Club: Oban Saints AFC
League: Central Scottish AFL
Year Formed: 1960
The club was formed in 1960 by a group of young players who couldn’t get a regular game for any of the teams playing in the Oban and District Football League at that time. Saints joined the Oban League in 1960 and had fifteen very successful years in this league, winning the championship no fewer than 8 times, the MacGillivray Cup 5 times, the Faccenda Cup 5 times and the Ainsworth Cup 4 times. With the Oban and District League in a major decline, and because of their growing reputation (reaching the last 16 of the Scottish Amateur Cup in 1975), they applied, and were successful in joining the Scottish Amateur Football League in 1976. They started off in Division Seven and progressed through the leagues winning Division Six in 1979; Division Two in 1990 and Division One in 1991. They were the first ever winners of the Top Score Trophy in 1988.
Saints were invited to join the SAFL Premier Section in 1994 and hold the distinction of being the first winners of the new Premier Division Two League Championship Trophy in their first season. They won the Premier Divison One league title in 1998 and again in 2002, beating Shamrock 3-2 in a play-off after the teams had finished level on points. The club won the SAFL Premier Division title for the first time in 2010 and again in 2013/14 as well as winning the Jimmy Marshall Trophy defeating Inverclyde 2-0 in the final. Saints won the Jimmy Marshall Cup again in 2015/16 beating St Joseph’s FP 2-1 in a thrilling final at Millburn Park, Alexandria.
Saints had a great run in the Scottish Amateur Cup in the 2006/2007 season reaching the last eight of the competition. They defeated many of Scotland’s top teams like Newmilns Vesuvius, Galtson, Colville Park and Knockentiber on the way to the final stages of the national competition. They finally lost 3-0 away to Cupar Hearts in the quarter final. They also reached the last eight in 2009/2010 losing out to Eddlewood in the quarter finals and in 2013/14 again lost in the last eight to Eastfield. The Oban side reached the semi-finals of the national competition in 2015/16 eventually losing out to Leven United in extra time at New Douglas Park, Hamilton.
The club play all their home games at either Mossfield Stadium or Glencruitten Park, two well maintained grass parks with excellent playing surfaces. They are associate members of Oban Lorne Rugby Club and share the superb facilities at the Glencruitten club house, which is fully licensed.
Saints along with one of their sponsors – D&K Lafferty Contractors – organise the Oban Challenge Cup Tournament, normally held on the second Saturday in July. Regular visitors to the tournament are Scottish Premier League teams Heart of Midlothian FC; Dundee United FC, Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC, Hamilton Accies FC, St Johnstone FC and St Mirren FC – along with Scottish League teams Ross County FC, Clyde FC, Alloa Athletic and Dumbarton along with Highland League sides Fort William FC and Nairn County FC.
Saints hosted the Argyll and Bute Cup Tournament for many years which takes place in August with teams from Argyll and Bute taking part. Saints have won the trophy more times than any of the other participants. Glasgow Celtic sent a team to play Oban Saints a number of year’s ago with the Glasgow side lucky to come away with a 3-2 win. Scorers for Saints were Matthew MacMaster and George McLuckie. The Celtic line-up that day included Packy Bonnar, Willie McStay, Brian Reid, John Halpin and David Moyes, the former Everton and Manchester United manager.
The club gained Awards for All lottery grants in 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007 which helped greatly, with the purchase of new equipment and various other developments the club were trying to achieve. Saints are also very grateful for the generous support and sponsorship given by Aulay’s Bar where the teams go for food and refreshments and to relax after the ninety minutes of football. An additional sponsor came on board in 2007 – AMP Electrical Services (Scotland) Ltd who very kindly supplied new playing and training kit, tracksuits, footballs etc. Unfortunately this sponsorship stopped at the end of season 2011/12 which was a great loss, but thankfully two new sponsors came on board – Oban Express, who purchased a new home playing kit for the team along with D & K Lafferty Construction who bought a new away kit, tracksuits and polo shirts for the players and coaches. Roddy’s Garage are also major sponsors.
