An Interview with the Gaffer

After only beginning the season in October, we only managed to play seven games in the league before it was suspended back in January. It was then declared Null & Void in a vote by the member clubs in April.

We caught up with the manager, Jordan Williamson, to reflect on the latest COVID-hit season.

I’m disappointed, of course I am. But our hands were tied, the dates kept getting pushed further back until it got to a point where it was impossible to return.

I can see the [testing] aspect from our side, it would be a struggle for us to pay, we don’t have the money at our level to be able to pay for the testing, but I’m disappointed, of course, I am.

As a manager you want to be back and keep going. I think we are going the in the right direction and would have loved to see how that season panned out. We just need to come back next season and try put ourselves in a position to be in the play-offs by winning the league.

Saints started the season with a disappointing home defeat to Newton Stewart, but a five-game unbeaten run, including beating reigning champions Stranraer Reserves 4-2 showed a side with ambitions of challenging for the title.

In the Cups, a difficult defeat at home to Tynecastle saw us eliminated from the South Challenge Cup. There was a much improved performance a week later in the Scottish Cup but unfortunately the same outcome, losing 2-1 to Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale in extra time.

Despite not completing the season, the manager admitted it’s been a turbulent season.

It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster if I’m honest. We knew it was never going to be a regular season, but it is a shame that we have had to stop because I think we had just started to build up momentum and show our potential.

It was a struggle at the start; we haven’t had the chance to get the boys together and get them integrated for a lengthy period due to the fact of the pandemic. All our arrangement and the way we usually set things up were curtailed back.

But I think the way that our season started just being so indifferent with dropping points to Newton Stewart, and then a win against Stranraer, but then dropping points to Lochmaben. That is a clear picture as to how weird this season has been.

Williamson took charge of Saints in 2019 and he is still yet to have a ‘normal’ season as manager.

Of course, it’s hard. It is hard to motivate to go again when you do not have actual physical, tangible results to go off in terms of proper season standings, and proper seasons results when you have played every team or home and away.

But the way that we have been working on the training park, the way that things are working on match days, like I say, sometimes the results haven’t gone our way, but we can see that there has been a good performance put in.

Although Saints have been missing on-the-pitch experience, the club has been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic on behind-the-scenes projects to ensure the team are at the top of their game.

The decision to invest in GPS tracking for the players has put them a step ahead of the rest and has drastically improved their fitness levels, ensuring they are in top condition for next season.

This one of the fittest teams I’ve ever come across in all my time of coaching. The way we can use GPS to monitor them and make sure we’re getting the most out of them is second to none, and we have seen the results our fitness levels is next level in comparison to anyone we have come across in the league.

Jordan believes a few more signings can take the club to the next level and think next season they should be looking to winning the title.

We’re looking at a couple of players. Hopefully, we will be able to sort them out come July when they become available to take us to that next level.

We put the groundwork in, and in year one we started to play good football, year two, we began to bring in a better quality of player, which meant that the way that we played football added with the better quality and experience helped us.

This year, hopefully having those different options helps us to be as successful as possible and fulfill the potential that we have at the club, and that certainly is to go and win silverware. We have put ourselves in a position now that if we go into next season, we certainly should be looking at least one or two trophies.

To see more about how the club got on this season check out our documentary – Saints: Behind the Scenes here.