Spartans' Blair Henderson desperate to cap off best two seasons in football with promotion to SPFL

Striker Blair Henderson is hoping to round off the best two years of his career by helping Spartans land a coveted place in the SPFL next season.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

The 28-year-old former FC Edinburgh marksman swapped League Two for Lowland League football in summer 2021 but insists it's a move that has very much paid off.

The Ainslie Park outfit currently lead Scottish football's fifth tier and could secure a pyramid play-off berth tomorrow if they beat Tranent Juniors, who have title aspirations of their own, and other results go their way.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

However, level-headed Henderson knows one slip up could swing the momentum in the favour of Colin Nish's men or fourth-placed Stirling University.

Spartans striker Blair Henderson. Picture: Mark Brown.Spartans striker Blair Henderson. Picture: Mark Brown.
Spartans striker Blair Henderson. Picture: Mark Brown.

"Listen we've done really well to get to this point," he told the Evening News. "If you'd offered the position we're in at the start of the season we would have bitten your hand off. But there are still three massive games to go for ourselves, Stirling Uni and Tranent. It would be unbelievable if we could secure the play-off spot this weekend but realistically, I think it's going to go the whole way.

"We just need to go and win the game - we're certainly not looking for a draw. We will go there to play our own way and hopefully that's enough. If it's not, we go again next weekend. At this stage of the season when there's so much at stake there are going to be challenges flying in. I'm expecting a big crowd and I think Tranent will come out all guns blazing and we have to handle that.

"It would be an unbelievable achievement if us, Stirling or Tranent go and win the league given Rangers and Celtic are full-time and you see how much quality they possess when you do come up against them.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Bonnyrigg did it last year and won it quite comfortably so that showed how good they are. We have gone under the radar but that's exactly what we wanted. There's no point thinking you've won it at Christmas or whatever, it always comes down to these last few games. We've always had that hope in the changing room that we could do something special this year and up to this point we've done that."

Henderson believes the consistency in all areas of the park is what's got Dougie Samuel's men to within touching distance of their third Lowland League crown in ten years. But it's the man who is steering the ship who, the striker insists, is the cog in a well-oiled machine.

"I scored a lot more goals last year but we've spread them out across the team which has really helped us," he explained. "Cammy (Russell), Rhys (Armstrong), Dish (Jamie Dishington)... the centre mids are chipping in, even Mikey Allan has scored eight I think from full-back.

"But as a group we've defended really well and I think you can tell by our goals against that we're working really hard off the ball. I also think that Blair (Carswell) is the best goalkeeper in the league and when he has a good game, we tend to as well. He's pulled us out of trouble a few times but also our back four have been superb.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"It was a real blow to lose that last-minute goal to Celtic just a couple of weeks ago, particularly after we'd just beaten Stirling Uni. I can't lie, I was worried as a lot of teams it might have affected them. But I think it shows the character we have in the squad that we just got straight back at it, so the reaction has been different class.

"I've never enjoyed my football so much in my career and that's all down to the manager in how he goes about things. Everyone who knows the lower leagues in Scotland knows that Spartans is a really good club with great facilities and there's no reason why us and a lot of other clubs across the country shouldn't be going up to League Two. I think it's something the powers that be really need to look at because the ambition is there for all to see.

"If there's one person who deserves success then it's Sammy. Hopefully we can deliver that for him but even if we come out on top in the league, the play-offs are so difficult. It's a toss of the coin but we'll give it our best shot."