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How Raith Rovers father and son superfans built special bond through beautiful game

Jimmy Will and son Bailey devote much of their time together to football - and now they're in Germany for Euro 2024.

Jimmy Will and son Bailey with their Transit campervan outside Raith Rovers stadium.
Rovers fans Jimmy and Bailey set off for Germany from Stark's Park. Image: Jimmy Will.

Among the tens of thousands of Scotland fans in Germany for Euro 2024 are father and son Jimmy Will and Bailey Salmond-Will.

It’s just the latest football escapade for the pair whose strong father-son bond is cemented by their love of the beautiful game.

There’s no one Jimmy, 51, would rather have by his side than Bailey as he cheers on his team.

And that’s whether it’s Scotland in an international tournament or a home game for their beloved Raith Rovers.

So when Scotland qualified for Euro 2024 the pair were determined to be there cheering them on together.

‘Football is my life’

Last week, they drove almost 1,000 miles to Germany in a Transit campervan, dressed in kilts and flying Scotland flags.

That was after following Raith Rovers around Scotland as they strived for promotion to the Scottish Premiership.

Jimmy, from Thornton, and Bailey, who lives with his mum Tracy in Kirkcaldy, devote a huge portion of their time together to football.

At the Munich fan zone for Scotland’s opening match, with travel companions Shannon Reekie and Adam Bryant. Image: Jimmy Will.

Strathallan Primary School pupil Bailey said: “Football is my whole life, I just love it.”

Celtic fan Jimmy, a treatment operator for Scottish Water, has immersed Bailey in football since he was a baby.

Just hours after Bailey was born Jimmy cradled his tiny son as he watched Celtic beat Spartak Moscow to reach the knock-out stages of the Champions League.

Jimmy and friend Uli Lampen inducted Bailey to their Bhoys club as soon as he was born, as they watched Celtic beat Spartak Moscow in the Champions League. Image: Jimmy Will.

As Bailey grew into a young boy, he quickly inherited his father’s passion for football.

He began training with Rothes Strollers football club when he was only five years old.

He has recently started playing for Templehall United and his talent has already impressed his coach.

It’s Bailey’s ambition to one day play professionally like some of his favourites, including Lisandro Martínez, Luke Shaw and Aidan Connolly.

As he continues to hone his own skills, he shows his dedication to the sport as a super fan with Jimmy.

From Stark’s Park to Old Trafford

Season ticket holders, the pair are part of the Raith Rovers faithful at matches home and away.

They were in the stands supporting the Kirkcaldy side as they travelled to take on teams including Greenock Morton, Dundee United, Queen’s Park, Arbroath and Ayr United during the 2023/24 season.

In December, Jimmy watched proudly as Bailey led the Rovers out to face Partick Thistle as a squad mascot.

And in May they were at Old Trafford supporting Bailey’s other favourite team Manchester United.

Bailey at Old Trafford. Image: Jimmy Will.

Bailey is such a superfan he even sponsored the shirt of Raith player Adam Masson.

And for his birthday, what else but football? Bailey and his friends were treated to a tour of Stark’s Park and Bailey later joined a signing with the players.

In fact, Jimmy and and Bailey are such dedicated supporters they’re prepared to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty for the cause.

Superfans paint and weed at stadium

Outside match days they volunteer at Stark’s Park, doing odd jobs such as tidying and painting the stadium, cleaning chairs and weeding.

Their close connection to the Rovers has allowed Bailey to meet many of the players. He’s been coached by both Masson and keeper Kevin Dabrowski.

The club’s marketing executive Grace Fowlie paid testament to their pair’s value to the Rovers.

She said: “Jimmy and Bailey are very well-known faces around Stark’s Park, both as supporters and volunteers.

“They gave up countless days painting and cleaning the stadium last summer and played a crucial role in making sure the stadium looked its best for the new season.

“Throughout the past year they have continued to help the club in a number of ways, including various matchday duties and driving all over Fife to hand out matchday posters to schools.

“In fact, there really isn’t much that the pair haven’t done volunteer wise.

“I believe I speak on behalf of everyone at Raith Rovers when I say how extremely grateful we are to them both for all the time, effort and dedication they give.”

Bailey sponsored Adam Masson’s shirt. Image: Jimmy Will.

Just days before they were due to set off for Germany, Bailey broke his arm. Playing football, of course.

But with the all-clear from his doctor, he and Jimmy set off from Stark’s Park on June 11.

Their mammoth road trip got them there in time for Scotland’s opening match against hosts Germany last Friday.

Tartan Army convoy

They travelled in convoy with Jimmy’s cousin’s daughter Shannon Reekie and her boyfriend Adam Bryant.

After crossing at the Channel Tunnel, they travelled through France, Luxembourg, and Belgium to their campsite at Bad Liebenzell, a town west of Stuttgart.

Bailey on his dad’s shoulders at the Munich fan zone. Image: Jimmy Will.

As fellow fans watched Scotland in last Friday’s opening match at fan zones closer to home, they joined tens of thousands of supporters outside the Munich stadium.

Bailey said he was “lost for words” with excitement at being in Germany to see Scotland play.

The result may have been a disappointment but Jimmy said: “It was just brilliant. At the start there were loads of Scotland fans but by the end there were more Germans.

“The German fans were great. Even though it ended up 5-1 it was such a fantastic atmosphere.”

He, Bailey, Shannon and Adam have watched many of the other matches in a giant teepee at their campsite with fans from all over Europe and even the USA.

With Shannon and Adam. Image: Jimmy Will.

Jimmy said: “There’s a family here from Kirkcaldy who recognised Bailey from Raith Rovers!”

Precious memories

On Wednesday they were off to the fan zone for Scotland’s match against Switzerland at Cologne.

Jimmy said it was precious to him to share such a momentous experience with his son.

“Bailey is absolutely loving it and we are making great memories,” he said.