Invergordon were stopped on the title track by Covid two years ago as they closed in on winning the North Caledonian League.
Last season, with the league split in two as a result of the pandemic, the Recreation Grounds side finished four points adrift of League One champions Golspie Sutherland.
Again, they led the way until play was halted by the pandemic and they failed to find their spark when the action resumed.
The club were the top team in 2016/17, but Orkney then Golspie have been the champions since.
So, are they ready to grasp back the championship crown to prevent a third successive ‘official’ Golspie success?
— North Caledonian FA (@NorthCaleyFA) August 18, 2021
Manager Gary Campbell, who has bossed the club for five years, insists the club are ready to run and battle for the crown once more.
He said: “Two years ago, we were clear at the top with two games to go and the season was stopped. Last season, we were clear when the season was halted again.
“We then never picked up after the restart and Golspie went on to win it. We had a terrible period, so we’re looking forward to getting going again.
“There are a few new teams that we’ve not played yet, so that will be good.
“We have another strong squad and we expect to be up there again. We’ve been second a couple of times now when we perhaps only had ourselves to blame.
“We’ve had good cup runs though and we’ve probably been the most consistent team over the last four or five years. That counts for nothing now though.”
Eyes on prizes at Invergordon
Campbell explained that the club are looking to add younger talent to their pool and give them a chance to shine.
He added: “At this level, players can jump around clubs willy-nilly, so we’re trying to bring through some younger ones and integrate them, so hopefully we’ll still be strong.
“We’re not in it just to take part and we want to be competitive for trophies and leagues. There are a few really strong teams in the league though and I can see a couple to come through stronger this season.
“I fancy Thurso as dark horses and Orkney could be up there. Since I have been involved, it has been ourselves, Orkney and Golspie up there, but Halkirk are coming again, the two Caithness teams, and there could be another surprise package.
“Loch Ness have won the Inverness Amateur Premier League this summer and there won’t be easy games. It will be tight.
“We just want to get a settled squad, get started and see who is the most consistent and, with a wee bit of luck, we’ll hopefully be up there.”
Derby opener with trip to Alness
And what a way for Invergordon to get their season started. They are away to Alness United in derby action, with their hosts winning the League Two title last season after one year out of the association.
Campbell added: “It’s a tough start and it’s certainly a game both teams will want to win for the bragging rights.”