Chairman Keith Moorhouse says Cove Rangers’ reception during their first month in League Two has been “absolutely brilliant”.
The table-topping Balmoral Stadium outfit are undefeated and favourites for immediate promotion, having made the step up from the Highland League for this term.
Free-scoring performances and crowds to compete with any in the third and fourth tier have delighted chief Moorhouse.
He said: “I’m really pleased with the reception we’ve had from the public, our own fans and football fans in general.
“It’s been absolutely brilliant – way beyond what we expected.
“But, in saying that, they’re coming to see something decent. The football the boys play is decent football.
“I’ve spoken to loads of guys who watch Aberdeen and some have come to our game on a Saturday instead of going to Pittodrie.
“That won’t happen forever, but at the minute we’re on a wee bit of a high.
“We need to entertain people and keep them happy to come back.
“People in the north-east are not mugs, they want their money’s worth and we’re no different – good things out on the park.
“We’re ahead of where we thought we’d be.”
The Cove board appointed former Dundee boss Paul Hartley after John Sheran – who was co-manager alongside Graeme Mathieson – stepped down. That decision has been vindicated, according to Moorhouse, who added: “Making that commitment in terms of bringing in a full- time manager at the start of the campaign was huge.
“We knew what Paul could bring after he helped us out with the play-off games. It’s exactly what we needed, plus more.”
Cove travel to Brechin on league business on Saturday, having played their first televised game last weekend – a narrow Challenge Cup loss to Wales’ Connah’s Quay Nomads.
Moorhouse admits – based on the last few weeks – the club have already started to look at long-term expansion of the year-old Balmoral to capitalise on their growing popularity.
However, there have been negatives to Cove’s increased profile. Over the summer, before and after Hartley and his staff arrived, some Highland title winners have decided to depart, while new signings – some permanent, as well as loanees like Dundee United’s Declan Glass – have arrived.
Some of the squad have been used in different roles or had less game time than last season as the club adapt to a new level.
Moorhouse says social media rumours that there is any disquiet in the Cove dressing room over changes for this term are false.
He also underlined that those who have departed recently, like winger Daniel Park or wantaway defender Darryn Kelly, have played valuable roles in the club’s journey to the Scottish leagues.
The chairman insists Cove’s community-driven “wee club” ethos remains but “to evolve you need to sometimes make decisions that are not popular” with everyone. No club can afford to put sentiment before progress, something he thinks may have taken some “by surprise”.
Moorhouse said: “We’ve got a really good dressing room.
“There have been things said about the camaraderie in the changing room.
“I’ve seen a lot of training sessions over the last few weeks, I travel to all the away games and know all the players.
“I’ve just come back from a weekend in Wales.
“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the spirit in our club and in our dressing room – absolutely nothing. The way the manager and players gel is plain to see.”
Moorhouse added: “There’ll be a bit of that (murmurs from people who have left), and a little bit of reticence from supporters who didn’t want to see their favourite players go.
“There was a big thing about us ‘bringing in west coast players’, which isn’t true.
“There are a few fans who don’t want us to follow the structure of other clubs. That’s not our intention. If you look at the players we’ve signed in the close season – Jamie Redman’s an Aberdeen lad, Fraser Fyvie’s an Aberdeen lad and Daniel Higgins relocated, got a job in Aberdeen, bought a house in Cove.”
According to their chief, Cove will make the decisions they believe are needed to make the club successful – which right now they undeniably are.
And he says the club will continue to back the management team on what they think is best for the “challenges” ahead.
There’s certainly no shortage of proactive thinking around the Balmoral, as Cove do not want League Two to be the final stop on their rise in Scottish football.
Moorhouse said: “Over time the club will grow, but right now we need to remember we were a Highland League club a few months back.
“Things need to progress given their natural time.
“We have thoughts on what we want to do with the youth team, where the first team needs to be, what the club needs to look like in five years.
“We don’t want to stand still.”