Tollcross-based Gary Stevenson admits the Fullarton Park AFC treble-winning 2018-2019 campaign in the Central Scottish Over-35s League will always be one of his favourite memories – no small wonder since two days before the success he turned 50 years of age, writes Tom Scott.
Don’t be under the impression the cameo appearance was intended to grab the limelight, nothing could further from the truth as Gary has been the main stay running the team virtually by himself over the past eight years.
You could say he is “heavily involved” on and off the park with fund- raising, signing players and ensuring the team has a home venue – usually Stepford, Easterhouse – on a Sunday afternoon.
Said Gary “Now and again guys who played for me will chip in with some help, but basically, it is a one-man band. I had already experienced playing Over-35s football, and latterly whilst at Cadzow Forest (Hamilton), together with players from this area of Glasgow, thought “Why don’t we set-up our own team?”
Easier said than done as many football diehards will testify, but Gary was voted the ideal person to double up as Player-Manager, and Tollcross had a new team!
The game which clinched the treble was against Cumbernauld Colts, who had players with ex-seniors in their ranks. The score was 1-1 with 10 minutes remaining, Gary takes the field and Fullarton Park grab a late winner!
He revealed “We only lost one game that season against Wishaw FP. Both of us were missing players due the fixture being played on a May Bank Holiday weekend, but Wishaw deserved to win.”
“We won a Cup in this League about 4 years ago and that was the springboard for us winning the treble. Our striker James Kerr was also voted League Player of the Year, too.”
Gary has packed together plenty of Over-35s experience – 16 years to be precise – and originally started with St Benedict’s Under-21 (Easterhouse), moved onto the Amateur team of the same name and won the Central Scottish AFL Premier Division (1991-1992).
Competition was top- notch with the calibre of Dumbarton Academy, Bankhall Villa and Cardross.
Having also won a Cup at Vale of Clyde Amateurs near the end of his Saturday career, Gary is left to ponder what the game will resemble when restrictions are eased sufficiently to allow Clubs back on a park.
He added “I had around 25 players signed before shut-down. I’ve tried to get a younger element into the squad. The fitness of teams and standards in this League is very good. Sometimes it is hard to match those standards and, more importantly, getting guys to turn up – that has been the difficult thing!”
“We will just need to wait and see.”