Picking my Press and Journal Highland League team of the year gets harder every time and the 2017 task was no exception.
The selection is based on performances from January to December and I have gone for the players who have shown the most consistency over the 12 months of 2017.
There are some excellent goalkeepers in the Highland League.
Forres Mechanics number one Stuart Knight has been pushing hard for a place in my team of the year over the past few seasons.
I’m going to give him the nod this time after some superb displays, although Cove’s Stuart McKenzie, Brora Rangers’ Joe Malin, who has missed much of this term through injury, Turriff United’s ever-dependable Kevin Main and a rejuvenated Andy Reid at Inverurie Locos also impressed during 2017.
Cove Rangers captain Eric Watson is the first name on the teamsheet.
He is a tough, uncompromising leader of men and he walks straight into the team.
His central defensive partner is inspirational Turriff United skipper Cammy Bowden, who has played through the pain of a troublesome knee injury for much of this season. That commitment as well as his defensive abilities earns him a spot, edging out Buckie Thistle’s Lewis MacKinnon, Cove’s Darryn Kelly and Fraserburgh’s Bryan Hay.
At right back I have opted for the current Highland League young player of the year Harry Milne, of Cove Rangers. He is a defender capable of playing on either flank and someone with a really bright future in the game.
The left back’s berth goes to one of the most consistent players in the league, Brora’s Ally Macdonald. He has been an unsung hero in the Cattachs’ ranks.
There are so many contenders for the midfield quartet.
However, I feel Cove’s Jamie Masson and Buckie Thistle’s Kevin Fraser would be a formidable midfield partnership.
On the left wing, I have gone for Gavin Morrison, of Brora Rangers, to play just in front of his team-mate Ally Macdonald, while on the right I have opted for Fraserburgh’s versatile and reliable midfielder Willie West.
The two forwards pick themselves.
John McLeod’s 42 goals paved the way for the Jags’ league title triumph last season and earned him the Highland League player-of-the-year award.
Cove’s Mitch Megginson has already hit the 31-goal mark this season and walks into the side.
Among the other forwards who have impressed this year are Inverurie Locos youngster Andy Hunter, the talented Archie Macphee, of Formartine United, the powerful Lee Fraser, of Forres Mechanics, and Fraserburgh’s Gary Harris, who uses his pace to great effect.
I must also make particular mention of one of my substitutes, Rothes centre forward Scott Davidson. He scored 30 goals last season, while playing for bottom-of-the-table Fort William, which was fine achievement.
Dave’s 4-4-2 line up
- Stuart Knight (Forres Mechanics)
- Harry Milne (Cove Rangers)
- Eric Watson (Cove Rangers)
- Cammy Bowden (Turriff United)
- Ally Macdonald (Brora Rangers)
- Willie West (Fraserburgh)
- Jamie Masson (Cove Rangers)
- Kevin Fraser (Buckie Thistle)
- Gavin Morrison (Brora Rangers)
- John McLeod (Buckie Thistle)
- Mitch Megginson (Cove Rangers)
- Jordan MacRae (Nairn
- Scott Davidson
- Ceiran MacLean (Buckie
- Sam Mackay (Wick Academy)
- Daniel Moore (Rothes)
- Andrew Greig (Formartine
- Andy Reid (Inverurie Locos)
MANAGER – Graeme
Stewart (Buckie Thistle)