May 25 2011 by Colin Paterson, Airdrie & Coatbridge
THRILLED chairman Frank Meade admitted he was bursting with pride after Albion Rovers ended a 22-year wait for promotion.
The Coatbridge shock troops moved out of the bottom tier of the Scottish game for the first time in over two decades on Sunday.
Rovers’ 4-3 aggregate triumph over Annan Athletic sealed a return to the Second Division.
And Meade couldn’t disguise his delight as he reflected on a fantastic campaign.
“I’m absolutely thrilled for all of the boys as it has been quite a hard week since winning the first leg 3-1 on Wednesday night,” Meade told Advertiser Sport.
“The boys in the dressing-room have done a terrific job all season and the people of the town can feel very proud of them.
“It has taken us 22 years to get promoted and we are going to enjoy it then we’ll sit down and work out how we can stay there.
“The players really deserve it. We finished in second place behind a really good Arbroath team and my over-riding emotion at the moment is one of great pride.”
Meade took over the club when it was on its knees in 2005 and with the threat of closure hanging over Cliftonhill.
The club is now on a stable footing thanks to some good business practice in the boardroom but the chairman paid tribute to fellow director Robert Watt for his financial support through some dark days.
“I think keeping the club alive and making sure we are still here is my priority at the beginning of every season,” he added. “This club has been around since 1882 and there is a lot of history here.
“It has taken us six years to get to where we are. I’m especially delighted for Robert as he is the longest-serving director here.
“If it had not been for Robert and his generosity when I first came in, then I’m absolutely certain the club would not be here.
“There are other people like Lew McWilliam who do a terrific amount of work at the club behind the scenes and we also have volunteers who come in and help out on a Saturday.
“Small clubs need these people and I just hope the town can now get behind the club. We had over 1,000 fans for the first leg against Annan and more than 800 for the Queen’s Park game.”
Meade reckons Paul Martin’s side has gone that extra mile and believes most of their work has gone unnoticed.
“I think supporters can sometimes underestimate the commitment of the playing staff and the coaching staff,” he said.
“These boys are part-time and trying to hold down jobs. They never miss training and are always on the bus for games.”