real Football For Real Fans
elcome to issue one of the new monthly publication, The Albion. Through the course of the 2011/12 season, The Albion will provide you with everything you need to know about Stirling Albion and their journey in the Irn-Bru Second Division. First of all I would like to thank everyone who contributed and got involved with the match day magazines for Peter McKenzie’s testimonial and for the supporters owned match with Cliftonville. The Albion is a new publication dedicated to Stirling Albion and the early response from fans and the people amongst the club was fantastic. The Albion media team will continue to take you through the Binos’ challenging season and hope for plenty of success on the pitch. Through the course of the season The Albion will give you in-depth analysis, interviews, features, match reports and everything you need to know about the club. As a monthly publication we will be focusing on Albion’s home games and provide you with information regarding the visitors to Doubletree Dunblane Stadium. Through each edition we will provide you with exclusive interviews with players, coaching staff and the people that keep Albion running. As well as focusing on the senior team, The Albion will keep you up to date with the young reds and their seasons in the youth leagues. Head of youth and coaching, Greg Miller will be filling us in with some of the young talent coming through the ranks. We will all be hoping to see them in the senior team in years to come. For August let’s welcome East Fife and Albion Rovers to the DDS and get behind the Binos for those vital home wins. From everyone involved with The Albion we hope you enjoy first edition and let’s show our full support to the team and hope for much success.
Football Management Manager Jocky Scott Assistant Coach John Blackley Physiotherapist Pauline Robertson Kit Man David Brown Kit Assistant Gregor Dryden Club Doctor Michael Beyer Head of Youth Stewart Taylor (admin) Greg Miller (coaching) Club Chaplain David Barrie 07941484802
Season INTERVIEW MATCH REPORTS Preview
page 10&11 page 14-17
KIT MAN PREVIEW FEATURE 2
Club Secretary Dick King
Head of Community Jason Bolam
Iain Blackwood, Deputy Editor
Club Executive Team Stuart Brown Bill Gillespie Steven Leiper David McFarlane Christopher Nairn
page 20&21 page 22
C Division Champions 1946/47 B Division Champions 1952/53 Second Division Champions 1957/58, 1976/77, 1990/91, 1995/96, 2009/10 Division One Play-off Winners 2006/07 Stirlingshire Cup Winners 1953/54, 54/55, 58/59, 71/72, 73/74, 76/77, 77/78, 83/84, 88/89, 91/92, 98/99, 2003/04, 04/05, 05/06
Editor: Andrew Jenkin Deputy Editors: Iain Blackwood Ross Dunn Contributors: Robin Bairner Jason Bolam Craig Dennett Matthew Hollingworth Jonathan McCormick Deena Mobbs Matthew Morris David Ogilvie Graham Ruthven Jim Thomson Graeme Young Photography: Rajmund Bakonyi Deena Mobbs (RedWeb) Whylers of Stirling Commercial Director: Eddie Docherty Design: Ross Dunn Printing: J.Thomson Colour Printers Contact: magazine@stirlingalbionfc. co.uk Interact: T| 01786 450339 E| stirlingalbion@btconnect. com W| stirlingalbionfc.co.uk Facebook.com/thealbionmagazine Twitter: @stirling_albion
Inside the box
Pre-season is well behind us but the memory of the last minute activity in the build up to our first competitive match against Deveronvale, in the Ramsdens Cup, will live with me for a long time. At training on the Thursday evening, less than 24 hours before the team bus was due to pull out of Doubletree Dunblane Stadium and head for Banff, we had 12 signed players (including long term injury victim, Greig McDonald). With Gary Brass, Shaun Dillon and Callum Reidford nursing injuries, we looked to be struggling as no trialists were allowed. As the evening progressed, terms were finalised between Jocky and the players, personal details gathered, contract and player registration forms completed and finally, the necessary signatures (player, club official and witness) obtained. Eight thirty on the Friday morning saw my son (and Club Kit Man), David, parked up outside Hampden, clutching completed forms for the players, waiting patiently for the doors of our National Stadium to open. With the forms successfully delivered to the offices of the SFA and SFL, the wait was now on for the telephone call to confirm clearance and successful registration. The two hours that I waited for my mobile to flash up the SFL telephone number on screen brought back memories of the time I spent in the waiting room at Stirling Royal Infirmary nearly 30 years ago as my first born took over 20 hours to make an appearance. When the call came through and successful registration of all the players was confirmed, I’m not ashamed to say I had hold back a tear. Over dramatic? Consider this – would you have wanted to be the one to have to tell Jocky the news, if clearance hadn’t been confirmed? Today (Saturday 6 August) sees the launch of our monthly magazine and the end of dedicated match day programmes and it would be remiss of me not to mention the outstanding contribution of Graham Hamilton who was Programme Editor for many years. Graham’s unflagging dedication to the task is truly remarkable and on behalf of everyone involved with SAFC, I extend a huge thank you. Graham has made way for Magazine Editor, Andrew Jenkin and his editorial team of fellow University students. The bar has been set high with the Testimonial and Ladbrokes Supporters Cup programmes but I’m sure this move from programme to magazine will see it raised even further. We are now past the one year mark since “sealing the deal” with Peter McKenzie and whilst it’s an honour to be involved behind the scenes after nearly half a century of supporting Stirling Albion, it would be a lie to say it’s all been plain sailing. Whilst much has been learned and put into practice, the need to be vigilant and pro-active, most particularly with regards to finance, is a never ending task. On the footballing front, with the purse strings tightened following relegation to Division Two, Jocky and John have had to live within the constraints of a much reduced playing budget in putting together what is I suspect the youngest playing squad in the history of the Club, including a record number of five players from last season’s Under 19s. Exciting times lie ahead as the best Management Team in the SFL work with their 100% ‘self assembled’ squad!
Stuart Brown Executive Board
Albion News A SPECIAL THANK YOU BINO BAR A SUCCESS Following on from Paul Goodwin’s decision to step down as a member of the Executive Board, everyone at Stirling Albion Football Club would like to pay tribute to his enormous contribution over the past three years. He was at the forefront of activity in the lead up to the takeover, was instrumental in making it happen and has remained highly influential throughout the first year of fans’ ownership. He may have arrived at SAFC as a self confessed Partick Thistle fan but he became so captured by the unique story of the campaign to save the club that he’s written a book about it – with the assistance of a young journalist and Albion fan Tom Bowser. All proceeds are being donated to the Club so get your order in via the club shop for what is a limited edition book! Paul’s dedication and hard work have helped to put solid foundations in place for the Club to move forward – few if any clubs in Scotland can rightfully lay claim to having made an operating profit during a season that saw us experience one of the worst winters in many years. Paul has moved on to pastures new as Managing Director of FirstpointUSA, the world’s biggest sports scholarship consultancy but there is no truth that John Crawley was signed in part exchange! We wish Paul every success in this exciting role and also in his personal venture into building an eco-house.
DADDY REIDFORD On behalf of everyone at The Albion we would like to take this opportunity to congratulate our goalkeeper, Callum Reidford and his wife on the birth of his son Oliver on Friday 30th July.
