SAUCHIE fans will have plenty to shout about in 2019 as the Beechwood Park side make a return to the Junior football scene in the guise of a brand new feeder team.

Club supremo Noel Dalli set his sights on realising the potential of the Wee County side.

Indeed, it has been a winding journey for the Clacks side over the last few years.

The original team moved from the juniors to the East of Scotland Football League and, under Iain Diack, were promoted into the Premier Division for the coming season.

However, the new Junior side will play in the East Region Scotland Premier League North this year and will be managed by former Reds defender Stuart McInnes.

Both teams will play their home games at Beechwood Park and share resources. Overall, there will be a sharp focus on bridging the gap between Sauchie’s youth set-up and the Premier Division Reds.

Scottish Junior FA bosses gave the ambitious plans their blessing at their annual meeting on Saturday and East Region chiefs were set to seal the deal at their own meeting last night.

Club chairman Dalli told Advertiser Sport: “It’s always been an ambition of the club, but it landed in my lap when I ran into Stuart and one thing led to another.

“The feeder side is a huge plus for us and fills the gap for young boys who want to go from youth football to senior football.

“If we think players have potential, but are just not ready to make the step up then we can offer them the chance to play for the feeder side.

“It’s part of our longer term ambitions to have a proper senior set-up with an academy and even more sides – including walking football – playing under the Sauchie umbrella.”

Dalli continued: “They are going to run independently, but under the Sauchie name.

“They will be looking at under 23 year olds at that level who can then go on and play for the Senior side.

“They will be self-funding and mainly amateurs and we hope to have them play at Beechwood.”

New boss McInnes, 37, played senior football with Stirling Albion before a spell with Sauchie in 2007.

However, injury put paid to his footballing ambitions and he spent several years out of the game.

He then returned to manage Dunblane Soccer Club Amateurs and guided them from the doldrums to the top of Caledonian League.

Long-term assistant David Melvin and Ross Horsburgh will join McInnes in Clackmannanshire and the trio have already established a list of transfer targets.

“I spoke to Noel and the people at the club and everything just felt right,” McInnes said. “They’ve all been really welcoming and top-notch.

“The club doesn’t really have any affiliation of feeder club as things stand so they are now having to constantly improvise to get players in.

“We agreed if I can get a player and progress them to the first team then that’s brilliant. But if things don’t work out then the hope is we can move them on and bring some money into the club.

“Sauchie is a really great set-up and that will be hugely beneficial to us.

“My role will be to bring younger players in through the door and to bridge the gap between the youth set up and senior side.

“But that will work both ways and we will also help players out in the senior side who maybe just aren’t quite ready for that level.

“I would be disappointed if none of my players made it into the senior side and know then I wouldn’t be doing my job right.

“I am just really excited about it and can’t wait to get started.”

McInnes, who played alongside Sauchie favourite Fraser Duncan, will target players who are just finishing Pro Youth football or who are attending Stirling University.

The ambitious manager has firmly set his sights on establishing the junior side on their own merit, but admits his primary concern is to develop players for the senior side.

He continued: “Sauchie is an environment and a club which has always had a good status for bringing boys on and giving them a chance.

“Sauchie can’t lose from this. The worst case scenario is a player doesn’t make it to the senior side and we move them on.

“It would be nice to pick up league titles and medals, but at the end of the day my job is to develop players.”