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Football: The award for best supporting actor goes to... Exclusive.

Byline: By Anthony Haggerty

ACTOR Jay Smith is a well known face on Scottish TV. But he's saved his best supporting role to help his beloved Ayr United in their hour of need.

Honest Men fanatic Smith has dipped into his own pocket to fund his FOURTH signing for the cash-strapped club this week.

He is already paying the wages of new boys Graeme Mathie, Jamie Doyle, Tommy Tait until the end of the season. Former Brechin defender Scott McCulloch has now been added to that list.

Smith is a personal friend of Ayr Boss Mark Shanks and runs his own training company.

He can also take some of the credit for helping the likes of Jackie McNamara, Stevie Crawford and Jason Dair on their way to stardom.

However, with Ayr United almost slipping into the financial abyss after relegation last season, he had to do something to help.

Smith said: 'I am a massive Ayr fan and hail from the town.

'Since I left to become an actor I have travelled to America and France but have always looked out for their results and wanted them to do well.

'The other connection is that I am a personal friend of Mark Shanks and we work in the same business.

'I have a training company called Employment Enterprise and we do a lot of work with young people. We have offered our training services and programmes to many Scottish football clubs.

'Mark and I originally met at Dunfermline and have had a few successes.

'In one training programme 50 per cent of graduates went on to become successful professional footballers. McNamara, Crawford and Dair were all in the same class at Dunfermline so it gives us immense satisfaction to see those guys doing well and playing at the highest levels.

'Mark and I agree that there should be greater investment in youth development in Scottish football.

'We believe there should be a long--term development and training programme for young people in place which equips them with the knowledge to acquire an education while learning football skills.

'So if they do not make it in the game at least they leave with a qualification and can find a job.

'It was through my relationship with Mark that I decided to get involved again with Ayr United and help out by funding these players' contracts.

'I wanted to do my bit to help and asked Mark what would be the best way.

'He came up with the suggestion of me helping to fund new players.

'I hope this will encourage other people and local businesses to get involved and help clubs like Ayr United.'

Smith's list of TV credits is impressive.

He has appeared in popular Scottish dramas and soaps such as Taggart and High Road to name but a few.

His wife is also a film director and Jay enjoyed a part in Midsomer Murders.

Smith said: 'I have acted in quite a lot of Scottish-based TV like Taggart, High Road and Garnock Way which older people may remember. I have also recently been in Midsomer Murders and quite a number of BBC programmes throughout the years.'

Smith insists he has been following the fortunes of his beloved Ayr United even more since his pal took over.

Smith said: 'Mark is the man to bring the good times back to Ayr United.

'He has great leadership qualities and is very charismatic. He will bring the best out of the current crop of players.

'It is not too long ago that Ayr were at Hampden in the CIS Cup Final against Rangers in 2001/2002.

'Those were great days but the club has slipped to the other end of the spectrum.

'I am delighted to help Mark in whatever way I can and will continue to do so for the sake of the club.

'I firmly believe Ayr United are capable of scaling such dizzy heights again.

'They deserve success and I would like to think that those days are not be too far away again.'


CHEQUE HIM OUT: Ayr United fanatic and TV star Jay Smith, centre, with new Somerset Park signings Scott McCulloch and Tommy Tait. Smith has put up his own money to pay the players' wages
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 22, 2004
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