SPONSOR A PLAYER The club are launching player sponsors for the 2011/12 season. If you would like the opportunity to sponsor one of Binos then contact the club at: stirlingalbion@ btconnect.com or call: 01786 450399. Player sponsors will cost £150 per player for the season.
The set-up of the Bino Bar has been a resounding success after the proceeds helped towards the signing of Darren Smith. The former Motherwell striker put pen to paper on Thursday (28th July) after a trial period with the club. Smith impressed Jocky with a goal against Northern Irish outfit Cliftonville in the Binos’ pre-season friendly. Binos bar boss, Stef Torrance told The Sun: “It’s going great and to be able to help get players of the calibre of Darren Smith to the club is fabulous.”
TICKET PRICES - SEASON 2011/2012 Pay at the Gate £14 – Adults £8 – Senior Citizens and Students £5 – Children under 17 Young Reds and Kids as part of our Community Football programme FREE! A season ticket card will be given as part of your membership. Season Tickets Season Tickets are valid for all 18 home league games. We are pleased to offer a special child rate of £25 per child where a child’s season ticket is purchased at the same time as an Adult, Senior Citizen or Student season ticket. Adult £200 Senior citizen £130 Student £130 Child under 17 ticket when purchased with adult ticket £25 Child under 17 ticket when NOT purchased with an adult ticket £50 Payment can be made by cash or cheque either in person by calling at the Club or by letter. If writing, please enclose a stamped addressed envelope.
ello and welcome back to the Doubletree Dunblane Stadium for what I hope will be a successful and enjoyable season for Stirling Albion. Pre-season has gone very well. The training part of it has been good and the players’ fitness appears to be good as well. The matches have gone well too, although result wise, I wasn’t interested in the results so the fact that we lost more games then we won doesn’t concern me at all. After all, it’s the first game of the season that’s the important one. We put an emphasis on fitness for the first couple of weeks of pre-season and then we introduced more ball work as well as exercises to sharpen the boys up. I’m quite happy with the way the boys are going into the season. I think we’re beginning to gel well and perform better, particularly as a completely new team and I’m looking forward to the season. We’re going to attempt to play some attractive, attacking football with plenty of passing and movement and I think we saw that particularly in the second half against Cliftonville. That’s the way I enjoy coaching a team to play and that’s the way I enjoy watching a team play, so we’ll be encouraging that style of play. We have a bunch of kids here and we will have, by the start of the season, a squad of twenty. Out of that 20 we have about 15, who I would class as young players, and this will be a new experience for them. The one thing I know about youngsters is that they have their in-
consistencies. One week they can be brilliant, the other, not so good. We are prepared to deal with that over the course of the season. As I say, we have a very young squad this season but if I can bring in some experience between now and the end of the month then I will, but finances dictate whether that will be possible. However, we’re quite prepared to go with youth this season and we knew that would be the case at the end of last season. It’s been difficult to sign so many players in the sense that we’ve had to make so many decisions so quickly. For the Deveronvale game we had to sign an entire team as we were not allowed any trialists, so we had to rush a couple of signings which we would’ve perhaps wanted to take a bit longer completing. This whole experience at Albion has been a learning curve for me as well as the executive. The structure here is different to what I have worked with before in that because it’s a fan based system there are a lot more people involved with the running of the club and because of that it takes a bit longer for decisions to be made. There’s been a bit of learning from both sides. I hope we can get off to a good start although East Fife and Albion Rovers will provide stern opposition for us. It’s always difficult to know what to expect at this time of the year but I am confident we can have a successful season.
It promises to be a fascinating season in the Second Division, with, on paper, little between most of the teams. We look at the runners and riders for 2011/12… AIRDRIE UNITED
Manager: Jimmy Boyle Title odds: 8/1 Last season: 6th in Division Two We faced Airdrie in round one of the Communities League Cup on July 30 and go there again on September 24, with New Broomfield – scene of our memorable play-off triumph - now home to an artificial pitch. The Diamonds have boosted their squad by signing Kilmarnock winger Graeme Owens and Queen of the South striker Derek Holmes. Former Hibernian and St Mirren midfielder Sean Lynch has also joined. Went down 5-0 at home to Livingston in their Ramsdens Cup opener.
Manager: Paul Martin Title odds: 33/1 Last season: 2nd in Division Three Paul Martin did a remarkable job to guide the Coatbridge club to promotion via the play-offs. This is the first time since the four-league system was introduced in 1994/95 that Rovers are not in Division Three. Squad includes ex-Binos Chris Hamilton and Todd Lumsden plus the likes of John Gemmell and Scott Chaplain. Kicked off this season with a 2-0 home defeat to Annan in the Ramsdens Cup.
Manager: Paul Sheerin Title odds: 14/1 Last season: Third Division champions The Red Lichties were worthy winners of the Third Division after a slow start and in Gavin Swankie have a player who could easily be playing at a higher level. Player-manager Paul Sheerin offers experience and quality alongside ex-St Johnstone man Josh Falkingham in midfield and Arbroath could do well again. Pushed Dundee close in the Ramsdens Cup before losing 2-1 in extra time.
Manager: Jim Weir Title odds: 11/4 favourites Last season: 4th in Division Two City suffered play-off heartbreak again when they lost in the final to Ayr United but are bookies’ favourites to go one better this season. Have lost the talismanic Rory McAllister but have brought in Graham Weir and Paul McManus and ex-Bino David McKenna is still there. Defender Scott Buist left us for Glebe Park over the summer and made his debut in the 2-1 Ramsdens Cup defeat to Falkirk.
Manager: Colin Cameron Title odds: 6/1 Last season: 9th in Division One Lost to Brechin in the play-offs then lost manager Jimmy Nicholl to Kilmarnock, where he is No 2 to Kenny Shiels. New boss Colin Cameron guided the Blue Brazil to some eye-catching pre-season wins
over SPL clubs but Raith proved just too strong in the Ramsdens Cup. Young striker Greg Stewart impressed last season, when Cowden beat Albion four times out of four.
Manager: Alan Adamson Title odds: 12/1 Last season: 7th in Division Two Summer signings included Bryan Prunty from Alloa and Ryan Borris from the Doubletree Dunblane Stadium. Paul Nugent now plays with his hometown club and defender Alan Lithgow is yet another ex-Albion player at the Strathclyde Homes Stadium. Started with a 3-2 home win against East Stirling in the Ramsdens Cup.
Manager: John Robertson Title odds: 5/1 Last season: 5th in Division Two Finished last season very strongly and hit Montrose for six in the Ramsdens Cup last month. The Methil Men look as if they will be strong promotion contenders. Wales U21 striker Rob Ogleby has joined on loan from Hearts and Bobby Linn is an obvious threat. Very tough opening-day opponents.
Manager: Dick Campbell Title odds: 4/1 Last season: 3rd in Division Two Lost to Ayr in the play-off semi-finals last season but have bags of experience in Chris Templeman, Graham Gibson and Stevie Crawford and a wily boss in Dick Campbell. Needed penalties to edge out Buckie Thistle in the Ramsdens Cup after a 1-1 draw at Station Park.
