Innes Macdonald will be fondly remembered by all the fans at Nairn County for bringing the club it’s first and only League championship in 1975-76.
He was a strong personality who came to the club when it was struggling in the lower reaches of the Highland League and promised he would give the club something to celebrate, a league title, within three years. He fulfilled that promise at a time when finances were very tight.
His record as coach at Elgin City is a story of legend.
During his trophy laden career there he took City to the quarter finals of the Scottish Cup in 1968 - the only non-league side ever to reach that stage of the national competition. They only lost out 2-1 to Morton at Cappielow.He said little publicly about his departure before coming to Nairn but it is clear in years which followed it was boardroom interference in team affairs which led to him quitting the club.
When he came to Nairn he told me it was on the understanding that the Nairn committee gave him complete autonomy over team affairs.
Bob Gordon was the Chairman at the time and Innes, in his time at Station Park said that promise was kept to the letter. They had a hard working committee and weren’t the wealthiest of clubs. But Innes used his great tactical awareness and ability to find players at little cost and moulded a team which was ultimately to bring the first championship flag to Station Park.Ironically it was his old club Elgin City who unlocked the door to let Nairn in to win the championship. Keith needed a win at Borough Briggs on their last game of the season to clinch the title. But they lost and Innes and many Nairn players who watched the drama unfold that night danced a jig of delight. Innes marched on to the field and shook the hands of the Elgin players.
The scene was set of course for the play-off between Nairn County and Fraserburgh at Borough Briggs and we all know the outcome of that.
I know his family were delighted to be present when Innes attended that memorable reunion organised by Dodo Graham to mark the club's centenary in the Highland league. Innes was in his element catching up with all his former players and it is testimony to the esteem in which he held the club that he took the trouble to attend and stayed the entire day and enjoyed what was a memorable occasion.The term ‘legend’ can be used too loosely at times in terms of the contributions made by individuals to the game of football.
It’s a cap that certainly fits Innes Macdonald well. Nairn County and the Highland League has lost a true legend of the game here in the north.