A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all our Stenny fans.
I thought that around this time of year it would be beneficial to give you an insight into the goings on of the club and how we spend our time during this enforced winter shutdown. As you are aware we do not look likely to play again this weekend and will have to make do with training, never a good substitute but the best we can do.
Training in itself is a headache right now, the pitch has remained in good condition through the last few weeks but is covered with a thick blanket of snow which makes any activity hazardous, our Groundsman, Stuart Orr (Oscar) has been working away diligently trying to clear areas for us but to no avail. The fact that all the council sports centres are shutting early this week has added to the problem, it never fails to amaze me that in a country that talks so much about promoting physical fitness we never do anything about it, there is a distinct lack of indoor facilities open, the schools go on holiday and another avenue to training indoor is lost, I know people deserve holidays but in this so called 24 hour society you would think that every inch of indoor training space would be vital. Custom built indoor arenas are few and far between and the opening of the new Toryglen centre may be a godsend to the teams from the west but what about the rest of the country. If you are like me you probably get sick of politicians telling us how to live our lives, often moaning about peoples inactivity and burden to the health service, well my reply to that is fulfill your commitments to the nation, put your money where your mouth is, build more facilities like Toryglen and the public will use them. We like a lot of other teams have struggled to find any where to go and we are thankful to the people at the Grangemouth sports centre who have bent over backwards to help us.
Our training as you can imagine from reading this has been curtailed although we did manage an indoor session at Grangemouth on Christmas Eve and will do so again at Hogmanay, our usual Tuesday night session had to be cancelled for the reasons that I have mentioned, we simply did not have any where to go! If as expected our game goes off at Dumbarton then we will try and train on our pitch, we will definitely train indoors on the 3rd which is a Sunday but has to be done, our next game is likely to be on 9th January in the Scottish cup away to Dunfermline, and we must spend as much time with our lads as possible prior to that game. Players’ giving up their Sundays to train is no big thing, they learn very quickly at this club that sacrifices have to made in order to get us where we want to be. Some Premier League clubs have been bringing their players in on a Sunday for a while now and moving their traditional day off to another day in the week, if at all. The theory being that it helps their recovery for the week ahead.
One good thing to come out of the break is the recovery time that injured players get and we hope to be able to assemble a fully fit squad by the time we play our next game. There is unfortunately nothing that we can do about suspension, poor Willy Lyle has been waiting to serve the last game of his suspension and it may be a while before he does.
Staying on the topic of players I know you will be interested to see what happens in the lead up to the January window, the news is that we are quietly working away behind the scenes to make improvements to the squad, experience tells me that we are about to enter a very difficult period of the season and the fixture backlog is going to complicate that, the addition of a couple of players will help us meet that challenge and we should be in a position to announce a couple of short term arrivals to the club, we have managed to bring in two highly rated youngsters from Hibs. That will give us the competition we need to keep everyone at their peak.
Lee Currie and Sean Welsh are in the first team squad at Easter Road but the emergence of the likes of Paul Hanlon and David Wotherspoon has seen them having to wait patiently for their turn. Both players can play across midfield or at full back and increase my options.
Our own young players will be given chances over the second half of the season, Lee Halpin has been on the bench on a number of occasions, Sean Dixon, Rob Peebles and Mike Hunter are just a few of the names that come to mind that are progressing nicely under Greg Denham’s guidance,
We have stated our aim to try and get as many of these players in and around the first team as we can and we will.
You always have to plan ahead in this game and it will be a testing time for a lot of the players, money gets tighter each year and contracts are no longer handed out lightly, age is no longer a barrier and if you want to play for this club then you really have to do everything in your power to make it happen, that’s the challenge for every player at this club, young or old.
On the coaching side Matt, Alex and Arthur Bell have working away quietly to make sure that we have an ear to the ground and are ready to move at a minutes notice, these are the guys who get forgotten about behind the scenes, also working away behind the scenes is Alain Davidson and his physiotherapy staff.
Our kit men Jim McKay and Grant Donaldson and our old pal Oscar have been doing a great job for me and my thanks go to them.
Finally from the staff and myself at the club I would like to wish you all the best for 2010.
Lets hop it’s a year to remember.