The 2013 Breedon Aggregates Highland League Cup Final between Keith and Inverurie Locos features two former Scottish Semi Professional Internationalists at different stages of their Testimonial seasons but only one will be celebrating at the end of today’s game
Maroons central defensive stalwart Kris Niddrie recently played in his Testimonial Match against Aberdeen FC at Kynoch Park having oozed a combination of blood, sweat and tears in over 310 appearances for his club. The unassuming Big Nidds has won a Highland League title, two Highland League Cups, two Aberdeenshire Shield medals and one in the Aberdeenshire Cup. A Race Night at Ferryhill Community Centre on Saturday 22nd June will be the final event of his Testimonial season.
The curtain is about to come down on a great career, Glentanar Juniors and Montrose the other clubs he has given service to up to coming to Keith in 2003. The Project Manager with a major seabed to surface engineering, construction and services company recently announced he will be hanging up his boots at the end of the season and you can be guaranteed that if selected, he will be giving his all to help his club win their first silverware under Darren Still
There is a similar theme in the Red and Black corner. Four years into the Kenny Coull and Scott Buchan regime at Harlaw Park, the duo are desperate to collect their first silverware as managers. Another link is that just as Niddrie and Still were side by side in the Keith successes of the noughties 31 year old Neil McLean has had Coull and Buchan as playing colleagues on various occasions in collecting his medal haul
Back to back League Cups for Locos against Cove Rangers in 2008 and Fraserburgh a year later, successive Qualifying Cup wins 2004 and 2005, the SFA Challenge Cup, the Aberdeenshire Shield. All have been collected since the all rounder affectionaly known as “Nacho” came to the Garioch club.
There have been a few heartbreakers along the way, runners up positions rather than winners, the biggest one for the former Elgin City man who had been one of the first youngsters to win a football scholarship in USA…….. being pipped at the post by Keith for the League Championship title in 2007
One of three times Locos have came second in the League and as the McLean Testimonial season swings into action, winning that elusive medal will drive him on next season. A Testimonial match is in the planning stages, a Testimonial Dinner date fixed for Saturday 19th October. It will be a fitting reward for the player who has captained his country in Home Nations Tournaments, has played in central midfield, as a two footed winger but more recently for his club, alternating between left back and sweeper
So then who will it be today “Nidds” or “Nacho”, whoever wins and whoever loses, you can be guaranteed there will be a warm handshake between the two who can justifiably lay claim to being regarded as club legends
Roll on 3.00 for the big kick off at Princess Royal Park, Banff.