Edinburgh City deserve SPFL status, says manager Gary Jardine

Dougie Gair and Gary Jardine
Dougie Gair (left) scored the penalty that gave Edinburgh City and their manager, Gary Jardine, victory

Edinburgh City manager Gary Jardine paid tribute to his players after they beat East Stirlingshire to reach the Scottish Professional Football League.

City, who won the Lowland League and then a pyramid play-off against Highland League winners Cove Rangers, beat Shire 1-0 at Ochilview.

That win sealed a 2-1 aggregate success against the League Two bottom side.

"These boys have worked so hard. To get this opportunity now, they deserve every minute of it," said Jardine.

"It's crazy. Now it's happened, my head is spinning.

"It's the culmination of five, six years of real hard work and I'm really pleased for everybody at the club. It means everything."

City had previously applied to join the League when first Airdrie and then Gretna went into liquidation, but missed out on both occasions.

The Lowland League began in 2013, with the first pyramid play-off series taking place at the end of last season.

There was no change to the make-up of the SPFL on that occasion but Edinburgh will now replace East Stirling in League Two, with Shire dropping into the Lowland League.

City's 'Dave Mackay' bows out in style'

Edinburgh's winning penalty at Ochilview was scored by veteran midfielder Dougie Gair, with less than four minutes left.

"Dougie has scored something like 53 penalties out of 55 and has been here for 16 years, man and boy," Jardine said. "He has always been a penalty taker.

"We got knocked out on penalties by Brora Rangers last year so I suppose it is fitting that this year we have got the joy of scoring one to go up.

Edinburgh City players celebrate their promotion
City players (from left) Ian McFarland, Shaun Harrison, Sean Muhsin and Aaron Dunsmore celebrate promotion

"Gordon Donaldson is only 25 and is in his 21st year at the club. No-one has given him a chance.

"Not one of them apart from Joe Mbu has played in the league, so they really deserve this opportunity."

But Mbu, a 34-year-old Cameroonian who previously played for Cowdenbeath and East Fife, will not be around to help guide the club through their first season of senior football.

"That was Joe's last game," Jardine said. "He will be true to his partner, he has got a wee boy to look after now.

"Last season was going to be his last but he always said he was desperate to get us up. He gave it another year, and he was magnificent today.

"I have likened him to Dave Mackay and that is the effect he has had on this club."

So what now for City, who play at the Meadowbank Arena, a 16,500-capacity stadium with 7,500 seats that they share with Leith Athletic, and the former home of Meadowbank Thistle, who relocated to become Livingston in 1995?

"We are at Meadowbank and there are plans to renovate it or knock it down in a year's time," Jardine added.

"But they are not concrete plans, so we will have another year at Meadowbank and that is built for football in League Two."

'Future's fine for Shire - just Plan B'

East Stirlingshire player Neil McCabe
Neil McCabe and East Stirlingshire have lost their place in the SPFL

As for East Stirlingshire, their 116-year stay in the Scottish Football League is over, but chairman Alan Archibald is confident about their future.

"You cut your cloth accordingly.," he told BBC Scotland. "The future's fine, it's just plan B. There's a plan A and a plan B. Unfortunately, it's plan B.

"I've got a very competent accountant who makes sure that we've got plans in place.

"I've got a good solid board behind me and I've got fans who I know won't walk away and we've got sponsors who'll stick by us.

"I'm confident we've got plans in place, we've got people behind the scenes that'll help us try and turn this round."

Asked about the future of the players and manager Craig Tully, Archibald added: "We'll make a decision on that at the start of the week."