Fort manager gears up for life in the lower leagues

New Fort William FC manager Chris Baffour shows off the club's new home kit for next season during a visit to Claggan Park at the weekend. Photograph: Abrightside Photography. NO F25 Chris Baffour 03
New Fort William FC manager Chris Baffour shows off the club's new home kit for next season during a visit to Claggan Park recently. Photograph: Abrightside Photography. NO F25 Chris Baffour 03

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Fort William Football Club’s new manager says his players are keen to start putting in some winning performances in the North Caledonian League.

Speaking to the Lochaber Times on Sunday from his home in London, Chris Baffour said with the acceptance that the Claggan Park club was going to be playing its football next season in a lower league after relegation from the Highland League, it was one distraction out of the way.

The club had been ready to go to arbitration in an effort to remain in the Highland League, but was forced to give up its appeal last week for financial reasons.

Chris told the Lochaber Times: ‘I’m glad it is out of way and we can focus on preparing for the North Caledonian League. Everything is still going ahead as planned.

‘Players were aware of the situation and what could happen. We didn’t get everyone we were chasing; some players wanted to stick with the Highland League and some of the players from last season who wanted to stay have moved on. But we’re still happy because we got players that want to be with us.

‘The North Caledonian League is less games per week – one match – so we can plan better. There is not much video coverage of the North Caledonian League, so we will probably get people to go and watch the opposition.’

However, Chirs was keen to stress that even if the fight to stay up in the Highland League had been successful, the Claggan Park side would have been a competitive force.

‘If we had stayed in the Highland League we would have been very competitive. Our players have the desire to play at the highest level and if you want to achieve that goal, you must do well in the lower levels.

‘We are more than eager to prove ourselves. The circumstances are different now.’

Dropping down to the North Caledonian League means an extra few weeks to prepare for pre-season training starting at the beginning of next month.

And Chris says the club plans to introduce the local population to its new local town squad as part of that pre-season effort.

‘We intend going out in the town to meet local residents and invite them to the first game of season,’ he told the Lochaber Times.

‘There will also be an open training session on August 1 so supporters can get familar with us and we can get to know them.’

Fort William get their campaign under way at home at Claggan Park to Golspie Sutherland on Saturday August 20, kick-off 2pm.

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New Fort William Football Club manager Chris Baffour shows off the club’s new home kit for next season during a visit to Claggan Park.
Photograph: Abrightside Photography. NO F25 Chris Baffour 03