Whitehill Welfare boss Steven Hislop has revealed he has had his entire squad sign a code of conduct in a bid to improve on last season’s appalling crime count.
The Ferguson Park club were issued with a fine from the SFA for their ill-discipline which, as a consequence, has led to a significant reduction in the manager’s playing budget this term.
The new campaign gets under way tomorrow with the visit of league title favourites East Kilbride, but Hislop, who took charge in April on a three-year deal, says he has made his position perfectly clear on where he stands regarding any player who continues to rack up yellow and red cards for violent conduct or dissent.
“I’d say we’ve got an aggressive team but they’ve got to channel it in the right way. The discipline last season was disgraceful and I’m quite happy to use that word,” said Hislop, who played for Inverness, Raith Rovers and Livingston.
“The club were fined by the SFA and the players know that you can’t win games with nine or ten players on the park. I’m not saying I want my players to be angels as the boot has got to go in but it’s got to go in the right manner.
“The guys have all signed a code of conduct this year and they know I won’t tolerate it. John Hall got sent off last week in the 1-1 friendly with Sauchie Juniors so he’s already been fined and is suspended for tomorrow’s match.
“It’s no secret I’ve got the lowest budget that Whitehill have ever had because of our poor discipline last season. Of course it’s not completely down to that but it’s certainly contributed that’s for sure. It’s a shame but you’ve just got to get on with these things.”
Delving further into the financial limitations placed upon the Rosewell outfit ahead of the coming season, Hislop continued: “Give credit to the players as they all agreed to take a pay cut and could have taken more money elsewhere.
“The players know they underachieved last season and sometimes they need to hold their hands up. The club was on a bit of a slide and the committee have said they perhaps took their eye off the ball a bit.
“Players are on nowhere near what the likes of Wayne McIntosh and Andrew Kidd (both Bonnyrigg Rose) were on when those guys were here a couple of seasons ago so they all know what they’re getting and some might be feeling a wee bit hard done by.
“But they’ve bought into what me and Bingy (David Bingham) are trying to bring to the club.
“We’ve kept the players we wanted to keep from last season and have brought in a few, but we’re still short.”
Hislop has reinforced the need for continuity at a time when one of Scotland’s most prestigious semi-professional sides are feeling the pinch. That said, he is adamant with some further reinforcements expected in due course, the club can find itself in a position to challenge for silverware come the business end of the season.
“We’re up against the league favourites right away tomorrow but it’s a game we’re all looking forward to,” Hislop said. “They’ve had a huge budget to spend but I think that puts all the pressure on them. Guys are on big money there but good luck to them, we’re certainly not looking on with any jealousy so I don’t think they’ll be looking forward to coming to us.
“When I got the job I said to the committee I’m not a miracle worker. I signed a three-year deal to try and get the club back to where they should be. We finished on a high last year by winning the South Challenge cup but we need to improve on our league position. I’d like to think we will be challenging for the top four.”