Goalkeeper Andrew Stobie reckons former club Edinburgh City would give anything to be involved in Ladbrokes League Two action this weekend.
The Citizens will instead visit former Lowland League rivals East Kilbride, where a place in the third round of the Irn-Bru Cup is up for grabs.
Stobie has watched in awe as the Capital outfit have stormed to the summit of Scottish football’s fourth tier having amassed 12 points from a possible 15; a remarkable feat for a club that staved off the threat of relegation last season.
Victories over Albion Rovers, Stirling Albion, Clyde, and Peterhead has provided Stobie – a mainstay of the side that earned promotion via the Pyramid system in May 2016 – with optimism that the club can challenge at the right end of the table this term.
And, although he believes the preference for manager James McDonaugh and his players would have been another league fixture, Stobie says it’s important City keep churning out the results irrespective of the competition.
“It’s been a fantastic start and one I have been following very closely,” the 27-year-old said.
“I was at the first game of the season against Albion Rovers and I thought they were excellent. They have made some really good signings, the likes of Conrad Balatoni and Danny Handling are real coups for a team in League Two. I think the signing of Andrew Black has also gone under the radar as he has been superb. I don’t think they ever replaced Ian McFarland when he left for Spartans and he’s just the player they’ve needed to add that bit of steel.
“To come out with six points and not concede a goal from trips to Clyde and Peterhead tells you what the squad is about and capable of this season. James McDonaugh will have good contacts and that always helps with the recruitment side of things.
“But, If I’d been playing tomorrow then I’d want it to have been a league game. You want to keep that momentum going but I suppose it might be an opportunity to freshen things up. Winning breeds confidence, however.
“It will be a bigger game for East Kilbride than Edinburgh City. It will be good for the teams to renew their rivalry because there were some real battles in the Lowland League.”
Having returned to university to undertake a post-graduate degree in teaching, Stobie has elected to take a break from the game while he focuses on his studies. He left Capital rivals Spartans at the tail end of last season but fully intends to be back between the sticks next year, albeit he doesn’t know where.
“The course is just too full on so I’ve taken a back step just now,” he said. “I had a few managers contact me before the start of the season but I just can’t commit. I hope to get back to it next season. I’m still young in terms of a goalkeeper so we’ll see what happens.”
Asked if he would consider rejoining City where he spent seven seasons, Stobie added: “Who knows. We had such a tight-knit squad when I was there but it’s all changed now. I’m proud of the part I played in getting them to this position but I don’t think you could have envisaged the club would be where they are now. It’s really great to see.
“I was there the first season we were promoted to League Two and everything was new to us. It was all a bit overwhelming to be honest. But they’ve had time to bed in and these things take time. I think they should be aiming for the play-offs this season if they keep playing the way they are.
“I know it’s only five leagues game in so they’re not going to get carried away but they are making progress.”