Manager: Davie Irons Title odds: 8/1 Last season: 8th in Division Two Title odds have been cut after a string of impressive signings including Paul McHale and Martyn Corrigan from ourselves, ex-Morton full-back Kevin McKinlay and former Ayr and St Mirren hitman Stewart Kean. Needed a win on the last day of 2010/11 to avoid the relegation play-offs but will expect to be challenging at the other end this time round. Lost 2-1 at Partick in the Ramsdens Cup.
Manager: Jocky Scott Title odds: 16/1 Last season: 10th in Division One The Binos have made been forced into wholesale changes but we looked good in beating Highland League Deveronvale 3-1 in the Ramsdens Cup. Brian Allison, one of the few retained from last season, will skipper the side. Arrivals include Shaun Fagan and Marc McCulloch from East Fife, Falkirk striker Lewis Bonar and â€œSo You Think You Are Good Enoughâ€? trialists Sam Filler and John Crawley.
Saturday, 6th August 2011 3pm ko Overview
East Fife are a 5/1 shot to claim the title and are aiming to build on a strong finish to last season which saw them just miss out on the play-offs. Key players include the talented Bobby Linn and defender Scott Durie - son of former Rangers and Scotland hitman Gordon. Rob Ogleby, Matthew Park and Mark Ridgers have joined on loan from Hearts while striker Scott Dalziel has moved from Stenhousemuir. Defenders David White and Andrew Cook have been snapped up from Brechin and midfielder Darren Smith joins from Alloa. East Fife couldn’t have made a better start, thrashing Montrose 6-1 at Links Park in the first round of the Ramsdens Cup, with Ogleby grabbing a hat-trick.
In the dug-out
John Robertson took over from Stevie Crawford as East Fife manager in October of last year. The 46-year-old has a wealth of experience in the dug-out with Inverness CT, Hearts, Ross County, Livingston and Derry City. A goalscoring legend at Tynecastle, he also had a brief spell as a player with Newcastle and won 16 caps for Scotland, scoring on his debut against Romania in 1990.
Last league meeting
On March 20, 2010 we enjoyed a 3-0 win at New Bayview thanks to double from on-loan Motherwell defender Jonathan Page and an effort from Stuart Elliott, who was on loan from Hamilton. At the time it seemed too little, too late for our title hopes until that incredible late run saw the Binos pip Alloa for (D1) the Division Two crown on goal difference. 0-0 Stirling Albion n to or M 1 /1 (D2) 2010 0 Stenhousemuir 0n io lb A g in irl St (D2) The most recent encounter between the teams here 2009/10 irling Albion St 1 2 ty Ci n hi (D1) was on January 23, 2010 when a thrilling match ended 2008/09 Brec istle ion 1-1 Partick Th lb A g in irl St 8 (D2) /0 3-3 in front of 665 fans. Albion’s goals came from a Jon2007 1-3 Ayr United n io lb A g in irl St 7 (D2) athan Smart own goal, David O’Brien and Ross Forsyth, 2006/0 0 Stirling Albion 0tle is Th k ic rt (D2) while Lloyd Young and Stevie Crawford (2) were on tar2005/06 Pa h lbion 5-2 Arbroat A g in irl St 5 (D3) /0 get for the visitors. 04 20 0-0 Cowdenbeath n io lb A g in irl St 4 (D3) 2003/0 Albion Rovers -1 0 n io lb A g in irl (D3) Although East Fife won 3-1 when the clubs clashed in the 2002/03 St d lbion 2-1 Peterhea Challenge Cup a year ago, Stirling are undefeated in the (D2) 2001/02 Stirling A 2 Clydebank 2n io lb A g in irl St last eight league meetings since a 2-1 reverse at Forth2000/01 bank in March 2003.
e Albion’s recent leagu
One of the most remarkable games came on the opening day of the 1999/00 when a League Cup tie saw all 22 players involved in a penalty shoot-out following a 2-2 draw at New Bayview. Albion keeper Garry Gow missed the decisive kick as the hosts progressed 8-7 on penalties.
Our meetings this season
East Fife squad Michael Brown (GK) Andy Collier (GK) Mark Ridgers (GK) Ross Brown Steven Campbell Andrew Cook Scott Dalziel Scott Durie Steve Hislop Craig Johnstone Bobby Linn David Muir Sean Murdoch Rob Ogleby John Ovenstone Matthew Park Robert Sloan Darren Smith Ryan Wallace David White Lloyd Young
August 6 - Stirling Albion v East Fife October 22 - East Fife v Stirling Albion January 21 - Stirling Albion v East Fife April 21 - East Fife v Stirling Albion
East Fife’s early fixtures
July 23 Montrose 1-6 East Fife (Ramsdens Cup) July 30 East Fife 2-1 Elgin City (Communities League Cup) Aug 6 Stirling Albion v East Fife Aug 13 East Fife v Airdrie United Aug 20 Arbroath v East Fife Aug 27 East Fife v Dumbarton
East Fife facts 2010/11
+ East Fife ended last season with an eight-match unbeaten sequence in Division Two and finished in fifth place, five points short of the play-offs. + East Fife’s 18 home matches in 2010/11 produced an incredible 72 goals. The Fifers’ tally of 42 was the highest on home turf but only relegated Alloa and Peterhead conceded more on their own patch. The New Bayview outfit netted 35 times on their travels, a tally bettered only by runway champions Livingston. + Albion midfielders Marc McCulloch and Shaun Fagan both played for the Methil men last season. + Bobby Linn was East Fife’s top scorer in Division Two last season with 13 goals. Kurtis Byrne, who previously had a short stint with the Binos, netted seven times when on loan from Hibernian. + The most recent meeting between the teams was in round two of the Challenge Cup last August when East Fife ran out comfortable 3-1 winners at New Bayview.
