Month: April 2017

Selkirk Preview

Shire will travel to Selkirk this weekend to make the club’s debut in the first round of the  Scottish Lowland League Cup.

The tournament is a straight knock-out affair which means that for the loser the game will represent their final competitive fixture of the season. The match will be played to a finish with extra-time and shots from the penalty mark, if necessary, in the event of a draw after 90 minutes.

Coach John Sludden will be missing club captain Derek Ure, serving the second of a two game ban for a red card against Dalbeattie Star a fortnight ago, and on-loan Michael Oliver, who is banned after picking up a suspension from last season’s competition while with Cumbernauld Colts.

Pre-game talk will inevitably focus on Shire’s last trip to Yarrow Park back in September which ended in an extraordinary 7-4 defeat.

Coach John Sludden, looking forward to the return visit, says it was a day few connected with the club will forget in a hurry, but for all the wrong reasons.

“I think that was a big wake up call for everyone at the club,” said John. “We know exactly what we can expect at Selkirk on Saturday this time round and we know it will be a real cup-tie.

“We have to make sure we match their enthusiasm right from the word go. Fair play to Selkirk, they deserved their victory that day and, regardless of the result, we made a lot of friends down there that do and we will look forward to seeing them again.”

Shire did at least get the better of Selkirk in the reverse league fixture at Ochilview in November, when Paul Sludden bagged a hat-trick in a 5-0 victory.

At that stage of the campaign Selkirk were still locked in a battle with Preston Athletic to avoid the wooden spoon. But a good start to 2017 saw them put daylight between themselves and the Prestonpans side.

There even seemed a point where they might climb higher and a home draw with eventual champions East Kilbride, followed by an away victory at Cumbernauld Colts, narrowed the gap to the teams immediately ahead of them.

But Selkirk concluded the league season in disappointing form, taking just one point from their last four games and even suffering defeat at the hands of bottom side Preston Athletic. That sequence meant they had to settle for a next-to-last league placing.

Shire enter the game having scored a confidence-boosting 3-2 home victory over East Kilbride in the team’s final Lowland League match of the season last Saturday.

Coach Sludden has previously said that no-one at the club is taking the cups as a sideshow. They proved that by reaching the semi-final of the SFA South Region Challenge Cup and there was no hiding the disappointment at missing out on a place in the final following a 3-2 defeat against Cumbernauld Colts.

The coach says this latest competition is a chance to end the season on a positive note. “We certainly want to go as far as we can,” said John. “We were disappointed at losing in the semi-final of the other cup and we want to see if we can get to the final of this one.”

The coach and the players would love to see as many Shire supporters as possible at Yarrow Park. Contact Sandy Nimmo on 07803 708119 to find out details of fan transport to this game.

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Graeme And Liam Sign Back On

The club has reached agreement with Graeme MacGregor and Liam Allison over contract extensions for the 2017/18 season.

It means both players have now signed deals to keep them at Shire until at least the end of May 2018. Graeme and Liam have both played a part in the club’s successful first Lowland League campaign.

Graeme was one of the many former Shire players who returned to the club in the summer of 2016, rejoining after spells at East Fife and Linlithgow Rose.

Over the course of the current season he has been a regular starter either in central midfield or at right-back and was voted Player of the Month for October.

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Liam was a late signing for the club, coming to Shire in mid-October and making his debut in the SFA South Region Challenge Cup game against Mid Annandale at Lockerbie. He came on board at the right time to slot in at left-back as the regular number three until that point, Drew Ramsay, was out with a broken wrist.

After debuting in the 3-0 cup win Liam kept Drew out of the team until the new year but was still a highly useful member of the squad. Sadly, his appearances have been limited by injury over the past few weeks but he now has the chance to win back his place when the new campaign starts after the summer break.

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Everyone at the club is delighted that two popular members of the Shire club will be joining those who have already signed contract extensions for the 2017/18 season.

 

We’ve Learned Lessons – Coach

Coach John Sludden has surveyed the team’s now complete Lowland League season by admitting disappointment at not claiming the championship, but he balanced that out by reflecting on some “happy days” and maintained lessons have been learned for next season.

