Jamie Masson sees little reason why Cove Rangers should have to change.
His three seasons with the Aberdeen side have brought three league titles and two promotions. Winning is a habit.
They were comfortably top of League Two when Covid-19 ended the season early. It was Cove’s first season in the SPFL after promotion from the Highland League.
The challenges change now and the difficulty increases. Cove will come up against full-time teams – Falkirk, Partick Thistle and Airdrieonians – in league fixtures for the first time. They also do not have the surprise factor as any team not noticing their progress last season is being negligent at best.
“Coming in last year, we were a new team and nobody had played against us,” said Masson. “We knew we were good enough and just had to prove it. Thankfully we did.
“A good start to the season gets you going. We got off to a flyer last year and that gets your confidence up.
“We’ve got the same squad and got another couple in. You need a good strong squad in League One. We’ll just go into this season, try win every game. That’s the squad’s mentality, even against the full-time teams. Just go for it, go for the three points and see where it takes us. I think that’s the best way to be.
“We believe in ourselves and you always want to go into games just wanting three points. That’s all that matters. That’s what gets you up the leagues at the end of the season.
“We didn’t have a set target last season, just to try get three points every game. We had a game-to-game strategy.”
Because of the pandemic they have had little opportunity to celebrate their success of last season. Instead, everything has been geared towards returning to play and what they, as a club, can do to ensure players and staff return safely.
Cove returned to training a fortnight ago at the Balmoral Stadium and for many, it was a long time in coming.
“You sometimes forget it’s part-time. The way they’re set up and treat football, it’s good to be involved in. You can see when we’ve been in, the lads are just buzzing to get going.
“It’s going to be hard to get match-fit – hopefully we get a couple of games under our belts soon – but the lads just want to get started for a new challenge again.”
Masson, a former youth and senior player with Aberdeen, joined Cove in 2017 after leaving Formartine United.
He made 11 senior appearances for the Dons, with his first professional start coming in a 2-1 defeat against Hibernian at Pittodrie in May 2012. Coincidentally, Hibernian head to Cove next month in the Betfred Cup for their first televised home game.
“When it got announced, I didn’t actually know. I think I was working at the time and my dad said it was on the TV. Hopefully we’ll get some fans in by then, in a month’s time. That’d be great for the club as well.
“I played at Pittodrie against them and I started. I think I came on a couple of times away from home. That’s when I was younger – I’ve kicked on a bit now.
“Coming up last year, going into the new league, it’s a great challenge to test ourselves and see where we’re at.”
With a tally of 15 goals and eight assists last season from a wide-midfield role, Masson has every reason to believe he can stand up to that challenge.
Both he and Mitch Megginson – the Cove captain and League Two top scorer with 24 goals – were somewhat comically omitted from the divisional team of the season, which was put out to a public vote by the SPFL.
“We saw it and laughed it off. The main thing is we were top of the league,” adds Masson.
“It’s probably the most enjoyable season I’ve had. Just going into games feeling confident has a lot to do with it at as well. Scoring and assisting helped but the main thing was we were picking up three points most weeks. It gives a buzz around the place, especially part-time when you’re only training twice a week.”
The foundation is in place for them to challenge in League One and continue to make their mark in the SPFL.
“Lads have been there and played at that level. The more leagues you go up the tougher it gets. There’s three full-time teams and the part-time teams are really good as well.
“It’s something the lads are really looking forward to. We believe we’re at that level as well.”