Lewis Vaughan Q and A

By Colin Byiers

At the start of the 2021/22 season, Lewis Vaughan suffered an ACL injury, the 4th time in his career that this has happened. Not many people come back from 2 ACL injuries, let alone 4, but the Raith Rovers man is determined to make another come back. I spoke with Lewis recently about his latest set back and his career to date.

Firstly Lewis, where are you in terms of your recovery from your latest ACL injury?

I had the operation 12 weeks ago now. It’s getting there slowly, but with this type of injury you need to take your time. I probably have another 6 months to go, so maybe be back for the start of next season missing the League Cup, but hopefully after that I should be fine and ready to play again.

It’s not the easiest of injuries to deal with, whether it’s the first one or the fourth one, but from an experience point of view, I know what to expect because I’ve done it before. The rehab and the gym stuff has been getting harder every year because they come out with new and different exercises every year. It’s interesting but it does make it a bit harder. For me having the experience has made it easier but the work you have to go through to get back on the pitch is incredible. I know if I don’t do the hard work then I won’t get back playing again.

Because this is your 4th ACL injury, did you know instinctively that it was the same injury again?

Yeah, I knew right away the last time it happened. After what happened the first time, the next 3 times I knew exactly what it was and I had doctors accessing me, but I already knew what was wrong with me.

“It’s still hard to take when you get the scan results confirming what it is, but it’s part of the game unfortunately.”

Let’s move onto happier topics. You have been with Raith Rovers since you were 14 years old. How did the move to Raith come about?

I was at Hearts to start with. I was at Hearts for 6 or 7 years and I left Hearts and went back to a Boys Club called Leith Athletic, mainly because I wanted to enjoy playing football again. I wasn’t really enjoying it at Hearts, and I left when I was 14 and played with my mates from school. I played for Leith Athletic for the last 6 months of the season and Raith Rovers came and watched me and I’ve been there ever since. I always wanted to play professionally, and I had to get back playing for a professional team and I just felt, even after the experiences at Hearts, it was the right fit for me and wasn’t too far to travel. It was a good place to go and play football.

Not long after joining Raith, you make your debut at 16. What are your memories of that game?

I had signed my first professional contract back in the January, signing a 2-and-a-half-year apprenticeship contract and at the end of that season (2011/12) I made my debut. Funnily enough it was John McGlynn who gave me my debut. It might have only been for 3 or 4 minutes, but it was amazing. I had my family in the stand watching me. It was brilliant to play in the last game of the season. I had no idea I was going to play. I knew I was part of the squad obviously but as far as I knew that was it. It was an amazing feeling to play that final few minutes, to make my debut at 16, I was just delighted. I was nervous, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

You make a few more appearances the following season, so were you always part of the first team even at that young age?

I always trained with the first team. When I first signed there was only 6 or 7 full time youth players, so we always trained with the first team players. I felt that was more beneficial for me because I felt it developed me quicker training with men. Playing with men who are bigger and stronger than I was day in and day out made me ready for the first team quicker than I maybe would have had I been just with the youth players. I really enjoyed it, the 2-and-a-half-years, I was always involved with the first team, being on the bench and coming on as a sub. It was a good first few years at Raith.

Another milestone in your career was your first goal in August 2013 against Queens Park.

It was a game at home against Queens Park in the League Cup, and it was 6-0 in ended up. I remember coming on and we were all over Queens Park and I thought it would be my time to get a goal. Thankfully I did, and again, my family were in the stands at the time to see my first goal. It wasn’t a bad goal either to be fair! I don’t know why, but I always seem to score at that home end at Starks Park, so maybe it was a sign of things to come.

“If you had asked me back then what I would go on to do I wouldn’t have believed you.”

Under new manager Grant Murray, where you concerned about how your development was going?

I was concerned, aye. I wasn’t improving. I was coming on as a sub, but I wanted to play first team football. I felt I was ready, and I felt like when I came on, I was changing games, scoring a few goals here and there. I managed to get a run in the side in Grant Murray’s last season at Raith, I managed to score 9 or 10 goals towards the end of that season. I had a really good end to the season, but that was when Grant left and Ray McKinnon came in. I got on really well with Ray. He spoke to me pre-season and said he wanted me to be part of the team and build a team around me.

