EYEMOUTH United manager Carl Hudson wants discipline to improve after the club were hit with a whopping £600 fine by the SFA, but his team are unlikely to suddenly become soft touches.
Of the seven East of Scotland League clubs punished by the SFA’s disciplinary committee for their poor record last season, only Hawick Royal Albert have been fined more than Eyemouth.
Hawick were fined £750, while Civil Service Strollers have been told to fork out £525. Easthouses Lily and Lothian Thistle have been fined £375, while both Vale of Leithen and Whitehill Welfare will have to pay £250. The clubs have been told: “The positions of those clubs which were fined or warned will be monitored during the forthcoming season and it is expected that the required improvement will be forthcoming. Clubs can have no cause for complaint if appropriate heed is not paid to previous fines and warnings. It was evident again to the committee that attention can be paid to such matters by clubs.”
Hudson concedes some of the cards his players picked up were unnecessary, but he doesn’t want anyone pulling out of a challenge in what is a big season ahead.
“Discipline is something we need to improve on,” said Hudson, whose team are already over two weeks into their pre-season training schedule. “Having said that, our chairman is usually our biggest critic when it comes to discipline, but even he was shaking his head at some of the decisions against us last season. The art of tackling seems to be going out of the game.
“But we know we have to improve. Some of the cards were down to stupidity and immaturity and that is something we are addressing. I’ve spoken to the lads about it and they know that we need to improve. At the same time, we can’t lose our competitiveness. We want to win, and don’t want anyone to shirk from any challenge. We won’t be rolling over to anyone.”
Hudson is hoping to sign wingers Gary Wales and Jamie Punton from Berwick Ultras, this week, while left-back John Buchan, who is retiring, and goalkeeper Dean Avery, who comes from Seahouses, are the only expected departures.
“Goalkeeper is my biggest headache,” added Hudson. “I’m looking at one from Edinburgh and one locally. I hope to confirm it soon.”
After finishing third in the First Division last season, Eyemouth will be expected to launch a challenge for promotion to the top flight this season.
But Hudson said: “We’ll just take it as it comes. As long as we give 100 per cent in every game, I’ll be content.
“With the squad we have got, we’ll take some beating. But in the First Division you have to be on the ball in every game because if you’re not you will lose. Bottom can beat the top team in any game.”
Eyemouth face Ashington on July 16 in their first friendly and travel to Alnwick Town a week later, while Hudson hopes to fix up another two friendlies before the action gets under way for real on August 6. The Fisherman could not have asked for a tougher start, with a trip to big-spending Whitehill Welfare in their first game, eight matches to play in August overall and an awkward league opener away to East of Scotland newcomers Duns on Tuesday, August 23.
“It’s a tough start, because Whitehill are one of the top teams in the Premier,” said Hudson. “But you’ve got to beat them if you want to progress in any competition, so we’ve just got to go for it.”
The season starts with the inaugural Qualifying League, effectively a warm-up competition consisting of four groups of six teams who will play each other once. The top two in each group earn a place in the last eight of the League Cup. The fixtures come thick and fast early in the season.
“We’ll have a squad of 20 or 21 players so we’ll be ready,” said Hudson. “We only had a couple of weeks off. The lads were champing at the bit to get started again. None of them get paid, so full credit to them. They really play for each other.”
Duns have been excluded from the Qualifying League, but kick-start life in the East of Scotland at home to Eyemouth before travelling to Tynecastle in the Image Printers East of Scotland Qualifying Cup.
Duns are away to Berwick Rangers Reserves in the First Division on Tuesday, August 30, while Eyemouth host Coldstream on the same night. Before then, the Streamers begin their season away to Peebles Rovers on August 6 in Qualifying League section D.