WILLIE Barron became a Nairn County player again prior to yesterday's match against Deveronvale before putting in an impressive display at centre half, writes Graeme Macleod.
The 35-year-old returns to Station Park six years after departing and will bring some much-needed experience to boss Ronnie Sharp's young squad.
The versatile player - who will take on the 23 squad number he wore previously - said: "I am happy to be back to help out Ronnie. He was the one who took me here in the first place when I was 17, so I am happy help him out now."
"It seems to be a good bunch of boys we have got in the changing room. They are eager and want to play football and that makes a difference. I am 35 now and there are a few grey hairs sneaking in, so I am just here to help out the club where it all started and that is a good, positive thing for me."
Barron played as a trialist last weekend against Brora Rangers and also managed to win Nairn Dunbar Golf Club's Four Day Open last week!
Since leaving Nairn County, he has won the Highland League championship as part of Forres Mechanics' victorious squad in 2012 as well as turning out for Nairn St Ninian and in the Forres and Nairn Welfare League.
He added: "Hopefully, a bit of experience from me can move on to the younger boys in the team. Jordan (Macrae) is a great talent and he will be one for the future if he keeps his head. Jack Maclean is another one with a promising future and it all looks good to me."
In his previous spell with the club, Barron lifted the 2008 North of Scotland Cup as captain and it is the man who is now in that role who played a pivotal part in bringing Barron back to Station Park.
He revealed: "The club captain Wayne Mackintosh bombarded me with texts to try to get me back! I came up and watched the game against Saints and I had a wee chat with Ronnie afterwards."
"Obviously, my work has to come first but he understands that and I am just happy to be back and signed now."
He added: "I have done three training sessions and it is not going to be an easy process this year. Maybe not this year but over the next few years, it is going to pay off."
"As long as the fans and everyone else can be patient and allow Ronnie to do what he wants to do with the players. The players are going to have to be patient with Ronnie as well and like I said, I have only been here for three training sessions and Ronnie will not have been here for much more than double that. The players will have to listen to what he has to say about how he wants to take the club forward because he is a man who knows football and has played the game. I played with him and I know what he was like as a player and the players are going to have to understand where he is coming from."
"He is the right man for the job and I thought he was treated unfairly the last time he was in the job. The young players will learn from him and they are going to get the chance to play under him now, which they did not get before."
"Some of the 20-year-olds that are here have never played Highland League football apart from two minutes here or there. By the time I was that age, I had two years in the Highland League under my belt. It is not the players' fault but they will learn from playing and he will give them the chance to go out and play."
Sharp was delighted to add a fifth new signing to his squad having already recruited Gary Kerr, Calum Riddell, Dylan Mackenzie and Jamie Mackay.
The manager said: "We know all about Willie. He played for me years ago when I was here previously and he was a part of Forres' championship-winning squad. He comes in and brings the experience we need."
"He played his first game in a long time last week and did really well. He is not going to be available every week because of his work commitments but he brings that experience and he has still got his fitness, so he brings all of that to the table. That is great for us to have because we have a lot of young boys in the first team squad."
Sharp is still looking to add to his squad and ran the rule over trialists Stephen Mackenzie and Chris Moir during yesterday's match with fellow trialists Jason Morganti and Marc Macdonald set to feature for the under-20s tomorrow evening.
Sharp added: "We are not just taking any players we can - we need to get quality in. I am delighted to get all of these new players in."
"We probably need another three or four players to add to the squad. That would give us a full complement of about 18. That is what we are looking for because we want a tight squad where everyone in it has the chance to play on a Saturday, with space for the young boys in the under-20s to progress as well."