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Highland Amateur Cup looks certain to be cancelled


By Will Clark

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Wick Groats celebrate Graham MacNab's decisive goal in the 2019 Highland Amateur Cup final against Avoch. Picture: James Gunn
Wick Groats celebrate Graham MacNab's decisive goal in the 2019 Highland Amateur Cup final against Avoch. Picture: James Gunn

The biggest competition in Highland amateur football is on the verge of being cancelled this season.

Organisers of the Highland Amateur Cup say it is unlikely the tournament will go ahead in 2020 due to the lack of time available to play the competition this summer.

Thurso-based competition secretary Bob Gunn says that although the decision has yet to be confirmed, time is running out to hold the tournament.

The Highland Amateur Cup, which was first held in 1978, features amateur football teams from across the Highlands, Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.

However, Mr Gunn says it is unlikely that it will go ahead this season for the first time in its 42-year history due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

“We’re still waiting for a directive from the Scottish Amateur Football Association,” he said. “There is a moratorium until they get the green light from the Scottish Government.

“We will be the last on the football chain to get up and running again as clubs can’t get testing facilities as things stand. But I think it is safe to say there will be no Highland Amateur Cup in 2020.

“We have our final to be played by the end of the amateur season to allow the winter season to start in the last week of August and first week of September. There are not enough calendar days to allow that to happen.

“Teams from Shetland to the south of Inverness compete in the tournament, and to expect that to take place with a timescale of two months – it won’t happen.”

Alan Sinclair of Wick Groats receives the Highland Amateur Cup from Stuart Urquhart, president of the Scottish AFA, after the 2019 final at Brora, as main sponsor Wullie Robertson from Gow's Lybster looks on. Picture: James Gunn
Alan Sinclair of Wick Groats receives the Highland Amateur Cup from Stuart Urquhart, president of the Scottish AFA, after the 2019 final at Brora, as main sponsor Wullie Robertson from Gow's Lybster looks on. Picture: James Gunn

The Highland Amateur Cup has been dominated by teams from Caithness in recent seasons, with Wick Groats winning four times in the last seven years and Pentland United lifting the trophy in 2018 for a record eighth time. Staxigoe United reached the final in 2017.

Ross-shire outfit Avoch have also been successful, winning the trophy four times in the last decade.

Mr Gunn is confident that the Highland Amateur Cup can return in 2021.

“In the last three years, not only have we maintained the level of entries, we have seen more interest from Shetland and Ross-shire," he said.

“The competition was in a healthy state but we don’t know how many clubs will take part next season.

“But we are hopeful that the competition will return.”

Groats lifted the trophy last August after Graham MacNab's early strike was enough to seal a 1-0 victory over Avoch at Brora.


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