May 25 2011 by Colin Paterson, Airdrie & Coatbridge
PAUL MARTIN says he will give his Albion Rovers play-off heroes the opportunity to become Second Division stars.
The Cliftonhill gaffer led the club out of the Third Division on Sunday following their aggregate win over Annan Athletic.
Rovers defeated the Galabankies 4-3 over two legs despite losing 2-1 on the Solway Coast at the weekend.
Players and staff partied the night away with fans following Rovers’ first promotion in 22 years.
Martin will now prepare his squad for Second Division football and four derby-day showdowns with Monklands neighbours Airdrie.
The manager admits he is looking to add “four or five” new faces to his pool.
But Martin, who released Alan Benton and Darren Smith on Tuesday night, has assured the rest of the players that they will be given their chance to shine in Scotland’s third tier.
And he told Advertiser Sport he will do all he can to bring on-loan talisman Scott Chaplain back to Coatbridge on a permanent basis.
“This is my team; that’s my team in there,” said Martin, pointing to the dressing room at Galabank in the wake of his side’s stunning triumph.
“The flip side of that is that I think everybody would have left had we not won promotion.
“I will give every player that we’ve got the chance to show that they are Second Division players next season.
“I’m not going to change all that much. I want to add four or five players.
“I’ll lose my loan guys but I’m going to work really hard to keep Scott Chaplain here.
“We’re trying to do things the right way and we’re looking forward to causing a few shocks in the Second Division.”
Martin heaped praise on the club’s support and hopes promotion will increase Rovers’ core fan base.
“It’s amazing,” added the 46-year-old. “It’s unthinkable for Albion Rovers to grow into a team that should be respected far less a team that has reached the Second Division.
“The fans were amazing in the last period of the game and helped push us on. A lot of them have supported us through the bad times and I hope the ones that have come along for the first time decide to come along more regularly.
“If they did that, it would give us the chance of not having the lowest budget and allowing us to be a stable Second Division club. An extra 300 people per game changes the dynamics completely. I hope this galvanises everyone.”
Martin took time out of the celebrations to pass on his gratitude to the club who provided Rovers with the temporary signings he says were crucial to their overall success.
The gaffer commented: “I want to thank everybody who loaned players to us this season; Allan Maitland and James Ward at Alloa, Gordon Young and Craig Brown at Motherwell and Gilbert Lawrie at Dumbarton.
“Without those loan players, we would have been absolutely nothing this season.
“Thomas Flynn is another example. In our hour of need, Hibernian helped us and we will be forever remember that those things helped get us over the line.”