Honorary role for former chairman

FORMER Forfar Athletic chairman Neill Wilson has become only the second person in the club’s history to receive an Honorary Life Vice-Presidency.

Neill, who has served the club for 16 years, was chairman for five years before standing down earlier this summer.

Despite no longer holding the position of chairman, Neill is still involved with the club and was instrumental in bringing the artificial pitch to Station Park during the close season.

David McGregor, club secretary, said: “Neill is the first Honorary Vice-President of the club since Jimmy Robertson, our long serving secretary from 1959 to 1984, had the title conferred upon him in the late 1980s.

“Neill fully merits the honour after 16 years of service to the club during which he worked tirelessly for the ‘Loons’ cause.

“A Forfarian and proud of it, Neill played a season with the Loons in the late 1960s having been a central defensive stalwart prior to that with a very successful Forfar East End team.

“Neill has remained a keen supporter of the Athletic after his playing days ended, including sponsoring matches through his business, and it was in the autumn of 1995 that the then chairman George Enston and myself approached him to mastermind the organisation of our first ever Sportsman’s Dinner in May of the following year at the Reid Hall.

“His vast experience of attending such events shone through, the night was a great success and in fact he has been involved in the organisation of the popular event ever since.

Mr McGregor continued: “In October of that year at the second or third time of asking Neill accepted a seat on the board, right away throwing himself in at the deep end of many aspects of the club’s affairs.

“Within seven months, George stood down from the chairman’s post, partly through ill health, and Neill kindly accepted the invitation to become my vice-chairman.

“Throughout the next 10 years I could not have had a more supportive right hand man through good days and bad.

“In May 2007, Neill took over the chairmanship and following on his own admission, a fairly ‘dire’ first year on the footballing side, our fortunes rose considerably.

“The 2008/9 season saw Neill hit by a cancer scare which required fairly major surgery just prior to Christmas, but thankfully he had recovered sufficiently to be back at the helm for the televised visit of Rangers in February of 2009.

He went on: “By his own admission he has never quite recovered to his fighting best from his illness but on the Station Park front promotion back to the Second Division in May, 2010, through the play-off final success against Arbroath, followed by a qualification 12 months later for the First Division play-offs gave Neill and everyone involved in the club right down to the youngest fan a great lift.

“Just after that play-off defeat to Ayr some 16 months back, Neill announced to his fellow board members that the 2011/12 season would be his last as chairman and a director.

“Despite efforts to persuade him otherwise, he has stuck to his word, but not before overseeing with some gusto and no little expertise the laying of the new 3G surface as the official project manager.”

Speaking before Neill’s presentation just before the Loons derby fixture against near neighbours Brechin City on Saturday, Alistair Donald, Forfar Athletic chairman, said: “Neill is well known for his love of the club and his involvement includes being a past player and chairman.

“I am sure all will wish to join me in thanking Neill for his commitment to our club and we look forward to seeing him around the club as often as possible - giving us the benefit of his wisdom and wit as only Neill can.”