Davie Irons: Managing Stenny, playing at Ayr and St Johnstone memories

You are currently in your second spell in charge of Stenhousemuir FC. How are you enjoying being back at the club and how would you describe a club such as Stenhousemuir FC?

First and foremost I am thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to manage Stenhousemuir FC. I was previously manager of the club a few years ago and it was with a heavy heart that I left and that was down to my professional work environment where I was not able to combine the part time football at Stenhousemuir FC with my full time employment so I had to give it up. Circumstances have allowed me to return to the club.

The current situation with COVID 19 are unprecedented and as a club Stenhousemuir FC are brilliant and the people there are so hard working and so enthusiastic, like most clubs in football but Stenhousemuir FC in particular are so dedicated to their own club and they have a real special place in the local community and they have done a lot of work during the COVID 19 pandemic to keep the club afloat and we have also added a lot to the local community in terms of support so the club itself is a really well run, professional outfit who quite rightly have aspirations to improve the standard that the club are currently playing at.

You played three seasons for Ayr United. How do you look back on your time at Ayr United and do you have any highlights or special memories?

Credit: Cammy_ayr_utd1910

The highlight for me was that Ayr United was my first real crack at professional football in Scotland having previously been at Queen of the South for four years prior to that having just left school and I played four games in the first team of Queen of the South and then I went away to Newcastle University so I had a break away from senior football although I played a lot of football during my time in the North East of England.

When I returned to Scotland I was fortunate to get picked up by Ayr United and George Caldwell was the manager at the time and I have very special memories from my time at the club in which I fulfilled a dream of playing senior football in Scotland and those three seasons were mixed. In my first season we finished 5th in the old First Division and there were only 3 divisions in Scotland at that time.

My second year was not so good we got a change of manager and he got replaced by the now passed but very famous manger Ally MacLeod and we got relegated the year in which he came in and then at the start of the following season it was a privilege to play at the top level in Scotland and Ayr United gave me that opportunity.

You played three seasons for St Johnstone. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any special highlights and memories?

St Johnstone was probably the hardest and most difficult time of my playing career. The first thing I have to say about St Johnstone is what are brilliant club they are and they looked after me incredibly well. The reason I am saying that is that they took a chance on me from Partick Thistle in terms of it being in the days before the freedom of contract from players and if I moved on I had to go to a tribunal.

I had a really good spell at Partick Thistle and then St Johnstone came in and tried to sign me and I had to go through a tribunal and they ended up paying more that they hoped for but the reason I am saying this is that on my debut against Dundee United I ruptured my Achilles tendon after 20 minutes.

That set me back for the whole season however St Johnstone were absolutely brilliant with me and then sent me down to Lilleshall which at time was the English FA’s headquarters for rehabilitation and I was looked after by the top physios in the FA.

Credit: Yeovil Town Football Club

I genuinely don’t think I would have played at that level again it had not been for the care and treatment that I got through St Johnstone. In between the spell that I was injured the manager that signed me John McClelland left the club and Paul Sturrock came in for his first job in management and he went on to have a successful managerial career in Scotland and in England.

I was not involved in the first team at all and I was still trying to get myself back fit and it was not until my second season at St Johnstone that I got playing again and in the season that they signed the club got relegated so although I went from one Scottish Premier League club to another by the time I played again I was playing in the Scottish First Division and it was like starting again really and I had to re-establish myself and get back to a level of playing that was worthy of the money that St Johnstone had paid for me.

During during that time we had an inconsistent period under Paul Sturrock and although we had some good results we struggled to get ourselves out of the league and during my time there we remained a Championship club as opposed to getting back in the Scottish Premiership. I have got nothing but only positive things to say about St Johnstone, The board took a chance in signing me and despite the fact I was injured in my first game they stood by me and St Johnstone are a great club.

You played and managed Gretna. How do you look back on your time at Gretna as a player and a manager and what are your highlights and memories from your time at the club?

My time at Gretna was an incredible period and I signed for Gretna just before their first ever game in the Scottish league and I signed as a player coach. They were a small part time club with aspirations but not really any expectations however within two seasons we then became an interesting project for a local businessman called Brooks Mileson and he brought the club and he totally transformed that club from being a small League Two team to basically a team that could take part in Europe.

We got to a Scottish cup final and won three successive promotions which I don’t think any other club has ever done in Scottish football and that in a nutshell sums up the journey from that first ever game against Morton to that very last game that I was involved in as a manager.

There were a lot of highs and a few bumpy moments but generally it was a club that went through the leagues at a rate of knots winning game after game and promotions and getting to Scottish cup finals and losing on penalty kicks to Hearts of Midlothian and then subsequently playing in the UEFA Cup the following season and then culminating in getting promotion to the Scottish Premier League.

Credit: Tripadvisor

Unfortunately history will show we struggled that season in the Premier League and the club ended up going bust and during that time I was a player, coach , assistant manager and I also managed them over the line to get into the Scottish Premier League and I left at the point where the club was going bust and it was a case of trying to save the club and we had people leaving and reducing the wage bill and that was all in an effort to try and save the club but unfortunately that never happened and the club went bust.

Finally Davie, You are still a young manager. Going forward is there anything in particular that you would ideally like to achieve in terms of goals and ambitions?

Credit: Stenhousemuir FC

Yes, I would love to take Stenhousemuir FC to a level that they have never been at before and that is the Scottish Championship level. I have got a lot of feelings for Stenhousemuir they have me an opportunity when I did not think I was going to get another chance and now that I am back at the club I really want to get them back to a level that they have never been at before and that would be something that I would be really proud off if we could achieve that.

The club are also trying to support me in every way they can and I know that there are not guarantees in football but as a club they are competing at the bottom level and if I can get them up another couple of levels of Scottish football that would be something that I would love to do and that is my motivation at the moment is to try and take Stenhousemuir FC forward and try to improve everything at the club, the level of players, the standard we are playing at and that is something that I am striving to achieve.

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