The dogged spirit of the Highland League's Fort William FC

By Steven McKenzie
BBC Scotland Highlands and Islands reporter

  • Published
Fort William FCImage source, James Baines/Jakob Cizic
Image caption,
An image from the new film A Long Way To Winning

Playing staff at a Scottish football club that has suffered defeats as heavy as 12-0 have told in a new film why they are determined to battle on.

Fort William FC has finished bottom of the Highland League 14 times in the last 20 years.

Last season, the club even considered resigning from Britain's most northerly senior football championship.

But in the film, one of the players says he believes going amateur would bring an end to football in the town.

Independent film-maker James Baines approached Fort William FC about making a short film about the dogged spirit of the players, backroom staff and the fans.

Image source, James Baines/Jakob Cizic
Image caption,
Fort William FC has been playing in the Highland League since the 1980s

Since going up on social media earlier this month, A Long Way To Winning has been viewed more than 49,000 times on the club's Facebook page, and on more than 15,000 on its Twitter page.

It has also helped raise £2,000 for a crowdfunding campaign set up to help the finance the club.

'Some apprehension'

A spokesman for Fort William FC said: "James had heard about Fort William's struggles and and wanted to make the film voluntarily as a passion project.

"There was some apprehension at first as we had a similar media coverage a few years ago where the club was portrayed in a negative way.

Image source, James Baines/Jakob Cizic
Image caption,
Fort William FC is the league's only club from the west Highlands

"However, after discussing meeting with James and (camera operator) Jakob Cizic, it was clear they were genuine guys with a real interest in our club and helping us.

"We are always looking for help, however big or small."

The spokesman added: "The film has been greatly received both locally, nationally and even internationally with the official SFA Twitter and other big sporting pages offering to share it to a wider audience.

"It has raised massive awareness on Fort William FC and hopefully can give a lift to our club and football in the area."

Image source, James Baines/Jakob Cizic
Image caption,
Striker Scott Hunter says he and his fellow players are determined to play on in the Highland League

Fort William FC, which is bottom of the league again this season, debated going amateur after the end of last season.

But support from the public and the players' determination to continue in the Highland League convinced the club to drop the idea.

'It hurts'

In the film, striker Scott Hunter says: "We're just barely getting a team on the park."

But he adds: "As far as I am concerned as long as the club is alive, as long as the club is in the Highland League, then there is a chance of something happening.

"If we were to say 'right that's it boys, let's fall and drop down to amateur' then I reckon that would be the end of football in Fort William."

Image source, James Baines/Jakob Cizic
Image caption,
The short film was made as a passion project

Hunter also says in the film: "Getting beat all the time and getting beat heavily, it hurts.

"But at the end of the day if we don't play football there is no football for the kids coming through."

In the film, another member of the playing staff says it is a "massive achievement" for the club to put a team together for every game.

He adds that after every defeat the players "pick themselves up again" at training sessions.

'Good people'

Fort William, who did not win a single game last season, were established in 1974 and secured their place in the Highland League in 1985.

It is the only club from the west Highlands in the league.

Image source, James Baines/Jakob Cizic
Image caption,
The film has been viewed thousands of times on social media

The Rev Richard Baxter, the club's chaplain, says in the film: "There is a challenge from being so remote from the other clubs.

"It is important Fort William are there.

"There are good people giving their best to club, but they are facing pretty challenging circumstances and the more support they get from the community the better."

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