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Fort William 2021-22 Thread


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11 hours ago, Spyro said:

Nobody in the town is interested in the club, they’ve been fighting an uphill battle for years but apart from the romanticists from far flung places who have visited a few times on holidays, no one in the town cares and it’s absolutely tragic!

The problem is that nobody has seen the “real” Fort William where 90% of the permanent residents live, they only see the polished facade of the High Street and the touristy areas. I’ve lived in some dodgy places but FW is a dump, and I have good friends there who would agree. It’s a really horrible place with no real prospects of opportunity for young, local people and the local government have let them down for years. All the money from tourism and industry in the area goes to very few… the real people of the town are just fired up on the hill and are trying to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads’. So no wonder there is very little support or interest in helping the committee and volunteering their weekends running around the highlands with the club.

Maybe when things were a bit more prosperous, the move from NCL to HL seemed like a good idea with local support and players willing and able to play every weekend. Nowadays the young people are forced to work weekends working for minimum wage in the tourist trade just to make ends meet.

Sorry to sound so grim but it’s the truth, the club is taking its final few breathes unless the corrupt local  government do a massive change and revive the rest of the town

It's almost like basing your local economy on an industry in which two-thirds of workers earn less than the living wage isn't a recipe for success.

I spent a couple of summers working in Fort William in the 90s and from what I gather it's even worse now than it was then. Lots of local work more than one job and are struggling to make ends meet. But that's not much different from many of the communities that support well-run non-league clubs. I mean, Blackburn has bigger social and economic problems than Fort William yet they've done an amazing job with their football club.

I think it comes down to having a small band of dedicated people, and either Fort William just doesn't have it or the people who would do it are running the shinty clubs instead.

As for the local authority, that short-sightedness extends across the country. The last decade has seen plastic pitches going in all over the country and they almost never so much as speak to the local football clubs to see if they want to get involved. 

25 minutes ago, FairWeatherFan said:

Some of the LL non league types may be should have a look at themselves when slating the Highland with this decision. 

Its not like the LL looked to fondly on Selkirk when they tried to blag their way through a season. 

In fairness, Selkirk's problems were of a different nature and more terminal. But I agree nobody should be criticising the HL for this.

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Don't understand criticism of HL on this. They could hardly say "carry on with that pitch", "move to a playing field" or "relax - just get back to us once it is sorted".

Seems pretty obvious this is the culmination of years of problems.

It's not like this has come out of the blue and blotted an otherwise excellent record.

Btw if their pitch is a wreck I'm not sure what else a league is supposed to do: their only options are expel/suggest they withdraw, find another licensed ground, or wander.

Some would argue that even wandering like this bends licensing beyond its intended limits. What would stop a club in Edinburgh wandering around whichever licensed ground in that city happened to be free each week, or Broomhill deciding they wouldn't have a park at all and play away or whatever. Obviously we all appreciate what has happened here but it's clearly a reaction to an emergency circumstance - with the season already underway - not a sustainable solution.

With feeders below abeyance isn't even an option now - at least in terms of returning to HL like nothing has happened - particularly with clubs below investing in licensing.

Edited by HibeeJibee
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I guess the HFL are probably hoping Fort William withdraw outright at this point but didn't want to actively push them over the edge. They better check they have done a better job of defining "bottom club" in their constitution where relegation issues are concerned than the LL did.

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Something like this has been coming for years and my only criticism of the HFL is that after multiple postponements they should have been actively inspecting improvement works, not waiting on "anonymous" reports once the season was underway.

Would be best for everyone if they just withdraw and try and come up with a serious plan to play at an appropriate level.

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9 minutes ago, invergowrie arab said:

Something like this has been coming for years and my only criticism of the HFL is that after multiple postponements they should have been actively inspecting improvement works, not waiting on "anonymous" reports once the season was underway.

Would be best for everyone if they just withdraw and try and come up with a serious plan to play at an appropriate level.

Tbf the Aberdeen-shire based HFL suits, bar Rod Houston, probably won't bothered what Fort are up to.  They're highly unlikely to send someone down there to take a look at how things are moving along pitch-wise.  As long as the Aberdeen area clubs are fine that that's good enough.

