With only one league match and a possible Scottish Cup tie left to play at Forthbank in 2020, there’s just not enough copy space in my “Inside the Box” programme notes to cover everything I wish to address.
“Annus Horribilis” has undoubtedly been oft misused in the past but I doubt anyone would argue that it fits the bill for 2020 and, on behalf of the Club, I would wish to extend my thoughts and sympathies to everyone who has been directly impacted by the untimely loss of a family member or friend.
Hopefully, as 2021 progresses, with the news of vaccines being successfully trialled and a roll-out programme in the offing, we will see a slow but sure return to something approaching normality as we remember it.
Stirling Albion, in common with all SPFL Clubs, has suffered considerable financial loss due to the pandemic but thanks to the generousity of our supporters, the Stirling and surrounding community and the James Anderson Grant, our “heads are – and will remain whatever comes to pass – above water”! A huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to making this possible.
Enough has and will be said elsewhere about first team football – including on next Sunday’s Virtual Meet the Manager & Board session (www.stirlingalbionfc.co.uk/meet-the-manager-and-club-board-3/) so I’ll limit my message to other aspects of Stirling Albion…
2020 heralded the arrival of Niall Marshall as our new YD Head of Coaching to team up with David Brown, YD Head of Administration, and our U16 & U18 Coaches. I need say no more than the securing of Niall’s services has been “the signing of the year”, to reflect the enormous positive impact he has made, despite the many and varied challenges that have been brought about by the pandemic.
2020 also saw the untimely and tragic loss of long0serving Goalkeeping Coach Davie Eccles. A gentleman in every sense of the word and a larger than life character who will never truly be replaced and will be forever missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this especially difficult time of the year.
Stirling Albion Junior Academy
In common with our Youth Development, our Junior Academy has faced a difficult year but thanks to the dedication of their committee, coaches, parents and players, I would argue that the Academy has only grown stronger, as it has tackled, and succeeded in beating, every challenge thrown its way.
Although entirely separate from the Club, in terms of financial and constitutional arrangements, in every other way, we operate as one entity. This unity is no better demonstrated than by Grant Morrice, SAJA Chairperson, joining the Club Board during the past year. This has ensured we are very much joined up and I am confident 2021 will see more and more visible evidence of our partnership working in practice.
From a personal perspective, I am delighted that my daughter, Lynsey, has found a hitherto unidentified passion for football, through the active participation of one of my four grandsons, Alexander! This led to her firstly getting involved as the 2012s Secretary and more recently taking her first steps in achieving coaching qualifications!
I wish the Junior Academy all the best for 2021 and re-iterate my personal commitment to doing everything possible towards ensuring a continuing safe, friendly, and enjoyable environment for every child who has the good fortune to be involved.
Festive Friends – A different approach for 2020
Stirling Albion, along with the great majority of other SPFL Clubs across Scotland, is committed to bringing Christmas cheer to those that need it most this year with a new-look initiative designed to support socially-isolated older people.
More than 2,400 people will receive a socially-distanced doorstep visit to their home and a Christmas hamper, delivered by friendly faces from their local SPFL club. Stirling Albion has committed to providing this service to 75 individuals and we are working with a number of local agencies to ensure we get the right ones!
It has been a tough year for everyone due to Covid-19, but of course it has been especially difficult for the elderly who are at higher risk of social isolation and Stirling Albion is delighted to be able to play a small part in addressing this.
Keep an eye out on the Website and Social Media for more information and following that, please get in touch by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you think you can help in any way.
The Stirling Albion Foundation
I had hoped we would be updating on a range of activities kick-started by the launch of the Stirling Albion Foundation but sadly, thanks to the pandemic, we are still waiting for the official go-ahead from The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator. Confirmation had been due in October and fingers-crossed the delay will not extend for too much longer.
The inaugural Foundation Board has been appointed and is waiting in the wings with a Year One Action Plan!
Again, please keep an eye on for further updates on the Website and our various Social Media channels.
It only remains for me, on behalf of the Club Board, to thank everyone for their support in surviving 2020, wish you an enjoyable, safe and peaceful Christmas and to look forward to a 2021 that sees much of the pain and the suffering of the preceding year replaced by joy, happiness and good health.