Edinburgh City captain Dougie Gair was hopeful his tenth season at the club would present a fresh challenge.
The talismanic midfielder got his wish over the summer break when it was announced City were one of 12 clubs granted a place in the newly-formed Lowland League as Scottish football finally escaped from the dark ages – a move that will provide a pathway for promotion to the senior leagues from next season.
The 27-year-old said: “There was an extra wee bite at the start of the season. I had a good season last year and the change has certainly got my appetite going. I’ve been in the game long enough now that nerves aren’t so much of a factor playing on the big stage. I suppose I’m now one who the younger guys look up to.
“It’s been in place in England for years and it is something Scottish football needed to progress. I think there are still a number of changes that have to be made at a higher level, but it gives us a chance. Obviously they’re not making it easy with all the play-offs that are going to come in from next season, but the chance is there.”
The Meadowbank side had an indifferent start to the inaugural campaign with two defeats in their opening three fixtures, but have recently found their feet with two league wins on the trot in addition to last weekend’s 4-0 triumph in the Highlands over Golspie Sutherland in the first round of the Scottish Cup.
“I think we have a really strong squad this season,” Gair said, “and guys like Ross Guthrie and Ian McFarland are probably some of the best players in the league on their day, but it’s all about being consistent.
“The first few games that we lost, I felt we were unfortunate in each of them. It’s just about getting the confidence going and putting in the hard work.
“Last Saturday against Golspie was four going on 44 and it allowed us to get the ball down and pass it about. You could say we used it as a training game to be honest as we were trying different things out and changing the formation.
“The draw for the second round has been kind to us but there isn’t going to be an easy game at this stage. Fraserburgh are obviously a decent side, putting out Civil Service in the last round, but it is a tie we will be confident going into.”
Tomorrow’s trip to Ferguson Park is one Gair believes he and his team-mates can approach with a degree of conviction.
With both sides locked together on seven points and hovering near the lower depths of the table, Gair says three points are so precious even at this stage.
He said: “Whitehill have gone off the boil in the last few weeks, but they are a very good team with a lot of good players who have played in the East of Scotland League for a few years.
“We know what to expect especially with Mickey (Lawson) up there as well as he has them well drilled.
“There’s always the bragging rights and I suppose these are the games you get naturally more up for than others. There’s a lot of motivation in our camp to keep our form going so we’re going for the win.”