Countdown to the Scottish Cup and Festival. The Fort are coming to the walking football get together at Glasgow Green on the 23rd June.
Fort William will be taking part in the Walking Football Scotland Scottish Cup competition for the third time and they are hoping that the publicity attached to the national tournament will encourage more people in the town to try the sport.
Shinty is arguably the more popular sport in the area due to the success of first team who were Camanachd Cup holders four times in succession, between 2007 and 2010, but football is also enjoyed by many and local side Fort William FC are the only team in the Scottish Highland League from the West Highlands of Scotland.
The sports are not mutually exclusive though and several former shinty players now take part in the walking football sessions.
Walking football has become increasingly popular in the area with a credible number regularly taking part.
The team will travel together in a minibus to Glasgow, a journey which takes around two and a half hours, so an early start is required and the players will proudly wear Fort William’s first team colours of yellow and black.
Fort William are looking forward to a challenging group section, where they will come up against some tough opposition in current League Champions Hearts 56, Gretna 2008 and Ayr United Beresford.
Undeterred, Gary Davidson said: “This will be Fort William’s third Scottish Cup and the guys are really looking forward to it.
“We were at Edinburgh two years ago and at Glasgow Green last year which everyone thought was tremendous.
“I have been running the walking football sessions for almost three years and have seen the health and social benefits amongst the group. We have a hard core of 12-14 and play indoors with ages ranging from 52-67.
“I am the manager of the leisure centre and under 50 so I won’t be playing in the event but hope to travel down with the guys.
“Our challenge is to attract more players and hopefully the publicity from the Scottish Cup will help. I know a few really good players who would love the game but trying to persuade them is difficult.
“When we first started there were a few players who hadn’t played football before but had played shinty. We started off with a futsal which was easier to control but after our first tournament the guys decided we needed to play with a real ball.
“The health and wellbeing projects up here were mainly aimed at women such as zoomba and aerobics so as an ex footballer I was delighted to start the walking football sessions.
“The sessions are free to members of the leisure centre so many have joined and now take advantage to the other facilities such as the gym, pool and sauna. A few are even considering yoga.
“It’s fantastic to see people who weren’t taking any form of exercise now playing football and going to the gym.
“In addition, the social benefits are enormous.
“I listened to the Scottish Cup last year on BBC Sportsound and it was great to hear the former pros Barry and Derek Ferguson, Joe Miller, Alex Rae and Frank McAvennie taking part. Derek in particular was raving about the high standard on display so hopefully that can spark interest.”
We are all looking forward to seeing Fort William once again in the Cup Competition at Glasgow Green.
Good luck and a safe journey.