He had been watching from a far and liked the way I played. I played the first 2 games, scoring in both, and against Albion Rovers I had just scored a penalty and when I went to press the center back, I went to change direction and that was the first time I done my ACL on the right side.

“It was my first ever injury. I was 18 at the time and didn’t know what it was.”

I actually tried to come back on the pitch. I didn’t want to go off! I tried to take a step back onto the pitch and the physio told me off. A couple of days later, I got a phone call from the physio with the results of the scan and said it was my ACL. The physio was called Stuart, and I remember saying to him “Stuart, I don’t have a clue what that means.” Once he explained it to me, I couldn’t believe it. I thought he was kidding me on. I had been playing football all my life up until I was 18, and for it to be taken away from me was hard to take. I felt like that that season was going to be my breakout season, I believed I was going to score double figures, I was going to play every game. I was ready to kick on that season, but unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to do that.

After a long rehab, you were back for the start of the following season under new manager Gary Locke, but you ended the season on loan at Dumbarton. Was that something that you felt you needed to do?

I actually started well under Gary Locke, because I scored 2 goals in my first 2 games back and played the first 10 to 15 games, but then I hit a dry spell. I don’t know if that was a backlash to my injury, but I struggled with my fitness when I first came back. I found myself out of the team and I went to speak with Locke, saying I wanted to play first team football because I had already missed a whole year of my career. I didn’t want to be sitting on the bench every week.

When the chance to go to Dumbarton came up, believe it or not, Raith were sitting 3rd in the table and Dumbarton were in 9th. It shows you how quickly football can change in a matter of 3 or 4 months. Raith obviously didn’t see Dumbarton as a challenger, but as things turned out they were in the end.

I loved Dumbarton. Steve Aiken was manager and Ian Durrant was assistant, and we had a really good squad from January onwards. I feel if Dumbarton had that squad for the whole of the season, they could have been top half easy. I ended up scoring 4 or 5 goals for Dumbarton and the goals were always to either win a game or draw a game we were getting beat in.

“Ultimately, the goal I scored against Dundee United at Tannadice was the one that saved Dumbarton but put Raith into the relegation play-off unfortunately.”

You must have had mixed feelings about how that season ended.

Of course. I was still training with Raith Monday and Friday, because Dumbarton were still part-time then. It was really awkward for me to be fair. I was only 19 at the time and it was difficult to get my head around it. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I had been at the club since I was 14, I wasn’t playing, so I went out on loan, and I had to be professional and do my job as I was a Dumbarton player for those 6 months. It was hard going into training on a Monday and Friday with the boys, and still trying to be professional while playing for Dumbarton.

After the relegation, it wasn’t a nice place to be at the time. A lot of players had to move on, but that’s part of the game. I still had another year left on my contract so I knew I would still be at Raith for the new season.

That first season in League 1 was your best on a personally level in terms of the number of goals you scored.

It really was. Barry Smith was the manager at the time, and I felt like I wanted to take the club back up to the Championship. I scored a number of goals and assists and played every game bar one. Everything I touched that season turned to goals and I played half that season in center midfield as well so I could have a few more goals. Unfortunately, we fell at the last hurdle, when we were at home to Alloa in the last game of the season and all we had to do was beat Alloa at home. It was in our own hands, but we never done it and I missed a sitter in the last minute from about 2 yards out. We lost in the play-offs, and it was hard to take. I always felt that we were going to bounce straight back up and Alloa never beat us all season, we just needed to beat them in the final game, and we’d have been promoted. I still can’t believe we never won that game. That’s football though.

Since 2019, you’ve had 2 ACL injuries in the same year, we’ve had the Covid pandemic, a shortened 2020/21 season, and now going through your 4th ACL injury. How difficult has the last 3 year been for you?

I’ve had so many highs and lows; it’s been difficult to take. John McGlynn came in, he managed to get us up and before my second ACL I scored a hattrick against Dunfermline in the Scottish Cup, which was probably my best game of my career to be fair. That was January 19th, the best day of my career and then 7 days later, we are away to Brechin and I do my second ACL.

“So, from the highest I’ve ever been in my career to 7 days later sitting in a hospital bed waiting for an operation, it just shows how quickly your life can be turned upside down in a matter of days.”

