BEITH Juniors boss Chris Strain has vowed his side will be out to retain their title next season - and to gain promotion to the Lowland League.

The manager spoke to the Herald of his "pride and joy" after seeing his players lift the West of Scotland Football League (WoSFL) Premier Division trophy on Wednesday, May 3.

His side fell to a 2-1 defeat in their final home game of the season, though this did not dampen the spirits of the raucous crowd packed into Bellsdale Park.

Strain assured us that "we’ll have everything in place next year" to push for promotion up to step five in Scottish football pyramid - should Beith win the league once again.

But the Beith gaffer's thoughts aren't turning to next year just yet - as he basks in the glow of winning a top division title for the first time as a manager.

Strain won top titles in his time as a player, and admitted that winning as a manager didn't feel quite the same.

He told the Herald: “It’s different feeling, a real different feeling to a player. Any manager will tell you that. You can’t beat that feeling as a player because you put the effort in.

“I can see the joy the boys feel now. Mine is a feeling of pride, and probably a wee bit of relief that you get there.

“We’ve been in charge of our own destiny for a period of time; the difficulty comes in getting over that line

"We’ve stuttered over the last couple of weeks in terms of performance levels but I’m pleased for them, that’s the main thing."

It has been quite a turnaround since Strain took charge following the conclusion of last season - and after he was relieved of his duties at Kilwinning Rangers.

After finishing only two points above the relegation zone last season, Strain has turned Beith's fortunes around to win a title very few would have considered them for when the league campaign kicked off.

But he insisted that the credit for the turnaround doesn't primarily rest with him

“Confidence grows with results and the players have worked really hard.

“We work really hard on a Tuesday and a Thursday – and I mean extremely hard – and that’s the bit that nobody sees.

“They’ve shown real resilience in tough moments and they’ve got the rewards because they turn up religiously.

"Nobody misses anything at this football club, we’re constant in terms of our application, our desire and it’s come home to roost that we’re top of the pile.

“I’m delighted for them because it’s them that put in the hard work, it’s easy for me standing and shouting, but I’m not tired but those boys out there put everything into it.”

While the Strain still held onto some disappointment that trophy day could not be celebrated by a win - showing just how high the bar has been set at Beith.

He added: “We want to do as well as we can in every game that we play. That’s just part and parcel of the mentality you’ve got to have.

"If you want to win things you’ve got to be ruthless. Relentless.

“The motivation factor wasn’t there today, but having said that we can play better than we played, and I think there was a really poor decision to allow them the second goal.

“Ultimately it doesn’t matter, but those boys will be disappointed that they didn’t win the game tonight - and that’s part and parcel of why they’ve come out on top over the course of the season.”

And as for next season, Beith have their sights firmly set on another league title.

Strain assured fans that this will mean a chance to gain promotion to the Lowland League - after SFA licensing issues cost them that chance this year.

He said: “We’ll have everything in place next year. We’ll look to improve the squad over the summer.

“For us, we can’t stand still, we’ve got to really kick on. Auchinleck will come back strong. Clydebank, Pollok - these teams will improve and want to take the title off us.

“It’s harder to defend than it is to win, so we need to get our head down over the summer, rest up, and then come back with the real desire and intensity to come and defend our crown.”