#024 - Spartans celebrates Championship, Championship here we come!
We reached our goal! Henderson
, together with his squad and staff realized a huge step forward in the clubs history. After a very exciting final end of the season, in the final game of the season, in our own stadium, Spartans
celebrates the most important trophy ever, but maybe even more important, forcing promotion into the second tier of Scottish football! And exciting it was, for sure. The end of a long season harms the squad more and more, some players are literally walking on their last legs… The first of four games we had to play was against Fraserburgh
. We had some bad memories against them, and it looked like history was repeating itself. After a terrible first half it seemed Fraserburgh takes a 2-0 lead into the dressing room, but a late connection goal from Griffiths
made the score looks a lot less bad. The doors on Bellslea Park were heavily shaking because of a yelling Henderson, but none of the players seemed impressed. Early in the second half Fraserburgh scored another goal: 3-1. The match seemed already lost, but Griffiths again forced his second goal and a slight glimmer of hope was taking part of Spartans. That paid off. Just before the additional time starts central defender Jordan Armstrong
scored a late equalizer. Maybe not deserved, but a very important point. “Six! We concede six goals from the bottom club in the league over two matches. It’s a big disgrace.” A mad Henderson said.
The next game against Buckie Thistle
wasn’t that great either. The visitors are taking the lead at the end of the first 45 minutes and again Henderson did make himself loud and clear in front of his players. This time it sorts out. After only 5 minutes in the second half Spartans takes the lead and holds stand until the final whistle. Next: Stirling Albion
away. Our next opponent in the second last game of the season. Our direct competitor who are 2 points behind of us. A really important game. The outcome of this match is probably decisive. If we don’t lose it will be in our own hands for the final game, but if we lose we probably lose the league as well. Our second defeat against them after our Cup loss… The idea only makes us sick! So a fully prepared squad will be motivated to the bone for not losing this match. In front of a big crowd unfolds a very exciting game, but it was Stirling taking the lead after a terrible pass on the midfield. Before half time Stirling was rewarded a penalty after a foul from Mille
r and all seemed over. But our hero Joe Young
stopped the penalty, keeping us in the game!
Again we were sitting behind after the first half, so Henderson decide to bring in an extra striker and switching to 4-4-2. That was a good decision. Spartans slightly takes control over the game and twenty minutes before the end of the game Vezza
scored the equalizer after a brilliant pass from Griffiths
. Immediately Stirling was playing far more aggressive and attacking, pushing us back. They created two really good chances, but again it was our Englishman under the crossbar who saved our asses. So the match ended in a 1-1 draw, maybe Stirling deserved a little bit more to be honest, but we don’t give a fuck!
So we only need to win the final game against Civil Service Strollers
, number eighteen in the league, to secure our league winning. Easy right? Not really, actually. It looks like our spirit and teamwork isn’t as good and smooth as it was months ago, but purely on willpower we forced two goals in the second half after we fell behind again. The late winning goal was scored by Declan Hannah
, our young striker who only played his second match after his debut two games earlier against Buckie Thistle
. A boy’s dream for him to force the first League One Championship in the history of Spartans and to compete for the very first time on the second highest tier of football in Scotland.
We’ve done it, reaching into the Scottish Championship next season. But probably that’s not the best news in the world for everyone in our current squad. I will walk through our current squad and mentioned the guys who are leaving us or probably being replaced. First our goalkeeper. Joe Young
was the best wat we could find last season, but he proofed himself every single minute. Only 19-year old yet he still can be developing himself even more, so he will definitely staying with us next season. Although there is some cautious interest from other clubs as well. Adam
is leaving us (he was already in the B-squad), so we are searching for a decent back-up goalkeeper who is low on wages. Maybe one of our academy talents will be promoted into the first squad if we can’t find anyone.
