As we begin a new Welfare season, TainThistle.co.uk looks back on the most successful season in the club's history. From the reintroduction of the Christopher Grant Trophy contested with Tain St Duthus to the visit of the HMS Sutherland and the Homecoming Cup, the infamous "Peeps is my hero" t-shirt, the Cordiner Cup win and the memorable league win.
Below we have a blow by blow account of the season, as it happened.
The Tain Thistle committee was represented by ten members at the club’s AGM. Niall Harkiss was re-elected as Chairman, with Alan Forsyth re-assuming the position of Secretary and Treasurer. The committee also agreed that James Rice and Steven Martin should assume interim organisation of the Welfare team, pending confirmation of an official team manager.
Tain Thistle officially re-registered for the Ross-shire Welfare League at a meeting of all Welfare clubs, chaired by Jimmy Patullo.
A team management meeting between chairman Niall Harkiss, interim coaches James Rice and Steven Martin and former manager Arron Christie was held, confirming Christie’s reappointment as manager of the Welfare team.
Manager of the Tain St Duthus XI for the upcoming Christy Grant Trophy match, Jim Jardine, announced a squad of 19 featuring Tain football veterans such as Alan Duff and DJ McCarthy.
Following an excellent hospitality dinner at the St Duthus Hotel, spectators at the Christopher Grant Memorial Trophy match watched Tain Thistle defeat Jim Jardine’s St Duthus XI by 6 goals to 2. Kenny Johnstone and Gavin Macdonald netted for the veterans, while goals for Thistle came from Bob Swann, Paul Cowie, Daniel Christie and Calum Macdonald - the latter scoring a hat-trick in his first game for the club since 2007.
Post match, St Duthus Hotel manager and son of Christy, Alan Grant presented Thistle captain Scott Innes with the trophy.
Throughout the day, the committee raised a substantial amount for the club, as well as raising £115 for Macmillan Nurses.
Tain Thistle’s Welfare league preparations began well as they coasted to 6-0 win over Embo in Sutherland. Returning winger Liam Rostock netted a hat trick, while Ally Macdonald, Robbie Ross and Arron Christie also scored.
The draw for the Ross-shire Welfare League Cup saw Thistle pitted at home against local rivals Inver.
Thistle’s Welfare preparations took a turn for the worse as Kraig Vass’s amateur Black Rock Rovers demolished an under strength Tain side, winning 5-0 at Grant Park.
Unable to bounce back straight away, Thistle fell 3-2 to new side Alness Athletic in another pre-season friendly, after going 2-0 up.
The same day, members of the Thistle committee began the first phase of a sponsored walk up Tain Hill.
April’s pre-season was rounded off in dire fashion as Invergordon’s Sutor Inn handed Thistle a third friendly defeat in a row; club secretary Alan Forsyth in goal unable to prevent the Sutor from netting twice to cancel out a Daniel Christie penalty.
Injuries to goalkeeper Steve Martin, striker Calum Macdonald and winger Darran Goller raised concerns for manager Arron Christie ahead of the club’s first competitive game of the season.
Goalkeeping errors and the absence of key players led to a 4-1 defeat for Thistle in their League Cup opener.
It was announced on Moray Firth Radio that Tain Thistle would play the football team of the HMS Sutherland, a Type 23 frigate of the Royal Navy on May 2nd.
Tain Thistle’s opening league match finished goalless, against Inver.
The Homecoming Cup was unveiled on the club’s official website, an attractive trophy to be played for between Thistle and the HMS Sutherland.
Tain Thistle soundly defeated the HMS Sutherland by 5 goals to 1 to win the Homecoming Cup.
Buoyed from their Saturday Cup win, Thistle got back to winning ways this Wednesday with a resounding 3-0 win over the Sutor Inn, avenging their pre-season defeat to go 3rd in the Welfare league.
Despite injuries to Mark Reid and Kiki Dingwall, Thistle continued their run of wins with a 2-1 win over Alness Athletic, coming back from 1-0 down with goals from Calum Macdonald and Andy Durrand.
