Scottish League One Season Review.
I’ll be going through each team from the League One’s season, starting with the winners Arbroath and finishing with bottom placed Brechin City.
1. Arbroath 10/10. A 10/10 rating is warranted due to Arbroath’s surprise success in winning the title, which was thought to be Raith Rover’s come the start of the 18/19 season. Dick Campbell guided the Smokies to their second ever title with three games to go, as they sealed it with a 1-1 draw away to local rivals Brechin City. Star Player: Bobby Linn, ‘Boabskin’ himself finished second top scorer in the league with a whopping twenty one goals (three more than apparent best striker in Scotland Alfredo Morelos), not too shabby for a wide midfielder who was written off by Dundee.
2.Forfar Athletic 8/10. Forfar snuck into second place on the final day of the season as Raith Rovers were held to a 1-1 draw by Montrose. Forfar were certainly hoping to be a top five side at the start of the season, but not many Loons could’ve expected a second placed finish, twelve points clear of fourth. Jim Weir and player-assistant manager John Baird guided the side to a high placed finish, with Baird bagging sixteen in the league. Star Player: Marc McCallum. Despite John Baird’s goals it’s goalkeeper Marc McCallum who snatches star player. McCallum won Forfar’s player of the season for the second season running and could be argued to be the sole reason Forfar managed to get second place. McCallum kept twelve clean sheets which ended up being more than anyone else
3.Raith Rovers 5/10. While Raith might have managed to grab third place, it was nowhere near what was expected of them. Raith were thought to be dead set winners of the League bar Dumbarton before the season kicked off. 15/8 to win the title were the odds from Ladbrokes. Raith were the only full-time side in the League but still managed a measly third place. Star Player: Kevin Nisbet, It is no surprise that the striker who managed to get twenty eight in the League walked away with the Players’, Manager’s and Supporter’s player of the season awards at the Raith Rover’s POTY ceremony, however in the end his 28 goals couldn’t put Raith above Forfar nor Arbroath.
4.Montrose 9/10. This one may be a little biased due to me being a Montrose fan, but no one can deny that Montrose have had an outstanding season. Ladbrokes predicted a bottom placed finish for the Gable Enders but it was closer to the opposite. Stewart Petrie managed to lead Montrose to fourth place despite many writing them off for relegation. What makes this feat even more impressive is that in the 14/15 season Montrose were sixteen minutes away from becoming the first ever team to be relegated from the Scottish League Two in their pyramid playoff game against Brora Rangers, to be fourth in the League One just four seasons on with many of the players from that season featuring for Montrose this season. Star Player: Paul Watson. Captain Paul Watson has been at the Mo in this current spell since the 12/13 season and without his leadership on and off the pitch and his odd appearance on the scoresheet, Montrose would most likely be nowhere near the fourth place finish they secured away to Forfar.
5.Airdrieonians 6/10. It might not have been a perfect season for the Diamonds, but things could have gone much worse, despite being expected to do a bit better, Airdrie were looking to finish no lower than the 5th place they ended up stealing, so a top 5 finish certainly wasn’t bad. Airdrie managed to comfortably beat title winners Arbroath 3-0 on matchday 36 but lost 1-0 to relegated Stenhousemuir just two weeks before, showing how inconsistency blighted their season. Star Player: David Hutton. It’s another goalie who was the most important but for Airdrie it’s journeyman David Hutton who made Airdrie’s season, keeping 8 clean sheets which is impressive in it’s own right but taking into account that he played 7 played games less than the keeper with the most clean sheets with only 4 clean sheets less. In 27.6% of his games Airdrie didn’t concede, an impressive feat.
6.Dumbarton 2/10. Dumbarton have had simply a shocking season, 7/4 for the title (Ladbrokes odd’s, this made them favourites) but in reality, goal difference was the only difference between them and seventh place. It was akin to Falkirk’s recruitment style, signing 20 odd players and hoping a few are good. Dumbarton actually looked like they could end up in the relegation playoff but towards the end of the season they sorted themselves out. An all-round embarrassing season. Star Player: Dominic Thomas, Dom was expected to totally set the league on fire, he didn’t quite do that, but it was still an impressive season for the ex-Motherwell man who managed 14 goals and 6 assists, with 165 minutes per goal.
7.East Fife 6/10. East Fife certainly didn’t have an outstanding season bar their semi-final run in the Challenge Cup which was ended by eventual winners Ross County, with a very inconsistent start to the season, including a 2-0 loss to Dumbarton at home on the opening day of the season meaning many fans of the Methil team would’ve been happy with guaranteed safety in the beginning. East Fife looked sure to finish in the top 4 come March but random strings of wins and losses made it impossible to predict what would happen, a season dampened by inconsistency. Star Player: I wasn’t fully sure about this one so I asked a few East Fife fans and each and every single one assured me it was Brett Long. Brett made a stunning triple save against Montrose at Links Park, the Northern Ireland born keeper kept 8 clean sheets despite having one of the worse defences in front of him, conceding just five less than Brechin City who found themselves rock bottom.
8.Stranraer 5/10. Once again it wasn’t outstanding, but they stayed up and not much else could be asked of the Blues. Stranraer struggled heavily last season with financial issues but managed to finish 5th, so many people including myself thought Stranraer would be able to replicate similar form if not better without the burden of the money problems but this was far from the truth. Stranraer were 14/1 for the title so they certainly weren’t expected to be up there but just 6 points clear of bottom placed Brechin meant for nerve-wracking viewing throughout games. Star Player: Kyle Turner. Despite Innes Cameron’s goalscoring efforts it’s Innes Cameron who is Stranraer’s star man for me. 7 goals and 6 assists from central midfield at the age of 21 is very impressive, so impressive in fact that his performances have warranted a move to Championship side Dunfermline Athletic.
9.Stenhousemuir 1/10. Stenhousemuir were never expected to do well, but it seemed very possible for them to stay clear of a relegation place, but this wasn’t what happened. A change in management halfway through the season and injuries meant they fell short. A 1/10 rating might seem harsh but with one of the best strikers in the league relegation shouldn’t be a possibility. Star Player: As expected it is experienced talisman Mark McGuigan who participated in 51% of Stenhousemuir’s goals whether it was assisting or scoring. A great striker who manages to thrive even when he isn’t in the greatest of times.
10.Brechin City 0/10. What a truly shocking season for Brechin City, despite going down from the Championship with their only win of the 17/18 season coming from the League Cup against a non-league side, many people including myself expected better in the League One for the Angus outfit, however the summer recruitment was sparse and when they did sign the players didn’t perform. A change of management made things even harder for Brechin but a bottom placed finish averaging a point a game wasn’t thought of as a possibility.
All in all, the 18/19 was very eventful, the title heading to Angus in Arbroath’s shock season, relegation favourites Montrose finishing fourth and title favourites Dumbarton ending up 6th were the biggest shocks for me. Hopefully next season’s as good.