Peterhead manager Jim McInally has hailed Hamish Ritchie as a “brilliant” signing and believes he can go on to play at a higher level.
The midfielder has joined the Blue Toon from Highland League side Inverurie Locos on a two-year contract.
Ritchie spent the end of this season on loan to the Buchan outfit and netted four goals and provided four assists in 11 appearances as they finished seventh in League One.
The 24-year-old impressed McInally during that initial stint at Balmoor and Scotland’s longest-serving manager is thrilled they have managed to land him permanently.
He said: “Hamish had a really good spell on loan with us.
“He’s not played a lot of football in his career, because in America they didn’t play many games and then when he came back here it was stop-start for him.
“You can see at times that he is still a bit raw – but his natural ability makes him a joy to watch.
“His temperament is first class and I don’t really know which foot is strongest, because I think he’s actually scored more goals on his left foot than his right.
“He’s got a good attitude and works really hard, so you can’t really ask for much more and I think there’s still a lot of improvement in him and I look forward to seeing that.
“Hamish told me in America they only played about eight games a season, so at 24 he’s got a wee bit of catching up to do in terms of the number of games he’s played.
“Sometimes he can maybe be a little bit naive if things aren’t quite going for him in a game.
“But he’s enjoyable to watch and I’ll always go back to his second goal against Clyde. He worked so hard to get that opportunity and then to show the composure to finish it was great.
Work rate ✅
Dancing feet ✅
Ice cool finishing ✅
— SPFL (@spfl) April 26, 2021
“Hamish is a brilliant addition and if he can show what he did in his loan spell over the course over a season then I’m sure he’ll go and play at a higher level and we hope we can get him there.
“We want him to help us and if he can do that then it will help him on his way as well.”
Thanks to Inverurie
Ritchie returned to the north-east last summer after four years at university in America and signed for Inverurie.
However, with Locos’ 2020-21 campaign being restricted to five games, he was loaned to Cove Rangers at the end of October and made one appearance during a month at the Balmoral Stadium, before joining Peterhead in March.
McInally was keen to thank Inverurie for allowing his permanent move to the Blue Toon to happen.
He added: “From my first conversation with Andy Low he did think Hamish was better than the level he was playing at.
“He also thought he might even be better than our level, but he needed to go and prove that.
“I don’t think he’s proved it yet in such a short amount of games, but he has shown in games he can be above our level.
“So I think Andy was spot on with that and the other thing is that Andy and Inverurie haven’t let Hamish down.
“I think Andy said when he signed Hamish that they wouldn’t stand in his way if he had the chance to go to a higher level.
“I haven’t seen that too much in previous dealings with Highland League clubs, because they look after themselves and rightly so.
“But I would like to thank Inverurie Locos for being so easy to deal with and helping Hamish on his way.”