Team By Team Guide To The Season

The new skill-seekers and a number of promising signings fuel the fans hopes for the forthcoming season. Expectations may not be as high as promotion but rather for a mid table finish, to act as a platform to challenge for better things next season. Here is a look at the teams we will be facing this season.

Albion Rovers

Ground Name: Cliftonhill Stadium
Capacity: 2,496 (Seated 489)

Home Kit Colours: Yellow & Red

Club Nickname: Wee Rovers

Manager: Kevin McAllister

Title Odds: 12/1
Signings:
Graham McLaren (East Stirling) Mark Peat (free) Joe Boyle (Partick Thistle)


In 01/02 and 02/03 Albion just missed out promotion on the final day of each season (thanks to City on one occasion!) and were tipped as strong contenders for the title last season, only to disappoint and finish mid-table. Former Scotland international Kevin McAllister took over from Peter Heatherson as manager last season after Heatherson stepped down after making a sexist comment to a female official. Albion failed to capture many signings over the summer, due to all the focus being on a move from Cliftonhill. The squad will be very similar to the one last season. Elgin of course have the statistic of never suffering a defeat at Cliftonhill, something all Elgin fans will hope to still have by the end of the season. Due to the lack of action in the transfer market, along with the in-experience of manager Kevin McAllister, I can't see Albion challenging for honours this season.


Cowdenbeath

Ground Name: Central Park
Capacity: 5,268 (Seated 1,622)

Club Nickname: Blue Brazil

Home Kit Colours: Royal Blue & White

Manager: Keith Wright

Title Odds: 14/1
Signings:
Chris Gray (Ross County) Gary McKenna (Stenhousemuir) Paul McHale (free) John Paul Burns (free) Stephen Grollasch (free) Craig Scott (Stenhousemuir)


The Blue Brazil had a very successful pre-season and will be looking to improve on their finish of 5th last season. Keith Wright has done well in his first managerial role and has had a busy summer signing players. Cowden have a great physical side and have been known to pass the ball around well. Cowden have made themselves very hard to beat, especially at home. Expect them to challenge this season but narrowly miss out on promotion.


East Fife


Ground Name:
First 2 Finance Bayview Stadium
Capacity: 2,000 (all seated)

Club Nickname: Fifers

Home Kit Colours: Black & Gold

Manager: Jim Moffat

Title Odds: 8/1

Signings: John Dodds (Queen of the South) Scott Morrison (Stirling Albion) Kris Brash (Peterhead) Gary Kelly (Stirling Albion) Sean Palizcka (free)


East Fife
surprisingly won Promotion in season 02/03 after a goal in the final moments on the last day of the season leap-frogged them above Peterhead. One season in the second division and the Fifers came straight back down after failing to cope with life in the second.

The Fifers have a very strong, physical team and will be very hard to beat, but due to losing fans' favourite Kenny Deuchar to Gretna, they don’t have enough up front and may find goals hard to come by.


East Stirlingshire


Ground Name:
Firs Park
Capacity: 1,880 (200 Seated)

Club Nickname: The Shire

Home Kit Colours: Black & White Hoops

Manager: Denis Newall

Title Odds: 80/1

Signings: Jamie Dunbar (free) Paul Ross (free) Gordon Parks (free)


A club that is suffering due to their chairman Alan Mackin, East Stirlingshire are in a mess, a look at their last seasons final position is evidence to that. The average wage of a player at shire is £10 a week. Due to the gulf in wages between shire and the rest of the league, any decent players produced by shire are quickly snaped up. With the sale of their ground the main crisis at the moment, lack of quality signings in the transfer market suggests another season of despair for shire and their fans and to finish bottom.


