The story of Kirkcaldy YM’s remarkable rebirth

Kirkcaldy YM (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)
Kirkcaldy YM (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)

Days, possibly weeks.

That was how close Kirkcaldy YM Junior Football Club came to shutting its doors, according to the local councillor who has stepped in to help pull the club back from the brink.

Alistair Cameron, who serves the Kirkcaldy Central ward, has taken a lead role in securing a future for the Denfield Park side, following what can only be described as a near-death experience for the club last season.

On the park, the team endured its worst ever season, finishing bottom of the South Division with just one point and regular double digit defeats contributing to a goal difference of minus 145.

But off the park, things were just as bleak, with no committee in place and chairman Barrie Lessells left as the only person holding the fort following the resignation of the management team in April.

It was make-or-break for the future of a club that has been part of the town’s football fabric since its formation in 1970, but the return of Craig Ness as manager has paved the way for a consortium of individuals, led by Cllr Cameron, to establish a new committee, and a new dawn for YM.

“At council level we were concerned about the future of Kirkcaldy YM Juniors because they are an important part of the town’s football fraternity,” said Cllr Cameron, who has taken on the role of vice-chairman at the club.

“There’s been problems over the last two or three years, performances haven’t been great, and we wanted to put something together that would help things.

“When the management team resigned in the latter part of last season it left Barrie Lessells, who was the chairman at the time, as the only person left.

“Thankfully he brought in Craig Ness and Stewart McManus, who are long-time friends of mine, as the new coaching team and they started the whole ball rolling.

“I spoke to them and was really keen to have an active role in the YM, firstly to get back into junior football myself but also to try and work on something really big and exciting for Kirkcaldy.”

From such a desparate position just a few months ago, Kirkcaldy YM now have a committee of 13 individuals on board, a new management team, as well as a completely new playing squad.

While challenges remain, positivity is returning to Denfield Park, although Cllr Cameron admits that the club could have just as easily gone to the wall.

“One could say it was a matter of days or weeks,” he said. “When it was only Barrie left, then most people assumed the worst, and the rumour was that YM wouldn’t be playing next year.

“In my mind that wasn’t going to happen, because once we got to that stage, I was definitely going to get involved and make sure it stayed alive.

“One of my remits as councillor is looking after the sport strategy for Kirkcaldy, and football has already been noted as a priority, so from my point of view, I wasn’t going to allow that to happen.

“Thankfully, we have been able to bring people on board and as a committee we’re excited because we see the huge potential here.

“It’s going to take time, but we are going to try and turn this into a real community hub. We’ve got a vision for where we want to take it, and it won’t be for the lack of effort.”

The new YM committee has also welcomed long-serving former chairman, Ramsay Budd, back as honorary president.

“Ramsay is legend as far as YM Juniors are concerned,” Cllr Cameron added. “We feel he will have an important role representing the club at the home games in particular.”

Another former manager, Lee Rough, has taken over as chairman following the resignation of Mr Lessells.

For the past few years the club has been penniless, but now, after securing new sponsorship, the financial picture is slowly improving.

“The response from the business community and individuals has been amazing,” Cllr Cameron explained.

“That’s something I always knew would happen – if we could put the right enthusiasm in place people would come to support us.

“The players are going to be well kitted out with particular thanks to Willie MacGregor Solicitors, who sponsored our home kit, and also Window Store, who are doing both away kit and tracksuits.

“The facilities are great, which is one of big pluses, and the players we’ve taken on board seem to be really enthusiastic about it. We’re not looking to win leagues next year, we just want to be competitive, and whatever funds we can get will go towards making this place secure, because that is the most important thing.”