What a time to be an Arbroath fan! Last season the Red Lichties dominated League One for long spells and the title winners celebrated in style once they got over that finishing line (I think some of their players and fans have only just stopped painting the town red!)
Dick Campbell masterminded one of Arbroath’s best ever league campaigns and from day one it was a constant stream of positivity at Gayfield. An unbelievable level of consistency saw Arbroath build up a huge lead in League One, and despite a little bit of a wobble in March/April of last year they were worthy winners of the division.
From a selfish point of view I am delighted that Arbroath have navigated their way into the Championship. A great away trip, Gayfield is also home to the best pie in football (even better than the Dunfermline Steak Bridies). The steak and black pudding pies at Arbroath are an absolute masterpiece.
Transfers In – Derek Gaston (Morton), James Murphy (free), Scott Stewart (Airdrieonians), Robert Wilson (Berwick Rangers)
Transfers Out – Ryan McCord (Brechin City), Ryan Wallace (East Fife), Danny Denholm (East Fife), Darren Hill (Cumbernauld United)
Transfer Success? – This was always going to be a very challenging window for Arbroath. Are the current squad good enough to compete in the Championship? Campbell doesn’t want to change things too much, which is a gamble, but he is capable of working wonders so you can never write him off. Two or three additions are still needed, a striker (everyone wants one of those) and maybe some creative re-inforcements but the difficult part is trying to attract part-time players who will improve the squad or get one or two really strong loan signings. Getting the best out of a small pool is what Campbell does best and I am sure he will revel in the underdog nature of his team. Each week will be like cup final for the management and players so it is maybe no bad thing that they have kept the nucleus of a successful side.
The Manager – The man. The legend. It is amazing to see Dick Campbell continue to dazzle in management and as a football fan who has a huge soft spot for football in Angus (and Forfar in particular) it is brilliant to see Dick do so well. He deserves another shot at the Championship and his enigmatic personality will be a welcome a addition to the division. I think almost everyone in Scottish football likes the man with the bunnet and he is aways great value.
The Hope – Much like Alloa the main objective will be to survive in the Championship. It will be a huge task but Arbroath have had a good pre-season and have a settled squad to work with. They will also welcome some very big away crowds to Gayfield this year and the bank balance at the end of this season regardless of the outcome will be very healthy and set the club up well for the next few years.
Look Out For – Angus clubs always seem to carry age-less footballers who keep on doing the business (and carry almost mythical status at the same time). Whether it is a Gavin Swankie or a Chris Templeman, they always seem to be able to have one of these cult heroes that keep delivering the goods. This year it falls on the shoulders of Bobby Linn. It would be great to see the 33-year old have a strong season, he deserves the additional exposure and he should thrive in it.