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Title win stepping stone as Alness United aim high in North Caledonian League

Alness United, the League Two winners in 2020/21.
Alness United, the League Two winners in 2020/21.

Alness United are determined to make up for lost time and put up a real chase for the North Caledonian League title.

The four-times league winners took a year out in 2019 and were back last term for a campaign shortened by Covid as the leagues were split into two.

Alness were the champions of League Two, finishing four points clear of newcomers Nairn County reserves.

They were surprised and disappointed at the time to be placed in the second tier for a season, but got their heads down and won the title. 

Alness United were last season’s NCL League Two winners.

Now back in the 12-club set-up, they are eager to be highly competitive, albeit with a younger squad than they’re used to and will kick off on August 21 with a home derby against League One runners-up Invergordon.

MacCormack ready for tougher tests

Manager Robert MacCormack said: “We’re looking forward to being back in the bigger division. This is the league we want to play in and we’re ready to go.

“We understand it’s going to be a lot tougher this season, going to tough places like Thurso, over to Orkney and against Invergordon.

“It’s a challenge that we relish and we’re going to give it everything we’ve got to finish as high as we can.

“It’s a great league with teams spread all over the north of Scotland and we delighted it’s back in this form. We’re buzzing to get going.

“We’ve brought a few younger players in and we’ll have a younger squad this season. We’ve brought in players from the amateur leagues that we’ve looked at and I feel they can add something to the team.

“Although it’s a young squad, it’s one we can work on and hopefully be successful by the end of the season.”

Title trophy to be shown off

Fans will be back on the sidelines to back their teams next season and MacCormack hopes the locals will get a chance to see the silverware the club earned last term.

He added: “We’ve got a good community in Alness, who come to watch our games. It will be good to have them back, especially having done so well last season when people couldn’t come along (due to Covid).

“Hopefully we’ll have people come out to watch us and it’ll be good for everyone to get out and about. We have the trophy, so hopefully we’ll get the chance to do something with that to get our season started.”

Aiming for Highland League is goal

The pyramid play-off allows this season’s NCL champions to compete for a place in the Highland League alongside the winners of the North Junior Super League and the Midlands League.

Only current champions Golspie Sutherland are in a place to compete for that, should they retain their title.

MacCormack reckons it’s an incentive for many clubs, including his own, to go for in the future years.

Alness chairman Tommy Regan told the Press and Journal in June that their new floodlit pitch and facilities being built by Highland Council will put them in a position to target development within the next five years to take them into a play-off-ready position off the pitch.

The manager added: “The league having the pyramid system is absolutely fantastic. Credit is due to the league committee and those who have pushed that on.

“We’d all love to be in a position right now where we could all go for it, but it’s a longer-term ambition for Alness United.

“Who knows, one day it might just happen, but for now we’re just looking to be competitive in the North Caledonian League over the coming seasons.”

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