Buckie Thistle’s latest crop of silverware chasers reminds Lewis MacKinnon of the 2017 Highland League winners.
Defeating Rothes on Saturday in the final of the Highland League Cup would present the Jags with their first silverware since the title triumph three years ago.
Buckie won the title on goal-difference from Cove Rangers – rattling in 130 compared to Cove’s 109 – with Brora Rangers only a point further back.
They were anchored that season by a fearsome forward line of Sam Urquhart, Chris Angus and John McLeod, a far cry from the last championship-winning squad MacKinnon was part of. He was part of the back-to-back winners in 2010 and 2011, a team he admits were more renowned for grinding out wins then flaying all before them.
However, in younger players like Mark McLauchlan, Marcus Goodall, Sam Morrison and Joe McCabe, the player-assistant boss sees similarities with successful Buckie sides of years’ past.
MacKinnon said: “It’s not far away. The team in the early 2010s where we won the league twice kept things tight. We were more of a solid team, winning games 1-0. We weren’t a beautiful attacking side, just a solid unit that churned out results.
“This team is probably developing closer to the 2017 one. It’s a great young squad – take myself and Hamish Munro out of it and it’s really young.
“It’s three years since we’ve last won silverware and that’s about the limit I have gone at Buckie. I have always won trophies. We’ve beaten Fraserburgh, Deveronvale and Brora to get to this final, so we’ve done it the hard way.
“A lot of it is about mentality, not crumbling under pressure. There’s no crowd but you’ve got that pressure from within. A lot of the guys from 2017 are still present, so it’ll be up to ourselves to keep the younger, fresher faces in check.”
The postponement of the final from last weekend – Kynoch Park in Keith was waterlogged – saw the final shifted back seven days and relocated to Christie Park in Huntly. For both sides, it has allowed extra preparation time and for some knocks to heal, after a demanding return to the game following seven months away.
There is still uncertainty over when the Highland League season may be able to get underway, given its assertion that without crowds starting is a no-go. The date of November 28, at this stage, looks in doubt unless there is significant change in the restrictions on gatherings of people.
That gives greater urgency for MacKinnon and Buckie to make sure Saturday’s final is one to remember.
He added: “We just don’t know what’s going to happen. The new tier system might mean supporters are allowed back into grounds in certain areas.
“It’s so strange but it just makes you want to go out, enjoy the game and get the right result. You’re in football to win trophies and you want to look back at the end of your career on your medal collection.
“It would be great for the club after the year that everyone has had; hopefully we can get the trophy back to our ground for our supporters to see.
“I’ve won a lot of trophies and I would like to add a second Highland League Cup to that.”