Craig using lockdown to plan for club’s future

He’s yet to take charge of a game since being confirmed as Deveronvale manager – but Craig Stewart has used the latest Highland League shutdown to plan for the future.

Stewart was confirmed as successor to Steve Dolan in January, once the Highland League had been placed back in cold storage.

The only competitive game he has taken charge of was a 2-1 loss to Keith as caretaker boss on December 19.

Despite the lack of on-pitch action Stewart has been kept busy trying to plan for the future with Kevin Adams, Gavin Still, Grant Noble, Ben Allan and Coutney Cooper all signing new contracts recently.

Banffers boss Stewart said: “I had one official game and one friendly. I haven’t had a game officially as the manager yet.

“It’s been strange from that point of view but there’s plenty of work to do away from the training pitch and away from the games.

“There’s plenty of other bits that need to be sorted out and that’s what we’ve been doing and that includes things like signing out of contract players up and looking further forward in terms of who we can bring in moving forward.

“There’s been plenty to do. I think you’ve got to look for a positive and try to make the most of what has been a horrible situation for everyone to be in.

“You’ve got to look forward and you’ve got to plan and prepare for the longer term and probably next season now.”

Stewart had been assistant manager to previous Deveronvale gaffer Dolan, who left the club in December.

Stewart admits the change in his position and no longer working with Dolan has taken some getting used to.

He added: “When Steve left it took us a bit of time to adjust and certainly adjust to my position as manager.

“It was very strange and it did take a while to get used to not having the same contact with Steve as I’d had.

“It was every day before, we still keep in touch now as well, but it was strange.

“However, you have to adjust and move on and that’s what we’ve done.”

Something else that Stewart says has taken a bit of getting used to is the lack of supporters at games.

When the 2020-21 season got underway on November 28 it was only clubs in Moray and the Highlands – who were in Tier 1 at the time – who were able to let a limited number of fans attend games before lockdown returned from Boxing Day.

Stewart said: “It’s been really difficult and really strange. When you play friendlies normally there’s minimal support there.

“But once the real stuff starts and the Scottish Cup was a few games into the season, and there’s no supporters there it’s strange.

“It will effect players differently, effect clubs differently depending on the size of their support.

“Certainly when things are going well at Deveronvale we get quite a big support and quite a vocal support.

“I think everyone really missed that at the start of the season.”

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