By Jack Crawford

AMATEUR football clubs in Helensburgh and Rhu have returned to the pitch for the first time in more than six months after guidelines were lifted to allow local friendlies to take place.

From last Saturday, clubs across the country were given permission to play against clubs from their own council area – though that rule was later amended to allow matches against teams within a 25-mile radius.

Helensburgh took part in their first pre-season friendly on Saturday with a 5-1 defeat against old rivals Belleaire, who followed the Burgh side in making the move from the West of Scotland Amateur League to the Greater Glasgow Premier AFL back in 2017.

The Greenock side raced into an early 4-0 lead before the Burgh settled into the game and Harry Kemp found the net following good work from Dayle George.

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Manager Sam Gemmell said this week that he is “nearly there” with his squad but needs a utility man or two before he can be confident of having a settled group of players ahead of the resumption of competitive fixtures.

He told the Advertiser: “There’s a couple of boys who I’ve got that are injured but I think overall we’re looking OK.

“I need somebody who could cover a couple of positions.

“I could put a team out tomorrow, and if someone were to get injured I’ve got guys that can step in, but there’s another one or two positions I just need to make sure we’re covered up in.”

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Meanwhile, Rhu have been able to get 90 minutes under their belt on three occasions after the Scottish Government and Scottish FA gave the green light to friendly fixtures – and Stewart Maule’s side remain undefeated after a 2-2 draw against Port Glasgow United, a 3-1 win over Port Glasgow Athletic and, on Saturday, a 6-4 victory at home to South Lochaber Thistle.

Maule is delighted to be back watching matches from the touchline, and praised his new look squad for the way they have gelled in their first few games together.

Speaking to the Advertiser, he said: “It’s great just to get a wee bit of normality back. Everything else just falls into the background and you’re concentrating on the game which is great.

“The guys that have come in have made a difference because their attitude has been magnificent so everybody else has fed off that.

“It was brilliant to get them out there and get a few goals and see what they can do.”

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