Goalkeeper Martin MacKinnon took pride in playing the role of local hero in ending Fort William’s long wait for a victory against Nairn County on Wednesday.
MacKinnon saved a penalty to help Fort defeat Nairn County 5-2 in the North of Scotland Cup at Claggan Park, recording their first victory since they beat Elgin City in the same competition in August 2017.
The 19-year-old is among nine youngsters to have been loaned to Fort from Championship side Caley Thistle in order to gain first team experience, but having grown up in the Lochaber town he was able to cherish the moment surrounded by family members.
MacKinnon said: “It was good to save the penalty, get that win and be part of ending that long run of results.
“It felt good for me to back home as well, getting that win for the fans.
“This move does take on a wee bit of added significance for me, coming home and seeing my family in the crowd as well.
“My mum, my dad, my sister, my uncle, aunties were all there. I’m from Fort William, born and bred.
“I know how much it means to the town and club, especially having not won for two and a half years. It is huge for the town.”
This season’s loan stint is MacKinnon’s second spell with his hometown club, having played for Fort during the 2017-18 campaign.
Having grown up locally, MacKinnon is well aware of the challenges faced by club, adding: “I signed for Inverness when I was 10 after going to one of the ‘Hotshots’ community days.
“I came up through the youths and signed full-time two years ago.
“I had a loan spell at Fort William in my first year with Caley Thistle and that was a lot different – just myself from Inverness.
“I was playing every week and it was a tough season, given the club’s status at the foot of the league. It was hard to take, but it was educational.
“I had to look at the positives in terms of my development, but I think it has been off-putting to young players, given the club’s struggles.
“Shinty is a big part of it, with the sport so successful in the area. It provides huge competition for players.
“It’s been hard, but hopefully this year we can get a few points on the board and put a bit of pride back into the place.”
MacKinnon says Fort’s squad has embraced the influx of youngsters from Inverness, with Russell MacMorran’s side hosting Inverurie Locos in their next league fixture tomorrow.
He added: “It has been good – they’ve welcomed us warmly, despite the numbers coming in on loan.
“It’s been nothing but good. We’re all happy and ready to kick on now.”