• Derek Bell


Updated: Nov 3, 2019

After finally kickstarting the home league season with a win over Dalbeattie it's back on the road again as the Dream Team pay a first time visit to Alliance Park on Saturday to face the team formerly known as Edusport Academy.

Caledonian Braves, for it is they, are now at their fifth ground in their short history under their two guises and can be found in Strathclyde Country Park alongside the artificial Strathclyde Loch and M & D's theme park. Sadly any fans looking for a roller coaster day will be disappointed as the theme park is closed on Saturday, though it would appear the Gateway to Hell is open at night, but hopefully not between 3pm and around 5pm.

Edusport Academy was founded in 2011 by Chris Ewing with the aim of helping young French Footballers develop their footballing and English Language skills - I'll leave it for you to judge if you would choose North Lanarkshire for the latter. At this point they were based around Ravenscraig Regional Sports Centre - from steelworks to nascent Platinis, it's hard to think of a more stark example of the deindustrialisation of the central belt. In 2015 they left the ghosts of furnaces behind and moved to Lesser Hampden in the shadows of Scottish footballing ghosts.

It was in 2014/15 that they first played a team under the Edusport Academy banner in the senior Scottish Leagues, starting out in the South of Scotland League creating a few firsts - the first private academy to field a team in a FIFA registered senior league in the world, the first team made up entirely of French players in a Scottish game. They won the South League Cup in their first two seasons and followed this up with a League Championship in 16/17 leading to promotion to the Lowland (having had an application to join in 2015 rejected). Their first two seasons in the Lowland have seen them finish tenth and ninth. By which point they had another two grounds under their belt at Hamilton Palace and then the more familiar to us Galabank in Annan.

This summer saw the move to Alliance Park and the rebranding as Caledonian Braves. This followed Ewing's decision to separate the football club from the academy and to create an online membership scheme under the Our Football Club banner with a stated aim of the Scottish Premiership by 2025, members to have voting rights and a say in decision making but not team selection. You may think this all sounds a little familiar and if you rack the back of your mind Ebssfleet United and the My Football Club project could be lurking there ( http://bit.ly/2JE9VJa ). At the start of the season there were reportedly 800 members from 30 countries and Ewing was joking it may be 2027 or the aim is reached. Ewing also admitted to a bit of tongue in cheek when the comment was made - as he said who would be interested in taking part in a project who's aim was top three in the Lowland in five years.

As we head into the game Braves sit sixth in the league with 19 points from their 12 games (6 wins, 5 defeats, 1 draw). The five defeats all at the hands of the five teams above them in the league. One thing their games don't lack is goals, 55 in the 12 league games, while their three cup ties have witnessed 19 goals. They come into this game on the back of an away defeat at CSS, while their last home game was the remarkable 5 - 5 with Dalbeattie where they got three goals in the last 15 minutes to grab a draw.

The first team coach is Ricky Waddell who up to last week was assisted by our ex-manager Colin Cameron, he has now moved on to be assistant manager to Ian Murray at Airdireonians. Cameron had been involved in the project whilst managing at Shielfield.

It's hard to know what to expect from this one - it's easy to be fearful for our defence coming up against a pretty free scoring team but we had a clean sheet last week and only conceded one to Kelty, and then there's the fact that they do concede which should give us hope. We should have some confidence after scoring three last week (I'm ignoring last season's cup semi this season in midweek - we may pay for it though if there have been any injuries picked up, going by the SFA website I think Forster is safe from suspension).

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