WINTER WEATHER FAILS TO HALT PROGRESS
Action on the park may have been few and far between recently because of the winter weather with just five games played in ten-and-a-half weeks but there has been a number of developments behind-the-scenes at the club.
We were delighted to confirm Logical Print and Document Solutions as our new main sponsor. It represents a huge deal for the club and allows us to move forward with stability, safe in the knowledge that we have the backing of a main sponsor for the next two full seasons. That is significant for our finances and given that it took us a full six months to secure a main sponsor the last time we were looking for one, it takes the pressure off our hard-working Management Committee and frees them up to focus on other ventures. I must thank our outgoing main sponsor, Reach Digital Telecoms Highland – now Logical Telecom Solutions – for all their support and Steven Bain and Graeme Macleod from our Management Committee for their efforts in securing this great new deal for the club. I look forward to welcoming Paul MacLeod and all the other representatives from Logical to Station Park for what I am sure will be a fruitful and exciting partnership for both parties.
Since my last update, we have allowed two players to move on to pastures new with our best wishes. Rothes enquired about Gary Kerr on Boxing Day and after our Management Team spoke with the player, permission was granted to allow him to enter into discussions with the Speysiders. The two parties agreed terms and Rothes then made what was deemed an acceptable offer for Gary’s services to conclude the deal.
Shortly after that, Ross Naismith asked to be placed on the transfer list at his own request due to a lack of playing time. Strathspey Thistle were given permission to approach Ross and when he came back to us and said that he would like to join the Grantown club, a fee was agreed and that transfer was also completed. Both players left with the best wishes of everyone at the club and will be made most welcome any time they wish to come back to Station Park.
Those deals left us a little short on numbers, so we acquired the services of Danny Highet from Fort William. He was one that our manager Ronnie Sharp had earmarked to recruit in the summer ahead of next season but when the opportunity came up to bring the player in now, Ronnie felt it would be the ideal chance to boost his squad and be beneficial for Danny to use what is left of this season to bed in at the club. From speaking to our Director of Football Graeme Macleod, I know that all three clubs were fantastic to deal with when negotiating these transfers and I would like to commend them on their professionalism and co-operation.
We were delighted to donate finance to the Forres and Nairn Welfare Football Association for the upkeep of the Riverside Park. The FNWFA put a lot of their own free time and Association funds into maintaining this Nairn Common Good ground for everyone in the town to use and enjoy. Our own use involves approximately a month of training during the summer when our regular facilities at Nairn Academy are unavailable and the odd session on a Saturday throughout the season if we ever have games called off and the park there is playable. The amount handed over almost matched the Association’s entire budget for the park’s upkeep last year and we were more than happy to assist.
We were also more than happy to agree to the FNWFA’s request to host the final of their new competition, the Calum Riddell Cup. The competition is, of course, in memory of our player who died in October and is a fitting tribute to his memory. We look forward to welcoming the two participating clubs, the FNWFA and their guests and Calum’s friends and family to Station Park for the match on Sunday April 29th. We are also discussing with Calum’s family how we as a club can honour his memory and we hope to have more details on that soon.
Play has been few and far between with the year ending at Wick Academy and an encouraging 1-1 draw. That match saw a debut for Cameron Maclean from our under-20s squad and we look forward to seeing more of him and his promising team mates in the first team squad in the future.
We were back in Caithness five weeks later for our first match of 2018 and a Breedon Highland League (Morganti) Cup preliminary round tie where a superb display saw us ease into the first-round proper with a wonderful 4-0 win. We then edged past Lossiemouth at home with a 3-2 success to reach the quarter finals, where we await a home tie with Fraserburgh.
We earned three important league points in between those two cup ties with a dramatic 3-2 win away at Huntly, which meant that the narrow 1-0 home win over Strathspey Thistle saw us eclipse last season’s league points tally with 12 games still left to play. Our last match was a 4-2 home defeat to Rothes at Station Park – our first defeat in almost three months – where only some clinical and incisive attacking play from the visitors in the first half proved to be the main difference between the two teams. At the time of writing, we are due to resume our programme of league fixtures away at Fort William on Wednesday March 14th.
Our under-20s squad has been back in action and put up a spirited display against an accomplished Lewis & Harris Select in the Jock Mackay Cup where they led at half time before succumbing to a 4-1 defeat. They then picking up an encouraging league point in a 1-1 draw at Alness United thanks to an injury time equaliser from Ryan MacBean, who also scored in the Lewis & Harris tie. Both fixtures were played at the same time as first team matches, restricting coach Stuart Finnie’s selections but it gave the opportunity to several younger players to come into the team and all acquitted themselves well.
We recently announced plans to launch an under-13s team next season in an exciting development for the club. The team will compete in the Moray Firth Youth Development League and we hope its introduction will go some way to bridging the gap between small-sided primary schools football and 11-a-side under-15s matches in the Highland Youth Development League. We have advertised for a coaching team and hope to make an appointment and finalise arrangements for trials.
I am forever grateful to all our sponsors and donors for their continued backing to keep us operating and allowing us to move forward and implement our ideas for the development of the football club. I also thank every single one of you, the fans, for your continued support of the team on match days – it does not go unnoticed and is much appreciated by as all.
DONALD L. MATHESON
Nairn County Football Club