Being asked to select my Highland League team of the season was a formidable challenge.
With so much talent across the north it was very difficult to choose the 11 I have.
That task was made even harder when I was challenged to select no more than two players per club.
I’m sure plenty of you will have differing opinions – but after much agonising, here is my Highland League team of the season:
There are many good goalkeepers in the Highland League, but Kevin Main has performed to a consistently high standard between the sticks for Formartine United and that earns him a place in the starting XI.
Joe Malin of Brora Rangers and Inverurie Locos’ Andy Reid were among those who came close to getting the nod.
In the full-back slots Alasdair Stark has impressed in a Rothes side that had one of the best defensive records in the league and beds in at right-back.
On the other side, Brora Rangers’ Ally Macdonald is defensively dependable as well as being excellent in attack, chipping in with more than his fair share of goals.
At centre-back Buckie Thistle’s Sam Morrison is quick, strong and good in the air, while alongside him Fraserburgh’s Jamie Beagrie is a very good reader of the game and great organiser of a backline.
Either of Brora’s title winning centre-backs, Colin Williamson and Mark Nicolson, could have made the side, as could Fraserburgh’s Bryan Hay, while Deveronvale’s Harry Noble was one who came close to a full-back slot.
Highland League player of the year Andrew Macrae was the first name on the teamsheet. The Brora Rangers man causes defences so many problems breaking from midfield and his goals and assists earn him a place on the right side of midfield.
On the left flank, Ali Sutherland gets the nod. The winger has been a key man in Rothes’ revival under Ross Jack, notching 13 goals from out wide.
In central midfield, Wick Academy’s Sam Mackay enjoyed another fine campaign before hanging up his boots. Mackay’s ability in possession has allowed him to control games in the middle of the park for many years.
Alongside him is Formartine United’s Graeme Rodger. His late runs from midfield are often untracked, meaning Rodger bags plenty of goals from his position.
Buckie’s Andy MacAskill, the versatile Willie West of Fraserburgh and Brora pair Dale Gillespie and Paul Brindle were all in contention for midfield berths.
Inverurie Locos striker Chris Angus finished as tied top scorer in the Highland League this season. As well as his goals Angus’ pace and power are often too much for defenders to handle.
His partner in attack is Fraserburgh’s Scott Barbour whose deadly finishing combined with strength, skill and speed means opposition defences rarely get an easy afternoon against him.
Keith’s Cammy Keith – who was tied top scorer along with Angus – was unlucky not to make the cut while Jordan MacRae from Brora and Fraserburgh’s Paul Campbell were also in the running.
Having led Brora Rangers to the Highland League title Steven Mackay was the obvious choice as manager of the team.
The Cattachs were 13 points clear at the top when the campaign was declared over, having won 24 of their 26 league fixtures, and they also lifted the North of Scotland Cup earlier in the season.
To win the title in just his second season as manager is a fantastic achievement for Mackay.
Fraserburgh were in pole position to finish second before this term was cut short and also won the Aberdeenshire Cup and Shield, their boss Mark Cowie was in the reckoning as was Rothes’ Ross Jack.