Peterhead say never again to play off agony

SPFL 2'PETERHEAD V BERWICK RANGERS'(DUNCAN BROWN)' 'PETERHEAD'S RORY MCALLISTER LINES UP A SHOT
SPFL 2'PETERHEAD V BERWICK RANGERS'(DUNCAN BROWN)' 'PETERHEAD'S RORY MCALLISTER LINES UP A SHOT

On a sunny afternoon in May last year, the Peterhead players sat in the dressing room at Balmoorin emotional and physical anguish.

They had surrendered a chance of promotion by losing their play off final against East Fife, a game they more than deserved to win.

That day boss Jim McInally and his lieutenant Davey Nicholls swore ‘never again.’

Memories of the loss have driven everyone at Balmoor forward this season with the shared belief that nothing less than first place will suffice.

Though no one inside the club will admit it publicly, there is little doubt among League Two fans that Peterhead FC are champions elect.

After his side breezed past promotion-chasing Berwick Rangers, Jim McInally said: “What happened at the end of last season is our motivation.

“Davey can remind the players of that pain and ask, do you want that again?

“The only way you can put that right is to go and win games.

“That same squad deserved to go through the playoffs last year but they didn’t

“Now there’s nothing we can do about that other than keeping doing what we’re doing.”

Though Nicholls won three successive promotions as a player with Gretna, he suffered the pain of a penalty shoot out defeat in the 2006 Scottish Cup final and is adament Peterhead will not feel play off again.

He said: “That’s the worst feeling they will ever endure in their lives.

“There’s no coming back from that but it’ll never happen again because it hurts too much. It hurts us to see how hurt they are and we don’t want that again. Ever.

“The only way to rectify that is to know that, when they hand you that cup at the end of the season, all the pain was worth it.

“But nothing’s won yet.”

Save for Martin Bavidge, who came off the bench to replace Bryan Gilfillan in the play off final, Peterhead’s starting 11 is the same as this time last season and are accutely aware of what will happen if they let their 11 lead over Annan slip.

Gilfillan, more than most, knows what must be done.

The 29-year-old midfield man was with Nicholls in the Gretna team that won back to back promotions, but he has lost a remarkable four times going through the play offs with different clubs

Peterhead now face Annan on Saturday in what may feel like another play off final.

Bryan Gilfillan talks play offs and team talks on page 54.