FIRST DIVISION MANAGER OF THE MONTH: BARRY SMITH (DUNDEE)
SECOND DIVISION MANAGER OF THE MONTH: JOHN ROBERTSON (EAST FIFE)
THIRD DIVISION MANAGER OF THE MONTH: PAUL SHEERIN (ARBROATH)
PLAYER OF THE MONTH/ GINGER BOOT WINNER: STEVEN DORIS (ARBROATH)
YOUNG PLAYER OF THE MONTH: LEIGH GRIFFITHS (DUNDEE)
BARRY SMITH (DUNDEE)
Dundee’s Interim Manager, Barry Smith, praised the Dens Park players as he picked up the IRN-BRU Phenomenal Manager of the Month for the First Division after little more than six weeks in the job.
Smith was appointed in the wake of Gordon Chisholm and Billy Dodds leaving as the club were placed in Administration in October and Smith followed up the three draws secured that month with a 2-1 win over Partick Thistle on Tayside and a resounding 3-0 triumph up in Dingwall against Ross County.
The 36-year-old said: “The players deserve credit for this award for the work they have put in since I was appointed.
“The team has been galvanised by recent events but they still have to deliver on the pitch and that is what they have done.
“They work hard individually and work hard for each other and I really want to acknowledge what they have done.”
Smith had started the season patrolling a defensive beat at Brechin City whilst also managing Dundee’s youth team before being thrown in at the deep end and he has shown he is a strong swimmer.
Smith said: “I have not had time to think about what I have learned yet as I have been too busy. I was working with the Under 19s and had hoped to progress to first team management at some stage and when this opportunity came up, I had to take it.”
Having played in more than 500 games as a player with 400 of them in Dundee colours, Smith was asked if he was missing playing.
He replied: “I am not missing playing at the moment, that feeling might come but I have not really been thinking about it yet as I am only concentrating on management.”
That concentration has worked well with Smith making an unbeaten start that now stretches to eight games, with the Dens Park boss saying: “Working with the players on a week to week basis has been great and they have responded brilliantly and professionally.
“The boys have just been concentrating on what happens on the pitch and we have all been enjoying the results.
“I know there will be times when the results are not so good but if we keep doing the same things we have been doing, we will win more than we lose.”
JOHN ROBERTSON (EAST FIFE)
It has not taken John Robertson long to pick up an award as Manager of East Fife with the former Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Heart of Midlothian, Ross County and Livingston boss picking up November’s IRN-BRU Phenomenal Manager of the Month for the Second Division.
Robertson was only installed as the Fifers’ Manager on 26th October and Robertson guided his new charges on an unbeaten run in November with a 4-1 win over Alloa Athletic followed by a 2-2 draw with Peterhead in the League as well as defeating Forfar Athletic 3-1 in the Scottish Cup to progress to the next round.
The 46-year-old remains as passionate as ever about the game however, he is now much more chilled out and after nearly three years since leaving Derry City, Robertson believes that part-time East Fife have a much more complete Manager than their full-time rivals ever did. He also now winces when he sees younger Managers on the touchlines as it reminds him of how he used to be.
During his time away from directly working in the game, Robertson found employment with oil and gas recruitment company, Orion Group, and he credits them and their Chairman, Alan Savage, with developing him into a better Manager.
Robertson said: “Alan has taken me under his wing at Orion and basically he has shown me how big business works. It has been business training that football Managers do not normally get or indeed want.
“It has given me an insight into how Chairman and businessmen think and work. I have learned how to communicate better with people and of course, working with the BBC on match days helped that as well.”
Working in the business world developed skills in Robertson that were enhanced when he started to speak to people in football that he had not normally got on with.
Robertson explained: “When I worked on the radio, I would speak to referees away from the game and found out they hate making mistakes more than anyone.
“I was never the greatest communicator when I was in football before but talking to people in a different way has helped and I see their role very differently now.
“I said six months ago that the next team that employed me would be getting a much more mature Manager and that is what East Fife have.
“I had to change aspects of my managerial style to concentrate just on getting my team to play football and respecting officials.”
Robertson sees the burning passion he had when he started out in less experienced Managers and he knows that he has changed when he realises that he does not behave that way on the touchline now.
He explained: “I look at some guys and I can honestly say, ‘there by the grace of God go I’. In your first managerial job, you are kicking every ball, making every tackle, heading everything away and contesting every decision.
“You feel that you are not doing your job if you are not doing that and that a more subdued approach is cheating your fans and your Board. I am a bit more chilled out but I still have that desire to do well.”
Robertson’s new approach has worked well so far at New Bayview and he has dedicated his reward to the group of players he inherited from Stevie Crawford, which ironically still includes Crawford as a player.
“This award is all about the players,” said Robertson before adding: “I sat down with them when I started and said how I wanted the game to be played. I wanted attacking football and football with a smile on its face and they have delivered that.”
Crawford scored twice for his new Manager last weekend and Robertson praised the former Scotland cap saying: “Stephen felt that as a Manager, he was not getting enough from the players. He took a wee break and came back refreshed. I wanted him still to play for us and to be fair, he has settled down and is one of the best strikers in the League.”
Crawford should return to management according to Robertson who said: “There is no reason why he cannot return to management anywhere including East Fife if that is what he wants to do. It is difficult to be a player and a Manager and in the future, he may want to consider that approach.
“At the moment he is fit, scoring goals and enjoying his football.”
Robertson showed his new restraint further when asked about the chances of a Play-Off place being secured and he replied: “We are mid table just now on the back of a good run. We will just look to stabilise here first before we talk about anything else.
“I am not making any claims or trying to be smart and float under a radar, I just want us to enjoy where we are just now.”
