It’s been a long time coming, but we finally play our first home competitive fixture at Ochilview tonight.

There have been many times where I doubted that this season would ever happen.  Whilst I’m delighted to see the new season finally get underway, it is hugely disappointing that we will be playing without fans in the stands.  We all recognise that there is a need to be cautious as the nation continues to battle the virus, however, it is difficult to understand the logic behind allowing so many other activities to resume indoors, where the risk is high, but at the same time banning small numbers of fans from football where there would be social distancing, mask wearing, and strict controls – all outside where the risks are greatly reduced.  We’ll continue to make these points and press the authorities to let supporters in as soon as possible.

In the meantime, a number of clubs have invested in livestreaming so that we can at least try to involve supporters in some way.  This is new technology and lots of clubs are still working through some technical issues with their systems, and we are no exception.  However, just a few months ago, we had nothing in place, and the future of the league was in doubt.  However, we pushed quite hard to get a system identified, built and installed.  This was all turned around in record time, perhaps too quickly.  It has meant that many of the bugs and issues have not yet been ironed out.  Do please bear with us as clubs continue to work with our various suppliers to continue to improve the match output.  Much of the system has been built specifically for us, and clubs are on a learning curve as well.

It’s going to be worth it.  We plan to provide coverage of both our first teams, mens and ladies, as well as matches involving our amateur and older community teams.  We will also be trialing live match commentary.  We’ll be adding new features including the ability to switch from tracking the play to a full panoramic view, and then eventually the ability for users to zoom in to any part of the field to view specific highlights.  This is on top of the ability to pause, rewind and re-watch content any time on demand.  As well as all this, from the club’s perspective, we have analysis tools built in to the system that will give the manager the ability to review and work on specific points with individual players.

As well as the investment in the new camera technology, we have also been hard at work across the club and around Ochilview.  We have just completed the replacement of the entire seating deck in the Norway Stand.  This was a significant undertaking and we continue to seek seat sponsors to assist with the cost.  I’d like to thank the Scottish Football Partnership for their support in providing grant assistance.  We’ve also replaced the fence behind the goal with a new wall, and we have carried out a number of road repairs and work to alleviate flooding near the training pods.  Volunteers have been assisting with a number of ground repairs, painting jobs and tidy ups.  Their support has been much appreciated and their efforts are clear to see.  We look forward to eventually being able to welcome supporters back into the ground to see the hard work that our many volunteers and staff have undertaken.

Finally, as we host our first home game of the season tonight, and with our fingers crossed for a successful first Warriors TV livestream, we will see our new squad for the season ahead.  This has been one of the hardest periods in our history, and squad building has been a challenge to say the least.  There were times when we simply didn’t think the new season would start.  We continue to battle COVID challenges and its impact on training and matches.  However, I think we have a really strong squad this season, with a number of players signing on again from last season, mixed with some strong new additions.  We secured a good result on Saturday in our first away game of the season to Edinburgh City, and we hope to build on this as we go forward.

Finally, we can try to forget about COVID issues for 90 minutes tonight, and cheer on the Warriors, albeit in the comfort of our homes for now.  Football is back at Ochilview.  Mon the Warriors.

Iain McMenemy – Chairman