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Inverness Athletic switch from Muir of Ord to Ardersier ahead of North Caledonian League kick-off

Cromal Park, Ardersier, where Inverness Athletic will play their home matches this season.
Cromal Park, Ardersier, where Inverness Athletic will play their home matches this season.

Inverness Athletic chairman Sandy Stephen is thrilled to have secured a switch to Ardersier as the new North Caledonian League season draws close.

The Highland capital club don’t have a permanent base and have just finished a second spell based at Muir of Ord, where the village’s Rovers are fast expanding.

The growing use of the pitch at Muir of Ord led to Athletic needing to find a new venue for the 2021/22 campaign at least and Stephen tapped into his contacts and struck a deal with Cromal Hill Recreation Club and Ardersier Football Club.

It means Cromal Park in Ardersier will be the home of Inverness Athletic, whose under-20s are also flourishing as well as having a team competing in the Inverness and District Amateur Leagues.

Stephen, who is looking forward to his teams having fans to play in front of again, was keen to thank the coaches at Muir of Ord for being such welcome hosts over the years.

Grateful to the team at Muir of Ord

He said: “We have had two spells at Muir of Ord, the most recent being over two seasons during Covid. We had a season and a half there before then we went to Inverness Royal Academy.

“We only ever plan season by season because we understand things change. We’re just renting these facilities until such times where we can find our own venue.

“Muir of Ord have ramped up their youth and community work and the pitch couldn’t be used for our games as well as their work on that side of things. We always knew we wouldn’t be there forever.

“We were really grateful that Muir of Ord let us use it in the first place. With Leonard Fraser and Martin Godwin there, we couldn’t have asked for better people to be there to help us.

“That was during our first few years as a football club and it was great for us to have that experience to lean on.”

Welcome to Ardersier

Stephen got in touch with the Ardersier community and found they were more than happy to help.

He added: “I have been involved in summer football for a long time and spoke to a couple of contacts and put the idea of moving to Ardersier to them and they seemed to go for it.

“Again, it’s just for this season at the moment. It might extend to more than that, but we’re still going one season at a time.

“It’s a good set-up there and the changing rooms have just been done up. Ardersier is a good community and they are all good guys there.

“So much work goes on in the background to make a move like this happen and our committee have put in a power of work. All we want to do is raise the profile of the club and make it better.”

Club ‘will stand on own two feet’

Searching for a fixed home in Inverness itself is a long-term project for the five-year-old club, but Stephen stressed that Athletic are never going to whine about having to keep moving for now.

He said: “We’re still looking for a more permanent home, but that will come in time. We have never, as a football club, been screaming and shouting saying people owe us a pitch.

“It has never been like that. It’s about us standing on our own two feet. No one owes us anything. It’s about us trying to work with people to buy into what we’re doing, even if it’s for a couple of seasons.”

The new North Caledonian League season kicks off on Saturday, August 21 and Athletic start away to champions Golspie Sutherland, before Orkney are the first visitors to Ardersier seven days later.

The Athletic chief said: “We’re looking forward to getting back. We have some tough opening games, starting away to Golspie – a nice easy start.

“We also have our 20s starting their first season in the under-20 league, so it’s looking good.”

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