East Fife’s 10-year league record 2010/11 – 5th in Division Two 2009/10 – 7th in Division Two 2008/09 – 6th in Division Two 2007/08 – 1st in Division Three 2006/07 – 4th in Division Three 2005/06 – 7th in Division Three 2004/05 – 8th in Division Three 2003/04 – 9th in Division Two 2002/03 – 2nd in Division Three 2001/02 – 8th in Division Three
University student looks to fill Binos’ No.1 jersey Sam Filler, 21, has had quite a varied career for one so young. The former Bradford youth prospect earned a move to then English Premier League side Middlesbrough in 2008. Even though he didn’t quite make the grade, he was offered the chance to join the University of Stirling on a scholarship programme, which allowed him to combine studying with first team football. Filler made the most of the chance and after a successful season for the University, Filler is now looking to secure the number one jersey with the Binos’. The Albion caught up with Sam and talked about his previous experiences in football. The Albion: You had a very successful season last year for the University of Stirling first team, has that given you confidence for your future career? SF: I'm sure that the success that we had as a team at the University last year will benefit every player in the future as it was the first time many of us had won serious competitions. We managed to win the BUCS (British Universities & College Sport) Premier League North and the Alex Jack Cup in the East of Scotland league. It gives you confidence for the future in the sense that you know you are capable of being part of a winning team and are eager to recreate that success as soon as possible. The Albion: What did you learn most from playing in the Scholar set-up and would you recommend it to players looking to get a break? SF: The scholarship helped me to realise that there were other things away from football as there was also an emphasis on our studies. There are not many universities who offer that type of opportunity for young players to get the chance of getting an education as well as playing sport at a highly competitive level. The amount of training/coaching we received has helped me to improve as a player too. I would definitely recommend it to players looking to get a break, as it is something completely different from full time football. The Albion: What have you taken from your experiences from Bradford and Middlesbrough and used to better yourself in your career? SF: My time at Middlesbrough in particular taught me that I needed to be able to handle the pressure of football better and I feel that I can do that now. I feel the last season at the University gave some solid foundations to build on in Pictures by Rajmund Bakonyi
regards to playing week in and week out. I have also learnt to accept that every goalkeeper will make mistakes and that the best goalkeepers are those who make the fewest errors and those who forget the ones they make the quickest. The Albion: Is there any goalkeepers in particular you use for inspiration and if so who? SF: I wouldn't really say that there are any goalkeepers I use for inspiration. Growing up I liked Peter Schmeichel and David Seaman and I was a big Leeds United fan when I was growing up so I used to watch a lot of Nigel Martyn but wouldn't say that one particular player is my inspiration. The Albion: What are your goals for the upcoming season? SF: Now that I have signed with Stirling Albion and part of the squad, my first goal will be to push on and establish myself now it is all sorted and past the trial stage. From here I'll be looking to train hard, improve and hopefully take any opportunities that come my way in the upcoming season for Stirling Albion.
“We really need the fans to be our 12th Man” -Marc McCulloch
n the last few months, Albion’s faithful supporters have been pushed to keep up with the various trialists and the ins and outs at the Dunblane Doubletree Stadium. One man hoping to be a constant figure for the future is veteran Marc McCulloch. Midfielder McCulloch, 31, has garnered a lot of experience during his career, which has been played in both Scotland and Ireland. Marc spent the first half of last season at Arbroath and the second part of the season at East Fife. McCulloch jumped at the chance to come to Albion due to a previous experience working with one of the Albion’s coaching staff, he explained; “I worked with John Blackley at St Johnstone when I was coming through as a youngster and that was definitely a big reason why I decided to come to Albion. I have also massive respect for Jocky Scott and anyone can see what a fantastic manager he is.” Marc admits he is excited about the season ahead but he is not quite sure what to expect from the season in the second division. “We obviously have had a lot of trialists in and around the club in the last few weeks and it is obviously important that we get settled down quickly. It is the nature of the beast that when you have a lot of new players it may take time to settle in. “It was clear to see in the friendlies against Rangers and Cliftonville that not many other teams in league would be fielding that many trialists so close to the start of the season. I think the additions of Shaun Fagan and Shaun Dillon could be vital as they are two
Pictures by Deena Mobbs
players with good experience and have been through it all before. I hope that by around Christmas time we will know if we are going to be a side challenging in the top four.” Marc knows that one of the main reasons that Jocky Scott was keen to have him on board was his experience and Marc himself is relishing helping the young players along this season. “I know my experience could be important for the upcoming season. I have heard the good and the bad from the supporters over the years, and to be honest it doesn’t really affect me anymore. It is more than likely we will have a lot of young players getting some first team football this season and it is imperative that the fans get behind these young guys and give them a chance to make their mistakes. I know it’s a cliché but we really need the fans to be our 12th man under the circumstances at the club.” Marc feels he has real chance to establish himself at a club that he believes could be on the up. “For my money, Stirling Albion, along with Ayr United have for a long time been the shining lights in regards to part-time clubs being successes in Scotland. Even though I haven’t been at the club long, my experiences so far have been very positive and I am looking to establish myself here and have a really good season. “I feel with the coaching staff that we have and if we bring in another few players then we should be very competitive in the second division this season.
Saturday, 20th August 2011 3pm ko Overview
For the first time since the four-league system was introduced in 1994/95, Albion Rovers find themselves playing in the Second Division. The Coatbridge club finished second to runaway leaders Livingston and were promoted via the playoffs, accounting for Queen’s Park and Annan in the process. A solid defence was the basis for their success – no-one conceded fewer home goals than the Cliftonhill outfit – and they will be difficult to beat again this term. Founded in 1882, Rovers were Scottish Cup runners-up in 1920 whereas we have never gone beyond the quarter-finals.
In the dug-out
Paul Martin took over as Albion Rovers boss in the July 2008, stepping up from his role as assistant when then manager John McCormack left to join Hamilton Accies. Previously in charge of Dumbarton, the 46-year-old was a central defender in his playing days, notably with Kilmarnock and Dumbarton. He also had spells with Hamilton Accies and Albion Rovers, before finishing his playing days with Queen’s Park. His assistant is former Stirling defender Todd Lumsden.
Last league meeting
You have to go back to April 10, 2004 for the last league meeting between the teams and it turned out to be something of a thriller at Cliftonhill, where Stirling’s 5-3 win saw us edge closer to promotion from Division Three, which was ultimately achieved as runners-up to Stranraer. Derek Lyle grabbed a double that sunny afternoon, with Stewart Devine, Colin McKinnon and Scott McLean also on target for Allan Moore’s men. Jim Mercer bagged a double and Mark Yardley also scored for Rovers but it was not enough as we made it four wins out of four that season. In contrast, the previous campaign saw Albion Rovers come out on top in three of the four games. They spoiled Moore’s first ever match as Binos boss with a 1-0 triumph at Forthbank in August 2002 thanks to a Jim Dick goal and returned the following February to beat us 4-3 in a midweek game. The clubs last crossed paths in the fourth round of the 2009/10 Scottish Cup when Stirling were flattered by a 3-1 victory in a replay after the original tie at a partially-frozen Cliftonhill on a Monday night had ended goalless. Michael Mullen’s double and a Paul Murphy strike saw us through on the Wednesday, with Pat Walker replying. We probably wished we had gone out at that stage as the fifth round brought a club record-equalling 9-0 defeat at Ross County!
