League reshuffle pits Argyll rivals together

Ciaran MacPhee of Red Star and Rory Dowd of Oban Saints during a pre-season friendly match in Oban on July 1.

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Argyll derby bragging rights will be played for almost every other week this season in the Scottish Amateur Football League (SAFL) after the league went under reconstruction.

Instead of two divisions, club resignations from the league have forced the SAFL into pitting the rest against each other in one 16-team league.

It marks another blow for the beleaguered league, founded in the early 1900s, and home to Lochgilphead Red Star, Tarbert AFC, Dunoon Ams, and a fourth Argyll side in Cardross.

That means a bumper three Argyll trips for each team.

Tarbert AFC, who have reformed after taking a year out of league action, were preparing to face teams in the original second tier, but their season plans have been altered by the reconfiguration.

Jonathan Scott, Tarbert manager, said: ‘We have number of young players who are getting used to adults football, and even in some cases, getting used to the 11-a-side game.

‘The second division – Premier 1 – would have been an ideal platform for us to grow again as a squad, but that has been taken away from us a wee bit, because the league have proposed a 16-team, 30-game set-up, and all SAFL teams in together, with the scrapping of the Centenary Cup, which is normally a season opener in August.

‘It’ll be interesting, though, to have four Argyll teams in the league, with a few derbies to look forward to, home and away. It’s just whether some of these teams, who are funding meeting week-to-week costs difficult, for pitch hire in the Glasgow area for training and games, will be able to meet costs for these extra away trips.’

Lochgilphead Red Star, meanwhile, will be looking to finish in the higher placings in the revamped Premier table, having secured promotion outright on the last day of last season.

Star manager Colin Weir said: ‘We have had a good pre season so far and we’re looking forward to the start of the league campaign.

‘Inverclyde were last season’s Premier champions and will be the team to beat, as well as Arthurlie, who won our division, but we have also beaten them and have a good young squad that’s growing in confidence.

‘This season we’ll have a few Argyll derbies to look forward to. They’re always hard-fought games.’

Tomorrow (Saturday) Red Star host Oban Saints’ first team at LHS synthetic pitch. Kick off is scheduled for 2pm.


Caption: Ciaran MacPhee of Red Star and Rory Dowd of Oban Saints during a pre-season friendly match in Oban on July 1.