Monday 9th August 2021 ko 19.00
Inverness & District Amateur League-Premier Division
LOCH NESS 2 (Ingram 35 Fraser 90p)
Houston sent off 90 (DOGSO- handball on goal-line)
Att c70 at Bught Park Pitches, Inverness
I’d lined up 5 games during our stay in the Highlands and really didn’t expect to add to my list. This wasn’t going to be a groundhopping tour, more a holiday with a match taken in where convenient. I am though part of a Scottish Football WhatsApp group and they pointed out this fixture. Since Bught Park is less than a mile away from where we were staying it would have been rude not to have come along !
I’d also recommend the superb Scottish Football Fixtures site which seems to be able to find fixtures other places can’t. Scottish non league can involve fixtures being set with only a week or two’s notice, so the site is invaluable.
I also sought out exactly what I was watching because it really wasn’t straightforward. In the North of Scotland many amateur leagues are summer leagues- it makes sense with the relatively small amount of light and poor weather in winter. Loch Ness have played all of their 20-or-so year existence in the summer Inverness Amateur League but have now entered a team in the North Caledonian League. That league is a winter league, and from this season a feeder to the Highland League. The upshot was I was watching a side that could win their league with this game if results fell their way, but wouldn’t start their other league for over a week!
If ever a side was playing in the right place it’s Loch Ness. Bught Park is on that part of Inverness that is on an island formed from Loch Ness to the south, the River Ness to the east and the Caledonian Canal to the west. The place is huge- it used to by the gardens for Lord Bught’s stately home, long since demolished, but unquestionably its the shinty club’s stand here that will catch the eye.
It is huge, the fenced off facility has a capacity of 5,000 and was once briefly home to now-defunct Inverness City once of the North Region Juniors. In 2009 the Highland Council moved them off of the nearby Northern Meeting Park to here, but failed to ask the Shinty club first. The impression I got was that Shinty regarded the imposition in a similar way to GAA clubs view “Foreign Sports” on their grounds. Perhaps a stadium that routinely hosts the Camanachd Cup Final staging football was a little too much for them?
This game was played at one of no end of pitches here, Bught Park in some ways is Inverness’s version of Hackney Marshes and I had a choice of games, Tomatin played IRN on one pitch, but let’s face it, I couldn’t have headed for home without having found Nessie!
There were other good reasons to watch Loch Ness though. Firstly they are good, no make that very good at social media, and yes there are replica shirts for sale. Their Twitter feed made me smile, the first goal was described thus,
“Ingram.. slipped it in like Ron Jeremy.”
If you don’t know who Ron Jeremy is, then please don’t Google it on a work PC…
Humour aside the match-up was attractive, top versus second and a win would take Loch Ness 7 points clear and have one hand on the title. Unsurprisingly the game was tense, and sometimes not the easiest to watch with what was riding on it. Loch Ness won, but the margins were fine adding up to two defensive errors- a misplaced pass and a handball on line being the sum total of it.
For the first time for a while I felt I was on a steep learning curve, I haven’t watched a Scottish Amateur game for quite a while, and this was certainly the most northerly! All the best to Loch Ness as they go on their next big adventure, after all they did answer the great question about the famous loch, does the Loch Ness Monster exist?
Of course it does, it just hides at the top of the football team’s badge!!