There was a feeling of deja vu for the loyal followers of East Stirlingshire on Saturday. The Shire drew 2-2 at Forfar Athletic in the second leg of their promotion play-off - but having lost the first leg 1-0 at Ochilview last Wednesday night it meant play-off disappointment for the second year in a row. This time last year Shire lost to Cowdenbeath, also losing the first leg at home before drawing away at Central Park.
Just a few short seasons ago, East Stirlingshire were something of a laughing stock, finishing consistently at the bottom of the pile of Scottish football, seemingly stuck forever at the foot of the Third Division. However, since Spencer Fearn put money into the club things have picked up. The appointment of former Dundee United and Scotland player Jim McInally as team manager has seen a transformation on the playing side. This season Shire may well have won promotion had it not been for the decision of the Scottish football authorities to place debt-ridden Livingston into the Third Division. The fact Livvy were still able to recruit the likes of Robbie Winters and Jim Hamilton meant they were always going to be favourites to win the league, thereby denying clubs such as East Stirlingshire and Forfar Athletic the chance of automatic promotion.
At least next season there will be a level playing field - unless the likes of Rangers and/or Hearts are punished for their well-publicised financial problems and end up in the lowest league in Scottish football. Assuming this won't be the case, I'm hopeful the Shirey Pirey will once again be challenging for promotion.
The Shire fans may be small in numbers but their support for their team is second to none. I look forward to heading back to Ochilview - or lesser Firs Park! - many times again next season.
C'mon the Mighty Shire - make it third time lucky!