Our meetings this season
Albion squad Chris Fahey (GK) Derek Gaston (GK) Joseph Acquah Chris Boyle Steven Canning Scott Chaplain Allan Dempsie Ciaran Donnelly Danny Ferry John Gemmell James Gilmartin Chris Hamilton Robert Love Todd Lumsden Simon Marriott Ryan McStay Michael O’Byrne Barry Russell Andy Scott Tony Stevenson
August 20 January 14 March 3 May 5
Stirling Albion v Albion Rovers Albion Rovers v Stirling Albion Stirling Albion v Albion Rovers Albion Rovers v Stirling Albion
Albion Rovers’ early fixtures
July 23 Albion Rovers 0-2 Annan (Ramsdens Cup) July 30 Albion Rovers 2-4 Falkirk (Communities League Cup) Aug 6 Arbroath v Albion Rovers Aug 13 Albion Rovers v Forfar Aug 20 Stirling Albion v Albion Rovers Aug 27 Albion Rovers v Brechin
Facts and figures 2010/11 + Former Stenhousemuir midfielder Robert Love was Albion Rovers’ top league scorer last season with 10 goals, including a hat-trick in the first leg of the play-off final against Annan. + Ex-Stirling winger Chris Hamilton made 27 league appearances, scoring six goals. + Rovers’ summer signings include former Hibs, Elgin and Ayr defender Allan Dempsie, the highly-rated Barry Russell from East Kilbride Thistle and former Alloa striker Andy Scott, who twice scored the winning goal against us in 2009/10, when we lost four times to the Wasps. Michael O’Byrne is back for his second spell following a stint with Livingston. + Striker Larry Acquah from Ghana was also snapped up during the close season after initially impressing Rovers boss Paul Martin in a five-a-side match. David Ogilvie
Binos crash out of League Cup
Graeme Owens scores from the spot after Shaun Fagan saw red for bringing him down in the box
Pictures by Deena Mobbs
Owens (31p,77p), Donnelly (35, 81), Bain (88)
Stirling Albion 0 30/07/11 Attendance: 705 Referee: G. Hilland
tirling suffered a heavy defeat and ended the game with nine men as their hopes of reaching the second round of the Scottish Communities League were shattered on the New Broomfield plastic. For half an hour of a glorious sunny afternoon, there was nothing between the teams but then Shaun Fagan was sent off for conceding a penalty – converted by Graeme Owens – and it was an uphill struggle from then on. A late flurry of goals sealed an emphatic home victory. Jocky Scott selected the same team that had beaten Deveronvale in the Ramsdens Cup and they were holding their own when Fagan was judged to have held back Owens in the box and the former Kilmarnock winger slammed his spot-kick past Sam Filler. Four minutes later Ryan Donnelly cracked home a beauty from 20 yards and the Binos were staring at an early exit
against their Second Division rivals. Scott introduced Alan Cook and Daly McSorley at halftime and latest signing Darren Smith made his debut on the hour mark. Cook came close after a great run and Scott Davidson also forced a fine save from Paul McKane before Albion fell apart in the closing stages. Filler hit a clearance straight at Phil Johnston and was sent off for pulling him down in an effort to retrieve the situation. With all the subs used, Cook donned the gloves but had no chance with Owens’ second penalty of the day. Donnelly converted from close range following a corner and Jamie Bain smashed the fifth past Cook from the edge of the area as Jimmy Boyle’s side ensured Albion’s second visit to this ground was somewhat less memorable than the unforgettable play-off triumph in 2007.
Cliftonville retain trophy
Kevin McCann gets physical with Cliftonville winger Martin Donnelly
Pictures by Deena Mobbs
Stirling Albion 2 Cook (44), Smith (66)
Gormley (30,53), McMullan (33) 16/07/11 Attendance: 336 Referee: P. Robertson
he last pre-season game saw Stirling take on Northern Irish club Cliftonville in the Ladbrokes Supporters Cup. The visitors came out the stronger and showed their positive pre-season preparations by keeping the ball and passing it around well. The first change of the match came just before the half hour mark when Alan Cook replaced the injured Paul Harkins, immediately Cook was involved for Albion with some good work down the left. The breakthrough came for Cliftonville after 30 minutes when Martin Donnelly crossed the ball over for striker Joe Gormley who headed home from close range. Cliftonville quickly grabbed a second goal after a foul from Shaun Dillon meant that captain Mcmullan converted from the spot
Just before half time Albion struck back in a lovely move, the ball was played into Lewis Bonar and he turned and slid an inch perfect ball through the back of the defence and into the path of sub Alan Cook who finished superbly. Cliftonville had no intention of surrendering their lead and further extended it as in-form striker Joe Gormley finished with a chip over Filler. The Binos responded well though and pulled a goal back through Darren Smith who finished well from close range for Albionâ€™s second. Despite Albionâ€™s best efforts, the Northern Irish outfit hung on to retain their Ladbrokes Supporters Cup title as 3-2 winners.
Winger Josh Flood gave the Deveronvale defence a torrid time
Pictures by Deena Mobbs
Deveronvale McKenzie (58)
Stirling Albion 3 Attendance: 400 Referee: D. Robertson
Bonar (16, 43), McPherson (68)
ewis Bonar bagged a double on his Albion debut as Jocky Scott’s side safely negotiated a potentially-awkward Ramsdens Cup first-round tie against the Highland League runners-up at Princess Royal Park. No fewer than eight players made their first appearance in a Stirling shirt and it was an impressive display from the new-look side, who were under pressure for a spell in the first half but were always a threat up front and could easily have scored more goals.
Bonar’s brace and a clincher from midfielder Gavin Macpherson did the job. Veteran striker Mike McKenzie briefly gave Deveronvale hope but Scott Anderson’s team were well beaten as Albion reached round two for the second year in a row. The hosts were hoping for a double celebration – keeper James Blanchard missed the game to get married and several of the squad were invited to the reception, hence the 1pm start – but Stirling spoiled the party at a venue where
Winger Josh Flood gave the Deveronvale defence a torrid time
they suffered a shock Scottish Cup defeat 50 years ago. It was a glorious sunny afternoon across much of the country but it was cold and windy in Banff, with a gale blowing right down a pitch that lies only a misplaced clearance from the North Sea. Albion survived an early scare when Graeme Rodger rattled the post from distance but the Binos took the lead in 16 minutes when Scott Fraser’s challenge on Josh Flood was deemed worthy of a penalty and Bonar found the top corner from the spot. Deveronvale then enjoyed their best spell of the game, harnessing the conditions to their advantage, and Sam Filler made a couple of important saves, keeping out a Fraser header then scrambling to prevent sponsors’ man of the match Devon Jacobs from scoring an own goal. Flood should have doubled Albion’s lead as half-time approached but was denied by keeper Stewart Gray and there was further frustration just after the restart when on-loan
Falkirk striker Scott Davidson saw his header disallowed for offside. But Deveronvale were struggling to deal with Stirling’s neat passing football and Davidson did well on the right before crossing for Bonar to make it 2-0 in 48 minutes. McKenzie pulled one back with a swerving free-kick from 25 yards, which could have set up a nervous final half hour but instead Davidson’s assist released Macpherson to coolly seal a fine win. Stirling boss Jocky Scott said: “We have a new team with a lot of young players and it was important to get off to a good start. There were things we can improve on but this was always going to be a difficult game and we are pleased to be in the next round.” Deveronvale manager Scott Anderson said: “Two of the goals were avoidable but we showed spirit to get back into it at 2-0 down.”
THE WALLACE ACADEMY
Donations and Standing Orders
The Wallace Academy is a football academy situated in Zambia. The aim of the academy is to educate and empower young Africans through the power of football. Playing in kit provided by the University of Stirling, the Wallace Academy are currently competing in the Under-17s league in Zambia. The aim of the organisation is to subsidise tuition fees for students, so they can go to school, whist playing football for the team in their spare team. You can help the cause by starting a standing order with the team by filling in the form below, or by entering a team into the fundraiser tournament, held at the University on the 15th of September this year.
