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Charlie Christie: Inverness Cup can continue to grow after Caley Thistle and Clachnacuddin inspired revival 18 years after trophy was last played for

By Charlie Christie

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It was fantastic to see the resurrection of the Inverness Cup after a 17-year absence this week when Inverness Caley Thistle and Clach fought out a competitive match at Grant Street Park on Tuesday evening.

There was a decent crowd to see ICT emerge 4-1 winners and I hope it’s the start of a continuance of a competition that has terrific history in north football.

The ICT players celebrate silverware success in the Inverness Cup.
The ICT players celebrate silverware success in the Inverness Cup.

The Inverness Cup throws up so many great memories and I’ve enjoyed reading many former players recount their own stories from the competition in the lead up to Tuesday’s match.

ICT’s first team coach Barry Wilson talked about a match I remember well in the early 90s when great Highland League rivals Caley and County faced off at Kingsmills Park.

The interest in the match was so great that the kick off was delayed to allow the 4000-plus fans entry into the ground, and the match didn’t disappoint.

Barry was in full flight at that time and gave our left back Kevin Man a torrid time during a one sided first half scoring a hat-trick and Caley looked dead and buried.

However, some strong words were said in the changing room at half-time by manager John Docherty and Caley were a different team second half. The late Alan Hercher pulled a goal back and shortly afterwards Billy Urquhart made it 3-2 and the comeback was on.

With a couple of minutes left on the clock Billy looked certain to complete the comeback only to be pushed over at the back post and we all thought a penalty kick award was a certainty – only for the referee to think differently, and we’d lost a terrific match.

I think it was the angriest I’d ever seen Billy on a pitch as he was amazed at the decision.

Another great Inverness Cup final involved Ross County and ICT as the new Scottish league sides faced off in 1995 at Grant Street Park – again in front of a substantial crowd of over 3000.

If memory serves me right, it was the debut match for ICT’s hugely popular Davie Ross; an incredibly hard-working midfielder from Kinlochbervie, and Davie was sensational as we recorded a 5-2 win in another hugely entertaining game.

It is little wonder that the competition has such great history given that it was first introduced as far back as 1895 for the four Inverness based clubs – Caley, Clach, Citadel and Thistle.

Caledonian and Thistle share the bragging rights with 19 wins apiece prior to the clubs merging in 1994. After Tuesday’s success ICT have now won it on eight occasions.

It also has a small piece of history in the Christie household as my late father played in one of those 19 Thistle final wins when they won the competition in 1953/54, and it really was a competition that players and fans alike enjoyed with the midweek ties giving a different perspective from the weekend league matches.

It would be good to see the teams competing in the Inverness Cup extended and invites to other north clubs such as Nairn, Forres, Ross County, Elgin City and Brora sent out.

Although not ‘Inverness’ teams, these clubs have all previously participated in the cup and would certainly add to the interest in the competition going forward.

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