13 September 2012

SFL3 Preview: Annan Athletic



by Peter Ewart | CRO contributor | @Seasider06 |

There is no great reason to know the first thing about Annan if you didn't actually have any connection with the place. It is the smallest and most southerly town that we will visit on our SFL3 journey.

Historically Annan and Annandale, in Dumfries and Galloway is clan Bruce country, including most famously Robert The Bruce, spider and all. It's far enough south in fact - on the Solway Firth - to have experienced Roman raiders beyond Hadrian's wall.

The Club

Formed in 1942, the Black and Golds are a relatively young club. The club joined the SFL in 2008 from the south of Scotland league when a place became available following Gretna's demise. Their highest place finish was 4th in 2010-11 when the lost to Albion Rovers in the final of the playoffs.

After a bright start to the current season with a 1-0 home win over Livingston in the opening Ramsdens Cup, Annan have struggled a bit since, recording only one further league win, 3-2 at home to Berwick Rangers.

The Ground

With such a small town its no real surprise that the ground has a capacity of just 3000. Galabank is located to the north of the town off the A75 and on the banks of the Annan. Bears will likely be in the North End of the ground, nicknamed the Astro End due to proximity to the AstroTurf pitch behind it.

The pitch itself is worthy of note as an artificial 3G pitch which was installed over the summer. It will be Rangers first but certainly not last outing on those surfaces in SFL3. Most Bears’ preferred route will surely be via the M74.

Ticket Chances: 3 out of 10

With around 1000 tickets on offer this was always going to among the most difficult away date to get to. It's not been helped by the curious decision by the club to ballot those who had signed up for the continuous credit card system for tickets. As I've said before, Rangers fans need a consistent approach to away allocation and they need it soon.

For me Annan could have moved the game to a bigger ground for greater financial gain (Queen of the South an obvious candidate in Dumfries) but in sporting terms a home game and an equal split of fans gives them the best chance of a result.

Views on the Rangers' Saga

Chairman Henry Mclleland was standing firm in the week of the vote in July and had already picked apart the SPL's imminent cash flow troubles. From 8 July:

"The SPL are threatening that, without Rangers in Division One, the money would be withdrawn - because they can't afford to pay.

“It's total dismay at the way they are dealing with this. We feel as though we're being bullied.

"The SFL accounts show that that money is almost the total money that's distributed to the clubs throughout the season.

"Annan would get around £60,000 that could disappear. But, if that's the case then as a club they will deal with it by cutting their cloth accordingly.

"We feel Rangers should be in Division Three and our stance hasn't changed."

The club have raised a few eyebrows by taking sponsorship from some strange quarters. Step forward Aberdeen fans for sporting integrity (so many jokes, so little time) who are sponsoring an Annan player for the current campagn. A team at the other end of the country and three leagues away... Wonder why, huh?

Frankly if these idiots and others like them are going to direct money away from their own struggling SPL clubs then so be it. The SFL should take the money off them at every opportunity.

For fans lucky enough to have got a ticket they could be in-line for our first away win in SFL3.

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For more info: www.annanathleticfc.com

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