Looking back to the Cambuslang game
I thought given our circumstances and playing resources available, the result was more important than the performance. We needed to get the victory to move us up the table and keep in touch with the early pacesetters in the league. This season’s league will be a marathon and it’s important to stay on the leaders’ coat tails whilst we are still getting all of our players fit and available to play. There will be many twists and turns as this season develops in terms of the league, and both the West and Scottish cups.
I felt we started the game ok and thought we were fortunate to go in at the break a goal up with a fine strike from Bryan ‘Butch’ Young. In the second half, we took the game to them and should’ve scored before they equalized after we switched off defensively in both midfield and defence. From then on, we dominated the play and deservedly scored two fine goals from Forde and young Michael McMullin from distance to give us a commanding lead. Late on you could sense our nervousness, having not seen previous games out, which saw us concede a very poor late goal in injury time.
We were glad to get the result and thought we deserved to win on the balance of play in second half. A number of our players played very well including my man of the match ‘Sena’ Niang, as well as Ewan McNeil, Danny Boyle and Adam Forde, who all had great games.
The arrival of Michael McMullin
Michael is a good young player – a left sided defensive player who was previously full time at Partick Thistle before being sent on loan to likes of Albion Rovers and Alloa in previous seasons. He has lots to learn in the game but we are happy to take him in and try to develop him into a better player. He hasn’t let himself down in any of the games so far but he knows he needs to improve his fitness, sharpness and awareness over the coming weeks to keep his place in the team.
Looking ahead to the Kirkintilloch Rob Roy game
We are looking forward to the game this weekend and provides us with another chance to win, gain 3 points and move up the league table. We welcome back a few important players this week in Mark Sideserf, skipper Paul Gallacher and Gary McCann. In the coming 2 weeks, I would expect Shaun Fraser and Danny McKenzie to be back involved too following injury and work secondment respectively. Having these players back plus potential new signings too will put us in a stronger position to compete and win games of football.
The Scottish Cup draw – home to Buchanhaven Hearts
I’m happy with the draw which gives us a home tie against team from another region. Scottish ties are always special and we hope to compete strongly, if not win the cup this season, so no lack of ambition from our dressing room. It was pleasing to see likes of Kilwinning and Beith draw each other too which means one of the big rivals and favourites leave the tournament early doors which will put pressure on them from outset of season.
All the best
Admission: £6 adults, £3 concessions. Members enter via members gate.
Refreshments and Bar: Fans are welcome in Loks Bar prior to kick off and then after the game. Fans at the match are well catered for with the Pollok Pie Hut serving a wide range of hot and cold snacks.
Team board & Raffle: The ever popular Pollok team board is £2 to enter for the chance to win £100. Officials will be selling ‘teams’ outside the pavilion before kick off until the board fills up! The winner will be drawn post match in Loks Bar & Kitchen. Also, look out for our raffle ticket sellers at the entrances. £1 a ticket for a chance to win from a selection of wines and spirits. Winners announced at half time.
Remember next week is the Pollok FC Open Day. Join us in the function suite at Loks from 11am!
Referee: Duncan Williams
AR1: James McCluskey
AR2: Jamie Wilkie
Match updates will appear here
The Pollok FC website aims to bring a regular message and update from Tony McInally as the 2018-19 season progresses. In this first edition, he focuses on the close season transfers and the challenges of recruitment, his aspirations for the new season and his thoughts on the matches so far.
Players come, players go
I’m very happy with the squad we have assembled this season as we have added more quality, addressed areas of concern and added competition to the group. We lost five players in the summer for various reasons… Del Hepburn, Nicky Little, Paul Byrne, Liam Rowan and Bryan Wharton. All of the lads were offered deals and chose the leave for various reasons – in the case of Heppy, Nicky and Byrno, they wanted more consistent game time, Liam left due to his work situation (which limited his training and game availability) and Bryan fancied another crack at playing Senior again. All the lads left with our best wishes and they can all be pleased with the efforts and have positive memories of playing with Pollok. We recruited four players and have promoted another one from the academy team. In terms of new players, we welcomed Ewan McNeil, Danny Boyle, Danny McKenzie and Shaun Fraser to the club – all quality players in their own positions who will add defensive skills, pace, physicality, experience and goals to the team. We recruited these lads to enhance the quality we had at the club, create greater competition and to make us better in the defensive and midfield areas of the team.
The young lads from the 19/21 set up have benefitted from joining the first team and we will continue working with them and developing them to become Pollok 1st team players.
