Following an imposed suspension of 68 days, we’re back!

I’ve expressed my thoughts in respect of the lack of consultation by the SFA in reaching the decision to stop all professional football below the Championship in my Website statement of last week (see elsewhere in this programme for a copy), so I’ll not repeat myself here.

In common I’m sure with all Binos supporters, I’ve found it really hard to cope without my weekly fix of matches and the consolation of having the dosage doubled for the next couple of months is of little consolation. Indeed, playing twice a week brings a whole new set of challenges to the table, some of which are administrative but most sitting with Kevin, his backroom staff and the players as they face up to the near inevitable prospect of a minimum of Sat/Tues/Sat matches from here on in. No one has a crystal ball to predict how the squad will cope but I can confirm that we won’t suffer from a lack of fitness as our journey begins with this afternoon’s league match versus Brechin City, quickly followed by the resumption of the Scottish Cup and our second-round tie versus Raith Rovers. Every player has adhered to a strict fitness programme throughout the break and with “match fitness” being addressed last Tuesday evening with a bounce game versus Falkirk, we will hit the ground running.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic over a year ago and lockdown in its various guises, I have regularly “gone public” with the reassurance that Stirling Albion will ride the financial storm and come out the other end and whilst that message remains unchanged, with weekly PCR Testing added to the existing unavoidable expenditure column and the income column currently largely blank, it would be wrong to say that we don’t have challenges to address. Please see Colin Rowley’s “Outside the Box” article for more on this topic!

In order to achieve a “Return to Playing”, in common with all SPFL1 & 2 clubs, we are required to sign up to an enhanced set of protocols (including PCR Testing) and match days will continue to be an eerie experience with no one in attendance that doesn’t have a specific and authorised role. In acknowledging that, nothing replaces have fans in the ground. The sizeable consolation for Stirling Albion home matches is that we are blessed with SATV’s Ben McAdam inspired and unrivalled Live Streaming, supported by Stuart Johnston of Stream-Scene and the Stirling University Camera Squad!

In closing, I extend a warm and safe welcome to Michael Paton, Brechin City’s Player/Manager, his backroom staff and players for this afternoon’s encounter. Michael has been a busy man with player signings during the closure and I wish him, and everyone associated with Brechin well… starting tomorrow.

C’mon the Binos!

Stuart Brown