The road to recovery for Clyde Valley Blackhawks American football team is complete and they’re officially back from near extinction.
Club chairman/quarterback Gary Orr is delighted that the Lanarkshire side will be back playing league fixtures in 2017 after a two-year sabbatical.
“I genuinely thought the club was finished at the beginning of last year,” said Gary (32), who was raised in Lanark.
“There was a lot of confrontation between players and coaching staff.
“Some of them didn’t like change and it was just a horrible thing. I was gutted.
“Our depleted side played a scrimmage game against Dumfries Hunters and we were absolutely destroyed.”
But this bleak outlook was in sharp contrast to the early years of the Blackhawks, who play home matches at Beltane Park in Wishaw.
After originally being set-up in 2007, the Blackhawks gained league status the following year and were a Division 2 side until winning the league in 2014 to gain promotion to Division 1.
“We played that season and then the club imploded,” Gary said.
“Loads of people left, although there was a core of folk who stayed to try and salvage something.”
These diehards’ determination for the club not to fold completely saw them continue recruiting new players and the Blackhawks gained revenge over Dumfries Hunters by thrashing them 30-0 just four months after being hammered by the same opposition.
Clyde Valley also played three associate games last year which were assessed by the governing body, who had to decide whether or not to re-admit them to the league set-up.
Gary said: “The assessors decided that we met all the credentials for league status no problem and we got word at the start of January that we had gained re-entry to the league for the 2017 season in Division 2 of the Northern Conference.
“We have recruited so well that we have as big a squad as we’ve ever had.
“The hard work that has been put in over the last year is incredible.
“Officially I have 36 guys registered and I expect to have 50 players in place for the new season.”
Gary is mightily relieved at the Blackhawks’ survival, which will see them play league games between April and August and bid to reach the play-offs.
He added: “Football is my life. I can’t describe how happy I am to be back playing.
“We’ll be trying to get promoted this season.
“To do that we’ll need to win our division and then reach the play-off final.”
Gary’s dad Richard Orr is the club’s head coach; mum Gillian helps with finances.