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John Campbell proud to become Highland League secretary

John Campbell is the new secretary of the Highland League
John Campbell is the new secretary of the Highland League

John Campbell is honoured to become secretary of what he believes is “the best league in the world”.

The former referee and chief executive officer of the Scottish Welfare FA has succeeded Rod Houston as secretary of the Breedon Highland League.

Campbell is only the seventh secretary in the division’s 129-year history.

He said: “I thoroughly enjoyed refereeing and if I could still referee I would still be doing it.

“Unfortunately fitness wasn’t on my side, but the next best thing was getting involved in the administration side.

“I’ve played a part in Welfare teams and Junior teams and this is the ultimate post for me to be involved in the Highland League.

Departing Highland League secretary Rod Houston, left, president George Manson, middle, and John Campbell.

“You don’t need to look far on social media to find people calling it the best league in the world and for me I think it is.

“It’s quite remarkable that I’m only the seventh secretary the league has had.

“That fact is not lost on me and I’m still a young man and hopefully the number can remain at seven for some years to come.”

Change on the horizon?

Campbell believes there could be significant change in the Highland League over the next few years.

With the pyramid now open at the both ends the make-up of the sides in the division could alter.

Next season Aberdeen Junior side Banks o’ Dee will make the step up, while Brechin City joined the league last year following their relegation from the SPFL.

Campbell added: “I think the challenge is going to be with the league opening up at both ends.

“With the opportunity for new teams to come into the league, we might see a shift in terms of the geography within the league.

“The Highland League was made up of the same teams for a long time, but next season there’s Banks o’ Dee coming in.

“Who’s to say we don’t get more progressive new teams coming in from the Aberdeen or Dundee area?

“The make-up of the league could change in the years to come.”

Pyramid progress

Campbell believes the opening up of the bottom of the Highland League was something that had to happen.

It means teams from the North Superleague, Midlands League and North Caledonian League who meet the relevant criteria can now win promotion to the Highland League.

Campbell said: “You can’t stand in the way of progress and, if you look back down the years, people in the north of Scotland and in the Highland League were always at the forefront of trying to get teams into the Scottish League.

Banks o’ Dee will be in the Highland League next season.

“We eventually did get teams in there and they have all done very well in the Scottish League.

“I think it’s only fair that we see the Highland League being opened up with the pyramid system as well.

“New teams could come in, but it will also give the current teams food for thought in terms of what they need to do to remain in the set-up.

“I think it’s a really interesting few years ahead for the Highland League.”

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