saitken1415smallIt has been a fantastic year for Stranraer FC.

On the pitch, Stevie Aitken's men reached the League One promotion play-offs last season and were top of the table this term on Christmas Day.

Meanwhile, off the pitch, the Blues have kept things ticking over financially as the club lives within its means.

SFC Media caught up with Blues gaffer Aitken for a special festive season Q&A. Let's raise a glass to 2014 and hope that 2015 is just as good...if not better!

Q: How would you assess the first half of this season?

A: We're over the moon with the way it has gone. To be up where we are at the moment, and to carry on from last season's success, was always going to be a big ask. But we're delighted and I couldn't ask to be in a better position.

Q: What has pleased you most about the first half of the season?

A: I think it has been the consistency the players have showed. I'm delighted with the way we have gone about our business. It's difficult to compete when there are two full-time teams in the division but we've been on a great run and hopefully that will continue.

Q: What do you think the catalyst has been for this long unbeaten run?

A: The way the players worked really hard during pre-season to get themselves in great condition for the season ahead. We had a couple of difficult games at the start of the season and I think the key was getting that first win. The players took a massive lift from that and carried on since then.

Q: How important has continuity been given you kept the core of the squad from last season?

A: That was the key for me. When the season finished, I knew there would be a bit of difficulty as a lot of our players were attracting a lot of attention. I thought there would be a fight to hang on to them. I wanted to retain the nucleus but there are clubs out there that can pay more money. The fact that we kept the nucleus and added to that was pleasing for me.

Q: All of the new signings have made a positive contribution but what about Craig Malcolm who is starting to score more regularly?

A: You're right. Credit must go to all of the new additions. It's not easy to come into a set-up which has been quite successful but they have all come in, settled in well and I'm delighted with every one of them. On Craig, it's maybe not always the right thing to come back to a club. But I felt it was right. I knew he would be great for the team and I'm happy with how it has went.

Q: What is the target for the season now?

A: We will take one game at a time. First and foremost, at the beginning of the season, you have to make sure that you are competitive in the division. You don't want to be stuck down in the bottom half of the table. Secondly, we enjoyed the play-offs last season even though we lost in them and I think we have got to be thinking of getting there again. The aim is to stay in the top-half of the table and push for the play-offs. Who knows what will happen then?

Q: You have a great Scottish Cup tie at home to Dundee United, which will be live on Sky, to look forward to. How great a reward is this for the club after the financial problems of a few years ago?

A: I was delighted with the draw and the announcement that the game would be live on Sky. Financially, it's going to be worth a lot of money to the club and there is the publicity that goes with it. It's a reward for all of the people here behind the scenes after what was a tough five or six years. There is light at the end of the tunnel and the club is in a good place.

Q: Finally Stevie, you spoke of your players attracting attention. It's fair to say that you're attracting attention as well. How difficult is it for a manager to deal with the speculation surrounding your future and linking you elsewhere?

A: When you get linked to other jobs the first thing it shows is that you are doing a good job for your present employers. My priority is to do a good job for Stranraer and being linked with jobs is one of these things. It's great and you're flattered and there are a lot of big clubs out there.

You've got the likes of Dunfermline and St Mirren without managers or have someone in temporary charge. I've always said that one day I'd like to be a full-time manager but I'm certainly in no hurry to leave Stranraer and I'm enjoying where we are at the moment. I think we could be onto something special and until someone asks you the question, or phones you, then I'm comfortable with the situation I'm in.

SPFL 3L1 6474

1 Arbroath 9 21
2 Raith Rovers 9 17
3 East Fife 9 16
4 Brechin City 9 13
5 Stranraer 9 12
6 Airdrieonians 9 10
7 Stenhousemuir 9 9
8 Forfar Athletic 9
9 Dumbarton 9 8
10 Montrose 9 8


2018/19 Squad

1 - Max Currie (GK)
2 - Daniel Higgins (DEF)

3 - Chris McGowan (DEF)
4 - Andy McDonald (DEF)
5 - David Brownlie (DEF)
6 - Connor McManus (MID)
7 - Mark Lamont (MID)
8 - Kyle Turner (MID)
9 - Isaac Layne (STR)

10 - Luke Donnelly (STR)
11 - Grant Anderson (M/S)
12 - Ian Smith (MID)

13 - Lyle Avci (GK)
14 - Cameron Elliott (MID)
16 - Max Ashmore (MID)
17 - David Smith (D/M)
18 - Innes Cameron (STR)
19 - Ciaran Diver (STR)
20 - PJ Crossan (STR)

22 - Jamie Hamill (DEF)
23 - Adam Cummins (DEF)