JOIN THE LEAGUE
Promotion to the Scottish THOMAS CLARK explains why thought it was… League isn’t the big prize many
...You’ve Scot to be joking
ONEyear after its inception and the Scottish football pyramid already looks to have been bottle-necked by that most unspeakable of horrors - teams who simply don’t want to succeed.
Or, to be fair, only want to succeed within their own stringent and sustainable boundaries.
The feted treehouse club which has been the Scottish league system over the last one hundred years – accessible only by election in the wake of liquidated clubs (rare) or league expansion (rarer) – finally opened up to the rank and file in the 2014/15 season.
This was with an admittedly limited system which saw the winners of the regional Highland League and the recently formed Lowland League contest for the right to play-off against the team at the bottom of League Two.The prize for victory, of course, being entry to the hallowed league system itself, and two trips next season to Stirling and Arbroath.
The inevitably Pyrrhic nature of such a triumph should be obvious, particularly for the winners of the Highland League, who would face possible ruin in the face of regular visits to the likes of Berwick and Annan.
Rural sides like Wick Academy and Brora Rangers, heavily reliant on a small pool of local talent, would have an uphill struggle convincing players accustomed to a wee shopping trip down the road to Inverness on a Saturday to endure instead an eight, nine or ten-hour round slog every other week.
And so it came as no surprise to anyone when last year’s Highland League winners, Brora, started making noises about the financial consequences of promotion ahead of their tie against Lowland League Edinburgh City – and even less surprise when they capitulated to Montrose in the final match.
With Brora and Edinburgh City leading their respective leagues again this time around (at the time of writing), a replay of last year’s play-off looks to be on the cards.
The Highland League outfit will no doubt be a little more circumspect in laying out their grievances this time, but it would be a brave man who bets money on a different result from last season’s.
Going forward, it’s hard to see past this basic