THE amateur football season kicks off this weekend and Strathearn teams have been working hard in preparation.
Auchterarder Primrose are hoping to capitalise on a successful season last year, when they won the West District Cup, were runners-up in the league cup and finished third in Division One.
Coach Mark Hodge told the Herald: “Pre-season has gone well. The players have been working hard towards fitness for the coming season.”
The club has kept all of last season’s players and made some new signings.
He said: “The new players are goalkeeper Jamie Reid, defender/midfielder Gary Maher, midfielder Martin Maher and forward Paul Hannigan, bringing much needed experience to the squad.
“The club also have Brian Green and Erik Kaye training with the team and hope to sign them when they reach match fitness.”
Mark also wished a speedy recovery to Vale of Earn’s Brian Findlay, who is out with an injury.
Fellow first division side Vale of Earn lost some key players during the transfer window but remain positive and are looking forward to showcasing some fresh talent.
Club chairman Tony Sweeney said: “Despite losing the majority of our players for various reasons, Vale are looking forward to the challenge of the season ahead.
“We have a few new faces to choose from but will be relying on youth and last year’s remaining players.
“We are also looking forward to ongoing support from our sponsors and everyone who comes along to cheer the boys on.
“With Star of Atholl, Perth Villareal and Letham United in our league cup section, this will be a stern test for the lads.”
The Market Park boys drew 2-2 in their friendly with Kenmore and, with good numbers turning up at training and the management team of Kenny Smith, Graham Copland and Alistair McDougall heading the squad, Vale hope to build on last season’s successes and jump further up the table.
In Division Two the newly promoted Comrie Rovers have strengthened their squad over the close season. Assistant manager Richard Muir said: “Players have joined us from a number of sources yet we’ve kept the nucleus of the team that did so well for us last season.
“As well as strengthening the playing staff we have also strengthened the coaching staff, with Billy Crane bringing a number of years’ experience of coaching and managing local teams.”
Their pre-season brought notable wins against Glenrothes and Logie Harp and they are hoping to start strong, despite a number of player bans.
Richard added: “The target is to emulate our achievements in what is a very competitive division and we are looking towards having, once all players are fit and available, a good cup run as we look to bring more silverware to Comrie.”
Third division side Strathearn Grove retained last year’s contingent, as well as recruiting some new players.
Manager Alan Hendry said: “We've managed, despite the best efforts of our local rivals to entice them away, to retain all the younger players from last season and have also recruited, again against local competition, several more youngsters with enormous potential.
“This has resulted in our youngest ever squad, bursting with exciting teenage talent.”
He added that the pre-season training regime, led mainly by Dave Webster and assisted by Keith McAllister, helped get the club into shape.
The team has played five pre-season friendlies, with an accumulated score of 17 -15 in Grove’s favour.