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Highland Football

Those who live in the area and those who know Scottish Football will need no introduction to the Scottish Highland Football League and other forms of football in the area.  The Highlands and Aberdeenshire support many different leagues. At local level there is welfare football made up of organised and affiliated pub and business leagues. Junior football is split into various leagues with a North Superleague and regional East and West Leagues.

Currently there are no facilities for promotion or relegation to or from the Highland League however plans are in place to change this. In recent years teams like Ross County and Inverness have departed the Highland League and performed consistently well at the highest level on the SPFL. Teams such as Elgin City and Peterhead have also joined the national league setup. New teams such as Turriff, Formartine and Strathspey have come form junior ranks to fill the voids left.

The Highland League was formed in 1894 with only Clachnacuddin and Forres Mechanics remaining as original members. Throughout the history of the league there have been various teams come and go and the league has changed size at various points settling at the current 18 team league. You can find out more about the Highland Football League here.

Skinner's Predictions Panel (2013-14) 12th: Buckie Thistle

Are our pundits' opinions beginning to split? We now have three different sides tipped to finish 12th, starting with reporter Andy Skinner who has predicted no movement in the position from last season's table. 

12th Place: Buckie Thistle  

Last Season: Prediction: 7th Actual: 12th     

P 34 W 13 D 7 L 14 GD -4 Pts 46   

Post Season Positives: 
The addition of some experienced players to the club, and significantly the return of two who have Buckie's double title-winning success etched on their CVs from previous spells at Victoria Park.

Post Season Negatives: 
The fact that the constant departure of players through the season has effectively made it a rebuilding job for Gary Hake since he took the job last summer. That has continued again with the addition of experience, purely as a reaction to the youthfulness of the side Thistle finished with last season. I'm sure Gary would have preferred to end the season with a clearer idea of what his team will be like next term. 

Key Man: 
Craig MacMillan. As the saying goes, goals win you games. Having Franny back at the club is a big boost for the Jags, who will know what to expect from him. A predatory finisher like Craig can make the difference in marginal games, or even games you don't deserve to win.  

Prediction 2013-2014: 
The last couple of predictions have been tough, and this one matches them every bit of the way. Buckie had no other option but to blood youngsters last season, and the kids will have taken a great deal from that experience, although they maybe need another year or so to fully gel into the physical demands of Highland League football. Each player Buckie have brought in this summer has a good level of experience, and that should help to take a bit of pressure off young shoulders. However, I don't think finding the balance between the two will be an overnight job, and Buckie may need to settle for another mid-table finish as the transition continues. 12th

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Skinner's Predictions Panel (2013-14) 13th: Keith

As the Predictions Panel series begins to cross into the meaty mid-table section, expect to see more disagreement and surprise over the coming few days. We are now at 13th place, and like yesterday three quarters of the panel have elected for the same team. Is reporter Andy Skinner one of them? 

13th Place: Keith

Last Season: Prediction: 10th Actual: 14th     

P 34 W 12 D 7 L 15 GD -9 Pts 43 

Post Season Positives: 
Some very neat recruitment work by Darren Still. As one would expect most of the talk has been about the following category, but it's important to recognise there have been some shrewd additions too, and all of whom have a good level of Highland League experience. 

Post Season Negatives: 
For the Maroons, this category speaks for itself. The loss of Cammy Keith leaves a major void up front, as it would for any team losing a player worth simply as many goals as he is. There are ways they can counteract the loss of Cammy, but there's no doubt it's a huge task. Keith also need to make Kynoch Park much more of a fortress again, Stilly will undoubtedly be expecting an improvement on their five home wins from last season. 

Key Man: 
Murray McCulloch. A player who came to the club with title-winning experience at Cove prior to Keith's League Cup success in May, Murray's graft and energy in the middle of the park will prove invaluable to the side. He will very much be one to watch as he continues to grow into the side he joined halfway through last season. 

