Kirkintilloch once an amateur football hotbed but now clubs face battle for survival

Wilson McMillan of Campsie Minerva with Tony and Dean Carr of club sponsors Top Cat Window Blinds
Wilson McMillan of Campsie Minerva with Tony and Dean Carr of club sponsors Top Cat Window Blinds

Amateur football club Campsie Minerva have secured a much-needed sponsorship deal with a local blinds firm for the new season.

Twechar-based Top Cat Window Blinds have agreed to sponsor the strips worn by the club’s players in this season’s Central Scottish AFL Premier Division.

But while delighted with the support, Minerva club spokesman Wilson McMillan believes the increasing difficulties in persuading companies such as Top Cat to back amateur clubs is putting more and more of them at risk.

He said: “Sponsorship is an essential element of any amateur football club.

“In the 80s and early 90s there was an abundance of amateur teams playing Saturday afternoon football in Kirkintilloch and nearby villages.

“You had Strathkelvin Amateurs, Woodstock Amateurs, Woodilee Amateurs, Torrance Amateurs, Craigfoot Amateurs, Caprice Amateurs, Lennox Amateurs, Kirkintilloch Miners, Battlefield Amateurs and Queenzieburn Amateurs to name but a few, and what do these teams all have in common? They folded.”

They were joined two years ago by Campsie Black Watch, arguably the area’s most famous amateur club, who were forced to call it a day after more than 70 years.

Wilson continued: “The amateur scene currently in 2019 means you will find far fewer Saturday afternoon teams. Campsie Minerva, Harestanes Amateurs, Barrhill Amateurs and Campsie Amateurs continue to play.

“While there is clear evidence of computer games and alternative sports affecting the amateur game it is equally clear that finances are having a huge impact on those individuals giving their time and effort to running amateur clubs.

“Two of the district’s longest surviving teams, Campsie Minerva and Harestanes currently play in the Central Scottish AFL, a well oiled organisation to be fair that attracts the best teams from in and around Central Scotland.

“But if you have a look at what we need to pay for, it’s not cheap - league dues, association to the SAFL has to be paid, entry into the Scottish and West Cups has to be paid, mandatory player insurance has to be paid.

“We need kit for the teams, a home strip and an away strip, please.

“The rental of pitches, match balls, training balls, referee payment, first aid kit, sending players to a physio, water, juice for a Saturday (or Bovril in the winter) and if a player gets a yellow card or worse a red card, then a fine wings its way to you, all this adds to the running costs.

“I cannot name an afternoon team that has been set up in the last ten years, does this tell us anything?

“The generosity of individuals or companies does, in my opinion, keep amateur football afloat in this district.

“They sponsor strips, tracksuits, bags, training kit, the lot, and for this we are gratefully thankful.”