HAVING the first six months of blood, sweat, tantrums, tears, and controversy winding to a close is finally allowing WoSFL players, managers and fans to breathe easily for the first time in weeks and look forward to (or should that be dread) the next fortnight of footballing famine.

It’s not a million miles off the mark to describe the season up to now as turbulent when one considers the overall quality of the Premier Division League has often been questioned even though there has been all manner of extraordinary results and outstanding performances from a number of clubs.

For instance, many, myself included, have loudly lauded Auchinleck Talbot, Clydebank and Darvel for seamlessly excelling on the William Hill Scottish Cup front and there can be no denying the  reputation of the emerging WoSFL has benefited in no small way from this trio clinching 4th Round head-to-heads in the New Year against Hearts, Arbroath and Annan Athletic respectively.

Praise too for a much rejuvenated Cambuslang Rangers, raising hopes of a return to their halcyon days on the back of marvellous scoring exploits from Scott Williamson, Scott Anson and John Gemmell while under the tutelage of Murdie McKinnon, Pollok did what their most ardent supporters thought impossible by recovering from a shock early season 3-1 defeat to the Premier Division’s rank bottom markers Bonnyton Thistle to be sitting atop the Premier Division pile going into 2022.

One can easily imagine arguments raging throughout the Xmas break as to whether any of the aforementioned deserve to be tagged as WoSFL team of the year however my opinion (for what it’s worth) comes down heavily in favour of Arthurlie, whose  continuing to boast an unbeaten record after 25 matches has them going along strongly on four trophy fronts.

The Barrhead outfit currently sit second best  in the Conference League Division A standings, a point adrift of frontrunners Shotts Bon Accord,  but are strongly fancied to come good in the race to the title honours  line on account of crucially having  three games in hand over their Lanarkshire rivals.

A delayed first round Kilmarnock Pie WoSFL tie against Glasgow United beckons a matter of weeks after coming out of cold storage, closely followed by a sure to be fascinating South Challenge Cup last 32 clash at home to runaway Lowland League leaders Bonnyrigg Rose that precedes Arthurlie going up against Rob Roy in a Scottish Junior Cup quarter final showdown.

Further impressive stats show Andy McFadyen’s side have racked up a remarkable 108 goals getting to where they are now, with main striking duo Gary Smith (30) and Gary Carroll(26) contributing more than 50% of the total.

Behind these numbers is an attack-minded approach for playing with pace and width, favoured by McFadyen, formerly the acclaimed guru of Rutherglen Glencairn Under 21’s , and that of his coaching cohorts Craig Palmer and Ryan McCardle, both former players of some repute, whose linking up with the gaffer at under-age level came about when their own careers had reached the stage where the candles were costing as much as the cake.

A total revamp of a dressing room which in recent years seemed broken beyond repair has ensued from the trio’s bringing together many of their Under 21 charges such as Smith, Jordan Leyden, Nad Zeb and Dale Simeon along with key acquisitions Lance Pearce, Lee Roulston , Darren Ramsay and Tam McGaughey .

Little wonder then that Dunterlie’s supporting throng are feeling considerably upbeat from this highly promising revival in fortunes and have taken to making optimistic noises about McFadyen and his playing charges  going on to restore Arthurlie as a force to be once more feared at this level of the game.

Meanwhile, the ever changing order of football has sparked a number of comings and goings even before “in with the new and out with the old” celebrations get underway.

His side’s 6-0 defeat in their last outing against Ashfield has caused team boss Mark Weir to call time on his long association with Carluke Rovers while an amicable parting of the ways at Wishaw has seen gaffer Mark Daly step aside to be replaced by his assistant manager Davie Dunn.

And hard on the heels of Kilwinning Rangers offloading striker Calvin Kemp to Ardeer Thistle has come word of Buffs No 2 Gavin Friels leaving to assume the managerial reins at Ardrossan Winton Rovers where he will be joined in the dugout by assistant manager Chris McGowan and coach Jamie Houston.