NAIRN County can confirm that Robbie Duncanson and Kenny McKenzie have both signed two-year contract extensions at Station Park, writes Graeme Macleod.
Duncanson made his debut for the club at Inverurie Locos on May 3rd 2003 after joining from the Ross County youth setup. He moved on in 2004 and had stints with Lossiemouth, Brora Rangers and Golspie Sutherland before proving his worth in the Highland League at Clachnacuddin.
That led to a move to Deveronvale and after his spell at the Banff club, he rejoined Nairn midway through the 2009/10 season. Although he missed the 2011 Highland League Cup final win over Fraserburgh, he netted the opening goal of the 2-1 win over Wick Academy in the 2012 North of Scotland Cup final. To date, he has scored 79 goals for Nairn in 256 appearances.
Manager Les Fridge was delighted to secure the services of one of his most potent attackers until the summer of 2018.
He said: “Robbie has proved over the last couple of weeks how important a player he is for us. With his contract being up at the end of the season, we were in discussions with him and it is great that he has agreed to stay onboard and extend his deal.
“He is good to have about the place and provided he keeps himself fit and works hard, he will be able to continue to have a big part to play. He never seems to score an easy goal for us and he also contributes a lot in terms of creating goals, which is something he does not get a lot of credit for. He is coming up for 31 now and as long as he keeps working hard and training well, there is no reason why he cannot continue the way he is going.
“He is an intelligent player and the older he is getting, he tends to use his head more than his legs. He is good in the dressing room not just for his ability but for his presence in the squad too.”
McKenzie (22) only joined the club from Fort William in the summer. He has featured in all of the club’s games so far this season, starting the six league fixtures and appearing from the bench in the 2-1 North of Scotland Cup quarter final win at Strathspey Thistle.
He netted his first goal for the club in the 4-1 victory at Deveronvale on August 8th but was only signed until the end of the season, prompting Fridge to move to tie the left winger down until the end of the 2017/18 season.
The manager said: “Like I said when we brought Kenny in, I tried to get him last year. He came and trained with us for a wee while but he got the opportunity to go to Fort William because he thought he would play more regularly, which is understandable. He has come here, done really well and is playing with good players, which I think is showing.
“Again, he has to keep working hard, learning, listening and doing what he has been doing. He was delighted to extend his contract for another two years and I think it is a big plus for everyone at the club.
“He can get up and down the park, score goals, put in crosses and he is wiry as well because he is not scared to tackle. At the moment, he is looking like a very good addition and it is nice to tie him up for a wee bit longer.”
The re-signings come hot on the heels of Gregg Main extending his contract at the club and Fridge will continue working his way around his squad to retain the core of the players who have contributed towards the club’s best start to a Highland League season for the last few years.
He said: “I speak to managers all of the time and it is getting harder and harder for us all to get players. We have had to go to the central belt to bring a car of boys up to strengthen the squad and that is the way it is across the board in general. That means it is important for us to keep the quality that we already have and the fact that these two players are happy to stay and sign on again speaks volumes for the club.”
Meanwhile, Paul Macleod and Andrew Hardwick have moved out on initial one-month loans. Macleod has joined Strathspey Thistle while summer signing Hardwick has returned to former club Fort William. Both players debuted for their temporary sides at the weekend.
Fridge said: “At the moment, they are short term loans. We will then look at it and see if it is benefiting us and the players. I have no problem helping out Fort William or Strathspey either, so if it is benefiting all parties, we will continue it.
“Paul missed a wee bit of pre-season and was then suspended for the start of the season. This is an opportunity for him to go out, get some game time and play regularly in the Highland League.
“It is the same with Andrew Hardwick. He has just joined the police, so he is down at Tulliallan for 12 weeks of training. Although he is doing a lot of physical training down there, he is not doing a lot of football, so this was an opportunity to put him out to get him some game time.”
He added: “Players can mump and moan about not playing all they want. The responsibility has to fall on the players themselves – if they are not in the team then they need to look at what they need to do to get in the team. Maybe they have to work harder, show a better attitude or take their chance when they get on whether it is for 10 or 40 minutes.
“It is easy to sit about and mump and moan but that is no use to me. The fact that these boys are quite happy to go out and get game time with a view to coming back and fighting for a place in the team shows the attitude of these two players.”