Rothes Football Club
Rothes FC worked hard throughout the off-season and their reward has been a fine start to the new campaign. Football Focus Magazine recently caught up with their Secretary Garry Davies to find out more about the good work the club has been doing lately.
FF: How long have you been involved and what first attracted you to the club?
GD: I’ve been at the club a few years now. I was secretary at the Rothes FC social club and was invited by Robbie Thomson, the former Rothes FC Chairman, to join the football club committee. As someone who always strived to form a tighter bond between the clubs I jumped at the chance.
I spent a while as secretary before stepping down for a period due to ill health. At that time the club found itself faced with a massive £30,000 bill to HMRC and it’s been well documented in the National and Local press that the club were literally ten minutes away from being folded when we were saved by a fantastic donation from a local businessman (now our honorary President).
As a result, the club was forced to seek and elect a new management committee and I was privileged to be asked by our new Chairman, Iain Paul, to fill the secretary’s position. It’s a post that I really do enjoy and I am also club rep at the Highland League Management and North of Scotland FA committees. The main thing about the Highland League is the camaraderie between the clubs. You never have a problem for long as all the secretaries in the league will help each other with advice and assistance.
FF: What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your role?
GD: It’s been a challenge in that having changes of team management obviously means that they have their own ideas of who they want as playing staff so there are a lot of signings, transfers and releases to deal with.
Stevie Macdonald took over the reins last January, just as we were getting everything ready for the dreaded National Club Licensing Audit and between then and now I think I’ve had to deal with around eighteen signings. (I’m on first name terms with the guys in SFA registrations now). Then there’s the releases on top of that. It’s been hard work over the closed season but the rewards are seeing an improved squad doing so well on the pitch.
FF: How’s the general mood down at the club at the moment?
GD: Recent results have given the locals a real lift. We’d spent years as the whipping boys of the league so to see so many decent results coming in means a lot to everyone. The best gauge is probably by the number of season tickets sold this year – way up on previous seasons.
We were recently drawn against Edusport Academy in the first round of the William Hill Scottish Cup and as they play their home games at Annan we decided to go South on the Friday night, stay overnight and continue to Annan the following day. It was a fantastic bonding experience with the players and committee and has brought many of us all the closer.
FF: What do you think has been behind your good start to the new campaign?
GD: The good start to the season in my view is down to the calibre of players we have at the club and the genuine friendship that there seems to be within the squad during match play and training alike.
All the guys who have come in get on well with each other. I honestly think that the players within the league realise that Rothes have improved as we’re finding that players of a high standard are saying that they want to come to us. Trust me, that was never the case before.
FF: What impact has the new manager had at the club?
GD: The appointment of Stevie Macdonald as manager has obviously been a major coup for the club. Stevie’s reputation as a player has earned him a huge respect throughout the league and that respect has been instrumental in attracting the players that we have now.
His rapport with first team coach, Nathan Sharp is excellent and appointing ex-Elgin City player Daniel Moore as his assistant/captain has been a fantastic move. Management have good training regimes and whilst they can be tough going the players really seem to enjoy it.
FF: What are your plans for the rest of the campaign?
GD: For the rest of the campaign, we can only hope Stevie and the guys continue to get results. Our aim is to finish as high up the league as we can but a realistic target is top half. Sitting in eighth position just now, we’re probably on target.
FF: How important is youth football to the club and do you consider yours to be a community club?
GD: This season has been instrumental as far as our youth set up is concerned. We’re now in the position where we have under 13’s, under 15’s and under 17’s squads. It’s a great thing for the community as most of the guys are local.
There’s already two or three of the lads in the under 17’s that the manager has identified as having the potential to step up to the first team in due course and succession planning is healthy for any club. It’s pleasing too that even with the influx of players in the first team we’ve been able to retain two or three local players. To have those players from the local area means a lot, not just to the club but to the community as a whole.
FF: What do you believe could be some of the biggest challenges the club may face in the next five years?
GD: I’m certain that there will be challenges ahead in the coming years. It’s always going to be a struggle to attract players when the bigger clubs are offering crazy money. You find that, except for a couple, most clubs are paying around the same wages to players. Where you find the difference is the signing on fees offered.
We, like a lot of our counterparts, do find it a struggle to maintain the financial commitments required to operate on a weekly basis and remember, the more successful the team, the more it costs in win bonuses, a nice problem to have, and you then hope that improved gates and engagement generally help to increase our revenue. That’s why we depend and rely so much on sponsorship deals and matchday hospitality packages. They are the key to our being able to continue investing in the playing staff to bring continuous improvement in performance and results.
FF: What are the clubs ambitions over the next five years?
GD: The ambition for the next few years is to continue the upward direction in the league and maybe get a couple of money spinning fixtures in a cup run which will help raise the profile of the club. Whatever the future holds – we’ll still be there for Speyside.