John Treasurer hopes new Fort William boss Ashley Hollyer can help solve the club’s long-standing recruitment issues.
Fort have traditionally had trouble attracting players to sign for the club, given their geographical location and the fact shinty is the predominant sport in the area.
However, the arrival of Hollyer, previously in charge of successful Inverness amateur side NMM Sam’s, has led to a change in the club’s training regime.
Inverness and Fort William-based players will train separately early in the week, before meeting up for a joint session in Lochaber on a Thursday.
It has opened the door for potential new recruits, who may have considered the Fort too great a commitment in the past.
Treasurer said: “He’s brought a lot of good players from Inverness. That was one of the biggest problems we had, being so far away from everyone else. You’ve got the financial aspects of trying to compete against the top teams but the travelling to factor in as well.
“This setup can help attract Inverness-based players who considered playing for us in the past but travelling was a big hurdle. Training one night a week in Inverness has made a big difference. It will still be a Fort William team but he (Hollyer) can attract players from the surrounding areas.
“From where we were a couple of months ago it’s progressed really well. It’s a work in progress and it’s not going to happen overnight.”
Hollyer replaced Calum MacLean last month, with the club also due to appoint a new chairman after Peter Murphy stepped down.
The club were beaten 4-0 by Rothes in a pre-season friendly 10 days ago but Treasurer has been impressed by what he has seen from the side so far.
Teenager Jamie McConnell has stood out, with the 16-year-old Fort William native making the jump to Highland League level.
Treasurer said: “There’s a few boys that have move up to Inverness and had experience of playing in the central belt. It’s given them chance to play football at a different level.
@RothesFC 4-0 Fort William
Today we made the journey to Mackessack Park where we faced Highland League Cup winners and Top of the league contenders Rothes in a friendly
Fort came into the game with 8 players out with injury pic.twitter.com/uEEAbJEo5P
— Fort William FC (@FortWilliamFC) November 14, 2020
“Jamie has come through the Caley Thistle youth system and been involved in the setup for a couple of years. He’s got a wee bit of experience and decided to take that to the next level.
“He’s a really fit guy and is showing his potential. He did a charity run up and down Ben Nevis twice in one day and did it in under six hours.
“It’s a big jump from under-16s to men’s football but the exposure to Highland League football will help him.”
Treasurer himself has timed his return to football perfectly, coming back from a long-term knee injury in time for the new season.
He added: “It’s been a really difficult period. It’s been a year since I had the surgery and the season finishing early was a blessing, as it gave me time to rehab the knee without the pressure of having to come back early.
“I have been able to do it at my own pace. I’ve been training and involved in games so from a selfish point of view, it couldn’t have worked out better.
“Being back, it’s a great thing for people just to get back playing with their friends and for 90 minutes, forget what’s going on in the world.”