It’s been an unprecedented year for everyone – but for Rothes the last 12 months have been historic.
With coronavirus spreading around the country lockdown was announced last March which resulted in the end of the 2019-20 Highland League championship.
Final standings were decided on a points-per-game basis which resulted in Rothes finishing third – the second highest league placing in their 83-year history.
Later in 2020 with the situation across the country improving the Highland League was able to complete the 2019-20 Highland League Cup in October before the 2020-21 campaign started a month later.
Finishing the League Cup resulted in the Speysiders’ first success in the competition as they defeated Formartine United 2-1 in the semi-final and Buckie Thistle by the same score in the final.
In unique and surreal circumstances it was the Mackessack Park side’s first silverware since 1979.
Chairman Iain Paul said: “It was historic for Rothes and that’s a mark in history now for Rothes Football Club our first success in the Highland League Cup.
“Initially we weren’t sure if it was the right decision to play, and as a board having reviewed it we were minded that it would be a step too far to play initially.
“We came round to the thinking that it was a test case and that it would be shame to not take our opportunity given the commitment of the sponsors and the other clubs involved.
“The day of the final itself was strange. The idea of playing football without fans doesn’t sit well with me at all.
“To then be partaking in an historic final for the club and there was less than a dozen of us there as committee members and there was a danger it was going to be a very hollow affair.
“But the feedback afterwards with the amount of phone calls and messages I had in the hours and days that followed was amazing.
“I had over 300 messages on my phone within 24 hours with folk passing on their congratulations.
“It was still a terrific occasion even if it felt like the fans were losing out on something big time, but there’s no question in terms of the feedback that we got that everybody was forgiving of the situation and they’ll hope to be at the next final I’m sure.”
The Rothes committee were wary of returning to play in the Highland League Cup in October and the new season after that.
However, Paul revealed the willingness of manager Ross Jack, assistant Jim Walker and the players was key to restarting.
He added: “There was no hesitation from the players and management and that was one of the critical factors in deciding to play.
“As far as the players and management were concerned it was a fantastic opportunity and they wanted to get on with it.
“We had to try to minimise the risk as best we could, but having been faced with the prospect of the game never happening we decided to take our chance and to minimise the risk to the greatest extend we could.
“As individual clubs we’d already been working to minimise risk and coming up with protocols and measures to allow us to start again so we did know what we were getting into.
“We knew the clubs that were hosting the games had done everything within their control to make sure the risks were minimised.”
Covid-19 restrictions mean Rothes have not yet been able to celebrate their success, but Paul says when it’s safe to do so they will commemorate 2020’s achievements.
He said: “A celebration is something we want to do and it’s something we’d like to be programming just now, but we’re not comfortable yet setting a date.
“But there’s no question about it that no matter where we are or what we are doing there will be a date in the future where we’re going to celebrate our success.”