140TH YEAR OF NEWTON STEWART FOOTBALL CLUB

South Scotland MSP Emma Harper, last week (5 August) joined the Chair of Newton Stewart Football Club – Mr Iain Dick – for a tour of Blairmount Park to celebrate the club’s 140th year and to hear about the recent renovations and plans for the future.

Newton Stewart Football Club, formed in 1880 as Newton Stewart Athletic but after further name changes became Newton Stewart Football Club in 1902 and nicknamed the Creesiders, have had a team in the South Scotland league every year since their inception – and have won the league on three separate occasions. Home matches are played at Blairmount which holds around 1,500 spectators.

On the visit, the South Scotland MSP heard how there was an old original stand at the ground but that this was demolished due to being unsafe, leaving Blairmount Park a fairly open and undeveloped football venue.

However, in recent years, the site has been converted into an all-weather 4G surface thanks to funding from the Scottish Government. Despite the impact COVID-19 has had on the team meaning they are unable to play, they have been able to carry out renovation works at Blairmount Park. These include a new rest room and canteen, updated changing facilities and a fresh lick of paint for the clubhouse and fencing.

Ms Harper – a keen supporter of the team – also heard about how Newton Stewart FC are currently exploring options of having female and older person teams on the site, and of how well they are working with the Thistle Youth Football Club to encourage young people into the sport.

Commenting, Ms Harper said:

“It was great to get out to meet with the Chair of Newton Stewart FC, Iain Dick, to hear about changes to the club in recent years. Despite the impact COVID-19 has had, the club have been able to renovate and improve their facilities – with support from the Scottish Government – to develop a new canteen and rest area, to paint the club house and update their changing facilities.

“Newton Stewart FC have now been a registered club for over 140 years, and they have had a team in every South Scotland League since then. This is highly commendable. On the visit, I was pleased to hear that the Club are now looking to develop further to include women and older persons football – and I was impressed with their work with the Thistle Youth Football Club to encourage young people into the sport.

“I have a number of action items to take forward – including writing to the Scottish Government Minister for Sport to highlight Newton Stewart FC as an example of good practice, and to see if there is any further support or funding available to help them expand and develop their plans further.”

Photo caption; Emma Harper South Scotland MSP joins Iain Dick, Chair of Newton Stewart Football Club for a tour of Blairmount Park to celebrate the club’s 140thyear and to hear about recent renovations and plans for the future.