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    200th Game in Charge 

    Friday, August 06, 2010 5:25:09 PM

    The Wasps first league game of the season this weekend at Livingston coincides with Allan Maitland and James Ward's 200th game in charge of the club. To mark this milestone it is appropriate to chronicle the duo's 4 ½ years at Recreation Park. Maitland was appointed on the eve of Alloa's Scottish Cup replay at Livingston in January 2006. Previously Maitland had enjoyed considerable success at Clyde and Hamilton and, given Alloa's then position at the bottom of the Second Division, it was a surprise to some that Maitland chose to join the club. However, the new manager obviously saw the potential of the club, the sound financial footing and drive to improve on and off the pitch as too good an opportunity to turn down. Ward had worked with Maitland previously and left the junior ranks to step up as Maitland's assistant. The pair couldn't have got off to a better start by knocking then SPL Livingston out of the Scottish Cup on their own pitch. That was a wonderful start but couldn't mask the main ambition for the rest of that season; survival in the Second Division. Eight points adrift at the time of his appointment, it was a tough task but one which Maitland and Ward came through with flying colours after masterminding a resurgence which culminated in the Wasps beating the drop via the inaugral play-offs.
    The initial success undoubtably raised expectations for the 2006/7 season but it turned out to be a hugely frustrating one for the club. Bad fortune, injuries and poor performances all contributed to Alloa being consigned to the lower reaches of mid table and hovering above the relegation zone. That resulted in Maitland making radical changes to the squad at the end of a disappointing season.

    Instead Maitland and Ward brought in a number of younger and arguably hungrier players with experience of playing on the new playing surface laid at the Recs for 2007/8. A revigourated squad paid dividends for the management team as the team ground out a number of excellent victories to reach the end of season promition play-offs. It looked as if the Wasps would make it through to the play off final after leading Clyde 5-2 with only 30 minutes of the second leg to play. However Maitland's first senior club staged a remarkable comeback to break Alloa's hearts.

    After the highs of the 2007/08 season the following campaign failed to hit the same heights as the Wasps struggled for any sort of consistency. The hangover from the end of the previous season seemed to linger and it turned out to be a largely forgettable season. Such were the regular frailties at the back and the lack of an out and out goalscorer, it was only on the penultimate weekend of the season that the Wasps mathmatically avoided being dragged into the relegation play offs.

    That disappointing season focussed the mind of Maitland and Ward and a couple of experienced signings helped gel a new squad for 2009/10 which was more resolute than any other they had formed previously. As such, last season the Wasps of course enjoyed a far more fruitful season. In the end, however, the team came up just short when it came to winning the title (being edged out on goal difference) and in the play-offs (beaten by Cowdenbeath, who went on to secure promotion).

    In overall terms Maitland's 200 games in charge of the Wasps have been a bit of a rollercoaster, with three comparatively successful seasons punctuated with two where the Wasps struggled, but never to a degree which seriously threatened the club's Second Division status. Aside from this, Maitland is widely recognised as being one of the most astute managers in the SFL. Maitland's man-management skills are second to none, which draws ultimate respect from his squad and helps attract players to the club. Allan must also have taken some classes in public relations, as his openness with supporters and all the club means that it is hard not to warm to him. Moreover, Maitland has also shown a refreshing amount of loyalty to Alloa. Such is his reputation that several 'bigger' clubs have been reported to have tried to lure Maitland away from Recreation Park over the past few years. Unlike so many, Allan has stayed loyal to the Wasps rather than jumping ship. Alongside him Ward is known for his varied training sessions and keeping the squad well entertained; the importance of such a role cannot be underplayed in a successful team. As such, the pair work perfectly together and have an abundance of enthusiasm and know-how to drive the Wasps towards the ultimate goal; bringing First Division football to Recreation Park.

    Maitland and Ward's season by season record in charge
                      P     W    D    L    F    A
    2005/06 23    9     6    8    22   28
    2006/07 43   13    9   21   55   88
    2007/08 43   18    8   17   66   74
    2008/09 43   14    9   20   56   66
    2009/10 45   21   10  14   54   46
    2010/11   2     1     0    1     3     3
    Totals     199 76   42 81  256 305

    Allan Maitland celebrates first victory at Livingston

    Allan Maitland & James Ward

    Looking forward
     

     



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