It took until the summer of 1974 to wake the club from its slumbers. Shire were on the lookout for a manager, the board of directors wanted
someone young and go-ahead who was looking to make a name for himself. Chairman Willie Muirhead was in Germany watching Scotland in the World Cup finals when he asked a well-respected figure for a name he could recommend. The well-respected figure was Ally McLeod and the name he suggested was Alex Ferguson.
Sir Alex Ferguson, as he now is, was manager of East Stirlingshire for 117 days. In that time he galvanised the club, brought a new-found belief to the players, briefly took them to third league and, oh yes, led them to their first league victory over Falkirk in 70 years.
And then he was gone to manage St. Mirren, a club at the time lower in the league than Shire but who, under Ferguson’s guidance, by 1978 were in the top division.
Shire went back to muddling along, never struggling but never excelling until the arrival of another Mr. Motivator, Billy Lamont. The former Hamilton Accies goalkeeper, like Ferguson, was having his first go at senior management when he took over the manager’s position in 1978. A year later he had assembled a squad with a mean defence and a talent for notching goals when it mattered.
In 1979/80 Shire won promotion, beating Falkirk twice but, and this was the downside, being pipped to the Second Division title by their town rivals on the final day of the season. There were celebrations, of course, but that one fact still hurt.
And Lamont can lay claim to one unique record. He kept Shire in the higher division after promotion. There was no instant relegation back through the trapdoor as had always been the case. He also took them to the quarter-final of the Scottish Cup that 1980/81 season before they lost to Celtic.
But, like Ferguson, Lamont opted to move to a club with more potential and he realised that, taking Dumbarton into the Premier League. Shire then sought to turn back the clock and appointed Alex Ferguson’s brother, Martin, as manager. Despite being Hearts at Tynecastle, Shire couldn’t avoid the drop.
And relegation meant they dropped like a stone, finishing next to last the season after relegation. For the rest of the 1980’s Shire became a sellingclub, unearthing talented players like Russell Doig, Gordon Wyle, Steve Maskrey and John Irvine who were sold on to bigger clubs for big fees. In 1989 Alan Mackin was appointed manager. His one season in charge was not successful; Shire finished bottom of the league in 1989/90, the first time they had come rank last since 1957.
Billy Little had been Shire manager in the early 1980’s and he made a return in 1993. His second spell was memorable. He brought exciting forwards to the club like Peter Dwyer, Mungo McCallum and Michael Geraghty. In 1994/ 95 Shire were genuine promotion contenders in the first season of the new 10 club Third Division but faded to finish fourth.
John Brownlie repeated the fourth place finish in 1998 but that was a successful as it got.