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Albion Rovers, by Iain McLean

1 July 2018

Over the past 17 years (on and off) I have been photographing the fans and environment around Scottish League 1 football club Albion Rovers. The last five years in particular have been very fruitful and I have just finished an edit of images from 2013 to April 2018.

The photography is a self-initiated social documentary project about the people who volunteer for the club, as well as the faithful fans, all of whom work together to keep this small community club going. Albion Rovers are based in the Scottish working class town of Coatbridge which is about eight miles east of Glasgow. The town, like many in the area, has its roots in the Industrial Revolution with the main industries being iron works and coal mining, and the legacies of these are still visible in the area. With average gates of around 400, and most locals heading west to support either Celtic or Rangers, the club is frequently in peril but somehow always seem to manage to pull through, although over recent decades there have been various attempts to sell the stadium and ground share with local rivals Airdrie.

In these days of grotesque £500,000+ wages this project can serve as a reminder of grass roots football, its lack of funding and struggle to survive but still doing so with humility and fun. The photographs, I feel, capture the spirit of those involved in running a small club. The stadium will be 100 years old next year and hopefully some of my work will be exhibited in the ground as part of the celebrations.

This picture is one of my personal favourites. It was taken during the League 2 Championship Winners trophy presentation at the game against Arbroath in April 2015 and shows a timeless scene of two wee lads watching the game from outside the ground using missing brickwork as footholds. The project started by shooting on HP5 film which was developed and printed in my shed and the mono theme has remained in order to maintain continuity as well as a nod to the black and white past.

There is a photojournal - 'More Than Just A Football Club' - available in my website shop, and a small gallery of recent pictures here: Albion Rovers series

Iain McLean is a Glasgow-based freelance photographer covering most types of commercial photography. Previously he was a digital imaging specialist for the Herald and Times newspapers in Glasgow but has been freelancing for the past ten years.

Like many photographers I am an enthusiast who undertakes projects to keep me sane. My work is generally privately commissioned photography published in press, local and trade press and in clients web and promotional publications, with the 'Men and Women Who Built St Vincent Plaza' commission giving me the biggest challenge and most pleasure. Following the publication of my small Albion Rovers photojournal the German magazine '11Freunde' got in touch and subsequently ran the photos over 10 pages and now host a gallery of the images which sell in Berlin and wider Germany......great to see Albion Rovers finally in Europe!

See more work by Iain McLean

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