NAIRN County FC completed a major signing coup this morning with Tony Wallace penning a one-year contract at Station Park, writes Graeme Macleod.
The 24-year-old former Dumbarton and Greenock Morton attacker joins the club having spent last season in the Lowland League with BSC Glasgow.
County boss Les Fridge was delighted to have finally secured a player he first targeted last summer and to have beaten off competition from a number of SPFL clubs with East Fife, Elgin City and Annan Athletic all said to have been on Wallace’s trail.
Fridge said: “Tony came up here last summer and really enjoyed it but he thought the travelling might be a problem. He spoke to Bradley (Halsman) and Calum (Antell) though and they told him it was no real problem and that it is not as bad as he might have thought.
“He came up again this summer and I think he regretted not joining us last year. I think he realised halfway through the season that the boys from the central belt were still coming up and enjoying it at the club with the whole setup and professionalism that we have.
“It was great for us to get the opportunity to get him up and get him involved again this summer. There was a big doubt over whether we would get him or not because there were four or five Scottish League clubs all chasing him. The fact that we have managed to get him is a great coup for us.
“He has played in the Scottish Leagues before and now fancies something different. As I said, it was only really the travelling which put him off last year and during the season, I think there was a wee bit of regret on his part that he did not join us then.
“It speaks volumes for us that we can attract this sort of player.”
Wallace has played two games for the club as a trialist this summer making a goal-scoring appearance as a substitute against Ross County before playing the full 90 minutes last weekend against Airdrie – coincidentally the same two clubs he played for Nairn as a trialist against last summer.
Fridge added: “I like players that are versatile and Tony can play wide, up front where he would give us a different dimension or in the middle of the park. There is plenty of variation there and he is a big strong boy who is good in the air which adds another string to our bow.”
Wallace faces competition from the likes of Conor Gethins, Robbie Duncanson, Sam Urquhart and John Cameron for a place in Fridge’s attack but the boss is plased to have such a range of top quality options.
He stated: “We still do not have a big squad but I would like to think that we have a bit more quality than we have had in recent years. There is a lot more competition for places in the team and that can only be a good thing. Boys who are in the starting line up will be looking over their shoulders and seeing quality players on the bench who want their places in the team.”
County won 4-3 at Nairn St Ninian in their latest friendly outing on Thursday evening and welcome Inverness CT to Station Park this afternoon. Aberdeen then visit on Tuesday night for Martin MacDonald’s Testimonial Match which is also the last fixture before the first league game of the season against Inverurie Locos a week today.
Fridge said: “We made a lot of substitutions, tried boys in various positions and tried out new things on Thursday night. It is all about giving everybody game time and making sure they are match fit for the start of the season next week. Obviously, we have a few boys out with suspensions at the start of the season, which is something I will need to look at it.
“I am not too interested in pre-season results – it is about trying to give everybody game time. Tuesday will take care of itself and be a different type of game, occasion and atmosphere. Martin certainly deserves that for what he has done at the club and the length of time he has been here.
“It is good to get a good test today as well but again we will be making substitutions and trying different things because that is what pre-season is about.”