About The Club
Tain Thistle were first formed in 1997. The club concept (proposed by Brian MacAngus and Ronnie Mackie, bakers at Tain's Grants Bakery at the time) was based on a desire to have a team for the town's younger, unestablished players to compete during the summer months while Tain's senior team, Tain St Duthus, competed during the winter as members of the North Caledonian League. Historically, Tain had typically been represented in the amateur leagues by various combinations, but the latest of its teams had fallen into abeyance by the mid 1990s and in 1997, the "Jags" stepped in to fill the void. The name of "Tain Thistle" was chosen by MacAngus when the team registered for the Ross-shire Welfare league in 1997, after an initial suggestion of "Cabarfeidh Thistle" was rejected.
Gordon Burry and his wife Pat took on the initial organisation of the club, with Gordon handling the reigns as Team Manager, while occasionally taking to the field as a veteran player. As a result of Gordon and Pat's hard work, the club began playing in 1997, struggling through a first season, during which mostly all of it was paid for out of their own pocket. Players came and went but Gordon stayed true to his belief that if you trained with the team, you would play football. It took a while for the team to find their feet competitively, not to mention off the park - finding themselves playing at Fearn for a season before returning to their permanent home of the Links. It is estimated that over a hundred players were used during those years of adjustment, however there was no shortage of shining lights within the squad. Colin Burry, son of Gordon, Robert Ross, Darren Gilmour, Will Macrae and Calum Macdonald were just a few who established themselves at Tain Thistle in its early years. The club reached their first cup final at the start of the 2000 season, losing 3-1 to Inver in the League Cup Final. However, the proudest yet most heartbreaking moment for the club during the "Burry era" was the loss of the Coronation Cup Final in 2002, when Thistle finished runners-up against a much stronger Invergordon Social Club.
In 2003, Gordon stepped down as manager of Thistle to be replaced by the experienced coaching team of Billy Russell and Jim Robertson. Introducing a fresh approach, Russell guided the side to the upper half of the table, bringing a wealth of younger players through the ranks, turning Thistle into a force to be reckoned with. Setting a new standard with each season, Tain enjoyed their most prolific year yet in 2005, reaching no fewer than three cup finals, finishing 2nd to Invergordon Social Club in the league, and narrowly losing the end of season Charity Shield. It was during the Russell era that many of the clubs' longest serving and most successful players were brought into the club as teenagers, such as Garry Perks, Steven Martin, Paul Cowie and Arron Christie.
Russell's success was recognised by senior side Bonar Bridge and in 2007 he left to join the North Caledonian league team. Thistle appointed the temporary pairing of players Arron Christie and Robbie Ross, both still actively playing football, in a move that would actually set the foundations for many seasons to come. The relatively inexperienced combo surprised many, as they guided Thistle to their first ever trophy, defeating Ross Club 3-1 at Inver to win the Pattisons' Challenge Cup. Continuing the work Russell had began, the new management team assembled a young squad on the back of the successful Tain Juniors youth setup, with players such as Martyn Farquhar, Liam Rostock, Daniel Christie, Andy Durrand, Michael Brand and Darran Goller quickly becoming the backbone of the side.
The following year, with Thistle having moved to Grant Park to allow for the reseeding of the lower pitch at the Links, the Jags would have their closest brush with league success yet, missing out on the league title. After a hard fought campaign, Thistle fell just a point short of rivals Black Rock Rovers. Thistle made amends a year later though, when they went on to win their first ever Ross-shire Welfare League Championship in 2009, pipping Dingwall's Ross-shire Club to the post on the back of their capture of the Cordiner Cup that same year. The feat was a memorable one for many reasons, most specifically as the culmination of over twelve years of hard work from everyone involved with the club.
While Thistle plied their trade as a summer club, Tain St Duthus had continued to be Tain's sole representatives at a senior level as members of the North Caledonian "Second XI" league, and had done so since the 1970s. Thistle continued to co-exist with St Duthus until 2005, when, due to financial difficulties, Tain St Duthus were forced to withdraw from the league. Three years later, Tain Thistle made an application and were accepted into the North Caledonian league as Tain's newest representative, bringing senior football back to the Royal Burgh for the first time in three years. Under the management of Robbie Ross, Thistle finished 10th in their first season.
The club generated a much higher level of media interest than usual during their first "Second XI" season as a result of their inclusion in Football Manager 2009. Club chairman Niall Harkiss was interviewed live on the subject by Peter Allen from BBC Radio 5 Live and also appeared on BBC Radio Scotland's morning news programme, Good Morning Scotland. Tain Thistle were also featured on BBC Scotland's flagship television news programme, Reporting Scotland. Since then, software publishers Sports Interactive have continued to include Tain Thistle in each subsequent release of the game.
In 2009, new "Second XI" manager John Oliver led the Jags to an improved 8th place finish during the 2009-10 North Caledonian season, before the club opted not to renew their registration with the league in 2010.
Despite their two year flutter with the "Second XI" league, the Jags stayed true to their roots and continued to play as members of the Ross-shire Welfare FA under the management team of Christie and Ross, enjoying year by year success, winning the League Cup in 2011 and the Seaboard Cup in 2012, before announcing that they would be stepping down as a joint management team at the end of the 2012 season. Later that year, Thistle appointed Gary Ross as Manager - a player who had previously captained the side under Bill Russell. Against clubs from Cromarty, Contin and Dingwall, Tain Thistle took part in the Mid-Ross Challenge Shield mini-league during the autumn months, a competition which was first contested back in 1905, resurrected for contention in 2012. The Jags were successful in winning the shield with an unbeaten record after six games. Ross added to his success as manager by securing the Coronation Cup in June the following year. His successful first season was completed as he went on to secure the club's second Ross-shire Welfare League Championship after a thrilling 7-2 play-off win against Alness Athletic. Due to family commitments, Gary resigned at the end of that season, but the seeds had been sowed for the next generation of Thistle players to make their mark, with Alan Duff (Jr), John Maclellan, John Allan and Cameron Mackintosh among those to advance from the juniors setup.
Former Inver player and manager Darren Mackay was appointed Team Manager for one season in 2014, during which Tain Thistle won the coveted Graham Jardine Memorial Quaich for the first time, having lost out on four occasions prior to Balintore. Darren stepped down as Manager at the end of the season, prompting the re-appointment of Robert Ross, who returned to the club this time alongside assistants Scott Drylie and Ian Christie. Ross assembled a strong side for his return campaign and successfully captured the Seaboard Cup and the Cordiner Cup before steering the club to its third Ross-shire Welfare League Championship with a fantastic record of thirteen wins and just one loss - making 2015 undoubtedly Thistle's most successful season to date. The managerial merry-go-round continued though, as Ross resigned from his post in November later that year.
Starting a fresh chapter in the club's history, the committee appointed the young and ambitious Daniel Cormack as Manager in December 2015 in agreement that will see him in the post until at least 2017. His tenure got off to the perfect start when he guided the club to the Merrythought Cup in May 2016, defeating Alness United in a tense and engaging 2-0 win.
Where We AreThe Links Playing Fields
Shore Road, Tain
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