Standing Orders To the manager ________________________________ Bank Branch Address ___________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________ Postcode ____________________ Please pay: Lloyds TSB, 52 Murray Place, Stirling, Stirlingshire, FK8 2BX For the credit of Account No. 72225162. Sort Code 87-64-01 The sum of ÂŁ ______________ each month until further notice. Starting on (date): __________________ charging such payments to the following account. Account: _________________________________ Sort Code: _______________________ Full Name: _______________________________ Signature _________________________________ Date: __________________________ Address: _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________ Postcode: _______________________
Albion: Away Dumbarton
Saturday, 13 August 2011 3pm ko
The Binos kick off their league travels away to Dumbarton at the Strathclyde Homes Stadium with a very different side compared to the one that finished last season. It's a similar story for hosts Dumbarton who have welcomed no fewer than nine new signings during pre-season. Last season Dumbarton were pushing for a play off spot and with improvements to their squad they will be looking for more of the same this season. New signings Martin McBride, Alan Lithgow, Kevin Nicoll, Scott Agnew, Jamie Ewings, Bryan Prunty, Adam Monaghan, Graeme Ramage and former Bino, Ryan Borris, will all be looking to make an impact in the early stages of the season. Borris, who made 27 appearances for the Bino's last term, is embarking upon his second spell with The Sons having previously spent four years there, playing 75 games and scoring seven goals. The sides haven't met since the 2009/2010 season, however it is a fixture which appears to favour the away side with the hosts winning only one of the previous five matches. Since 2006 the sides have met five times with Albion winning two games, Dumbarton winning two games and one draw. No matter what the score, matches between these two sides tend to be high scoring affairs with 18 goals scored in the four Second Division fixtures in the 2009/2010 season. It will be an interesting match to see how both teams measure up for the season ahead as both have ambitions for promotion.
Saturday, 27 August 2011 3pm ko Gayfield Park is the destination for Albion's second away match of the campaign as they take on Arbroath. Arbroath is known as a notoriously difficult place to play due to their grounds position by the sea. This makes it additionally challenging for visiting teams as they have to adapt to the strong winds that come in from the sea. The Red Litchties have had a decent pre-season recording three victories in three friendly matches, overcoming Raith Rovers, Keith and Montrose.However, they were eliminated from the Ramsdens Cup in the First Round at the hands of First Division Dundee, losing 2-1 after extra time despite taking the lead after 77 minutes. The Red Litchties have cast their net far and wide in the hope of sealing back to back promotions or at least safely cementing their place as a Second Division club. Manager Paul Sheerin has brought in a number of players to strengthen his squad with Beau Busch, Darren Hill, Kieran McAnespie, Mark Baxter, Stuart Malcolm, Josh Falkingham, Keith Gibson, Lee Sibanda, Jordan Elfverson and Steven Doris. Twenty seven year old Australian defender Beau Busch is expected to make a big impact at Gayfield. Busch, who has played for Manly United, North Queensland Fury and Sydney FC in the past is hoping to make an impression in his first season in Scottish football as he searches to play full time having given up a career in journalism to become a footballer. Prior to the Binos promotion at the end of the 2009/2010 season, they met Arbroath between 2008 and 2010 playing a total of 9 times. Albion have the better record over previous years losing only two of the last nine meetings. Nonetheless, it is yet to be seen how the wholesale changes will affect Stirling Albion's performance this season. Manager Jocky Scott, players and supporters alike will be hoping they are able to surpass expectations and push for promotion throughout what will be a long and tough season in the Irn Bru Second Division.
An Alphabetical Companion Allison, Brian Brian spent five seasons with Falkirk FC, which included two loan spells with the Albion. The deal was made permanent in 2010 and Brian has put together a great run of form. Now team captain, Brian had made 45 appearances (+ 3 as sub) up to end May 2011. Ashe, Danny Danny is a product of the Albion Youth set up, joining the Club in August 2008. He signed professional papers at the start of this term. Made his 1st team debut as a substitute in last seasonâ€™s January League game at Falkirk. Bonar, Lewis The Falkirk connections aren't hard to find in the current squad and Lewis is amongst them. Lewis, aged 19, was a product of the Falkirk Football Academy and featured in a number of first team games. Two goals in his debut for the Albion in the Ramsdens Cup tie at Deveronvale. Brass, Gary A youth team player for the past two seasons, he made his debut against Falkirk in April 2011. One of Jocky Scottâ€™s first signings in pre-season. Cook, Alan The former Dumbarton player scored twice in 9 outings for the Strathclyde Homes Stadium outfit. Aged 19, Alan has signed a contract for 6 months. Crawley, John Signed from Thorniewood Utd, John spent four years in the US on a football scholarship while studying at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. He was once on the books of Motherwell as youngster. Davidson, Scott Another product of the Falkirk Academy. On loan from our near neighbours for the full season. Both he and Lewis Bonar formed a useful partnership up front for the U19 Falkirk team. Dillon, Shaun Was born in Greenock in August 1984. Shaun began his career with Kilmarnock and has had spells with Morton, QOS, Stenhousemuir and Stranraer. He dropped down to Junior level in the summer of 2007 to play for Irvine Meadow eventually moving on to Pollock. Fagan, Shaun Shaun has a wealth of experience in the senior game, with Motherwell, Stenhousemuir, Clyde and East Fife. Shaun played one game as a trialist for the Binos at the start of season 2008-9. Filler, Sam Currently a student at Stirling University, where he played last season. The stopper is a product of Bradford's youth system, Sam (aged 20) was snapped up by Middlesbrough in 2008.
Flood, Josh Made four appearances last term (+2 as sub) while in the youth squad. Flood has signed a two
Pictures by Deena Mobbs
on the binos 2011/12 Squad year deal with the Albion. Josh netted his first Stirling goal against Raith Rovers last term, but on current form looks likely to add to that tally in 2011-12. Hunter, Andy Long standing Youth signed in 2008 - formally signed as first team player on 20 July of this year, played in Stirlingshire Cup Tie v Falkirk, in August 2010. Jacobs, Devon Already has two "player of the game" awards under his belt. Recently turned 20, Devon was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. In the three seasons he spent with Livingston, he played 16 games (+ 2 as sub). Macpherson, Gavin Spotted by John Blackley playing in a bounce match and offered a trial with the Albion and was impressive enough to get offered a contract. The former Falkirk Amateur scored on his debut versus Deveronvale. McCulloch, Marc The oldest player in the squad, and you wouldn’t be able to tell from his energy on the park. Has played in well over 200 games, spanning a 12 year period, including two seasons in Ireland in 2007 and 2008. Released by East Fife in May 2011. McDonald, Greig Another previously on the books at New Bayview. Greig has been hampered with injuries since signing from East Fife in the summer of 2009. Played 8 (+2 sub) appearances in 2010-11 McSorley, Daly Daly also signed professional forms in July, following his release from the youth set up. He played against Falkirk in the Stirlingshire Cup, while still a youth player and made his first team debut against Deveronvale in the Ramsdens Cup. Reidford, Callum Callum joined the Albion in the summer of 2010 as understudy to Scott Christie but soon claimed the number one jersey as his own. His senior career began at Ibrox, followed by spells with Dundee on loan, Dunfermline and Clyde. Smith, Darren The 23-year-old began his career at Motherwell and made his debut for the Fir Park club at the age of 16. He moved to Ross County last summer but injury restricted his appearances at Victoria Park. Made his Albion debut in the Ramsdens Cup defeat to Airdrie after signing a deal until January. Thom, Gary The former Stenhousemuir defender was part of Jocky’s last-minute signings prior to the Deveronvale match. Bo’ness were reported to be interested in acquiring the 23-year-old’s services before he signed for the Binos.
o w T d n u o R
Everything you need to know about our opponents in the second round of Ramsdens Cup
What’s the ground like? Impressive 10,000-seater arena – a legacy of Livingston’s time in the SPL. Livi finished third
in their first ever top-flight season in 2001/02 and enjoyed five years at that level, winning the League Cup, before being relegated. Could be among the contenders for the First Division title this time round. The stadium’s Sunday title is the Braidwood Motor Company Stadium, most just call it Almondvale. Not far to travel from Stirling but leave plenty time in case you get lost amid the myriad of roundabouts in the West Lothian town. You have been warned!