Prediction 2013-2014: 
While I don't think losing Cammy will bog Keith down as such, it may well be the case they need to take time to readapt their style of attacking in order to compliment the forwards they have. As it stands they don't have the same level of predatory instinct up front, though not many ever did while Cammy was at the club. There is every chance Keith could seriously push on from their League Cup win against Locos in May, but like rivals Huntly yesterday I think they may just fall short of the top-half as the team continues to develop. 13th 

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Skinner's Predictions Panel (2013-14): 15th Strathspey Thistle

Of the clubs covered so far, Strathspey Thistle were the first who exceeded their predicted finish in 2012-13 as they came out with a club record 15th place finish in their 20th anniversary. reporter Andy Skinner considers what lies ahead for the Jags prior to the remaider of the panel offering their thoughts on who will end up in 15th place. 

15th Place: Strathspey Thistle 

Last Season: Prediction: 17th Actual: 15th    

P 34 W 5 D 0 L 29 GD -89 Pts 15  

Post Season Positives: 
Strathspey will approach the new season with momentum in their stride after the success of last season. The two Brians have done an excellent job at Seafield Park in putting together a very hard-working squad. They have added some experience to the frontline in the form of Iain Brooks, while on the other side of the coin they have youth such as Josh Peters and James McShane breaking into a side that last season finally claimed the long-sought after first Highland League away win. 

Post Season Negatives: 
It's difficult to pinpoint many negatives given Thistle's achievements last year, although they have lost a handful of players in the close season. The Jags will want to ensure they don't become victims of their own success by letting their expectation levels increase too much too soon. Brian has said all along it's a long-term project and that will continue.  

Key Man: 
Matteusz Bobrowski. The centre-forward is a dependable figure for the Jags and a big goal threat at that.    

Prediction 2013-2014: 
Thistle came on leaps and bounds last season, and to finish 15th was a very impressive achievement while smashing their record points tally. Steady progression is now the aim as they continually look to raise their Highland League stock. Off-field, attention has almost invariably been on making the ground improvements required for the desired SFA licence. The prediction is that Strathspey will play Scottish Cup football in 2014-15 following another season of promise. 15th

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Locos helpless to prevent Rossco retirement

Inverurie Loco Works have announced that veteran midfielder Craig Ross has hung up his boots with immediate effect.

Ross made his debut for Locos in 1998 having been signed from Middlefield Boys club, and became a mainstay for the Garioch side in their rise from the juniors into the Highland League in 2001.

He went on to become an integral part of a Locos team that won two Qualifying Cups, two Highland League Cups and an Aberdeenshire Shield in the naughties, and was rewarded with a testimonial fixture against Aberdeen in 2008.

A statement by Locos’ co-managers Kenny Coull and Scott Buchan – both former team-mates of Rossco at the club – broke the news while paying tribute to the midfielder.

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Pre-Season Friendlies Round-Up: 22-23 July 2013 / Formartine land Calder

Formartine United have completed the signing of former Elgin City and Inverness Caley Thistle goalkeeper John Calder on a two-year contract.

The player announced his move on his Facebook page at the weekend, prior to Monday's entertaining 3-3 draw against Dyce Juniors in which Mark Smith, Callum Bagshaw and Daniel Park were on target to give United a 3-1 lead before Dyce hit back.

On the same night Inverurie Locos beat Maud 2-0 courtesy of two Neil Gauld goals. Fraserburgh - who have extended the contract of Neil Main for another two years - beat Cruden Bay 2-1 and a 2-0 win for Keith away to Ellon United.

Tuesday's action saw Huntly fight back through two Andrzej Kleczkowski goals to draw 2-2 with Islavale, with Forres Mechanics defeating Deveronside 6-0. PMAC North Region First Division champions New Elgin battled out a 2-2 draw with Strathspey Thistle.

Skinner's Predictions Panel (2013-14) 14th: Huntly

The Predictions' Panel arrives at 14th place this evening, with three quarters of the pundits turning towards Christie Park for their choice, starting with reporter Andy Skinner. But who has deviated?

14th Place: Huntly 

Last Season: Prediction: 13th Actual: 13th     

P 34 W 14 D 3 L 17 GD -2 Pts 45   

Post Season Positives: 
Huntly have tied down the bulk of their existing squad on fresh terms. Dave McGinlay has re-established a sense of continuity which was badly needed upon his return to the club two years ago. That looks to have been mirrored behind the scenes with the appointment of a new board at Christie Park who appear to have established a good level of dialogue with the fans over the summer months. 

