Edinburgh City will start 2017 in high spirits after some impressive results at the tail end of the year saw them revive their chances of staying in Ladbrokes League Two come the end of the season.
City are undefeated in eight league games, with five wins coming during that period, culminating in a 3-1 victory over Berwick Rangers that leaves them in 6th place. They also battled to a narrow 1-0 defeat against League One side East Fife in the Scottish Cup.
The turnaround is quite remarkable when reflecting on the start of their foray into league football, which may have given the impression that the gulf between the bottom end of the SPFL, and Highland and Lowland League clubs, is rather large.
After winning the latter at a canter last season, City failed to register a victory in their opening eleven league games of this season, nor pick up any points in the League Cup, as well as being defeated 2-1 by Motherwell U20s in the Irn-Bru Cup.
Yet there were signs of encouragement even then. The defeats were almost always narrow, with the capital outfit proving themselves a difficult side to break down, willing to work hard and play for each other.
This owes much to the fact that manager Gary Jardine, who has been with the club as player and manager since the East of Scotland Premier days, has kept the together the core of the squad that served them so well in achieving promotion.
Joe Mbu, the former Cowdenbeath and East Fife defender, continues as the bedrock of a defence which boasts the second best record in the league. Whilst club stalwart Dougie Gair, who scored the promotion-winning penalty back in May, has been instrumental in midfield, chipping in with five league goals.
To this solid core though, an extra bit of quality and league experience has been added. Former Celtic, Hearts and Scotland striker Craig Beattie was signed in the summer after leaving Stirling Albion.
Midfielder Marc Laird joined in September after a long career in England (he was a key player for Milwall when they were promoted to the Championship in the 2009/10 season) and has made a huge impact, with a solid work ethic and quality touches earning him the League Two player of the month award for November, and an 18 month contract extension.
And top scorer, 22 year old Ouzy See, will feel like a new signing after spending the second half of last season out injured. The former Selkirk player has notched six league goals so far, and has attracted interest from bigger clubs such as Morton in the process.
Not content to stand still, they also announced the signing of former Middlesbrough midfielder Josh Walker this week after a spell in India. A player Aberdeen fans will always remember for scoring that goal against Bayern Munich when on loan at Pittodrie in 2008.
It is clear then that City have the right ambition with some promising signings supplementing an already capable squad.
Off-the field too, the club are proving their mettle. The committee recently changed the whole of their U20s staff, after poor performances this season, showing the ruthlessness needed to get to the top level and a conscious effort to establish a strong youth base.
Attendances this season have been around a steady, if unspectacular, 300. But being in Edinburgh, whilst posing obvious challenges in terms of support, also provides tremendous potential should the on-field success continue.
The stadium issue is one they will have to find an answer to soon, with the future of Meadowbank consistently up in the air. A home and an identity is vital to any club’s long-term success. As City’s victims East Stirlingshire adversely proved in their relegation.
Nonetheless, 2016 has been a stellar year for a club who continually look to improve and achieve. A club who are a breath of fresh air to the top leagues. A club that is proving, if it were ever in doubt, what a wonderful addition the pyramid system is to our game.