Goals from Daniel Christie, Darran Goller and Liam Rostock as well as a brace for right winger James Rice led to a demolition of local rivals Balintore; the final result ending at 5-1. The win put Thistle joint top of the Welfare table along with Invergordon Social Club, who had got off to a very good start.
Making amends for their earlier cup exit, Thistle battled a stubborn Sutor Inn side to a 2-1 win at Grant Park, advancing to the Pattison Cup semi final in the process.
Rescheduled to avoid a clash with the Champions League final coverage, Thistle’s league tie with Dingwall’s Ross-shire Club ended in a 1-1 draw. Supersub Craig Nimmons provided the cross for Calum Macdonald to nod past the Ross Club keeper for an equalizer.
Thistle’s hopes of repeating their 2007 Pattison Cup winning feat were dashed as they lost 3-2 on penalties to a dogged Invergordon Social Club side in the semi final.
Thistle shrugged off semi final defeat with the 5-0 demolition of Cromarty. Darran Goller notched his first goal of the campaign, unveiling the infamous “Peeps is my hero” t-shirt.
Tain’s dominance continued in the league as semi final opponents from the past week, Invergordon Social Club, crumbled at home against Thistle. The game finished 5-0 with Thistle going two points clear of Balintore at the top of the table.
Thistle breezed into their second semi final of the season with yet another win over Balintore, this time 3-1 in the Cordiner Cup.
The intimidating small pitch at Portmahomack proved no problem for Thistle as they brushed aside rivals Inver with a 4-0 win in the league; Robbie Ross netting a hat trick along the way.
Tain Thistle re-registered for the North Caledonian Football league, now with the intent to play in both the league and cup campaigns.
A repeat of the Pattison Cup tie that saw Thistle eliminated saw the Cordiner Cup semi final took place between Tain and Invergordon Social Club, this time with Thistle the victors. Deadlocked at 2-2, it was Robbie Ross who powered a header past Barry Nimmons to record a 90th minute win for Tain.
Despite being 3-0 up, Thistle laboured their way to a 3-2 win against the Sutor Inn in the league, with reserve keeper David Matheson making an appearance for their absent Steve Martin.
Tain Thistle defeated Inver in the final of the Cordiner Cup, by 3 goals to 1 in blistering heat. Thistle won the cup after extra time was required to separate the sides.
The cup hangover combined with the absence of stalwart centre half Arron Christie saw Thistle lose in the league for the first time to a Jamie Macdonald inspired Alness Athletic, by 4 goals to 3.
Missing eight key players on Gala day, Thistle were again defeated, this time by Inver in the 1st round of the Seaboard Cup.
A combination of questionable refereeing decisions and poor luck cost Thistle dear in the league, as they fell 2-1 to Balintore; both of the seasiders’ goals coming from the penalty spot.
Training for the North Caledonian league team was held for the first time.
Thistle were robbed of a glorious 2-1 win over Ross-shire Club by Steve McCallum’s blistering 94th minute strike, which saw the Tain and Dingwall sides drawn level for the second time this season.
Thistle returned to winning ways in style with a sensational 9-0 win over Cromarty. Hat tricks from James Rice and Liam Rostock were complimented by a Robbie Ross header and two goals from substitute Craig Nimmons.
In Alness, Terry Stirling’s Athletic side held Ross-shire Club to a draw meaning that a win for Thistle in their final game against the Social Club would guarantee them the league title.
Tain Thistle were awarded a bye in the Coronation Cup, putting them into their third semi final of the season, following the withdrawal of the Sutor Inn.
It was announced that Tain Thistle would re-feature in Sports Interactive’s Football Manager game, for its 2010 release.
Tain Thistle made history in the Ross-shire Welfare league by winning their first ever League Championship, beating Invergordon Social Club by 5 goals to 1 to lift the shield.
Thistle lose out by 3 goals to nil to an inspired Alness Athletic in the Coronation Cup semi final.
