DEFENDER Graeme Anderson has high hopes of steering Irvine Victoria into the Championship after enjoying some major success with Shortlees Amateurs,

And fellow new recruit, Billy Arthur is also optimistic after joining from near neighbours Saltcoats Victoria.

Friendship helped Anderson (23) earn a place in the squad.

He explained: "I heard Vics were looking for a new left-back and my best pal Grant Bolton, who plays here, put my name forward, and I am friendly with Callum Davidson, who is also in the squad.

"This will be my first proper crack at junior football and hopefully I can make a difference. Late last season I played a couple of games for Vics but unfortunately we were relegated. Added the defender: "I won the treble with Shortlees two seasons ago - we won the League, the West of Scotland Cup and the Ayrshire Cup and we were promoted into the Premier Division. It was a great year. Hopefully I can have more success with Irvine Vics and we can get promotion and also challenge for the cups and see what happens.

Centre midfielder Arthur (35), who joins from Saltcoats Victoria, where he spent 18 months, was previously with Whitletts Victoria, amateur team Hurlford Thistle and Muirkirk.

He is looking forward to the challenge and said: "Stevie Wilson, the Vics manager got in touch with me six or seven years before the end of the season and asked me if I would like to come down and train with the boys."

The veteran has high hopes for the future and said: "If they play the way they can play I have absolutely no doubt they can be contending for the league again - they will be there or thereabouts - it would be nice to get some silverware back at the club. We have a good bunch of boys here. I came down the last few games of last season and they just weren't getting the rub of the green. I watched the game against Cumnock and there was nothing in it."

Manager Stevie Wilson added: "Training sessions are going well and we want to be ready for the new season. There's no beating about the bush - we want promotion. The Ardagh Glass League Cup will allow us to bring guys up to speed and get game time. The league campaign is the most important for us."

Meanwhile Vics will host bitter rivals Irvine Meadow twice in the early part of the season, with both games at Victoria Park. They meet in the Ardagh Glass League Cup on Saturday, August 12 with the traditional Marymass Trophy match scheduled for Friday, August 25.