PETRIE SECURES CORE OF CHAMPIONSHIP WIINING GABLE ENDIES IN READINESS FOR LEAGUE 1
Montrose FC Boss Stewart Petrie has moved quickly to retain 7 of his Ladbrokes League 2 winning side, whilst extending 2 key contracts and adding one new face as he prepares for life in League 1, something the Angus side haven’t experienced in over 20 years.
Arriving at Links Park is striker Josh Skelly, a product of the Dundee FC Youth Academy who enjoyed 2 loan spells at county neighbours Arbroath, before signing a permanent deal with Dick Campbell’s side in the summer of 2016. The 21 year old made over 20 appearances and scored 5 goals in that season that resulted in the Red Lichties winning the league on the last day of the season. The Dundee born front man left Gayfield earlier this month and Petrie wasted no time in bringing him to Links Park.
Great news for the Mo faithful is that defensive duo Sean Dillon and Andrew Steeves have both agreed to extend their current contracts for an additional 12 moths, securing their services until the summer of 2020.
The former Dundee Utd Captain joined the Gable Endies last August in what was arguably the signing of the year across the entire division. Taking up a joint role of player/coach, the 34 year old was instrumental, both on and off the park to creating a solid defence that allowed Stewart Petrie’s side to secure their first league title in 33 years. As well as receiving his winners medal, Sean was announced as the SPFL Ladbrokes League 2 Player of the Year, was named in the SPFL League 2 Team of the Year and was nominated for the PFA League 2 Player of the Year.
Andrew, who joined the Links Park side from Premiership outfit St Johnstone in 2015, has made 130 appearances for the Mighty Mo and was the only player to start every league game last season. A fans favourite, Steeves has been consistent and reliable since day one, but particularly as part of the league winning side, confirmed by his appearance in the SPFL League 2 Team of the Year.
Additionally, Petrie has successfully negotiated new one year contracts with Paul Watson, Terry Masson, Craig Johnston, Michael Bolochoweckyj, Jamie Redman and Martyn Fotheringham. Masson will remain the clubs longest serving player having recently made his 250th appearance as he enters his 9th season at Links Park. Bolochoweckyj's return in January from an Achillies injury was a shot in the arm to the meanest defence in the division and Redman's league winning equaliser on the last day of season will be remembered for many years to come.
Top scorer Lewis Milne has also agreed terms with the club to keep him at Links Park until the summer of 2020. The 23 year old joined the Gable Endies from Angus neighbours Forfar Athletic in this year’s January transfer window and played a vital role in the successful league run-in. Lewis brings pace in forward areas, creativity in midfield and is a constant danger from his dead ball delivery. His 11 goals in 16 appearances for the Gable Endies was an outstanding conversion rate and seen him end last year as joint top scorer with veteran striker Chris Templeman.
Already under contract for the coming season are Allan Fleming, Jordan Millar, Matty Allan, Iain Campbell, Liam Callaghan, Graham Webster, Ryan Ferguson and Martin Rennie bringing Petrie's squad size to a healthy 18.
Announced at the same time, the club confirmed that 6 faces will depart Links Park this summer.
Chris Templeman, who joined the Gable Endies in 2016 from Angus neighbours Forfar Athletic has decided to retire after over 20 years in the professional game. He will be sorely missed as in his short spell at Links Park he became a fans favourite and icon, making 99 appearances and scoring 25 goals.
Cammy Ballantyne has been released from his parent club Dundee United and is currently looking to secure full time football elsewhere. The youngster enjoyed 3 loan spells with the Mighty Mo and was a key figure in Petrie’s solid defensive setup last term.
Gary Fraser will leave the club after a successful 3 year spell. Stepping back up from the Junior ranks, the marksman was unstoppable in his first campaign, netting an incredible 19 times, made all the more remarkable given the team ended that season in 8th place. The 31 year old hit double figures again the following season, scoring 12 times and he recently passed the milestone of 100 appearances for the Gable Endies.
Kerr Hay, Connor McLaren and Danny Cavanagh have also been allowed to leave the club. All 3 were signed in 2017, but have been unable to break into the first team and will now move on.
Reflecting on a busy period of negotiation, Mo Boss Stewart Petrie said, "I am delighted with the business we have done. It was vital that we kept the core and the heart of our successful group from last season but at the same time to keep the momentum going we had to make some changes to freshen things up and we are still actively looking to add some additional quality before we return for pre-season.
“I would also like to thank all those departing at this time, for their contribution to the club in recent years, but particularly the parts they played in us collectively winning the league.
“Big Chris will be a huge loss to the game. He is one of the best professionals I have worked with and a true gentleman.
“He deserves all the plaudits and on behalf of the club I would like to wish him every success in whatever the future holds outside the game.”