Written by Nairn County FC July 16th 2016

NEW Nairn County manager Ronnie Sharp has wasted no time in making his first addition to his backroom staff ahead of Thursday night's Bridgemill Direct Challenge Match against Nairn St Ninian. The boss has brought the club's former goalkeeper, Mike Rae back to Station Park to form part of his coaching team. Sharp said: "I am delighted to get Mikie on board." "He was a tremendous goalkeeper for me when I was here before and he has now come in to coach the goalkeepers we have here. He will only make them better." "Callum Donaldson has been in helping us and when he is home from America, he is going to come along to training to help as well. We need these things because we need to improve the players – that is the main objective. If we can improve them as individuals then the team will improve." The countdown to Sharp's first game as Nairn County manager for over 12 years is well and truly on as Station Park gears up for the first visit of neighbours Nairn St Ninian in many a year. "I think I played myself the last time the two clubs played here – for St Ninian!" remarked Sharp. "To us, we need the games and that is the bottom line. It is just another game and we have a second one in quick succession when we go to Inverness City next Saturday. I have only been in the job less than a week and the season starts in a fortnight, so it is a game for us just to get one under our belts." "We need the miles in the legs over both games and I am sure there will be a bit of added interest in Thursday's game with it being a local derby. Hopefully the fans turn out and they enjoy it because it is good to get St Ninian back up here to play against us – I hope their boys all enjoy it as well." Sharp took a double session of training at the Riverside today with the players put through their paces in the morning before enjoying lunch at Station Park and then returning to the Riverside for more hard work. "Training has gone fine so far," said Sharp. "This is only my third session, so I am still getting to know the boys and finding out what they can and cannot do. It is going to take me a while to get my style across because it is different to what they have been doing before but everything seems to be going OK." "You would have to ask the boys how they are taking to the training but they seem to be enjoying it and I would hope they would say they are enjoying it." Rae joined Sharp at the Riverside this morning to run the rule over the club's goalkeepers in his first involvement with County since 2005. He said: "I met the boys for the first time this morning and had a good chat with Ronnie (Sharp, manager) about what he is looking to do this season. It all appears to be very positive – the boys appear to be in good form and very keen to try something different in training with Ronnie and they seem to be appreciating what he is doing." "I was working with Dylan (Maclean) and Ryan (Macleod), the two goalkeepers that we have training with the first team squad and today it was just a case of me seeing where they actually are, where they need to improve and what they need to work on. The early signs are very positive." Rae moved on from Nairn to short spells at Lossiemouth and Huntly following the end of his two-and-a-half years as a player for County. He revealed: "I took a bit of time out from football and watched my family start to grow up. That took up all my time but over the last few years, I have got back into it coaching at Inverness City alongside their manager, Jordan MacDonald. He was really good and got me back into the game and I really appreciate that. I enjoyed working there alongside him and it stoked the flames so to speak and allowed me to regain my passion for the game." "The opportunity then came up to come back here and after speaking with one of the directors, Graeme Macleod and Ronnie about where they want to take the club, I was delighted to take the opportunity to get back involved with Nairn again and to be back here." He added: "It is good to see that we have a fantastic community coming back together to help the club in the time that they need it. When I joined first time around, one of the big things I noticed at the club was the community aspect with everyone working together – the fans, the committee and the team. It is good to see people come together again to help the club when they need it. All of the signs are looking very positive in that respect." Rae was one of the top goalkeepers in the Highland League during his playing days, having started out at Rangers as a youngster. He was recruited by Ronnie Sharp in 2002 and kept goal for the side that finished fifth in the table in his first season at Station Park. Reflecting on his time at the club as a player, he said: "Sharpie was fantastic – he played football the way it was supposed to be played and he was very passionate about the way he wanted to play football. He is now trying to instil that back into the club again. He does it with the under-20s and they play the right way – he is now bringing that into the first team and if the players buy into it then I am pretty sure we will be successful." Rae is looking forward to the start of the season and believes that with everyone pulling in the same direction, the club can find its feet again. He stated: "The fans, the players and everyone else at the club all have to realise that they have to live within their means now and that means changing the way it is run and operated. If we can get everyone together working the same way moving forward then I am sure we will make good progress." Graeme Macleod

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