Bonar Bridge are shaping up well on and off the pitch and are looking forward to competing in a full North Caledonian League season from later this month.
The club had nine years away from competing in the league, but returned in 2019/20, albeit without collecting a point over the 14 fixtures completed before the pandemic disrupted the campaign.
Last season, with the NCL divided into two smaller divisions, they earned nine League Two points under the management of Scott Macgruer and Robbie Mitchell.
Now the NCL is back to one league containing a dozen clubs and Bonar Bridge kick off a week on Saturday away to Scourie, one week before hosting League Two winners Alness United.
2021/22 NORTH CALEDONIAN LEAGUE FIXTURES #NorthCaley
The fixtures for the 2021/22 @MacandMac28 North Caledonian League season have now be released.
Fixtures up to the end of 2021 can be found here https://t.co/sSTlH9fGjw
Roll on 21st August!! ⚽⚽⚽ pic.twitter.com/0e0bPU2pm0
— North Caledonian FA (@NorthCaleyFA) June 29, 2021
Macgruer explained improvements to their pitch and behind the scenes are giving everyone a lift ahead of kick-off.
He said: “We played Scourie in Dornoch last year because our park wasn’t suitable for it.
“We are getting improvements done to our pitch and hopefully improved drainage around the park, so fingers crossed that will help us get more games at home.
“Our changing rooms have also been redone and we hope they will be ready for a couple of matches into the season.
“The place has been revamped. The whole clubhouse has been worked on, with new windows and the inside has been ripped out and redecorated with new showers. The club is certainly moving forward and we’re looking forward to next season.
“It should be good this season, with more teams in the league again and more games.”
Boys put in the miles
The pandemic tested teams throughout the region, but Macgruer praised the efforts of the players, who put in the miles to ensure the club were competitive.
He said: “It was myself and Robert’s first year in charge of the club and the first year involved in the management side of the North Caley League, although I’ve played in the league for Alness, Invergordon and Balintore.
“It was a challenging season, but we had boys from Inverness, Dingwall, Conon Bridge, Scourie and all over. It was a brilliant commitment from them, making games and training.”
Amateur league players join up
And Macgruer hopes that an interruption-free year will assist consistency, while attracting players from the amateur leagues in Inverness has helped after losing their skipper to the champions.
He added: “In the short-term, we’re just looking to improve on last year. We’ll look to pick up more points as well as cut the deficit from some of our results last season.
“We didn’t start very well. Before the second lockdown, we picked up nine points and the boys were in a good place and we thought we were going in the right direction.
“The second lockdown hit us and we lost a few boys due to that and through work commitments. We lost our momentum.
“Hopefully it will be more plain sailing this year. We didn’t really have a settled squad last year. It was hard to get a settled 11 on the park, but if that improves then so should our consistency.
“We lost a few players, including our captain, Miller Mackay, who has gone to Golspie, but we have added a few from the Inverness amateur leagues, who are happy to come in and help us out and see what they can do.”