It will be another first for Shire on Saturday when our latest Lowland League match brings Gretna 2008 FC to Ochilview for the first-ever meeting of the teams.
Of course it won’t be the first time Shire will have faced a team from the Dumfresshire town; we met the original Gretna FC over the course of three seasons between its entry into the league in 2002 until it won promotion out of the SFL Third Division in 2005.
In those three years Shire managed just one victory against them and and on their travels to Raydale Park only ever came away with a draw; 2-2 on their first-ever visit when a last-minute goal from Jamie Dunbar secured a share of the points.
Photo shows Shire in action against Gretna FC at Raydale Park in 2004/05 season.
The current Gretna 2008 FC are not directly connected to the old club. It was formed after the original entered liquidation by its Supporters Trust in 2008 (hence the name) to keep football alive in the town. Gretna 2008 joined the East of Scotland League the following season and 2013 they were granted entry into the original Lowland League finishing third in 2014/15, although last term they were tenth.
This season they have shown much better form on the road than at Raydale Park and last week travelled north to beat Deveronvale 3-0 in the Scottish Cup, a result which snapped a losing streak for them.
The current Gretna 2008 team has strong links to SPFL Championship Queen of the South in nearby Dumfries. They have in their squad four players on loan from the Palmerston club (goalie Jack Leighfield, defenders Richard Murray and Jack Brannan, and striker Connor Murray) who are all young and keen to make their way into the top level of Scottish football.
In addition Gretna 2008 keeper Danny Armstrong is employed by Queen of the South as a Community Development coach.
They certainly seem to prefer life on the road, having recorded wins away at Cumbernauld Colts, Hawick Royal Albert and Edinburgh University in the league already this season and Shire will have to be at our best to preserve our unbeaten home league record.