Montrose last night received a huge boost with the news that boss Stewart Petrie and most of last season’s historic title-winning squad have all agreed new deals or extended existing contracts with the club.
The Gable Endies clinched the League 2 title and automatic promotion on a never-to-be forgotten “helicopter Saturday” last month thanks to a 1-1 draw with Elgin City at Links Park.
The town is still buzzing and the feel-good factor should now continue into next season with Petrie, assistant Ross Campbell and player/coach Sean Dillon along with several key members of the team all pledging their futures to the Angus club.
The manager said: “I was delighted to sign an extension until 2021.
“What we achieved last season was fantastic for everyone connected with the club and while we know it will not be easy, I cannot wait for a crack at League 1.
“Ross has also signed for another three years which is great. I cannot speak highly enough of the job he does for me and the club. He has made a major difference.
“We have extended Sean’s contract until 2020 which again is fantastic news.
“Sean has been outstanding for us ever since he came in and it would be no exaggeration to say we wouldn’t have won the league without him.
“Of course it wasn’t just Sean and it was great to see our goalie Allan Fleming and so many of the backline named in the League 2 team of the year.
“Matty Allan has another year’s contract, Michael Bolochoweckyj has penned a one-year deal while Andrew Steeves has signed for a further year so we are delighted with that as well.”
Montrose have also fought off competition from other clubs to persuade goal-scoring midfielder Lewis Milne to stay at Links Park while Petrie has snapped up former Dundee and Arbroath front man Josh Skelly.
He said: “Lewis has signed a two-year contract as well.
“There was interest in him from elsewhere. When someone of that ability is kicking around the lower leagues he will have that.
“Lewis has been great for us and he has had offers from other part-time clubs but he is like any young kid and he wants to go and play full-time football.
“We will grant that if it comes along but at the moment we are delighted to have him because he is a special talent as he showed scoring 11 goals for us from the middle of the park last season.”
Petrie added: “We see Josh playing in several positions but he can certainly score goals.
“He is a great addition for us. He can either play wide, off the front and up top as well in a two so I am delighted to have someone of his ability.
“Hopefully we can bring that out of him because he certainly had massive potential as a youngster.
“We will look to get him that wee bit of confidence and playing football again.
“And then who knows? He certainly has plenty of time to go back up the leagues again.”
Petrie has still not given up on signing former Dundee United and Hibs midfielder John Rankin and is also on the look-out for a striker and a right-back.
The manager added: “We are delighted with all the business we have done so far.
“It says a lot for the club that so many have wanted to stay and be part of Montrose going forward.
“It is up to us all now to raise our standards again from myself down to all the players.
“We are certainly going up a notch in League 1.
“But we are not in any rush now and we have identified the two areas where we need to pick up players.
“We have missed out on one or two but you expect that.
“We have obviously gone up a league so you are competing with teams that maybe have bigger budgets.”
The likes of Paul Watson, Craig Johnston, Martyn Fotheringham, Jamie Redman and Terry Masson have all agreed new one-year deals while others such as Allan, Iain Campbell, Graham Webster, Martin Rennie and Ryan Ferguson still have a season left on existing deals.
Assistant boss Campbell has also signed another player contract for next season with Petrie intending to give him more game time.
Veteran striker Chris Templeman has retired and other players will be leaving Links Park.
Petrie added: “Gary Fraser, Connor McLaren, Danny Cavanagh and Kerr Hay have not been offered new contracts but we would just like to thank them for all their efforts and contribution since they came to the club.
“And especially in what was a special season for Montrose.”