The IRN-BRU Phenomenal Award winners have been named for the month of October. After much debate, a judging panel consisting of respresentatives from the Scottish media decided upon the winners.
The winners for October are:-
- FIRST DIVISION MANAGER OF THE MONTH: JOHN McGLYNN (RAITH ROVERS)
- SECOND DIVISION MANAGER OF THE MONTH: JIM WEIR )BRECHIN CITY)
- THIRD DIVISION MANAGER OF THE MONTH: ROSS JACK (ELGIN CITY)
- PLAYER OF THE MONTH: WILLIE GIBSON (DUNFERMLINE ATHLETIC)
- YOUNG PLAYER OF THE MONTH: RYAN FLYNN (FALKIRK)
- GINGER BOOT AWARD: RORY McALLISTER (BRECHIN CITY)
Raith Rovers manager John McGlynn picked up his second IRN-BRU Manager of the Month Award for the season at Hampden yesterday and the fifth honour of his managerial reign at Kirkcaldy that celebrates its fourth anniversary later this month.
Rovers top the First Division table just a point ahead of Fife neighbours Dunfermline, however the three times stand-in manager at Hearts was keen to play down his side’s Championship winning credentials although McGlynn admits he would love to return to being a boss in the SPL.
McGlynn said, “We have probably surprised a few people that we have kept our good run going and I sure there are a few people who thought our bubble would have burst by now. We have a growing belief that we will do well this season but it is still too early to call us title contenders.”
The 48 year old has a date in mind for when he will say his side have a title chance as he explained, “If we are still up there mid to late January I think we could be called realistic challengers. A lot can happen between now and then with injuries and suspensions for example. So far we have had a good run, much better than in previous years, and we have to hope that continues.”
Despite not wishing his men to be classed as title contenders McGlynn’s Rovers are ahead of schedule for the season with the manager saying, “We privately set a target for what we want to achieve in the entire season. Each quarter we also set a points total and we gathered 20 from the first quarter against a target of 14. We revised this quarter’s target to 16 and have gathered 6 already, but November is shaping up as a really hard month. If we end the first half of the season on 36 points I will be pleased.”
If Rovers hit 36 points they will only be 6 short of their haul from last season’s 36 games and it will be another indicator of the club’s progress under McGlynn when they ultimately pass that target.
Appointed on November 20, 2006, when Raith were second bottom of the Second Division, McGlynn is justifiably proud of what has been achieved as he commented, “We have come on leaps and bounds since then. We have four part-timers now and when we started we had more part time players than full time. Each season we have progressed from qualifying for the play-offs to winning the league and then staying in the First Division and reaching the semi-final of the Scottish Cup.”
“We are starting to put more bums on seats and that helps with the finance side of things. We try to stick within a budget and if we have ever gone over during our time here it has only been slightly.”
Despite other First Division clubs having higher budgets and better facilities McGlynn summed up the challenge his men face by saying, “Blackpool do not have what Manchester City have but they are competing well in the Premiership.”
A table-topping Fife derby against Dunfermline looms on the horizon for next weekend and McGlynn welcomes the challenge from East End Park saying, “It is going quite well in the area just now with Dunfermline under Jim McIntyre and Gerry McCabe doing well and Cowdenbeath making a good start. Jim has made some shrewd signings and I would imagine next week’s game will attract a huge crowd before people start tailing off before Christmas.”
“I expect Dunfermline to challenge all season for the title and Falkirk but I reckon someone else will come out of the pack to put in a challenge as well.”
As for McGlynn’s desire to be back managing in the SPL he said, “I took Hearts for a few games and enjoyed it but I also enjoyed learning from guys like George Burley, Jim Jefferies, Billy Brown and Craig Levein. Working with them and John Robertson whetted my appetite for the game at a higher level but I had to prove myself at Raith Rovers.”
“I have ambitions to be back in the SPL and it would be some achievement to take Raith Rovers there. Players want to play in the highest Division and First Division managers are the same, they want to manage in the SPL.”