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The SHFL should be considering how to deal with this in the future. Their lack of a proactive solution to a longstanding problem is almost as big an issue as Fort's general divness when it comes to their pitch, and while I'm all for those in charge keeping out of club affairs in general, the LMC should have sent round to Claggan Park two very big men and a blackjack after that Strathspey shambles. That said, I've no doubt it was whichever governing body is in charge of the playoffs that made the call to SHFL Towers in the week. 

Naturally, one fully expects Fort to hammer home the 'woe is us' shtick on Pussbook and elsewhere. 

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26 minutes ago, TheScarf said:

Tbf the Aberdeen-shire based HFL suits, bar Rod Houston, probably won't bothered what Fort are up to.  They're highly unlikely to send someone down there to take a look at how things are moving along pitch-wise.  As long as the Aberdeen area clubs are fine that that's good enough.

I'd have done it for petrol and beer money 

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56 minutes ago, LongTimeLurker said:

I guess the HFL are probably hoping Fort William withdraw outright at this point but didn't want to actively push them over the edge. They better check they have done a better job of defining "bottom club" in their constitution where relegation issues are concerned than the LL did.

Whether by design or unintended consequences there must be a strong chance that this will indeed push Fort William over the edge.  Staging home fixtures at an opponents ground will have numerous practical and financial issues. If the groundholding team were to take care of the match day organisation (gates, stewards, first aid, refreshments, cleaners etc etc) they will certainly look for some financial recompense from FW in whatever format. On the other hand I just don't see that FW would be capable of organising a home fixture at an away ground (or 16 different grounds) by themselves. It looks like a very slippery slope I'm afraid.

 

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Interesting charts posted by Soupie over on FitbaNorth...

weatherpostponements18cluberareason.png

weatherpostponements18clubera.png

Over last decade Claggan Park has been waterlogged as often as next 3 worst, or best 9, put together.

Edited by HibeeJibee
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3 minutes ago, Sherrif John Bunnell said:

When I was young, folk from Nairn used to love claiming that the town had the lowest rainfall in Scotland. Going by that chart, maybe there is some truth to that?

I worked there for 3 years and can concur with this.

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Notable that the top 4 sides are all by the sea, so either the wind blow dries the pitch or having the North Sea nearby to drain into is a bit handy. Surprised Wick gets waterlogged so often given the massive slope.

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I don’t think I’ve ever been to Fort William and it hasn’t rained. It’s a midden of a place.

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Noticed that for Fort William v Fraserburgh on Saturday - now due at Fraserburgh of course - it's actually Fraserburgh themself promoting the match, their usual prices apply, their own STs are valid, usual raffle running... Interesting to see if those become standard arrangements.

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It sounds like this has been a long time coming for Fort, it’s sorry state of affairs for them but it sounds like they haven’t been doing enough to get the pitch playable.

Always knew that Fort William is regarded as quite rough/run down but I didn’t think things were as bad as they have been described here. I’ve been there a few times and didn’t think it was that bad, but as others have pointed out the tourists only see the high street.

Given the surroundings, the tourist attractions and outdoor activities available - there is no reason, in my mind, that Fort William can’t be the ‘Aviemore of the West.’ I think it’s really cool that Fort have a club, it’s easy to see why people hold a romantic vision of them. It’s a shame that locals don’t give a shit about them. Same all over Scotland though isn’t it? A country full of old firm gloryhunting gimps.

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9 hours ago, HibeeJibee said:

Noticed that for Fort William v Fraserburgh on Saturday - now due at Fraserburgh of course - it's actually Fraserburgh themself promoting the match, their usual prices apply, their own STs are valid, usual raffle running... Interesting to see if those become standard arrangements.

Aye that's an interesting one. 

Where are Fort William going to generate matchday income ? 

This could be the beginning of the end for them. 

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2 minutes ago, theoriginalhedge said:

Aye that's an interesting one. 

Where are Fort William going to generate matchday income ? 

This could be the beginning of the end for them. 

In the P&J article it states that the hosts will be donating what would have been their travel expenses. They're then trying to raise additional funds through crowdfunding.

Quote

Fort William up for season on the road as vice-chairman refuses to point finger at Highland League

Fort William vice-chairman Colin Wood says they will meet the challenge of having to play all their games away from home head on.

The Lochaber side will not play at Claggan Park this season because the pitch is unplayable.

