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Sportsmans Take Premier Crown

Sportsmans’ longest serving player Lee McKenzie today vowed to become a legend at the club by promising to win the Premier Division for a second successive year.

The Aberdeenshire side followed up their recent Aberdeen FC Trophy success to become Premier Division champions for the first time in the club’s history.

Despite being level on points with rivals Cove Thistle and having a lower goal difference, the Amateur champions clinched the title because they have won more matches.

27-year-old Lee, who arrived at the club in 2005, has been with Sportsmans since he was 19 and admits it was a “fluke” that he came to the club.

He said: “My friend played for the club when they were in Division Two and they were desperate for players, so I was asked in the pub to come to training.

“I would never have thought I would still be here at Sportmans and I’m delighted with amount of success I have achieved with the lads.

“One of the reasons why I have stayed with Sportsmans for so long is the influence my manager, Lee Barclay, has had on me over the years.

“I have rejected a variety of Junior clubs in the past because I love playing with my pals at Sportsmans.”

Sportsmans were promoted to the Premier Division in 2009 after winning Division One (North).

A year later, the Aberdeenshire outfit lifted the North of Scotland Cup for the first time.

And Lee, who has turned down Junior clubs such as Banks o’ Dee and Glentanar in the past, admits he was always confident of winning Amateur football’s top league.

“We made some good signings at the start of the season so it came as no surprise when we beat Cove to the league title,” he said.

“It’s amazing to think we were playing in Division Two a few years ago which makes the progression of the side simply unbelievable.

“All I care about is that we win the league and everything else should take shape next season.

“The rivalry we have with Cove is as fierce as ever and it’s great for Amateur football.”

Cove set a new Amateur football record by becoming the first Premier Division club to remain unbeaten in the league throughout a season.

Sportsmans boss Lee Barclay, who stays next-door to Lee, brought the talented midfielder to the club.

And the 41-year-old today admitted he will scour the Highland League for veterans to prove they are not one-season-wonders.

He said: “Obviously there will be one or two guys who may leave but the majority of the lads have already committed themselves to the club for next season.

“We have had a couple of former Highland players come to train with us and they have really enjoyed it.

“At Sportsmans, we don’t train but only play high-tempo matches which has benefit the club this season.

“I think we have surprised Cove and the rest of the teams in Amateur football this season.

“Cove deserve massive credit for their unbeaten run but at the end of the day, football is about winning matches and we won more than them.”

Lee is in his ninth season with the club and has tipped Woodside to be the early favourites to win next season’s league.

“You can never write off teams such as Kincorth but I think it may be between Sportsmans, Cove and Woodside for the league next season,” he said.

“I’m not the kind of person to shout at my players for 90 minutes and I find they give me much more respect because of this.

“Playing for the club makes me feel like a player which brings me closer to the lads.

“Lee attracts players to come to the club because he is such a good player and now we have guys who are just as good as him.”