Thursday 27 August ~
Tuesday's announcement that Channel 4 will be axing Big Brother could mean an end to the reality TV era with which this decade has been plagued. However the news may also have repercussions for the football club described as the “worst team in senior football”. Last season Fort William FC of the Highland League took just one point from 28 matches. Based in the town situated under Ben Nevis, they suffer from shinty's local popularity – Fort William Shinty Club is one of the best in the country – and have been cemented to the bottom of their league for three years.
Their fortunes appeared to have changed last September, however, when American media “tycoon” Paul MacDonald declared that he wanted to build a reality TV show around the team. MacDonald, owner of a broadcasting company called PMacTonight Entertainment, said that wanted to create an "interactive experience". Fans would pay a membership fee to have a say in selecting a side consisting of locals and American college players under the banner America’s Team FC, with matches broadcast on both sides of the Atlantic.
Football and reality TV seldom seem to work well together. The only moderately successful example that springs to mind is the Fash FC project on Bravo in which John Fashanu took on a team in the English nether regions between Conference South and Sunday morning football. The series only lasted one season.
Despite kit sponsorship from Nike and some mild interest from the Scottish redtops, MacDonald’s vision of turning Fort William from “worst to first” seemed to have basic flaws. The “product” simply wasn’t that attractive to the buyer. After all, why spend £30 to have a say in a team when you could pay that at a stadium and shout your instructions at the players?
The trailer used as a pilot by MacDonald, the “sizzle reel”, had to translate the local accents and – if you have the time to watch on YouTube – displays the town in an embarrassing light. Imagine every stereotype of Scotland and then have an American commentary with it to boot. The project has now been put on hold, supposedly due to the recession.
And as for Fort William? Well, form may be temporary but class is still in short supply. Four defeats from their first four games mean that they are still to win a game since 2007. Currently, Fort William's best result of the season was keeping Forres Mechanics down to just two goals, with losing margins as as high as ten an all too common occurence. They might dream of live TV audiences but for now they will have to make do with the usual gate of 200 at their home ground, Claggan Park. David Childs