Kelso United’s long-serving chairman and former player Mike Tait told The Southern that the club had to exit the East of Scotland League because of player apathy.
The Tweedsiders’ shock exit from the league, 48 years after they first joined, saw them merge with the town’s Border Amateur side to become Kelso United Thistle – who will play in the BAL C Division.
Tait said: “Being honest, this has been coming for a while. It’s all down to players, or rather lack of them, and it’s all very sad. Basically, local players don’t want to play in the East of Scotland League.
“They simply don’t want to travel far to play football and just want to play in the Borders.
“Our manager, Prof Blaikie, has done his very best in trying to get players, but he has been fighting a losing battle.
“This season has been very demoralising. We started off well by having a big squad and got a good draw in our first game against Stirling University.
“Since then, there have been some big defeats, though. The players started to mump and moan and a few left the club to join other sides. Things were going from bad to worse, so something had to be done.
“The committee had two big meetings and it has been decided that Kelso United should withdraw from the East of Scotland League and we have informed the league by letter about this. It wasn’t a five-minute decision, a lot of thought was put into it.”
Part of a hard-working Kelso committee, Tait is greatly saddened about the recent events. The club are known for using locally-based players as much as possible.
Tait added: “Kelso United have been in the East of Scotland League since 1976 and it’s a big blow to leave the league.
“The club has boys’ teams as well and we are looking to the future. We might be taking a step backwards, but this could lead to taking steps forwards.”
However, Blaikie disagrees. The bitterly disappointed manager told The Southern he believed the decision to pull out was taken too hastily.
He said: “I’m not really surprised the decision was made – the committee has undergone a change in the past couple of years and their main concern is the laddies’ football.
“I didn’t really want to take charge of the club this season, but was talked into it. “When I heard the decision to pull out of the league, I certainly wanted nothing to do with it.
“Players have left, but players are always leaving clubs. I was looking at attracting some players from Edinburgh to make up the gaps.
Formed in 1935, Kelso United played in the Border Junior League and Border Amateur League before stepping up to East of Scotland level for the start of the 1967-68 season.
The club temporarily left the East of Scotland league from 1971 to 1974, and won the King Cup in 1980.
Blaikie added: “To fold a club with that much history is really disappointing, but I wish the club well and I hope they get back to where they belong soon.”
The East of Scotland Football League said Kelso’s resignation would be discussed at a meeting “to be arranged”.