What happened the last time we played there? A 2-1 defeat in March 2008 edged Allan Moore’s men closer to the
relegation trapdoor. On-loan Burnley striker Jay Rodriguez gave us the lead and Liam Corr made his debut but goals from Leigh Griffiths and Robert Snodgrass earned Livi all three points.
Do Albion have a good record against them overall? No! We’ve met eight times in the league and are yet to
record a win, with four draws and four defeats. Livingston also beat us 2-0 in a League Cup tie at our place in August 2004 but Stirling did come out on top in this competition in 1995, winning on penalties after a 1-1 draw just before Livi moved from Meadowbank Stadium.
How did they reach this stage? Thrashed Airdrie United 5-0 on the New Broomfield plastic. Who’s the boss? Gary Bollan. The 38-year-old began his playing career at Dundee United before moving to Rangers.
Also played for the likes of Livingston, St Johnstone, Clyde and Brechin. Took over as Livingston manager in October 2009 and guided them to the Division Two championship last term. His assistant is former Partick Thistle defender Scott Paterson.
Any particular players to look out for? Iain Russell had a fantastic season last year and we owe him a debt for his
contribution while on loan from Morton that helped us win the First Division in 2009/10. Full-back Jonathan Brown is another ex-Bino and Kenny Deuchar is always a threat. Albion full-back Devon Jacobs can catch up with brothers Kyle and Keaghan. A new name to most will be striker Rory Boulding, who joined from Accrington Stanley towards the end of July.
Ramsdens Cup second-round draw - Ties to be played on Tuesday August 9 Hamilton Accies v Partick Thistle, Falkirk v Dundee, East Fife v Elgin City, Livingston v STIRLING ALBION, Annan Athletic v Peterhead, Forfar Athletic v Morton, Dumbarton v Berwick Rangers, Ayr United v Raith Rovers
The quarter-finals are scheduled for Sunday September 4, with the semi-finals on Sunday October 9. The final will go ahead on either Sunday April 1 or 8, 2012.
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tirling Albion has started planning for a bright future with the launch of the club’s new junior academy, which started last month. One of Albion’s experienced members, Ally Dick will be helping the next generation of Albion kids to develop their skills and enjoyment of the game Ally is one of Stirling’s most celebrated footballing sons. The former Spurs and Ajax winger, who has three European winners medals to his name, will bring his knowledge and expertise to the new coaching set-up for the upcoming season across all age levels from under 8’s to under 14’s. Kevin Hamill, Leicester City boss Sven Goran Eriksson’s chief scout in Scotland, will also help direct the coaching philosophy in conjunction with Albion’s head of community football, Jason Bolam. The new junior academy will provide a pathway to the club’s existing youth academy at older age groups and they will hope reach the first team within time. In August, Albion’s junior academy will field teams from under 8 to under 14 levels in the Forth Valley Development League. There are still places available for kids at all those age groups and Ally is excited about the prospects for the new season. Ally spoke to The Albion and said, “The aim of the junior
Pictures by Rajmund Bakonyi academy is to put the emphasis on player development. If you can take a kid with raw talent and show him the right ways from an early age then that child’s progress can be staggering. “Football should always be fun and that’s another key goal of the academy. Too many coaches put the emphasis on winning at an early age. My view is that instilling good habits in young players, coaching them properly and allowing them to enjoy themselves will naturally lead to a winning habit and the success is built on a far stronger foundation” In an innovative move endorsed by Albion directors, every junior academy player will be kitted out in an exact replica of the Binos first-team home kit and will also be given a membership card which allows FREE entry to every first-team home league match for season 2011-2012 at the Doubletree Dunblane Stadium. Albion have also been fortunate to secure leading conditioning coach Ryan Conlon to help with junior academy fitness work. Albion assistant boss John Blackley has given his backing to the new academy and admitted: “This is an exciting new development for Albion and one which could not only help youngsters enjoy their football but perhaps unearth a real star of the future.”
Local Focus: Albion Drilling Services Albion Drilling Services Limited was established in 1986 and has grown in the intervening period to become one of the UK's largest specialist drilling contractors. From our head office in Stirling and our regional office in Dublin we operate contracts throughout the UK and Ireland from the Channel Islands in the South to the Shetland Isles in the North. We have also provided consulting and management services to International projects from Falkland Islands to Malawi.
Firstly, where did the name Albion Drilling originate? We wanted to be based in Stirling and Albion had an automatic connection. As well as this, alphabetically , Albion is always at the top of any listings, so it worked on 2 levels. ( Obviously this doesn’t work on league tables) ! Do you follow The Binos? Yes. We have 2 season tickets but work commitments means I don’t get to as many games as I would like Do you feel your business has a close connection as you both have the same name, Albion? Yes. We believe in supporting local clubs and through advertising and hospitality we are able to financially support the club. Does Albion Drilling focus in Stirlingshire or further afield? We work mainly throughout the UK and Ireland but have also worked in France, the Falklands, Malawi and Qatar. In addition to Stirling we now have offices in Chesterfield and Lewes. The Lewes Director is a Brighton season ticket holder and he keeps reminding me how they are going in the opposite direction to Stirling Albion as they have just been promoted again. On the other hand they do have the benefit of a multi-millionaire chairman who is a lifelong fan and provides large quantities of funding.
How do you think the Binos will get on this season in Division Two? Hopefully at this level we should be able to get a few more wins at Forthbank which would cheer everybody up. The loss at home to Cowdenbeath was a real low point last season. I also think that the second division will provide a good opportunity to bring through a few of the youngsters.
