A new era for Scottish football, a new beginning for Lowland League side Whitehill Welfare, even a new fence around the perimeter of the Ferguson Park pitch has been constructed.
Some things, though, never change, like striker Wayne McIntosh’s ability to put the ball in the back of the opposing team’s net. Whitehill’s menacing forward has so far managed a remarkable seven goals in little more than 225 minutes of football, with a hat-trick on the opening day of the season against Gala Fairydean Rovers eclipsed by his four-goal haul in the Borders last Saturday as the Midlothian side thrashed Threave Rovers 5-2.
Whitehill’s defeat to East Kilbride has been the only occasion the 28-year-old hasn’t netted, and even then, he was only on the park for just over 45 minutes after starting on the bench.
While McIntosh is enjoying his early-season purple patch, he wants his club to be making the majority of the headlines.
“It couldn’t have gone much better,” the league’s top-scorer said. “I’ve got off to a flyer but scoring goals is what I am here to do so it’s all about the team.
“I have done quite well over the years, scoring goals and usually getting 20 or more a season, but as long as we keep winning then I’ll be happy.
“This is the best start to a season I’ve had so I hope the goals keep coming.”
McIntosh – in his second spell at Whitehill – has embraced the challenge of facing fresh opposition, an instant attraction after his club made the step-up from the familiarity of the East of Scotland League.
He said: “It’s going to be a lot harder league than it was last year but I’m really looking forward to the test.
“We’ve played three games and won two, but we haven’t played as well as I know we can. Playing against East Kilbride and Threave Rovers was the first time I’ve played against those teams – it’s good to challenge yourself against opponents you haven’t played before.”
McIntosh’s goal rush could have been even greater had he played the full 90 minutes away to East Kilbride last midweek, however, his hatred for artificial surfaces prompted him to ask manager Mike Lawson to leave him out of the starting XI.
“I know everybody has to play on it,” McIntosh said, “but for me personally, I just don’t take to it too well and end up with really sore knees after it so I said to the gaffer to leave me out and I would just come on as a sub. The surface just really doesn’t suit me at all.
“I ended up coming on before half-time as Aaron Somerville got injured but I’ll need to get used to it as there are a few teams in the league with this surface. We didn’t play well that night but I might have had even more goals if I had played the whole match.”
Tomorrow’s home game against East of Scotland Premier Division side, Coldstream, in the first round of the Image Printers East of Scotland Qualifying Cup, will provide some respite from the demands of the league. McIntosh is desperate to make progress in the competition but he knows tomorrow’s opponents will be fired up to try and claim a Lowland League scalp.
“It will be a difficult game against Coldstream because we are a team people want to beat,” he said. “We’re a top side and obviously won the East of Scotland League last year, but we have to be prepared for that. They are a physical team but if we turn up with the right attitude then I am sure the game will take care of itself. We want to win every game we play in.”
If McIntosh continues in the rich vein of form he is currently enjoying, who knows what the future holds for a player with aspirations of testing himself at a higher level.
At a stage in his career when most players tend to peak, he recognises this season is a big one for him.
He added: “All I can do, as a striker, is keep scoring goals for my club and hopefully, if it’s not too late, I can play at a higher level. I’ve had a few junior teams sniffing about but there hasn’t been any senior sides or anything like that.
“I just need to keep training hard and keep playing the way I have been. The whole club is buzzing at the moment being in this new set-up and it’s such a great atmosphere.
“Everyone from the committee, to the backroom staff, to the players, is just so excited with what’s happening and it’s great to see.
“There’s a new feel about the place and it’s great to have started the season so well.”