Stevie Aitken: Stranraer boss eager to mix it in Championship

Stevie Aitken
Stevie Aitken took over as Stranraer manager in 2012

Stranraer manager Stevie Aitken aims to achieve a "special" promotion to the Scottish Championship.

The Stair Park side have not been in Scotland's second tier since the 2005-06 season but lead League One by a point with five games to go.

"There's a lot of big, big clubs in there," Aitken told BBC Scotland.

"Rangers or Hibs are still there and there's potential for St Mirren, Motherwell or Ross County to come down, but we've still got work to do."

Stranraer are on 58 points, with Greenock Morton and Forfar Athletic close behind on 57.

"Excitement comes to mind, because we've got ourselves in a situation where there's three teams up there challenging," said Aitken, who played for the Dumfries and Galloway club for eight years before succeeding Keith Knox as boss in 2012.

Band of brothers
Manager Stevie Aitken's younger brother, Chris, plays in midfield for Stranraer

"I think if you asked any of those teams at the start of the season - especially ourselves and Forfar - that with five games to go you'd be in with a chance of winning it, we'd have bitten the hand off that.

"Our job as a management team is to try and keep them focused and keep their feet on the ground. If you get ahead of yourself and put a lot of pressure on them, that's when it can maybe go wrong."

The Blues are a part-time outfit and that would remain so even if they are promoted, but Aitken reckons the character that has been developed recently is priceless.

"What we've certainly built over the last three years is a spirit in the dressing room; as well as willingness to work and learn," he said.

Jamie Longworth
Jamie Longworth (centre) has notched 14 goals for Stranraer this season

"The group of players we've got have got a lot of faith in myself and Stevie Farrell, my assistant; likewise, we have the same to the players.

"It's a great place for me to start. I know the club really well. When you go into management, I think it's key that you get the first one right.

"It's different from being a player or a coach; to get flung in at the deep end of being a manager you don't realise the amount of stuff that needs done.

"So to work with a club I knew really well certainly helped me. We've had a lot of success."

In Aitken's first campaign as manager, he helped Stranraer fight off the threat of relegation to League Two. Following on from that, they were pipped in last season's play-offs by Dunfermline Athletic.

Now, they sit top of the pile with just a handful of matches left, beginning with Ayr United on Saturday.

"The whole town has bought in to what we're trying to do and have enjoyed the success we've had," added Aitken.

"We've noticed with the crowds the last few years. We're certainly getting a lot more than we did."

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