Sad Demise of Gretna
The result was inevitable since their businessman owner who bankrolled them to success became ill and withdrew funds from the borders club. They had been formed in 1946 by serviceman returning home from the war.
Ayr United played a friendly against Gretna at Ryedale Park on 15th August 1983, their first ever visit to the Borders club. Alan McInally, Derek Frye and Alan Smart, who got two, scored in a 4-1 win over the then non-league side. The programme for that day was a one sided sheet of paper with the two teams and some forthcoming fixtures.
Gretna FC came 'home' to Scottish Football in season 2002/03, rejoining Scottish football by being elected to the Scottish third division to replace the defunct Airdrieonians. For the previous 50 years they had been playing in Non-League football in the North of England.
Ayr United and Gretna were not in the same division when the Gretna entered the league and it was not until season 2005/06, when United's relegation and Gretna's promotion, that the clubs finally met. This second division league fixture on 27th August 2005 was the first ever league meeting at Ryedale Park, Gretna.
Gretna were top of the league when the sides met but United were also unbeaten so a classic match was expected. The sides didn't disappoint and United took a sensational 2-0 lead midway through the first half with goals from Wardlaw and Roberston. However, Gretna fought back in the second and pulled the match back to 2-2 giving the 1,195 fans value for money.
Fortunes had changed by the match on 5th November 2005 at Somerset Park with Gretna still top of the league but United now struggling to hold on to a play off place. The result was a disappointing 3-1 defeat for the Honest men. The New Year derby match at Gretna on 2nd January 2006 was a devastating 3-0 defeat for Ayr as Gretna marched towards a second successive league title. The match scheduled for 4th March 2006 at Ayr was postponed but the match programme for that day was used in the re-scheduled match on 21st march 2006. The delay didn't help Ayr as they fell to a 4-2 defeat by the borders side.
With Gretna's promotion the clubs didn't meet again until a pre-season friendly match on 28th July 2007 at Somerset Park, which Ayr did win by 2-1. No matchday programme was produced.
Sadly this turned out to be the last match between the clubs as Gretna encountered severe financial problems in March of 2008 and resigned from the league on 3rd June 2008.
The Scottish League will llok for a new club for division 3 and it is hoped that they do not make the same mistake again.
Gretna were no more than a village team when they were backed by a businessman and the league allowed their admission on that basis. This funding was never going to continue and the expected one day when it would cease came in March 2008. There was no fan base to support the club and no sixeable town to launch a recovery programme. The financial input to the club should have been ignored by the league abd the club 's application rejected. That at least would have meant that the good people of Gretna would still have had a team to support and call their own. This has now been taken away from them.
The league need to ensure that any new club is soldly established within its local community and is currently a sustainable club and is not being backrolled by a business with a dream.