In 2014, the
Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald published a short history of Winton Rovers.
WINTON PARK IN WORLD WAR II ROLE FOR ROYAL NAVY
Ardrossan Winton Rovers are widely
known across the junior football spectrum and most of the local community could
point you in the direction of
But some locals may not know what the park has
been used for in the past - or the troubles that the team encountered throughout
the years. Starting back when World War II was being fought, we look at
the trials, tribulations, success and challenges faced by Ardrossan's junior
During the Second World War,
Park was used as a Royal Navy training and recreation base for HMS
Fortitude which was based in Ardrossan.
During the 1943-44 season, the clubhouse and Bell’s
Nursery which was nearby were burnt down in an accidental ﬁre and a new
clubhouse was built not long after.
At this time, the park played in the opposite
direction but was changed to the way it is now and has remained the same ever
The 1950s was a time for
regeneration and modernisation as the wooden sleepers were removed and replaced
with concrete ones in the terracing.
In 1955, a new stand and dressing room were
built and were amongst the best in the junior game with the team on the pitch
also showing their worth.
Mixed fortunes followed in the 1960s with
Rovers joining the Ayrshire League (Western) which included various
visits across the water to Dunoon.
In 1965, the club suffered one of their
biggest defeats when they lost 13-0 to Armadale Thistle in the Scottish Cup and
there were also plans to build a new social club but this never went ahead at
1970 saw Winton reach the Scottish
Cup semi-ﬁnal for the only time in which they faced Blantyre Victoria at lbrox.
A 2-0 win for the Lanarkshire side saw the
underdogs just fall short of a place in the ﬂagship event in the junior game.
The side, under the guidance of John Frye and
Charlie Milligan, reached the dizzy heights when none expected them to get
Soon after the game was ﬁnished, goalkeeper Bobby
Watson was signed up by Rangers.
social club was built in Ardrossan's Bute Place in 1975 but this lasted only
seven years and closed in 1982.
Also during the 1980s, local man Willie Kean
took over as manager.
Willie had previously been the boss at the
Metallic side and along with Ian McQueen they brought a new ethos to the side,
bringing in both local and experienced players including Frankie Clark and Derek
The 1990s saw major changes to the side through
current vice-chairman Pat Breen.
Winton received £20000 from the football trust
which saw the park completely transformed.
New ﬂoodlights were installed plus an
all-weather seven-a-side training pitch, one of the ﬁrst in the junior game.
This, along with a ﬁve star hospitality suite,
new committee rooms and the construction of a new social club meant the side was
MP Brian Wilson opened the new club and
Winton took on a strong Rangers side to which they lost 3-0.
In 1991, the ﬂoodlights were used for the ﬁrst time and in 1992 major
structural changes were implemented, with the old committee set-up changed.
Ardrossan Winton Rovers
Limited was introduced with the help of local businesses and supporters.
An initial share capital of £20000 was raised
and things were going from strength to strength.
Andy Roxburgh and Craig Brown organised one of
the ﬁrst SFA play-ball schemes played at
Park and Partick Thistle, under the management of Jim Fleeting,
played a number of reserve games in the Ardrossan ground.
The successful Airdrie side of the early 1990s, under
the leadership of Alex MacDonald, trained at
Park prior to their Scottish Cup Final against Rangers.
A League Cup ﬁnal between Auchinleck Talbot
and Irvine Meadow XI was played under the lights and was one of the ﬁrst ﬁnals
in the junior game to take place at night.
The side was doing well under Davie Mcllroy and they
won the old Western Cup and were holding their own in the old First Division.
Struggles lay ahead though and in 1995 a
bust-up in the boardroom led to the chairman and assistant manager Pat Breen
leaving the club.
Following on from this, over the next couple
of seasons the support dropped, the social club was closed and later demolished
after a ﬁre and the seating was removed from the stand and it was then declared
unsafe due to vandalism.
At this time
there was a real threat to the traditions of Ardrossan Winton Rovers
and there was talk about the park moving to Dalry Road or to the park
near to Central Avenue.
The club was hanging by a thread and the directors at
the time invited former Winton men John Sheehan, Willie Kean, David McKellar and
Sam Morrison in to see if they wanted to take over the footballing side of
things and Ardrossan Winton Rovers Community Sports Club was
After several meetings and tough negotiations with
the directors, the club and the ground was bought back by the new club thanks to
the guidance of solicitor Martin McAllister and current chairman Dougie Rae.
When Dougie took up the role, vast
improvements were seen over a ﬁve year period where the damaged stand was
repaired, the pitch was upgraded and continues to be so every year and new
sponsors and advertisers have come on board.
Fast forwarding to this season, top management side of Chris Strain, John
McCall, George Watt and kitman Jimmy McNeil have big ambitions.
They have won just about every trophy in the
junior game, with the exception of the Scottish Cup.
The club are now conﬁdent that they can
progress through the leagues and will be announcing the support of new major
sponsors on Saturday 4 October.
Assistant chairman, Pat Breen, said “With the
support and assistance of sponsors we can eventually see Winton
playing at the highest level of junior football and have a team that the town
and community can be proud of.”
Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald,