A successful start to East Stirlingshire’s charity partnership with Parkinson’s UK could lead it to expand its relationship with good causes in the future.
The Bainsford club launched a fundraising link with the organisation in the summer, the centrepiece of which is an agreement to put a message of support for Parkinson’s Disease sufferers on their new third choice strip.
The Shire players will wear the jersey for the first time when they face Clyde at Broadwood in their League Two match on Saturday. As well as publicity the link is also about helping raise cash.
For every sale of one of the new blue replica top Shire will make a donation to Parkinson’s UK and supporters and former players have already undertaken a number of fundraising events.
“Making Parkinson’s UK our charity of the season has already brought benefits to us both in the short while since the launch,” said Shire secretary Tadek Kopszywa. “But we would expect that to move up a gear with the team wearing the jersey for the first time.
“Although there have been a few wonderful examples of how the partnership works in action already, we hope far more people will become aware of it through Saturday’s game and that will only be a good thing.”
Shire fans have been taking part in charity events to do their own bit while former player, Alan Miller and current chairman, Tony Ford, who both suffer from the disease, have raised a substantial sum for Parkinson’s UK by climbing to the top of Ben Nevis.
“It’s amazing to see just how people have taken to this initiative,” said the club secretary. “And it shows just how much potential there is for football to get involved with good causes. In fact, it has already got us thinking about how we might want to expand this side of things in the future.
“Clubs like ours are small in size but we do still enjoy a decent public profile. If we can put that to good use then we will be helping fulfil a role as a genuine partner in the community.
“This kind of thing is not new, especially in America where clubs are very clued in to corporate social responsibility. But more and more football clubs in this country are now seeing what is possible and we certainly want to be part of that trend.”
Shire’s position as league leaders after the first four games of the season has increased the club’s media profile and that, says Kopszywa, will add to the ability to help.
“There has been a bit of an upsurge in interest with our good start to the season and some people in prominent places have been saying some nice things about us.
“But I hope that people remember that whatever our results on a Saturday we aim to be a player in a full range of activities away from the pitch and be part of a move towards full community engagement.”
Shire coach John Coughlin may have some good news ahead of Saturday’s game in Cumbernauld. His squad was stretched to the limits prior to the international break but he could strengthen it ahead of the Clyde match with the return of Scott Maxwell from injury. Maxwell played an hour of a reserve match last week which was his first action since the opening day of the league season.
In addition, Ross O’Donoghue is another week closer to a comeback after he suffered a slight hamstring tear in Shire’s 3-0 win over Elgin City last month. However, his participation in Saturday’s game will depend on how effective his period of rest has been.
Coughlin’s men still top the table despite a 4-1 defeat to Peterhead in their last game a fortnight ago and they are determined to get things back on track. Clyde have made a decent start to their own campaign and it seems the two sides, perennial strugglers over the past few seasons, are now making strides on the pitch. The outcome could have a significant impact on how their respective recovery plans continue.