- FIRST DIVISION PHENOMENAL MANAGER OF THE MONTH: JOHN MCGLYNN (RAITH ROVERS)
- SECOND DIVISION PHENOMENAL MANAGER OF THE MONTH: JIM WEIR (BRECHIN CITY)
- THIRD DIVISION PHENOMENAL MANAGER OF THE MONTH: JIMMY CREASE (BERWICK RANGERS)
- PHENOMENAL PPLAYER OF THE MONTH: ANDY KIRK (DUNFERMLINE ATHLETIC)
- PHENOMENAL YOUNG PLAYER OF THE MONTH: MARC MCCUSKER (CLYDE)
- GINGER BOOT AWARD: ANDY KIRK (DUNFERMLINE ATHLETIC)
Raith Rovers ended August sitting proudly at the top of the First Division with a perfect League record of played four and won four. The Kirkcaldy side also knocked SPL Hamilton Academical out of The Co-operative Insurance Cup thanks to Mark Ferry’s goal and Stark’s Park boss John McGlynn was a more than deserved winner of the first IRN-BRU Phenomenal Manager of the Month award.
Rovers sent Partick Thistle back to Glasgow on the opening day of the season on the end of a 4-0 defeat with John Baird scoring a hat-trick and they then won 3-1 at Queen of the South the next Saturday to get their travelling campaign off to a great start.
Dunfermline Athletic were beaten next in front of a crowd of 6,169 in the Fife derby with McGlynn’s men securing a 2-0 win and Gregory Tade’s late goal made it a fantastic four when Morton were defeated to end the month
McGlynn was as pragmatic as ever saying, “It has been a fantastic run but I will not be getting too carried away with anything. It has been a great journey since I joined the club nearly four years ago. We were second bottom of the Second Division then, so we are a good bit further on in waking up a bit of a sleeping giant.
“We made a great start to last season as well and ended up needing those points come the end of the season when we finished in seventh place. I would like us to move higher than that this time out, although the First Division is incredibly difficult to predict.
“Dundee, Falkirk and Dunfermline all have ambitions to get back to the SPL and we have ambitions of our own so who knows what will happen. We will keep looking forward although we will have to be on our guard as we are not a surprise anymore and there will be a few teams out to end our run.
It has not taken long for Brechin City boss Jim Weir to find his feet at Glebe Park and a fine opening month in his now job has seen the former Montrose and Arbroath Manager pick up the IRN-BRU Phenomenal Manager of the Month Award for the Second Division.
Brechin stared August by winning at Ayr United to get their League campaign up and running in great style and they ended the month undefeated in the League with draws against Forfar Athletic and Stenhousemuir and a win over a previously undefeated Alloa. Athletic
The jewel in the crown at Glebe Park however, was their 3-1 penalty shoot-out success that knocked Dundee out of The Co-operative Insurance Cup after a 2-2 draw.
Weir said, “We have had a terrific start which began with a very successful pre-season programme. The opening win at Ayr was really important as that set a standard in terms of League performances but of course, beating Dundee was a real high.”
The 41-year-old gave credit to previous Manager Jim Duffy when he said, “Anyone in this game will tell you that it is all about the players and I was fortunate that Jim Duffy had established a good pool of players before leaving.
“There were eleven players here who had taken the club to the Final of the Play-Offs and I built on that when the Committee supported me by giving me funds to increase the squad to 18. There is competition for places and everyone wants to play.”
One thing Weir has changed is the training routine of his squad advising, “I have brought everyone together for training again at Perth. It seemed to be a bit disjointed before and I believed that this was a better way and we are quite fortunate that geography allows us to do that in that players from all areas can get to Perth quite easily.”
The main asset that Brechin possess is their strike force with Weir delighted that one of Duffy’s main acts last season was to tie Rory McAllister to the club.
He said, “There are goals in our team and we have one of the best if not the best striker in the division in Rory. We would love to keep him even longer than this season but we are a selling club like everyone else.”
Weir is certainly enjoying life with his new side saying, “Brechin City is a great wee club where my assistant Kevin McGowne and I have been made to feel very welcome. There is a cracking backroom here full of guys that treat us and the players like full-timers. Hopefully, we can keep the good feeling going longer.”
Berwick Rangers fine run in the Third Division saw Manager Jimmy Crease rewarded with the IRN-BRU Phenomenal Manager of the Month for August. The Borderers have won three and drawn one of their League games played scoring fourteen times. The Shielfield side visited promotion seeking rivals Albion Rovers, Clyde and Queen’s Park and came back undefeated and hit six goals past Elgin in their only home game.
Crease said, “14 goals in four games is quite sensational stuff. I knew there were goals in this team and Darren Gribben along with Craig O’Reilly have done really well. Alan Brazil and Kevin Gordon can score goals too but the form of the starting duo is keeping them out just now.”
