MOVING ON UP

THORN ATHLETIC picked up a fully merited victory in their Caledonian Premier League match against Glasgow University on Saturday, with the three points being more than welcomed by players and staff alike after an enforced month-long hiatus from league action due to unplayable playing surfaces and cup commitments. An Ian Paterson goal was sandwiched in between a Jordan Verracchia brace to put the Thorn 3-0 up going into the second period and the three goals coming within an eight-minute spell appeared to dishearten Glasgow University, who never really looked like fashioning a route back into the game during the second half.

Muir McCluskey rounded off the scoring just twelve minutes into the second half by making it 4-0 after latching onto an inspired pass from John Martin, who grabbed his second assist of the game and helped propel his side up to third place in the table. Thorn Athletic manager Johnny McEwan was relieved to get some league points on the board and was keen to highlight how much the contribution of the entire team played in securing a comfortable victory.

McEwan said following the win: “We were excellent in the first half and put the game to bed pretty quickly after getting the breakthrough. We missed a few good chances early on and it made you wonder if it was going to be our day, but when we got our noses in front we kicked on. We got a lot of joy down the left-hand side in the first half through John Martin and that led to a couple of goals.”

McEwan added: “Second half we huffed and puffed a bit which meant we only added another one to the tally, but it was good to get back to winning ways in the league. What was equally as pleasing for us was to keep a clean sheet, the defence have been playing well and hopefully it continues.”

The Thorn will be aiming to make it a positive end to what has been a fixture bare November during this Saturday’s away trip to face Cambria. They’ll have ambitions of making it three league wins in a row as they look to continue their ascent up the league table. Although McEwan expects a tough encounter against a Cambria side that will be eager to bounce back from their 3-2 defeat to Glasgow Harp in their previous league fixture.

Ahead of this weekend’s match McEwan added: “We need to get a bit of momentum going again, especially ahead of our Scottish Cup fourth round tie the week after. Cambria are dangerous opposition but hopefully if we can keep our levels up then we can get another good result. Cambria also had a free week last week so they will be fresh. We have Dean Scott available again after suspension and a few of the injuries are starting to clear up so fingers crossed.”

SCOTTISH TAKES CENTRE STAGE

THORN ATHLETIC welcome Langlee Amateurs from the Border Amateur Football League A League to the Thorn Athletic Sports Academy on Saturday for a Scottish Amateur Cup third round tie, with the game’s 3 o’clock kick-off not coming soon enough for both sides who have both had disrupted league campaigns due to cup commitments and adverse weather conditions.

 

The Thorn come into the match off the back of a 2-1 friendly win over Vale of Clyde in Coatbridge last Saturday. A fixture that was arranged to maintain momentum and match sharpness following the postponement of the Caledonian Premier League fixture that was scheduled to take place that day against Glasgow University. Two goals from Connar McGregor ensured that the Thorn came away from North Lanarkshire with the desired result, but head coach Johnny McEwan is fully aware of the increased stakes attached to this Saturday’s contest.

 

McEwan said: “This is our biggest game of the season so far and going on a run in the Scottish Cup would give everyone a lift. It wasn’t ideal the game being off last week, but the weather was horrendous, and we did eventually manage to get a run out for some of the squad. But the focus is now firmly on getting through to the fourth round.”

 

Langlee Amateur’s Borders Cup final did not suffer the same fate as the Thorn’s scheduled competitive fixture and Langlee took full advantage of that in what proved to be a very productive afternoon for them. Langlee’s 2-0 victory over Greenlaw secured their first piece of silverware of the season, with star striker Des Sutherland grabbing a brace and making it seven goals in his last three outings in the process.

 

The cup competitions have been a great source of comfort for Langlee this season due to them only being able to fulfil two league fixtures so far this season, which is the lowest in the Border Amateur Football League’s top division. So, McEwan is fully prepared to encounter a team that is in high spirits after last weekend’s Border Cup triumph.

 

McEwan added: “”We don’t know much about Langlee, but they seem to be in very good form as their recent cup win would suggest. So, they are going to be dangerous opponents. We will have to be right on it in order to get through.”

 

McEwan will have to do some reshuffling in the final third from their victory over Kilmarnock Amateurs in the previous round, however, with Dean Scott unavailable after an unorthodox red card in the match in Ayrshire in second round after receiving a second yellow card in the aftermath of a goal celebration. Injury problems also continue to beset the team with Ross Horne, Dylan Blair, Andy Collins, Paul Jamieson and George Mavezah all ruled out.

