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Forfar keeper Marc McCallum: ‘Crazy’ fixture schedule has taken toll on part-time players as Angus side face relegation

Marc McCallum has helped Forfar bounce back from the disappointment of relegation to League Two
Marc McCallum has helped Forfar bounce back from the disappointment of relegation to League Two

Marc McCallum left his Forfar home at 6.30am on Tuesday to embark upon a 17-hour day that saw him travel 342 miles between his day job in Inverurie and football in Dumbarton.

Drained and dejected, McCallum, who works as a fire protection engineer, finally arrived home at 11.30pm with the reality of Forfar’s relegation to League Two hitting him hard.

Forfar are all but down – pending Clyde’s situation after their clash with East Fife was called off at late notice on Tuesday night due to one of their players testing positive for Covid-19.

The Station Park club sit nine points behind a Broadwood side they are scheduled to face on Thursday and have a substantial goal difference deficit.

McCallum fully accepts that Forfar haven’t been good enough. Two wins from 19 games tells its own story.

Forfar’s Station Park

But the keeper feels part-time players across Leagues One and Two have been badly let down by the football authorities over match scheduling.

Forfar played ten games in 30 days prior to their trip to Dumbarton and that marathon run of fixtures has taken its’ toll – with McCallum adamant the biggest killer has been the 7pm kick-off times.

“Clyde had to play five away games in a row. How is that fair? Elgin were away to Stranraer on a Tuesday night. That’s crazy.

“I’m not going to use any excuses,” said McCallum. “On the pitch we haven’t done enough.

“We have won two games all season and we deserve to be where we are in the league because of that.

“We’ll keep fighting until the very end but it does look like we are down.

McCallum was outstanding against Dundee United in the Scottish Cup earlier this year

“I do feel, however, that all part-time players in Leagues One and Two have been badly let down.

“We all love football. It’s an enormous privilege to be involved in the game and I’ll never complain about having to play football.

“But I can’t quite get my head around the way the fixtures have been drawn up.

“Clyde had to play five away games in a row. How is that fair? Elgin were away to Stranraer on a Tuesday night. That’s crazy.

“We have had three 7pm kick-offs. It’s already hard enough for players to get away from their work to play at 7.45pm.

“I work in fire protection and I was up in Inverurie on Tuesday until 2pm and had to rush down to Dumbarton to be there in time for the team-talk at 5pm.

“Some of our players couldn’t get away from their work in time for it and arrived at 6.

“We are arriving home shattered and waking up early the next day for work knowing we have another game in less than 48 hours.

“It’s been a very tough season.”

Stuart Malcolm left his role as Forfar manager earlier this month

Forfar face uncertain times off the field as they seek a permanent replacement for departed manager Stuart Malcolm.

Malcolm left Loons earlier this month with Gary Irvine taking over as caretaker until the end of the season.

It remains to be seen what direction the club will take as they look to rebuild for a promotion push next term.

Gary Irvine has taken over as Forfar manager on a caretaker basis

McCallum, who was outstanding in a recent Scottish Cup tie with his first club Dundee United, is keen to stay on for that challenge.

He grew up a Forfar fan and has played 140 times for his local side since making the move back home in 2017.

Having penned a long-term contract until 2024, he’s determined to stick around at Station Park for the Angus club’s revival.

Loyalty

“This club means a lot to me,” said McCallum. “I’m a local lad and I’ve got a lot of friends who are big Forfar fans.

“I want to do what I can to help us get back. I’ve signed a deal until 2024 that gives me stability but also underlines my loyalty to Forfar.

“There are a lot of great people behind the scenes who dedicate so much of their lives to Forfar.

“If we can get some stability on the park then the club can get back to where it belongs.”

Running a business from the team bus, precious family time and a trip to Ninewells Hospital: Paul Watson’s diary of two matches in 39 hours for Montrose

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