High standards are something Mitch Megginson expects from himself. He simply cannot allow any drop-off.
For the last two seasons, Megginson has set the goalscoring bar in the SPFL.
He finished with 24 in the aborted 2019-20 campaign, which saw Cove promoted as League Two champions, and his 14 efforts this year helped them finish third and claim a play-off place.
But Megginson came to Cove in 2016 an SPFL player. A career that started at Aberdeen took him to Dumbarton, Raith Rovers and Alloa Athletic, before he dropped three divisions from the Scottish Championship.
His recognition as League One player of the year highlights a dedication to set a relentless example for others to follow.
“I’m the type of player, from playing in the league before to then playing in the Highland League, my standards don’t drop,” said Megginson.
“Playing in the Championship for three years, I took that into the Highland League and didn’t let my standards drop. It can easily be done.
“My plan was, with other team members, to get Cove out of the Highland League so I had to keep the standards high.
Delighted to win League 1 POTY🙌🏻 looking forward to next season kicking off already. https://t.co/2K71i8ZiVJ
— Mitchel Megginson (@MitchMegginson) May 29, 2021
“I knew the team was good enough to step up to League Two and League One, so it makes my life easier when I’m playing with good players and creating chances for me.
“I’m happy with how it’s went over the last two years from a personal perspective, so it’s just about keeping those standards high. As captain of Cove, it’s up to me to make sure I’m keeping my performances and standards on the pitch as high as possible, to lead by example.
“There’s more enjoyment at Cove; it’s easy when you’re at a club that’s good to you and you enjoy being there.”
His goals have been a big part of Cove’s ascension to League One play-off contenders in two years.
They were minutes away from advancing to the Championship play-off final, before succumbing to an extra-time defeat against Airdrieonians.
The reality of an ever-improving League One is not lost on Megginson. The coming season will see ambitious and well-backed Queen’s Park join the league, while his former club Alloa drop down from the Championship.
Falkirk are also under new management, while Airdrieonians and Montrose ought to be play-off contenders again. That puts an onus on Cove to make sure they do not stand still.
“We probably need a couple of other bodies in,” said Megginson. “You’ve seen how hard it hits us when we lose a couple of our main players.
“We need to bolster the squad as you’re just not sure what’s going to happen with injuries.
“You look at the goal return as well and I think we need to get a few more goals from elsewhere. I do my best to get as many as I can and Rory (McAllister) did his best to get a good number; when you compare it to other teams there’s maybe a lot of goals coming from elsewhere.
“You add another 10 that’s split around the team, it changes the games. Looking at the last six games, the goals we were losing weren’t like us either.
“I think we had the best league record defensively but in the last six games we were very poor. We were losing goals just after we scored. We’d been gifting goals rather than making teams work for them.
“That’s where we need to improve. I don’t think there’s anything major to do. I think it was partly to do with all the games in a short space of time. Hopefully next season is a normal season, which should help.”
His 14 league goals came from 19 games, with his 24 last season a fantastic return from 25 fixtures.
The Cove website lists his current club tally as 170 in 195 games; granted there were a couple of 40-goal seasons in the Highland League but that is a ratio of 0.87 goals per game.
He has followed in the footsteps of his father Mike in chasing goals for Cove and while he puts no specific landmarks in front of himself, 200 is on the horizon.
“I never set myself targets,” added Megginson. “Part of me enjoying the game is scoring goals but I don’t put any pressure on myself to achieve certain targets.
“To hit that landmark, whenever it is, would be nice. But my aim is to be top goalscorer each season. If you do that you’ll put the numbers on the board.”