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Thurso boss Reid would have been happy to see North Caledonian title handed to Invergordon

By Alan Hendry

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Thurso manager Stevie Reid: 'My own personal view is that we would have been better just to stop it and start afresh.' Picture: James Gunn
Thurso manager Stevie Reid: 'My own personal view is that we would have been better just to stop it and start afresh.' Picture: James Gunn

Thurso manager Stevie Reid says he would have had no complaints if the 2020/21 North Caledonian League season had been scrapped and the title awarded to leaders Invergordon.

However, now that plans have been announced to conclude both divisions between the end of May and the end of June, he will focus on ensuring the Vikings pick up as many points as possible in their five remaining games.

In a season that has been fraught with uncertainty, there is still one possible scenario that could force Thurso to reconsider their participation. That would be if Caithness AFA were to go ahead with a shortened summer season.

“If it does, and I can only speak for Thurso, we probably won’t be playing these remaining games," Reid said.

“The players have got other commitments to their summer teams, so who are we to stop them? The summer football is a big thing and they can’t play for both.

“If there’s no summer football then yes, let’s play the five games and get them done and out of the way. It’s all ifs and buts.”

In talks with other clubs Reid had suggested "calling it quits" for 2020/21 and creating the opportunity for an earlier start to next term. "But I appreciate that some of them will want to try and get it complete," he said. "It is what it is.”

In the Highland League, leaders Brora Rangers were declared champions having played just three matches and Reid believes it would have been fair to hand the North Caley title to Invergordon, who are halfway through their 10-game programme in Division One.

“My own personal view is that we would have been better just to stop it, like every other league more or less has done, and start afresh as soon as we can," Reid said.

“Brora were given the Highland League after three games. So why not give it to Invergordon? I’d be quite happy to give the league to Invergordon and move on.

“You would have the potential to maybe start it earlier because hopefully next season the North Caley will have the full 13 teams in one league. It’ll be good, and the North Caley will hopefully get back up to what it used to be."

Thurso's first match on the resumption of the campaign will be away to Orkney. Reid observed: “Who knows what the travel arrangements are going to be?”

Meanwhile, Reid has praised Thurso-based Caithness rugby club for making their Millbank ground available for light training sessions. An approach was made to the rugby club's head coach Ewen Boyd, as the Vikings are currently unable to use either the Dammies or the Naver all-weather facility.

He said: “The rugby club have been absolutely fantastic. They’ve given us a slot that we can use Millbank for an hour or whatever it takes on a Saturday.

“I’d like to thank Caithness rugby club and Ewen himself for giving us that opportunity.”

He is hopeful that Thurso will be able to return to their base at the Dammies for their remaining three home fixtures rather than have to use the alternative venue of Naver.

“I would like to think that we will play those three games at the Dammies. Everybody has missed it there,” Reid said.

The last competitive action in the league took place on December 19 before the scheduled midwinter break. The North Caledonian Football Association management committee agreed in early January to pause the calendar after the whole of mainland Scotland had gone into lockdown because of rising cases of Covid-19 across the country.

Under the latest easing of lockdown measures, adult outdoor contact sport can resume from May 17. League fixtures will restart on May 29.

Thurso and Halkirk United are fourth and fifth respectively in the six-team top division, both on seven points. While the Vikings have five fixtures still to play, the Anglers have just three remaining.

Invergordon are top with 13 points from their opening five fixtures. The Easter Ross side are a point clear of Golspie, who have played one game more, with St Duthus a further point behind having played eight matches.

The 2019/20 North Caledonian League season was declared null and void, with no championship trophy awarded. The league had been suspended in March, with Invergordon four points ahead of second-placed Thurso with three games left.

Golspie were in third place, seven points behind with two games in hand on the leaders, while Orkney were also in contention.

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