Kirkintilloch boss warns a tough, demanding football season lies ahead

A new competitive football league term kicks off on Saturday – but Kirkintilloch Rob Roy boss Stewart Maxwell has warned it’s going to be a very long and demanding season.

Kirkintilloch Rob Roy in action last year with Benburb, against whom they kick off the new league season at New Tinto Park this Saturday (picture by Neil Anderson)

Amid hopes that 2021-22 will be free of Covid-related suspensions, this season's West of Scotland Football League Premier Division has a 38-match league programme, with three additional cup competitions potentially taking the year’s game total beyond 40.

"That’s unprecedented at this level and players have never experienced that, so it’s going to be a long, stressful season,” said Maxwell. “I don’t think anybody's really prepared for what we are in for.”

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The Rabs begin their league campaign away to Benburb on Saturday at 2pm, followed by a 7.30pm home game on Tuesday against Auchinleck Talbot. "I hope the players can express themselves and show what they've got,” said Maxwell. “We’re under no illusions how tough its going to be, especially for me, who has a relatively new and young squad.

“I think every game is daunting at Rob Roy. Everybody has qualities. We’ll be looking to think can compete with Benburb, and then Auchinleck Talbot come into town, They have been formidable at this level for a number of years, which will be a good test for the players as well. They will probably be the benchmark team of the league. I think when they’re giving out the titles, Auchinleck will not be far away. Games follow after that on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays for six weeks, so it's going to be mentally and physically tough. We just have to try and do our best in every game.”

Covid-19 was effectively factored in to the injury list, added the manager, and whether it caused any more interruptions remained to be seen. “We have an unbelievable amount of games and seven teams get relegated, so it really can't possibly be any harder with all those permutations,” added Maxwell.

The pre-season fixtures too had been “a bit frustrating” and “the proverbial good, the bad and the ugly,” said the boss. He was disappointed to lose 1-0 on Saturday in their last pre-season date at Vale of Leven, claiming the Rabs had enough chances to win three games. “Their ‘keeper made nine saves. We hit bar, hit the post, had one cleared off the line and were denied a stonewall penalty. "It's great when you’re creating those chances but we need to be a wee bit more clinical,” said Maxwell.