Welfare affairs were concluded as Thistle won the Charity Shield with a 4-1 win over Ross-shire Club of Dingwall. Daniel Christie accepted the League and Charity Shield on the club’s behalf at a presentation, post-match.
Tomorrow, the eight teams registered with this year's Ross-shire Welfare Football Association will contest the first round of the Ross-shire Welfare League Cup.
Defending champions Alness Athletic will travel to Dingwall to play Ross-shire Club, while last year's other finalists Balintore will play host to Inver in what is expected to be a hotly contested derby. Terry Stirling's Alness side will be hoping to get off to a good start by defending their trophy in 2010 having made their mark by winning the trophy last year at the first time of asking, while Inver and Balintore, who have both handed out thrashings in the pre-season (to Vertex and Invergordon Social Club respectively) will be looking to reach the semis.
In the other two first round games, newcomers Dingwall Vertex will entertain last year's debutants Cromarty in a 12pm kick off (owing to both Dingwall sides being handed home draws), while Tain Thistle play Invergordon Social Club at Grant Park. Coaches Arron Christie and Steven Martin are both expected to be missing for Tain's opening tie against Jimmy Patullo's young Social Club side.
The North Caledonian FA's league fixtures concluded last night as Bonar Bridge hosted Dingwall Thistle, while Tain Thistle entertained league runners-up Muir of Ord. At Bonar, Dingwall recorded a 5-1 win, taking six points in what was scheduled as a double header. At Grant Park, Tain were soundly beaten by Muir, 8 goals to nil.
In other news, Fort William Reserves were unable to raise a team to play Bonar Bridge for the only other game outstanding in the league. As a result, the points from the game have been awarded to Bonar.
Tain Thistle finished their campaign with 15 points from 18 games, an eleven point improvement on their 2008/09 finish.
As the North Caledonian league season came to a close, Tain Thistle players and committee voted for the club's Player of the Season and Young Player of the Season.
Talented winger Darran Goller picked up the clubs' Young Player award, having scored 3 goals in 14 games for the club, while the club's most regular starter centre half Chris Mailley was voted Player of the Year.
Russell Lawrie, not present, was awarded the prize of Top Goalscorer.
On the back of two friendly wins, Tain Thistle now prepare to meet Jimmy Patullo's Invergordon Social Club side this Saturday in the Ross-shire Welfare League Cup 1st Round. The team will no doubt want to make amends for last season's 5-1 drubbing against Inver on the opening day of the season in the same competition, having brought together virtually the same squad as last year.
Assistant boss Steven Martin is expected to take charge of the game while manager Arron Christie remains on duty with Brora Rangers.
"We have a strong team going into this game but we wont have the depth we want until Michael Brand regains fitness and we can reintroduce Garry Perks and Liam Rostock in June."
"We'll hopefully have Daniel (Christie), James Rice and Colin Burry back in the fold this Saturday, strengthening from our side that played against Vertex."
Thistle and the Social Club enjoyed two highly competitive cup ties last season; the Invergordon side knocking Tain out of the Pattison Cup after a frenzied penalty shoot-out in Tain, before a 92nd minute Robbie Ross goal secured a 3-2 win and Thistle's place in the Cordiner Cup final three weeks later at Invergordon.
Tain Thistle and Invergordon Social Club's detailed head-to-head history can be viewed here:
The game takes place this Saturday, May 1st with a 3pm kick off at Tain's Grant Park.
Tain Thistle youngster Andrew Sutherland bagged a goal for the Ross Youth Group's football team this afternoon in the Jordan Ross Memorial charity game. The group of youngsters played against a select from Motherwell FC's Under 17s at Invergordon's Recreation Grounds. In a double bonus for Tain, Ayah Rattanaphithak grabbed the club's man of the match award.
The Ross Youth Group was established in April 2009 to encourage young people from the Easter Ross, Caithness and Inverness Area to get together on a regular basis to take part in different activities. One of their main activities is their football team who play regular friendlies and charity matches against different teams.