Our defence line then. Our 5-men defensive tactic really worked out. We conceded only 32 goals in the league (from which 6 against Fraserbrugh… Had to say that, ha-ha). But are these guys good enough for the Championship. I have my doubts. But for sure I’m not replacing everybody, so a few of them will definitely stay with us. First of them is Jordan Armstrong
. We signed him last year and he proofed himself as the best central defender. Left fullback Daniel Church
will also be here, but we are searching for a competitor for him because he didn’t convinced me that much so far. Than we have Mark Finlayson
and Jason Brown
. Two decent central midfielders, but only one of them will stay. Both of them are running out of their contract, both of them achieved more or less the same last season. It’s a very hard choice, but I’ve chosen for Finlayson to stay. Mainly because he can play as a right back as well and his overall statistics are slightly better than Brown. Sutherland
is our youngster who is probably going away on loan for next season and the three guys we loaned in are returning to their own clubs.
The most difficult choice is our right-back position. Dean Brett
. A very mysterious guy. Only one star rating judged by our scouts, but he performed really well. He is a good free kick taker and a good penalty taker as well, that’s why he scored 9(!) goals. But defensively he is decent as well. This is what I have done: We offered him a new contract (his wage is not that much, so it wasn’t a hard choice) and are going to search for a better option. If we can’t find one, Brett will probably our starting fullback for the next season as well.
Our midfielders performed well. Ashmore
is still the best, so he will definitely stay. I was expecting a little bit more from Ritchie
, but he was not bad, so we give him another season. 30-year old Brian Cameron
proofed himself as a decent back-up, he will be sitting in the waiting room. If we can’t find better central midfielders then we lengthen his contract, otherwise he will leave. The two talents from our own academy, Max Barry
and Kevin Wright
didn’t proofed themselves last season, so both of them are going to leave us. Right-winger Bill Swanson
performed really well, so he is definitely staying with us. Vezza
will stay as a back-up. But, we are going to search for an upgrade, so it might be possible that we find another guy and if so we try to loan Vezza because of his contract is not ending this year. Left-winger Bryan Shields
played some good matches, but he performs not stable enough. He achieved three matches an E and one match an A. We can’t lean on such kind of players, so we say goodbye to him. Galvin
will stay as an backup.
Our striker then… Such a pain in the ass so far to be honest. Last season we had Dunn
, who wasn’t good enough, this year we thought we had a better one with Sean Brown
. Ehhhmm, not. His start of the season was decent, but in the rest of the season he barely scored a goal despite we gave him a lot of playing time. Brown was on a one-year deal, so we decide to let him go. Talent Ben Reilly
acts as our back-up striker who scored 7 goals in 20 matches, not that bad, so he will staying with us. Declan Hannah
is another youngster who looks promising, we try to loan him next season, but if we can’t he possible can become our pinch hitter. The only one who is never letting me down is Bryan Griffiths
again. He scored not that much this season, but his big favour in comparison with all the other striker is the fact he cared a lot of assists as well. And don’t forget he is still only 18-years old and played already more than 100 matches for us. So there will be only one outcome possible: Griffiths is definitely with us next season.
All the above summarized we keep between 12 to 14 players with us and try to strengthen our squad wherever possible. The board has raised our wage budget to around £5,400, which can be increased with another £1,000 if we lowering down our transfer budget. That’s a decent amount of money to work with, if we can find the right players for the right amount of wage I have some good faith for being not relegated directly next season. We made a profit of around £220,000 over the last season. Mainly because our final position in the table, good prizemoney in the cup tournaments and transfers.
After we signed left-winger Kieran Duff
a month ago already, just before the end of the season when all players run out of their contract we signed two more players. Again a left midfielder, but he is simply to good to ignore. Probably not for the first squad immediately, but this 18-yead old kid is a promising star for the future. Alex Wardrope
is joining us after he played the last few seasons for East Stirlingshire
, acting in League One as well. The most important figures for the role we want to use him in have almost all double figures and our scouts are believing he has some great potential. The second (actually the third) signing is central midfielder Carlo Pignatiello
. I found him myself after spying around in the squads from the few clubs that has been relegated from the Premiership. He played a couple of matches for Airdrieonians
, but obvious is not good enough for the Premiership. He was searching for a new adventure, so we picked him up, giving him the chance to proof himself on Championship level. A big upgrade for us, he is probably the best midfielder in comparison with what we already have. Next update will be include our pre-season results and of course more signings (I hope!) to make our squad ready for the next tier!