Shane Carling says contesting for the DJ Macphee Memorial Cup will add further incentive when Loch Ness take on Inverness Athletic this weekend.
Both clubs are taking the opportunity to remember forward Donald Macphee – known as DJ – who died at the age of 34 last December.
Carling managed Macphee at Loch Ness, where he is currently, as well as during his previous stint in charge of Athletic.
He expects this weekend’s North Caledonian League fixture – which has been switched to Canal Park, Inverness, due to the weather – to be an emotional occasion.
Carling said: “DJ played for Loch Ness, on and off, for a long time. He was also at Inverness with me when I was there, so he has been part of both clubs.
“I spoke to their chairman Sandy Stephen about getting a cup, and we can now do this every year.
“It’s a nice touch, and trying to make a bit of money for Mikeysline (mental health charity).
“It will be a year next month that he passed away.
“There are a lot of boys in our team who were really good friends with DJ, and played with him for a long time all the way through the amateurs.
“He was a very popular guy. He was well-liked with a lot of friends, and a lot of them were part of Loch Ness.
“I was really close to DJ myself.
“I think it will be an emotional day for a lot of our players.
“Everyone wants to be involved in this game. It means a lot to our team – hopefully that will get the boys fired up.”
League leaders aiming to extend advantage
Loch Ness are five points clear of Golspie Sutherland at the top of the North Caledonian League, with Athletic a further two points behind.
Carling says extending the lead at the top of the table would be a fitting tribute to Macphee.
He added: “We need to make sure we get three points, not just for the club, but for DJ as well.
“I think that’s the main thing it’s going to be about.
A huge game of football this Saturday! And yet the football will always come second.
DJ MacPhee Memorial Cup 2022.
🏟 King George V Park
👀 See you there
🎗 Donations link in the thread 👇 pic.twitter.com/Shu0YAtD6w
— Loch Ness Football Club (@LochNessFC) November 14, 2022
“From the response I’m getting, everyone is up for it, but being up for it and getting three points is two different things. The boys need to make sure they get the job done.
“I’m very confident they can do that.
“We are undefeated in Fortrose since we started playing there last year.
“It’s certainly not going to be a place many teams want to come to, but that means nothing.
“It’s a derby and Inverness are going to be up for it.
“Just like everyone else, they want to beat Loch Ness – everyone wants to beat the team that’s top of the league.”
Loch Ness have set up a JustGiving page to raise funds for Mikeysline.
Another fixture amendment in the North Caley League tomorrow https://t.co/wqSqXTtwfA
— Scottish Football Fixtures (@scotfootfixs) November 18, 2022
Alness United aiming to close gap
Alness United can move level on points with second-placed Golspie, who are out of action, when Robert MacCormack’s side host Fort William, while Nairn County reserves welcome Halkirk United to Nairn Academy.
There might be no Highland League action for us tomorrow but our reserves are in action and all fans are welcome.
🟡 Nairn County Reserves v Halkirk United
⏰ Saturday – 1pm
🏟️ Nairn Academy
— Nairn County FC (@NairnCounty) November 18, 2022
Bottom side Bonar Bridge’s game against St Duthus has been switched to Tain, while Clachnacuddin A’s fixture at Thurso has been switched to the all-weather Naver pitch, starting at 1.15pm. Clach have the opportunity to leapfrog their hosts with a win.
Champions Invergordon, who lifted the Football Times Cup last weekend, were due to travel to Orkney, but that has been postponed due to bad weather and disruption to sailings.