Interview by R J Mitchell

Kevin Rutkiewicz has taken time out from first-team preparations for tomorrow’s visit of League 2 leaders Edinburgh City to share with his hopes and ambitions for Stirling Albion.

The 38-year-old was unveiled as our new boss on Monday, with former Partick Thistle midfielder Martin Hardie set to join Kevin in the dug-out at Forthbank for the visit of the capital club.

In a 20-year senior career he played for, and captained, Aberdeen, St Johnstone, Dunfermline, Morton, East Fife and Annan, and gained a reputation as an imposing central defender.

Now Kevin is keen to galvanise the club and create a feel-good factor at Forthbank which will reconnect all facets to help the Reds climb the Ladbrokes League 2 table while producing football that will excite the support.

Kevin said: “First of all I would like to say a huge thanks to all those who have been in touch with me one way or another to wish me good luck. This is the culmination of 10 years of progression involving scouting, coaching and gaining my badges and I can’t wait for 3pm on Saturday. I thank the Stirling board for this exciting opportunity. To be fair, I’m buzzing!

“What is very important to me is that we create a real reconnection of everyone involved with this football club which culminates in producing a team that enjoys a passionate backing from the home support and produces the type of performance that merits that and makes the support proud to be wearing red and white.

“What I’ve been saying to the players is that we must all make sacrifices for each other to make this work. It is about a unity of purpose and effort. We have a fresh start right now, we look only forward and we must set our sights on the next match and the team above us in the league.”

The new Binos boss believes he may already have made his most important signing of the season with the arrival of Martin Hardie as his right-hand man: “I have played alongside, shared cars and attended coaching courses with Martin for almost 10 years and we’ve talked long and hard for long enough over the characteristics we believe are key to building a successful football team within the SPFL,” revealed Kevin.

“Martin is a strong character, a real winner and I believe his knowledge and nous will be invaluable to the cause of getting a winning Stirling Albion team out on the park. He was the man at the top of my list to assist me and I am absolutely delighted to have landed him.”

With Darren Barr still recovering from a knee knock and with Kevin having laced up earlier this year for Annan, the new Binos gaffer revealed he has not called time definitively on his playing career: “With Darren it’s vital we give him the time he needs to be the best he can be because a fully-fit Darren Barr will be a huge player for us both on the park and in the dressing room.

“But it may well be that I will re-register as a player to maximise cover. From a pragmatic point of view that would make sense and I did play for Annan against Montrose earlier this year and have maintained my conditioning.”

Turning his attention to the arrival of League 2 leaders Edinburgh City, Kevin was in no mood to play down the size of the challenge, but just as clearly it is one our new manager is desperate to embrace: “Edinburgh City deserve tremendous credit, they have come back this season and really grown as a club and are in some respects a breath of fresh air. They also represent a really tough test.

He continued: “But my challenge has been to prepare the team in a manner that will allow them to give the jersey everything and produce the best performance we are capable of as a Stirling Albion team. We are all in this together, unity is everything and really I can’t wait for the first whistle.”