PAUL SHEERIN (ARBROATH)
Arbroath Player/Manager Paul Sheerin was presented with his first award as Gayfield boss when he picked up the IRN-BRU Phenomenal Manager of the Month for November and the 36-year-old immediately admitted that he felt like a fraud.
The Red Lichties scored 10 times last month as they defeated Berwick Rangers, East Stirlingshire and Montrose with Sheerin dedicating the honour to his backroom staff after playing every minute of every game.
Sheerin said: “I am delighted that our run has been recognised however, I feel a bit of a fraud as I have been playing so much. My Assistant Manager, Stewart Petrie, and goalkeeping coach Mike Cargill, do a lot more work that other assistants do, so I am really grateful to them.
“I won a Player of the Month award when I was a player at St. Johnstone and this feels a bit different as there have been so many people involved in earning it as opposed to just your own form.”
November’s nine point haul moved Arbroath from sixth place to third and they are gaining a reputation as a team that like to attack from the off with Sheerin saying: “We have good strikers in Gavin Swankie and Steven Doris and we play to that strength, although we can be a bit gung ho at times, probably too much so.
“I want us to play football in what I think is the proper manner and we are getting there but I know this is a results based game. If we get the right results in a right way it is great but at other times, you need to keep everybody on board by grinding out a result.”
Sheerin was appointed to the Gayfield hot seat at the end of May, following the club’s relegation to the Third Division and Jim Weir’s move to Brechin City, and he is only now just catching his breath in his first managerial role.
He said: “At the beginning it was all very rushed as we looked to get players on board. We did that but started slowly in the League as we were hit by a bit of an injury crisis and it is only now that we have a full squad and I can take time and think about developing things further.”
Promotion is now back on the agenda at Arbroath however, Sheerin is remaining coy saying: “We only won three of our first nine games and fell behind a wee bit and that might come back to bite us a bit.
“That may have cost us the title but we are back in the mix for a Play-Off place and that has to be the aim between now and May.”
The next task for Sheerin will be another first in management as he looks to trim the bodies at Gayfield as he explained: “With everybody fit now, I have a lot of bodies on board and not everyone is going to play regularly. I will need to look at that in January and move some players on.”
STEVEN DORIS (ARBROATH)
Arbroath striker Steven Doris is pleased that he stopped taking sugar injections and had an operation in the summer as his new found fitness has helped him hit top form and be recognised as the IRN-BRU Phenomenal Player of the Month for November.
Last season Doris struggled with a knee injury and he took a couple of courses of Prolotherapy that saw a sugar solution injected into his joint with the intention that his immune system would be stimulated and damaged muscles would be repaired quicker as a result.
When the pain came back, Doris decided on a more traditional method of recovery and had an operation during the summer and he is now hitting the best form of his career.
He said: “The sugar injections were meant to bring some short term relief but they were simply not doing the job for me. I tried them a couple of times but I decided to get it fixed with surgery in the summer.
“I missed pre-season but I am feeling the benefit now although, I am still not fully fit.
“I scored when I came back in September and that gave me a great deal of confidence and I have built on things since then. November saw me net against Berwick Rangers and Montrose and play the best football of my career.”
The 22-year-old hit a hat-trick against their Angus rivals from Links Park and after seeing two Managers he liked leave the Gayfield club within a few months, Doris is enjoying the stability his former St. Johnstone team-mate Paul Sheerin is bringing to the club.
Doris said: “I started off at Perth and had loan spells at Montrose and Arbroath. John McGlashan took me to Arbroath as soon as I got freed by St. Johnstone. It was good to be wanted straight away and I decided to give part-time football a try for a year and see what happened.
“John left in the October and I got injured so there was no chance of impressing a full-time club last season. I have also never been able to get a job either so hopefully, I can put that right if I do not get the chance to go full-time in the future.”
Once McGlashan left, a familiar face came in with Doris saying: “Jim Weir then took over and I knew him from both the Saints and Montrose but he moved away to Brechin during the summer. Paul has come in and I am really pleased with that as I knew him from St. Johnstone as well.
“He has us playing well and I would like to think my award reflects on him and all my team-mates at Arbroath.”
Doris’ four goals also saw him follow in the footsteps of Dunfermline Athletic’s Andy Kirk, Berwick Rangers front man Darren Gribben and Rory McAllister of Brechin City by being awarded a pair of Ginger boots.
LEIGH GRIFFITHS (DUNDEE)
Dundee striker Leigh Griffiths has made it a double hat-trick of IRN-BRU Phenomenal Young Player of the Month awards as he picked up his sixth honour from The Scottish Football League’s main sponsor for his performances in November.
Griffiths was first recognised in March, 2008 with his previous club Livingston and he won again in August of the same year and then March, 2009 before his move to Dens Park that summer. His quick-fire start as a Dark Blue saw him pick up back to back awards in September and October, 2009 however, he has had to wait a bit longer to make it the half dozen.
The 20-year-old praised his Manager Barry Smith and Dundee team-mates for his award saying: “We are all in it together at Dundee and I would like this award recognised for what everyone has done collectively since we entered Administration. We started the season slowly however, over the past couple of months we have improved.
“The spirit in the dressing room is a lot stronger than it was at the start of the season and my game has improved at the same time. We are buzzing during training and in games and the credit for that must go to Barry Smith.
“The fans can see we are all fighting for everything and their backing has been great as well.”
Griffiths bagged three goals last month with the hit-man saying: “The first one against Partick Thistle was from about 25 yards out and it was one of those ones that when you see the ball at your feet, you just think why not.
“At Ross County, I scored twice with the first one a flick from a clever free kick and the second when I chased a long ball.”
A move away from Tayside is again being touted for Griffiths however, he is not doing any pushing saying: “I am happy playing for Dundee and that will remain the case until someone tells me otherwise.”