The home curtain came down for Inverurie Locos captain Neil McLean and central defender Ryan Broadhurst with a 4-0 Highland League win over Wick Academy.
After a combined 32 seasons of sterling service, McLean and Broadhurst will hang up their boots at the end of the campaign.
They bid a fond farewell to Harlaw Park as Locos triumphed via goals from Robert Ward, Calum Dingwall, Kieran Shanks and Jay Halliday, on a day where the Scorries’ Davie Allan suffered what looked to be a serious leg injury.
After the victory, which saw Inverurie move up to sixth in the table – leapfrogging Rothes – Locos boss Richard Hastings said: “It was obviously a big day for other reasons – as well as wanting another win, we wanted Neil and Ryan to experience a win in style with a good send off.
“I’m really happy, especially with the second half showing when we turned the screw a bit. We’ve worked in training in getting players to be more solid as a unit rather than just the back line.
“I couldn’t have asked for more than a second clean sheet in a row and four goals. It could’ve been more.”
The target is three wins
Robert Ward kickstarted the day with an impressive third-minute goal into the corner of the net.
Allan was stretchered off later in the half, which necessitated a visit to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness on Wick’s journey home.
The second Locos goal finally came on 73 minutes, with Calum Dingwall finding the net following a corner on the right.
Eight minutes later, a poor pass-back let in Kieran Shanks to poke the ball past Graeme Williamson for number three, and – on 86 minutes – young Jay Halliday drove forward before seeing his right foot shot go in off the post.
Evergreen midfielder McLean felt the afternoon went perfectly, saying: “I felt good during the game. It was an emotional occasion, but most importantly you want the full points.
“I feel happy with my decision to retire. The most important thing is the club moves on and kickstarts a good end to the season.
“For my last three games with the club (all away from home), the target is three wins.
“I won’t be a stranger at the club – I will be back in a watching capacity in the future.”
Shedding more tears at the final whistle was English helicopter pilot Broadhurst, converted to a defender early in his Locos career.
He added: “I was delighted to sign off my home career with a great result, because it’s everything we’ve wanted all season – a clean sheet and multiple goals.
“It’s great to see the young lads up front coming along. It’s a great club and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here”
Scorries manager Gary Manson had no complaints about the result, saying: “We didn’t create enough goalscoring opportunities and conceded four sloppy goals.
“We are a squad bereft of any confidence at the moment. We can knock the ball about, but don’t have the confidence to break teams down”
Formartine hit four at Deveronvale
Formartine United continued their impressive start under new manager Stuart Anderson as they hit four goals without reply in his hometown of Banff against Deveronvale.
Both teams had opportunities early on. Max Stewart fired over from 25 yards for the Vale and Scott Lisle hit the woodwork before the visitors opened the scoring on 28 minutes – Lisle picked out Tyler Mykyta at the back post and he set up Jonny Smith to score from six yards.
Lisle claimed number two five minutes later as he was left with a close-range header from a right-wing cross as United took control.
Graham Rodger hit the post with an early second-half header, but United grabbed their third 10 minutes after the break when Mykyta fired home a terrific effort from 30 yards.
Lisle then completed the scoring a minute from time, firing low under Sean McIntosh from the edge of the box.
Formartine boss Anderson was pleased to see his team get the win at what he considers a tough ground.
He said: “We stuck to the task that I asked of them before the game and scored four goals, should have had another couple as we hit the woodwork twice, while we claimed our fourth clean sheet in a row, which was also very pleasing.
“The frontmen will get the plaudits for getting the goals, but the defence were first class and from one to 11 – and our subs. Everyone contributed to getting the three points as we aim to finish as high up the league as we can.”
Vale manager Craig Stewart felt losing the first goal to a team with a lot of experience made it very difficult.
He said “I have no complaints with the score, although losing four goals might have been a bit harsh on the team, but it was disappointing to lose goals the way we did again.
“Young Jay Goldie came in and is well worth a mention as he was excellent and he will do very well if he continues to show the same attributes he has shown so far when stepping up to this level from the under 18s.”