Ladbrokes League 1 had it all in 2015-16. The first champions of any football league division in England or Scotland. A final-day battle for play-off spots at both ends of the table. On Boxing Day, the four games on show produced 22 goals. Sensational.
It’s been tough to whittle down the very best of Ladbrokes League 1 into five choices, but from the Pars’ attacking perfection to an Albion Rovers star, here’s what we’ve gone for.
The Pars’ incredible attack (and determined defence)
Just the 83 goals for Dunfermline in their 36 league games, with the East End Park club striking four or more times on eight different occasions. Pity Stenhousemuir who shipped 14 goals to the Fife club, without breaking down the division’s steeliest defence at the other end.
In fact, the Pars conceded 14 fewer goals than anyone else, clocking up 16 clean sheets along the way – with ex-Hibernian man Sean Murdoch ever-reliable between the posts.
Another man worthy of huge credit is – of course – Moroccan goal-machine Fayssal El Bakhtaoui. 22 goals, including the sensational hat-trick at Brechin, have made him arguably the man of the season. But nobody has been more integral to their side’s success than this next man.
It must be (Ally) Love
He may have swapped Coatbridge for Brechin earlier this month, but Ally Love remains a player much-admired at Albion Rovers, and for good reason.
Equally comfortable as a classy, ball-playing defender and a tricky winger, the former St Mirren youngster has netted an incredible nine Ladbrokes League 1 goals in this calendar year, as well as building his reputation as a fearless (and usually well-timed tackler!).
After last season’s promotion from League 2, the Wee Rovers were many people’s tip to go down – but the goals, guile, and guts of their much-loved star man helped Darren Young’s men secure a comfortable sixth-placed finish.
Brilliant Brechin’s unlikely survival
With three games of the Ladbrokes League One season remaining, Brechin City were bottom of the league.
Having occupied the basement spot for all but one weekend since Boxing Day, outsiders may have considered City all-but-down. However, having appeared marooned in bottom spot, they were busy dragging themselves to safety, with an incredible run, finishing the season in seventh place.
Following four wins in their first 28 games, the Glebe Park outfit recorded eight victories in their last ten games to secure safety in some style.
This display against Peterhead – lit up by Robert Thomson’s impressive hat-trick – embodied the spirit and skill shown by Darren Dods’ men in the latter part of the campaign.
The Boxing Day Goalfest
From Ayr to Airdrie, fans of Ladbrokes League 1 clubs saw some fantastic, goal-filled games last season, but one day will stay long in the memory for fans of the eight League 1 clubs in action.
The net barely stopped bulging anywhere on Boxing Day 2015, as Stranraer won 5-1 at Ochilview, Dunfermline were 4-2 victors at Forfar, Ayr United squeezed past Brechin at Somerset Park, and Peterhead edged a seven-goal thriller at Airdrieonians.
Though all four games summed up the incredible drama on show throughout the season, Peterhead’s achievements – scoring three times in the last seven minutes to secure a 4-3 victory (with 10 men, no less!) – remain perhaps the most unforgettable moment of the season. Unless you’re a Diamonds fan, of course.
It’s hard to sum up how much the loyal supporters of each Ladbrokes League 1 club means to the clubs and their players. So here are a few tweets from the people who know best of all…
Another special day at EEP…delighted with the 3 points and 3 goals. Thank you for all the kind messages ?
— Joe Cardle (@JojoCardle) February 27, 2016
Its been some season!! ⚽️And it all comes down to today. Been a pleasure with this bunch of lads. Hopefully 1 last push for the fans. #ARFC
— Ally love (@AllyLove21) April 30, 2016
Big thanks to all fans who’ve backed us through the highs and lows of the season. #RealFans. We set our sights on next season!
— Stenhousemuir FC (@StenhousemuirFC) May 1, 2016
— Stranraer FC (@StranraerFC) May 18, 2016
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.