The injuries certainly take it out of you, and it gets harder to come back from, but there can’t be many players who have come back from 4 ACL injuries and still played at a high level. I’ve still got loads of time left, I’m only 26, but maybe if I was older, I’d have to rethink it. I want to get back playing again. The club have been amazing with me. I owe it to the fans as well for sticking by me. When I go to Starks Park, there is flags there for me and things like that, and it doesn’t go unappreciated. Hopefully, I can get back and score more goals against Dunfermline! If it wasn’t for Raith, I’d be a joiner working for my dad! If it wasn’t for the fans and everything that Raith have done, I don’t know where I‘d be to be honest.

“I owe the club a lot and especially John McGlynn. You know, he signed me as a kid and gave me a chance, so I don’t want him to feel let down.”

Finally, a word on Raith’s season so far. How do you see things going at the moment?

We’ve made a few good signings in January. I think we’ve kicked on from where we finished last season just missing out on promotion, losing to Dundee in the play-off. We’ve signed Jamie Gullan from Hibs, Sam Stanton and Ethan Ross, so hopefully we get a run of games and push up the table again. The Championship is so open. Everyone can beat everyone, and there is no clearer winner at the minute. It’s the games against the teams round about us that are key. It’s the games, as a player, you want to play in, you know the big games. There would be nothing more I’d love than to see Raith Rovers back in the Premiership . It’s been a long time since they’ve been there. On a personal level, I’d love to come back from injury as a Premiership player. There is no pressure on us, we’ll enjoy it, but at the same time we want to win every game of football we play in. The boys are pushing to get as many points as they can before the end of the season, and we’ll see what happens.

Interview: Dundee United’s Kieran Freeman

By Colin Byiers

Dundee United’s Kieran Freeman, who has newly signed a new contract extension with the Tannadice club, recently spoke with NE98’s Colin Byiers about his season so far, his loan spell at Peterhead and playing in a Dundee derby.

Kieran, congratulations on your new deal, how pleased are you with it?

Yeah, the security is nice. Being out of contract in the summer is never a good feeling. I’m delighted to have been playing games this season and I’m very happy to have signed a new contract. I’m really pleased to have played so many games and happily signed. I don’t want to be anywhere else. It’s only come about in the last month or so but delighted to get in done. When I was at Peterhead last season with a year left on my contract, naturally I didn’t think I would be signing a 2-and-a-half-year deal four months later.

You played in all four of United’s League Cup group matches at the start of the season, but what was the play for you at the beginning of the campaign?

I hadn’t really spoken with the gaffer about it. The right-back got injured in the warm-up in the first group game, so that’s how I ended up playing a few of the games and was decent in those games. After that, I was out of it for a few weeks when the league started and was benched. Injuries meant I got back in the team, and you never want to see that happen to anyone, but now it’s up to me to try and keep the jersey. I need to perform to stay in the team and I know that if I don’t perform, I’ll be out of the team, and that’s a different kind of pressure. I think we’ve done well so far; hit a rocky patch in the last few weeks, but hopefully it’ll come good again.

Did the experience of playing in the League Cup help you transition into the first team?

Absolutely. When I was at Peterhead, we played Kelty Hearts and East Fife, so I knew what to expect and knew that opposition and what players we’d be coming up against. They were different games obviously, playing against them for United. They were still tough games. I don’t think there’s too much difference between Premiership and League 1 in a way, but it certainly helped me for when I came on against Dundee. It was definitely a good way to get bedded into the team.

You’ve now played in a Dundee derby and played at Celtic Park. What were those experiences like?

Away at Celtic was good, I think we played well that day. The atmosphere was ridiculous! Then the Dundee Derby, it’s all about getting the win. You feel it around the city that week. It’s the biggest game of the season for the fans. We’ve got another coming up on the 2nd of January so that’ll be interesting.

You’ve managed to get on the scoresheet twice this season, tell me about those goals.

My first goal against Elgin (City), Shanks (Lawrence Shankland) was one-v-one and if I was him, I would’ve just shot but I started running down the wing, helped by the fact we were 4 or 5 up. I’ve slashed at it, and it’s hit the post and gone in somehow! I’m not going to complain. The one at Easter Road was a worse finish but it meant a lot more! We got to celebrate with our fans and got the 3-0 away so it was decent.