RYAN’S FLYING WITH SCOTS

THORN ATHLETIC captain Ryan Crawford has been selected for the Scotland Amateur National Squad after his displays in the heart of midfield.

 

Crawford’s performances have not gone unnoticed, and he was one of 30 players from throughout Scotland that perform under the Scottish Amateur Football Association umbrella to play in a Scottish select match at Dalziel Park on Sunday.

Crawford said: “It was great to be included again and it was a good competitive match.

It’s great to get the chance again as I’ve been involved in several squads before, and it gives you and everyone involved a boost.”

Although adverse weather conditions have meant it has been an inconsistent playing schedule lately for Thorn Athletic, performance levels have remained largely consistent, with just one defeat in all competitions this season and an unbeaten start to their Caledonian Premier League campaign.

Ryan Crawford has been integral to the Thorn’s impressive form this season and although he has been in and around the Scotland Amateur Squad setup for a few years now, he’s aware of the scale of his achievement and how it reflects on the work being done by his coaches and teammates at Thorn Athletic.

Crawford added: “Hopefully I can continue my involvement as it’s good for both myself and Thorn Athletic.”

The Scotland Amateur Squad are also in a strong place following their first workout of the season. The team manager Colin MacLeod was impressed by the commitment and intensity on display by his squad on Sunday.

MacLeod said: “It was an excellent first workout of the season at Dalziel Park. We only had two withdrawals due to injury which was great, and it was an entertaining game.”

 

£50K FUNDING BOOST

On Tuesday, October 26 Renfrewshire Council’s Communities, Housing & Planning Board approved funding of £50,000 to our organisation from their Community Empowerment Fund to facilitate the overhaul of our community pitch at the Thorn Athletic Sports Academy.

 

This award comes on top of £5,000 previously secured from the Big Lottery Awards for All scheme.

 

The organisation currently provides football and related programmes to more than 500 people ranging from 3-5 years through to Over 35s and Walking Football.

 

In addition, the Thorn Athletic Sports Academy hosts a wide variety of other activities for the surrounding community that make is central to the wellbeing of thousands of people in Johnstone and the wider Renfrewshire area.

 

Chairperson Mark McGee said: “This is fantastic news for our organisation and a defining moment for our future development plans.

 

“This funding will allow us to overhaul our grass pitch and install a top-class playing surface complete with an extensive and fit-for-purpose drainage system that will take our facilities to a completely new level.

 

“The scope of works will eliminate the longstanding issues with the pitch, improve the durability of the surface and also allow us to develop new areas and bring more space into use for the benefit of our users.

 

“It is also a clear signal of our intent to move towards a full community asset transfer of the former McMaster Centre facility. We have successfully turned this into a thriving place for all manner of football and related fitness and socially engaging activities for the community.

 

 

“Our executive committee are absolutely determined to develop our project, facilities and the area around us into something that everyone can be proud of and benefit from.

 

“We already have funds in place to install a perimeter fence around the area to protect the facilities and with a new pitch now also in the pipeline, these are hugely exciting times for Thorn Athletic.

 

 

“We are grateful for the continued support of Renfrewshire Council, the Scottish Football Association, Engage Renfrewshire and all our other partner organisations.”

 

Thorn Athletic will soon be announcing new opportunities for the local business community to engage with the project and for new specialised committee roles as they develop the capacity of the organisation and put in place new infrastructure.

 

Anyone who wishes to play a part should contact [email protected]

DIRECT DEAL OF THE DECADE

THORN ATHLETIC have agreed the biggest sponsorship deal in their history after Direct Engineering extended their long-standing backing of the club’s adult team.

 

The financial windfall – the equivalent of five years’ worth of support – will play a significant part in helping the team bounce back from more than a year of inactivity and boost their development plans for the future.

 

With in-person fundraising pretty much outlawed due to Covid, the support of one of the west of Scotland’s largest engineering firms, who have premises in both Linwood and Paisley, is a real coup for the Johnstone side.

 

Direct Engineering service many blue-chip companies across the United Kingdom, particularly in the food and drink sector, and they have provided continual support to Thorn for more than a decade.