The club received a tremendous boost when they were given a minibus by the Scottish Football Partnership and the SFA. The minibus is used every Saturday and Sunday and sometimes during the week as well with all the teams at the club getting regular use of the bus. Over the years Saints have had a number of players step up to the senior ranks. Keith Millar was selected for the full Scotland Amateur International team in 2003 for the games against Ireland in Dublin and Wales at Adamslie Park, Kirkintilloch. Keith has also played football for Morton, Dumbarton, Yoker Athletic and in Australia for Souths United and Brisbane City in the Brisbane Premier League. Keith left the club to play for Fort William in the Highland League but reurned in 2015/16. Another Saints stalwart, Ross Maitland, has also sampled football down under, playing with Melbourne team Langwarrin and Mark MacCallum has also been in Oz playing for Harbord Diggers. Along with Keith, Mark and Ross, David Dunlop, Bertie Gemmell, Dunny Niven, Dante Lopez, Willie Gemmell, Myles McAuley, Marc MacCallum, Donnie Campbell, Lewis Cameron and Craig MacEwan have been picked to play for the Scottish Amateur League select team on numerous occasions. Scott Maitland was selected to play for Scotland in the UEFA Regions Cup in Lithuania in June 2016 where he helped Scotland qualify for the latter stages of the tournament.
The club runs twelve teams – Under 8, Under 9, Under 10s, Under 11, Under 13, Under 14, Under 15, Under 16 Under 17, Under 19, Senior Amateur a Veterans team along with a Ladies team. All the club coaches have SFA qualifications and are Disclosure registered.
Saints gained the Scottish Football Association‘s Standard Club Quality Mark in March 2008. Club secretary David Buchanan was presented with the award by Scotland First Minister Alex Salmond at the half time interval during the international match between Scotland and Croatia at Hampden Park. David was accompanied by Iain Alexander, Thomas Sharp, Duncan MacKinnon, Peter MacMillan and David Mitchell. The club were presented with the Argyll and Bute Council’s ‘Sports organisation of the Year’ award in june 2009. Saints also won the first ever Sunday Mail and Sport Scotland ‘Local Club of the Year’ award in December 2009. Club representatives David Buchanan, Iain Jackson, Iain Alexander and Thomas Sharp were presented with the award at a black tie dinner held in the Hilton Hotel, Glasgow, on Thursday 3rd December. To round off a superb 2009 the club were awarded the Scottish Football Association’s Community Club Quality Mark in December 2009.
Club secretary David Buchanan was presented with the McDonald’s / Sunday Mail Grassroots Adult Volunteer of the Year Award at a black tie dinner at Hampden Park in February 2011. David was presented with his award by Celtic, Liverpool and Scotland legend Kenny Dalglish and the then Scotland manager Craig Levein. David was awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List in 2016 for services to amateur football. The SAFL premier division team is mainly run by stalwarts – former player Alex Craik, coaches the senior team, with David Buchanan, who managed Saints for over 20 years. He played for Stirling Albion and Workington, then an English Fourth Division side taking charge of the publicity, secretarial and financial side of the club. They are ably assisted by Peter MacCallum who helps Alex in the preparation and coaching of the senior team. Donald Campbell was appointed as assistant manager with Jamie Graham taking charge of the weekly training sessions The club was saddened at the death of Chairman John Buchanan who died on May 5th 2003. Johnny had been associated with the club for well over 30 years and is sadly missed. Saints are always on the lookout for new players, senior and junior, and people who could help out in any small way as a coach or committee member, so if you think you could help the club in any capacity get in touch with the present committee, coaches or players who will give you all the relevant details regarding meeting places, training nights etc. The club is in good hands and with plenty of youngsters coming through the system Oban Saints hope to be challenging for top honours in Scottish amateur football and the national cup competitions for many years to come.