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Nairn County's glory days remembered with plaques compiled by Highland football historian

By Donald Wilson

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Ian Davidson, right, with Jessica Milne of Nairn County's social media team, with club secretary Ian Finlayson displaying the plaques.
Ian Davidson, right, with Jessica Milne of Nairn County's social media team, with club secretary Ian Finlayson displaying the plaques.

A FOOTBALL historian has produced plaques charting some of the greatest chapters in Nairn County’s history.

Ian Davidson, whose brother Roddy was a stalwart of Inverness Caley Thistle and nephew Scottie Davidson currently plays for Nairn, is a wealth of Highland football knowledge and has carried out considerable research for many clubs.

With time on his hands during lockdown he dug through old newspaper cuttings and archives in his attic, checking his records to compile a number of plaques – three of which he recently presented to the Station Park club.

“I was approached by Niall Grant, son of Elgin great Dougal Grant, who asked if I could do something for his dad.

“Dougal is now in his eighties and suffering from the onset of dementia.

“I charted his playing record and the trophies he won with that great Elgin side of the 1960s and during his time at Queen’s Park.

“Dougal played as an amateur throughout his career.

“Niall told me he goes through the plaque with his dad and it triggers many memories of his playing days.

“It was rewarding to know it helped Dougal and I began producing more plaques for clubs and individuals.

“The three I did for Nairn of course were important chapters for the club.

“Their first ever Qualifying Cup win in 1969, which followed a 3-1 win at Bellslea and a 1-1 draw in the return leg at Nairn.

“And, of course, Nairn’s championship success in 1975-76 – and again it was Fraserburgh who faced heartache in the play off when they lost 2-1 at Borough Briggs.”

Ian, however, said from a personal viewpoint it was the plaque on Davy Johnston which he found particularly rewarding.

“I was a boot boy at Telford Street with my brother Roddy and Billy Urquhart when Davy was signed from Aberdeen in 1969,” he said.

“I once had a conversation with Dougal who said he was the most difficult opponent he ever faced because of his pace, shooting power and close control.”

Ian’s plaque on Davy is in the club colours of red and white.

“That’s what I remember and am familiar with. All County fans of that era will remember them playing in red and white. Davy, strangely, is not in the team pic of the championship winning season. Although he played 12 games that year he quit before the season ended.”

Ian is also going to present an additional copy of the Johnston plaque, which he hopes the club can auction as a fundraiser.

Club secretary, Ian Finlayson, said: “These plaques are fantastic and we are grateful to Ian for all his hard work and generosity in researching the information and presenting them to the club.

“The prints have all the information about the events they are celebrating with stats, results and key dates, so make an excellent and informative commemoration of some of our greatest successes and, of course, our greatest ever player.

“We would like to thank Ian for his efforts and the frames will take pride of place at a suitable location in Station Park.”

Donald Wilson, author of Davy Johnston – Pittodrie’s Silent Assassin, said: “Ian is meticulous in his research. He revealed to me the scoring record of Andy ‘Jupie’ Mitchell in 1955-56, when he plundered 77 goals in 45 competitive games for Inverness Thistle.

“Fortunately he told me before I went to press with the book. I, like many others, had believed [the record] was Davy Johnston, who scored 73 goals for Nairn County in 46 games in 1963-64 for Nairn.

“Andy also provided me all the stats on Davy’s Caley career. He works away quietly on projects helping clubs and individuals on Highland League history and I think there are many who are indebted to him.”

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