It is the time of year for reflecting upon what has been an extremely satisfying first calendar year for me in the chairman’s role at the club.
We also look to the future and the ambition and drive of the supporters to assist us with improving the surroundings at Station Park and raising standards across the club never ceases to amaze me. Next on the hitlist is a significant upgrade of the toilet facilities at the ground and we are delighted to have received the supporters’ backing on this, with the recent launch of their Spend-a-Penny campaign. A successful Coffee Morning was held at the British Legion on December 16th while sales of Christmas trees have also been helping to boost the coffers. You can also have your name added to the Supporters Wall inside the middle gate at Station Park for the cost of £20. Contact Steven Bain on firstname.lastname@example.org or Donald Wilson at email@example.com for further information or speak to them at any home game by asking at the door of the office. For more information on any future fundraising events, keep an eye on the club website and official social media channels.
Since my last update, although we have lost derby matches against both Forres Mechanics and Clachnacuddin, we have been heartened by wins over defending champions Buckie Thistle and away at Lossiemouth, where we scored in the fourth minute of injury time to take all three points. We look forward to our Christmas trip to Wick Academy this weekend and then welcoming Formartine United to Station Park for the final home match of 2017 before we first foot Keith on January 6th.
That Forres match marked the turning point in the fixtures with us having visited their Mosset Park home on the opening day of the 2017/18 campaign. In the 15 weeks from the opening day until that recent home derby match, we hosted 16 games at Station Park with only 11 fixtures left to accommodate across all levels (plus potential Highland League (Morganti) Cup ties) in the 22 weeks from then until the scheduled end of the season on April 14th!
November saw three clubs approach us for permission to discuss the prospect of a transfer with our top scorer, Jordan MacRae. I was happy to leave it up to the manager and Director of Football to decide what to do as I always do in these cases and they felt that informing Jordan and allowing him the chance to make up his own mind was the best way forward. After Jordan spoke to all parties, he came back to us and said that he wanted to stay with the club and we were all absolutely delighted with that. Just because we allowed Jordan the opportunity to speak to the clubs if he wished, it did not in anyway mean he was unwanted by us at Station Park – simply that we believe in treating the players like adults and allowing them to make their own decisions.
As well as Jordan staying, we have also extended the contract of Cohen Ramsay up to 2020. He initially signed for us for the season and continues to improve, so we felt it was diligent to act now and secure his future for another few years and given that he is still only 17 years of age, he certainly has his best years in front of him.
We have allowed Stephen Foster to return to Inverness CT following his loan spell at the club. He was initially with us until January as cover for Dylan Maclean and to allow Ryan Macleod to go out on loan himself but with both now back at Station Park until into the New Year, we returned Stephen to Inverness CT. We thank him for his efforts during his time with us and wish him well back at his parent club.
His fellow loanee, Liam MacDonald, sustained an ankle injury in the 4-1 win over Buckie Thistle that will keep him out until the New Year, when his loan agreement at the club comes to an end. We will be discussing the prospect of extending that loan over the Christmas period.
Coming into the club has been Spanish full back Inaki Fernandino Soto, known to everyone as Zola. He was with the club previously when he turned out for the under-20s as an overaged player two seasons ago and impressed this year as a trialist in games against Huntly, Forres Mechanics and Buckie Thistle. He is back in Spain over the Christmas period on personal business but we look forward to seeing him in the New Year.
Our captain, Gregg Main, underwent surgery in Glasgow just before Christmas on a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament injury. We wish him well with his rehabilitation and knowing him as well as we all do, I am sure he will meet it head on like he does any football challenge out there on the park.
We were absolutely delighted to receive the news recently that we would receive the full amount of an SFA grant we applied for, for youth development. This will make a huge difference to managing the running costs of our under-15s and under-17s teams, which are both vital to the long-term sustainability of the club. All of the players know there is a pathway to the first team there now and we want them all to always be aspiring to make that next step - we look to reward players performing well in the youth setup with exposure to the age grade above instead of throwing them in at the deep end in the summer when their age dictates they have to move up. We have started that already with under-15s players featuring in the under-17s and some of the under-17s being involved with the under-20s and having a big impact in their impressive friendly win over Inverness City and North Caledonian Cup tie at Halkirk United. The youth teams are currently on a break from fixtures just now with the under-15s and under-17s back in action away at Wick Academy on January 21st while the under-20s visit Lewis & Harris in a Jock Mackay Cup tie the day before with their North of Scotland League programme resuming at Clachnacuddin on February 12th.
It is also the time of year when we remember those we have lost over the last 12 months and our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of Fred Milne, Calum Riddell, Brian Fraser and all other members of the Nairn County family who have passed away this year and are no longer with us.
I would like to take the opportunity to wish all of our supporters, sponsors, advertisers and helpers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year on behalf of the players, management team, Board of Directors and Management Committee of Nairn County Football Club.
DONALD L. MATHESON
Nairn County Football Club