United boss eyes up a promotion push in new campaign

Cumbernauld United hope to have plenty to celebrate in the months ahead
Cumbernauld United hope to have plenty to celebrate in the months ahead

Cumbernauld United boss John Queen is facing a vastly different challenge from the one he confronted this time last year.

Just 12 months ago the United boss had virtually to rebuild a new team from scratch after wholesale departures at the end of the previous campaign made it a summer of turbulence at Guy’s Meadow.

But it’s a different story this time round.

After a season of consolidation Queen has been able to keep changes to a minimum, tweaking the squad rather than replacing huge chunks.

And he believes the club should be setting its sights on a push for promotion to the top flight of the junior game in the West Region.

Last season United suffered heavy defeats in their opening two Super League First Division encounters before steadying the ship.

A good run then pushed them into the fringes of the race for promotion to the Premier Division.

But Queen never felt that was a credible target and after a mini-slump towards the end of the season they eventually finished in eighth place in the 14-team table.

Queen admitted: “It was really difficult because we had to build a whole new team inside something like two weeks.

“We actually did OK in the League Cup matches but when the league season started we took a couple of hammerings.

“We were asking 17-year-old guys to play against the likes of Clydebank. It wasn’t fair on them and it was’t fair on us.

“But we managed to steady the ship and in the end we were OK.”

This time round the Cumbernauld boss is more optimistic about his side’s prospects.

Other than midfielder Dylan McGuigan who has joined Lowland League side East Stirlingshire as they bid to regain their league status, most of last year’s key men at Guy’s Meadow remain.

As a results Queen’s summer recruits have arrived through desire rather than through necessity.

The United boss has high hopes for experienced midfielder Tony Stevenson who spent six years at Hamilton Accies.

Stevenson netted one of the goals which secured Accies promotion to thetop flight, against Clyde in 2008, and then netted their first ever SPL goal in their opening game of the following season against Dundee United.

The 27-year-old then had loan spell at Clyde and Alloa Athletic before a three-year stint at Albion Rovers.

Ex-Clyde defender Billy Robb is another new face at Cumbernauld for this season while central midfielder Scott Upton has been drafted in from Kirkintilloch Rob Roy.

Changes too off the field where Queen has brought in the experienced George Shaw as his new assistant.

Shaw’s playing career took him to a host of senior clubs, including St Mirren, Partick Thistle, Dundee, Dunfermline Athletic, Ross County, Stranraer, Arbroath and Forfar Athletic where he wasalso manager for a short spell.

Queen said: “We’ve made changes but still managed to retain the nucleus of the sdquad we had last year.

“Circumstances dictated that last season was all about consolidation.

“But this time round we have to look to kick on from that and try to get ourselves into a position where we can challenge for promotion.”