Tuesday, May 19, 2009

If you think your team has had a bad season, then spare a thought for fans of Fort William FC in Scotland's Highland League.

The League wrapped up on Saturday and Fort William ended their season with a 7-1 trouncing away to Inverurie Loco Works.

A bad way to end the season, but not exactly a surprising one as Fort William have shipped 121 League goals this season, scoring a massive 16 in reply. That's a goal difference of minus 105 to save you working it out, oh you already had! It's an improvement on last season's minus 142 goal difference though, so things are moving in the right direction, but in saying that they got a win and three points last season!

The Club managed to take only ONE point in the whole campaign, a 1-1 draw in their sixth match of the season at home to Wick Academy. Wick finished fifth in the League and must be wondering how they became the pub quiz answer that they now are.

The worse league defeat of the season came in November, when Deveronvale recorded a 10-0 home win.

The four Cup competitions didn't provide any solace for the Club either. Four first round exits and a 10-0 Scottish Cup humiliation away to Junior side Banks O Dee were what Fort William had to show for their efforts.

The Club and their long suffering fans must have had an inkling of what was to come this season when they lost 5-0 to a Shetland XI in the SFA North Cup back in August, but no one could have predicted just how bad a season it would turn out to be.

I've been following the Club's fortunes in recent weeks just to see if they could turn things around but sadly not. They lost twice to the odd goal in three in the closing weeks, which must have been heartbreaking.

I've always had a soft spot for Fort William and they're my favourite Highland League Club and it's not just because they play in black and gold! I've followed their fortunes since they joined the League in 1985 and have a number of their programmes from their first Highland League campaign. When East Fife visited them for a pre season friendly in 2000, all at Claggan Park made us very welcome.

It's sad to see how their season panned out and it was the tenth time they have finished bottom of the Highland League, in what must be one of, if not THE, worst performances of a senior side in any football league in the world. It was also their sixth last placed finish in the last seven seasons.

Help could be at hand though and from an unlikely source, for Fort William are going to become America's team (www.americasteamfc.com).

In one of the most bizarre link ups I can remember, a group of around 10 American soccer players are going to be coming to Fort William to try and take the team from last to first, from zeroes to heroes, and as pie in the sky as it may seem, it's a great idea and great publicity for The Fort.

The whole idea is the brainchild of American producer Paul MacDonald and the whole "experiment" is going to be part of a reality TV series which has already been picked up by Fox Sports Channel in North America and there are UK negotiations currently underway, with BBC Alba having already shown interest.



Like with Ebbsfleet before them, the plan is to let fans make the decisions, team selections etc and membership is $69 for the first year and AFTN are planning on becoming members and we'll follow what's happening on the site and in the blog.

Ebbsfleet struggled for their second year, so it will be interesting to see what happens after the 2009/10 season at Claggan Park.

Will be interesting to see how things play out but let's put it this way, they can't have a much worse season than they've just had, so anything is worth a try! And at least they're keeping the Fort William FC name.

Let's just hope that East Fife meet The Fort in next season's Scottish Cup. Be nice to have some worldwide interest in us!

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