Shire finished in runners-up spot seven points adrift of table-toppers East Kilbride who John again praised as “worthy champions” but, despite that setback to pre-season plans, the coach says everyone can look back on a number of positives.

Photo : Alan Murray, Falkirk Herald
Photo : Alan Murray, Falkirk Herald

In some wide-ranging post-season comments the club’s head coach :

Admitted the team’s failure to compete for the title came down to the wrong results in just two or three games.

Thanked the club’s board of directors for their support as he assembled a squad from scratch in the summer ahead of their first-ever Lowland League season.

Praised the supporters for the way they encouraged the team from first game to last.

And thanked all of the clubs in the Lowland League for the friendly welcome they gave Shire following defeat in last May’s pyramid play-off final.

On the field, John says the aim in the summer was very much to try and win the league. Shire fell short by seven points and he says that the results of just a few important clashes made all the difference.

He admitted, unfortunately, when they needed a result most, especially against the other title challengers, Shire could not get the wins they needed.

“At the start of the season, we said to the supporters that we wanted to put together a team that they would want to come and watch and would excite them,” he said. “Hopefully we achieved that. Yes, we let them down in two or three games this season which were crucial games at the time but, hopefully, lessons have been learned from that.”

One of the most obvious lessons has been to try and have a stable squad of players in place for the start of the next campaign and John, along with the club’s directors, have worked hard to do just that.

Photo : Alan, Murray, Falkirk Herald.
Photo : Alan, Murray, Falkirk Herald.

When pre-season training gets under way later in the summer John will already know the majority of the players who performed so well this season will be back for another go. Again, he says the board deserve praise for buying into his vision when he arrived at the club last June.

“When you look at what we had last June with just one signed player to what we have now then that’s been down to a lot of hard work behind the scenes from the board of directors.

“One of the biggest things that helped us was convincing Derek [Ure] to come back to the club. We added quality with Barclay and Rodgers and that again was great work done by the directors in backing us.”

Also important to the coach was the backing round the ropes from the loyal Shire supporters, who he was quick to praise not just for their loyalty in coming to matches but also for their constant encouragement even when things weren’t going as planned.

“The supporters have been magnificent, not only at home, but away from home as well with the atmosphere they bring. They have added to it,” said John.

Shire’s first-ever Lowland League season has, in the coach’s own words, been “an adventure”. A key part of that, for John, was participating in the competition in the proper manner, respecting the club’s new circumstances and surroundings rather than resenting Shire’s demotion from the ranks of the SPFL.

“I spoke to the chairman of the Lowland League who said we had we had been a credit to the league this season,” said the coach. “For me that shows we have been doing it the right way.

“We have given all our opponents respect and we have received that respect back. The club has made a lot of new friends in this new adventure for us.”

You can listen to John’s full interview by clicking on the link below :

 

The 100 Club

Shire 100 Club

The latest Shire 100 Club Cash Prize Draw was made at Saturday’s final Lowland League game of the season against East Kilbride at Ochilview.

Chairman Alan Archibald was helped out in making the draw by our VIP guest for the day, the Chief Executive of the Scottish Professional Football League, Neil Doncaster.

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Neil picked out the one lucky draw ball to determine the winner of the £150.00 monthly cash prize, and there was much amusement when it was discovered the ball he selected was none other than the club chairman’s !

Alan has very kindly donated his cash prize back to club funds.

The Shire 100 Club continues to grow in size which is good news for everyone who has the Shire at heart. The money raised through the investment of members is all poured back into helping Shire meet its goals both on and off the pitch.

You can become a member for as little as £5.00 a month, safe in the knowledge that you are helping to keep our club moving towards a brighter future and also putting yourself in with a chance of winning a monthly cash prize and other Shire-related goodies too.

Joining the Shire 100 Club could not be simpler. Full details and an application form are available by clicking here .

League Cup Set To Start

Shire’s final competitive campaign of the season gets under way this coming Saturday (29th April) when the team travels to Selkirk in the first round of the Scottish Lowland League Cup.

The trip to Yarrow Park will be the first since the extraordinary 7-4 defeat there during the league season in September.

