FROM BLACK TO YELLOW
THE Summer of 2016 will be remembered as one of the darkest in Nairn County’s history. The outlook was bleak and we were in a dark, black place. But, like the colours of our home kit, what follows on from black is bright, optimistic yellow. And that is the stage we are working towards now.
We could not have got there without your help both as a supporters base and as a wider community. I know I have said it numerous times before but the help we have received has been fantastic. We have people giving up many, many hours of their own time and businesses making extremely generous donations of supplies to allow us to make progress. But we are not there yet.
We are about to enter the financially-challenging winter period, where we have the double header of season-long income that is paid up front at the start of the season ceasing at the same time as ongoing income from home match days is variable and infrequent due to weather-induced postponements.
Running costs for the club are still very much in vogue despite of this, with significant expenditure needed on training facilities for both our first team and three age group teams, referees’ fees, transport to and from away fixtures, floodlighting and general rates and bills.
You can help offset these costs by joining the Nairn County Fans Fund for a minimum donation of £10 per month. The response to the scheme has been brilliant with the equivalent of 42 individuals currently signed up. To join them, set up a Standing Order with your bank for a minimum of £10 per month payable to Nairn County Sportsman’s Dinner, Royal Bank of Scotland, High Street, Nairn account number 00299983 and sort code 83-25-23.
This money is ring-fenced and then used strictly for running costs of the football club only as and when required by the Management Committee.
The work done by our Manager, Ronnie Sharp in conjunction with our Director of Football, Graeme Macleod just to put a team on the park for the first few weeks of the season has been immense. Not only that but some of the performances have belied belief given the short timeframe since Ronnie’s appointment just a couple of weeks before the start of the new campaign.
Ronnie has lost no fewer than 14 players from last season’s squad and brought in eight new signings with a number of young talents also being promoted.
Earning that first victory at Keith at the end of August was a significant milestone and is a memory that will live with me for a long time. It was a very stressful and heart-stopping last few minutes, let me tell you! But the joy on everyone’s faces and the sense of pride and togetherness between the players, the backroom staff, the Management Committee and the supporters made all of the anxiety worth it in the end.
Ronnie would also like to extend an invite to all fans to join the players in the Lounge Bar at the British Legion after every home game and I would like to extend my thanks to the Legion staff plus Richard, Linda and Duncan the chef for the fantastic post-match hospitality afforded to both ourselves and visiting clubs.
We were disappointed to lose our assistant manager, Andy Naismith due to increased work commitments brought on by a change in employer. I would like to record my sincere thanks to Andy for the work he has done in his time with the club, particularly taking on management of the first team squad at very short notice for the summer while we were seeking a new manager. Ronnie will now look to appoint a new assistant as and when he identifies the correct candidate.
We have also had a recent departure on the youth side with our under-20s and under-15s coach Ally Munro stepping down as he looks to spend more time at home.
Ally has put a tremendous amount of work into the Nairn County youth setup over the last five years and we are now beginning to see the fruits of his labour at first team level with a number of players coming through the ranks and into the first team. It is time-consuming enough to manage one age group team, so for Ally to have successfully managed two for the last few seasons is testament to him and we thank him for his contribution to Nairn County.
I would like to wish both Ally and Andy well for their futures in football whatever that may hold and assure them they will always be afforded a warm welcome should they return to Station Park on match days.
We have appointed Stuart Finnie as our new under-20s Head Coach and Stewart McInnes has been named Head of Youth Development with Steven Bain working alongside him as Youth Treasurer.
Unfortunately, we will not be progressing with our application for an SFA Youth Grant this season. Stewart and Steven put a tremendous number of hours into gathering our application together from scratch at extremely short notice but unfortunately we do not qualify due to no longer having a Level 2 Goalkeeping Coach at the club.
We made enquiries as to whether or not we would be afforded a deferral on this point as the appropriate course was not scheduled anywhere in the entire country between now and the end of the season but it was made clear to the club that there would be no wiggle room. However, last week there was a course scheduled in Inverurie for November and we now have Michael enrolled. That will help us work towards applying for the grant again for the 2017/18 season and Stewart is already working towards ensuring everything is in place to allow us to move forward on that front next summer.
Despite this setback, I can assure you that there is no issue regarding funding for our three age group teams this season.
Stewart and Steven are also working towards attracting additional sponsorship for the youth teams and if you are interested, please speak to either of them or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steven has been overseeing our search for a new Main Sponsor and has been close with a number of companies but at this moment in time, the pursuit continues. The feedback he has received is that companies are unable to commit because of a timing issue – budgets had been set at the start of the financial year in April and unfortunately, the club’s need for a new Main Sponsor did not become apparent until May.
Steven has also more than doubled our income for advertising at Station Park with a number of new boards already installed, more due to appear imminently and more space available to be filled. I would like to place on record my thanks to Steven for all of his hard work on the commercial side of the club – I know he puts so much of his free time into it and that is much appreciated.
At Station Park, fertiliser was laid on the surface by ISS and we are grateful to them for their continued support – they both acquired and spread the fertiliser for us which means that we are yet to spend a single penny of the club’s money on the pitch.
We have been delighted to host our under-20s home North of Scotland League fixtures at Station Park with great turnouts at both matches so far. Another venture we have undertaken is to agree to use the park as a home venue for Inverness CT’s under-20s. Their first game at the park was against a Motherwell side including James McFadden. Who would have thought we would have a Scotland star strutting his stuff on our hallowed turf!
It might be that the condition of the surface goes downhill as a result, but we feel these ventures bring added value to the club and the community because after all, the ground is a community facility.
It would be remiss of me at this stage not to mention the immense work done by Robbie Stuart and Alan Watson to maintain the condition of the park. These guys are up there all hours cutting grass, weeding, repairing the playing surface and everything in between to ensure we have a playable surface and comfortable surroundings to enjoy watching our team.
I would like to finish by making an appeal to you to join us for Pitch Repairs at Station Park from 9.30 am on Sundays after every home game and 6.00 pm the day after any time the park is used for a midweek match. We need as many volunteers as possible and I am sure if you talk to the guys who go then they will tell you that the craic is good and the tea and biscuits not bad either!
Thank you for your continued support and see you all at Station Park on Saturday as we begin our Scottish Cup campaign.
Chairman, Nairn County FC