You mentioned fans there. Has it been a welcome return to be playing in front of fans again?

Funnily enough, I never really played in front of fans. When I was at Peterhead, there was no fans so it’s something I hadn’t experienced before. It adds a different dimension to games. You are aware they are there especially at home or at places like Celtic Park, but you try and block it out and get on with your own game. The fans can give you a boost when they are shouting and screaming.

How did your loan spell at Peterhead come about last season, and how was the experience?

It came about because of Calum Butcher. Calum is close with Jim (McInally), and he had mentioned it and I didn’t think too much of it to be honest. I had come in one day and then signed for Peterhead in the afternoon. It happened that quickly. I didn’t know too much about Peterhead or Jim McInally, but as soon as I got in, I loved it. I speak to Duff (Flynn Duffy) and he’s having the same experience I had. It’s good to get games every week and it was sometimes a tombola as to where I was playing but as long as I was on the pitch it didn’t matter.

There are great people up there, so I think it was the perfect club at the right time. The biggest benefit was being on the pitch. You learn a lot more from playing against men. They are more street wise, and you have situations that you wouldn’t have in academy football. You’re also playing for 3 points which you don’t do in academy football, so it means more. It was certainly beneficial for me. I said to Duff when he had the opportunity to go to Peterhead it was the perfect place for him at the time. It’s so much better than just sitting around. He’s loving up there just now. As a defender, League 1 is probably the best place to be to learn the game. And if you think about the things that Jim McInally had done in his career why not learn from him.

On a personal level, what does the rest of season look like for you?

I don’t like to look too far ahead, but I like to keep playing consistently well. I’d like to get a few more assists and get a few more goals by the end of the season if I’m lucky. As long as we are doing well as a team and winning games, then I’m happy.

And from the team side of things, was the targets?

If we can finish around 3rd or 4th or around that would be good. If it’s top 6 then I don’t think we can have any complaints. It’s our first season with the new gaffer but it’s been good so far, with some good performances. We’re all gaining experience every week, and we’re going to make mistakes and we’ve had some bad results, that will happen to any team, but I think it’s been outweighed by the amount of very good performances we’ve had. Hoping for a good run in the Scottish Cup as well and get to Hampden.

Thanks to Kieran for taking time out of his day to take part in this interview.

‘Not that Scott Brown’ Peterhead’s number 8 hits 200

By Isaac Buchan

Scott Brown recently made his 200th appearance for Peterhead in a brilliant 5-0 win for the Blue Toon over Dumbarton, in which he scored a penalty to seal the game.

The midfielder has became a staple to McInally’s side and proved time and time again he is a class above the rest when he steps out onto the park, and being a lifelong Peterhead fan I can surely say he is among one of the best to pull on the blue shirt in this era at Balmoor. So what better time to look at his impact in the North East and how much he means to the team.

Peterhead have often been a bit of a yo-yo team in the past decade or so, bouncing between League 1 and 2, with it always seeming as there was a piece of the puzzle missing as to why they couldn’t become an established side in Scotland’s third tier. That missing piece was soon found as in 2016, as then 22 year old Scott Brown joined the Blue Toon just as Peterhead had recorded their highest league position in the club history with a 3rd place in League 1.

5 years and 200 appearances later, Scott Brown, now Peterhead captain has became a staple of Jim McInally’s side, and has made a huge impact in establishing Peterhead as a serious team in League 1.

Browns first professional contract came from English side Bradford City after impressing then manager Peter Jackson who said to the BBC after his move down south “He’s right up there as one of the best 16 to 18-year-olds that I’ve seen available to us in recent months”.  The midfielder went on to only make 3 appearances for the Bantams before being spotted by St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright in the summer of 2013, where he would feature in high-profile games for the saints such as Europa League qualifiers against the likes of Swiss outfit FC Luzern and Armenian side Alashkert, at just the age of 20.

A lot of young players would’ve succumb to the pressure of the big European stage, especially for a club like St Johnstone where this doesn’t come around every season, but the young midfielder dealt with the occasion superbly and helped the Saints to wins over both sides, despite going out on away goals to Alashkert.

