Former Gala Fairydean Rovers midfielder Ross Aitchison signs up for Coldstream
Former Gala Fairydean Rovers midfielder Ross Aitchison has signed up with Coldstream as they prepare for their inaugural season in the new East of Scotland Football League first division.
The Eyemouth-based 35-year-old brings almost a decade’s worth of experience of fifth-tier football to his new club, having been with the Galashiels side for the last eight years and Vale of Leithen, also in the Scottish Lowland Football League at the time, for a season before that.
Returning to play in his native Berwickshire brings with it a reunion with former team-mate Kieran Ainslie, now the Streamers’ manager, and that was a big factor in his decision, says Aitchison.
“I’ve played with Kieran a lot over the years, since I was young, to be honest – in the early days, back at Berwick Rangers’ reserves and I played with him at Gala for a couple of years as well – so I know Kieran really well and that was obviously a big part of my decision to join Coldstream.
“I also know their assistant manager, Gary Smith, and cycle with him quite a lot, so it’s definitely the right fit in that respect.
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“Coldstream were always the front-runner for me, though other clubs did get in touch.
“I think I’ve got it right with Coldstream and I think we’ve got a team that can hopefully push on a little bit.”
Joining Coldstream also means less travelling and, as a consequence, more time with his family and that was another big factor in signing up for Aitchison.
“They actually train in Berwick on a Tuesday and Thursday and if they’re playing at home on a Saturday, that’s about a 25-minute drive away, so it’s definitely a massive change to what I’ve had previously,” he said.
“The other night I had training and I didn’t have to leave my house until 7pm, which gives me an hour extra and, to be fair, I didn’t really know what to do with myself. It was quite nice, to be honest.”
Having already started training with his new team-mates, Aitchison says he’s been encouraged by what he’s seen so far.
“I’ve been impressed with the team so far in training sessions, and from the get-go, the standard’s been a lot higher than I actually thought it might be, so I’m really optimistic regarding the boys’ prospects,” he said.
“We’ve got quite a young team so I think me coming in as a bit more of an experienced player will lend itself well to hopefully developing as a club so we can push on.
“I absolutely believe that if we get things right and can keep people on the pitch that we should be able to contend for the title this year.
Ainslie, 33, is also delighted to be reunited with his old team-mate, saying: “To say Ross was one of our main targets this summer after leaving Gala wouldn’t be an understatement.
“He has a brilliant attitide, is versatile, has quality, fight and spirit and gets you goals wherever he’s playing.
“I haven’t looked at his numbers but have played in the same side as him many years at both Gala and Eyemouth United, where we had a great relationship.
“He also must have chipped in with at least 10 goals a season, generally from midfield but also at centre-back and as a striker.
“He will bring a level of professionalism which can only rub off well on our younger lads, who can learn both on and off the park.
“He certainly strengthens our options in the squad at a number of positions. He’s a top signing.
“Also, he’s someone I know I can trust and bounce ideas off and gain feedback from as he’s experienced and knowledgeable in the game, so that’s another plus.”
Further higher-level experience has been added to the Streamers’ ranks by the arrival of former Annan Athletic, Queen of the South and Gretna 2008 defender Jack Brannan, currently based in Wooler.
Ainslie is also chuffed to have signed up the Carlisle-born 24-year-old, saying: “He’s coming back from a serious knee injury but you can see the quality is there in training already.
“I think one season he featured 27 times in League 2, showing he’s a consistent performer at a top level.
“He could be a great signing for us, giving us depth and competition at both full-back positions and also on the wings.
“He has pace, tenacity and also a great delivery, so I’m excited to see how he does for us this season.
“I’m sure he will be a top signing for the club.
“He gets on great with the lads. I can also hear his experience coming through and he’s setting demands on players that will only bring them on and make them better players also.”