No Fat Amateurs: Tom 'The Commentator' Miller's Third Division Team of the Year
- 23 April 2013
Before Dorin Goian moved onto the pastures new with his loan move to Spezia, he was just one of many within the Rangers family who were forced to eat some ‘humble pie’.
Everyone thought this Third Division malarkey was going to be easy. Punters and fans alike proclaimed that Rangers would win every game in the season. Reality, however, was quite different.
Goian, I believe, had the preconception that this league would resemble a night at the darts, with Rangers facing teams made up of beerbellys and middle aged balding men. After a few games he was forced to think again:
‘Before we started in this league I thought we’d be playing against fat amateurs.
‘But I’ve encountered many good, young players. Even if they don’t quite have the qualities to make it they’re hard working.’
It’s a fair comment and straight from the off ‘The Shire’ found themselves being applauded off the pitch in our first home game of the season at Ibrox. Quite simply, with their efforts on the park, they had earned our respect.
This was to become a regular feature of our opponents in the Third Division. Although results didn’t always go our way – it was refreshing to see sides coming and playing with no fear against the boys in blue. Almost every team has played with an attacking mentality that, to be quite honest, put many SPL sides to shame. Rangers fans had become accustomed to teams coming to Ibrox and parking the bus week in week out.
A man that has cast his eye over all these teams more than once this season is Tom ‘The Commentator’ Miller. He has drafted his Third Division team of the year and it is perhaps a sign of the hidden qualities within this division that, although he is as big a bluenose as they come, less than half of his team actually plies their trade at Ibrox.
Below is Tom’s team (complete with subs) and his explanation of why each player has earned their place in his seasons elect.
Jamie Barclay – Lost his way for a spell at Falkirk and recognized with his only Scotland U21 Cap. Agile and an excellent shot stopper. Easily worth eight to ten points to Clyde this season.
Ricky Little – Over 100 games for Queens in less than three seasons and a model of consistency. Can play anywhere across the back four. His nine yellow cards confirm his competitive nature! 23 in May and a self confessed Bluenose, he could play at a higher level.
Lee McCulloch – Captain Fantastic! Wherever he has played this season he has delivered. A sensational ambassador for Rangers and a role model for the youngsters. 25 goals along the way too! He deserves all the praise going and can rest during the summer in the knowledge that it is ‘job done’.
Steven Swinglehurst - Being a naturally left sided player sets the big flame haired stopper apart. Tall, elegant and with a presence and aged just 20 he has good habits from his time as a youth at Carlisle.
Lee Wallace – One of the finest sights in Scottish Football is to see Lee power forward. Wore the Captains armband with distinction in the absence of Lee McCulloch and has a commitment to Rangers that is inspirational.
Andy Little – Despite a number of injuries and having to play in the wide areas on many occasions, 25 goals for the season doesn’t lie! Andy has all sorts of goals and he is full of improvisation. Had options to leave Rangers in the summer but his heart said no. And we are delighted he stayed! How many would Andy have scored had he played up top all season and avoided injury? However, in my team of the season, he’s back to a wide area (sorry bud!) but he’ll always do what’s best for the team.
David Anderson – The Spiders Dynamo! Not the magician but runs for fun in the Queens engine room. The biggest compliment I can pay him is he’s the Paul Scholes of Gardners Spiers side, wins the ball and keeps it simple.
Lewis MacLeod – I feel a bit cheated that we lost Lewis just as he was starting to really impose himself in games. An absolute natural with qualities that you just can’t coach. His movement in the final third terrorizes defenders and creates so much space for others to exploit. A fully fit MacLeod will benefit from his first season in top team football and will light up whichever division Rangers are playing in next season.
Daniel Moore – Maybe not the most physical player but balance and poise are the main assets of Elgin’s wide man. Eight goals for the season and many more assists. Fine left peg and very capable at set plays.
David Templeton – Playing just off the main striker Temps is one player guaranteed to get you on the edge of your seat. Velcro in his boots and a magnificent eye for the half chance. Templeton must be the most fouled player in the Third Division (Ian Black may argue) but very rarely complains and just gets on with it. Fourteen Rangers goals and counting-his best in any season since he exploded on the scene as a 16-year-old at Stenhousemuir. He makes the journey so much more enjoyable!
Rory McCallister – With 20 goals for the season its more than 50% of Peterheads total! 22 last season and 51 in two seasons with Brechin before moving further north. That is a phenomenal scoring record in any company. At 25 the big time may have passed him by but what an asset to any SFL club.
Neil Parry – Queens Park No 1. Looks like a goalkeeper that fills the frame and is imposing! Toughened up with a spell in the juniors. Excellent distribution by hand or foot.
Lawrence Shankland – The 17-year-old Rangers fan has scouts flocking to Hampden. Part of Scotland’s international Elite squad he is an exciting young player who plays without fear. Despite many of his Spiders appearances being from the bench he has a very healthy 13 goals for the season. He’s a youngster that would love to pull on the Light Blue and if I were Ally I would get him signed up! Seriously one to watch!
Andrew Stirling – Still smiling after scoring at Ibrox for East Stirling! An old fashioned Scottish forward. Fleet of foot and of thought, he has an excellent touch and close control. Just returned from a scholarship in the USA and the former St Mirren youngster has ambitions to get playing at a higher level. If he adds consistency to his game I don’t doubt he can.
Jordan White – Stirling Albion’s big number nine trained at Murray Park as a kid before signing for Dunfermline. He’s something of a late developer and has had a great season with The Binos with 12 goals to his credit. Often left to play up top on his own but has the ability to hold it up until support arrives. 6ft plus and still only 21, he will get a move if he continues to make progress.
Bryan Cameron – The quiet man of the Elgin team. An ever-present at 22 and a real player’s player. Wants to get it down and pass it and always on the move to receive a pass. Equally happy in midfield or full back. Highly regarded by many knowledgeable players, coaches and managers in the game.
When asked for his overall ‘Player of the season’ Tom had no hesitation in naming him – and the reason was explained in a way that only Tom could:
‘Has to be Jig! A player that took responsibility like Churchill took to the war effort!’
Follow Scott on Twitter @st2oh