May 16 2012 by David Ogilvie, Stirling Observer Wednesday
STIRLING Albion boss Greig McDonald is still waiting to hear from possible signing targets as he shapes his squad for the 2012/13 Third Division campaign.
Skipper Brian Allison, key midfielder Mark Ferry and experienced pair Jamie McCunnie and Graham Weir have all committed their futures to the club, while top scorer Scott Davidson, winger Josh Flood and midfielder Daly McSorley are already under contract.
Youngsters Danny Ashe, Gary Brass, Gavin Macpherson and Andy Hunter are also signed up for 2012/13 and are likely to be joined in the first-team squad by Ross McGeachie, Jamie Clark and Stephen Day from the highly-rated U19 side.
McDonald has offered new deals to supporters club player of the year Gary Thom, full-back Devon Jacobs, keeper Sam Filler, midfielder Craig McLeish and central defender Richie Kirwan.
Seven players have left following relegation to the Third Division: forward Darren Smith, striker Kevin Kelbie, eight-goal winger Alan Cook, Steven Nicholas, goalkeeper Callum Reidford, left-back John Crawley and defender Shaun Dillon.
McDonald, who celebrated his 30th birthday at the weekend, said: “Not a lot has changed in the last week in terms of squad news, to be honest.
“We have a deadline on those we have offered new contracts to because we don’t want things to drag on too long and we are also going to invite a few others to join pre-season training, which starts on June 19.
“We are looking to have a squad with a core of experienced players so I’m delighted we have been able to keep Mark Ferry, Jamie McCunnie, Graham Weir and Brian Allison. Including myself, Shaun Fagan and Marc McCulloch we have 14 players signed up so that’s a good start.
“We want to add some more quality to the squad. We have a number of offers out there and are waiting to hear back from potential new signings. I’m obviously not going to name names at the moment but I believe they are players who would enhance the squad.
“It’s way too early to be making predictions about next season – that’s not something I like to do anyway – but I can promise a better season. That’s for sure.
“We want to do the very best we can and the sooner we can get the squad together, the better as far as I’m concerned.”
Stirling’s campaign will begin with the first round of the Ramsdens Cup on July 28 and they are likely to finalise their pre-season plans within the next couple of weeks.
McDonald added: “We are still hoping to get a mini-tour of some sort, either up north or down south, because I think it helps bring the players together and hopefully it’s something the fans would enjoy as well.
“We’ve a few closed-door games lined up so it’s unlikely we will have too many public home matches before the season starts – maybe one or two at most.”
Albion will need to buck a trend if they are to make an immediate return to the Second Division after finishing bottom this season.
You have to go back to Morton in 2002/03 to find the last team to claim promotion immediately after ending 10th in Division Two. Peterhead, Clyde, Stranraer, Berwick, Forfar and Dumbarton – the last six teams to finish bottom – failed to even make the play-offs the following year and Stirling ended up ninth in Division Three when they were last relegated.
Albion’s opponents next season will be Annan, Albion Rovers or Stranraer, who meet in the play-off final, Berwick, Clyde, East Stirling, Elgin City, Montrose, Peterhead and Queen’s Park.