In a whirlwind 24 hours Paul Macleod went from expecting to be a substitute to writing his name into Rothes folklore.
The defender’s stoppage time goal at Christie Park gave the Speysiders their first Highland League Cup triumph in their 82-year history.
Macleod had expected to be on the bench until team mate Ali Stark was ruled out on Friday after his flat mate tested positive for coronavirus.
It’s the first silverware Rothes have won since the North of Scotland Cup in 1979.
Macleod missed the semi-final win over Formartine United a fortnight ago and the 31-year-old said: “I was in isolation, someone I was in contact with got Covid so I went through the two-week track and trace isolation.
“I got a phone call from the manager on Friday night saying I was going to be in from the start. It has been a crazy 24 hours, from that to play the 90 minutes and scoring the winner.
“I was expecting to be on the bench all week at training. We were going to go with the same team because they had won the semi-final and that was all good.
“Then Ross phoned me on Friday night and unfortunately Ali Stark couldn’t make it so he said he was putting me in, 24 hours later I’ve scored the winning goal and I’m delighted.”
Rothes manager Ross Jack said: “The past is gone now, we’re trying to write new chapters and rewrite the history and with these guys here we’ve got every opportunity of doing that.
“It means so much to the club and everyone is united. It’s not just me and Jim Walker (assistant manager) and the players, it’s the chairman, the board and the committee and the fans.
“A special mention must go to Ali Stark who couldn’t be with us as well. Ali had to miss the final and he’s been outstanding for us so that’s for Ali as well.”
Playing with a strong wind at their backs Buckie started well and led after eight minutes.
Macleod’s goal-saving block had prevented Steven Ross from scoring, but from Andy MacAskill’s corner that followed Joe McCabe volleyed home from eight yards.
In the 27th minute MacAskill’s strike from 25 yards hit the inside of the left post and bounced to safety.
The Speysiders went up the park and equalised with their first decent attack when Allen MacKenzie beat McCabe on the left and calmly finished past goalkeeper Daniel Bell.
Bruce Milne cleared Callum Murray’s shot off the line, while Bell clawed away a Fraser Robertson free-kick.
Just after the hour referee Dan McFarlane gave Rothes winger Craig Cormack a second yellow card for dissent, just a couple of minutes after his first booking.
The Jags struggled to make their numerical advantage count and the Speysiders remained a threat with Alan Pollock and Gary Kerr testing Bell.
In the last minute of normal time Bell made an outstanding reflex save to deny Ross Gunn from eight yards, but Macleod had the final say in the fourth minute of injury time.
Pollock’s corner on the left was cleared back to the midfielder and Macleod rose highest to nod home the curling cross.
Buckie boss Graeme Stewart said: “It was a poor performance, we didn’t play well, we didn’t show intensity and we played into Rothes’ gameplan.
“Fair play to them they deserved to win, they were the better team on the day and they seemed to want it more which is a bit disappointing.
“We only had three or four players that got pass marks and when you turn up for a final like that you’re not going to win.”