Club Captain Jonny Fairbairn has heaped praise on Berwick supporters for the positive atmosphere created during important games in the ‘Gers final third of the season at Shielfield Park.
Unbeaten at home in 2016, improved results ensured the ‘Gers secured League Two safety comfortably, but Fairbairn admitted that without the backing of the fans, it may have been different.
“The atmosphere and support from fans in important games that we had to win really helped to get us over the line at times. Home matches like those against Montrose, Stirling Albion and Clyde spring to mind, times where we were hanging on to a clean sheet.
“It’s perhaps easy to forget how poor we were at some points last season given how the final few months went. We’ve probably been in the best form since I’ve been with the club. But for as good as we were in parts of the season, we were equally as bad in other parts. I’m hopeful there have been a lot of lessons learned having experienced both extremes in one season, both personally and as a team.
“Our home form in 2016 has been very good. The manager has challenged us to make Shielfield a fortress, somewhere that teams fear coming to. Our task if we’re to be successful next season is now to do that consistently.
“We’ve built great momentum and we’re looking to carry that into the new campaign. Hopefully the kind of support I spoke of earlier can continue and grow, and in return we can give them something to shout about.”
Milfield-based Jonny penned a new deal two year deal with the club last week, and he revealed that the extremes he spoke of earlier had caused him to debate his belonging at Shielfield Park during 2015/16.
“There were definitely times during the season where I questioned my own future. But under the new gaffer, having seen the players he has already signed and being aware that he’ll be looking for a few more quality additions, I feel we have a chance to be successful next year.
“The manager wants guys here that want to play for Berwick Rangers. He wants them to be committed to the club for the right reasons. A number of the boys have signed up for two years. By doing that it shows both an investment from the player to the club, but also from the club to player.
“The majority of players at this level are signed on for one year. That lends itself to a lot of journeymen who go from club to club in search of the best deal. By signing the right people long-term, it will hopefully build an affiliation between the club, our fans and the player, and that will hopefully lead to a successful team on the pitch.”
Jonny also revealed that he’ll be taking a more active role in trying to make the ‘Gers a success on the park next season, as he finishes: “I’m starting my UEFA badges over this Summer, and myself and the manager have had discussions about taking some of the drills and sessions at training.
“I’m very keen to try to learn about the coaching side of the game and develop ideas whilst I’m still playing. So whilst my aim as a part of the team on the park is to make it as succesful as possible, another personal target for next season is to gain experience in coaching, as any opportunity will be greatly appreciated!”