Hello to all of our supporters based locally, throughout the UK and across the globe. It is fantastic to have you with us for this season, as we take the next steps on our club’s journey.
For those who don’t know of me, I have been the first team manager at the club since 2015. Originally as Edusport Academy and now, of course, as Caledonian Braves. I began as a coach within the academy, working with the young footballers that came across from France, and worked my way up to the Head Coach position in time for the club’s acceptance into the South of Scotland League.
It has been an exciting journey so far and this season is no different. After so much work behind the scenes, our mobile application and documentary were released last month. Interest in the club has received a real spike, so it’s my job to do that justice Coronavirus has led to a lot of challenging times across Scottish football and we are no different. However, it feels like there is light at the end of the tunnel and the boys are chomping at the bit.
The players returned to the training ground on 25th August. The first week was mainly fitness testing, along with some light ball-work. We put the players through the Yo-Yo test, 12-minute run and various other ways of assessing their fitness. We were really pleased with the initial results. We knew the boys had been doing a lot of running and taking care of themselves during the close season, which is a credit to them considering the restrictions in place.
The following week saw training kick-off properly, under the guidance of myself, assistant manager Richie Salveta and newly appointed player-coach David Winters. Since joining last season, David’s experience has shone through and as a senior player, he has naturally become a link between the squad and the coaching staff. The boys have great respect for him and he’s keen to start on his coaching badges, so it’s a natural fit.
This season’s squad is shaping up nicely. The vast majority of last season’s players have signed on again which is brilliant for continuity. It also speaks volumes about how this group of players buy into what we are trying to achieve at the club. Both on and off the park.
We are also delighted to bring in some quality additions, to bolster the squad with more strength and depth. Andy Dowie brings plenty of SPFL experience and also joining the club are Gavin Lachlan, Jack Smith, Scott Forrester and Jamie Watson. It was good to get so much of our transfer market business done early, and I am still hoping to bring in two more players to complete the squad. A left-back and left sided forward player are our priorities, with a few trialists currently attending training for the coaches to run the rule over. Serge Makofo, Reece Glackin, Kyle Johnson, Craig Quinn and Jack Breslin move on from the club, with our best wishes.
Next week, all being well, we will start our pre-season friendly matches. Approval still needs to be granted by the Scottish FA, but we have pulled together a really testing set of games. Our tentative list includes outings against Stirling Albion, Benburb, East Fife, Troon, Shotts and Sauchie. We will let the fans know as soon as these are set in stone and whilst unfortunately it’s unlikely they’ll be able to attend in person, our media team will bring you all of the action.
Whilst it’s a wee while away, receiving the draw for the Soccer Shop Direct Challenge Cup gave everyone a bit of a buzz. It was great to hear that the Lowland League is still pushing for a 32-game season, even if it is possibly at the expense of some cup competitions. There has been a lot of hype around the division, with a number of clubs bringing in high calibre signings and another strong side joining in the form of Bo’Ness. It is set to be one of the most competitive leagues in the country and we can’t wait for the fixtures to come out.
Off the pitch, there’s been a lot going on too. Despite my focus being with the first team, at a club the size of the Braves there isn’t much which passes me by. I have been delighted to put the wheels in motion for our club’s youth structure, with U16 and U19 teams playing under our banner next season. We have also been redeveloping parts of Alliance Park, with a number of fans volunteering their time to help with the DIY.
Whether you are a stone throw away from the ground or at the other side of the world I would like to thank you for supporting us. We are a team that tries to play the right way on the park and a club that has very strong values off it. I’m sure you’ll enjoy following the team in the coming weeks and please do get involved with the Braves Chat and votes. Whether it’s on the app or pitchside, I hope to speak with you all very soon.