The Ross Youth Group are also currently looking for coaches to volunteer to help with the running of the team. Volunteers should contact Andrew McNeil on 01862 892592.
Tain Juniors' Under 17 side remaining on maximum points in the SWL Ross-shire Youth League this weekend after a Friday evening win over neighbours Invergordon.
Despite taking the lead through Stewart Shearer after twenty minutes, Tain found themselves 2-1 down at the break following a below par first half. The hairdryer treatment from coach Rob Nicolson sent the team out with a renewed desire and before long Keiran Cunningham had nicked a deserved equaliser. Tain had gained control and with ten minutes to go, captain Chris Gordon scored the winner to give Tain a 3-2 win.
Next week, the 17s travel to Dingwall in a much anticipated clash between last season's top two teams.
Thurso were crowned NCL Champions for the first time in seven years this afternoon, with a thundering 12-0 win over Fort William Reserves at Fort William's Sports Centre. Five goals from Stuart Mackenzie, a hat trick for Nigel Mackenzie, brace for Mark Nichol and two more from Jamie Mackenzie and Sean Munro completed the rout.
In other action, Golspie Sutherland beat Dingwall Thistle by 3 goals to nil and the SWL Cup final was played between Muir of Ord Rovers and Halkirk United, with the Rovers running out 2-0 winners in Thurso.
Tain Thistle ambled their way to victory this afternoon in a friendly match against Welfare newcomers Dingwall Vertex.
A below par and stuffy first half saw little action from either team with minimal chances being created. Andy Durrand opened the scoring early on however with a bounced effort over the away side's keeper to put Tain 1-0 ahead, before Vertex were able to cancel out the opener with a volley beyond Martin five minutes before the break.
The second half saw a change in pace from Tain, having introduced John Maclellan and Ayah Rattanaphithak to the game. Renewed attacking options meant that the Vertex back line had to be up the task on a number of occasions. most notably when Maclellan's near post effort flew inches wide.
The breakthrough came when Maclellan was fouled outside the box and defender-come-forward Robbie Ross blasted a 20 yard free kick into the roof of the net. Despite late pressure, Thistle held on for a ropey 2-1 win.
Tain Thistle's first competitive game will be this Saturday, May 1st against Invergordon Social Club in the First Round of the Ross-shire Welfare League Cup.
Steven Martin, Ryan Cowie, Andy Murray, Andy Sutherland, Robbie Ross, Martyn Farquhar, Brian Cameron, Andy Durrand, Mark Reid, Darran Goller, Lewis Montgomery
Subs (all used):
Davie Matheson, Ayah Rattanaphithak, John Maclellan, Stephen McGaw
Tain Thistle’s stalwart utility man, Andy Murray, despite appeals, has been forced to accept yet another birthday. Never afraid to stick a leg in, for Murray, tackling old age is no stressful feat.
“Each birthday is like the last these days. After a while you just get used to it, although I got a nice letter from the Queen today, so that made this one a bit more special.”
The hard-hitting Murray is certainly no stranger to a birthday. Speaking exclusively to the Tain Thistle website, he fondly recalled one of his more memorable birthdays.
“I canna mind the year eh. I think it was a Pattison Cup final, but I could be wrong. It was the year before Moses took the team and I made up a back three with Alexander the Great and the boy who made the wheel. I think I scored about eight that day, but back then the games used to last for ages, because the watch hadn’t been invented yet.”
“I was really pleased with that win though. It was the first cup I’d won since coming back from injury. I’d done my knee in and ended up missing most of the Jurassic period due to it.”
Murray will be brushing the cobwebs off to take the field in his final North Caley game of the season this coming Wednesday, in what is believed to be his 1,000,000th game – a record for any player in the league. It is expected that he will be awarded after the game with a plaque, and a bus pass.
Tain Thistle and Golspie Sutherland tied up loose ends in a fairly meaningless mid table fixture which saw neither team move up or down in the table. Golspie took a first half lead courtesy of a Shane Sutherland penalty, before Martyn Farquhar levelled for Thistle. Late goals from Kristof Mikula and Neil Stewart handed Golspie the points.
