With the arrival of Spring I can confess it is my favourite time of the year. Usually we can look forward to two months enjoyable football in more comfortable and conducive weather conditions for those committed to the terraces.
This season however sees the introduction of a foreshortened League fixture programme leading to a conclusion of all our fixtures by mid-April, whereas our usual League season finished in mid-May. This has been brought about by the introduction of the new Pyramid System imposed on the League by the SFA.
Through its introduction the winners of the Highland League play a double header (home and away) play-off against the winners of the South of Scotland League. The winner of this contest then is required to play the bottom team of the SPFL again in another double header play-off to determine promotion or the status quo for both.
The introduction of the "Pyramid" system timescale this season has given the League Secretary no option other than to insert mid-week fixtures to ensure compliance with the requirement to finish the League competition by the given mid-April deadline. The impact on every Club has been significant this season insofar as lost revenue income at the turnstiles, difficulty in attracting match sponsorship and of course through such mid-week fixtures the local business community - on whom we all depend - are deprived of Saturday trade and visiting supporter attendance. The League Management Committee is aware of the concern being expressed by its members and are actively seeking to address the issue as a matter of priority for the forthcoming season.
The other issue of importance to the Club and its supporters is the progress in achieving the construction of a new Spectator Enclosure to replace the aging 1950 structure lovingly known locally as the "Cowshed" - the name encapsulating the design and vintage.
After our disappointing setback of mid-January we have together with the Supporters Group set about trying to reconfigure the overall concept with a view to finding savings. Steady progress is being made and the Club are confident that the project will proceed with a later start date than we had originally hoped. The Club and the Supporters Group will keep you abreast of things and events as they happen.
With the Highland League Cup semi-final now behind us we still have seven League fixtures to participate in to the end of the season. Interestingly - and both mid-week games at Nairn - we play host to Brora Rangers and Turriff United who lie first and second in the League respectively. We also have a local derby game again at Nairn on Saturday, 4 April, playing Forres Mechanics. The rest of our fixtures are all away games on successive Saturdays starting with Cove on 28 March, and thereafter Keith, Lossiemouth and finally Strathspey Thistle.
Finally, if you haven't already done so, make sure you reserve a table at the culmination of our Centenary season Gala Sportsman's Dinner again to be held in the prestigious Newton Hotel Conference Centre on Friday, 8 May, at 7.30 pm to midnight. There are magnificent auction items to bid for and of course listen to our two invited after-dinner speakers Gary Marshall and Steve Kindon, who are both recognised in the UK as being highly entertaining and accomplished in their delivery.
Resolute as ever I remain "County till I die"