After a long spell with non-league English outfit Weymouth, Richard Barnard has returned north of the border to take the captain’s armband at East Stirling.
The 34-year-old stopper has played in Scotland before, plying his trade at Queen of the South from 2004 to 2006, but the former Millwall youth is looking to see out his playing days at Ochilview Park in front of what he describes as the “most loyal fans” he’s ever known.
Here he tells Ladbrokes news why he loves East Stirlingshire FC…
Why do you love East Stirling?
I love the club because I plan to finish my career playing here and we’ve got a great manager and it’s just a great club. It’s all about getting results for me this season and finishing as high as we can.
Describe the fans and what they mean to the club
I tend not to focus on what’s going on off the pitch but whether we win, lose, draw or play badly the fans are always there and hang around for a chat after a game and bring their kids along.
That’s what it’s all about for me. The club always welcomes people with open arms and it makes for a close knit group from fans all the way through to the top dog.
I keep in touch with a few fans. There’s one guy called Stewart who’s in a band and I’ve been to see him play a few times to give something back.
I chat on Facebook too sometimes with the fans and they give me feedback. I love feedback because I’m my own worst critic, sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad but you can always learn from something they say.
What’s the vibe like in the dressing room?
We’ve always got music on until the gaffer says switch it off then the lads get in their heads and we have a bit of quiet where and everyone thinking about how they’re going to do.
It gets quite intense before an game but it’s great. Throughout my career I’ve played at different clubs with different numbers of fans and while we don’t have the biggest group of fans here but they are probably the most loyal I’ve ever known. They travel around with us and it’s just brilliant
Can you name an East Stirling Backroom Hero?
Former director Tony Ford does everything he can for this club. We don’t have the biggest bank account and everyone knows that but he will do whatever he can.
Even in the close season he helped me out in my garden! He’s suffered with his health but he cannot do enough for the club. What a guy!
What’s the best thing about being an East Stirling footballer?
It’s the camaraderie with the team, dressing room banter and getting to know a bunch of lands who you’re about to go on a journey with.
At times you’ll shout at each other and call each other names but that stays on the pitch especially if you’ve ground out a result and put everything behind the ball to stop the other side scoring.
We had a lot of that last year which saved us from going into the playoffs so it’s the closeness in the changing room. That I love – you can’t buy that.