East of Scotland League gets wave of new applicants

The East of Scotland League is set for another big expansion this summer following a spate of new applications from clubs in West Lothian and Perthshire.

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 4:39 pm
Stewart Devine has been promoted from coach to manager at BathgatebThistle

Juniors clubs Pumpherston, Whitburn and Forfar West End have all applied to move over from the east region juniors to join the pyramid league structure, while Perthshire amateur club Letham are also hoping to make the step up.

Pumpherston, the double East Region Premiership South winners, are the latest in a long list of junior clubs to have made the switch in recent years.

The dwindling numbers always meant it was likely the rest would soon follow and raises serious doubts about the viability of the east juniors for next season.

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Pumphy manager Craig Martin, inset, admits he has found it difficult competing with East of Scotland sides for players over the past couple of years.

He added: “No disrespect to the junior set-up, but it was getting more and more difficult to attract players when you’re winning the league but still playing the same teams year after year.”

“We want to play at the highest level possible, and this is a real positive step towards that.”

The bids by Forfar West End and Letham, located a few miles from Forfar, to join the East of Scotland set-up will pose a challenge for existing members because of River Tay dividing line that separates the Lowland and Highland Leagues at tier 5.

If accepted, the two clubs would join fellow Perthshire sides Premier Division Jeanfield Swifts and Conference B sides Kinnoull and Luncarty, who are below or close to the boundary.

As well as proving to be a dominant force in the Perthshire Amateur League, Letham also won the North of Tay Cup in season 2016/17.

Coach Scott McGoldrick said: “We’ve had some great times over the last decade. It’s the bigger picture of the club that we’re looking at.”

Meanwhile, junior club Bathgate Thistle, who confirmed earlier this month that they had applied for the East of Scotland League, have promoted Stewart Devine, pictured, from coach to manager to prepare for what they hope will be their first season at that level. It follows the resignation of Andrew Colley and assistant Davie Strathie, who have taken over at Camelon.