CLUB PROFILE – IRVINE VICTORIA

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A VIEW FROM THE IRVINE VICTORIA COMMITTEE ROOM THROUGH VICE-CHAIRMAN SHAW DONALDSON

TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR CLUB?

Since the game was re-structured in 2002 we have always been in the Ayrshire District League until we won it two seasons ago. Last season competing in the West Super League certainly wetted our appetite to get back and compete in it again. On a financial basis there is obviously a knock-on effect in the terms that crowds certainly improved with the likes of Pollok, Largs Thistle, Shettleston and Rob Roy all bringing decent support.

IT MUST BE HARD TO KEEP A CLUB RUNNING LET ALONE HAVING ANOTHER CLUB ON YOUR DOORSTEP?

That’s certainly the case with Irvine Meadow literally the other side of the river from us. I suppose it’s fair to we’ve lived in their shadow for a long time. We have a hard-core support between 100-150 so we do ok in those terms and a 12-strong committee who put in a lot of work and give up a lot of spare time to make sure the club keeps moving but we’re going along nicely at the minute.

HOW HARD IS IT TO KEEP A CLUB GOING THESE DAYS?

As you can imagine it’s not easy. Thankfully we have a very loyal sponsor in A McKie Builders who give us greatly appreciated assistance through sponsorship. It’s not a fortune but certainly helps the club in a big way and we are indebted to all the work that Archie McKie (senior) puts into the club and the help he gives us. Obviously we still need to raise funds to keep us going to cover the weekly running costs so like every other club as this level we are reliant on fund raising ventures to keep us going. The good thing is as a club we are debt free and we’ve always been adept at running a tight ship that way.

WHAT IS THE WAY FORWARD FOR A CLUB ON THE LEVEL OF IRVINE VICTORIA?

From a personal point of view I would like to see the club go down the community route. That is something we are looking at with a view to start a youth section under our umbrella. As well as that it’s important that we try and attract the younger generation through the gate to support the club especially as they are the future of the club. That’s one of the reasons we allow children of primary school age to all home games as long as they are accompanied by an adult.

 

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Stevie Wilson – Manager

FROM THE DUG-OUT WITH VICS MANAGER STEVIE WILSON

 YOUR COMING UP TO YOUR THIRD ANNIVERSARY IN THE HOT-SEAT – TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR PLAYING CAREER AND HOW YOU ENDED UP IN MANAGEMENT?

The late great Dennis Donnelly gave me my break in junior football when he signed me for Ardrossan Winton Rovers from under-21 football. I had six great seasons with them and then moved to Benburb from there but at the revelatory young age of 25 I suffered a bad hip injury which pretty much ended my career. I still wanted to remain in the game so I took my coaching badges and my first job was coaching Stenhousemuir’s youngsters in the pro-youth set-up. From there I had a spell in charge of Pollokshields United and Ardrossan’s under-21 side before returning back to the junior game with spells as a co-manager firstly with Saltcoats Victoria and Ardeer Thistle.

ON THE PARK THINGS ARE GOING WELL FOR IRVINE VICTORIA AT THE MOMENT?

From my point of view both on-and-off the park the club is definitely moving in the direction. The club have a dedicated hard working committee who graft their backsides off and they have an excellent relationship with the players. That’s important as you can only be successful if everyone is pulling in the same direction.

TWO YEARS AGO YOU GUIDED THE CLUB TO THEIR FIRST EVER CHAMPIONSHIP – THAT MUST HAVE BEEN VERY PLEASING FOR YOU?

To win the club’s first championship in over 40-years was a great achievement not just for me but for everyone connected with the club as a whole. Personally it’s the highlight of my football career so far and with that comes with the hunger to achieve more of that from there for the club. The thing that touched me the most was the fact a few grown men had tears in their eyes as a result of it. That’s how much this game means to you.

HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS YOUR SEASON IN THE WEST SUPER LEAGUE FIRST DIVISION?

The West Super First is the most cut-throat junior league in the country with the fact that the bottom four clubs are relegated. Despite that fact it’s a great place to play football and as a club we loved being involved in it. Every game feels like a cup final and there are no easy games because quite frankly there are no poor or weak sides. In the end it was a lack of goals that possibly killed us come the end of the season so to address that was our No1 priority this season.

YOU FELL AGONISINGLY CLOSE IN THE TERMS OF SAFETY LAST SEASON?

It was gut wrenching to finishing just three points being safe but in fairness that heartbreak is what is driving us on this season. Looking at the bigger picture we should have picked up more points but sadly the league table never lies. Our open play was generally good but at times we just lacked that little bit of experience at times to see the game out or pushing for a winner when we should have perhaps settled for a point.

The lines between success and failure are so fine and we pushed the three promoted sides all the way. We lost by the odd goal in three to Pollok and missed a stoppage time penalty. We lost at Shettleston to a 92nd minute and drew with Rob Roy.

YOU HAVE GONE OFF LIKE THE PROVERBIAL EXPRESS TRAIN THIS SEASON – YOU MUST BE CONFIDENT BOUNCING BACK AT THE FIRST ATTEMPT?

One thing we spoke about at the start of the season was all the mistakes or all the things we didn’t do well enough in the Super First we wanted to put right and treat teams as we would if we were playing a club where we were last term. We are an ambitious group and would love to have another chance of promotion.

HOW HAS THE SEASON DEVELOPED SO FAR IN YOUR EYES?

We have started this season very well scoring 35 goals in 11 games and only lost 1 out of 11 games so I couldn’t have asked for a better start from the boys. But we have full respect for all the clubs in the Ayrshire District League and have seen real improvement in all the teams and we have had some real tough games this season. From here we have 11 games left and we must make sure our attitude and commitment is right or we will fall short but it is our job to make sure that doesn’t happen.

IS YOUR SQUAD MADE UP FROM MAINLY LOCAL BASED PLAYERS?

The bulk of the pool are Ayrshire boys. We have about 6 from Glasgow, Neilston and East Kilbride area. I’m a strong believer in having local lads at the club because Irvine Victoria is a proud club and these local boys are proud to play for their home town club. We are also keeping an eye on young local talent and have some promising young lads training with the club.

WHAT IS YOUR LONG TERM AIM FOR THE CLUB?

Irvine Victoria is a great club and I really enjoy my job. I firmly believe the club has a lot of potential to keep moving forward and I hope I can help the club to move forward from here. The fans have been brilliant and the backing they give the players, staff and myself has been nothing short of superb and it makes you want to work harder for them. The club is only as good as your players and we have a very hard working bunch with a good blend of youth and experience with no superstars and I hope this is the squad that can take the club back to the super league

But we are under no illusions that we have a lot of hard work ahead of us to achieve our goal.

 

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