In the only other game played on Wednesday night, Muir of Ord Rovers kept the pressure on Thurso with a 2-1 win over rival side Dingwall Thistle at Jubilee Park. Ewan Dance and Martin Callum gave the Pavilion Park men a 2-0 lead before Michael Manson netted for the home side in consolation.
A closely fought encounter between mid table sides Golspie Sutherland and Tain Thistle ended with the points going to 'home' side last night, thanks to late goals from Kristof Mikula and Neil Stewart. Golspie had foregone their home advantage to play the game at Tain upon the request of the Ross-shire side.
The match was Tain's first North Caledonian fixture to be played as an evening game since they joined the league in July 2008. Assistant manager Ian Christie took the side for the game, having to contend with the suspension of Darran Goller while Michael Brand, Kyle Oliver, Russell Lawrie and Martin Smith were also injured/unavailable.
Thistle started the match brightly, surprising Golspie with a couple of chances in the first five minutes. Daniel Christie bettered his counterpart on the left wing to send a ball across the six yard box for Paul Cowie, but the midfielder failed to connect with the ball. Shortly after, a looped ball from Martyn Farquhar found an advancing Andy Durrand; goalkeeper Stephen Campbell up to the challenge with a save from close range.
Golspie took the bull by the horns as they reached the half hour mark however, forcing a number of saves from Steven Martin, most notably when Kristof Mikula powered an effort down the middle of the goal only for Martin to palm the shot away.
Thistle's good luck ran out on 33 minutes however as Mikula was felled on the edge of the box. Despite protests, referee Jason Hasson awarded a penalty to Golspie; Shane Sutherland making no mistake with the spot kick to give his side the lead.
Just before the half time break, Thistle again found themselves with a goalscoring opportunity, full back Andy Murray this time failing to turn and shoot in good time within the six yard box, after being played in by Christie.
Thistle will have felt aggrieved to have finished the first half a goal down having been their opponent's equal throughout. Despite the deficit, they were undeterred after the break, Durrand and Sutherland switching on the right flank to create new attacking opportunities.
Thistle's hard work finally paid off just before the hour mark when Craig Sutherland's persistent play down the right wing enabled him to find Martyn Farquhar in an advanced position; the midfielder slotting past Stephen Campbell with ease to make it 1-1.
The game eventually took its toll on Paul Cowie who is still carrying a knee injury and his substitution saw the introduction of youngster Ayah Rattanaphithak to the fold; the Thai winger impressing quickly with a series of runs down the left.
But it was Golspie's Mikula who had the final say on the outcome of the game, bursting past the Thistle defence to round Steven Martin and score. Thistle's protests that the Polish forward was offside were waved off.
A late chance for David Mackay following a burst forward from defence proved to be Tain's final chance of the game, as the centre half forced a save from Campbell. Neil Stewart had better luck at the other end of the park almost straight after however as he placed a shot beyond to Steven Martin to make the final score 3-1.
Thistle now have one game remaining in their North Caledonian league season, at home to Muir of Ord Rovers next Wednesday, with a 6.30pm kick off.
Martin, Durrand, Murray, Mackay, Mailley, Cowie (Rattanaphithak 64), Farquhar, Burry, D Christie, Sutherland, Cameron
Subs not used:
Martyn Farquhar 55
In North Caledonian league action today, Thurso all but confirmed themselves as 2009/10 champions with a 1-0 win over rivals Dingwall Thistle, thanks to a second half strike from Mark Nichol.
At Invergordon, Golspie Sutherland hit the home side for eight, Allan Campbell netting a consolation as his side were thumped 8-1. Elsewhere in Ross-shire, Balintore were soundly beaten by 6 goals to 1, by a confident Muir of Ord side; Martin Callum netting four times.
In the final game of the day, Halkirk Utd beat Bonar Bridge 7-1 to complete their league season, Luke Sawyer netting a hat trick along the way. Tain Thistle and Fort William were not in action.
