THE BIG INTERVIEW

THE BIG INTERVIEW

By David McDonald
5th June
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New boss Ritchie Maxwell's first interview since taking over the Islecroft hotseat.


Now that he has got his feet firmly under the managers desk at Islecroft, we thought it was about time we caught up with new manager Ritchie Maxwell to see how he was settling in on his new role at the club. It has been a hectic start for the new supremo but it is a challenge he relishes.
"Three weeks in and pretty stressful to be honest. It's been hard work but enjoyable at the same time, just starting to speak to players and getting a squad together for the season."

After a couple of seasons struggling at the wrong end of the table we asked Ritchie if it was a case of survival for this season or perhaps aiming a bit higher up the league.

"I think we should be looking to finish higher than third bottom. We had a great end to last season and proved that we can mix it with the teams at the top of the league. Me and the other coaches have set targets of where we want to be at the end of the season and we will definitely be looking for an improvement. We don't want to be with five or six weeks to go, having to win games and being in the same situation we were in with the season just finished. The boys have already proved they can match the the top teams, we just need to be more consistent and do it from the start of the season. There are teams we have set our sights on but we would rather keep that in house rather than put the names of the teams we are looking to catch out in public."

The top teams in the Lowland League have already issued a statement of intent for the new term by splashing the cash and signing up some exciting talent, the majority with Scottish League experience. However rather than seeing this as a massive hurdle the new manager regards it as a huge challenge to both himself and his players and he is sure they will rise to it.

"When you look at the teams in the top four and the league players they are bringing in and the money they are spending, for me in a roundabout way that's a positive because as a player and now as a manager, I want to go on and challenge myself against the best that I can and manage at the best level that I can and it's the same for the boys coming in and playing. It's an opportunity for them to go out and prove a point, prove that they deserve to be in this league and playing against these players and that Dalbeattie deserves to be in this league. So in a roundabout way it could be a positive for us going out and trying to match these teams. Since I've been here, we have always been a team that raises their game against better opposition anyway and again we proved that at the end of last season when we came up against the top three or four, we were taking points of them. So I've no fears about going up against anybody in the league this season."

Unlike other clubs, Star do not go around announcing any new signings until they are registered and because of this you will have to wait until the beginning of next month to find out who they are. However the vast majority of last season's squad are all signed up for the new term and Ritchie is really looking forward to getting the pre-season started and getting down to working with all the players. He doesn't have a specific number for what he would call an ideal squad, so if a good enough player becomes available then he would happily take them.

"Recruitment's going pretty well, we've unfortunately lost three boys from last year but we've already got another four signed up and still working hard behind the scenes to add another couple just to increase the squad size and hopefully help improve the quality of the squad so that work will be ongoing until the season starts. If there's players available and if they're of the quality we are looking for then we've got to take them so I've not set a number on size of squad. I'll continue to look and if anybody becomes available that we think that can come in and help us out and improve the quality then there will definitely be an opportunity for them to come and play here."

"Pre-season starts in just a couple of weeks when we are in for our first session and we have four friendlies fixed up. We start against a couple of South teams, first Heston and then Threave Rovers and then we face a couple of teams from the North East of England, Seaham Red Star and Bedlington Terriers and then we are just waiting for confirmation for a final game a week before the league starts."

Ritchie never shirked a challenge during his playing career and he's not going to start now that he is a manager, and if he can spread half of the enthusiasm and desire he has for football onto his players, then the Star fans could be in for a treat this season.

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