Saturday 28th July, 2012 at 8:44pm
The weeks and weeks of waiting are finally at an end.
Tomorrrow we kick off the new season with a first round tie away to Clyde in the Ramsdens Cup.
It’s been a positive pre-season – the highlight of which was last weekend’s ARR Craib Cup win – but as of 3pm tomorrow afternoon the talking stops and we get down to the serious business of the new campaign.
Over the summer, gaffer Jackie McNamara’s rebuilt his squad bringing in the experience of midfielder Hugh Murray, Steven Lawless (and his goals), big Aaron Muirhead and most recently James Craigen. Conrad Balatoni and Sean Welsh also renewed their deals with Stuart Bannigan extending his a fortnight ago.
According to the gaffer, the boys are more than ready for the new season: “The players are all raring to go. We’ve had some really positive performances in pre-season, but nothing can beat the real thing when you’re playing competitive games. They can’t wait to get out there against Clyde.
“The boys have taken a lot of confidence from their displays in pre-season. Everybody has had a decent run out, we’ve made chances, we’ve scored goals – but it’s now that the real work starts.
“It’s really important to get off to a good start because winning breeds confidence and to get into that habit early in the season is always a good thing. Looking back at last year’s early cup performances and exits we were really disappointed so it’s important to put that behind us and get a run going in the cup competitions.”
With the four new faces added over the summer, there’s a real strength and depth to the squad which the gaffer is confident will keep everyone on their toes – although perhaps give him and his assistant Simon Donnelly a few headaches – of the good variety – when it comes to team selection.
“The boys we’ve brought in have gelled really quickly and everybody has performed well,” said Jackie. “It’s made us an even stronger squad straight away. Sometimes you worry about new players settling in, but I think they’ve bonded well.
“We know we’re going to have a few selection headaches, but that’s what we’re looking for. We’ve got a squad of 18/19 players and only 11 are going to be able to play at any time, but hopefully that will keep everybody on their toes as they know they have to impress even in training to get one of the starting places.
“For tomorrow’s game we’ve still got come decisions to make, but as a manager/coach it’s always better when you have the kind of ones where you have to whittle a fit squad down to 11 plus subs.”
Despite a couple of minor knocks in pre-season – and a few stitches to a nasty eye wound for Aaron Sinclair – the gaffer is delighted to have a full squad to choose from.
It’s two seasons since we met Clyde in a competitive match. The last was at Firhill on July 24th 2010 in the Challenge Cup when we beat them 2-1 with goals from Liam Buchannan and Ryan MacBeth (who now plays for the Bully Wee). Adam Strachan (a former Jag) scored for Clyde.
The gaffer knows the fact tomorrow is a derby adds a little bit of extra spice: “We’ll be approaching it like any other game – we want to win it. We know though that from the fans point of view a derby is always that bit more special. You always want to put one over on your rivals, but for us it’s important to get off to a good start for the season ahead.”
Remember tomorrow’s game is at Alloa’s Recreation Park – directions to which can be found by clicking on the Clyde match Information story on the news page.