Post Season Negatives: 
The sheer competitiveness of the league appears to make it difficult for Huntly to compete where they dearly want to be. Nothing disastrous whatsoever, but with a somewhat youthful squad they perhaps lack the cutting edge to challenge for a top-half finish.     

Key Man: 
Michael Hart. Bringing in a player of his experience towards the end of the season was a huge boost for Huntly, particularly given how fresh he still is from playing Scottish Premiership football. A player whose leadership and organisation at the back will make a big difference.     

Prediction 2013-2014: 
Huntly have plenty areas of promise, but need to show more consistency in order to climb back into the top-half. However the rewards for retaining the core of their squad are bound to come in the future as was seen with Forres last year, as the togetherness and stability of the team will pay eventual dividends. But in similar fashion, Huntly need to be patient for a little while longer. 14th 

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Skinner's Predictions Panel - 16th: Lossiemouth

The pre-season predictions series continues with reporter Andy Skinner outlining his choices, before the team of pundits offer their thoughts. 

16th Place: Lossiemouth  

Last Season: Prediction: 15th Actual: 17th   

P 34 W 3 D 1 L 30 GD -73 Pts 10 

Post Season Positives:
A very similar scenario to Frani More at Rothes. Stevie Dunn has now had a few months to cut his teeth into management and will have a good feel for the task that lies ahead. Lossie have recruited some promising young players who have already impressed at fellow Highland League clubs. 

Post Season Negatives: 
Last season was disappointing for Lossie, and the rebuilding job will continue. Lossie lost a lot of influential players last summer, and the transition from that is still an ongoing process. Given the competitiveness of their geographical catchment area you can see just how hard a job that is. 

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League Table

Rank Teams Played Points Current form
1 Cove Rangers 24 66 WWWWD
2 Inverurie Locos 28 63 WWWWW
3 Fraserburgh 26 61 WWDWW
4 Formartine United 26 55 WLWWW
5 Forres Mechanics 26 51 LWLWW
6 Buckie Thistle 29 46 DLLWL
7 Brora Rangers 23 44 DLLWL
8 Huntly 27 42 LLDLW
9 Rothes 26 40 LWWWL
10 Nairn County 25 38 WWLWL
11 Clachnacuddin 30 37 WDWLL
12 Deveronvale 26 35 WLLWL
13 Wick Academy 24 32 DDWLD
14 Turriff United 24 27 LLLLW
15 Lossiemouth 28 14 LWLLL
16 Keith 28 11 LLLLL
17 Strathspey Thistle 24 10 LDWLW
18 Fort William 24 2 LDLLL

Recent Results

17-03-2018 15:00 - Breedon Highland League Cup Quarter Finals
Keith 1 : 2 Brora Rangers
17-03-2018 15:00 - SHFL Week 32
Forres Mechanics 1 : 0 Buckie Thistle
Fort William 1 : 4 Huntly
Inverurie Locos 9 : 1 Lossiemouth
Nairn County 1 : 2 Formartine United
Turriff United 1 : 0 Clachnacuddin
Cove Rangers 1 : 1 Wick Academy
14-03-2018 20:00 - Breedon Highland League Cup Quarter Finals
Formartine United 7 : 0 Strathspey Thistle
14-03-2018 20:00 - SHFL Week 31
Cove Rangers 1 : 0 Brora Rangers
Forres Mechanics 2 : 1 Wick Academy
Fort William 0 : 2 Nairn County
Clachnacuddin 1 : 2 Fraserburgh
10-03-2018 15:00 - Breedon Highland League Cup First Round
Strathspey Thistle 2 : 2 Huntly
10-03-2018 15:00 - Breedon Highland League Cup Quarter Finals
Forres Mechanics 1 : 3 Cove Rangers
Nairn County 3 : 4 Fraserburgh
10-03-2018 15:00 - SHFL Week 31
Inverurie Locos 5 : 1 Deveronvale
Turriff United 1 : 2 Wick Academy
Brora Rangers 3 : 0 Keith

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