CLIVE’S NEWSLETTER – MARCH 2021

Club Chairman Donly McLeod and Secretary Clive Wolstenhome

    Strathspey Thistle FC – March 2021

March 2The SFA (Scottish Football Association) is waiting for a ‘final decision’ from the Scottish Government on when the divisions below the Championship can restart. Part-time professional football below the second tier, including SPFL, Leagues One and Two, the Highland and Lowland Leagues and the top two tiers of the domestic women’s game, have been on hold since January 12.

March 3. First minister Nicola Sturgeon has given the go-ahead for the bottom two tiers and SWPL 1 to return, with players to be tested before games. “We hope to be back playing games within a couple of weeks,” said Stenhousemuir Chairman Iain McMenemy. We will have to wait a little longer before we know if our season will start or be cancelled.   

The club are pleased to announce that local lad mid-fielder James McShane has agreed a contract extension until June 30 2022. James has been with the club since 2010. He was a youth player at Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

15. James McShane

The Scottish FA Board has announced that the Scottish Cup is to resume on Tuesday March 23 including the clubs from the Highland League. The Cup Final will be held at Hampden Park on Saturday May 22 and will bring down the curtain on the 2020/2021 season. The competition will see the introduction of concussion substitutes on a trial basis, following approval by the Scottish FA Board and FIFA. The Highland League teams left in the cup are Brora, Nairn, Keith, Huntly, Fraserburgh, Formartine and Buckie.

March 5. Huntly boss Allan Hale feels Highland League clubs have been “backed into a corner” over the return of the Scottish Cup. The seven Highland League clubs were given little notification, according to Hale, of the proposed March 23 return, when the outstanding second round ties are due to be played. He feels the cost of the three rounds of Covid-19 testing required to take part in the competition will be higher than estimated. Huntly play Dumbarton on March 23. Thanks to The Press and Journal for this story.

A meeting of the League Management Committee has been called for Thursday March 11 to discuss what is going on between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Football Association with regard to SHFL clubs taking part in the Scottish Cup, covid-19 testing and costs and if there is a chance to complete the season or call it a day and move on. Should be an interesting evening.

March 11. No update on a date to re-start the Highland League from the Scottish Government so the wait goes on.

March 12. In today’s Press and Journal an interview with Highland League secretary Rod Houston. 

March 13. An update from Donate-a-Ticket is a reminder that it is a year since Scottish football closed down.

March 16. Article published onBBC Football website by Brian McLauchlin indicating that Rangers and Celtic could be entering B teams in the Scottish league division 2 next season. 2 teams from the Highland and Lowland Leagues could also be joining league 2. 

Highland League secretary Rod Houston admits it is ‘difficult’ to see a restart at this stage, but says nothing has been ruled out. Clubs in Leagues One and Two are set to resume on March 20 having agreed to carry out coronavirus testing on their players and staff. The seven Highland League clubs left in the Scottish Cup have also agreed to do this to participate in the competition, however to resume the league campaign carrying on with testing would place too big a financial burden on clubs. Testing remains the central issue and until that gets resolved which would make it less of a financial commitment then it’s difficult to see a restart. Thanks to Press and Journal for the story.   

March 23.  What a wonderful evening for Highland League clubs in the second round of the Scottish Cup with victories for Brora Rangers over Championship leaders Hearts at Dudgeon Park and Formartine United winning on penalties over Annan Athletic of League 2. Buckie Thistle came very close to taking Inverness Caley Thistle to extra time but went down 3-2 to a Daniel Mackay winner in the 86th minute. On April 3 in the third round Brora take on Stranraer, Fraserburgh play Montrose and Formartine play Premiership club Motherwell.  

March 252,500 pay-per-view customers watched the game between Brora and Hearts on Tuesday.

March 29.  At tonight’s meeting of the Highland League Management Committee  it was decided to call a halt to season 2020/2021 because it could not see a viable way to finish it in a reasonable time. The hope is that this decision will allow preparations for season 2021/2022 to go ahead and provide circumstances for a return to more normal activity. Brora Rangers were declared champion club for season 2020/2021. Brora have been put forward as the SHFL’s nominated club for the SHFL.SLFL/SPFL play-offs. They will play Kelty Hearts from the Lowland League home and away and the winners will play the bottom club from league 2 Team (42). 

March 30.   The following players are contracted to the club for season 2021/2022. Ashley Ballam, Kieran Chalmers, Adam Crichton,  Joe Cuthbert, Martin Duncan, Roddy Kennedy, Cameron Lisle, Michael MacCallum, Andrew MacLean, Liam McDade, and James McShane. Craig MacKenzie has signed until June 2023.

Donate-a-ticket have been fundraising for 12 months and have raised £319,878.00 for 131 UK clubs and so far £779 for Strathspey. It remains open for the time being so please consider donating a ticket to STFC.

Chris Race

March 31. Chris Race announced his resignation from the club’s management committee. He has contributed to the clubs’ establishment in the Highland League and we appreciate his efforts helping the club to where it is now. 

The club website had 371(287) views during March. Twitter 1196(1174) followers and Facebook 1551(1551). Brackets are February figures.                              

SEASONS END

And just like that, the season is over.

We can only hope that next season will be bigger and better than ever.

Never again will we take football for granted. A massive thank you for all the support and voluntary work received from our fans.

Our sponsors deserve a massive round of applause for financial backing in times of hardship.

We will be back 💙⚽️

This is the statement from the The Highland League 30 March 2021 :

Highland League – Season 2020-2021

The Highland League League Management Committee met last evening to take stock of season 2020-2021 and the prospects of completing the planned fixture programme.

In view of the circumstances the meeting decided to call a halt to season 2020-2021 because it could not see a viable means to finish it in reasonable time that would allow appropriate preparations for season 2021-2022. The clear hope is that the new season will provide circumstances that enable a return to more normal activity.

