WHEN the clocks went back and fireworks started to reach the skies in 2015, Crossgates Primrose was a club on the verge of fizzling out.

Struggling at the bottom of the then SJFA (Scottish Junior Football Association) South Division, and with a lack of committee members and resource to attract players, its then secretary, Kevan McArthur, felt he had no option but to close its doors.

It looked as though Humbug Park, which started one of the Scottish game’s greatest players, Jim Baxter, on the road to a glittering career with club and country, had lost its sparkle for good.

But, in a remarkable turnaround that began with a return to juniors action three years ago, having been placed in abeyance by the SJFA, Primrose rocketed their way into the senior pyramid last year and won promotion, and came within a penalty shoot-out of a first cup final in 24 years, into the bargain.

Under the management of Alan Campbell, assisted by brother Ally, they find themselves in the East of Scotland League Premier Division – the sixth tier of the pyramid, and one division below the Lowland League – with the likes of Linlithgow Rose, Hill of Beath Hawthorn, Bo’ness United and Dundonald Bluebell.

Led by chairman Frazer Martin and McArthur, they now have a nine-strong committee, and have even unveiled plans to build a covered terracing, with a crowdfunding initiative raising an impressive £2,150 towards its costs.

They’ve come a long way in a short space of time and, in an interview with Press Sport, both Martin and McArthur were keen to maintain the progress they have made.

“It was a heartbreaking decision to make (to close the club in 2015) but, Frazer will know now because he can see what goes on behind the scenes, trying to do that yourself was just impossible,” McArthur reflected.

“I’ve got the club at heart, so it’s great to see them being well talked about. When we made the decision to join the East of Scotland League, I think at that point only 13 junior teams had gone over to join.

"It was a hard decision; the club had always been steeped in junior (football), as had the other clubs, but I think it made it a bit easier for us that so many other clubs were contemplating it.

“All of a sudden, there was a huge influx of Super League teams who came over so it got a bit more difficult but then to get put in a conference with the likes of Bonnyrigg Rose, Bo’ness, Dundonald, Tranent and Sauchie, it did make the job really hard.

“But, at the end of the day, you want to progress. You want to test yourself and move on and, to do what we’ve done in a year-and-a-half, we’ve no regrets at all.”

When asked if reaching the Premier League so soon was unexpected, Martin replied: “Probably, if I’m honest.

“We did set a goal to be top five and qualify for the Premier League but we knew it would be hard – and it was hard. For us, it’s a huge achievement to get to this level of football.

“It’s been really good and afforded us an opportunity to progress quite quickly. The fact we were in the East of Scotland League meant you could use that to attract players, which we did.

“Credit has really got to go to the management team. They knew how they wanted to go about things, and knew how important it was in not just getting the right players in, but the right characters I think.

"To be honest, in teams I have been involved in, it’s probably the most together squad I’ve seen. That comes down to Alan and Ally, who have gone about things in such a way that you need to be committed.”

After a 3-1 home win over Whitehill Welfare last Saturday, Crossgates sit in eighth place in the 16-team division.

For this season, Martin continued: “We’re realistic but we want to progress. We know it’s going to take time. It’s gradual progression. We’ve gone quicker than we expected but now we’ve got to try and sustain it.”

McArthur added: “I’m very proud of the guys, especially Alan and Ally, they’ve done really well.

“I think they must have had a very good reputation out in the field as well because we’ve got guys that have played at Super League level playing here now, and we’d never have dreamed of attracting these kind of people before.

"It’s been a fantastic journey and long may it continue.”