Lastly, I would say judge our team when we have everybody fit and available and you will see how much we have improved this season.
Getting the right player into Pollok / Lowland League competition
Year on year there are circa 150-250 players released from senior clubs for various reasons. Their releases hit these players hard and many are becoming more disillusioned with football due to their rejections:
(1) Young players released at pro youth level
(2) experienced players at the end of their careers
(3) players at various stages having serious injury and not being able to come back to the levels they had or
(4) players deciding to walk away from the game.
With this in mind, it makes recruiting ex-senior players difficult as you don’t know what physical and mental state, hunger and motivation they have if you pick these players up. The easiest thing is to collect players, but our club’s playing budget only stretches so far. The conundrum you face is either have a quality squad or a strong 13-14 and others that fill a squad which means there is either real competition for places or a team that picks itself. I prefer to have a tight squad with real quality which means that every player has to play well to get a first 11 spot or they lose their place.
With the Lowland League’s formation, the real noticeable thing that I have witnessed is that many of the teams are filled primarily with a sprinkling of experienced ex-senior/junior players and the rest of the team and squad is made up of ex-pro youth 17-21 year old players. They also tend to have an under 20’s team which then means can collect players and play 2 games over a Saturday and Monday night league with few over-age players playing. Rarely has any player played LL football and found their way back upstairs to a Championship or League 1/2 club as the standard is not great nor really competitive. In my opinion, the top West Premiership junior teams would thrive and probably win the Lowland League if they entered the setup.
Aspirations for the new season / Changing shape of the Junior Cup
Our ambitions never change: we are Pollok and every competition we enter we want to either win it or compete really strongly to win it. Our club would want it no other way. I want Pollok to win the Scottish Cup, West Premiership, West of Scotland Cup and Sectional League Cup. My ambitions for the club are always the same: be serial winners – I’ve been a manager for 11 years now and have been fortunate to have won 12 honours and been beaten finalist on five other cup finals – not a bad record! I want my team to grow and develop, improve and be winners again. I feel this team has a major honour in it and when we have a fit, healthy and available squad you will see that. The players want to do well for themselves, their team mates and the club as they wear our jersey with great pride.
The West Premiership is a highly competitive league and if your team plays 5-10% below standard you will lose the game. Every game is like a Scottish Cup tie and you need to be bang at it every week to stand a chance of winning games and the title. There are no easy games in the top league anymore. Apart from ourselves, I see Beith, Talbot, Hurlford, Buffs and Glenafton to be amongst the teams to beat and there is always a team that springs a surprise and has a real go at it. In recent times, we have had Kilwinning and Glenafton emerge to contend strongly or win the league. Like last season, I don’t see one team dominating.
We are a big club and want to win the Scottish Junior Cup again as soon as possible. My players and management team are hungry and motivated to do it again. Since I joined the club we have done really well in the Junior Cup by reaching the final, quarter final or been beaten in three of those years by the eventual winners. We have played Beith, Hurlford and Talbot in 3 years who either won it or got to the final so we are along right lines. I would say the Junior Cup is the holy grail at this level but it has lost a little bit of its uniqueness with many of the top East sides leaving (Ed – many clubs, such as Linlithgow, Bo’ness, Newtongrange, Camelon and Musselburgh, have left Junior football). I always enjoy pitting my team against teams from other regions as it adds to the magic of the cup.
Early season games
I was really angry at not progressing in the West Region Sectional Cup – I don’t like losing any game or section. In the three games we played, we were by far the better team in all of them – we should’ve won the Rossvale and Shettleston games as we were the better team and lost the bonus point on the penalty kick lottery. We didn’t have a lot of players available to us during the sectional and personally, I disagree with the new format. It’s like an alternative ‘league cup section’ version of the West!
Looking at the opening league games against Renfrew (I wasn’t pleased at losing that goal from Dallas and we shouldn’t have allowed the shot to get away. We should’ve brought him down 30 yards from goal or forced him wide away from goal. Our defensive work left a lot to be desired lets just say!), Largs, Troon and Cambuslang, it’s the worst time to play promoted teams as they have hunger, enthusiasm and want to make their mark. We have played eight games this season and haven’t been beaten in 90 minutes, all without having a full squad at my disposal. Positives for me are that new players have settled into the group and integrated into our way of working. Players like Danny Boyle and Ewan McNeil have been very good in their performances. Danny MacKenzie and Shaun Fraser will make their mark too in time. Young Tony Coutts has come in and done excellently but you need to allow time and patience to let him develop and progress. Other players have performed really well like Stuart McCann, Adam Forde, Gormley and Sena (Niang), while stalwarts like Sideserf, Gallacher and Longmuir can be pleased with their starts. Other like Butch (Young), Cheesey (Brash) and McGregor will find their stride as they are rhythm players who need a run of games to find their form.
