Shire coach John Sludden will take his time before making his next move to strengthen his squad for the 2017/18 Lowland League season but he has not closed the book on things and says there will be more new faces to look forward to.
Many of the berths on the roster were taken months ago as the mainstays of last season opted for continuity and penned contract extensions long before the summer holidays.
But the coach was just as clear that there was still room for improvement and finding the players to build on what he had last year would be his main priority.
So far striker Kevin Kelbie, central defender Jordan Tapping and utility man Jamie McCormack are the only three players signed who were not with Shire last season. But the coach says he is still very much on the lookout to add to that tally.
“Last season was a bit of a rush to get a squad together but this season we don’t have to rush into it,” he said. “We have a nucleus of a squad there and what we are now looking for is quality.
“We’ve got quantity but now it’s about finding someone who will add something to the team.”
The coach isn’t being leisurely in his approach to adding some more new faces but he says he wants to give things proper consideration. He says the club’s board of directors have to be given a vote of confidence for their assistance in trying to get the best possible squad available for the forthcoming season.
“The board of directors have given us their backing in terms of getting Tappy, and Jamie and Kevin,” he said. “And we are now in discussions with a couple of players who we think will add some quality to the squad.”
But he knows too that he has to have numbers as well. A long season can take its toll in terms of injury and suspension and the coach appreciates he will need everyone to play a part.
“The board deserves credit for making sure that by February we had ten or twelve players in who would be the nucleus this time round,” he said. “We have taken our time [when adding players}. So far we have been successful in bringing players into that area.”
Now the hard work starts and pre-season training resumed at the weekend. Before long the friendlies will be underway and the first competitive game, the Lowland League opener against BSC Glasgow at Ochilview on 29th July, is not far off.
The coach says everyone’s raring to go.
“The one thing we always talk about is the team spirit,” he said. “And, on the first day of pre-season, you can already see it. Everyone’s in and they are looking forward to it. ”
You can listen to John’s full interview on the start of pre-season training, his thoughts on the new signings, and views on more to come by clicking on the link below .
Jamie Barclay had had enough of the waiting game last season.
The 27 year-old goalkeeper is back with Shire for a second Lowland League campaign partly because he wanted to get his football future sorted out quickly. His deal with Shire expired in May, but rather then be left in limbo he kept talking to head coach John Sludden and the pair came to terms.
He signed on the dotted line on the first day of pre-season training perhaps a year older and a year wiser with the experience of last summer still on his mind.
Twelve months ago, after his release by Stenhousemuir, Jamie was looking for the offers. But they didn’t come. The new season began and he still had no club and it wasn’t until Dumbarton faced an injury crisis that he signed a short-term deal there.
When that ended he again searched around until Shire asked him to continue his career in the Lowland League. Some may have seen it as a step down but Jamie enjoyed it enough to agree to a return for a second season. And it also meant there was no second summer of uncertainty.
“I am delighted to be back and happy to get it sorted out early as well,” he said. “I didn’t want to be hanging about for another summer so when the gaffer called asking me to come for another year I was happy to get it done early.”
As well as the security there is also the personal satisfaction. Some perhaps would look for a return to the SPFL but Jamie says his first experience of Lowland League football certainly tempted him back.
“Some of the places we went to last year were certainly a bit of an eye opener,” he said. “But I loved it. In fact it was the first time in a couple years where I have actually enjoyed my football.
“Also, I have always said that this is a club that I like playing for. I get on well with the people here so for me to come back again was a bit of a no-brainer.”
As well as enjoyment there is also a point to prove. As much as he got personal satisfaction playing at a club he likes Jamie, like everyone else at Shire, was disappointed to have missed out on the Lowland League crown, ending the season as runners-up to champions East Kilbride.
The teams will re-new battle once more this season and the Shire goalkeeper says the objective remains the same.
“I know last year the target was to get promoted but that will be what we are aiming for again,” he said. “Anything can happen in football and I suppose you could win the league and end up getting beat in the play-off.
