Is there any justification for the optimistic noises concerning the WoSFL being played out this season?

Well certainly not in its current format according to manager Colin Clark whose Renfrew side are regarded as potential Conference A champions in waiting despite occupying fourth place in the title stakes, fully eight points adrift of leading lights Annbank United.

It might be thought more than a tad appropriate for Clarky’s day job to be that of a firefighter as he vented his feelings over some of the burning issues confronting WoSFL officials ahead of their keynote meeting with the SFA and Scottish Government on Monday to discuss whether there is any likelihood of a restart date for lower league football clubs.

He revealed: “Renfrew have only played five of our obligated 24 league fixtures which makes for one hell of a deficit to try and make up at this stage of the season.

“And it becomes even more of a nightmare scenario to see your way out of when you take into account our last game was against Ashfield way back at the end of November, all of 13 weeks ago, which is a much longer break (almost double in fact) than players would typically get during the close season.

“Our regular training sessions did continue but only for another couple of weeks before it was thought prudent to allow everyone to have Christmas off on the back off the decision not to give out fixtures to Conference sides however little did we or the powers-that-be know that a total lockdown was then going to come into force after Boxing Day.

Clarky added: “I’ve spoken long and hard with my Frew assistants Jimmy Quigley and Ian Nicholson about the consequences of the current suspension on football being lifted and we are in accord that a minimum of four weeks is required just to get our players up to steam in terms of physical and match fitness.

“Any sports scientist worth his salt will tell you that taking less preparation time means you are throwing players under the bus by letting them run the risk of picking up the inevitable strains and pulled muscle injuries.”

There can be no doubt WoSFL officials are facing a schism over how to conclude their inaugural season (assuming a suitable date can be given for a playing resumption) however their previously stated ad-hoc plan to cut the season short and decide matters on a PPG (average points per game) basis is not to the vastly experienced Clarky’s liking.

He insisted: “I cannot agree and never will with the handing out of league titles and promotion places when a season is not played to a finish.

“It’s a flawed concept and cannot be considered to be a fair playing field in the slightest unless teams are adjudged on results against the exact same opponents and at the same venues as all of their rivals.

“I’m speaking from recent experience as Renfrew were hard done by last season when the coronavirus-enforced decision to call time early on the West Region Championship saw us, somewhat unfairly in my opinion, awarded fifth top spot behind the three promoted sides Darvel, Blantyre Vics, Cumbernauld United as well as Shotts Bon Accord.

“People might think it sour grapes for my describing our fate as unfair but other than away to Shotts we had fulfilled our games against all the other top teams (with mixed results) whereas they still had several head to heads against each other where someone had to drop points.      

“My honest assessment is we had it in us to finish third and losing out on the opportunity grated even more by the unsatisfactory manner by which PPG is calculated.

“You’ll no doubt guess that I’m totally against the WoSFL going down this same road but if fixture lists are not to be played out then some form of revised strategy has to be found.

“There was a recent vote among League One and Two clubs over whether to call their leagues as null and void but for whatever reason that’s not an opportunity afforded to us in the WoSFL up to now.”

Still on loan at Renfrew are the Petershill trio of Chris Ketterer, Antony Eadie and Paul Callander whose coming on board has helped plug the gaps left by the departures of Ross Gilmour (Kilbirnie Ladeside), Rikky McIntosh and Kieron Maxwell (Rutherglen Glencairn), Jamie Benton (injured) as well as the retirement decisions of Ryan Borris and Bob Campbell.

Clarky admitted: “Big Boab calling it a day is down to personal circumstances and he could very well be back to give us a boost for starting away next season which as things stand might be only three or four months away.

“First of all we need to put the current campaign to bed and I just hope something definite emerges from Monday’s meeting in that respect.”