Peterhead’s situation In 2016 was slightly different to Brown’s European nights and Scottish Cup glory. The Blue Toon had their best season in the clubs history, finishing in the Play-offs but agonisingly missing out on promotion after being outclassed by Ayr in both legs of the semi-final. As for most lower league sides after an event-filled season, a rebuild was immanent with 6 new signings arriving, notably Scott Brown and Willie Gibson, who would become staples of the new Peterhead side for the next coming years.

However, this rebuild had little success to begin with as Peterhead were relegated to League 2 through yet more play-off heartbreak for the Blue Toon faithful, with a poor home 5-1 loss to Forfar in the final. If you were in Scott Browns shoes, you’d of been thinking what have I got myself into, from playing in European ties to being relegated to Scottish League 2.

Nevertheless, The midfielder stuck with the Blue Toon, a common theme of loyalty will be apparent throughout the rest of his time at Peterhead, and he was determined to take McInally’s side back to league 1 football, but despite a strong season in which Peterhead won the most games in the league, the Toon missed out on the league title on the last day of the season in front of a packed out Balmoor who were all but certain the helicopter would be landing on the running track adjacent to the stadium with the league trophy, if it weren’t for a last minute goal from Stirling Albion. It almost was beginning to seem this new core of Peterhead built around the midfield pairing of Brown and Ferry just couldn’t get it done.

Despite setbacks, Peterhead had finally made it back into League 1 in the 18/19 season, after beating Clyde to the title, with countless influential performances from Scott Brown helping Peterhead massively to promotion. This season really saw Scott Brown establish himself as a top class player for league 2, even for League 1 as Falkirk came calling and once the rumours were heard it looked almost certain that his time at Balmoor would be over. However, that theme of loyalty to Peterhead stayed, as he chose to continue under Jim McInally for the coming season.

The former Saints man would go on to help McInally’s side recorded a respectable 8th place finish in League 1, keeping the Blue Toon in the division for another year. However this league position would be overshadowed as Peterhead’s top goalscorer and long time captain Rory McAllister handed in a transfer request and headed to Cove Rangers.

As someone who had known Rory as Mr. Peterhead my whole life, it was strange for myself and the rest of the support to see him in another jersey, and in what was quite a turbulent time for the club someone needed to come in and steady the ship. It was soon announced after McAllister’s departure that Scott Brown would take the armband for the rest of the season and in turn, helped guide the Blue Toon to safety. This was definitely the turning point I feel in Brown’s time at the club where he took the mantle as Peterhead’s big game player.

The summer of 2020 soon came round in which saw the beginning of one of League 1’s most memorable campaigns where anyone could’ve finished anywhere. Peterhead settled for an 8th place finish when all was said and done but this new core of players which had slowly been built over the years had brought what the Balmoor side needed most, Stability.

After watching Scott Brown for his whole time at Peterhead its hard to believe he’s only 26. The way he commands and leads the team displays an aura of decades of experience, yet the midfielders best years are still ahead of him so the Blue Toon faithful can only be excited for the years to come with this core of young and experienced players built around Broony in the middle of the park.

When McAllister left Balmoor it felt like no one could fill the shoes of Peterhead’s next star player but me and many fans alike feel Scott Brown is the man who can and so far has done it. So here’s to another 200 top class performances for the Blue Toon.

A timeline, Danny Lennon at Clyde

By Matthew Muir

Despite a tough 3-2 away league defeat for Clyde last month against Peterhead, two milestones were reached; club captain, David Goodwillie scored his century goal for the club and manager Danny Lennon celebrated his 150th match in charge of the Bully Wee.

To celebrate this momentous occasion, let’s look back at five big moments from Lennon’s time so far in the Broadwood hotseat, and what better way to begin than from the very start…

Appointment- November 2017

On 13 November 2017, Lennon was appointed as Clyde manager after the departure of Jim Chapman the previous month with the club third bottom of League Two.

Clyde had appointed a manager who had vast experience and success at all of his former clubs, from winning the Scottish League Cup with St. Mirren and perhaps more significantly, guiding part-time club Cowdenbeath to back-to-back promotions from the Third Division to the Championship.

Bully Wee fans would’ve been assured that Lennon had the know and experience to achieve where managers before him failed, to promote the Cumbernauld club out of the murky depths of League Two and back to where fans believe they belong.

