The 2017/18 season was a story of so close, yet so far. Our Lowland League Cup journey followed much the same pattern as our other competitions, the lads running out of steam in the semi-final with a tight 2-1 loss away to Selkirk – in the end, our big 7-0 wins at the expense of Vale of Leithen and Cumbernauld Colts were in vain.
Having already started the long process of building a new squad, we finalised the contract extensions for those staying on: Ryan Marshall, John Tennent, Ciaran Donnelly and Ged Traynor give the back end of the side a familiar look; Struan McArthur, Danny Stoney and ‘Mr Versatile’ Gary Redpath will be joined by some new faces in midfield; Martin Grehan and Jack Smith continue to lead the line up top. Sadly, wee Stevie Murray confirmed his retirement from the game, while ‘Paolo’ made it clear that this coming campaign will be his last hurrah.
On the flip side, we officially confirmed three youth graduates to the first team squad, all at the tender age of 17. Aaron Morrison is arguably our best centre half and already attracting interest from teams above our level, right winger Bob Harris goes into the new season with a starting slot to maintain and tall target man Matt Monaghan is shadowing Paolo to learn everything he can from the veteran striker. Among the other new arrivals, a familiar face in Stephen Bronsky has returned from Elgin City to give the defence some pace and experience.
The wholesale changes haven’t just been confined to the playing side of the club. Michael Moore moved on with our best wishes, strongly linked with the LTHV manager’s role in the local press, and I knew we needed to secure an able replacement quickly… drawing on my previous musings of this football club being like a family, I made it official by welcoming Smudger’s old man Andy Smith as my new assistant! Using his contacts in the SPFL, we quickly filled the remaining gaps in our squad with talented young players on loan deals.
Off the field, Mr Prince has been doing some wholesale planning of his own – on local radio, he caught us all off-guard with the surprise news that the board intends to build the club a home to call our own, back in our spiritual home of Glasgow. Everything is being kept under wraps for now, but a wave of optimism and excitement surrounds BSC as the build up to my second season in charge begins.
Pre-season has come and gone in the blink of an eye, and we look like a younger, hungrier group. Bounce games against the likes of Bradford City and Raith Rovers gave both players and coaches plenty to work on, while a fantastic draw against visiting Scottish Premiership side Ross County showed signs of real progress being made. The big test will come with league fixtures, however – the bookies have installed us as favourites to win the coveted trophy, and the board will settle for nothing less.
Time to lay it on the line… we need to put all our focus into the Lowland League. Cup competitions can be a welcome break and distraction, and the Irn-Bru Cup sees a plum tie away to Ayr United as reward for last year’s 3rd place finish, but we can’t afford to take our eye off the ball this time.
We’re primed, fit, energised and ready – quite simply, we’re #NotHereToPlay!
Mozza has been streaming his BSC Glasgow journey over on Twitch so make sure you check out his Twitter for details of when he’ll be live: @MozzaPlays