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Cup win dedicated to former manager

By Will Clark

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With the trophy are (from left): George Groat’s wife Alison and daughters Jacquelyn Groat and Linsay Wares. Picture: Gail Ross
With the trophy are (from left): George Groat’s wife Alison and daughters Jacquelyn Groat and Linsay Wares. Picture: Gail Ross

George Groat was diagnosed with bowel cancer in July 2012, shortly after he had led his Wick Groats team to last year’s Highland Amateur Cup final. He died in March just before the start of the new season.

On Saturday, team captain Alan Sinclair paid the former manager the ultimate tribute by dedicating the trophy to his memory as the side ended its 35-year wait to lift the biggest prize in Highland amateur football, after beating Kirkwall Thorfinn 1-0.

Mrs Groat said she and her two daughters, Linsay (30) and Jacquelyn (25), knew George was there watching the game and said there would have been nobody prouder.

“We were very emotional when the final whistle blew, we were all in tears,” she said. “The thought crossed our mind that he was sitting there with us with a big smile on his face.”

George (50), known as Geordie, played for Wick Groats and took over as manager last season when he guided the team to the Caithness County League championship.

He knew most of the players from their younger days and was asked by them to take over as boss.

“His main reason for taking over at Groats was because he knew all the boys and thought so much of them,” said Mrs Groat. “He knew a lot of the players when he was the manager of Bunillidh. Quite a lot of them played there when they were younger and he was quite glad to be asked to take over Groats.”

Wick Groats manager Derek Shearer presented the family with the cup in Inverness.

Mrs Groat said the club has been very supportive since her husband’s death and said it would always hold a special place in her family’s hearts.

“We were very touched when Alan Sinclair said in his speech this was for Geordie and when we were presented with the cup we were left stunned,” she commented.

“George loved being part of the Groats – he would have been so pleased for Derek Shearer and Kevin Anderson who took over the team and have done so well.

“He just thought so much about every single one of the players. He loved football but the Groats is what he loved the most about it.”

Wick Groats committee member and Caithness civic head Gail Ross said George played a big part in making the squad what it is today.

She said the players were determined to bring the trophy back to Caithness as a thank you for what he did for them.

“It’s great to see the Highland Amateur Cup back in Caithness but for me and many others Saturday was an extra-special win,” she said.

“I have been involved with Wick Groats for a number of years now through my husband Stewart, who first played for them when he was 15.

“Groats have been so close to the final for a few years and then to lose last year, we really felt this was our time. It’s a fitting tribute to Geordie who put so much time and love into the club and all the players, we all miss him terribly.

“They say the crowd can be the 12th man but he was definitely our lucky 13th on Saturday!”

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