THE dust may barely have settled on the 2023-24 West of Scotland Football League season, but clubs all over Ayrshire are wasting no time getting their ducks in a row for the new campaign.

Transfer deals have already been struck and pre-season friendlies organised across the region ahead of the first competitive matches of 2024-25, due at the end of July.

All is quiet, so far at least, at Bellsdale Park, with no official word of any ins and outs yet as champions Beith Juniors look towards a third league title in a row.

Auchinleck Talbot confirmed the capture at the weekend of midfielder Ross Clark from North Premier champions Culter and, a little closer to home, of goalkeeper Glen Cameron, who moves to Beechwood from First Division Ashfield as a direct replacement for Aidan Glavin, who has returned to Kilmarnock after his season-long loan.

Craig McCracken, Tarek Abed and captain Gareth Armstrong have all signed contract extensions and will remain part of Tommy Sloan's squad.

Ayr Advertiser: Talbot finished runners-up to Beith in last season's Premier Division.Talbot finished runners-up to Beith in last season's Premier Division. (Image: Craig McGhee/Auchinleck Talbot FC)

At Largs Thistle, six members of last season’s squad will line up in the black and gold again in 2024-25 after Sean McLeod, David Ramsay, Ryan McCreath, John Cumming, Cole Ojungu and top scorer Will Sewell committed themselves to the club; Stuart Davidson’s men have also confirmed the details of three pre-season friendlies, at home to Broomhill on July 6 and Petershill on July 20 and away to Kilbirnie Ladeside on July 13.

Few squads will look more different when the new season begins than that of Cumnock Juniors, whose new manager Stephen Swift has released 10 players – Jamie Barclay, Mark McLennan, Sam Jamieson, Callan Veitch, Robbie Young, Findlay Frye, Greg Ferry, Grant Dickie and both Andy McLaughlins – and in the past week has made a further two, Alan Cook and Jared Willet, available for transfer, while bringing in Darren Brownlie from Partick Thistle, goalkeeper Blair Currie from Stirling Albion, and Sam Ellis, Josh Jack, Daniel Higgins and Cammy Chalmers from Swift’s former club Broomhill.

Veitch and Jamieson have both moved to Premier Division rivals Troon, who have also confirmed that defender Aldin El-Zubaidi will be remaining at Portland Park after spending the second half of last season on loan at the Seasiders from Kilwinning Rangers.

Glenafton Athletic boss Ryan Caddis has also begun a significant overhaul of his Loch Park squad, with Paul Paton, Scott McLean, Gary Fraser, Ryan Sinnamon, Alex McWaters and Michael Moffat all leaving the club.

Ayr Advertiser: Glenafton Athletic confirmed top flight safety with Friday night's 5-0 win at home to Cumnock

Former Hurlford midfielder Ryan Walker has been confirmed as a new addition to Caddis’s squad, while Craig Pettigrew and Lyall Holding have both put pen to paper on new contracts, joining Hugh Kerr, who played a big part in Glens’ top flight survival after moving back to New Cumnock from Pollok at the end of March and who has signed a two-year contract extension.

Ben Carson was widely expected to make significant changes to his Irvine Meadow squad after the team’s relegation to the First Division, and he has delivered on those expectations so far, with two of the Cumnock departures, McLennan and Barclay, joining ex-Glens man Paton in the Meadow Park arrivals lounge so far as Paul Byrne, Ross Gilmour, Conor Greene and Conor O’Donnell leave the club.

The past week has been particularly turbulent for Kilwinning Rangers, whose manager Chris Aitken suddenly resigned on Friday; he had been linked with the vacant managerial post at Stirling Albion, with whom he had two spells as a player, only for the Forthbank club to announce on Sunday that they’d plumped for former Edinburgh City boss Alan Maybury instead.

Aitken’s departure came after Buffs announced the signing of midfielder Cammy Kerr from First Division rivals Renfrew and the retention of Keiren Wood and Graham Boyd, while Josh Loudon, Max Conway and long-serving skipper Ben Lewis will not be returning to Buffs Park for the new campaign.



For Kilbirnie Ladeside boss Colin Spence, the summer so far has been all about announcing contract extensions for existing members of his squad, with captain Danny Bamford joining Jon Scullion, Ryan Connelly, Mickey Wilson, CJ Johnston, Ryan McCubbins and last season’s leading scorer Scott Lewis all confirmed for another season with the Blasties.

Two former Maybole Juniors players, Alex Bell and Aaron Miller, are returning to the club after spells with Kilbirnie and Dalry Thistle respectively, while former Cumnock and Ayr man Chrissy Campbell has also moved to Ladywell alongside Gerard Clark, who scored 28 goals for Giffnock in the Fourth Division last season.

Whitletts boss Mick McCann, meanwhile, looks to be keeping faith in his existing squad as he aims to lead Vics straight back into the second tier following their relegation from the First Division, with Louis Kerr, Thomas Dempsie, Jordan Baird, Dylan Howarth, Andy Kerr and Kris Brown all retained at New Voluntary Park for next season.

Muirkirk Juniors’ close season clear-out has begun with the news that Thomas Rough, Ruiaridh Currie, James Ferguson and Jordan Hendry will not be retained after the expiry of their contracts at Burnside Park, while Craigmark Burntonians, under the new management team of Robert Wells, Michael Sandilands and Nathan Sloan, have confirmed the capture of two new signings from Ayrshire rivals Girvan in the form of Mason McIlwraith and Jai Ewing, and the retention of two more who arrived at Station Park midway through last season, Ross Armer and Jay Lunney.



In the Third Division, Irvine Victoria began their summer overhaul with the appointment of a new management team following the departure of Dougie MacDuff; the new man at the helm is Stuart MacDuff, with support from assistant Paul McKay and coaches Scott McDougall, Dylan Bolam and Max Durrant.

Dalry Thistle have also added a new face in the dugout in the shape of Graham Cairns, who brings experience from past spells at Greenock, Fort Wanderers, Vale of Clyde and Rossvale to his role as assistant to Chris Wilson, while Kello Rovers, though they’re yet to announce any squad changes for the new campaign, have confirmed details of three pre-season friendly matches at Nithside Park, against Dalry on July 6, Lochar Thistle on July 17 and Craigmark on July 20.

Fourth Division Eglinton have signed Jack McAlpine and Lewis McGinn from Kilwinning Rangers and Marc Walker from Shortlees, as well as the retention of Dylan McLintock, while Saltcoats Vics have announced friendly matches away to Vale of Leven on July 6 and at home to Glenvale (July 13) and Irvine Vics (July 20).