Getting right up to date, I didn’t think we did much wrong in the game against Troon – we dominated for long spells, got the early goal and played very well in first half. Second half was more even, however Jordan had no saves of note to make and we should’ve had a penalty late in the game or converted one of a few chances we had in the second half. I spoke to the Troon management team after the game and they said we were the best side they had faced this season. I thanked them for the compliment and only wish I had a full squad to choose from to let them see the real Pollok to be honest.
My standout memory from the game was we didn’t have strength in depth from the bench to change the course of the game when we normally would introduce fresh legs and impetus, energy and something different. For example, wouldn’t it have been great to have any three from Gallacher, Evans, Gary McCann, Shaun Fraser, Danny McKenzie, McGregor or a Stef McCluskey (more below) to bring on!! They would’ve made us better, stronger or different, of that I have no doubt
In terms of all 3 league games, we could and should have more points than we have but we move on and try and get more points in coming weeks.
In closing, the Stef McCluskey situation is quite simple – he is a signed and contracted Pollok player who has decided in his own mind that he wants to try and play senior football again. We don’t have a problem with that. He has been approached by a few senior clubs (one in particular) who think it is their right to contact our player, offer him a deal which basically has unsettled our player without respecting our club. They have offered him a deal for next season without speaking or commencing negotiations with us first. With the season transfer window winding down, it is their perogative to engage in dialogue with us to try and secure Stefan’s services. We would not stand in Stefan’s way of trying senior again however, both the senior club and the player need to respect our position as a club as we will need to replace him in our team/squad. We will see what develops in coming days and weeks.
Pollok FC are delighted to unveil our new home kit designed by Adidas and sponsored by Greaves Sports. The team will debut the kit this Saturday in our home match against Cambuslang Rangers.
Supporters wishing to go ‘full kit’ can pre-order their replica jersey directly from our sponsors Greaves either by dropping in to their city centre store at 23 Gordon Street or by giving them a call on 0141 221 3322. Online orders will be available next week. Greaves will also be at our open day on August 25th prior to the Rob Roy match to take orders.
We’re excited to announce that on Saturday 25th August, Pollok FC will be hosting a fans open day prior to our home match against Rob Roy.
We’d like to invite all Lok supporters to join us for a roll, tea and coffee to see what goes on behind the scenes at one of Scotland’s biggest junior clubs.
The day will give fans a chance to have a chat face to face with some of the club volunteers to find out how we run the club, from pitch maintenance, commercial growth and media to the great work being done at the Pollok United Soccer Academy and to find out the clubs vision for the future.
There will also be the opportunity for budding Paul Gallacher’s to get their hands on some silverware and get your photo taken with the Central League Cup which was won a few months back. Weather permitting our ground staff will be on hand to take small groups out on to the pitch to show the work undertaken over the summer to bring the turf up to scratch.
The open day will take place in the function room at Loks Bar & Kitchen from 11am until 1pm but supporters are more than welcome to hang around, grab a pre-match drink and watch the warm ups from the comfort of the suite before making your way to the game.
The function suite will also be open post match for the post-match presentations and team board cash draw and we’d welcome all supporters young and old to come back and hopefully toast a good result!
Our league match away to Clydebank next Wednesday (22nd Aug) has unfortunately been postponed along with the full programme of West league fixtures scheduled for that date. The game will now take place on Saturday 1st December.
Secondly, our league match away to Beith on September 1st has been postponed due to Beith’s progress in the senior Scottish Cup. We wish them all the best in their Scottish Cup journey.
Full fixture details here
The ground team are looking for some volunteers this Saturday to get the terraces clean and ready for the big kick off on Saturday afternoon.
If you can spare a few hours from 8am on Saturday, drop down to Newlandsfield to lend a hand.
We’ll then kick off the 2018-19 campaign with our Sectional League Cup match against Maryhill at 2pm.
Unfortunately our friendly match tomorrow against St Andrews Utd has been cancelled. This is due to a combination of players returning to fitness from injuries and holidays.
We’d like to thank St Andrews for their understanding and wish them well for the season ahead.
Our next fixture is this Wednesday against Fauldhouse at Benburb’s New Tinto Park.