Civil Service Strollers manager Alex Cunningham hailed Leicester City as an example to his players after the club’s application to join the Lowland League was accepted this week.
Strollers, along with Borders outfit Hawick Royal Abert, will make the step up from the East of Scotland League and join Spartans, Whitehill Welfare, Edinburgh University and Preston Athletic as Edinburgh and the Lothians representatives. Edusport Academy applied from the South of Scotland League, but were unsuccessful.
Whilst Cunningham isn’t suggesting his players will emulate Claudio Ranieri’s team by storming to the title, he does cite them as a good illustration of what application do for an unfancied team. “I’ve said to the boys that you just need to look at what Leicester achieved with hard work,” he said. “Not with average players, but players who played above their level every single week and I think we just need to take some heart from that. It’s going to be tough though – we’re not underestimating it in any way. To have got there is the first step on the ladder, now we’ve got to go and play.”
Cunningham hopes his side can initially consolidate themselves around mid-table, but has a busy few weeks ahead to prepare his players for the step up. “I think a realistic target is to finish in mid-table but if I’m totally honest, I don’t want to end up in a relegation dogfight,” he admitted. “Without being a fortune teller, I think we’ve got enough quality about us not to be in one.
“Going up changes the whole dynamic. We’re now preparing to go and play with the big boys. Everything around the club needs to change training, match day, the players’ application etc. I wouldn’t say their ability but we’ll need to be far, far better organised on the footballing side, from the players to the backroom staff. We’ve got a short window of weeks to get everything in to place now.”
As for the long term, a former player of Cunningham’s has shown just what is possible with Edinburgh City. “Gary Jardine used to play for me at Armadale,” he explained. “We had him, Ross McNamara and Joe Mbu and it’s great to see them doing well. Gary’s a great guy, he’s worked hard at it and they got their just rewards.”
Strollers president Russell Pryde added: “We are delighted that we have been selected to be admitted to the Lowland League.
“Our club has worked very hard over the past two years to secure club licensing and have proved on the park that we can compete at a higher level then we currently play.”