The LMC also decided to honour its obligation to the Scottish Football Pyramid by declaring Brora Rangers FC the champion club for 2020-2021.

For more information please visit the Leagues’ Facebook page

or

http://www.highlandfootballleague.com/News/Item/2016_Highland_League_-_Season_2020-2021.aspx

CLIVE’S FEBRUARY NEWSLETTER

                         

February 2. The club were pleased to announce that midfielder Kieran Chalmers had agreed a contract extension until June 30 2022. Kieran joined us from Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

22. Kieran Chalmers

February 3. Message was received from Ian Maxwell, Chief Executive of the SFA making it clear how important in the current situation is accurate temperature testing for everyone entering a ground.

February 7. A meeting of the Highland League Management Committee via Teams at 7pm on Thursday 11th February 2021 has been called. The reason for calling this meeting is that the SHFL/SLFL group meeting with the Scottish FA has been recalled for Tuesday February 9. The Scottish FA is due to make an announcement on the suspension of football on Tuesday February 9.

February 9. SFA released a statement that the Scottish Government has decided that the suspension of football will remain suspended until a review is carried out o March 1.The Management Committee of the Highland League had planned to meet on Thursday 11th via Teams but decided to put back the next meeting after it was confirmed to the Highland and Leagues that the drive for continued suspension had come from the Scottish Government. These remain uncertain times will remain with us until indications at the end of the month.

February 12. In today’s Press and Journal Paul Lawson manager of Formartine United wonders if the season will be completed as all football below the Championship remains suspended until March 1 at the earliest. The Highland League started on November 28. He appreciates all the hardwork that has been undertaken by everyone behind the scenes to have got games on. With the current suspension he thinks it is going to be increasingly difficult to see how The Scottish Cup could be completed.

February 17. The club were pleased to announce that 20 year old defender Ashley Ballam had agreed a contract extension until June 30 2022.  Ashley joined us from Elgin City on August 11 2020.

4. Ashley Ballam

February 19.  The Highland League have called a League Management Committee meeting for Monday March 1st to discuss the Scottish Government ‘route map’ out of the current lockdown which are due week commencing February 22. Also in today’s Press and Journal interviews with our Team Manager Gordie Nicolson and Highland League Secretary Rod Houston.

https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/sport/football/highland-league/2866120/highland-league-strathspey-th

https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/sport/football/highland-league/2906998/possible-highland-league-return-cant-be-

February 27. Update from donate-a-ticket.com that the current total raised from 131 clubs is £309,343. 

NB: At the meeting of the Highland League Management Committee on the evening of March 1 it was reported that there was still no news from the Scottish Government on the return of football for the leagues below the Championship.

JANUARY 2021 NEWSLETTER

From Club Secretary, Clive Wolstenholme :

Strathspey Thistle FC – January 2021 Newsletter

  • After a difficult 2020 we hoped to finally start the 2020/2021 season with a home game with Lossiemouth on January 2 but after some heavy snow falls together with freezing temperatures the game was called off the night before.
  • January 9 saw the club complete the signing of midfielder Struan McArthur on a non-contact basis. That date also saw our scheduled game at Deveronvale called off at 8.30am due to a frozen pitch.
  • The Scottish Football Association announced on Monday January 11 that the Highland League was to be suspended until January 31 when the position would be reviewed. This suspension applied to all leagues below the Championship and Premiership. That evening the Highland League management committee met and discussed the playing suspension.
  • The club also decided that because of the new lockdown criteria the lottery was to be suspended until further notice.
  • It was decided on January 12 to put the players back onto furlough for the foreseeable future until a clearer indication was given as to when training, and then matches, could resume.
  • An email received from Donate A Ticket reminding everyone that they were still processing donations for those clubs signed up.
  • On January 21 it was announced that Michael MacCallum had agreed a contract extension until July 30, 2022.
  • On January 23 the Scottish Government announced an extension of the current lockdown until  February 13/14.
  • The club website had 621 views and 279 visitors during January which is a reflection of the improvements made. Twitter has 1170 followers and Facebook 1554 followers… and we received two enquiries during the month, from Liverpool and Dumfries, for club lapel badges. Thank you!

AWAY MATCH v DEVERONVALE FC – 9 Jan 2021

The Club travel to the Princess Royal Park in Banff for Saturday’s Breedon Highland League encounter with Deveronvale.

Good luck to the boys and the management team in what will be our first competitive match since our Scottish Cup tie with Buckie Thistle on the 12 December, and our first competitive league game since 7 March 2020.

Again in adherence with the Scottish Government and Highland League CoVid 19 restrictions, no supporters from either club will be allowed to spectate.

Hopefully the weather will be kind……

TOMMY DOCHERTY RIP

When the passing of football legend Tommy Docherty was was announced last week, local club historian Rob A Clark got in touch with the following photograph and text featuring Mr Docherty’s visit to Grantown’s Waterford Hotel in 1995 as a guest of the then Strathspey Thistle Junior Football Club’s annual fundraising Sportsman’s Dinner. Rob’s two memories of that night are of Tommy Docherty being on top form and was very willing to speak with everyone and secondly, Bill McAllister’s high praise of how far STJFC had came in such a short time.

Pic shows l to r : M.C. for the night former Grade One Referee and current General Manager of Peterhead FC Martin Johnston, Strathspey Thistle Chairman at the time Graeme Mackie, the late Tommy Docherty, Strathspey Thistle Player / Manager at the time Donly McLeod, Highland football journalist Bill McAllister and then Secretary of Strathspey Thistle JFC and match day reporter for the local newspaper, local author Rob A Clark. 

Someone has commented that Mr Docherty must have been on top form when you see current chairman Donly’s reaction…..