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Inverness Athletic look to keep on running

By Will Clark

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Phil MacDonald has been on target for Inverness Athletic this season in the league.
Phil MacDonald has been on target for Inverness Athletic this season in the league.

They only played their first game three years ago, but Inverness Athletic have already established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the North Caledonian League.

In a division traditionally dominated by teams from Caithness, Sutherland, Orkney and Ross-shire, the city club are challenging for the title for the first time in its history.

Chairman Sandy Stephen who founded the club said the coaching staff and players this season have shown the determination in training and on the field to help the city’s youngest team become a success.

“Our manager Shane Carling took the team at the end of last year. He wants to be a success in football. A lot of the success has been down to him and the players and coaching staff he has taken in.

“The last couple of seasons we were all over the place with training. But when Shane came in, he wanted stuff nailed down and the players are training twice a week now.

“We have more points this season than the other two seasons put together and it is showing how the club is growing.”

The team mostly consists of players from summer clubs in the Inverness and District Amateur Football Association.

They include Premier League champions Maryburgh, Inverness’ best amateur team last season Loch Ness and First Division champions Bellmac.

Stephen said amateur players from Inverness are relishing the chance of playing in the winter as well as the summer.

“A lot of them seem to enjoy it,” he said.

“Summer football up here is massive and sometimes there are problems when the start of the NCL season clashes with the end of the summer season and then trying to hold on to them at the end of our season as the summer season starts.

“But we’re a new club and we are getting boys to buy in to what we are doing.”

Athletic played most games at Muir of Ord during their short history due to the lack of pitches in Inverness. But they are now playing at Inverness Royal Academy 4G pitches for the remainder of the season and next season.

However Stephen says Athletic have ambitious plans off the pitch as well as on it too.

“I want us to have our own ground, we’re working hard to get something secured and the dream is to have a under-20, under-17 and youth football set-up like at Clachnacuddin.

“But it is only our third season. I just want to make sure this is not a flash in a pan and we’re here for years to come.”

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