They say patience is a virtue and there’s no doubt this was tested to the full for everyone associated with SAFC in the early part of this season.
However, as we head towards Christmas, we can reflect back on the last 12 weeks and take great pride from our achievements; one defeat in 12 and seven wins from our last eight.
I have a lot of people to thank for getting us to where we are, both on and off the field, and I’ll try to do that justice in the piece that follows. Advance apologies to anyone I’ve missed out!
Club Executive Board
It would be fair to say we are a pretty disparate (yes, disparate not desperate) bunch and, like any Board, we have our differences of opinion. However, at the end of the day, we all have the Binos tattooed to our hearts and all my colleagues go way above and beyond the call of duty to do their very best for the Club, in carrying out their respective functions. Without them, I couldn’t deliver on my dual role and I wish to record my sincerest thanks to each and every one of them for their unstinting efforts.
Management & Back Room Staff
Simply the best. I’d trust Stuart and Marty with my life, so I guess entrusting them with the management of first-team affairs is an easy step to take. Both of them give everything and no Club could ask for more. Their behind the scenes team of David Westwood, Kenny Crichton and Andy Ferguson support them superbly (albeit with varying success with their individual sense of humour).
Without taking anything away from the others, I must make special mention of Kenny our Physio (setting aside his sense of humour) who has performed miracles with players’ recoveries from injury; the evidence of which is all too clear to see as those who have benefited from his assistance make a bee-line for him after scoring in their comeback game!
It would be very remiss of me not to make mention in this section of our Club Doctor, Andrew Deeley, and Club Chaplain, Duncan Strathdee, both of whom have been invaluable in respectively providing expert medical and spiritual support. Their acceptance by the management and players in the dressing room is evidenced by them not being exempt from being on the receiving end of their cutting (but good natured) humour!
Under the expert guidance of Stuart McLaren, Coaches Ross Forsyth and Andy Todd and the players have delivered everything that has been asked of them. Not everyone was in agreement about the change of direction we took at the start of the season as we sought to change the culture, attitudes as well as the footballing aspects of our young players to help them bridge the gap between under 20s and first-team football.
The amount of progress made has comfortably exceeded my expectations and I’ve no doubt that we have a very healthy number who would do us proud if they were required to step up now and even more importantly have positioned themselves well to be pushing for “promotion” to the first team in the future.
It’s an old cliché but we have a genuinely “great dressing room” with a squad of players who have bonded superbly and show great respect to everyone through word and action. I won’t single anyone out but, suffice it to say, no one deserves success more than this group and I have every confidence they will deliver for both themselves and their Club.
The success of every club at our level is dependent on having a dedicated band of volunteers and Stirling Albion is blessed with the very best. My thanks and gratitude goes out to them all but extra special thanks has to go to Margaret McFarlane (Boardroom, Players’ and Officials Catering) and Jim Inglis (Match Day Hospitality). Everyone that has been “entertained” by either (or both) of them will know just how great a job they do and how important they are to our success as being, if I say so myself, a Club that delivers customer service par excellence.
Neil Mackay (Club Administrator) and Andy Todd (Community Engagement Manager) may sit on the payroll but both very much have the Binos at heart (even if it’s taken a while to get Andy to finalise his divorce from his home town team, Livingston!). Their differing and considerable contributions often go unheralded and I take this opportunity to record my appreciation on behalf of everyone at the Club. Tony Gray is our new Modern Apprentice – he’s already shown great appetite and aptitude for his role and I wish him well for the duration of his time with us and beyond.
One of the great things about football is that it evokes opinion and, in common with every club, our fans are quick and very much entitled to voice theirs – even when they are wrong! When things go wrong, I smile when I get the blame and I smile even more when things go well and I still get the blame. One thing I never do is take offence.
Stirling Albion is very fortunate to have a healthy number of “hardcore” fans who stick by their team through thick and thin and I enjoy their friendship and company as much as anything else at the Club I’m proud to be involved with. My thanks to all of you and I promise I will do everything I possibly can to support Stuart, Marty et al, in giving you something to get really excited about come the end of the season – albeit two more trips to Hampden might be a little too much to ask for.
Best wishes and good fortune to everyone for 2016.
SAFC Chairman & Operations Director