“But you want to give yourself the best possible chance of being promoted and get the club back to where they were for so many years.”
You can listen to Jamie’s interview on his return to the club in full by clicking on the link below.
Shire will open their 2017/18 Lowland League season with a home game against BSC Glasgow.
The game will go ahead at Ochilview on Saturday 29th July with a 3:00pm kick-off and will be the team’s first competitive match of the season.
The early season matches will come thick and fast for John Sludden’s team with our first away game of the season just four days later on Wednesday 2nd August and a trip to Rosewell to take on Whitehill Welfare. This game has a 7:15pm kick-off.
Shire’s first encounter with Lowland League new boys, Edusport Academy, will be at Ochilview on 18th November. Other games to look out for are meetings with last season’s champions, East Kilbride.
The team will travel to K Park on 23rd September and then will host East Kilbride in the return game at Ochilview on 16th December.
Our groundshare with Stenhousemuir means that there will be a couple of Sunday fixtures for Shire at Ochilview – on 20th August when Civil Service Strollers are the visitors and our first game of 2018 which will be on Sunday 7th January against Stirling University.
We will put a full list of Lowland League fixtures on the website when they become available.
Coach John Sludden has made utility man Jamie McCormack the latest new face to his 2017/18 Shire squad.
The 25 year-old can fill a number of different roles within the team and joins Shire after spending the last two seasons at Stenhousemuir where he made 70 SPFL League 1 and cup appearances for The Warriors.
Jamie also has played in the SPFL for Morton and Brechin City after being part of the youth academies at Heart of Midlothian and Wigan Athletic.
The Shire head coach is hailing the capture of a versatile player who John believes will bring the right attributes to the club.
“He’s a winner,” said John. “He will bring a bit of aggression to our game as well as being an athlete. Jamie has a good background in terms of his football education and where he’s been but, most importantly, he is a good football player who brings something different.
“He gives us options – he can play in the back four, at right-back, in the middle of the park. He is one of those players who can adapt to where you want him to play so that gives us options,” said John.
Jamie is the third new signing over the summer following the arrival of striker Kevin Kelbie and central defender Jordan Tapping.
Goalkeeper Jamie Barclay will be returning to Shire for the 2017/18 season after completing the formalities on a new one year contract as the players settled into pre-season training on Saturday morning.
The 27 year-old opted to remain at the club after being the number one choice between the sticks last season. In all, it’s the fourth time Jamie has put pen to paper with Shire following a deal last season and two loan spells with the club while he was on the books at Falkirk.
Jamie joins a long list of players who were part of last season’s squad and who have committed to Shire for a second season. He says he is delighted to get the chance to return for another year.
“It’s great to be back and get it sorted out so quickly as well,” he said. “I didn’t want to be hanging about for another summer so I as delighted when the gaffer phoned me to offer me the chance to sign again. We’ll get the paperwork done and that will be me here for another year.”
Jamie was one of Shire’s star men last season, making an important contribution to the club’s second place finish in the Lowland League and picking up plaudits along the way, including being voted Player of the Month in February.
“It was excellent,” said Jamie of last season’s Lowland League experience. “A lot of the places we went were real eye openers but it was the first time in a few years I really enjoyed my football.
“It’s a great club. I love playing here and get on well with all the staff so really it was a no brainer to come back and sign again,” he said.
Coach John Sludden was every bit as happy to have Jamie back. The former Falkirk and Scotland under-21 international goalkeeper is a considerable asset according to the club’s head coach.
“We kept in contact over the summer and it was just a case after he came back from his holidays to get things tied up,” said John. “Jamie is a massive player for us and for the other players to see him come back on the first day of pre-season, everyone got a big lift from that.”
Lots of things may stop for a while during the close season but the Shire 100 Club keeps out paying one lucky member with a cash prize each month even when the team takes its summer holiday.
