Bellshill United still hope national semi-final will be played

Representatives of amateur Sunday league side Bellshill United are hopeful they’ll still get the chance to play a Scottish Sunday Amateur Cup semi-final tie at Falkirk Stadium.

Bellshill United AFCs squad was having a fine season before campaign was stopped by coronavirus restrictions

United negotiated six rounds to book their last four spot against Falkirk outfit Donner Inn AFC on April 5, but the clash was then postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Club secretary Stuart Elliott (42), of Bothwell, told the Times and Speaker: “Organisers are going to try and restart the season with cup games if they can.

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“That would be decent for us, to get to play that game.

“I would imagine we would be the underdogs.

“The boys are doing what they can under lockdown, still going out for runs and jogs but it’s very strange.

“They’re all really missing the game.”

Bellshill United, who play home games in Coatbridge, were established back in 2015 by Stuart’s cousin Gary Elliott – the current manager – who started the team with friends after suffering a football career ending knee injury.

Gary is assisted by coaches Alan Binnie and George Brown

“We’ve built ourselves up,” Stuart said. “The first year we played in the Carluke and District League which is now defunct.

“We played 34 games and lost 33. But we’ve got much, much better. We moved after that into the Airdrie and Coatbridge League.

“We started in the second division and we have worked our way up into the Premier Division now.

“We’ve had a really good year, up in second place in the league, reaching the West of Scotland Cup semi-finals (they lost 3-1 to Drumchapel United at Renfrew), we were due to play the All In Cup final at Airdrie Stadium on March 27 and we were also in the semi-finals of both the League Cup and Billy Harkness Memorial Trophy.

“We hope all these games will be played.

“For us to have such a successful season hit by coronavirus is sad for the boys.”

Main United sponsors The Carousel Bar and Stark Construction have backed the team to the hilt, providing the cash to buy kit, training tops etc.

Stuart revealed that club officials hope to start playing home games at Bellshill’s Sir Matt Busby Sports Complex from next season.

“We are hoping that when we come back we can generate a bit of interest in the local area by getting back to Bellshill,” Stuart said.

“I think part of the problem we’ve had is because we play at Coatbridge, it’s really friends and family that come and watch us rather than fans so to speak.”

The club’s recent history has seen notable achievements include finishing League Cup runners-up two seasons in a row and finishing league runners-up.

Their away travels for matches this season included trips to Aberdeen, Ayrshire and the Isle of Arran.

“We went to Arran in the West of Scotland Cup,” Stuart said.

“It was a very drunken ferry journey home to be perfectly honest!

“We’re actually talking about going back over there for a pre-season friendly because the boys get on really well with their boys.

“They put on a really good spread. It was a full steak pie dinner we got after the game in the golf club across the road so we’ll definitely go back there if we can.”

Stuart revealed that Scottish Sunday amateur football is currently suffering a crisis of several teams folding, with just four left in the league Bellshill play in.

He said that the lure of going out on a Saturday night and perhaps drinking heavily – plus the fact that so many games – led by Celtic and Rangers – were televised live on a Sunday, had been adversely affecting the number of players available.