Ferrari Packaging Lowland League champions Edinburgh City will be officially presented with the league trophy when they visit Ferguson Park tomorrow, but Whitehill Welfare winger Stevie Manson isn’t really interested in playing the role of party pooper.
With just three league games left to play themselves and a new management team of Steven Hislop and David Bingham in charge, Manson is more focused on using the remaining fixtures to build for next season, when the new regime can really make their mark.
“I wouldn’t say we’ll be looking to spoil their party, they’ve earned a party I suppose!” he said. “The league games don’t matter to them now, they’ll be looking to build for the play-offs and we’ll be looking to build for next season. They’ve earned the right to lift the trophy again. They’ve been brilliant all season again and that’s the target everyone’s got to aim for now. It’s up to other teams to get to that level and replicate what they’ve done.
“It’ll be a bit of a strange one with them looking to the play-offs. Whether they win, lose or draw against Whitehill the play-offs will be their priority and whether we win, lose or draw, we’re looking at next season so it’ll be a strange end of season game.”
However, the Roswell club have already proved Gary Jardine’s team aren’t invincible this season. Welfare recorded a highly impressive 4-1 win at Meadowbank back in August and remain the only side to have left the Commonwealth Stadium with all three points this season.
“It does, yeah,” Manson replied when asked if City’s march to the title rendered that performance all the more impressive. “It also shows what we’ve been saying all along, that consistency’s been our problem this season. On their day, anyone can just about beat anyone in this league and on that day, everything went right for us and not too much since! It’s probably just about the only game this season where not much has gone right for them either. They’ve shown they’re a good side by never really letting it affect them and not having many defeats after that. We haven’t been that consistent, but it shows that we’re more than capable of taking points off anyone.”
Tomorrow marks new boss Hislop’s home bow in the Whitehill dugout and “Manse” says first impressions of the former Raith striker and his assistant are positive. “Really professional,” he assessed. “Training’s been good - really high tempo and you can tell he’s played the game at a decent level. From what he’s said and shown at training, you can tell he’s got a good knowledge of the game. I think it’ll suit us.”
Hislop is keen to tie down most of his existing squad for next term, and Manson is keen to sign on again. “There’s the nucleus of a decent squad here. He’ll have his own ideas of where we need to strengthen but if he can get us playing to the best of our abilities, we can push on next season.
“I’ve said it before but a club like Whitehill need to be doing better than finishing in mid-table. It’s not going to be easy – the league’s getting harder and harder, but he’s making all the right noises.
“It’s a young squad. Aside from myself, Andy [Martin] and Darren [McGlashan], there’s not too many that have been here for that long. The newer ones now have that year’s experience in the Lowland League under their belts so should be more confident for next season and know what to expect.”