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Peterhead co-boss Ryan Strachan feels lucky to have medals to go with the memories from his career

Blue Toon stalwart reflects on his career as he celebrates his testimonial with a friendly against Fraserburgh.

Peterhead FC player/co-manager Ryan Strachan.
Peterhead player co-manager Ryan Strachan. Image: Duncan Brown.

Ryan Strachan believes he is one of football’s lucky ones.

The Peterhead co-manager has a list of medals from his playing career which would be the envy of most.

Having come through the youth ranks with Aberdeen, Strachan earned a one-year deal with Celtic following his release from the Dons in 2008, but a broken foot on his reserve team debut curtailed his Hoops career and he was released in 2009.

Ryan Strachan, right, in action for Aberdeen against Dyce at the Aberdeen International Football Festival in 2004. Image: DC Thomson.

Step forward Gothenburg Great Neale Cooper, who swooped to bring Aberdonian Strachan back to the north-east. The rest, as they say, is history.

From his time with Peterhead and Cove Rangers, Strachan has collected three League Two winners’ medals, one from League One, a pair of Highland League title wins, the Highland League Cup, the Aberdeenshire Cup and the Aberdeenshire Shield.

Add in an SPFL play-off win and a runners-up medal from the 2016 Petrofac Cup final against Rangers in front of more than 48,000 fans at Hampden and there are enough memories to last a lifetime.

‘I’m blessed to have so many medals’

Ryan Strachan (left) with former team-mate Dougie Cameron after they signed for Peterhead in 2009. Image: DC Thomson

No wonder Strachan, who celebrates his testimonial with the Blue Toon against former Highland League rivals Fraserburgh at Balmoor on Saturday (2pm), considers himself fortunate.

But he insists his personal success did not happen on its own.

The 33-year-old said: “I’m quite lucky.

“Some guys go a whole career without picking up a trophy and I’ve multiple trophies.

“I’m blessed to have so many medals to take away from my football career when I’m done.

“There have been some key figures in my development even going back to my youth days.

“It’s not just managers either, it’s team-mates too. Individuals don’t win trophies, teams win trophies.

“I’ve had successful years at Peterhead and unsuccessful ones too.

“My time at Cove was nothing but success but since coming back to Peterhead my aim has been to help build the club up to achieve success again.”

With so many medals to his name there are plenty of career highlights to look back on.

But it is the future which Strachan, who returned to Peterhead in 2022, is now looking towards as he begins his second full season as co-manager at Balmoor Stadium alongside colleague Jordon Brown.

Ryan Strachan tackles’ Rangers midfielder Jason Holt in the Petrofac Cup final at Hampden in 2016. Image: SNS

He said: “The Petrofac Cup final at Hampden was a highlight and winning the league for the first time in 2014 was special.

“I’m proud of the milestones too such as hitting 200 appearances and captaining the club.

“My focus is on Peterhead now but my time at Cove was great too. We won pretty much everything we touched in my time there.

“But now it’s about repaying that trust the board at Peterhead have put in me along with Jordon to manage the club.

“They’ve given us a responsibility to lead the club and it’s not something either of us take lightly.”

Transition to management has been an eye-opener

Peterhead co-managers Ryan Strachan, left, and Jordon Brown, right, at their appointment last year. Image: Peterhead FC.

Strachan and team-mate Brown assumed the role of interim co-managers following the dismissal of former manager David Robertson in March 2023.

The rookies were confirmed as permanent bosses a month later and Strachan believes the learning curve of the last year has been steep.

He said: “There’s so much to football management that I didn’t understand as a player.

“A season ends and the guys go off for five or six weeks, have a holiday and enjoy their time off.

“But as a manager it is nothing but planning, making calls and putting the preparation for the next season in place, all while trying to stay fit.

“At the same time you are trying to enjoy your down time too. But it is what we signed up for and I certainly enjoy it.

“It’s a totally different side of the game now.

“When I was solely a player I trained and went to gym every week with the focus on myself.

“It was all about making sure I was fit and available to play every Saturday.

“Now it’s the whole package. You are trying to keep fit while getting on a bit and I’m definitely in another stage of my career now.

“The challenge is about training, managing a team, working and being there for my kids. It’s a lot but I think I’ve found a good balance.

“I’d like to think I’ve still got a good few years left in me as a player but the balance of family, football and work has to be right.

“What helps is the fact Jordon and I have got good staff and players around us.”

‘We’ve learned from last season’

Peterhead player/co-manager Ryan Strachan in action in a League Two match.
Peterhead co-manager Ryan Strachan. Image: Duncan Brown.

Strachan and Brown led their side to a second-place finish in League Two before missing out on promotion following a semi-final defeat by Spartans in the play-offs.

It was a disappointing end to the campaign but one which has been a valuable teaching moment.

Strachan said: “It has been a massive learning curve.

“We’ve had a year as managers after a couple of months as interim managers and I know I certainly feel more comfortable heading into the new season.

“I’ve learned a lot in terms of decision making, planning, preparation, the way we speak to players; everything has improved due to the experience we’ve gained in the last 12 months.

“We’ve had to turn over a whole team and be competitive.

“While we’re getting better the team has to get better this year as well and we know what we need to do.

“It’s all to do with the players. They are the ones who have to get better but we’re one team and we’re striving to be better.

“The ambition last year was to be competitive.

“We wanted to get promoted somehow and for more than half of the year we challenged for first place.

“We fell a wee bit short over Christmas and left ourselves with too big a mountain to climb but we qualified for the play-offs.

Unfortunately, we fell short and tactically we got some things wrong but as I said we’ve learned from that.”

Blue Toon management aiming to go one better this season

Peterhead FC player/co-manager Ryan Strachan.
Peterhead co-manager Ryan Strachan hopes to help lead his club back to League One this season. Image: Duncan Brown

As the duo continue their preparations for the new campaign the goal remains the same as it was a year ago.

But Strachan is under no illusions as to how tough the challenge will be.

He said: “This year we want to be promoted.

“First place would be our first objective but if we don’t meet that then we want to go up through the play-offs.

“But we know how tough it will be.

“I’ve never seen League Two so competitive ever as it was last year.

“Teams were taking points off everyone. It was hard to score goals away from home and there were so many draws.

“We looked at away games as we felt it was a statistical problem we had as to why we were not creating a lot of chances in games but every side was the same with teams creating three or four chances.

“It was extremely competitive. Teams’ budgets have got a lot stronger and younger players finding their way out of full-time football are dropping into the leagues.

“Top-flight squads are leaner now and as a result there is more quality coming into Leagues One and Two.

“It’s making the divisions stronger but also much more competitive.”