The performances of Blair Yule may not generate headlines to people outwith Cove Rangers. But the midfielder has been a quietly pivotal part of their ever-improving fortunes.
Whichever role Yule is asked to fulfil, he does it with the minimal of fuss and the maximum of effort.
A natural midfielder, Yule spent most of last season deployed at right-back, as Cove made their debut in League Two. His energy levels and willingness to get forward made him a valuable asset in the role, even if it is not his natural position.
He missed just one game during their promotion season last year, forming a consistent back four with Scott Ross, Ryan Strachan and Harry Milne, all players who helped get them out of the Highland League.
Yule returned to the club in 2018 after a year at Arbroath, to help lead the club into the SPFL. He had been with Cove prior to that for seven years and turned down the advances of Caley Thistle, then newly-relegated to the Championship, in favour of moving to Gayfield.
He was part of the summer recruitment drive from the club and manager John Sheran to make sure they would make it into League Two. They had tasted two previous defeats in the pyramid play-off and did not want another.
Yule and Jordon Brown were the two main additions to the squad. Yule was a known quantity to Sheran and Cove, but Brown brought the guile and experience of playing in the SPFL with Aberdeen and Peterhead. Both proved instrumental in winning the Highland League title in 2019 and then seeing off Spartans and Berwick Rangers in the play-offs.
However, since promotion to the SPFL, the 28-year-old has taken his performances on to another level. This season he has played mainly at right-midfield, with Fraser Fyvie and Connor Scully in the middle, and has shone.
Yule often starts wide, but drifts in-field and links play with the other midfielders, facilitating space for Ross to move up on the overlap outside and utilise his crossing ability.
— Arbroath FC (@ArbroathFC) April 14, 2019
Yule shows a compunction to take the ball in tight spaces and drives his way out of trouble; it is not uncommon to see him take the ball under pressure deep in his own half and with a clever touch or turn, move into space and help push Cove up the field.
His performances have drawn deserved praise from his manager Paul Hartley, who lauded Yule as a player he would have loved to play alongside and a top team-mate.
“He’s a player you don’t need to say a lot to,” Hartley said earlier this season. “He goes about his business, trains all the time, is never injured – he’s a good team player.”
On the park he goes about his business efficiently. He is rarely seen getting involved with referees; his sending off at Dundee in the Betfred Cup earlier this season, for a last-man challenge, is a very rare blemish.
His fitness levels, too, have to be admired. Yule has played all but seven minutes in League One this season and was the only outfield player to play every minute of their four split fixtures in seven days. When Hartley had to rotate his squad for the demanding run of games, he knew Yule would be one he did not need to worry about.
At 28, he should be coming into his prime years as a footballer and Cove should continue to reap the benefits of that.
He may well help the club to a third successive promotion in the coming weeks, via the League One play-offs. You would not bet against him being involved for every second of it.