Scottish Amateur Football News Chief Writer Tom Scott has been looking at the background of some well-known Clubs within the game. Today, Tom examines the History and Projects that have been part of Steins Thistle Amateur Football Club, who were founded in 1970 and currently play in the Spark of Genius Central Scottish Amateur Football League.
Many thanks to former Steins Thistle Coach, Mr David George, for the following information which the club put together moving through a period of just over 30 years.
“In January 1970, the G.R Stein Brickwork in Allandale started a works football team in order to improve staff morale and promote the business within the local community. In August of that year the team, named Steins Thistle AFC, became members of the Stirling and District Amateur Football Association, and have been represented continuously therein. The pitch and facilities were provided by G.R Stein.
“When G.R Stein closed, the pitch and surrounding area were sold to its former works football team. By August 1986, Steins Thistle AFC became the rightful owners and inherited full responsibility for the land, including upkeep, provision of water, electricity and heat to the changing rooms. This has been achieved with the help of volunteers organised into a structured committee system.”
“In an effort to improve the changing facilities, Steins Thistle purchased a second hand Port-a-cabin from a BP Grangemouth shutdown to replace the ageing pavilion which had been in place since the 1950’s. The new facility was in place from 1989, where fund-raising, sponsorship and volunteer work kept the Port-a-cabin to a reasonable standard.”
“Steins Thistle owns the only grass football pitch in the community. In 2001, Steins Thistle committee decided that it was time to offer the facility to a wider cross-section of the community. As local people, the committee members witnessed the misguided drink, and increasingly drugs, culture of our young teenagers. The reason for which is obvious for all to see. There is a complete absence of alternatives in the local area out-with school.”
Their aim was simple “To provide an alternative, an outlet or focus, at as early an age as possible, for free.”
“The numerous benefits of this alternative include improving self-discipline, widening of social circles and providing direction. Promotion of health and fitness, teamwork and the bridging of social issues – primarily race and religion, can be gained from involvement in projects like our own.”
“Any adult who has had experience of a local sports club, or society, during their upbringing will appreciate how important and influential clubs and coaches can be on their future. The advantages of involvement in a local club through new friendships and the experiences gained remain with you for many years.”
“We are aware that we will not eradicate all the social problems created by deprivation, but we are not prepared to sit back and do nothing. Being directly involved within the local community can only help direct the youth of tomorrow away from today’s problems.”
“Our primary aim was to provide facilities and coaching for 8- to 10-year-old children with the secondary goal of entering a team in the Stirling and District Juvenile League, and a tertiary aim to expand the age groups represented in subsequent years.”
Moving Through The Seasons
“In 1999, we decided to use our considerable experience gained in football club management, built up over 27 years, to provide recreation and sport for a wider cross section of our community. That summer we undertook a new venture, which was to provide local school children with coaching in the basic skills of football and provide them with a focus and an outlet within a community where few alternatives exist. We enlisted ten volunteers who had gained their Scottish Football Association Coaching Certificates, and two Certificated First-Aiders. Course payment was assisted by the Scottish Sports Council.”
“On advertising our coaching classes within the local community, we received an overwhelming response. This highlighted the interest and need for this form of recreation within the community. Over ninety children, 80 boys and 11 girls, between the ages of 5 and 13 registered with us, and attended these classes regularly.”
This has emphasized the requirement for suitable changing facilities on the site which at that time consisted of the second hand Port-a-cabin previously mentioned. This Port-a-cabin contained two changing areas, the larger of which measured 8ft x 12ft. The increasing repair costs of the changing facility, due to wear and tear and dampness, had already stirred the committee into seeking alternatives. The success of the children’s project had accelerated the need for improvement. The present facility could not cope with the sheer scale of the children’s project and no provision for mixed gender groups.”
“Due to the popularity of the 1999 project, it was decided to enter two teams from the local community into the Stirling and District Juvenile Football Leagues, at under 10, (seven-a-side), and under 11 levels, (nine-a-side), one year earlier than planned. Both teams represented the community under the name of Steins Thistle.”
“The summer of 2000, saw the return of 60 local children in the first week of classes. As expected, this number increased as the summer progressed. Our intention was to start another boys’ team that year at a new age level. The numbers attending the classes would allow this to happen. Our club would then consist of three youth teams and one amateur team using the same facility.”
“Work started in 1999 to provide a larger, more appropriate, training and playing area and this is a continuing development. It involved major landscaping of a previous landfill site, which was by now available for use, and the widening of the football pitch, which was ready in 2001. This work was partly funded by grant assistance from BP Grangemouth. Practical assistance from residents of the local RSNH hospital rehabilitation project has played a major role in making our projects a success.”
“Due to our sites close proximity to the Forth and Clyde Canal, the Glasgow-Edinburgh railway line and the A80, safety and security have played a lead role in our early projects. Safety was improved at the site over the winter and spring months with three of the four perimeter boundaries now enclosed by walls, hedges and fences.The remaining boundary, which was subject to landscaping work, is currently in the upgrading process. Erection of new fencing, hedge repair and plantation of over 100 trees, by the RSNH residents, was undertaken.”
“These projects were relatively low cost in comparison to the construction work involved in building appropriate amenities on the site. For this reason, we require increased support from community minded companies and individuals to enhance our chances of success with this project.”
“The brickwork pavilion was completed by late 2001. Falkirk Council Strategic Services were commissioned to produce outline drawings of the proposed building, ensuring that the building met with the regulatory requirements, and gained outline planning permission. The business plan for this project committed Steins Thistle to ensure each existing team, and any future team , have independent management. All teams administer their own general funds, with regular contributions being made to a Central Fund. The Central Fund will have the responsibility for the overall budget and cost controls relative to all facilities management.”
Photographs, supplied by David George are:
Steins Thistle AFC celebrate winning the East of Scotland Cup.
The Management Team at that time: David George, Tam McGrellis and Tom Young.