Tain Thistle's Welfare side took on Inver in their first pre-season friendly this afternoon at the villagers' temporary home of Portmahomack.
Still waiting on the arrival of a number of players from Winter commitments, manager Arron Christie took the opportunity to introduce a group of talented youngsters promoted from the Under 17s, namely Andrew Sutherland, Ryan Johnston, Ayah Rattanaphithak and John Maclellan to the fray, combined with the core of the side who won the Ross-shire Welfare league title last year.
Exhibiting some good passing football, Tain took an early lead through Daniel Christie, as the midfielder dazzled Inver stopper David Crombie with a long range effort into the top corner. A second followed ten minutes later, as winger Darran Goller was fouled inside the box and referee Harry Corbett pointing to the spot. Christie made no mistake with the penalty to put Tain 2-0 ahead.
Full back James Rice and midfielder Darran Goller withdrew from the game early, seeing Ryan Johnston and Ayah Rattanaphithak introduced on about the half hour mark.
Thistle could have gone 3-0 up through the returning Colin Burry on two occasions, but the winger was unable to capitalize. Inver were not without their share of chances however; mostly notably when Tain Second XI star Chris Mailley rattled the cross bar for the home side.
Tain would have gone in 2-0 leaders at the break, were it not for a fortunate cross, which looped over Steven Martin into the Tain net, giving Inver a consolation before half time.
Tain started the second half as they began, winning a free kick to go 3-1 up after the restart; Daniel Christie netting again for his hat trick with the set piece, placed over the Inver wall into the top of the net.
With a quarter hour remaining, Inver assistant boss Darren Mackay showed some style of his own, pulling the score back to 3-2 with a classy effort looped into the top corner. Thistle were undeterred however and could have scored through Ayah Rattanaphithak, with the diminutive winger thwarted only by an oncoming David Crombie.
Tain managed to nick a further goal however; Rattanaphithak playing his former Under 17s team mate John Maclellan into space for the calmest of finishes to make it 4-2. A fifth followed soon after as Brian Cameron drove a ball into the bottom left corner from midfield.
Despite a 'meaty' atmosphere at times, Thistle's younger players showed great discipline and determination, never showing themselves to be overawed -- a credit surely to the great lessons learned under the coaches of the Ross-shire league winning Tain Juniors U17s.
Late on, Christie introduced substitutes Craig Nimmons and Michael Stein, along with reserve keeper Davie Matheson. Matheson was brought into action straight away however, having to tip an Inver effort round the post before a goalmouth stramash found its way into the net for Inver's third. Matheson was unlucky moments later as Inver pulled the scoreline back to 5-4. The stopper was able to block a shot at close range before being beaten by the rebound.
The scoreline remained at 5-4 despite late chances at either end.
Thistle's Welfare side are likely to travel to Dingwall this coming Saturday, April 24th for another friendly against newcomers Vertex.
Steven Martin, Ryan Cowie, James Rice, Mark Munro, Michael Brand, Martyn Farquhar, Daniel Christie, Brian Cameron, Colin Burry, Darran Goller, Dickie Durrand
Subs (all used):
Davie Matheson, Andrew Sutherland, Ryan Johnstone, Ayah Rattanaphithak, Michael Stein, Craig Nimmons, John Maclellan
Tain Juniors' Under 17 outfit continued their good start to the season tonight, with a comfortable 3-0 win over Alness United. A fortunate own goal combined with confident finishing from Stewart Greenlees and Keiran Auisal were enough for the Tain side, as they won their first three points in the SWL Ross-shire Youth League.
Playing on TRACC's 3G surface, the Juniors had dumped nine man Muir of Ord out of the John Maclean Cup at the start of the month thanks to a Dale Maver 25 yard strike. The 17s could not carry their winning form into the semi final however, losing 4-2 to Aird Athletic.
As many of his childhood teammates prepare to defend the Ross-shire Welfare league title for Tain Thistle, Ross Grant prepares to complete a different competitive journey with his current club Ross County, as they eye Scottish Cup silverware for the first time in their 81 year history.