Gretna


Ground Name:
Raydale Park
Capacity: 2,200

Club Nickname: Black & Whites or Borderers

Home Kit Colours: Black & White

Manager: Rowan Alexander

Title Odds: 2/1

Signings: Andy Aitkin (Queen of the South) David Bingham (Inverness Caley Thistle) Andy Smith (Clyde) Kenny Deuchar (East Fife) Jamie McQuilken (St Johnstone)


The Chelsea of the SFL, Gretna are currently in a “5 years to get to the SPL” plan, but hit a snag last season when Stranraer and Stirling finished above them, both winning promotion. Gretna’s answer? Sign a bundle of players from the upper leagues, using their wealth to offer wages other teams can't compete with. The most impressive signing is David Bingham from Caley Thistle, who is well above the standards of the third division, but moved to Gretna due to family reasons. Gretna are favourites for the title and are seen as some as the old firm of the third division. Gretna will probably win the division, but it won't be easy, they will be seen as the team to beat and every club will be determined to beat them.


Montrose


Ground Name:
Links Park
Capacity: 3,292 (1,338 seated)

Club Nickname: The Gable Endies

Home Kit Colours: Royal Blue & White

Manager: Henry Hall

Title Odds: 16/1

Signings: Duncan Jones (free) Daryn Smith (free)


Montrose came close to promotion in 2001/02 but fell at the final hurdle. Since then, the club have failed to reproduce that form and have become a mid-table club. Lack of signings, which Hall sees as a problem will probably be the reason Montrose won't improve on last season's finish of 6th.


Peterhead


Ground Name:
Balmoor Stadium
Capacity: 4,000 (seated 998)

Club Nickname: The Blue Toon

Home Kit Colours: Blue & White

Manager: Ian Stewart

Title Odds: 4/1

Signings: Scott Michie (Aberdeen) Craig Tully (Elgin) David Hagen (Clyde) Allan Youngson (Dundee) Kris Brash (free)


For the last 3 seasons, Blue Toon have finished in 4th place. The nearly team of the division have been in a strong position for promotion on the final day on two occasions, but have on both occasions “bottled it”. Peterhead sacked Ian Wilson last season and appointed one of their senior players in Ian Stewart as the new manager. Since his appointment, Stewart has made some impressive signings. Jamie Buchan and Keith Gibson signed earlier in the year, now joined by the impressive summer coups, are all promising omens for Peterhead this season and although I would like to see them stay down, it looks inevitable they will be promoted as runners up behind Gretna.


Queen's
Park


Ground Name:
Hampden Park
Capacity: 52,500 (all seated)

Club Nickname: Spiders

Home Kit Colours: Black & White

Manager: Kenny Brannigan

Title odds: 20/1

Signings: Steven McGovern (Arthurlie Juniors) Brian Blair (East Fife) Shaun Molloy (Dundee United) Gavin Rushford (Partick Thistle) Tommy Sloan (Ardrossan Winton Rovers)

Since being
relegated after a one-year stint in the second division, Queen's have never recaptured the form that got them promotion. The only Amateur team in the SFL, they boast the biggest stadium in the league, but the national stadium is not suited for third division football, created and eerie silent atmosphere at game, with only ever 500 odd seats filled in the 52 000 seater stadium. Although Queen's have been busy in the transfer markets, I expect them to suffer this season and finish a lowly 9th place.


Stenhousemuir


Ground Name:
Ochilview Park
Capacity: 5,267 (2,117 Seated)

Club Nickname: Warriors

Home Kit Colours: Maroon & White

Manager: Des McKeown

Title Odds: 8/1

Signings: Lee Collins (Stranraer) Steven McGregor (Campsie Black Watch) Paul McGrillen (Bellshill) Ainsley Armit (Pumpherston) Robbie Henderson (Morton) Stevie Fallon (free) Kevin McKeown (free)

Stenny will be looking to bounce straight back up after being relegated last season. They have had a very successful pre-season, including a few good results against SPL opposition. I think Stenny will challenge for promotion this season but Peterhead will just finish above them, leaving Cowden and Stenny to battle for third place.


Predicted Table

Gretna

Peterhead

Stenhousemuir

Cowdenbeath

East Fife

Elgin City

Montrose

Albion Rovers

Queens Park

East Stirling