As a result, Fort have agreed with the Highland League to play all fixtures away from home, which will result in increased costs.

However, the division’s other clubs have offered to pass on the travel costs they would normally accrue for a fixture at Claggan Park and Fort William also plan to start a crowdfunder to assist with costs.

Fort have found themselves in this situation with their pitch, sprinkler system and tractor having been damaged as a result of vandalism.

Club looking to bounce back

They have not been able to carry out the required remedial work in time to host fixtures this term.

Wood said: “In usual times groundsharing would have been an option. Highland Rugby Club’s Canal Park has been used very effectively for that before.

“And I’m sure there would have been other Highland League clubs who would have offered.

“But in Covid times that’s really not realistic, each Highland League club has done a huge amount of planning regarding how things operate at their stadium because of the protocols.
Fort William’s Claggan Park is not currently playable.

“It means groundsharing just wasn’t an option. We would have liked to have had more time and play our fixtures later on.

“But we have had a lot of call-offs in previous winters and at the very least this guarantees all the games will be played.

“In our first game against Rothes we were a lot more competitive and the goals were down to individual errors which we’ll work on.

“Ashley (Hollyer, manager) is very positive and up for the challenge, we’ve got a lot of exciting new players coming in this season as well.

“With the the relegation play-off coming in this season, it would have been easy to take a year out.

“But that’s not our style, we’ll meet this challenge head on.

“I would also say that this situation is not the Highland League’s doing.

“The Highland League has got a lot of criticism for us having to play away from home, but it’s not their doing, they are simply reacting to the situation.”

Vandalism hasn’t helped Fort’s cause

One of the reasons for Fort William’s problems with vandalism was the lease was held by Highland Council which meant the club could not lock gates at Claggan Park at night.

Now Fort hold the lease and Wood says it will allow them to tighten up security and also apply for grants as they look to improve the pitch.

He added: “The issue we’ve always had at Claggan Park was that it was under Highland Council control, which meant we couldn’t lock any gates.

“Therefore we were susceptible to vandalism and other non-football related activity.
Fort William manager Ashley Hollyer.

“But the club now has the lease, so we will be able to lock the gates at night and tighten up security.

“Now that we have a 25-year lease, we’ll be apply for grants to redo the surface entirely.

“Ian Blackford (MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber) has been on the phone and Kate Forbes (MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch) has given us a lot of help as well.

“All the local politicians are trying to help us find a way through it and that’s appreciated.

“In the long term this could become a positive for the club and the positive right now is that there will be a game every Saturday.”

 

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FORT WILLIAM FC STATEMENT

The condition of Claggan Park has long been a talking point in the Highland League, work was undertaken to put better drainage in, but the Strathspey call off identified that more work had to be done. In the meantime damage had been done to the pitch through trials bikes, petty vandalism etc. Claggan is an open park and any remedial work has been hampered in the extreme through vandalism to our tractor, wrecking the sprinkler system etc. The remedial work was unfortunately not going to be finished in time and we found ourselves in the unenviable position of not being able to fulfil our first set of home games.

The HL office bearers and other clubs have been as accommodating as possible, we were offered the option of taking a year out or playing our fixtures away. We obviously asked for more time but the way the fixtures are set out and with the league now under way, the best option available was to play our fixtures away. May I pass on our thanks to the member clubs for their patience, guidance and generosity, each member club have offered to pass on the travel costs that they would normally accrue.

Ashley Hollyer and his team have done tremendous work to get the team to this point and travelling away is a real blow obviously. The challenge that was in front of us has just got a lot harder but we will endure and overcome. We have some exciting players this year and if you have the chance to catch them at a ground near you, you will not be disappointed. FWFC will continue on our journey and I invite all fans to come and follow us.

We have also started two go fund me pages to raise a bit of cash for trying to save Claggan Park and towards funds for travelling so please donate if you can.

Thank you very much

#MonTheFort

 

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The claim in that interview that they could have sat the season out and avoided being punted into the NCL where they belong, is almost as laughable as the follow-up that Fort William's 'style' is to take challenges head-on (absolute nick of a team and ground, since time immemorial). 

Still, I'm sure they'll get that PR bullshit machine back up to speed to get more money from gullible outsiders via crowdfunding. 

Edited by vikingTON
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