GLENAFTON have made an early start to the 2021/22 season with the appointment of Mick McCann as their new team manager.

The news comes in the wake of a turbulent five months which following the Coronavirus pandemic and the resulting restrictions compelled the Ayrshire big guns to withdraw from the WOSFL out of a duty of care to their playing staff, committee members and fans.

Thirteen other clubs joined the Glens in opting to pull down the shutter, but few have faced the challenges that Glenafton have, with their entire playing squad granted free transfers after their 2017 Scottish Junior Cup and Premier Division title winning boss Craig McEwan tendered his resignation.

When McEwan was handed the reins at Newton Mearns-based newcomers St Cadocs, he immediately snapped up nearly all his former playing charges - 11 at last count - including experienced striker McCann, who was joining the sixth club of his decorated Junior career after spells with Glenafton, Troon, Auchinleck Talbot, Irvine Meadow and Annbank United.

McCann said: “Latterly I had a player/coach role under Southy [McEwan] at Glenafton, but not at St Cadocs because I went there wanting to put all my focus and energy into the playing side of things.

“At 38, nobody needs to say I don’t have a lot of fuel left in the tank. However, I still feel capable of doing a job for the team and I was enjoying myself in the games I did play, not least because I’d managed to weigh in with a few goals.

“The prospect of competing for one of the St Cadocs striking jerseys didn’t frighten me in the slightest and I’d gladly have seen out the season there but for this dream opportunity to manage a club of Glenafton’s stature landing on my doorstep. I just couldn’t say no after having experienced wonderful times as a player at the club and knowing from experience how getting a successful team out on the park will have the New Cumnock people coming out in their droves.

“I feel deeply honoured that the club’s officials have put their trust in me and as of now I intend to start the job of repaying them.”

The two times Evening Times Cup winner (Auchinleck and Glenafton) has back-room team appointments in mind, but is holding back from making any announcements.

“Look, I have spoken to the people I want at my side and will put their names out there when the time is right. However, that is not looking like anytime soon and all I can say about our future dugout is you will not find me operating in a dual role as before.

“Hanging up the boots will be a wrench, but a club of Glenafton’s standing in the game deserves better and I’m going to have more than enough on my plate trying to employ man-management skills into building relationships with players in order to get them performing at their best.

“It’s not all going to be plain sailing and issues will undoubtedly crop up, but hopefully the fact I’m fresh out of the dressing room will help in resolving matters.

“Right now my biggest headache is coming from the WOSFL’s lack of a clear timeline. Nobody can say when their current season will restart [if at all]. Let’s not forget I’m the new guy on the block in charge of a club with not a single player on the books so there’s a crying need to start our rebuilding work now.

"I fully intend to tap into all my contacts in the game, including Southy, [who is] disappointed to lose me as a player but willing to offer advice and help, but then I wouldn’t expect anything less from him.”

McCann is the latest in an ever lengthening line of former Auchinleck Talbot players to enter into team management after David Gormley (Rossvale), Colin Spence and James Latta (Irvine Meadow), Bryan Young (Beith), and Stuart Davidson (Largs Thistle).

“We all played under the most successful manager ever in Tommy Sloan and I suppose it’s only natural for people to think the lessons learned will see us chalking up a few major trophy wins of our own." he said. “But Tucker would be first to tell you there is no magic formula other than to have a good mix of skilful, hungry and hardworking players in your dressing room. We had those qualities in spades at Glenafton in 2017 and it’s my job to bring all the right types together again.”