THE two amateur football clubs in the Helensburgh area are to join forces and become a central hub for all senior football in Helensburgh and Lomond.

The historic partnership between Rhu Amateurs and Helensburgh FC is revealed exclusively in the Advertiser this week, comes after weeks of talks between officials from the two clubs.

The combined club will operate from Rhu’s DCF Park, with a pathway being created from Helensburgh FC’s extensive network of youth teams through to two senior amateur sides, both playing under the Rhu Amateurs name.

One of those teams will play in the Caledonian League, as Rhu have done for many years, while the other will ply its trade in the Greater Glasgow Premier League, where Helensburgh have competed since 2017.

First team managers Stewart Maule and Sam Gemmell have worked together in the past and both parties are excited about the partnership.

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Helensburgh boss Sam Gemmell believes the move will maintain and protect the futures of both clubs in the coming years.

He said: “This past year has given me time to think about what the next step for our side was.

“We have done exceptionally well since our inception 11 years ago, with a cup win, promotions and an unbelievable run of 14 winning games in a row a couple of seasons ago.

“However, the season after that saw a downturn as we lost a lot of influential players through injury, work and lads who thought the grass was greener elsewhere – and in that season it was touch and go as to whether we would actually see the season’s end.

READ MORE: Helensburgh boss admits he's "scunnered" as Covid lockdown keeps amateur football on ice

“In fact, when the Scottish FA cancelled all football last March, it was a bit of a reprieve for us.

“The move to Rhu wasn’t such a difficult choice for me, as when the day comes that I step back from this, I wanted to ensure there was somewhere for the older lads to still play football.”

Rhu manager Stewart Maule admits getting a youth set-up involved in the club is the realisation of a long-held dream come true for him.

He said: “The partnership will strengthen amateur football in the Helensburgh and Lomond area by bringing all the players and coaches under one roof where they can all be supported, developed, learn and enjoy the process.

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“As this is our 125th anniversary year, to say we are finally officially associated with a grassroots youth set-up and that we can help provide children with a pathway to the adult game is a dream come true.

“It means that the legacy both clubs have had on football in this area will be able to continue and thrive.”

Meanwhile, Rhu will play in section 2 of the Caledonian League’s William Turner Challenge Cup once the restrictions on adult team sport in Scotland are lifted next month.

Rhu will face Dumbarton Academy FP, Thorn Athletic and St Joseph’s FP, with the top team in the group going through to the competition's knockout phase.

Subject to Scottish Government confirmation, the ban on football outside of the SPFL – and on other adult team sports – is due to be lifted on Monday, May 17.

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