 

Team boss Johnny McEwan and Direct Engineering managing director Dom McGee announce the deal

 

 

The firm’s logo will be on the club’s Nike tracksuits and rainjackets for the team’s forthcoming season in the Caledonian Premier League.

 

Direct Engineering managing director Dominic McGee said: “We are delighted to extend our support for Thorn Athletic as they enter a crucial period in their development.

 

 

“We know it’s been a difficult year for grassroots organisations given the barriers they have had with raising funds in the traditional manner.

 

“We have built up a longstanding relationship with the Thorn and we are delighted to be able to reinvest in a growing community project.

 

 

“Their community work continues to evolve and we have no doubt they’ll go from strength to strength.”

 

A spokesperson for Thorn Athletic said: “We were blown away by this contribution. Direct Engineering have been committed to supporting us for many years and in many ways – but this investment took it to a new level.

 

“We will proudly display their name wherever we go and hopefully represent them well.”

WIZARD OF OZ TAKES US GLOBAL

THORN ATHLETIC have struck an Oz-some sponsorship deal after a former Johnstone man backed them all the way from Down Under.

Wacky businessman David Muir, who was born in the town and played for several local teams, now runs his own car dealership Mad Man Motors based in Wangara in Western Australia.

Mad Muir has already helped many good causes in his own Aussie community and has become a social media sensation racking up thousands of views with his zany promotional videos for his successful car sales firm where he regularly dresses up as a super hero with special effects to bring a smile to everyone’s face.

Now it’s turned out to be a right G’Day for the Thorn after he agreed to buy new Nike player bags, run out tops and other additional man of the match add ons and incentives for the club’s first team squad.

 

David at Mad Man Motors

And the Thorn management have hailed him for putting something back into the football community where he grew up.

He said: “I love football and I love helping when I can. I’ve watched Thorn Athletic grow over many years and regularly see the work they are doing in the community.

“Although I’m on the other side of the world I was keen to help in some way and I’m glad to be able to put something back into my hometown. My brother Alan is head coach there and I get regular updates from him. I sponsor teams here including Carramar and it’s been great to see the difference you can make. “

Players Muir McCluskey and Shaun Kelly with the Mad Man bags – the first part of a significant deal.

Thorn Athletic chairperson Mark McGee joked: “Mad Man Motors is quite aptly named! I grew up with David and he was a fantastic footballer in his own right and we’ve kept up the link through Alan and other mutual friends.

“It’s great he’s chosen to back our project in this way and it’s great to show we can attract overseas investment. I dare say there won’t be many club’s with support from such far flung corners of the globe.”

Strong team unveiled

THORN ATHLETIC 2014/15s are raring to go when football returns after bringing a strong team of sponsors on board.

 

These kids are among the growing Johnstone club’s youngest age groups and unfortunately their journey into the beautiful game has been delayed by the pandemic.

 

But when they eventually get the green light to resume training and playing small-sided games in the Paisley, Johnstone & District Youth Football League they have everything they need thanks to a top line-up of local companies.

 

Docherty Transport Ltd, Arnold Clark Seat/Skoda at Linwood, Kilbarchan Maintenance Service and Horne Engineering – based in the town – have ensured they are kitted out with a stunning array of new Nike teamwear.

 

The kids have training kits, strips, jackets and the coaches have been kitted out along with the purchase of training equipment.

A spokesman said: “We have been blown away by the generosity of all these companies – especially given the challenging circumstances for businesses just now.

 

“We’ve also had amazing kindness shown from all the parents as we wait patiently to get the kids back playing again.

 

“They all look smart and are raring to go. They have missed so much but with the fantastic sponsorship they certainly have everything they need.”

 

The team would also like to RPL Media Ltd who have helped showcase the group over the past few months.

 

From left to right, coaches/officials Mark Sloan, John Martin, Michael O’Brien and Tommy Graham with their sponsored jackets.

Chit Chat spotlight on club

JOHNSTONE man Jed McCabe’s new YouTube show is set to shine a light on one of the town’s biggest recent success stories.

 

Chit Chat with Jed and Co – which launched last month and is produced in conjunction with Lab Rat Productions – rolled into town last week to hear about the rise of Thorn Athletic Football Club.

 

The bumper Christmas Special, which was filmed in well-known Indian restaurant Shimla Pinks, saw host Jed sit down with Thorn chairperson Mark McGee who founded the club along with a group of friends back in the late 90s.

