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Burst drain has Vikings sailing off to Naver


By Matt Leslie


Thurso are on the lookout for a temporary home after problems with their Dammies home multiplied with a burst drain.

The Vikings had to switch venues for one fixture and postpone another as repair work done by a private contractor had damaged the pitch surface.

However, an ongoing issue with a burst drain came to a head a few days ago and left one area of the pitch soaked.

While the water has now been cleared, it appears that the Dammies might be out of use for some time.

The all-weather pitch at Naver will stage Saturday's North Caledonian League match against Bonar Bridge but playing "at home away from home" is something the Vikings will have to get used to.

Manager Stevie Reid said: "It's not looking good, put it that way.

"I don't think we'll be able to go back on the Dammies pitch for the rest of the calendar year. It is possible that could also apply to the rest of the season.

"There had been an issue with the drain previously. Now it has come to the fore with a lot of water being on the back of the pitch these last few days.

Thurso manager Stevie Reid says it's not looking good for the Dammies pitch. Picture: James Gunn
Thurso manager Stevie Reid says it's not looking good for the Dammies pitch. Picture: James Gunn

"If you were passing the Dammies now, you'd think there's nothing wrong with it – but the pitch is very soft underfoot and we can't risk any injuries to players."

As for alternative venues, Reid admits Thurso are in a quandary.

He added: "We'll be using Naver for Saturday. My feelings on plastic pitches are well known, but needs must right now.

"We could use Naver as the long-term solution until the Dammies is playable again. We're also looking at High Ormlie.

I suspect they would not be overly keen to accommodate us.

"Castletown has been mentioned but it is unlikely we'll be using it. It's the best surface in the summer league but I think Robbie, who prepares the pitch to such a high standard, would have a heart attack once he sees the state that playing in the winter would do to it. The same with Pentland United's pitch at Dunnet.

"Sharing with Halkirk United wouldn't be possible as I suspect they would not be overly keen to accommodate us. We do have a good relationship with Caithness rugby club but there would be a few issues with us using Millbank – them having to take down and store their rugby posts for one. It's easy to do that with football ones but rugby posts are a lot bigger and you can't stick those in your shed.

"Also, their own pitch might be an issue for us. Given the nature of their sport, I think they prefer the grass to be a bit longer than our own pitch at the Dammies so our style of play would be affected."

Thurso were not in action last weekend but Halkirk United were and it's fair to say the Anglers were left wishing they didn't have a game either.

Going into their match at Invergordon on a three-game unbeaten run, all the good work done since the Ewan McElroy era kicked off was smashed to pieces in a eight-minute spell.

Kyle Maclean had put the league leaders ahead early on. Between minutes 45 and 53, five more goals flew into the Halkirk net via Darran Goller (2), Scott Houston (2) and Ken Morrison.

Further salt was rubbed into the Anglers' wounds late on as goals from Ian Penwright and another by Houston to complete his hat-trick gave Invergordon a thumping 8-0 victory.

However, as manager Euan McElroy pointed out, having your regular goalkeeper taken off injured with suspected concussion when the scoreline was 1-0 was a deciding factor.

He said: "We knew beforehand this game would be tough – more so given the start to the season Invergordon have made.

"Unfortunately for us, our goalie took a head knock. We suspect he might have had concussion but we didn't want to take the risk of leaving him on.

"One of the outfield players, Ross Macleod – who has no goalkeeping experience – bravely put his hand up to go in goal and unfortunately it wasn't the best of days for him.

"Invergordon had that crazy spell at the start of the second half and five of the goals all came from set-pieces. They were keen to test Ross with high balls and it worked for them.

"It was not a great day but we draw a line under it and move on to Saturday's game at Inverness Athletic."

Elsewhere, there were 5-0 wins for both Inverness Athletic and St Duthus against Bonar Bridge and Bunillidh Thistle respectively while Orkney and Golspie Sutherland served up a thrilling 4-4 draw at Dounby.

North Caledonian League fixtures for Saturday, November 2 (kick-offs 1.30pm unless stated otherwise)

Bunillidh Thistle v Invergordon

Inverness Athletic v Halkirk United

St Duthus v Orkney (12.45pm)

Thurso v Bonar Bridge (at Naver)



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