The Gambinos came into existence in 2011 when Stirling man Bill Gillespie began supporting local footballers in a small village in Western Gambia. Since 2011, Milton has supported The Gambinos with donations of strips, training apparel and boots from Milton players and volunteers across the club. Here’s the Gambinos story in Bill’s own words…
The Gambinos come from a village in western Gambia called Mandinary. The people there are from the Mandinka tribe. The Gambian people know hardship because there is very little work for the young men and women and any work there is very poorly paid – the average wage will be around £8 per week so there is not much left for football kit after buying their bag of rice, maybe some fish and vegetables.
My wife Janet and myself decided in 2008 to sponsor a young man and his pregnant wife – that’s how I got started with the Gambinos. On a visit one night to the family we went to watch the local team, Blackpool FC, play against another village team. Our team were playing in a kit that had different coloured shorts; some players had a red sock on one foot and a black sock on the other! Anyway, that made no difference to the football skills these young guys had. They were very fit and talented, so I decided to try and help to set them up with some better kit when I got home.
The first kits I took back over were from Stirling City and they loved it so much they asked me to re-name the team – no problem! As a long suffering Albion supporter the new name was easy: The Gambinos were born in 2011.
Big Addy said he would ask auld Pat for any spare kit adding “dinnae hold yer breath!”. Anyway Pat delivered the goods with a great kit – the Milton away strip (all red). The Gambinos were so proud when they put this kit on! Pat also that year gave other kits and training bits and bobs.
The following year Pat donated the first team kit to go with the away kit plus more training kit, and he also put the word out to the Milton family for any spare kit for the Gambino Academy which now had an under 15s, under 13s and this year an under 10 squad. In came Josephine Rodger and Karen Sneddon with a kit for the 15s and dozens and dozens of football boots gathered from their team and their sons’ teams.
Soul Ceesay, the coach and manager of the Gambinos, could not believe how generous the people of Milton were being towards his team. Milton have been very very generous and it is very much appreciated by these young guys. Other former players and coaches have also donated kit to us as well and that is also appreciated. The Gambinos are very very proud to have such generous friends in Scotland and when I visit all of them they want info on The Milton teams.
On behalf of all the people in Mandinary I would like to say a big thank you to every single person at Milton.