‘THE FEE PAID FOR OUR CAPTAIN ERIC WATSON WAS THE BEST MONEY EVER SPENT BY COVE RANGERS’
DYNAMIC DUO: Cove Rangers skipper Eric Watson and manager John Sheran with the Breedon Highland League champions trophy.
COVE Rangers manager John Sheran has paid a glowing tribute to long serving skipper Eric Watson in the wake of winning the Breedon Highland League title.
Eric, who was 37 last week, picked up the championship trophy for the sixth time in his Cove career after the 2-1 victory over Clachnacuddin at Balmoral Stadium.
He also started the match - and received a standing ovation from the Cove fans when substituted during the second half, in what is expected to one of Eric’s last appearances for a club he has served with distinction for the last 12 years.
Eric has admitted he’s likely to move on when his contract expires at the end of the campaign and he has already been approached by Highland and Junior clubs keen to sign him.
Boss John, who signed Eric after he had left Junior side Montrose Roselea in 2007, during what was his first spell in charge of Cove, said: “The £1500 fee we paid for Eric was the best money Cove Rangers have ever spent.
“We’ve had more than good value for that outlay because Eric has been an outstanding leader and has never really been given credit for the fact he has loads of ability as well.
“Eric is one of the best central defenders ever to play Highland League football and also did his bit at the other end too, he’s scored a lot of crucial goals for us over the years.
“We played Eric from the start against Clach because he had earned the honour of helping us end what was a magnificent league campaign in style.
“It was great to see him pick up another trophy and get that fantastic ovation when he came off as well because he’s been an outstanding servant and magnificent captain of this club.”
Cove had to come back from a goal down against Clach to ensure the Inverness side didn’t put a dampener on their title celebrations.
“The players were told before the game that we are immensely proud of what they have achieved,” said John.
“Their goals against record is excellent, we were undefeated at home in the league and also racked up some very impressive wins.
“It was important we also got another win to set us up nicely for the big challenge that now lies ahead of us.
“Even when we went a goal down I was confident we would come back because we were totally dominant.
“We won a load of corners and had plenty of shots at the Clach goal, it was just a matter of time before we got the breakthrough we deserved.”
John applauded young winger Hamish MacLeod for coming off the bench to make a significant impact by scoring Cove’s equaliser and setting up the winner.
“Hamish is always capable of making a big contribution,” he said.
“We told him to go on, show no fear and take the game to them and that’s why he did.
“It underlines just how much winning the title this season has been very much down to the entire squad rather than just a regular starting eleven.
“There have been loads of occasions when players have come off the bench and played a key role in helping win games that were finally balanced.”
Cove are now gearing up for what will be a third attempt at gaining promotion to the SPFL via the Pyramid Play-offs.
The are away to East Kilbride in the first leg of their play-off semi on Saturday, with the return at Balmoral seven days later.
John said: “The boys chose to make their celebrations after receiving the league trophy pretty low key because they know we have a huge challenge ahead of us.
“It’s going to be a case of making sure we turn up on the day, in both legs, and hoping it will be enough to see us through to the next stage.
“The bad memories of losing to Edinburgh City the first time we made the play-offs should also help us stay focussed.
“They caught us cold but we are few years older and wiser now.
“We know we are going to have to be fully switched on because we are up against opponents who are good enough to be playing in the Scottish League tomorrow.”