Saturday 21st January 2017
HE walked into Dumbarton 20 months ago as the support act.
He left it as the man everybody wanted to see. Shake his hand, wish him all the best, let him know how well he’s done for Dumbarton.
But Stevie Farrell knows that his departure from the club to manage Stranraer is one which will break up a long standing partnership.
One which started at Stair Park in 2012. The same venue where his career as a senior manager, in his own right, begins.
He and Stevie Aitken have worked together on a constant basis for more than four years. Now his acceptance of the Stranraer gig will see them spend Saturdays the length of the A77 – sometimes more – apart.
And he admits that leaving his now former colleague, along with the players they managed and the fans they worked hard to entertain, was a hard call.
He said: “Obviously in one sense it is disappointing to leave Stevie behind at the club who gave us the opportunity to manage at Championship level.
“I am also leaving good people around the club, good fans and a fantastic group of players.
“But in terms of the challenge ahead, it excites me to look forward to trying to ensure Stranraer can keep their League One status.
“When Stevie and I left Stranraer, the Championship was a really attractive prospect. Every game was a challenge. I’ve had that challenge now for 18 months and I’ve enjoyed being able to learn from being part of the team.
“I absolutely feel I am returning to Stranraer with a better CV than I left it with 20 months ago.
“I haven’t managed before at senior level, but I’ve been helping to prepare a team to compete in the Championship every week. With that experience behind me, that can only add to my strengths, knowledge and understanding.
“There are still players at Stranraer from when Stevie and I left. I met them and the rest of the squad this week and my job is to get them playing with intensity and getting results.”
With the way things work out in football, a meeting of the two Stevies with their respective clubs seems inevitable at some point.
But Stevie says that’s something that he and the Sons gaffer are prepared for.
And having been right hand man to one Aitken brother, he’s now in charge of another.
He continued: “Stevie and I are so experienced in terms of cup and league football that we understand our paths will cross at some point.
“I can’t speak highly enough of him. He’s doing a fantastic job here and his opportunity will come to get into full time football.
“I feel he has been overlooked for full time posts when I thought he had a chance, but I am sure it will happen for him. His work ethic is second to none and is something I intend to replicate at Stranraer.
“I am going from one Aitken brother to another. I have worked with Chris before as a player and know what he can do.
“The club needs some continuity. It is a two and a half year deal I have agreed at Stranraer so I don’t need to make any hasty decisions relating to staff.”
And although he is now set to become Stranraer manager, they aren’t the only club he hopes will stay in their current division at the end of the season.
A share of his affections will always lie at Dumbarton, and he is in no doubt about what stands out from his time at the club.
He added: “I do think it will happen. There is a lot of football still to be played. Dumbarton are in a competitive position and while we were disappointed with the result today – I felt Queen of the South scored against the run of play – I feel they can stay up.
“The signings in January have been good ones and have enhanced the squad.
“Some may think it is a defeatist attitude to be delighted to stay in the Championship.
“But anybody who thinks it is unacceptable for Dumbarton to finish eighth in the Championship, for me, doesn’t understand how it is for a part time side in this division.
“I wish Dumbarton every success in doing that again.”