KEEPING IT CIVIL
Lowland League football returns to Shielfield tomorrow when the assorted Sir Humphreys, bureaucrats, and filing clerks of Civil Service Strollers come to town.
There has been a Civil Service team in Edinburgh since 1908 and were originally formed by governmental office staff. Originally playing at the Stenhouse Stadium they moved to Pinkhill Stadium in the 20s and on to Muirhouse and the Edinburgh Area Civil Service Sports Association in 1957 where they continue to play today, albeit under the snappier name of Christie Gillies Park.
Strollers joined the Lowland League in 2016/17 finishing 12th in their first season. The following season they improved to a seventh place finish and last season they had an excellent 5th place finish in Gary Jardine's first season as manager. Jardine of course was the man who guided Edinburgh City out of the Lowland League in during a seven year spell at the club from 2010. Resigning from Edinburgh City after a poor start in 2017 by Christmas that year he was taking coaching sessions at Strollers and by February 2018 Alex Cunningham the incumbent manager announced Jardine would be taking over at the end of the season.
Strollers arrive in fifth place in the current table following an impressive 1 - 0 away victory at East Kilbride in midweek. Prior to that home draws against Bonnyrigg and Gala sandwiched a 5 - 0 away defeat at Kelty and they won their two openers away at Gretna and at home to University of Stirling. Featured in their ranks are ex-Berwicker Josh Morris having joined from Hill of Beath at the start of the season. Our spy at the Bonnyrigg game reckoned Alieau Faye was the man who made Strollers tick. They look a hard team to break down, not conceding many goals - Kelty aside - but don't score that many either. This will be a tough test against one of the better teams in the league.
The Dream Team news is that Chris Gray and Jack Wright are both still out while Sean Brennan returns and will be looking to displace Mark Walters (who seems to have signed). I'd like to see Chalmers return to the starting line up and there is a definite case for Osei to start a he can give us something that bit more unpredictable and creative up front.
The clubs met in the second round of the Sottish Cup in Edinburgh on 24 October 2009, The Dream Team coming back from being a goal behind to win 2 - 1 thanks to a double from Fraser McLaren who had come on for the second half.
It's easy to joke about playing the Civil Service works team but have no doubt that this is a serious football club who have ambition like many in this league. Only today have they announced the funds have been raised to put up floodlights and work will commence next week installing them. They're always going to struggle for crowds being in Edinburgh as is the case for all the clubs outside the big two.