It is clear that Lennon shared the same sentiments, as during his first interview, he stated:

“Clyde and myself are both hungry for success and both of us want to be higher up the leagues. To achieve that, we both need to put in a great deal of work. I accept that challenge and I’m going to put absolutely everything into it.”

First win at Broadwood- January 2018

After recording his first victory as Clyde manager the week before in a 3-2 away win against league leaders Montrose, Lennon’s Bully Wee team faced second-top Peterhead, who went into the match having won their last seven matches in a row.

However, an excellent team performance and a late Goodwillie strike ensured the home side took the three points, claim back-to-back victories against the top two teams in the league and gift Lennon his first win as Broadwood gaffer.

You could argue that win was the catalyst to Clyde’s successful home record until the end of the season, as they racked up six successive victories at Broadwood, which in turn played a major part in their late charge up the table, and into contention for the play-offs.

Unfortunately for the Bully Wee, they missed out on the last play-off spot by three points on the last day of the season.

However, considering they were languishing at the bottom end of the table when Lennon arrived, it was clear to see the positive impact the new manager had on the team and gave the Bully Wee faithful hope that with the right manager at the helm, next season would be one to remember.

Promotion to Scottish League One- 18 May 2019

Clyde - SPFL

During the 2018/2019 league season Clyde spent the huge majority of the campaign in the promotion play-off positions, going 16 games unbeaten and with only five defeats all season.

However, Peterhead clinching the League Two title away to Queen’s Park on the final day, meant second-placed Clyde had to face Edinburgh City in the play-off semi-final and had to wait a bit longer to end their decade-long exile in the SPFL’s basement league.

A 4-0 aggerate win against Edinburgh City ensured the Bully Wee reached the play-off final against Annan Athletic, and a 1-0 away defeat in the first leg meant that it was all to-do in front of 2,000-plus fans in Broadwood.

Two second half goals from Martin McNiff on the hour mark, and an 86th minute penalty from Ally Love meant that Lennon wrote himself into Bully Wee folklore and him and his squad cemented themselves as Clyde legends- as the Cumbernauld club won promotion to League One and ended their exile in the fourth tier.

On Clyde winning promotion, during his reflective end of season message to the supporters, Lennon said:

“It has been a special season. I spoke this time last year about needing everyone at the club pulling together as one to achieve something special. We have done that.

“It is through the sacrificial time and maximum effort of the players, staff, board and fans of this wonderful club that we have achieved great things; league manager and player of the month awards, league manager of the year award, two players shortlisted for league player of the year and four players named in the league team of the year.

“However, the achievement that matters most is earning the right to play League One football next season.

Job done and congratulations to everybody who contributed to making this a special season for Clyde FC.”

Player cameo appearance- August 2019

Due to injuries in the first team squad during a Glasgow Cup match against Celtic colts, Lennon brought himself on as a second-half substitute.

News of then 50-year-old Lennon’s involvement quickly spread- with Twitter going haywire as photos went viral across social media.

On his brief cameo out of retirement, more than a decade on from his last competitive game, Lennon said: “It was nothing to do with ‘Danny Lennon making an appearance’, it was basically to make sure and take care of the squad – that was all. That was the intention of it.”

Of course, Danny Lennon wouldn’t be Danny Lennon if he hadn’t made another of his brilliant comedic quips, saying to former player Chris McStay after he claimed the ball reached Lennon’s feet, “What size do you think they are? Coco the Clown’s!”

Securing Clyde to League One safety- May 2021

A 2-1 win at home to East Fife on the last game of the shortened COVID ravaged 2020/2021 football season, ensured that Clyde would avoid the relegation play-offs and remain in League One for a third successive season.

The Clyde squad endured a challenging season with a COVID enforced shutdown postponing lower-league football from January to March and enduring a tough schedule, with little to no training sessions and continuously playing Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday most weeks.

Although the Bully Wee finished in eight place, Lennon rates Clyde’s ‘Great Escape’ as one of the highlights of his career, even up there with his Scottish League Cup win at St. Mirren.

He said: “All things considered; I count finishing above the relegation play-offs this season amongst my greatest achievements in football.

