FAMOUS novelist Val McDermind has taken her love for Raith Rovers to the next level by joining the board of directors.
The award-winning crime writer has invested in club shares, and in turn taken a seat at the table of New Raith Rovers Ltd, the parent company that runs the overall football club.
Val’s international work commitments will prevent her from attending all of the weekly board meetings at Stark’s Park, but she has appointed former supporters representative, Tom Phillips, to be her voice within the board room if and when she cannot attend.
And the lifelong Rovers fan, whose affiliation for the Kirkcaldy club was passed down from her late father Jim, the Raith scout who unearthed Jim Baxter, is delighted to be an official part of her home-town football club.
Val told SportsPress: “I have a connection to the club that’s well-documented, but having been more closely involved over the last few years I’ve come to realise that people who have the finances to support the club should do so.
“It’s a community resource and we should all be doing what we can to ensure clubs like Raith Rovers survive. I’m very proud to be associated with club in this way.”
Val’s contribution to Raith in recent times cannot be under-estimated.
Not only was she one of several public figures who made a donation the New Raith Rovers Ltd takeover of 2007, she also contributed a six-figure sum to the club coffers by sponsoring the North Stand at Stark’s Park, which is currently named the McDermind Stand. However, she never expected her interest in the football club to extend to a position of power.
“I’ve always followed football and been a supporter, but this is something I’d never imagined,” she said. “I’m just picturing my father looking down and saying ‘they’re letting lassies on the board now!’
“However, I think it’s important that we try to broaden the nature of people involved in football at club management levels.
“For too long it’s been something of a gentleman’s club, and a closed shop in lots of ways, but it says a lot for Raith Rovers’ willingness to embrace with different segments of the community that they were willing to welcome someone like me onto the Board.
“I feel privileged to join a group of people who worked so hard for the survival of the club. People like Turnbull Hutton and Mario Caira are totally committed to the club in a way that’s quite remarkable and it’s an honour to be sitting alongside them.”
Both as a supporter and director, Val is keen to see the club continue the progress made under John McGlynn in recent years.
“We have a good team at Raith Rovers and a fantastic manager – please God let us hang onto him!” she said.
“But that’s the price of success in football these days, particularly for smaller clubs. When there’s success, the big boys come sniffing.
“The days of one club for life are long gone.”
While admitting she is a “one step removed” director, Val is keen to be as hands-on as possible and has performed his first directorial role by penning the club’s introduction to its season 2011-12 commercial pamphlet, which has been sent out to various businesses in Fife and beyond.
“It was something practical I could do to help,” she said. “Because I can’t physically be there all of the time, I was very happy to be able to weigh in with something I’m good at.
“Writing that letter to potential sponsors was a good way for me to contribute from afar.”
One of Raith’s most loyal and long-standing board members, Turnbull Hutton, a key director of the past 11 years, hailed Val’s appointment to the Board.
“Val’s a great supporter of the club and has been from the time of the restructure,” he said. “She’s really interested in the club as was shown by her sponsorship of the stand, and she comes to games both home and way when she can.
“She’s also great value in terms of personality, but most importantly she’s hugely knowledgable about the issues of running of First Division football club, and understands the challenges and difficulties we face. She been hugely supportive and everybody is always delighted to see her. We appreciate the help and understanding she provides.”
Hutton is also grateful for the publicity that a famous board member can provide.
He added: “Any supporter of any kind is valuable to us, but Val is a hugely high profile figure who projects the name of the club at every opportunity.
“She recently had a piece on Twitter about Raith Rovers letting her followers know about the fantastic season we’ve just had and how great it was to win team of the year.
“There’s a lot of major public figures attached to clubs, such as Noel Gallagher at Manchester City, but the relationship that Val has with Raith Rovers and the board of directors is hugely different from that. She is hugely involved and understands the issues and difficulties we face.”