South Lochaber Thistle announce management change

Albie Robertson and Alan Gray will stand down from their management duties at SLT. Photograph: Iain Ferguson,

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South Lochaber Thistle manager Alan (Spud) Gray and assistant manager Alan (Albie) Robertson are stepping down from running the South Lochaber Thistle first XI at least until the end of the season.

The unexpected news came just before the Jags cancelled their Greater Glasgow League Division One away fixture against East Kilbride last weekend due to a lack of players.

Alan Gray founded the club in Kinlochleven with Daniel Macintosh and Dave Forbes in 2015 to give everyone in the community the chance to play football.

The team entered the West of Scotland League, the world’s oldest league, for the 2016/17 season.

The Jags were an immediate success, attracting players of all ages and abilities from across Lochaber. They won the shield and cup at Greenfield Park, home of Shettleston Juniors, now Glasgow United.

When the West of Scotland league closed, the Jags moved to the Greater Glasgow Premier League where promotion from the third Division followed in their debut season via the playoffs. The went on to win the second division at the first time of asking.

After announcing the news on Saturday, club president Peter Newman said: ‘We can’t thank Alan and Albie enough for everything they have done.

‘In Alan Gray’s case we wouldn’t have a club at all without his vision of what rooting the team in the community meant.

‘It is why our logo was designed by a primary pupil of south Lochaber and why so many locals have a football club to play for.

‘Spud’s contacts range across Scottish football and he has been motivator, disciplinarian, player wrangler and gritty centre half since the club began.

‘Albie is often under credited for the work he did but is a legend in Lochaber football. Without him we would not have had as much clout with the established football infrastructure as we had and it was he who spearheaded the Junior Jags programme for primary school players.

‘Albie also took the lead in establishing the woman’s team which continues to go from strength to strength under the guidance of coach Roman Kondziela.

‘Both men – and their partners Lynne and Janice – are central to the vision of football for everyone – man, woman and child – and both will continue to have a role at the club for as long as they want one.’

Talks with possible replacements are ongoing and the club hope to make an announcement in time for this Saturday’s home clash against Helensburgh side Rhu AFC.

‘The club is expecting to see out the final six games of the season and secure our position in Division One,’ added Pete.