This Scottish League 1 football preview is written by David Farrell, a former journey man pro who has kitted out for Hibs, Partick Thistle, Airdrie and Albion Rovers among others.
He is about to release a book about his experiences and you can read his musings on a footballers’ life in his blog “Football From The Inside“.
So here we are on the eve of yet another Scottish football season for the less glamorous Scottish League 1 and 2 sides in Scotland. Glebe Park, Gayfield and Galabank Stadium sit proudly among the salubrious venues our part time players will visit this season.
Each and every Saturday (not for them the last-minute, thoughtless fixture changes to a Sunday) our well run part time clubs, will haul their entourage around the country in an attempt to gain promotion, avoid relegation, or maintain mid table mediocrity.
I still can’t get my head round that we’re not calling them Division Two and Three as we were in my day, or at the very least, something a little more original than cloning the monickers from the Sky-laden English Premiership, but theLadbrokes Scottish Professional Football League 1 and the Ladbrokes Scottish Professional Football League 2 it is.
So here’s my preview of the Scottish League 1 season ahead and in particular, which teams to look out for and which teams may face the dreaded drop.
Scottish League 1 Preview
As always there has been a huge turnaround of players in both Divisions, none more so than at Dunfermline who seriously under achieved last season by not even reaching the Scottish League 1 play-offs.
They have recruited a young, hungry manager in Allan Johnston, who will be looking to bounce back up to managing at a higher level and proving he can be successful. There’s no better way of doing that than by winning a Championship.
He has recruited well in the summer with two experienced goalkeepers and in particular signing two terrific full backs in Jason Talbot and Calum Fordyce from Livingston. Building from the back and relying on players with experience from the divisions above Scottish League 1 will be key in the coming months.
Should they start the season well and bring the crowds back to East End Park, I’m sure the Board will back a final push in January. For that reason I’m tipping The Pars to end their lower League exile and top the Division (sorry Scottish League 1) come May.
Of the rest, the Angus teams, Brechin and Forfar will put up their usual fight. They are perennial challengers at the top of the League and I would see no reason either shouldn’t be aiming for the Scottish League 1 play-offs yet again.
Dick Campbell knows how to organise teams and get them into good positions and Darren Dods, the new Brechin manager, will be looking to prove himself as a rookie boss. With both having reasonable budgets, the play-offs should be a viable target.
Ayr United and Stranraer should be strong enough to maintain mid table positions and as long as Peterhead retain the scoring prowess of Rory McCallister, that should be enough to steer them clear of any relegation trouble.
Stenhousemuir could be this season’s surprise package in Scottish League 1. They have recruited well in the summer with Gilhaney, McShane and Smith all experienced forward players having played at a higher level and, with Colin McMenamin giving them their usual goal threat.
They may well prove to be closer to the top than they were to the bottom last season. My old club Airdrie should have enough experience among their ranks to avoid flirting with the relegation play-offs, but in my opinion they won’t have enough quality to challenge at the top.
All of which leaves Albion Rovers and Cowdenbeath to slug it out and preserve their Scottish League 1 status. Neither will have a competitive budget and Cowdenbeath in particular have had a massive turnaround of players this summer and I can see them struggling and facing the drop for the second successive season.
Darren Young and Billy Stark will hopefully have the organisational skills and experience to overcome adversity at my old club in Coatbridge and steer the Rovers to safety against the odds.
And there you have it. My predictions for the Scottish League 1 season 2015-2016 and now you can happily have your punt in the knowledge that having studied Farrell’s tips, you are in a better position to know which ones to AVOID, rather than which ones to put the mortgage on.