Rod Liddle

Come on the Fort…………………

Come on the Fort…………………
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Fort William beat Strathspey Thistle 2-1 in the Highland League on Saturday and if I know the manager, Cal McLean, they’ll still be out celebrating now. All the goals came in the final ten minutes of play; Fort took the lead with a lob from their, uh, ginger wizard, Sean Ellis, before Thistle pulled level with three minutes remaining. Drew Ferguson scored the winner with virtually the last kick of the game. Fort William were down to ten men by then – but that’s a given, they almost always are. This is the side which finished last season having won just a solitary point, a record. They were bottom the year before too. And the year before that. They were bottom on Saturday, until Drew Ferguson stepped up. Now they’re third bottom; giddy heights indeed.

I know this is of scant importance in the grander scheme of things, and I know that a good many of you aren’t terribly keen on football. But this is different; this is a bunch of people fighting desperately to keep a football club in their town, so that the local kids can play every week (they have loads of youth and reserve teams). The players – most of em – are paid: six quid a week. Everyone else chips in for nothing. The manager, Cal, is up at the crack of dawn to try to drain the pitch with a garden fork – the pitch is mostly unplayable because the local council won’t pay to have it drained. They have been a laughing stock for being so fabulously useless, but still they keep trying, some of the lads doing round trips of 140 miles for training and games. I know of them because I went there to do a story and believe me, you won’t meet a better bunch of people anywhere. And that win over Strathspey was the very least they deserved. So at the risk of boring you, let’s hear it for Cal and Drew Ferguson and Fort William Football Club, hope that the win persuades the local council that they need a decent pitch and hope – against all hope – that they stuff Lossiemouth next weekend. In the meantime, if you have a few bob to spare, sponsoring a match will set you back the princely sum of £150. So this is a begging blog too, for which apologies. Find out more about them.