The June winner of the £150.00 monthly cash prize was Shire season ticket holder John Daly.
John’s lucky number was picked out of the magic bag of balls by Jennifer Bell, assisted by club chairman Alan Archibald.
Once again, it goes to show the advantages of being a member of the Shire 100 Club. New members are always welcome and, for a monthly investment of as little as £5.00, you can be helping the club achieve its goals both on and off the pitch while at the same time putting yourself in with a shout of taking home a tidy sum in the monthly cash draw.
Joining the Shire 100 Club is straightforward. Full details and an application are available on the club website here .
The club is launching an exciting new initiative aimed at turning loyal Shire fans into sponsors.
It’s Called ‘Thirty-One Days in July’ for a simple reason – on each day of the month we will be offering a different sponsorship opportunity to our fans via social media.
We’re not asking you to fork out your life savings to sponsor the strips, but we are offering up many of the smaller items that keep the club ticking over day-to-day and don’t cost a fortune.
Many of the sponsorship opportunities can be had for just a few quid. That doesn’t mean they aren’t important, though – sock tape and training bibs are essential items and this new initiative gives you the opportunity be the official club sponsor of each of these essential items.
So look out each day during July on our social media for the individual items we would love you to sponsor. If you see one that you fancy helping out with, and fits your price range, then let us know and you’ll get full recognition and some nice benefits as well.
Tomorrow, Saturday 1st July, the first item will appear on our Facebook page and on the club website.
Shire have been drawn to face SPFL League 1 side Ayr United at home in the first round of the 2017/18 IRN-BRU Cup.
The draw was made on Tuesday in Coatbridge and the tie will be played at Ochilview on Wednesday 16th August and will have a 7:45pm kick-off. Admission prices have been set at £10.00 for adults and £5.00 for concessions.
The match will be the fourth time the teams will have met in the competition which began life in 1990 as the Centenary Cup, with Shire currently 2-1 up in the series.
The Honest Men won the first clash of the side in 1994/95 on penalties after the match at Firs Park had ended in a 1-1 draw.
The next meeting in the competition was Shire’s first-ever home game at Ochilview at the start of the 2008/09 season and it looked as though Ayr United were heading through until Dean Richardson levelled the scores with four minutes left.
Just as everyone was settling down and preparing for extra-time, though, Andy Rodgers hit an injury-time winner for Shire.
The two sides were drawn again in the Challenge Cup at the start of the 2011/12 season in what was John Coughlin’s first match as Shire’s head coach.
His new-look Shire team performed brilliantly and defeated Ayr 3-1 thanks to strikes from Kevin Turner and a Michael Herd double.
Although Shire and Ayr United have not met in league action since 1987/88 we have become familiar cup opponents and this match will be the fifth competitive cup meeting in 10 years – the two Challenge Cup meetings coming close to two more matches in the League Cup.
It should be a game for Shire head coach John Sludden to look forward to. He scored almost 80 goals for the Somerset Park club as a player during a five season spell there in the 1980s helping them win the SFL Second Division title in 1987/88 season.
Shire striker Andy Rodgers also had a season at Ayr United and he, along with club captain Derek Ure, both played in the 2008/09 victory and will be looking forward to what should be another exciting cup-tie.
The club has announced another pre-season friendly date prior to the Lowland League action starting.
Shire will travel to face Highland League Cove Rangers on Saturday 22nd July with a 3:00pm kick-off.
The friendly encounter will be played at Links Park in Montrose as Cove Rangers still have not moved into their new home stadium in Aberdeen. It will be the first time the two teams have met since a couple of epic Scottish Cup games in the early 1990s.
The match is the third pre-season match fixed up so far – Shire will face East of Scotland League Tynecastle at Little Kerse on Tuesday 11th July and will travel to take on West of Scotland Junior Superleague Club Arthurlie in Barrhead on Saturday 15th July.
The Cove Rangers match will be open to the public and admission prices will be announced as soon as we have them.