What are the main duties for Albion Drilling? We specialise in drilling and blasting rock for civil engineering projects, and stabilising slopes using anchors and soil nails. If the readers ever travel around Scotland they will almost certainly have gone through rock cuttings which we have blasted out. (A82, M74, M90, Edinburgh by-pass etc.) What could Stirling Albion offer to Albion Drilling? Unfortunately, because of the nature of our business, there is no commercial sense in general advertising, but we do feel that taking clients along to hospitality at Forthbank reflects our interest in our local club and gives them a different perspective to their more usual visits to Ibrox or Celtic Park. What do think of the new layout, going from match day programmes to a monthly magazine? I am not sure about losing the match programme which is in there with the Pie and Bovril as a staple diet for our game but there are obviously good reasons for trying the magazine format. Hopefully you can find some interesting features without resorting to phone tapping! What has been Albion Drilling’s biggest project? Our biggest project was in Ireland in 2007/8 on the M7 motorway to Limerick where we blasted over 5.5 million tonnes of rock for the new road. It was worth over €6 million to us but then the Irish economy nosedived and the work over there dried up almost overnight. How many years has Albion Drilling been in existence? We have been going 25 years and we are pleased to be surviving the current recession, when many others have been less fortunate.
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Confessions of a Kit Man
he changing room is a sacrosanct place. If I didn’t know that before I became Kit Man for Stirling Albion or turned it down, then I would have never experienced this inner-sanctum. Having been a supporter of Stirling Albion for almost 18 years, it has been a privilege and an eye-opening opportunity to become part of the essential fabric of the undergarments of a football team for which I hold such a passion. It is this very sanctity that makes the role a difficult one. Since stepping into the role mid-way through last season there is very little I feel that I have gathered and of that I could transmit to anyone out of the trusted circle. If I did, then I would be hung, drawn, quartered or possibly just kicked up and down the corridors of the Doubletree Dunblane Stadium. I‘m wary that saying this may give you the image of me thumbing my nose proclaiming that ‘I know something that you don’t’. I’m sure that my fellow supporters will appreciate and respect the fact that for a healthy changing room to exist it must be like Las Vegas – what happens there, stays there. This leaves me in the unenviable position of having dozens of stories to tell but no one to tell them to. There is also the awkward (but perhaps powerful?) position of not being able to tell my Dad (Exec Board Member, Stuart Brown) anything either.
I was handed the opportunity to take up the role in January of this year. In retrospect, it may actually have been thrust upon me. Someone was required to take up the reins and I was willing and available. Already being well aware of the aforementioned quasi-religious importance of the changing room, the first day in the job was always going to be daunting. There is a certain kind of nervousness which surrounds trying to break into an already established group. I needn't have been concerned, although it would be foolish to claim that I was welcomed with open arms, I certainly wasn't ever made to feel unwelcome. From there the work began. I would like to note, now that the job description Kit Man is simplistic in the extreme, and is probably akin to describing a Swiss Army Knife, as a knife. It is an all-encompassing role, and my job roles include the following: Cleaner, Courier, Confidant, Counsellor and Contract Administrator. I considered adding Conjurer to that list following on from my successful efforts at accommodating the entire first team playing kit, training kit, physio equipment, balls (and other football related paraphernalia) into the back of a 3-door Toyota Yaris. Away trips are cramped for the Kit Man. Regrettably, I took up work in what was an extremely difficult time for the Albion on the field. The less said about this the better perhaps. However, it might be comforting to note that the emotions within the dressing room in those dark days reflected, to an extent, that on the terraces. I'm not suggesting that the passion of the players for the club
Pictures by Rajmund Bakonyi can compare to that of a supporter who has suffered and rejoiced on Saturday afternoons for more seasons than they would care to remember, but I felt a real sense that the squad were distraught at their failure to produce positive results on the pitch. No professional is ever content with defeat and the misery of that defeat is just as potent. The experience of the changing room, following “The Game That Shall Not Be Mentioned” (Stirling Albion 3 Cowdenbeath 4) was one of the most gut wrenching and horrible games of my life. You will not be surprised to hear that some described it as their darkest day in football. Me? I was absolutely unbearable for about a week afterwards and I can still sometimes involuntarily shudder at thought of it. A regular working week for me at the club is, at the risk of cliché, non-existent. It is of course a part-time role, but often-times the sheer volume of work involved makes it a lot more than that. The Active Stirling staff members are getting used to chaperoning me and my Dad out of the stadium at 10pm, and my girlfriend has affectionately renamed the club “That Bloody Stirling Albion”. Anyone looking to become involved with a football club should make no mistake you will have to be no stranger to hard graft, and you shouldn't ever expect much in the way of appreciation or thanks but the rewards are magnificent. Not only do I get
to become part of the reason that the team can take to the field when Saturday comes, but I have been granted a back stage pass to the inner workings of a passion. I also feel that I am gaining a better understanding of the game of football too. Indeed I may have obtained more incisive knowledge of the technical side of the game since the start of the year, than I had in the over 22 years the came before. It has been a privilege to be witness to team talks, to half time barrackings, and to the preparation of training sessions. It would be neglectful of me to fail to mention the person who it would be impossible to do my job without. Gregor Dryden will be a familiar face to Albion fans. He has been present in the dugout for many a season, and his help in the early days was essential. His ongoing assistance is the only reason I have enough time to do anything else with my spare time besides washing socks and towels. At the time of writing, the team started the season successfully away to Deveronvale. I am hopeful, and confident, that the positive buzz in the dressing room will continue to bear fruits on the pitch. A run of good results on Saturdays would be just the tonic to make a good job, great.
Ball Boy’s Corner
Pictures by Deena Mobbs
Binos’ Ball Boy Matthew Hollingworth gives The Albion his view on recent events at the club
ello everyone and welcome back to the Doubletree Dunblane, this season we see a change in the format of the match day programme, as it will now be a monthly magazine with more pages and a bigger, A4 size. I'd like to pass on thanks to editor Graham Hamilton for running the match day programmes – which couldn’t have been an easy job. He hung up his laptop at the end of last season and I’m sure he’ll be missed by all at the club. And secondly to Ian Jones who was in charge of the Young Reds until he stepped down a few weeks ago. I owe a lot of both who gave me many opportunities over the years, from writing this article to coaching the Young Reds, thanks to both of them and I wish them both the very best for the future. Stirling played Deveronvale FC a few weeks ago in Ramsdens Cup, and I had planned to attend the game but after a late night at work and setting an alarm to wake up at 6am to make the long trip north to Banff, I failed to appear for the supporters bus that waited about 10 minutes for me, so I missed out on the game but have been told that the match was very comfortable for the new Albion team.
At the moment I'm learning to drive with former Bino, Martyn Corrigan. The Stenhousemuir player/coach is also a driving instructor with Matz Driving school, It's a good way of finding out more about the footballer and the lifestyle that goes with being a footballer, and it’s also a good way of chatting about football and getting a different point of view on the game. If anyone is interested in getting lessons from Martyn please contact me via the forum or at games. This season, a number of the ballboys/attendants have retired from helping out this season and that means numbers are short and currently we are looking for new ballboys to fill the boots of the leavers, if you’re interested or know someone who would like to help out please contact Neil Craig on: 07985162034. With a completely new-look squad for this season, no one really knows how well the team will do in the Second Division, with some of the other clubs spending money it may be another long, tough season, but hopefully the team can pull something out of the bag and start the season strongly. Matthew Hollingworth
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STIRLING ALBION F.C.
PHENOMENAL SEASON PROUD SPONSORS OF THE SCOTTISH FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Prudential proudly supports Stirling Albion Best of luck for the 2011/12 season