What a difference 12-months can make in football. A sporting eternity. This time last year the Broadbay Blues were licking their wounds after a very trying and painful 2015 season.
But last summer Back returned to being taken seriously again. The Blues pulled off a few performances last season that made people take notice.
The club has a young, talented squad and with the additions of Chris Mackay from Lochs and Connor Mackay from West Side they are really looking to push on.
Macarthur will have his team well-drilled, full of hard work and raucous to play against, but is there a cutting edge? The loss of Chris Stone will certainly blunt Back’s attacking threat.
Manager James ‘Bomie’ Macarthur said: “We are looking to build on last year’s performance and take things to the next level. The boys have trained very hard over the winter months with excellent turnouts every week.
“We have recruited well and added Chris Mackay from Lochs and Connor Mackay from West Side. Two or three U18s have moved up a level and look as if they are mixing well with the squad. It is very encouraging.
“Chris Stone is a big loss and he will be difficult to replace but we have MJ Maclean home for the most of the season which we hope will compensate a little. In the back of last year we want to take another step forward and try and have a couple of cup runs to give the guys confidence to get going.”
Although the league table shows Back won just three of their 14 league fixtures the real story was they came within a whisker of a number of other deserved results. Notably in their final league match against eventual champions Lochs where they lost 1-0 in a match they dominated for periods and saw a late penalty saved.
“I said to the guys if we play like we did against Lochs in the run in and take that level of performance into every game then we will give any team a game. We just need a little luck and we could do really well,” continued ‘Bomie.’
“I was surprised on one hand how well we did last year considering what we had to work for but on the other hand I wasn’t surprised when I thought about the hard work we put in over the close season.
“We have built on that again over the winter and we have upped the training to the next level. I doubt if any side has done the work we have done over the winter and we have been fortunate with the facilities we have at hand as well which helps. We have had two sessions a week all winter and we moved to three sessions a week recently too. The boys should be really fit.”
With the addition of the versatile Chris Mackay from Lochs - where he can slot into a number of roles - and the jet-heeled winger Connor Mackay from West Side, Back’s midfield options looks pretty formidable. Unlike the past two season or so, there’s far more depth, giving ‘Bomie’ some welcome selection headaches.
Perhaps the biggest concern for the blue half of Broadbay is that the goals could dry up. Back only netted 16 league goals last season in 14 matches. A poor return and 30-less than the top two of Lochs and Point.
Defensively their record of 25 goals conceded was the same as Carloway in fourth place and half the goals shipped by the likes of Stornoway United and Ness at the foot of the table.
This season ‘Bomie’ is hoping for another step forward and a possible split of last year’s top four.
He added: “From looking at players it looks like Point are very strong but if that translates into results you can never tell as any team is only two injuries away from a bad run. I would say looking at last year and the signings teams have made that Point, West, Carloway and Lochs will be top four and if we can split any of those teams we would consider it a successful season.”