Lowland League: No pain no gain for Strollers striker Stephen Froude

Civil Service Strollers striker Stephen Froude. Pic: Civil Service Strollers FC
Civil Service Strollers striker Stephen Froude. Pic: Civil Service Strollers FC
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Stephen Froude admits only rest will heal a niggling lower back injury – but the in-form Civil Service Strollers striker simply can’t bear the thought of taking time off.

The 24-year-old has been dogged by the problem since the beginning of pre-season but has contributed when and where he can with five goals in the Lowland League so far this term, including a match-winning hat-trick in last weekend’s terrific 4-1 victory over Dalbeattie Star.

Strollers currently sit in mid-table ahead of tomorrow’s visit of Edusport Academy to Christie Gillies Park and Froude, who has had previous stints with both Leith and Haddington Athletic, is desperate to lead the line again despite suffering a flare-up during the second half of the Dalbeattie match six days ago.

“I’m still carrying the injury but I’ve just been playing through it. The physio says it’s a tight muscle so I’ve been doing some work there as well as my own exercises,” Froude explained. “All I want to do is play football as I can’t live without it. Rest is going to be the only thing that will help it but that isn’t an option, really. I suppose it’s not too bad if I can score a hat-trick!

“I had to sit out the East Stirlingshire game a few weeks back as well as the [Football Nation] cup match with Edinburgh Uni. It all really just depends what happens during the game and that’s why I had to come off during the second half of last week’s match. But I should be okay for tomorrow.

“It (the hat-trick) was a bit of surprise last weekend, to be honest, as Dalbeattie are a really established side but I think they lost a few of their players over the summer.”

Froude revealed he was on the verge of joining his friends at amateur outfit Whitehackle FC just weeks prior to Civil’s successful application to join the Lowland League last summer. However, he is grateful for manager Alex Cunningham’s intervention at the last minute.

“I really enjoying playing at this level,” Froude said. “I’ve played both East of Scotland League and Junior as well but I think the standard across the board is so much better in the Lowland League. After leaving Haddington I was just going to go amateur to play football with my friends but Alex, who I’ve known since my youth days at Spartans, got in touch.

“I had other options with Whitehill also interested but I’m glad with the decision I’ve made and feel we can go on and have a better season this year than last. We’ve started well but we feel we should have more points on the board than we have. That was the story of last season too where we should have finished a lot higher than what we did [11th]. We’re eighth just now but that’s where I think we should be, if not higher. We haven’t really discussed much in the way of any targets this year but I don’t see any reason why we can’t finish in the top six, maybe even better than that.”

Elsewhere, Whitehill Welfare will be looking to build on last weekend’s fine win at Gala Fairydean Rovers when they visit early pacesetters BSC Glasgow.

The hosts have taken 22 points from a possible 24 and have netted 26 goals in just eight games. However, Gary Small’s men finally have something to build on following a torrid start that had seen them lose five of their opening seven fixtures.

Fourth-placed Spartans welcome Gretna 2008 to Ainslie Park hoping to narrow the gap on leaders BSC to three points, should Whitehill do them a favour, although Dougie Samuel’s men do have a game in hand.

Edinburgh University, meanwhile, travel to their Stirling counterparts in the South Challenge Cup desperate for an upturn in fortunes. However, they can take some encouragement from a spirited second-half showing against Spartans last weekend where they were unlucky not to take a point for their endeavours.