Interview with Brown Ferguson
With the play-offs for the Championship and League 1 positions now complete, we caught up with the Stenhousemuir manager Brown Ferguson for an update on his plans for the first team in what will be a very different league next season.
Four out of the ten teams in League 1 have changed places, which will bring new challenges and some local rivalries back in to play.
Forfar and Cowdenbeath have both dropped down to League 2 and have been replaced by East Fife and Queen’s Park. Whilst at the other end of the table, Dunfermline and Ayr Utd have both won promotion to the Championship and are replaced by Livingston and local rivals Alloa.
Brown Ferguson has already watched Livingston and Queen’s Park during the play-offs, and is of course already familiar with East Fife and Alloa, both of whom have recently played in League 1.
As Brown continues to build his squad for the coming season, we caught up with him and asked for his thoughts on how it is all shaping up.
“I’m happy with how things stand at the moment. I’ve spoken with everyone in the current squad and I’ve given everyone the time needed to make their decisions. Whilst it would be great to get all the business done straight away, that’s never going to happen.
“They all deserve a bit of a break after a difficult season, and I’m also keen that I speak personally with each and every one of them, for as long as they need to understand offers or why certain decisions have been made. However, we have been very fortunate last season in having a really strong positive spirit in the team so relationships with the guys has always been good.
“One of the most difficult parts of the job is letting players go. It isn’t an easy thing to do because sometimes the decision to release a player isn’t always down to their individual performance. Money is an obvious factor of course. However, it can also be down to an over or under supply of players in a particular part of the pitch, or it can be to help us try and develop a certain style of play or shape.
“That was certainly the case with Jon Robertson. I thought Jon had a good season and worked hard in every match he played. However, we need to change our overall shape in the midfield. As a team we underperformed defensively last season and that wasn’t just down to the defenders. We need a midfield that can work as a tight defensive unit to support the guys at the back and control the game in the centre of the pitch. It’s disappointing to release Jon in these circumstances but the door will never be closed to a player of his ability.
“Defensively, we’ve lost Euan Murray who I thought had some terrific performances for us. On the positive side though, we lost him from the squad because he has been offered a full-time contract down south. I’m delighted for him on a personal level and it is in some ways a feather in the cap for Stenhousemuir that we can play our part in the future success of young players like Euan. We’ll miss him defensively of course but certainly wish him all the best down south.
“We also say goodbye to Jason Scotland who came in part way through last season. Jason is of course a hugely experience guy with a great footballing pedigree. He had an immediate impact when he arrived at the club, scoring goals straight away and giving us a lift at a difficult time. Unfortunately he picked up an injury just after that but those crucial points he helped us win probably kept us in League 1. Jason is retiring (again) but I understand he is heading back to his native Trinidad and Tobago, hopefully with fond memories of his time at Stenhousemuir.
“Fraser Eddington, Dean Shaw and Lewis Small are all out of contract at the moment. However, I’ve invited them all to come back to pre-season training as I wouldn’t want to close the door on them. They are all talented guys.
“Stuart Malcolm has been a real asset to the club as well. In particular, I thought the way he rallied to the cause at the end of the season was magnificent. What fans may not always get to see as well is the positive influence that Stuart has in the dressing room, particularly with the less experienced guys in the squad. I’m hoping to encourage him in to join me in a coaching role at the club for next season, but also keep him on as a player too. He may be a veteran of the game, but he still has something to offer on the pitch when the chips are down. Update: since the original interview was published, Stuart Malcolm has made the difficult decision to leave the club as he'd prefer to continue playing, rather than move in to a coach/player role at this point in his career. We wish Stuart all the best for the future.
“With regards to the management and coaching team, I’d like to thank Davie Irons for his support throughout last season. Everyone knows how much experience Davie has and I’ve found his help invaluable. Davie and I are similar in some ways, but different in many others, and this works extremely well. I’m delighted that I’ll be able to call on Davie’s experience for the forthcoming season as well. Colin McMenamin has signed new terms for next season, and will continue to coach and play. We need Colin at this club and I’m delighted to have him again.
“We’ve also now agreed new terms with Allan Smith, Alan Cook, and Jamie McCormack. Strong players, bags of experience, and goal scorers as well. There is still some work to be done though to get the core squad together, but I’m very happy with the way it is all shaping up.”
Players who have agreed terms for season 2015/16:
Ciaran Summers, Liam McCroary, Ross Meechan, Mark Gilhaney, Kieran Millar, Allan Smith, Alan Cook, Jamie McCormack, Colin McMenamin, Jim Paterson, Stephen Stirling.