Table Topping Whe Ho, Taking Nothing For Granted

By Chief Reporter Tom Scott

YOKER Athletic assistant manager Graeme George reckons the Holm Park squad won’t get carried away after racking up seven points from three games – because they were in exactly the same position a year ago, writes Tom Scott.

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Picture Caption: GRAEME GEORGE, second from left, and STEVEN REILLY, standing behind him, are more hands-on at Yoker Athletic training nights after Partick Thistle legend Martin Hardie left Holm Park to take charge of St Mirren Under-17s.

A better goal difference ahead of Kilsyth Rangers has them atop of the McBookie.com Super League First Division, which in itself is a remarkable turnaround from the end of last season when Whe Ho were left with the task of winning a double header against Maybole and the visit of Ardrossan Winton Rovers to avoid relegation.

I asked Graeme if he and manager Steven Reilly viewed their start to the season – Yoker were also unbeaten in the Exselgroup Sectional League Cup but were pipped for a quarter-final place by Clydebank – was a direct result of major changes.

He replied:  “Not much has changed to be honest. “For the first three games last season we beat Kilwinning 5-1, got a 1-1 draw at Rutherglen Glencairn and defeated hosts Blantyre Vics, and by the turn of the year were actually in the promotion places. It all went wrong after that through a combination of players getting married or away on stag weekends – from then on we nose-dived down the division. “We were totally disjointed and couldn’t get any consistency – very frustrating.”

Graeme laughed when he revealed:  “One of those missing was the manager (Steven Reilly), and our former assistant boss, Martin Hardie, was also away during a weekend when fortunately we didn’t have a fixture!”

With the departure of former Partick Thistle midfield legend Hardie to take change of St Mirren’s Under-17 team, George has stepped up to the plate in terms of training nights and match days.

He said: “It has not been a big change for me. “Martin was always looking to get involved at senior level. He had done his coaching badges, and was actually away doing his A Licence during our crucial three-game end of season run.

“He took the training sessions and brought professionalism to the club which wasn’t there before. The players really responded to that. Now Stef and myself are more hands on during training nights, and we have added a wee bit of quality with good summer signings. “We are better organised this time, and by the looks of it there won’t be any weddings this season!”

Ten-man Yoker beat Clydebank 4-3 in a thriller at Holm Park last Saturday. David Crerand, Mark Maxwell, Ryan Hynes (pen) and Greg Maitland were on target, while Gary Bissland was red carded for a violent conduct offence which is likely to bring about a three-game ban.

Athletic were due to entertain Girvan this Saturday, but their opponents, who have a William Hill Scottish Cup tie the following week, have applied for a free weekend due to the Ayrshire September holiday.

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