Unite scores a marvellous goal with strip sponsorship.
Vale of Leven under 21s strips now salute the union
In the west of Scotland when Saturday comes, for many people, in many places, it’s about football. That’s certainly the case in Alexandria, not that far from the shores of Loch Lomond. The town is home to one of Scotland’s most famous junior football clubs – Vale of Leven. ‘The Vale’ as they are known was originally founded in 1872.
On the first Saturday in February, at Milburn Park, Vale’s home ground, the under 21s were cheered to the echo after a stirring Scottish cup tie against local rivals Antonine under 21s. They come from nearby Clydebank so it was really a local debry. It finished 4-4 at full time but Vale under 21s went through 4-1 on penalties.
But this wasn’t just another Saturday for the union because the winners were wearing their new shirts emblazoned with Unite’s logo for the very first time. The Vale under 21 coach, Bryan Nicholas, thinks that’s a good omen.
As with many good union stories this one started with a Unite shop steward. Margaret Wood is a senior Unite steward with the local council – West Dunbartonshire. Last year Margaret gave one of the team advice about his rates of pay and other expenses. The lad finished up getting two years back pay and a number of the team members then queued up for Margaret’s counsel about other issues. She was taken aback that the boys did not really know anything about Unite or the trade union movement.
You might say that’s what started the ball rolling. Margaret’s son Kier plays centre back for the under 21s so to build links between the club, the boys and Unite Margaret suggested to the coach that he should write to the local Unite branch and ask for support. They got it in a £600 sponsorship for a new set of strips.
Margaret says: “The boys played their first game with the strips on the first Saturday in February. I would say it had the desired effect as it was a major talking point from the opposition team and all the supporters. This looks to me like a relatively cheap way of engaging with the young to draw them towards Unite. We are now going to build regular links between the team and the Branch.”
Team coach Bryan Nicholas added “We hope this is the beginning of a long term partnership. Everywhere the boys go in Scotland folk will be seeing the Unite logo. It’s great for everyone."
There are plans to have a Unite Branch Banner heralding the sponsorship displayed at Milburn Park every time the under 21s are at home.That's another goal for Unite!