Written by Graeme MacLeod April 26th 2024

Nairn County Football Club is delighted to confirm the appointment of Ross Tokely as our new Manager.

Ross (centre) retired from playing at the end of the season and has now succeeded Steven Mackay as Manager on a deal until the summer of 2027 to become the thirteenth man to take on the role in our 115-year history.

The 45-year-old will be joined in the dugout by his Assistant Manager, Brian Macleod and First Team Coach, Alan Geegan (right), who arrives at the club having been boss of St Duthus in the North Caledonian League since October 2021.

Midfielder Wayne Mackintosh (left) has also been appointed as Player / Coach to add to the new Management Team, joining existing Goalkeeping Coach, Calum McKenzie and Physiotherapist, Greig Smith, who are remaining with the club.

Ross said: “It is an honour for me to have been appointed Manager of the club. I would like to thank the Chairman and the Management Committee for the faith they have shown in me.

“I already know the club and the squad having been a player here for the last season-and-a-half and that was one of the main factors which interested me in the position when Steven announced that he would he standing down.

“Steven will be a tough act to follow – he has done a fantastic job but he leaves behind an excellent squad of players who I am excited about working with. There is a lot of fantastic players at the club and having tasted a bit of success last season, I will be doing my utmost to help them improve individually and collectively as a team and we can hopefully kick on again.

“I am delighted that Brian, Alan and Wayne have agreed to join my Management Team. Brian has done an excellent job as part of the previous Management Team and is already well-known to and respected by the players. I know Alan really well from our time together at St Duthus and he has done a great job there since taking over as Manager. I have liked what I have seen from Wayne when he was coaching our Under-18s team and he already has the respect of the First Team squad, which is important. I have no doubts at all that the players will enjoy working under these coaches.”

He added: “I am also looking forward to getting to know the people behind the scenes at the club a bit better and the fans as well. I can assure the supporters we will be doing our best to put a winning team on the park come the start of the season, which will hopefully lead to some exciting football and more memorable moments for you.

“I feel this is the right time for me to get back into management at the right club, so I cannot wait to get started and I am already excited for the start of the season in July.”

Chairman Mark Kelman said: “We are delighted to confirm Ross as our new Manager after a strong and robust recruitment process.

“The calibre of applicants was exceptionally high and I would like to thank everyone who expressed an interest in the position.

“We feel we have identified the right man for the job who aligns with the ambitions of the club and can drive high standards across the board at Station Park.

“Steven has left us on a positive footing, so it was important for us to identify someone who could build upon that and take the club forward. Ross ticked all the right boxes in that regard and came across extremely well in the interview process. He has a clear plan for the club and demonstrated a passion and desire to develop and improve the players in the squad and strengthening in some key areas.

“I am excited about what the future holds with Ross as Manager of Nairn County and the Management Committee will do everything we can to provide the support he requires.”

This is Ross’s second managerial post, having bossed Brora Rangers from December 2016 to May 2018, missing out on championship success in his first season by just a single point before guiding the Cattachs to the last 16 of the Scottish Cup and an away tie at Premiership side Kilmarnock the following campaign having knocked Stranraer and East Fife out of the competition.

Prior to that, Ross combined duties on the backroom staff with playing for Brora and all in, lifted two Highland League championships and two North of Scotland Cups during his time at Dudgeon Park after joining in January 2013.

His time in the Highland League followed a lengthy career in full time football, predominantly with Inverness CT, who he joined in 1996. Ross is still the record appearance holder for the Caley Jags having turned out 589 times for the club, scoring 36 goals along the way. He played in all four divisions in Scotland and featured in two well-remembered Scottish Cup victories over Celtic in 2000 and 2003 during Inverness’s time in the lower leagues. He won the Scottish First Division (Championship) twice and Third Division (League Two) and Challenge Cup once apiece during his 16-year stay at the Caledonian Stadium.

Following a short spell at Ross County from summer 2012, he moved on to his time with Brora Rangers and after standing down as Manager at Dudgeon Park six years ago, he returned to playing with St Duthus in the North Caledonian League, winning a Football Times Cup and a North Caledonian Cup before joining us in October 2022.

He made 52 appearances for Nairn County, winning both the Players’ and Supporters’ Player of the Year awards in his first year as well as topping the Goal of the Season vote for his strike against Banks O’Dee in January 2023. Last season, Ross was part of the side which won the North of Scotland Cup for the eighth time in the club’s history and finished his playing career back where it all commenced in our 0-0 draw at Huntly on the final day of the campaign, having started out at Christie Park prior to his move to Inverness CT.

Following Steven Mackay’s departure as Manager, David Hind also left the club, standing down from his role as Assistant Manager. We would like to thank David for all of his efforts with the club and to wish him all the very best for the future.

Images by Kenny Macleod Photography.

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