A crowd of over 400 basked in bright sunshine last Friday evening (May 25) as Ardrossan Winton Rovers secured the victory that guarantees them Super League First Division football next season.
However, stories running through the crowd regarding the imminent departure of Rovers’ manager John Garroch – irrespective of the score - were subsequently confirmed by club Chairman Dougie Rae, who thanked the former Dalry Thistle boss for his contribution to the team since taking over mid-way through the season.
In a statement issued on Sunday (May 27), Mr Rae said, “We parted company with John Garroch and [assistant] Hugh Flynn on Friday. John Garroch is a good man. I both trust and like John and consider him to be a friend.”
While acknowledging results had not been good enough since John Garroch took over, Dougie Rae indicated he was “determined to highlight the hypocrisy of some individuals” who, he said, had wanted the manager sacked “as early as February”. The Chairman noted, “Certain people stated that they would never be back at Winton Park while John was manager. Some of these same people now wish to criticise the severity of his dismissal. They are hypocrites.”
Explaining how the manager’s departure came about, Mr Rae said, “I spoke to John Garroch after the game [on Friday]. There is no way to make bad news sound good and there is no right time to break bad news. I decided, after discussions with our committee, to tell John after the game regardless of the result. I take full responsibility. I have a responsibility to the club and our results over the season were poor. We set out to consolidate and we barely survived. This was not all John’s fault.”
Looking to the future, Dougie Rae added, “We have decided that we need a new management team to give us a fresh impetus and a new direction. We don’t have to ask permission to do what we hope is the right thing for the club. We do not ‘hire and fire’.
“[Previous manager] Derek Frye was with us for five good years and, incidentally, some of those who wanted Derek sacked were shouting for his return. How ridiculous is that? Winton Rovers is more than a football club and Derek Frye, like John Garroch, is a good friend of mine.”
The Chairman concluded, “For the record, the conversation I had with John Garroch will remain strictly between him and me, but let me be clear, there is much more to life than football and John Garroch is a big man in every sense of the word.”
the3towns understands the favourite to replace John Garroch as Winton manager is Jim Geddes, currently boss of Whitletts Victoria. An approach may be made as early as this week, now that the season has ended for both Winton and Whitletts.
Ardrossan Winton Rovers 2 Kilsyth Rangers 1
A goal in 20 minutes by Findlay Frye gave Winton a 1-0 half-time lead last Friday.
Ten minutes after the restart Fisher made it 2-0, but Kilsyth came back into the match and scored with 15 minutes left of play.
The Winton defence stood firm as Kilsyth pressed for an equaliser, and missed opportunities at the other end meant a tense end to the game for Winton players and fans – a situation that wasn’t helped by the referee playing an incredible 7 minutes of stoppage-time.
With East Kilbride Thistle drawing 3-3 with Renfrew on Saturday (May 26), Winton are now safe from the threat of relegation, even if Girvan and Hurlford win their remaining games: Hurlford would require to beat Shotts by 11 clear goals to leapfrog Winton, but even in that unlikely situation, Winton would still finish one place above the relegation zone.