Fort William Shinty Club was officially constituted in 1893 but the club slowly emerged into the sport and only entered the Camanachd Cup in 1912. The club folded on occasion in the 1900s and 1920s and had very little success except a Camanachd Cup semi final in 1937, against Oban Celtic, and a sprinkling of junior cups.
Unfortunately for the club, the rise of Fort William as a force in shinty coincided with the 20 year dominance of Kingussie. However, the club heralded its arrival as a major force by winning the Macaulay Cup in 1991 and reaching the semi final of the Camanachd the same year then finally joining the ranks of clubs who have won the blue riband event in 1992, beating Kingussie 1-0 in Glasgow thanks to Derek ‘Deek’ Cameron goal after only seven seconds – which still stands as the fastest goal in a final.
The Fort continued to perform well and reached the final in 1994 where they lost to Kyles Athletic. The new millennium saw Fort William habitually come in second behind the unstoppable Kingussie team and began to be seen as the team most likely to break the Badenoch dominance, to which they did.
The Fort reappeared in the Camanachd Cup Final in 2003 but were defeated by Kingussie 6-0 on home soil. The next, in 2004, saw the Fort go down to an unfancied Inveraray side 1-0 in Oban. When the side again reached the final in 2005, against local rivals Kilmallie, it was seen by the wider community as case of now or never. The game, held between the two Fort William teams in the town itself, is widely regarded as the most exciting final of recent times.
Fort winning with a last gasp goal to win 3-2.
Further glory was to follow the next year in 2006, when Fort William finally broke Kingussie’s dominance of the league title (a World record in any sport) after a consistent level of performance throughout the year meant that Newtonmore were pipped to the title. Captain Gordon Mackinnon, one of Fort William’s all time consistant performers, recieved a black caman from the club for the achievement. Kingussie did regain a modicum of revenge by defeating the Fort comprehensively in both the MacTavish Cup (The North Senior Trophy) and the final of the Camanachd Cup in Dunoon.
Despite the club’s profile in the town, efforts are afoot to evict the club from its ground, An Aird, in order to build a supermarket. The local authority, Highland Council, have come under fire fo
r their care of the park, especially after the playing surface was stripped bare by rabbits. The company behind the planned development were unequivocal in stating in April 2007 that there would be no development upon the An Aird pitch. In March 2008, Highland Council again came under fire for their negligence of the An Aird surface, which may result in the loss of An Aird’s prestigious status as a Camanachd Cup Final host stadium. In February 2009 the stadium was attacked by vandals causing thousands of pounds of damage.
The club was forced to move to the Black Park in Fort William half way through in season 2011 in order for renovation work to be done on the pitch at An Aird. The club’s future at An Aird still remains doubtful as in November 2010 further plans to develop the site were revealed by an Edinburgh based company. The relocation of Fort William Shinty Club to a mooted first-ever all-weather pitch within Fort William may be part of this development. However, the club used Black Parks for most of 2012.
Managers Victor Smith and Adam Robertson have this season selected youth and commitment to but a sustainable and safe future for the club and team. Although Fort William Shinty Club Senior team was relegated this season they can take comfort from the fact the played the youngest players and breeded a lot of fresh faces which will hopefully pay dividends in the forthcoming years.
Fort William Shinty Club would like to thank the continued support of the fans and the good times will return in the future!