THE 10th Annual Galloway Football Fair, organised and run by Galloway Thistle Youth Football Club in conjunction with Newton Stewart Football Club, was held at Blairmount Park at the weekend and enjoyed one of the best spells of weather since the event was first held in 2002.
The overhead sunshine was only spoiled by the gusty winds which were particularly strong on Saturday but nevertheless the 2000 or so people who attended from all over Dumfries and Galloway, Ayrshire and Northern Ireland thoroughly enjoyed the two day tournament.
The first group to play were the under 10s age group with Queen of Galloway Kellie kicking the event off. Every youngster taking part was rewarded for their participation by receiving a trophy which has been the hallmark of the Football Fair over the years. This section were presented with their trophies by Dean Thomson from Minnigaff who was capped for Scotland at Schoolboy under 18 level last year and is now a full time trainee with Queen of the South.
Dean played with Galloway Thistle for five years before joining Queens several years ago, a point that was not missed by the youngsters who could see what dedication to their sport could lead to.
The next group were presented with their trophies by Alex Whiteside who is the coach and event co-ordinator for Galloway Thistle and has been involved with the event for the ten years that it has been running. The final and oldest age group were last to play on Saturday and included teams from Ballynahinch Youth Club from Northern Ireland and at the end of the day were awarded the Laura McGaw Merit Trophy by Laura herself. Laura then made the final presentations of the day to the rest of the teams.
Following the success of Saturday’s matches when 300 youngsters took part, it was the turn of the younger age groups on Sunday when again in excess of 300 players took part in the tournament starting with the under seven years old which were very well received by the large crowd of spectators.
Kellie McPhillips, Queen of Galloway, presented the trophies at the end of the groups matches to a bunch of very excited boys and girls. Robbie Totten, Dumfries and Galloway Football Development Officer, carried out the award ceremony at the end of the next age group and Dr Aileen McLeod, who is a local candidate for the Scottish Parliament elections, presented the final group with their trophies.
Following the Prize Draw when the £50 first prize was won by James Brawls, Junior from Port William, compere John McNaught made special mention to all in attendance thanking them for their support of the event over the years and presented Alex Whiteside with a memento to mark his 10 year involvement.
Ian Harvey from Sandhead has also been at the tournament for 10 years and has refereed fully on both days during this time, which is quite an acheievment and one that was marked by a small presentation to him. The kitchen ladies are also very hard worked people over the two days and Susan Dunse was thanked and received a bunch of flowers along with Maureen McLean who was also marking her 10th attendance at the Football Fair and received a very big thank you and a small gift in gratitude along with her flowers. Treasurer Rosie Johnstone who was unavailable along with John McNaught have also been involved over the 10 years and the Wigtownshire Sports Council Cup which was recently won by the event was on display. During the first day of the event members of Youth Football Scotland were in attendance interviewing and taking photographs which can now be accessed on www.youthfootballscotland.co.uk
Newton Stewart Secretary and Compere for the event John McNaught said: “This was one of the best tournaments we have had with things going smoothly throughout and many comments were received from Coachs and Parents about how they had enjoyed the event.
“Over the past 10 years there have been many people involved and I thank them for their assistance as well as the local businesses who support the event by advertising in our Annual Programme. Winning the Sports Council award was not for any particular person but for all these people over the years who have been involved in any way. We finished the weekend off with a get together Buffet and Disco when the event was toasted for a further 10 years of success.”