Dundee West Football Club are toasting their best year in the club’s 33-year history after a massive awards night at the Caird Hall a week last Friday.
With membership now in excess of 500 people, West packed out the city centre venue to celebrate the achievements of their younger boys and girls football sections over the course of 2018 – with Dundee United players Nicky Clark and Lewis Toshney in attendance to hand out some prizes.
However, the whole of Dundee West have enjoyed a terrific 12 months on and off the pitch.
Highlights for the Charlotte Street-based club include winning the Best Community Football Club award at the Scottish Football Association’s Grassroots Awards back in October as well as visits and training sessions delivered by the likes of Scotland international Lisa Evans and former Westies Cammy Kerr and Maurice Ross.
The club has also seen growth in their social inclusion activities such as para-football, over 35s and walking football. The latter social element is something club secretary Paul Gibson and club development officer Tam McCabe are particularly proud of on reflection.
Gibson (42), who has been affiliated with the club for 21 years, said: “We’ve always been a community club in the 33 years and the people that got us up and running back then deserve credit as well for where we are now.
“We’ve come to the pinnacle almost and we want to stay at that.
“Over my time here we’ve been able to create a legacy.”
McCabe added: “Dundee West is a club that can provide a full family pathway to kids and adults, or maybe players who have a disability, the chance to play the game.
“I’ve been able to come in and meet head teachers and other local partners to find out what the needs of the community are.
“We will continue to grow as a club but we want to also have an impact on hard-to-reach groups that maybe aren’t able to afford to get into the club or lost confidence.
“We want to engage with them, support them and use football as a tool to bring them into Charlotte Street and work together.
“That’s key to being seen as more than just a football club and, I think, that’s why we’ve been recognised as the best community club.”
The club hopes to grow further next year with plans to expand their girls section, work closely with more local primary schools and hopes for an artificial pitch at Charlotte Street.
Gibson said: “We want to go into schools and build partnerships in the community. We want to make Dundee West a big part of people’s lives – something they have a tie to forever from the age of five onwards.”
McCabe said the club can be the envy of and inspiration to others in the local area, adding: “Dundee West are at a point where they say ‘right we’re this big now but where do we go from there?’
“We’ve got the 3G pitch project at Charlotte Street we’re very keen to look at and we know there’s a need with the sheer number of players.
“For us to get there we need to make sure we’re occupying and benefitting the community.
“We’re working with schools to deliver numeracy and literacy – it’s massive for them. I walk into school and it’s like Messi or Ronaldo for them. If you get told you’re the best club in Scotland, of course kids want to be involved in that.”