South West Region (171)
The founder of Ayr-based football club Valspar FC, Jim Gourlay, received his well-deserved place on the Queen's honours list this year. Jim now joins the ranks of Scottish Football legends who have also received this accolade such as Ally Mcoist, Gordon Strachan, and Sir Alex Ferguson.
The club was founded in 1976 by Jim who had no prior experience, just a love for the game and a desire to give young men in his own town of Ayr an outlet and purpose.From 1976 to 2019 Valspar teams have travelled to countries as far and wide as Canada, America, Norway, Sweden and many others. In the early 1990s Jim took a team that won the Austria cup having previously won the Scottish cup.
Jim has spent his career as both chairman and president of the club, as well as scouting for teams like Liverpool and Ayr United. During his tenure at Liverpool Football Club, Jim was responsible for the scouting of 1988 FWA Player of the Year Steve Nicol. As well as this, he was involved in the early recruitment of John Barnes and Emile Heskey.
Perhaps his biggest recent achievement was, whilst scouting for Ayr United, he spotted a young left sided player by the name of Andy Robertson, who you may remember lifting the Champions League trophy in June.
Jim Gourlay’s recognition comes well earned, his role within Scottish Football has been pivotal for years and something for everyone with a passion for football to look up to.
(Bonnyton Thistle 2002s, who recently won the Central Ayrshire Youth FA David McNaught Cup)
Bonnyton Thistle FC from Kilmarnock will have a senior team on the field next season, after the club’s application to join the South of Scotland Football League was approved.
The move will also see the Ayrshire club set up an Under 20s team, which will play in the Scottish Lowland League Under 20s Development League, which kicks off in late July.
The club, which has been a regular fixture in Scottish Youth FA Cup finals in recent years, are now officially part of the SFA pyramid system for Scottish football, with the South of Scotland League making up the sixth tier. Promotion from there leads to the Lowland League, which in turn provides the possibility of football in SPFL League Two.
The senior side will be managed by former Kilmarnock player Alan Robertson, who also took the Under 20s side at the club and was in charge of its academy. His assistant will be ex-Killie striker and youth coach Paul Wright.
Current Bonnyton coaches Ian Higgins and Neil Wilson will head up the Under20s side along with Graeme Neil, who joins the club after stints with Annbank Juniors and Ayr United. Higgins and Wilson have not only been involved in the club’s recent cup successes but were pivotal in securing a new 3G facility for the club, in the Townholm area of Kilmarnock, which allows them to fill the league’s contractual obligations for the season ahead.
Teams that have followed a similar path from youth to senior football include Cumbernauld Colts and East Kilbride FC, the latter of whom played Celtic in the Scottish Cup in February this year.