Tranent assistant Conan McDiarmid expecting the unexpected in East of Scotland Premier Division title race

Tranent assistant manager Conan McDiarmid believes many of their league rivals represent something of an unknown quantity ahead the new East of Scotland Premier Division season, which kicks off on Friday.

Tranent were top of the league when last season was abandoned and are aiming to win the Premier Division this season. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Tranent were top of the league when last season was abandoned and are aiming to win the Premier Division this season. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

The Belters finished top of the pile after playing just 12 games when the 2020/2021 campaign was declared null and void back in April – and ahead of the new season they are intent on going all out to lift the title for good, although McDiarmid admits they know little about their challengers.

“I think it will be more competitive compared to last year,” said McDiarmid, second in command to Calum Elliot at Foresters Park. “I think some clubs will shock some teams – you don’t know a lot of clubs’ business because they haven’t massively publicised who they have signed.

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“We’ve been having a look on social media as we are interested to see who has strengthened and who hasn’t strengthened, and a lot of teams have kept it really quiet - we don’t know who has signed and who hasn’t signed at different clubs.”

Tranent have bolstered their squad with the addition of Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale’s top goalscorer last season, Sean Wringe, while midfielder Oban Anderson has also made the move from the capital after joining from Tynecastle. Their most eye-catching signing, however, was the acquisition of former Livingston youngster Matthew Knox, who signed in April. McDairmid has been very impressed with the 21-year-old and Anderson during pre-season.

He said: “I’m shocked that Matthew has never made it in Scotland with a professional team, because honestly, he is unbelievable. His touch, movement and sharpness are brilliant.

“Oban has one of the best attitudes I’ve ever seen for a young boy. Calum said to him ‘You are going to have to bide your time because our centre midfield area is one of the best in the league’ and it says a lot for the young lad that he’s happy to bide his time. He’s tenacious, he would tackle his granny – I just love him as a player. Oban in the future, is going to be a top, top player.

Tranent travel to Fife to take on Hill of Beath for their first competitive match on Saturday since January’s Scottish Cup second round exit to East Fife and have their eyes focussed firmly on securing the league crown with a new captain at the helm in Shaun Rutherford after Lewis Hawkins’ departure to Bo’ness United.

McDairmid added: “With the group of guys that are here we are going for the league again this year. We were unbeaten [in the league] last season, and I think we would’ve kicked on last year, possibly won the league and got promotion. The board was backing us, saying they would help to get in any player we wanted to add to the squad.

“The players are different class. Their attitudes are brilliant. They are a pleasure to work with. We aren’t here to re-invent the wheel and teach them something they don’t already know, because all the players are top players who have played at a good level, so it’s a joy to coach them.”♦Tomorrow, hear from Newtongrange Star boss Chris King as they prepare for the new season.