Ross is one of the names on Tain’s increasing list of footballing sons, having grown up alongside fellow town players such as Martyn Farquhar, Michael Stein, Daniel Christie and Andrew Durrand – a group who came from similar beginnings at a young age, playing together when the chance arose while also learning under the Soccer 7s program run by Tain Juniors. But for Ross, his talent began at home.
“My Dad (John Grant) got me started when I was younger; he had me kicking a ball as soon as I could walk. He used to take me down to the local park or just in the garden. There wasn’t a lot of football played in the primary schools apart from the Soccer 7s.”
“I never moved onto elevens with Tain Juniors, as I got picked up by Ross County before I got the chance. I went to a County run event at the Tain Links when I was 12 and a short while after I got a letter through the post asking me to go to Dingwall for training. I’ve never turned back since and my Mum and Dad have both been great – they’ve spent a lot of time travelling and given me a lot to get me where I am today.”
Coming through the youth ranks, Ross transformed himself into a first team option for the club, making his debut against Brechin City at the age of 17. Ross made the jump from Under 19 to First Team in summer 2009/10, marking the day he signed his first professional contract by scoring County’s third and decisive goal in the Reserve Cup Final victory that evening. When recalling his brightest memories, he reserves special praise for his youth coach, David Kirkwood.
“After a couple of months training under David I felt like double the player I ever was. Derek Adams and Craig Brewster have both taught me a lot, as have many of the first team players, but I’d say that David has been the biggest influence on my career.
Also amongst his fondest memories will be the Staggies’ fateful visit to Hampden Park, when they cast aside competition favourites Celtic to reach the Scottish Cup final last Saturday.
”Coming off the bench against Queen of the South earlier in the season was one of my better memories, but beating Celtic has to be the best. The whole season has been really good. I’ve enjoyed training with the first team as there is a really good spirit at the club.”
“Dundee United will undoubtedly be favourites for the Cup final when we play them but I believe that will suit us. We have beaten Hibs and Celtic and we have shown what we can do. If we play the way we know we can then anything can happen on the day.”
Despite the excitement and glamour of the Scottish Cup however, Ross maintains a keen eye on the progress of his home town side, Tain Thistle, as they prepare for another Ross-shire Welfare season, this time as defending champions.
“It’s been hard through the winter to keep up with the team as I am involved with County on Saturdays, but I always try to get down to watch the games I can. I always make a point of texting Martyn (Farquhar) to find out the scores!”
“The team did very well last year. Tain has a lot of good players, and some great young players. Any time I’ve been down to watch, I’ve always been impressed by Michael Brand as well as players like Martyn Farquhar, James Rice – they have all stood out. If they can keep the players together, they have every chance of winning the title again. ”
After protracted discussions, Tain Thistle's only league winning manager Arron Christie has agreed to run the Ross-shire Welfare side into another summer campaign, flanked by assistant Steven Martin.
Christie was nominated as the club's Player of the Year in 2009, having also nabbed the Man of the Match award during Tain's Cordiner Cup win. As gaffer, Christie completed a treble by securing the Ross-shire Welfare league title and Charity Shield double for the first time in the club's thirteen year history.
In 2010, he will look to defend the championship -- a feat which few teams have managed to achieve in recent years. Thistle, however, will hope to be even stronger this year, buoyed by the return of forward Garry Perks from the US and youngsters Martyn Farquhar, Daniel Christie, Darran Goller and Andy Durrand benefiting from regular experience in the North Caledonian league.
Tain Thistle will begin their pre-season campaign on Saturday April 17th, with a pre-season meeting against rivals Inver at Portmahomack.
Tain Thistle were drawn into the Ross-shire Welfare cups last night, with the following matches set for the first rounds:
Tain Thistle vs Inv. Social Club
Inver vs Tain Thistle
Inver vs Tain Thistle
Cromarty vs Tain Thistle
Tain Thistle vs Inv. Social Club