All of us in Sports Chaplaincy Scotland were deeply saddened at the passing away of our Patron, Craig Brown. Craig fulfilled this role for 10 years and was always so willing to support us in whatever way he could. As recently as October 2022, he travelled down to Bolton with the National Director of Sports Chaplaincy Scotland, Mark Fleming, to speak at the Sports Chaplaincy UK conference.

To honour Craig’s memory we have decided to retire the title “Patron” and instead, we are delighted to announce the appointment of our first ever Sports Chaplaincy Scotland Ambassador – Ray Montgomerie, who is also the Club Ambassador at Kilmarnock FC.

Mark Fleming takes up the story: Ray actually played a pivotal role in the development of chaplaincy within Scottish Football. Monty, is of course, a Kilmarnock legend having captained them to their famous Scottish Cup win over Falkirk in 1997. I became friendly with him when he played for a brief spell with Partick Thistle at the end of his career in season 1999/2000. It was no surprise that when Ray hung up his boots he returned to his beloved Killie to work behind the scenes. We continued our friendship and Ray mentioned that he thought it would be great if Kilmarnock had someone who did what he had observed me do at Partick Thistle. So, in 2004, I met with Dave MacKinnon the CEO, and the management team of Jim Jeffries and Billy Brown, and I explained how I operated at Firhill. They agreed for me to source and train a chaplain for them. I approached someone who I knew very well. I had been to school with him, though he had been two years ahead of me. Neil Urquhart, a minister in Irvine, was very enthusiastic about the potential opportunity. Quite honestly, I cannot think of anyone who would have been a better first appointment. Neil was absolutely superb! He had the right personality, skillsets and experience – and he got on so well with every player and manager over a 10 year spell. I think he was the first chaplain to be christened “Charlie”. I won’t insult your intelligence by explaining how the nickname came to be! So I guess you could say that at this juncture, Sports Chaplaincy Scotland had begun. After his time at Killie, Neil went on to form an advisory board to see how the work of Sports Chaplaincy Scotland could be grown beyond football and he continues to be a great support to this day, while James McNay has been doing a great job since then as chaplain to Killie.

At that time, Ray’s good friend, Gus MacPherson, was the manager of St Mirren. We were introduced to each other and Gus opened the door for me to appoint a chaplain at the Paisley club. Hugh Chalk is still chaplain at St Mirren to this day.

Not long after this, I got to know Jim Fleeting (another Kilmarnock connection!) who was the Scottish FA’s technical director. I made an immediate connection with Jim, for me, one of the best guys in Scottish football. I found him to be an upright, compassionate person and a genuine family man. Jim loved the concept of chaplaincy and so he invited me along to speak at the UEFA A Licence coaching course to explain the basics and benefits of chaplaincy in football. At that time it was held in Largs.

Jim would introduce me by saying, “How would you like to have someone at your club who sorts out all your dysfunctional players – and it won’t cost you a thing? This man will tell you about it and plus he’ll provide that person for you!” And so I would deliver a seminar, which I entitled, “More Than Two Legs On A Saturday.” I illustrated how having a chaplain could be a means of helping clubs fulfil their duty of care in terms of supporting the mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of players, coaches and all club staff.

I eventually moved on from my role at Partick Thistle to become Scottish FA chaplain with the remit to source, train, appoint and oversee club chaplains in Scottish football and to date there are now over 140 football club chaplains in Scotland and growing. Without Ray Montgomerie’s influence I don’t think this would ever have happened, he has been a great friend and support along the way and so it I couldn’t think of anyone more appropriate to take on the role of Ambassador.”Montgomerie’s appointment as Sports Chaplaincy Scotland Ambassador

I have personal experience of how valuable a sports chaplain can be and I am both humbled and honoured to take on the position of ambassador in Sports Chaplaincy Scotland.
Ray Montgomerie