FIFTY years of hard work developing, promoting, playing and coaching football in the Helensburgh area have paid off for Ardencaple FC after the club was formally awarded ‘legacy status’ by the Scottish FA.

The award is the highest accolade that can be bestowed upon a community club under the SFA’s quality mark accreditation scheme.

Caple, who celebrated their 50th birthday earlier this year, are the very first club in Argyll and Bute, and indeed in the Dunbartonshire area, to have secured such a pinnacle award – and are only the seventh club in the SFA’s west region to reach this level, following in the footsteps of impressive names such as Giffnock Soccer Centre, Glasgow Girls and Boys FC and Greenock Morton Community Trust.

Only 40 of the 5,000 or so clubs affiliated to the SFA – just one per cent – have ever managed to achieve legacy status, highlighting the scale of the achievement for all those connected with the club.

Chairman Craig Holborn, along with vice-chairmen Iain Howieson and Paul Weir, visited the national stadium at Hampden Park recently to deliver a final presentation to a panel of SFA delegates on the club’s legacy, structure and future development strategy.

The SFA were particularly keen to learn more about recent introductions to Caple’s ever-growing portfolio of activities such as girls’ football, futsal, para (disabled) and community keep-fit classes.

Craig told the Advertiser: “The SFA were full of praise for the club and especially how it continues to embrace and support the local community, as well as its organisational structure – considered by the SFA to be quite visionary and a potential blue-print for implementation by other aspiring clubs.”

Caple’s committee members were subsequently invited by the SFA to receive their award on the pitch before the recent women’s World Cup qualifier between Scotland and Switzerland at the Simple Digital Arena in Paisley, home of St Mirren FC.

Craig added: “I am very proud to be chairman of such a great club and I feel so privileged to have worked alongside some very dedicated people who have devoted countless hours to making this a reality.

“We are absolutely thrilled. This represents a robust and independent endorsement of our ethos, governance and credentials as a club.

“It also confirms that we have the right people and processes in place, and shows that our members and their parents can rest assured that they are in safe hands, that they can continue to develop their football and their people skills whilst at the same time always having fun.

“Our thanks to everyone within our wonderful extended Caple family for all their efforts.

“We can now look forward to our next 50 years and to sustaining our position as the region’s premier club.”