We’re all agreed that Scottish football is brilliant. Something happens on almost a daily basis that makes us sit up and realise this all over again.
Quite often over the past year it’s been Montrose providing those moments of brilliance. They’ve been excellent on the pitch, as Stewart Petrie has continued his fine work with the club currently sitting 3rd in League One at the time of the suspension of the leagues below the Championship.
This website doesn’t dwell on matters on the pitch though. It’s all about what happens off the pitch so I caught up with club volunteer, Euan Lownie, to find out about the work that goes into making others sit up and take notice of the club off the pitch.
Take the Chance
Euan graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2020 but while there he threw himself into various projects and part-time roles. He wrote and released a book through 404 Ink called Never, Ever Take Anybody’s Advice on Anything that featured contributions from a whole host of names including Irvine Welsh and Sir Chris Hoy. You’ll also probably recognise some of his short film work for the likes of the BBC.
Montrose are his local team and after his graduation he contacted the club and took the chance right from the get-go. Euan explains, “at this point I’d only had brief discussions with the club. One morning I saw they had set up to announce a transfer on Twitter and emailed asking whether I could make a video and was given until 4pm to do it. I had a couple of hours and created a FIFA pack reveal in which a YouTuber received Martin Rennie.”
We’ve seen plenty of different transfer announcements over the years across football, this one from Montrose really kick started the approach that they’ve run with since. “I think transfer announcements are a great way to engage fans regardless of who they support, they’re an opportunity to be creative”, Euan continued, and it’s safe to say this one hit the spot. “It got over 200k views, over 6k likes and got Retweets from the likes of Soccer AM. It took off more than I could’ve imagined.”
Repeat the Process
Since that Martin Rennie announcement, Montrose have caught the eye with a fair few more similar styled viral hits. Euan is quick to point something out, “I’m very aware that the content isn’t the same standard as some bigger sides, but I hope people connect with, and appreciate, the ideas.”
Why wouldn’t you try again if you’ve had something resonate with so many before? Recent traction has been around Harry Cochrane, who the club have on loan from Hearts. Euan highlights the initial “Deal or No Deal” Cochrane reveal got “good coverage and was even featured on A View From The Terrace”. The recent Cochrane extension video is what prompted me to finally get in touch with the club and Euan to focus on them for this piece. If you haven’t seen it, just take some time to watch it. I’m still not sure I know exactly what is going on with the video but it just makes me smile.
Repeating the process has been beneficial for the club. Euan remarked that the “poor quality” of the transfer videos is “what makes them charming” and for me, I think that’s exactly it. Yes, there’s a time and a place for slick, polished and professionally produced videos that features match footage and players showcasing themselves. There’s also plenty of time for clubs wanting to have a bit of fun on social media and show that they’re willing to try something to see if it works. It certainly has in Montrose’s case.
While doing a lot of a similar thing has served the club well so far, Euan is aware that it’s time to switch it up every now and again too: “There is a fine balance between creating professional and more light-hearted content. Player reveals, fan interactions and social trends allow us to create comedic pieces, but it is important we represent the club well.” He wants to do more for the club, as he explains. “I think there’s a great opportunity right now to connect with fans digitally by improving content. The only connection fans have with their club at the moment is online. That represents an opportunity but also a responsibility to make sure fans don’t feel detached despite the challenges.”
Restrictions have meant that he’s had some difficulty in doing everything he’s wanted to so far this season, but he’s still managed more than can be said for other clubs and what they’ve been producing.
“I would love to do more interviews as I love hearing about people and their stories. There’s a chance to grow positivity about the Scottish game. It’s ours to criticise, of course, but I feel there’s been a move towards speaking about our game in a positive light, celebrating its character and unique history.” Euan points towards Nutmeg, Snapshot and the aforementioned A View From The Terrace as great examples that do this very well already, but I feel like Euan has added to this as well.
Highlighting the skills and efforts of young players is one way to go about talking up our game and Montrose have done that to good affect so far this season with their Loan Spotlight videos. Chris Mochrie and Cammy F. Ballantyne have enjoyed good loan spells with the club so far this season and that’s the type of content that appeals to fans of both Montrose and their parent clubs, Dundee United and St Johnstone. Not to mention those that keep an eye out for future Scottish internationalists, with Mochrie especially very highly rated.
LOAN SPOTLIGHT: CHRIS MOCHRIE— Montrose FC (@MontroseFC) November 30, 2020
– Settling in
– First goal ⚽️
– Hopes for the future ???⚫️??????? pic.twitter.com/07ySBtfmKJ
There’s arguments for and against volunteers being utilised by so many of our clubs up and down the country. What’s true at the current time though is that their importance can’t be understated. Clubs like Montrose are kept in business by volunteers giving their time for the club, the club they love.
Euan was quick to highlight the effort that goes into running the club behind the scenes. “Operations Manager, Davey Byrne, and Club Secretary, Brian Petrie, control official business and regularly manage the media accounts. Fraser Nicoll, Corey Gilchrist and Andrew Stephen provide matchday content including PPV commentary, Twitter updates and creating the programme. Then you’ve got club announcer, Ross Thomson, hosting our Zoom interviews with various players and the occasional fan. Volunteers also play a key role for the Community Trust which runs a variety of important programmes across the community.”
Supporter, Blair Ruxton, was involved in their recent superb video “Delay in Play”. This was created with just a phone and an old DSLR camera Euan has, highlighting that there aren’t that many barriers at all to creating good club content. Blair’s voiceover was recorded on a phone too, with the editing being done in Premiere Pro or iMovie on Euan’s phone.
‘Delay In Play’ pic.twitter.com/2IdALKX08X— Montrose FC (@MontroseFC) January 19, 2021
Even Monty Mole the mascot got involved with Montrose’s Christmas video, a parody of a John Lewis advert. That all came back round to highlight that superb work the Community Trust does, especially in these times by delivering meals to the elderly and those at risk of social isolation. “The video ended up being extremely heart-warming and a touch emotional. It highlighted what is really important.”
Euan has done what I’ve seen mentioned time and time again when people are asked to give advice on what to do in Euan’s situation. He’s gotten involved in his local club. He’s brought new ideas, the club bought into the approach, which from my perspective has been great to see, and they’ve gone from strength to strength.
I think individuals should be looking at what Euan’s been able to bring to the club and follow that same approach and I really think other clubs should be looking at how Montrose operate and see what they can cherry pick to do similar. Arbroath and Alloa Athletic obviously play in the Championship as part time clubs, but Montrose are rivalling them for the title of “best run part time club in the SPFL” at the current time.
A huge thank you to Euan for taking time to chat to me for this piece and thanks for reading.
Guest posts are always welcome on Sports Marketing Scotland if you’ve got an opinion to share on the business or marketing of Scottish sport. The email address to get in touch with is firstname.lastname@example.org, or just find me on Twitter @sportsmarketsco.