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South Lochaber Thistle (SLT) men’s football team is to be would up after it proved impossible to secure a new management set-up that could commit to taking the team on full time.
At an executive committee meeting last week, manager Alan Gray and club secretary Rebecca Small confirmed the team will now forfeit the remaining four matches of the league season.
They also informed the committee that they will not be entering a team into the league for the 2022/23 season, meaning the men’s team will be folding immediately.
It is a sad end to an exciting project, however, in the short time SLT has been existence there have been two promotions, two cup wins and it is almost three years to the day since the league title victory which will live long in the memory.
Club president Peter Newman told the Lochaber Times: ‘We weren’t able to secure a management team that could commit to taking the team on full time.
‘We had some expressions of interest but it is a big job and without a proper support team there wasn’t any one version which was going to be sustainable.
‘Therefore, we had to make the hard decision to put it to bed. It’s a real testament to just how hard the manager has worked both on the pitch and behind the scenes to keep it going for as long as he has.’
SLT was originally created to provide footballing opportunities to local young men who either had no platform on which to play competitive football or who were not quite at the level for Highland League football.
Recently, there has been the addition of a women’s team and an under 15s girls team. These teams will continue under the guidance of coach Roman Kondziela.
The Junior Jags programme started as free summer football sessions in South Lochaber before becoming a regular after school club for south Lochaber schools. Over the past year, the club worked alongside the HLH Active Schools team on this, however, this has been paused for this term.
At the height of the club, there were more than 70 players a week training or playing and this is something the club is proud of.
The club has extended its thanks to Iain ‘Sunny’ Rodger for his sponsorship and support over the years and to Sunny’s Sport Bar, Howdens, Liberty Aluminium and MOWI for their kit sponsorship and for all the other many businesses and members of the community who supported the men’s team through sponsorship or fundraising.
The club especially thanks Maria Macdonald and staff at the Leven Centre in Kinlochleven who went above and beyond to ensure football was available.
Alan Gray commented: ‘A huge thank you to all the players who pulled on a Thistle jersey through the good times and the tough. You should all be proud of what the club has achieved and what we have done together in such a short period of time.
‘I extend my personal thanks to Peter Newman who has worked tirelessly as president, Rebecca Small who is still the best signing the club ever made for her hard work and passion as club secretary and Albie Robertson for being the best number two I could have asked for.
‘Thank you to everyone who helped the club in any way. They are far too numerous to name. It was with sadness we made the decision but I’d prefer to look back and remember all the good memories.’
SLT TEAM Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos NO-F23-SLT-team-2021
Founder and manager Alan Gray. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos NO F23 SLT Manager Alan Gray