We Were The Champions – Newmilns Vesuvius AFC (2005-2006 Season)

This is the story of NEWMILNS VESUVIUS AFC who left it late – make that very late – winning the Ayrshire AFA Premier title in season 2005-2006, writes Chief Writer Tom Scott.

He has been speaking with two key players from the team that stunned hosts Clark Drive AFC with a smash-and-grab act even the famous Dick Turpin would have been proud of.

Goalkeeper Gary Hamilton saved a penalty kick with 7 minutes remaining to keep the score line at 1-1 – bearing in mind Newmilns needed a victory which would secure the championship on goal difference – and left-sided midfielder Graeme Neil, who duly obliged three minutes later with a real howitzer of a finish befitting any level of the beautiful game!

Gary, currently Manager of Castlemilk Dynamo in the Spark of Genius Central Scottish AFL, revealed ” What a season that was!”

“We also reached the Semi-Final of the Scottish Amateur Cup (losing out to Falkirk AFC), but the Clark Drive match was very special.”

“Graeme (Neil) is a gem of a guy. He was my buddy in the dressing room. A real football guy.”

Modestly, Graeme, who is into his third season with Craigmark Burntonians, but their first crack at the new West of Scotland League Conference A, played down his late glory goal.

He said “Thanks to Gary saving the spot kick we were still in the match.”

“I was actually struggling with a persistent injury at that time of the season. The pitches were solid with the good weather and I thought I might have to go off before the end. I remember their Central Defender cleared a ball out the penalty area.”

” I knew time was running out and I just hit the ball. To be honest, 99 times out of 100 it would never have went in . Fortunately, for us it shot into the corner of the net past the goalkeeper, and right in front of a big crowd of their followers!”

“We had a smashing team at that time. Great memories playing for Newmilns, and the competition around that time from other clubs was brilliant – not just Clark Drive (sadly they folded a couple of years ago), but the likes of Knockentiber, Galston, and Hurlford – no easy games believe me.”

They certainly knew how to celebrate success at Newmilns Vesuvius!

Graeme added “We booked into Blackpool on the Friday. It was around the time of the World Cup. England were involved. You could say that we really enjoyed being champions!”

Many thanks to Gary Hamilton, who supplied the photograph, and Graeme Neil for their time revealing information essential to our article.

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