After only one season of finishing as a top half side in the Third Division since Elgin City became members of the Scottish Football League things are beginning to look brighter at Borough Briggs. The improvement in fortunes of the Morayshire club has resulted in manager Ross jack being awarded the Third Division Phenomenal Manager of the Month prize for October.
The month started with a draw away at Clyde and was followed with wins over East Stirling, Queen’s Park and Brora Rangers in the Scottish Cup with only the long trip to Stranraer bringing disappointment as Elgin went down 2-1 to a last Scott Agnew penalty.
It was a first ever honour for Jack and he was delighted saying, “It is great for Elgin to be recognised in this manner and for me to pick up an award. “We are very much a work in progress at the moment but the players we have brought in have settled down well and we are moving in the right direction.”
The Black and Whites fans are responding positively with Jack saying, “Our crowds are beginning to increase, fans are enjoying the type of football we are playing and the players are enjoying the backing they are getting.”
Jack’s players are responding with the tt year old adding, “They are feeding off each other at the moment and the fans have been encouraged by the reaction from the players and the players want to keep our decent wee run going.”
The Borough Briggs boss is ensuring that no-one gets over excited saying, “We have set a standard that has people talking about us but it was hard work that got us there and it will take hard work to keep us there. The top half of the table has to be our target for season and we have given ourselves a chance of it.”
Jack spoke in the pre-seaon about walking up the Northern Giant and he has certainly got it stirring saying, “For too long Elgin have been at the foot of the table but we are in a position now where we can compete. In saying that a lot of teams will think that they can compete in this Third Division and a fair few teams will think they can win the title.”
“It is no like last season when Livingston ran away with things I reckon it will be much tighter this time out and the longer we stay up there the better.”
The fine form of Dunfermline’s tricky winger Willie Gibson throughout October has been recognised with the 24 year old picking up the IRN-BRU Player of the Month Award.
Gibson has scored four times for the Pars last month and he is delighted to be repaying the faith East End Park boss Jim McIntyre showed when he took him to the club last summer. The Dumfries player, who started his career at Queen of the South, had spent a frustrating two year period at Kilmarnock before his move to the First Division and Gibson reckons that playing every week is now bringing the best out of him.
Gibson said, “I would be in for four or give games at Kilmarnock and then be out for ten. I felt I could never get established in the team and I wanted to play more so eventually I spoke to Jim Jefferies about getting a move despite having a year left on my contract there.”
Jefferies and Gibson had a stormy relationship that was publicly highlighted when Gibson threw his shirt away after being a substituted substitute in a game at Aberdeen, however the current Hearts manager soon told Gibson about Dunfermline’s interest.
Gibson said, “Jim and I had our disagreements and they were always about the same thing. I wanted to play more often and things came to a head that day at Aberdeen. It was a quiet bus journey home for me that night and I now realise I should have shaken Danny Invincible’s hand when he was waiting to come on as it was not his doing.”
“I took my punishment of training with the youngsters for a couple of weeks and then Jim brought me back in and I played some first team games again. He told me about Dunfermline’s interest a couple of days after we spoke and we hold no grudges against each other now.”
The relationship with new manager McIntyre seems to be different with Gibson praising his boss for his attacking style saying, “No matter who we play the boss likes his wide men to get forward and get crosses in as we have players that can score goals. I may have picked up this award but I would like to think it reflects on everyone at the club.”
“Jim McIntyre took a chance on me and also paid money to get me at a time when transfer fees are rarely paid. I scored four times last month and have scored five this season in total and I am pleased with that. My form is probably the best it has been in my career.”
Gibson added, “My confidence was low when I went to Dunfermline but playing a lot last season helped me enormously and I have just carried on from there.”
Gibson also praised East End Park assistant manager Gerry McCabe for his held in developing him as a player saying,“Gerry is the first guy on the training park and the last away from it and he is always looking for you to play two touch football with him. He was a winger like me, however he says he was more like Lionel Messi, although I am not too sure of that.”
