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Friday, September 24, 1999 Published at 17:40 GMT 18:40 UK

UK: Scotland

Fan's sympathy for Lib Dem loser

The fans believe their campaign has been justly highlighted

The Hamilton Academicals fan who brought about the humiliation of the Liberal Democrats in Friday's by-election has admitted he feels sorry for its candidate.

Stephen Mungall, who stood under the banner of Hamilton Accies Home, Watson Away, said of all the parties, the Liberal Democrats had been the most sympathetic to the group's cause.

[ image: Stephen Mungall:
Stephen Mungall: "A great campaign"
He added: "All the parties were full of praise for the campaign we ran, but the Lib Dems had done the most to try and address our problem.

"I actually feel very sorry for their candidate Marilyne MacLaren because she was very supportive of us."

The organisation's aim is to bring Hamilton Accies Football Club back to the town, after they had been forced to leave their Douglas Park ground and move to Partick Thistle's Firhill ground.

It is also eager to see Jim Watson ousted as chairman of the Division One club - which has had no permanent base in the town for years - and it wants to see a new stadium built.

Mr Mungall, a schoolteacher, polled 1,075 votes to take fifth place, with the Liberal Democrats trailing in sixth taking only 634 votes.

[ image: Sixth spot for Lib Dem Marilyne MacLaren]
Sixth spot for Lib Dem Marilyne MacLaren
He said he had not expected such a fantastic result but added: "Around the town I realised we had a lot of people behind us, but I didn't expect so many to turn out to vote for us."

The next step in the process for Mr Mungall is a meeting next week with local MPs, MSPs and councillors when he will push for support for the campaign from all represented parties.

He said: "I'll be asking them to back the plan to bring the club back to be run by the community, for the community.

"I have to be hopeful that they will lend their support, especially as the local people have shown how much this matters to them.

"I feel it would be folly for them to ignore that message."

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