Arbroath title win post-mortem: how the league was won

Jimmy Scott holds the League Two trophy. Pic by Graham Black.
Jimmy Scott holds the League Two trophy. Pic by Graham Black.

As a sports reporter covering something of the magnitude of Arbroath’s League Two title victory, you have to search for the best narrative.

The crucial moment, the turning point, the key aspect - whatever the phrasing, this is one of the storylines you look for: when the league was won.

Not literally - that was about 4.45pm on Saturday past - but mentally, when was the championship decided?

Speaking to the jubilant Arbroath players on Saturday, it became obvious when they felt the league was won - when they lost 1-0 to Forfar Athletic in February and went 11 points behind their rivals.

The Loons celebrated that day as though they’d already won the league, and rightly so - what a hammer blow to land at the home of your title, and local, rivals.

But those scenes, of Forfar players going wild at Gayfield, sparked something in the Lichties players.

It set a fire that has fuelled their drive towards the league title, and the flames were fanned by manager Dick Campbell - a master of motivation as he’s proved yet again.

Players like Ricky Little said that the hurt they felt after losing to Forfar that day was what kept them going throughout the remaining games of the season.

Ricky told HeraldSport: “It was a sore one to take going 11 points behind Forfar.

“It fired us up though, how they celebrated. To me, they thought they’d won the league - by beating us at home they thought it was game over.

“That fired the boys up, that really riled us all and we’ve spoken about it a lot. That’s given the boys a bit extra that we needed to go and get the title.”

Little has formed a sublime partnership with Colin Hamilton at the centre of the Arbroath defence this season and the side’s defensive prowess was crucial in securing them the championship.

Hamilton himself had special praise for the manager for how he spurred the players on after that loss to the Loons.

Colin said: “Since Forfar beat us in February we’ve had a feeling we could go on and do it. We’ve pulled it back and we’ve always had that confidence.

“The gaffer’s kept us going, telling us - we will do it.

“The manager’s experience and calmness has kept us in it, he’s kept us hungry for it the whole way.”

Steven Doris is another who commended the manager for his powers of motivation.

Steven himself will surely go down in Arbroath legend after playing a crucial part in both of the club’s league victories - if he was ever involved in a third, he’d be due a stand named after him.

His goals this season have been essential to the title push and the man himself said that after failing to find bigger and better things elsewhere, he’s happy to be home.

“I won the league here last time and I tried to move on to bigger things but it never happened for me,” said Doris.

“I’m glad to be home and I’m glad to be winning trophies.

“Dick is a great motivator, everyone in the changing room whether they’re playing or not he gets them all fired up.

“The vibe that comes off of him and the rest of the backroom staff just fires you up, you want to win for him - you want to put in that extra five per cent.

“We’ve got a few players in this year that have dropped down the divisions to come to Arbroath and it just shows the manager’s reputation.”

Steven’s interview was interrupted by Dick Campbell shushing the celebrating supporters so he could tell them that Arbroath won’t be going up to League One just to fill out the numbers - he’s going to compete.

It will be fascinating whether Campbell maintains the bulk of this squad or not - keep a winning team together, or use that massive contact book to find an even better quality of player?

As far as the supporters are concerned, thoughts of next season can wait until the celebrations are over.

For now - smokies and wine, anyone?