Welcome to another thrilling season at Cliftonhill, Rovers’ third consecutive spell in league one. There won’t be too many around Cliftonhill who can remember the last time this happened, just a few short years before the outbreak of the Second World War. Uncharted territory indeed! We give a warm welcome to all our visitors from Ayr and hope both sets of supporters enjoy a sun-kissed afternoon in the beautiful surroundings of one of Scotland’s last remaining traditional grounds, to which we can of course add the picturesque Somerset Park. If Burns had still been alive, no doubt he would have penned some eloquent poetry about our historic homes, steeped in footballing history.
For some of us, early August is right in the middle of the glorious Scottish Cricket season; but for Rovers, and indeed for our visitors from Ayr, the football season has already seen a dramatic opening. Both teams have been in swashbuckling form, with Rovers scoring 12 (including two hat-tricks) and Ayr 15 in four matches each in their respective cup groups. Tremendous results have already been achieved by Ayr, with the defeat of Kilmarnock topping the bill. For Rovers, a 5-2 thumping of East Kilbride, a thrilling 4-4 draw versus Premier League Hamilton and a 2-2 draw at Palmerston have certainly given the Cliftonhill faithful great cause for optimism for the year ahead.
Rovers’ devotees have certainly had their share of high-scoring and entertaining teams. The current team might well emulate that goal-scoring machine, which was Sam Goodwin’s 1979-80 side, with a forward line which included Ray Franchetti and Peter Houston. That team, after a slow start, blew away all opponents and scored 73 goals in the old second division. Regular scores of 5-1, 5-0 and 4-0 became the norm as the team stormed up the league, finishing in fourth position and qualifying for the next season’s Dryburgh Cup, which was a competition for the highest scorers in Scottish football. Perhaps it’s too early to get carried away, but all at Cliftonhill will be hoping that Trouten and company can maintain this entertaining early form.
After all this chat about thrilling beginnings, it’s now on to the match. Who knows what lies ahead in this tough league for Rovers; but early evidence would at least suggest that we are in for a most interesting season. For the first time since the 1930s we begin in a higher league, so let’s make the most of our historic chance. Enjoy!