- IRN-BRU Phenomenal Third Division Manager of the Month – Stuart Garden (Montrose)
- IRN-BRU Ginger Boot Winner – Andy Jackson (Brechin City)
IRN-BRU SFL Phenomenal Third Division Manager of the Month – Stuart Garden (Montrose)
Montrose went into their first ever league match with Rangers at Links Park last Saturday boosted by the success of manager Stuart Garden in picking up his first ever Manager of the Month Award after he was chosen as the IRN-BRU Phenomenal Third Division winner for November.
Wins over Clyde and Peterhead coupled with a draw against Queen’s Park last month are the centre pieces in an unbeaten run stretching to 6 games for the Gable Endies.
Garden reckons that the upturn in the Angus club’s fortunes have been brought about through the foundations laid by former bosses Steven Tweed and Ray Farningham and creating a strong mentality amongst the Links Park players.
The 40 year old former goalkeeper, who began his football career at Dundee United in 1990, and ended it at Ross County 15 years later when he took his first steps towards management as the goalkeeping coach at Inverness Caledonian Thistle, moved to Links Park as part of Tweed’s back-room team that also included Farningham.
When Tweed left nearly two years ago due to work commitments, his assistant Farningham replaced him and Garden became his assistant and when Farningham left to become assistant manager at Dundee in the summer Garden stepped up.
Garden said, “When Ray said he was leaving for Dundee we had a conversation and he asked me if I wanted the job. He said if I did he would speak to the Board and recommend me.”
“I went away and thought about it for a couple of days and took advice from my father-in-law, Jocky Scott, and told Ray I wanted it. I then spoke to the Board and here I am.”
Garden added, “It was one of those situations in life where I knew if I did not go for it I would have regretted it. I have to say that Ray left me a fantastic platform to work on as he had re-signed 10 of the players so I was able to get to work quickly.”
For the first time in 5 years Montrose have moved into a play-off spot that few outside of Links Park had predicted at the start of the season and Garden said, “We quietly set the target of the play-offs with the players, we are in there now and hope to stay there. You could say that we have emerged as a candidate and long may it stay that way.”
Former Scotland, Dundee and Dundee United centre back Lee Wilkie is Garden’s assistant and the duo have worked hard on turning their players into winners with the Gable Endies manager saying, “We believed in the guys from an early stage. We wanted to instil a winning mentality into them and they have responded. We have ground out some wins without playing at our best and wins build confidence.”
IRN-BRU Ginger Boot Award – Andy Jackson (Brechin City)
Five goals would have been enough for Brechin City’s Andy Jackson to win the IRN-BRU Ginger Boots for November, however Jackson should have won by an even more impressive margin as he actually scored 7 times.
Jackson said, “It was a good month for Brechin between the manager Ray McKinnon winning the IRN-BRU Phenomenal Manager of the Month and me winning this. The manager deserves it as he has done great since he came in and I am pleased for him, his assistant Grant Johnston and coach Darren Taylor.”
The Glebe Park men had risen from eighth place to third during this time with Jackson adding, “It was a shame that games started to go off as we were in great form.”
As for his own goalscoring form Jackson said, “I am on 15 goals for the season now and not 14 as I scored 7 last month and not 6 and not 5.”
“I scored two against Alloa and the referee confirmed it after the game but somehow Jonathan Brown got the credit for a goal that I headed in. It was described as a swerving free kick in some papers and it was not even a free kick, it was a cross and one of the papers also had him scoring from my cross but it was my goal.”
Jackson continued, “Against Bonnyrigg in the Scottish Cup a goal I scored was given to Kurtis Byrne but that one was sorted out after the game. I am on 12 in the league and 3 in Cups and I am closing in on my best ever which was 19 at St Johnstone a few years ago.”
The 24 year old is certainly going the right way to getting his career back on track after a series of disappointments as he explained, “I have been unlucky with injuries and I got over them only to break my jaw in a game against Raith Rovers when I was with Morton but, touch wood, I have been alright this season.”
“If it wasn’t for injuries I may still be in the SPL with St Johnston but sometimes you have to take a step down to take a step up, if I am doing well for Brechin hopefully someone will notice and take a chance on me.”
New boss McKinnon has breathed fresh life into Brechin’s season with Jackson saying, “I started this season up front with Scott Dalziel for the first 5 or 6 weeks and now Kurtis Byrne is playing up with me or I am up front on my own. When you have the ball the manager lets you be quite free but without the ball he wants you to work really hard and 7 games in I have scored 9 times.”
“I was the only player to score under Jim Weir at the start of the season and then David McKenna scored when Andy Millen was in charge for one game. Alan Trouten, Jonathan and Kurtis are all chipping in now and when we beat Stenhousemuir 7-2 I never scored so anything can happen.”
As for his new pair of bright boots Jackson said, “These boots will go into a cabinet my uncle has of things from my football career. I put a match ball in it last season from Morton and my Young Player of the Month Award from my St Johnstone days as well as fans Awards from this season.”
“Pride of place is probably my Challenge Cup Medal from 20007. That season at St Johnstone was a great one for me but then I was out for the two years and as I have always said since then if I get games I get goals.”
Jackson finished by saying, “The manager might want my boots all the same as he still joins in at training and you can tell he was a player. He has a great touch but maybe with the winter setting in he will take a back seat.”