The Scottish Highland Football League

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From Steve Smith

North Leigh FC  (member of the Zamaretto Southern League)

For many years I have followed and read of the proud history and traditions of the Scottish Highland League and its clubs, my copy of 'Highland Hundred' , the book of the history of the league being well-read !

Last week whilst on holiday, I had the pleasure of attending my first ever Highland League fixture, and I would like to thank Clachnacuddin FC for a very warm welcome, they proved to be marvellous hosts, and I have paid tribute to their 'Highland League welcome' in an article for my own club's website, see below.


While North Leigh travelled to the suburbs of London for their opening day fixture at Uxbridge, your usual match-day reporter was 525 miles north, in Inverness, at the Grant Street Park home of Clachnacuddin FC, founder members of the Scottish Highland Football League, which is Britain's most northerly senior football league.

For those of you intrigued by some of the club names and leagues that roll through the television vidi-printer during the results round-up, the Highland League, founded in 1893, has 18 clubs spread mostly between Inverness and Aberdeen. Although there is no automatic promotion or relegation to the Scottish League, in recent years a number of Highland League clubs have made the step up, including Ross County, Elgin City, Peterhead, and Inverness Caledonian Thistle, that club being a merger of two Inverness clubs, Caley and Thistle.

That merger left Clachnacuddin as the sole Inverness based Highland League club, and having been formed in 1886, the Lilywhites have a long and proud tradition. Having said that, they face just the same off-field problems as we do down here in Oxfordshire - competing with live televised games to attract spectators through the turnstile, ongoing canvassing of local businesses for sponsorship, and a small band of willing volunteers working tirelessly to keep the 'show on the road' week in week out.

One man in particular stood out as I attended the Clachnacuddin versus Strathspey Thistle game, club secretary Gilbert Skinner, a very busy 'Pete King' type of character, who in between doing 101 different things on a home match-day still managed to find time to welcome me to Grant Street Park and provide me with some useful feedback on the history of the club and the day-to-day issues in keeping a senior football club in action year after year, season after season.

As well as receiving a very warm welcome off the park, I was also treated to a goal-feast on it, as the Lilywhites showed no mercy to league new-boys Strathspey Thistle, romping into a 7-0 lead after just 38 minutes, although the visitors were more resilient after the break to leave the final score 8-0 to Clach, who are currently in sixth place in the table after four games.

So if any of you take a holiday up in the Highlands, take time out to visit Clachnacuddin FC, where you will be assured a very warm welcome off the park, and probably a few goals on it too ! Many thanks again to everyone at Grant Street Park for your welcome, and in particular to Gilbert, man-of-action in many areas !

For more information on both Clachnacuddin and the Scottish Highland League, visit the respective websites below.........

Steve Smith
North Leigh FC

News Date 25/08/2009