You won’t find this football team splashed across the back pages of local or national newspapers, but for its players and their loved ones, Maryhill Milan is “more than a club.”

“It’s a family,” says manager, Jamie Butler.

Maryhill Milan’s uniqueness lies in its success being built on the battling spirit of its players, the majority of who are in recovery from alcohol or drug addiction.

Now playing in the top flight of the Glasgow and District Sunday Football Championship, Jamie founded the club two years ago from a zero starting point.

In that time, his players have risen from the bottom of Division 3 to challenging for the Division 1 title, in their final few games of this season. Capping off their achievements, the team last month lifted the League’s Brothers in Arms Vase Cup with a 3-0 victory.

Jamie says: “It’s good to see my players being recognised on and off the park, especially from where we’ve came from. We’re a team made up mostly of guys from north Glasgow who are in recovery… and we’ve built the club from absolutely nothing at its beginning.”

In early recovery himself, Jamie started Maryhill Milan around a group of five-a-side pals. “I first organised an 11-a-side friendly for us to play in,” he says. ”We came off the park and all the guys had loved it. I said ‘what if I go and try to and get us into a decent league?’


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After some research and a few emails back and forth, Jamie says: “The GDSFC was right for us as I didn’t want to go into a league where people were sitting drinking at the edge of the park, and they have strong guidelines about that.”

With the league giving them the chance they needed, Maryhill Milan were formed in earnest. Faced with a few awkward first game moments, Jamie recalls: "We wore footballs strips that were loaned to us from another team. When we first turned up, they had half a number hanging off the backs. Two of us were number 2…naturally the referee was confused.”

Following sponsorship from Glasgow businesses MFM Heating, Human Touch Scaffolding and RM Plumbing and Gas Services, the team were kitted out in new strips and tracksuits. Despite some early defeats which kept them rooted to the bottom of the division, the players took an important turning point.

“Something just clicked and the longer we played together the more we became a team,” says Jamie. “We started building bonds on and off the park and it went from there.

“We got a few wins and won promotion in our first year taking us into Division 2, and we got to the cup final. And last year, we had another great run of results and were promoted to Division 1. This is our first season in the top division, and we’ve been right up there all season.”

Maryhill Milan genuinely is a family club. With his oldest son Paul and son-in-law Alan playing in the team, his mum taking on the role of kit lady and wife Jennifer on the ball with the club's fundraising, Jamie has the support around him to make a success of himself and the team. “Ask my mate John,” laughs Jamie. “Sometimes I even still pull my football boots back on.”


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Having witnessed a huge change in her husband's lust for life since founding the club, Jennifer says: “It’s great for me to see how Jamie helps others… the transformation in people’s lives has and continues to be inspirational.

"Jamie lost his father and that sent him off track. I knew he'd come back from it and knew what he was worth. Now as a family we've got a good, rewarding life."

Thanks to Maryhill Milan, men who thought they’d never play amateur football again because of the associations with alcohol in the dressing room have been given another chance to play the game they love.

Club captain, Anton Dakhil, who has been by Jamie’s side from the club's day one, says: “A lot of the boys who’ve came into the team but aren’t in recovery get blown away.

"One who'd just started coming at the time said, ‘I can’t believe it, you’re all talking about changing weans nappies and what your families are up to… what’s going on in here?’ It's true, everybody just talks about real life stuff and not what pub we’re going to afterwards.

“For me it’s more than just the football. I’m fighting for the people who are now close to me and I have a bond with… and what it all represents. The club has got that wee bit extra about it.”

Jennifer believes she isn’t speaking for herself when she says: “As wives and partners, we’re now living a totally different life, which is amazing and we’re all grateful for it.

“We all get along and support the team. Our youngest had the ‘gaffer’ on her t-shirt at the cup final… I don’t know who is more of a gaffer, her or him,” laughs Jennifer.

As Maryhill Milan finishes another successful season, the club welcomes contact from local business and charities in support of hosting its upcoming player of the year awards.

And in reflecting on how far he and his club have came in a few short years, Jamie says: “I think most of us have had our battles in life and we keep that in the back of our minds when we go onto that park.

“The club has given my players their families and pride back. It’s played a massive part in their recovery and got them to where they are today.”

To contact Maryhill Milan, email