The Shielfield boss added, “We are creating a lot of chances for the forwards but we also possess a threat from midfield where Paul Currie has been excellent. He has shown great energy and he arrived bang on time to grab a couple of goals against Clyde the other week.”
Crease added, “Just as pleasing to me was that we did not lose any goals at Queen’s Park.”
The Borderers are another club being guided by another Manager with his shoes stapled on the turf with Crease saying, “It is a start but that is all it is a start. We had a good start last season but fell away and we are out to ensure that does not happen this time. We were not far away from being a good side last season however, heavier grounds worked against us.
“We have added O’Reilly and Chris McLeod, who are both six foot three plus, and hopefully, their height will help when the ball has to be played in the air a bit more because pitches are not so good.”
Crease’s spell in charge started in November 2008 and it is his fourth spell in charge of the Black and Gold Dream team and he has experienced ups and downs in his career saying, “Football is a strange business. You win and you are top of the pops and you lose and you want to cut your throat.
“I would say that this time out, everyone at Berwick is pulling together to take the club forward. There is a good spirit in the dressing room and the Directors, kit men and tea ladies are all pushing the same way.”
Getting things right off the park has helped make the club more stable on it with Crease adding, “Football is easier when you are winning but the time will come when we get beat and it is important that we have that stability then as well.”
Dunfermline Athletic striker Andy Kirk’s blistering start to the new season has been rewarded with a trio of prizes from SFL sponsor IRN-BRU. Kirk has bagged 11 goals since the season began and that has seen him walk away with a unique hat-trick of an IRN-BRU match ball for his three strikes against Stirling Albion last Saturday, the IRN-BRU Phenomenal Player of the Month for August and he is also the first recipient of a new prize, the IRN-BRU Ginger Boot for being the top goalscorer during a calendar month.
The former Heart of Midlothian player has netted six times in cup competitions this season, with two of those goals coming against Clyde this month, being added to five League goals to make it an awesome August for the 31-year-old.
Kirk said, “I cannot remember having started a season as well as this one. A lot of it is down to our style of play as I know I can bomb into the box and get on the end of crosses as we have quality wingers that get on the ball a lot at Dunfermline.
“I don’t have a favourite goal or anything like that, I just love scoring.”
Another three goals need to be added to allow Kirk to draw level with last season’s haul however, the Belfast born front-man is not declaring any targets about a total for this season.
Kirk said, “I have targets but I keep them to myself and I know when I will have done well this time out.”
The new boots, which boast a uniquely branded tongue courtesy of the sponsor, will be broken in next week in training, with Kirk advising, “The boots are very similar to the ones I wear on match days so I will have them on next week in training and see how I get on with them.
“I will be keeping them close to my kit bag just in case someone else fancies getting a hold of them and trying them out.”
Kirk has picked up 10 caps for his native Northern Ireland and it is ironic that he was able to pick up his trophies as he had not been called into Nigel Worthington’s squad.
The striker said, “The Manager has a squad of players that he sticks to but all I can do is keep scoring goals and see where that takes us.”
The early season goalscoring form of Clyde striker Marc McCusker has seen him pick up two individual awards already, and it has also convinced the 21-year-old that he is bouncing back up the way after some wretched luck in his career.
McCusker’s seven goal haul since the start of the season has seen the IRN-BRU Phenomenal Young Player of the Month Award added to The Co-operative Insurance Cup First Round trophy that he picked up a fortnight ago to make it a memorable time for the Architectural student.
The striker started his career at Heart of Midlothian however, his career stalled when he shattered his shoulder in an Edinburgh youth derby against Hibernian in a collision with Lewis Stevenson aged just 17.
McCusker said, “That put me out of the game for a year and I missed it especially as I was full-time then. I missed the training every day and physically, I think that has held my career back.
“After my year out, I went on loan to Stranraer and that was an invaluable experience and then I went to Clyde on loan before becoming a permanent player there.”
The striker’s first spell in Bully Wee colours ended in disappointment as a knee injury curtailed his involvement and he dropped down to the Third Division with Albion Rovers where a loan spell became a permanent move as well.
During the summer, he was enticed back to Broadwood by Stuart Millar and he is now becoming the player he expected to be.
McCusker explained, “Physically I am in the shape I would have been two years ago if I had stayed at Hearts.
“I go to the gym every day or go out running and I think I have caught up on the development I missed out on. My shoulder is good now and so is my knee.”
McCusker has just started the second year of a HND Architecture course at Motherwell College and he knows next summer may well be a crucial stage in his life both on and off the park.
The front man explained, “I love it at Clyde and have been really impressed by Stuart Millar but I would love another chance at full-time football. Next summer if all goes well with my course, I may have to commit myself to four years at University to do architecture.
“It would be good to be in the position to have to decide but at the moment, I will concentrate on scoring goals at Clyde and worry about other stuff later.”