“It’s up there with winning the League Cup with St. Mirren, winning the Championship play-offs with Alloa and winning promotions with Cowdenbeath and Clyde.

“It may sound strange that I consider an 8th place finish as a major achievement.

I do have strong ambitions to progress this wonderful club further up the leagues.

“However, when I joined the club, we were at the bottom of League Two and now we are looking forward to a third straight season in League One. That is significant progress. It is important we recognise that and retain our hunger for more.”

Lennon becomes only the fourth Clyde manager in the past 50 years to reach 150 games; after Craig Brown (409), John Clark (273) and Alex Smith (184).

Aberdeen’s £1 million man

When we think of seven figure signings in Scotland we look to the old firm clubs. Celtic have signed the likes of Robbie Keane, Scott Brown, Paolo Di Canio and Stuart Armstrong for well over £1 million.

The Hoops broke their transfer record in 2018 when they made Odsonne Edouard’s loan move from PSG permanent for a reported £8 million. 

Rangers have similarly spent well over £1 million on players like Mikel Arteta, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Ryan Kent and Steven Davis. The Gers have also broken the £10 million mark on one occasion when they signed Norwegian Tore Andre Flo from Chelsea for £12 million, the biggest transfer fee ever in Scottish history.

Never in your wildest dreams could you imagine a team outside the top two behemoths of Scottish football parting ways with £1 million for a player. Well it’s already happened once before. 

That player was Paul Bernard.

Bernard was a Scottish midfielder who began his career with Oldham Athletic, where he famously scored in his second game for the club, ending their 68-year wait for a return to top flight football.

The midfielder would solidify his place in the squad and be crucial in helping the latics survive in the Premier Division for three years before being relegated on the final day of the 1993-94 season. 

The Scottish Under-21 international would stay at Boundary park for another year in which he continued to impress. His form caught the eye of then Scotland manager Craig Brown, who called up the 22-year-old for the Kirkin cup in Japan.

Bernard made his international debut 13 minutes from the final whistle against Japan. His second and final cap came against Ecuador, where he played the full 90. The youngster returned to Oldham as a full international in the Summer 1995 and he was now looking for a new challenge.

North of the border Aberdeen were struggling with the sacking of club legend Willie Miller and their quick descent from the summit of Scottish football.

The board believed that a statement of intent had to be made.

Paul Bernard became the first, and only, player to be signed for £1 million outside of the old firm.

His time in the north-east started off quite brightly. During his first season under Roy Atkins, he would pick up some silverware with a League Cup win in November. The Dons would then finish the season in third place, although they were still 28 points behind second placed Celtic.

The million pound man was still only 23, Aberdeen looked as though they had a spring in their step and European football was returning to Pittodrie. Even though it was a successful season, Bernard struggled to live up to the price tag and adapt to the Scottish game.

In his first season with the Dons the midfielder made 30 appearances, he would only make 40 over the next three years.

These three seasons would be plagued with injuries for the former Scotland International. His bad luck with fitness led to his loss of form and confidence.Due to his lacklustre performances on the pitch, Bernard’s million pound price tag became a punchline off it.

The midfielder saw somewhat of a career renaissance during the 1999-2000 season, he played more regularly and also managed to bag four goals.

After many years of trying to compete with the old firm, Aberdeen were now in serious debt and Bernard had become the face of their frivolous spending in the transfer market.

When Ebbe Skovdahl took charge a new cost cutting era at Pittodrie was introduced, which brought Paul Bernard’s time in the north-east to an end .

The once highly regarded midfield prospect left Aberdeen for the final time in his Ferrari in October 2000. Bernard was released by the Dons.

He would cross the border again this time heading to Barnsley, where he failed to make an appearance in his only season at the club. Bernard later moved to Plymouth, where again he struggled for game time, before returning to Scotland to sign for St Johnstone.

After appearing sporadically for the Perth club for a couple of years, the two-time Scotland international moved to Irish side Drogheda United where he would retire.

When Bernard signed for Aberdeen it was meant to usher in a new era of Scottish football, however, he became the poster boy for the Dons financial mismanagement in the late 1990’s. 

Over 25 years later and no club outside of the old firm has ever risked parting with £1 million for a player. Who knows if or when we will witness anything like it again in Scottish football.