It seems a long time ago we started pre-season. Back in May actually, when last season’s Covid restrictions lifted. At that time, we had virtually no signed players limited staff and it all to do. We said goodbye to many players who had served us well in recent seasons and decided the time was right for a fresh start. A new squad and set of backroom staff were assembled. In came David Winters, Ross Halliburton and Leanne Glately to the staff replacing Richie Salveta, Ross Anderson and Bryn Halliwell.
After 6 weeks of training and looking at trialists, we finally committed to a squad and bringing players in. By the start of ‘proper pre-season’ in mid June, we felt our young squad was starting to take shape. Training went well apart from a horrendous injury to John Guthrie, but the squad was coming together nicely. I felt at the time we looked fitter and sharper than previous squads we've had, which was a focus for us to improve on from the previous season.
When the season began, away to Berwick Rangers, we had an optimism that we could compete with every team in the league and produce a few surprises along the way. So far, we have had some really good results. An away win at Spartans, a battling draw against EK and we went on a good run of games once we got off the mark with our first victory over Stirling University.
I am very proud that we have one of the youngest squads in the league and we have filled the team with guys who have bags of potential. Many playing their first season of senior football. I believe it is our job as coaches to develop the player on and off the field, so they can realise that potential. Senior football is about winning games, no doubt about that. However, building a foundation, improving the team and the individuals within is the process towards performance and ultimately winning. I feel we are in that phase at the moment. Setting our foundations, building, nurturing and improving in order to grow a winning mentality.
As always, 2021 has been a rollercoaster ride. Ups and downs, happy weekends and some dismal Saturday nights. None more so than the passing of our close friend and work colleague Chris Divers. I think about Chris every day and wish he was sharing our journey. Our thoughts are always with his family, especially at this time of the year.
A big sense of achievement for us was also building our youth pathway. We now have 3 teams 2008s, 2006s 2005s. Thank you to all involved in those teams for believing in Caley Braves and joining us. It is now about improving that development pathway also. Some of these players are the future of the team and we owe them to put everything into getting them better. Finally, a big thank you to Scott Dunn, David Ramsey, John Burns and John Yates for making our matchdays run smoothly. All that hard work is greatly appreciated by all.
Whilst my job is focused on the football side, it has also been tremendous to see so much appetite for our club online and through our mobile application. We now have fans in more than 50 countries, which is quite an achievement for a club in Scotland’s fifth tier. I know from my regular chats with Chris Ewing, that there are plenty of exciting plans on the way off the pitch in 2022.
We hope 2022 shows more improvement on and off the pitch for the Braves. Let's hit the ground running with a win against Broomhill on New Year’s Day.
Wishing our supporters from new and far a Happy New Year and the very best wishes to all for a happy and healthy 2022.