As published on Border Telegraph

GALA Fairydean Rovers’ latest signing was paraded at Netherdale on Saturday – new chaplain Douglas Renton.

The SFA initiative to have chaplains working within senior clubs has proved popular with an uptake of around 90 per cent.

The initiative provides support for players, volunteers and supporters at each club.

With suicide the leading cause of deaths amongst young men in Scotland the SFA works in partnership with a number of organisations including SAMH to offer the service.

New chaplain Douglas, who now lives in Tweedbank, is originally a native of Galashiels and used to play rugby for the YM.

Douglas said: “I am delighted to become chaplain to Gala Fairydean Rovers. In the coming weeks I am looking forward to getting to know people around the club and I welcome the opportunity to help the club and the players in any way that I can.

Douglas replaces outgoing chaplain Paul Smith, who has returned to his native Liverpool.

Paul, who commuted from Newcastleton for each match, was involved with the Scottish Borders Centre of Mission with Church Army.

But he admits arriving at the Lowland League club was a totally new experience.

Paul said: “My only previous involvement with a league club was as a supporter for Liverpool FC.

“The baptism of fire occurred at the away game with Gretna in 2016 where manager Steven Noble introduced me as the new Chaplain to the team in the dressing room after the game… and would I like to say a few words.

“During my all to brief involvement with the club, I have grown to appreciate many things.

“Apart from a great kit and slick publicity, the lasting memory for me will be the people and ethos of the club.

“This has been reflected in its impressive involvement in the community, not least it’s promotion and support of walking football, disability squad and ladies football.”

Fairydean Rovers secretary Graeme McIver welcomed the new chaplain to Netherdale on Saturday.

He said: “We were all saddened to hear that Paul was leaving us but we are grateful to Mark Fleming for finding us Douglas so quickly, ensuring a continuity of the chaplaincy service to our players, supporters and volunteers at Netherdale.

“We see Douglas’s role as part of our commitment to the wellbeing and welfare of everyone connected to the club giving pastoral support to people of all faiths and no faith, providing help and advice on a range of issues.”