East End boss Stuart Whicher says the Superleague side are getting “stronger and stronger every week” after a forced rebuild in the middle of the season.
The Granite City club’s former management team of Lee Youngson, Craig Stephenson and Ian Finnie left for rivals Culter in the middle of last month.
As a result of this, 13 players eventually swapped New Advocates Park for Crombie Park, meaning Whicher and his team took over a threadbare playing staff of six.
Whicher said: “(The club’s) changed quite massively, to be honest.
“The previous management moved on to Culter and took a large portion of the squad with them.
“We picked up a squad of six players.
“It was quite difficult to start with, but it was challenge I was ready to meet head on.
“I was involved with Stoneywood-East End, the amateur team, as well as the amateur select.
“I’d been working with previous management for a couple of years when they brought us to the club, almost as a development team for them.”
On the task of recruiting a new side, he added: “Kieran Morrison, Robbie Hay, Barry Gray and Greg Watson were playing amateur football and have taken the opportunity to step back up to junior level.
“Jay Murphy was playing Under-20s development football for Banks o’ Dee, but wasn’t playing on a Saturday and I’ve taken a young guy Lee McAllister on loan from Inverurie Locos.
“We also bought a striker from Stonehaven and picked up another couple of guys from Culter, Lee Todd and Bruce Dryburgh, who were cut loose to make room for the players moving there.
“It’s just about doing due diligence and making sure we get the right characters in.
“We’ve got a cracking bunch of boys on and off the pitch.”
Finlay Johnstone, Scott Adams and Jack Odlin have also joined up.
It’s been a time of upheaval at the club, founded in 1887, who under Youngson & Co won the First Division (East) last season, Regional Cup, League Cup – twice – and the Archibald Cup.
Chairman Dougie Yeats also resigned at the close of the year, with secretary Fiona Anderson stepping down on Saturday.
Whicher – whose team are mid-table after an expected bedding in period for the incoming players – admitted his first task when he first took up the hotseat was just to assemble a new squad capable of preserving East End’s Superleague status.
He said: “It was hard to fulfil fixtures. That was just down to a numbers game.
“I took three of my own squad with me. I could have taken more but that would been damaging to them (the amateur side).
“Midway through the season it was hard to get bodies in, not just players but players of the right quality.
“We’re just about there in terms of that and looking at getting another couple in to make us up to 18, 19, 20 boys.
“We’ve a couple of guys who work offshore, and obviously work comes first, but we’re nearly there.”
The boss thinks, with time, the new-look End will flourish in the top flight with their mix of experienced campaigners and youth.
Whicher said: “The guys have been good at getting to training and we’ve done a lot of tactical stuff there.
“When the boys go on the park they know their individual jobs.”
He added: “The squad’s getting stronger and stronger every week.
“The results haven’t gone our way, but you’re getting more cohesion and characters coming out.
“There’s a bit of camaraderie there now, which you’ve got to let grow organically.
“There’s stuff to work on, on the pitch, but there are positives from every game.”