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Brora boss Mackay dedicates Highland League manager of the year honour to coaching team

By Will Clark

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Brora manager Steven Mackay congratulates his players after they had beaten a strong Caley Thistle side to win the North of Scotland Cup. Picture: Callum Mackay
Brora manager Steven Mackay congratulates his players after they had beaten a strong Caley Thistle side to win the North of Scotland Cup. Picture: Callum Mackay

Steven Mackay dedicated his Highland League manager of the year award to his coaching team, saying Brora Rangers could not have won the title without them.

Mackay picked up the top manager award after a dominant season where the Cattachs were crowned Highland League champions and won the North of Scotland Cup.

But he wanted to give credit to assistant manager Craig Campbell and coach David Hind, saying they were instrumental in the club’s success.

“I know I received the award as manager of the club,” Mackay said. “But there was no way as a squad we would have been able to win the league if it wasn’t for the support from Craig Campbell and David Hind.

“We’re a solid unit as a three and we come as a three. They have contributed equally as much as I have and they deserve recognition for what they have done.”

Brora were declared league champions when the season was concluded on March 21 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The Cattachs were 13 points ahead of second place Inverurie Locos with six games remaining when the season ended.

There was an early setback for Brora, a 1-0 defeat away against Nairn County. But Mackay was pleased with the response from his squad, which included beating a strong Caley Thistle team to win the North of Scotland Cup in October.

“We set a task and our objective was to win the Highland League," Mackay said.

“We knew we had the capabilities to do that and it was about delivering it week in and week out.

“To be fair, the players did that – the only game they underperformed was when they lost at Nairn.

“It was a kick up the backside for us. At the time it was horrendous and one of the lowest points I have ever experienced as a player and manager.

“But it drummed home the message we wanted to get into players that nobody was going to hand us a title. We had to earn the right to win games of football, and they won every game outwith losing at home to Fraserburgh.

"It was phenomenal effort and they got into a good habit of working hard and winning games. We were never complacent but always confident that we would games."

Brora are now waiting to hear which division they will be playing in next season as the SPFL Reconstruction Task Force is continuing to hold talks. SPFL clubs voted to scrap the play-offs, denying them and Lowland League champions Kelty Hearts the chance of promotion.

Mackay believes that if they are successful they can be competitive at a higher level.

“We’d love the opportunity to progress and play in the Scottish league," he said. “The squad we have pulled together is more than capable of getting to that level and performing.

“We have a good blend of experienced players and younger boys who are coming through, but whether that happens remains to be seen.”

The end-of-season awards brought a double for Brora as Andrew Macrae was named as Highland League player of the year.

The 21-year-old winger from Inverness said: "I’ll be gutted if we don’t go up, but we will just have to win the league again and I see no reason why we can’t.

“I see myself at Brora for the foreseeable future. At this moment in time I wouldn’t be interested in other offers.

"I am happy where I am and see my future at Brora and getting them promoted."

Macrae signed for Brora from Forres Mechanics last October, having been named Highland League young player of the year for the previous two seasons.

He said Brora have a different mentality from any other club he has played at and was delighted he could rise to the challenge.

"At Forres, we had a really good team,” he said. “But the difference was we went into games against the likes of Inverurie, Cove and Fraserburgh hoping we would get something out of it or scrape a win.

“But at Brora Rangers, you are looking to go into games and winning by three or four goals, and against the big teams we always believed we were going to win.

“It's a different environment. It was new to me, as I had never been in that environment before, but I have really enjoyed it.”

The league's top goalscorer award went to Keith's captain and club record marksman Cammy Keith. He kept rattling in the goals in his testimonial year, netting 22 times including his 250th strike for the Maroons.

The awards will be presented when circumstances allow.

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