The Big Interviews – End of Year Review – Margaret McMillan (SAFL)

Since joining the Scottish Amateur Football News “team”, I have had the honour of speaking with many people within the game – some I had already known – but the vast majority completely new, writes Tom Scott. I have enjoyed every chat, text or Social Media contact trying, with others, to promote Clubs and Amateur Football. It is not always easy believe me MARGARET McMILLAN is President of the Scottish Amateur Football League – a real no hiding place if ever there was one – but I emerged from our lengthy Interview hugely impressed, and thinking “This is a lady who has her finger firmly on the football pulse.”

Many of our Readers thought so, too, judging by the numbers who caught the Article that week. Another top-three Stats category. “Amateur League Explain Decision To Delay Start Of Season.”

Margaret revealed the shock decision made by the Executive Committee Members to delay the start of the season until January 9, 2021, was reached having taken on board all the current restrictions imposed by the Scottish Government.

The Centenary Cup, which had been drawn in Groups to encourage local derbies and considerably cut down on travelling, would have been the focal point for 27 participating member clubs – including newcomers Arthurlie FC Amateurs and Baljaffray AFC.

Margaret told me: “We agonise over every decision we make, and to be honest I did not look forward to informing clubs what is happening, but I think we were right leaving it until January.”

“One club had already indicated under the present circumstances they didn’t want to play. Maybe they jumped the gun a bit, but some of our referees said the same, and that is understandable.”

“Clubs have told us their players are asking “When can we train – When can we play?” It is hard trying to keep the players interested. I think they need something to focus on.”

“It’s ever-changing. We need to give teams some clarity and that has not been forthcoming from the SFA. It’s frustrating! Why is it so different for ex-junior clubs (now West of Scotland League) to play and not us? One game was switched onto a public park, which our clubs would use. That was a kick in the teeth for us.”

“If we do get back in January you can’t expect teams to go straight into competitive games. We would allow them to organise friendlies, but obviously at the moment there is no timing on that. What I can tell you is we will have another Zoom Meeting with the clubs for a further discussion.”

Meanwhile, Chairing one of the most established leagues in Scotland has been met with the same commitment shown as Discipline Secretary – a role occupied for six years, and I posed the question “Has there been a female previously leading at the top-table in any Amateur League in Scotland?”

Margaret laughed and replied: “Robert Bowman (Executive Committee) said he heard there may have been one up North, but we never had confirmation on that. I am still the Discipline Secretary…Doing both! I do enjoy it. We have some great clubs and a great bunch of guys.”

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