Why the West of Scotland Football League is working
Updated: Feb 28
I read, with interest, George Wall’s recent article in the Largs & Millport Weekly News. George writes that the senior West of Scotland Football League (WoSFL) “has as amateur setup at the moment”.
George references Kilbride Thistle, who are applying to join the league next season. Kilbride Thistle currently play in the Ayrshire Amateur Premier League. They play in West Kilbride but want to use Jack’s Park in Saltcoats.
I make no secret in saying that I support the creation of the WoSFL. Clubs are best placed to attract better players in senior football.
George argues “allowing amateur teams into the set up without a level of infrastructure is not going to (improve the standards)”. However, he is incorrect, and this is clear in the recent history of both senior and (what was) junior football.
East Kilbride FC and BSC Glasgow, to name two clubs, started from scratch. They did not play at any men’s level before joining the Lowland League. BSC Glasgow still do not play in Glasgow.
There is an argument about long-term ground-sharing being viable, though this also applies to Clydebank (sharing with Yoker) and Kirkintilloch Rob Roy (sharing with Cumbernauld United).
There are leading teams in what was junior football who also lack infrastructure. Benburb’s New Tinto Park, for instance, has no cover (though it has floodlights), while St Anthony’s has neither cover, floodlights, or seating, though hosted two fixtures during the Quadrangular Tournament in 2017.
Kilbride Thistle's preferred venue, Jack’s Park, has floodlights. Club President Sean Kenney has spoken to the WoSFL about what they need to be accepted into the league.
Few ambitious clubs play outside of the pyramid for long, if at all. Cove Rangers played in the North of Scotland Junior Football League for only one season, in 1985.
Ayrshire amateur football is losing clubs. In recent years they have lost formerly-leading clubs Knockentiber, Newmilns Vesuvius, Clark Drive, Mossblown, and Ardrossan Castle Rovers. At the end of 2019/20, there were 41 clubs, compared to 53 in 2009/10.
Between 1968 and 2020, only Girvan, who moved from the South of Scotland League in 2004, joined the Ayrshire juniors. After one year into the WoSFL, it is attracting ambitious clubs in Ayrshire.
Kilbride Thistle’s application will be considered on its merits. Their commitment to senior football, and meeting the necessary criteria, is commendable.