Last season went a lot better than what had been expected for Forfar Athletic. Coming up from the Third Division many thought they were ripe for the play offs at the end of the season. When Dick Campbell became ill during the year it must have seemed that the soothsayers might have been right but all credit to Forfar. They did end up in the play offs and had they had a deeper squad they may have been close to playing in the First Division. As it was they succumbed in the Semi Finals.
Dick was always in control at the club and his twin brother Ian has been part of the team which made the season so successful. As the sun set on the league campaign attention was turned to what should be the next part of the Forfar journey. Dick released three and a further two have turned down terms but Forfar will be going into the second, second division campaign with largely the same squad as finished the first one!
Currently there are no goalkeepers on the books although rumour has it that Greg Paterson may be on his way from Dunfermline. Neil Duffy looks like he has played his last for the Loons.
Campbell’s defence will look the same as it did last year as defenders, Michael Bolochoweckj, Iain Campbell, Mark McCulloch, David Mowat, Jamie Bishop and Greg Ross have penned new deals. Although they shipped no fewer than 7 goals in the semi final Forfar’s defence was relatively solid.
There will be 4 less in the squad for picks in midfield. Barry Sellars and Darren Brady have refused terms whilst Paul Watson has been released but may be being picked up by Peterhead –though no news as yet. Bryan Deasley is still at the table. Ross Campbell and Martin Fotheringham have penned one year deals so there needs to be some strengthening done here. Kevin Motion is a name that has been linked. The Campbell’s clearly felt they had the right mix in the middle of the park and with two refusing the terms offered and one other still to find his pen it will be interesting to see how this pans out. There are two signed midfielders. Even mathematically challenged people like me know that’s no enough!
Up front Calum Smith was released, whilst Graham Gibson and the towering Chris Templeman is back on for another year. Another couple of signings would help as depth can be critical in making your season successful. You can always do with goals in abundance. It is no surprise that the teams that gain promotion have more than one decent striker in their team. Those that rely on one tend to fall at the last hurdle or they have a midfield that can bang in the goals too. See above for the possible problem there!
Forfar will come into this season believing they are serious contenders. The burden of such expectation can be an issue. Of all the SFL teams they have two of the trickiest cup ties before the season officially begins. With a pre season that starts against Montrose, takes on an Aberdeen XI and then has Dundee visiting they have packed in a fair number of games to prepare for the new season. Their cup games include two home games – one to Third Division Peterhead in the Communities League Cup and one to Highland League’s Buckie Thistle. Forfar will be expected to win both and get the new season off to a flier.
Just how successful the new season will be shall depend upon a number of factors. Dick Campbell is a wily old fox and you can never count him out of making the play offs. This year is, however, dependant upon what Dick Campbell and his team can bring into the club. It is the beginning of the summer so quite a few places will still need to be settled but without strengthening Forfar may struggle. If anything can be gleaned from last season it is how Neale Cooper – another wily operator – ended up out the game during the season. I am not suggesting Dick Campbell will have the same fate but he would do well to take heed of the parable.