The Cove Rangers success story shows no sign of coming to an end, with another impressive chapter being written at Palmerston on Tuesday night.
I said in last week’s column I fancied their chances of beating Queen of the South in their Scottish Cup replay, but I never imagined it would be achieved in such a comprehensive manner.
It was a relatively slow start to their League One campaign with two defeats in the opening five matches, but they have lost just once since then, have progressed in the Cup and reached the semi-finals of the SPFL Trust Trophy, and are currently riding the wave of a nine-game unbeaten run.
Paul Hartley was deservedly named manager of the month for November, with Mitch Megginson – who added two more goals in Dumfries – the standout for player of the month.
As club captain and top scorer, Mitch is certainly leading by example, but he has excellent back-up in what is a strong and talented squad. Rory McAllister can be relied upon for the goals every season, Fraser Fyvie has come to the fore in recent weeks, as has Iain Vigurs, and – with that kind of quality – it is no surprise Cove have moved to the top of the league table.
It has been very noticeable that the coaching staff and players prefer to concentrate on doing their talking on the park. No-one has been shouting from the rooftops, no-one has been making any outlandish claims; the group have simply maintained a respectful stance and got on with the job.
That comes partly from the self-belief and confidence they have in their own ability. The players know how good they are, they don’t need to be telling everyone, they just get out on to the park and prove it.
That mentality comes from the very top.
I have got to know chairman Keith Moorhouse pretty well over the years, and he and his directors have played a major role in guiding the club to where it is today. As a group, they are humble and hard-working, and deserve everything they are getting right now.
They too keep their heads down and there are no bold forecasts for the future, but – make no mistake – they are as driven and ambitious as Paul and his players, and that combination will go a long way towards achieving their aims.
Cove were so close to promotion to the Championship last May, and everyone at the club was devastated when they fell in the play-off semi-finals, but, with the benefit of hindsight, losing out to Airdrieonians might have been the best thing that happened to them.
It allowed those in charge at the Balmoral Stadium to put further building bricks in place, and to strengthen the squad, which they certainly did in the summer.
The club is a commercial success, it has excellent sponsors at all levels, and hospitality at matches is popular and largely sold-out.
2022 is Cove Rangers’ centenary year, something they will celebrate with a number of high profile events, but the best way of marking it will be on the pitch.
I fully expect them to do so with a minimum of fuss in the coming months.
Aberdeen well-placed to end 2021 on a high
The Dons’ unpredictable season has taken a turn for the better in the last couple of matches, with the win over St Mirren producing some of the most exciting attacking play we have seen from the team since the early weeks of the campaign.
Having Ryan Hedges and Marley Watkins available and fully fit again has made all the difference, and Christian Ramirez is clearly benefitting from their return.
After the horrendous run from mid-August until mid-October, the team rallied to secure fine results against Hibernian, Rangers and Hearts only to immediately hit the buffers again.
Three straight losses sent Aberdeen plummeting to within a couple of points of the relegation play-off spot, but the back-to-back victories over Livingston and Saints have put a far more positive spin on things, and they are well placed to finish off 2021 in a positive fashion.
That might well depend on how they fare at McDiarmid Park on Saturday afternoon. It is a fixture which rarely excites, but the Dons will happily take a scrappy 1-0 to keep the revival going.