Coach John Sludden says he is determined the team will make getting as far as possible in the competition a priority, especially after the semi-final exit from the SFA South Region Challenge Cup, another trophy Shire have targeted this season.

“We went into the season hoping to win the league and also get our hands on some silverware,” said John. “You go into every competition with hopes of going as far as you can and that certainly applies to us.

“We would certainly want to give winning this cup our best shot.”

Selkirk had a disappointing end to the Lowland League season and ended the campaign next-to-last after picking up just one point from their final four league games, missing out on the chance to overtake Hawick Royal Albert as a result.

Nevertheless, they recovered well in the middle part of the season after lagging behind the rest of the clubs in the autumn and overtook Preston Athletic, who ended up with the wooden spoon.

Saturday’s game will nevertheless be a tough one for Shire and we would love to see as many supporters at the game as possible. For details of fan travel to Selkirk call Sandy Nimmo on 07803 708119.

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Shire Charity Challenge

Another local good cause is £1,000 better off thanks to the latest Shire Charity Challenge at the weekend game against East Kilbride.

Skipper Derek Ure and Jamie Glasgow were on hand to shoot a ball through a special target across the face of goal often enough for Forth Valley SANDS  to benefit to the tune of a thousand pounds.

The charity supports local parents who have lost a baby either during pregnancy or shortly after birth. It’s the latest local good cause to benefit from a series of half-time skills challenges throughout the course of the season.

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There have been a number of these events held during the half-time interval at Shire home games at Ochilview this season. Prior to Saturday, the previous Charity Challenge was during the Spartans game in January.

That day our special guests, Alex Rae and Murdo MacLeod, took part and raised £1,000 for the Hollie Taylor Fund. This charity was set up to help a young Bainsford girl fund treatment after she was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer.

At Saturday’s East Kilbride game, Hollie came along to receive a special cheque from the club. Hollie’s cause was nominated by Shire striker Andy Rodgers and by Supporters Club secretary, Trudy Wilson, who were also on hand to assist with the cheque presentation.

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The club would like to thank everyone who has assisted with the Charity Challenges over the course of the season, which has helped us donate thousands of pounds to locally-based good causes.

Coo Park Kids Have Their Day

Shire’s 3-2 Lowland League victory over East Kilbride at Ochilview on Saturday capped a splendid day for our young visitors from Coo Park United AFC.

Around 40 kids from Bainsford and Langlees were our special guests as part of the club’s outreach towards young people in the local community and they had an extra-special hospitality day with lots of fun activities which began when they helped set up the home dressing room and had the chance to meet and talk to the Shire squad.

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After helping out the club laid on a healthy lunch for the Coo Park players and coaches ahead of the main event – Shire’s final Lowland League game of the season against champions East Kilbride.

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All of the players from Coo Park received their own replica Shire jersey which was an essential item for the next part of their action-packed day with us – they had to be dressed just right to act as mascots for the Shire team and were given the chance to walk out with the players prior to kick-off.

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And then it was three o’clock and time to settle down and cheer on the Shire team – who didn’t disappoint with a hard-fought 3-2 victory over their visitors.

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Everyone at the Shire hopes our friends from Coo Park United had a great day and that they will take away lots of happy memories and also perhaps be encouraged to come back next season. They will all be more than welcome.

The club is delighted to have been able to offer this link up with Coo Park United, which was set up in 2015 to help encourage children from Bainsford and Langlees participate in football and general health and fitness activities.

Shire are always happy to be able to reach out to members of a community which gave birth to the club in October 1880 and which was based in Bainsford for the early part of its long history until moving to a new base in Falkirk in 1921.

Despite that, Shire will always have a link to Bainsford and the invite extended to Coo Park United on Saturday was another welcome way of extending that.

Players Heeded Warning – Coach

Shire emerged with a 3-2 victory over Lowland League champions East Kilbride after heeding a pre-match warning from coach John Sludden about how their opponents might approach the game.

The head coach admitted he was concerned with chat prior to kick-off about East Kilbride resting key players or being more concerned with the pyramid play-off games than in a final dead rubber against his team.