“I have learnt from him already during my few months at Dunfermline and will continue to do so during my time here.”
The winger has no regrets about turning down a move to English Blue Square Premiership side Crawley Town before the transfer window closed in August saying, “I have never regretted that decision both on a personal and a professional level. Personally my fiancé was just starting a new job and it would have been totally the wrong thing to do for her and also I have two children that I do not see enough of at the moment. If I had gone down there I would see even less of them.”
“I also want to stay and help Dunfermline get promoted. I reckon we are contenders but you cannot rule out Falkirk and Raith Rovers so I know it will be difficult. I am in the last year of my contract at Dunfermline as well and getting a new deal here and repaying Jim McIntyre be getting promoted would be great.”
Falkirk’s Ryan Flynn was the second winger to be recognised by the judging panel for his efforts last month and the second time around Bairn was delighted to be join Dunfermline’s Willie Gibson in the honours.
Flynn, who had a fine month as Falkirk won two and drew one of their four games, gave a stunning individual performance last month as he set up four of Falkirk’s five goals in their 5-1 at Queen of the South said, “It is good for me to win this award but I think it is a good reflection on everyone at Falkirk. It is always better to win as team and we have a good team spirit here.”
“We have now adapted to life in the First Division and whilst Raith Rovers and Dunfermline are ahead of us just now we have still to play both of them three times so there is a lot of football to be played.”
Flynn returned to Scotland last summer after a four year stay at English Premiership side Liverpool to re-join the club that had started him off as a Youth Player.
The 22 year old said, “I came through the youth ranks here at Falkirk under Eddie May and left at under-17 level to join Liverpool and when I came back four seasons later it was to play for Eddie in the first team. There were other familiar faces about so I was able to settle in really quickly.”
Despite not making an Anfield starting eleven Flynn was glad to have that experience saying, “I trained with the first team and that was great experience to get. I would play in games against the likes of Steven Gerrard. You obviously learn a lot in that company but I wanted to play football and that is why I came back here, initially on loan and then as a permanent player.”
Flynn is determined to hit the back of the net more for Falkirk this season saying, “I want to score more goals this season – last season I got five and have matched that total already this season so I want to add a few more now.”
Whilst delighted to be back home and pleased with his award Flynn is out to achieve promotion this term saying, “We have to be optimistic about our chances.”
After two months of having outright winners in the Ginger Boot race with Dunfermline’s Andy Kirk and Berwick Rangers’ Darren Gribben picking up new footwear last month’s contest was slightly different.
Player of the Month, Dunfermline’s Willie Gibson netted four times last month as did the prolific Gribben, Ayr United’s Mark Roberts and former winner of a different coloured boot, Rory McAllister of Brechin City.
In the end the winner of the third pair of the specially designed boots was decided by the number of assists each player had provided in the month and last season’s Golden Boot winner from Glebe Park came out on top.
Brechin scored a total of ten goals in the games that McAllister played in last month with Peterhead being seen off 4-2, East Fife 3-1 and Airdrie United by the same scoreline.
McAllister scored his first ever senior hat-trick against Peterhead and netted against Ayr to take his tally for the season to nine, however setting up his team-mates has made the difference this month and he is pleased to give something back.
The 23 year old said, “It seems a bit strange for a goalscorer to be given this award for assists but I am delighted. I am sure the boys that benefitted from passes from me were pretty pleased as well”
“They are probably surprised as if you ask them they will probably say that I am way too greedy and never pass but this award proves that I do.”
After scoring 29 last season and helping take Brechin to the Play-Offs McAllister is out to go better on both fronts this season saying, “Hopefully I can match that total from last season and add another colourful boot to my collection and it would be great to go one better with Brechin as well.”
“We had a small squad last season but the manager has added players this term and if we do not pick up too many injuries we are in with a shout.”
McAllister finished by saying, “The boys would love to secure promotion but we will just keep working away and see what happens.”