Townsley hopes Edinburgh City go up – but not this year

Chris Townsley
Chris Townsley
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Chris Townsley would love to see his home city of Edinburgh gain a third representative in the SPFL alongside Hearts and Hibs – as long as it doesn’t happen this year.

Lowland League champions Edinburgh City host East Stirlingshire at Meadowbank on Saturday in the first leg of their Pyramid Play-Off final after dispatching their Highland League counterparts Cove Rangers 4-1 on aggregate.

With his own club’s league status under threat, Shire defender Townsley hopes City have to wait another season to make the step up.

“Any other year, I’d be happy for City to win,” admitted the 29-year-old. “Going forward next year, hopefully one of the Lowland League teams are in the same position – as long as I’m not involved with the other team!

“I played for Spartans, so I know there’s potential for clubs in that league to make the step up. Any other season, I’d be hoping Edinburgh City got promoted. It’s just unfortunate that I’m involved with East Stirlingshire and we’re the ones looking over our shoulders. Despite that, I think these play-offs are definitely the way forward.

“I know a few people have mentioned that it should be a straight play-off between the Highland League and the Lowland League for promotion, but everyone knows the rules to start with. If the team that wants to get promoted wants to be in the league, they should have to beat the team at the bottom. That’s the way we’re looking at it.”

That’s an understandable view given the consequences for Shire should they lose over the two legs. “There’s a long history of league football for the club which is at stake,” said Townsley. “The players aren’t really partial to the financial implications, but it would be huge for the club. Everyone’s trying to pull in the right direction and make sure it doesn’t happen.

“For the league team, boys’ careers are at risk. There are a lot of young boys at our club who are playing for their careers and place in the league. For me it’s a bit different being a bit older – I could be playing for a team who are in Edinburgh City’s position next season. But for the younger lads that will hopefully give them a bit more motivation.”

Being an Edinburgh native, Townsley is perhaps more familiar with Saturday’s opponents than his team-mates. “I’ve played with City captain Dougie Gair when we were just young,” he explained. “I’ve played against a lot of the boys through school and having a spell at Spartans. I know they’re all good players so it’s going to be difficult.”