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Charlie Christie reflects on the progress made in 30 years since Inverness Caley Thistle were voted into the Scottish Football League

By Charlie Christie

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It’s a significant milestone today for Inverness Caledonian Thistle as it marks the 30th anniversary of the vote which confirmed that Inverness would finally have a team competing in the Scottish Football League for the first time ever.

The 68 votes in favour of Caledonian Thistle’s application saw the club top the vote ahead of second placed Ross County with 57 votes and meant that both north clubs could now look forward to creating history when the new season started in August that same year.

Whilst the various ‘merger’ meetings surrounding both Caledonian and Thistle fans often had an acrimonious and heated undercurrent to them, nobody can now deny that it was the correct path to take for football in the city and the success enjoyed in those 30 years has been quite astonishing.

Charlie Christie, still ICT's head of youth development, has been involved with the club since day one. Picture: Ken Macpherson
Charlie Christie, still ICT's head of youth development, has been involved with the club since day one. Picture: Ken Macpherson

I’ve been very fortunate to have been with the club since day one, and even in my wildest dreams I could never have envisaged the heights the club would reach.

People often forget that the pinnacle of footballing success in the Highlands for decades was winning the Highland League, North Qualifying Cup or Highland League Cup and perhaps enjoying the occasional Scottish Cup run.

Fast forward to 2015 and an Inverness side were boarding a plane to Romania to play in European competition having won the Scottish Cup a few months earlier.

The following season Ross County would lift the Scottish League Cup and for a period the two major cups were sitting in the Highlands – an incredible achievement.

Having played for both Thistle and Caley it gave me immense pride to play for the newly merged club although, frustratingly, I did miss the first six weeks of our inaugural season in 1994 with a minor injury but I took great pleasure in being the only player to play in the first 10 seasons at the club.

I have a plethora of great memories from those 10 years – winning the Third Division Championship in 1997 playing some truly wonderful attacking football under Steve Paterson, gaining promotion to the First Division in April 1999 and then narrowly missing out on the title in an incredible final day shoot-out at Livingston, along with several terrific cup runs.

Tuesday, February 8 2000 topped them all as we went ballistic at Celtic Park to cause one of Scottish Football’s greatest ever cup upsets.

I played alongside so many fantastic players during that time and it is no coincidence that so many players from that era are amongst those still topping the appearances charts at Inverness.

Since my playing days ended the club has continued to make history, and along with that Scottish Cup win we have enjoyed 12 seasons in the Premier League and mixed it on a regular basis with the best sides in Scotland – beating each one of them at some time or other along the way.

Whilst it has been a difficult and often challenging few seasons for us recently as we strive to achieve promotion to the topflight once again, I have no doubt that the future holds even more great footballing memories for the city and those who support the club – another 30 years like our first thirty would do just fine!

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