 

Viewers will hear about the club’s modest beginnings and turbulent early years through a trophy-laden two decades which has seen it grow to become the largest club in the town and recently launch an exciting Sports Academy.

 

It’ll be light, cameras, action when the show goes out on Christmas Eve on the Chit Chat with Jed and Co YouTube channel which has already seen high traffic with more than 1.3k views for his first sit down with Glasgow-based martial arts guru Mike Krause.

 

 

Jed, who was born and brought up in the town, hopes to use the new show to give a platform to fascinating, but otherwise unheard, stories from individuals across society and subject areas.

 

His slogan of ‘The show where everyone has their say’ certainly rings true with the second offering as Jed and Mark discuss the Thorn’s development in depth.

 

And Jed – who urged viewers to tune in through their TV screens – said: “The Thorn’s rise might have taken many by surprise – but not me! That’s why I can’t wait for people to see this.

“The show is going from strength to strength and over the coming weeks and months I’ll be bringing an array of guests together so that they can all have their say.”

Academy Coming Soon

THORN ATHLETIC FOOTBALL CLUB are ready to launch a new sports academy in Johnstone.

 

Club chiefs have taken over the running of the former McMaster Centre and will reopen it as the Thorn Athletic Sports Academy in the coming weeks.

 

There are plans to increase the club’s football activities, expand coaching to include other sports and deliver an enhanced selection of indoor and outdoor services to the community.

 

The newly-formed ‘Thorn Athletic Community Trust’ – which is a registered charity – has brought together a number of individuals from a variety of backgrounds, with a range of expertise to help drive the new initiative.

 

They will oversee the running of both the community football club and the Academy as a social enterprise.

 

All existing user groups can continue to operate from the facility, which had most recently been operating as Johnstone Community Sports Complex, and the two sessional staff members will remain.

 

The Thorn, which is the biggest football club in the town with more than 250 members, also hope to seek grant funding to improve the facilities around the grass football pitch and upgrade security.

 

During the recent coronavirus crisis the club has been busy delivering community initiatives in collaboration with organisations like Johnstone Community Council and Linstone to support vulnerable groups in the area.

 

But the opening of their own Sports Academy is a significant milestone in the club’s two decades of history.

 

Mark McGee, chairperson of Thorn Athletic Community Trust, said: “We are looking forward to opening the Thorn Athletic Sports Academy when it is safe to do so.

 

“A significant amount of work has gone on behind the scenes to make this happen.

 

“Our club began in the west Johnstone area more than 20 years ago, we were instrumental in saving the facility ten years ago and now we aim to give it a new lease of life in 2020.

 

“The Thorn is part of the fabric of life in Johnstone now and we are keen to get more people engaged with our organisation. We are excited about broadening our horizons with other sports and look forward to working with other groups who share our values to improve people’s everyday lives.

 

The facility was forced to close almost four months ago when the coronavirus crisis struck and it has been a struggle for volunteers to safeguard the project without any source of income.

Covid-19 Response

DOZENS of people have been helped by community support initiatives driven by the club during the Covid-19 crisis.

The club has so far worked in conjunction with Johnstone Community Council, Roots of Linwood and Graeme’s Butchers to directly assist vulnerable members of the community.

Our first project saw us make a donation of 40 breakfast packs to Renfrewshire Women’s Aid to help them provide for those people they are assisting at this time.
These tend to be vulnerable females who often have children and are struggling for any manner of reasons. Pressure on this service has increased significantly during this period.
Secondly, with the financial backing of Johnstone Community Council we reached out to members of the community who are linked to the club but who appreciated a gesture of goodwill to help them through and raise their spirits.
Volunteers Marilyn Kennedy and Paul Young gave up their time to hand deliver care packages containing fruit and veg boxes from Roots of Linwood along with breakfast packs from Graeme’s Butchers.
Fruit & Veg boxes from Roots of Linwood
These went to friends or former members of the club who were socially isolating, struggling with particular health issues, caring for others or just in need of a lift.
All packages included a letter on behalf of the organisations involved reiterating our club’s commitment to putting something back into the community when we can.
Chairperson Mark McGee said: “Thorn Athletic prides itself on being a club at the heart of the community. We are out there, we are working and we are helping when we can.
“It’s been great to work in partnership with other organisations also doing their utmost to provide for their communities and customers at this time.”