Elgin City chairman Graham Tatters says the club’s new management team share his vision of winning promotion from League Two.
Boss Allan Hale and assistant Stefan Laird left Highland League side Huntly this week to make the move into the SPFL with the Moray side.
The duo penned two-and-a-half year deals to replace Barry Smith, who left the club in November after just two months at the helm.
Guided by player-coach Ross Draper, their 1-0 home win against Forfar Athletic on November 21 pushed Elgin five points clear of basement side Clyde, who are now bossed by Ian McCall.
Elgin joined the Scottish League set-up along with Peterhead in 2000, but unlike the Blue Toon, have never been promoted, although they have been in the play-offs as recently as 2021.
Ahead of Saturday’s trip to East Fife, the priority for Elgin is to ensure they are not dragged into a survival battle like they were last term when Draper guided them to ninth place, just one point above Albion Rovers.
The Coatbridge team plunged out of the fourth-tier, losing the pyramid play-off against Spartans.
⚫️⚪️ NEXT MATCH ⚫️⚪️
🆚 East Fife
🏟️ Bayview Stadium – Methil
🏆 Cinch League Two
📅 Saturday 9th December
🎟️ Tickets are available online at East Fife website or at the ticket office on Matchday pic.twitter.com/vKclX0slhJ
— Elgin City F.C. (@ElginCityFC) December 4, 2023
Moving upwards ‘paramount’ chief
It was too close for comfort for City and Hale and Laird arrive at Borough Briggs determined to lead the team towards the top four.
It’s a case of one step at a time, however, and Tatters says the remit for 2023/24 is to make sure Elgin are not contenders for returning to the Highland League.
He said: “When we looked at the applicants, we ideally wanted someone within that A96 corridor.
“They’re young and enthusiastic and both very ambitious. Let’s hope we can all move together and get Elgin out of League Two, which we have been sitting in for far too long.
“Moving out of this league is paramount for us.
“For the rest of this season, the main thing is to ensure we move away from being club 42.
“If Allan and Stefan get clear of it by the end of this season, they will have at the very least a couple of transfer windows to try and build a side up to be competitive.”
Moving up the levels together – chief
Tatters was impressed by Hale and Laird’s desire to go as far as they can as coaches and managers and he says Elgin offers them a stage to showcase what they can do in the SPFL.
He said: “The most important thing was the ambition they have shown. That ambition doesn’t necessarily stop at Elgin.
“Elgin can move with them, but they might want to move on to another level, which is a win-win for both of us.
“If they are doing that, we as a club have helped improve their stature and we can be up there with anyone else.”
Elgin City are delighted to announce the appointment of Allan Hale (left) as the new first team Manager.
Allan, who is joined by Stefan Laird as his assistant manager, will take charge of training on Thurs and will be in the dugout for their first game away at East Fife on Sat pic.twitter.com/SiLIR9FuH1
— Elgin City F.C. (@ElginCityFC) December 5, 2023
Highland League talent in the frame?
Tatters said the new management team’s knowledge of the north made them the ideal pick to land the roles.
He added: “Geography has always been a challenge, not just for managers but for players too.
“We were very lucky that Gavin (Price) and (assistant) Jim (Weir) (who were at the club until April this year) tried very hard to get up here all the time, as did Barry (Smith).
“Allan and Stefan are here and they understand the north and north-east scene.
“They know the Highland League and can try to pick up some of the better players that they have good relationships with.”
It’s expected that ex-Inverness and Ross County star Draper will remain a key member of the coaching staff as well as remaining to fulfil a key on-field defensive role.
Elgin head to East Fife this weekend seeking their first away victory of the season, having collected just one point on their travels so far.
By contrast, they are six successive home games without a loss and welcome Spartans to Moray a week on Saturday as they seek to build upon that.