So his final words to his men prior to the start of the game concentrated on getting them to focus properly on the threat he was sure that East Kilbride would possess and the damage they could do if Shire were not properly focused on their task.

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“We had heard and read so much about the East Kilbride focus being on events elsewhere in the days before the match,” said John. “But I didn’t believe that at all. There is no team that goes into a game with anything else in their minds other than winning it.

“So five minutes before kick-off we sat the players down and emphasised that to them. We told them to forget about all that had been said and written in the run-up to the game and concentrate on winning it.”

The coach’s thoughts were bourne out by the match itself. Although Shire had early chances it was the visitors who took the lead and it took a strong fightback, and two David Grant goals, to put Shire ahead.

East Kilbride equalised with ten minutes to go and it took an Andy Rodgers penalty to give Shire a winning margin with five minutes to play.

“It was exactly like I said. When we went 3-2 up their players were still keen to get back into it and stop us winning,” said John. “It shows getting a result still meant something to East Kilbride and it shows you should never believe talk when people say things like, ‘their minds will be elsewhere’, because it’s almost never true.”

That said, the coach praised his players for taking on board his pre-match instructions and for trying to play the kind of football they had practised in training all week.

Photo : Alan Murray, Falkirk Herald.
Photo : Alan Murray, Falkirk Herald.

“In particular I thought the goals we scored were just how we want to play football with good build up from the back and then passes through for Granty to score. Even at the penalty Connor Greene has been strong for us all season at setpieces in the opposition box and it was from that we got the penalty that allowed Andy to win the game for us.

“So, all-in-all, it was very pleasing. We said we wanted to end the league season on a high and we have done that and it also puts us in the right frame of mind for the start of the League Cup next week.”

The team’s Lowland League programme is now complete but they will now move on to the end-of-season League Cup with Shire travelling to face Selkirk in the first round at Yarrow Park next Saturday (29th April) with a 3:00pm kick-off.

 

East Kilbride Preview

Shire will close their first-ever Lowland League season with a home match against champions-elect East Kilbride at Ochilview this weekend.

Coach John Sludden will have to do without the services of captain Derek Ure who starts a two game suspension following his sending-off in last Saturday’s game at Dalbeattie Star.

The coach is also waiting on a fitness check on Liam Allison, who suffered a leg knock at Dalbeattie and was forced out of the action after just 28 minutes.

“We have said before that we will need everyone in the squad to play their part,” said John. “Derek is an important player for us but it does offer the chance to someone else to come in and stake a claim.

“We will be looking at training this week to see who has stepped up to the mark.”

The coach is also hoping to see his team get back to winning ways – a defeat and a draw in Shire’s last two matches is the first time the team has gone so long without a victory since October.

The last time Shire won a game was the 7-1 victory at Preston Athletic on 1st April .

The coach is aware that this weekend’s game will be their toughest perhaps of the entire season. Shire had their own hopes of claiming the championship but have had to settle for the runners-up slot.

“They have been worthy winners,” said John of Saturday’s visitors. “They got off to a great start and we couldn’t catch them. But it’s a game we want to win.”

Both teams have been told by match referee Mike Roncone to change into their away colours, so Shire will wear blue and yellow and East Kilbride all-white.

The players and coaches would love to see as many Shire fans as possible at what will be the club’s last home game of the 2016/17 season. Please make an effort to come along and support the team.

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More Hat-Trick Balls

Andy Rodgers and David Grant have added more hat-trick balls to their growing collection of match footballs following on from their scoring exploits in the recent victory at Preston Athletic.

Both Andy and David scored three each in the 7-1 Lowland League victory at Pennypit Park. To mark the feat Shire fan Emily Reynolds presented the players with signed match balls recently.

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This season the team has equalled the club record nine hat-tricks scored in a single season but the Prestonpans game was the first time two Shire players had scored three goals each in the same match since 1947.

Funnily enough, the last time it happened Shire also won 7-1 against Raith Rovers ‘A’ in a C Division match at Firs Park on 20th September 1947.

Well done to Andy and David and thanks to Emily for helping with the presentation.