PICTURES: 100 former Highland footballers reunite at Ross County as legends of the game get honoured
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Around 100 former footballers reunited in Dingwall last month – with four in particular being honoured for their input to the game in the Highlands.
The reunion, taking place at Ross County's stadium at their recent match against Kilmarnock, saw tales of the past being shared over complimentary drinks provided by former Balintore, Tain and Ross County player Stevie Paterson.
It was also a chance to recognise at least some of the individuals who committed their time to keeping teams going to allow young players to progress in the game.
Hosted by Rab Mulheron, there were a variety of speeches – including from Staggies chairman Roy MacGregor – a Q&A session with Scotland and Manchester United legend Willie Morgan, and a raffle where proceeds went towards youth development at Ross County.
Arguably the highlight of the occasion, though, were the presentations of four personalised silver salvers to individuals who had made lasting contributions to football in the Highlands.
The first of these was presented by Bill Mackenzie, who went onto recognise the tremendous contribution that ex-Inverness Thistle, Muir of Ord and Dingwall Thistle player Charlie Munro, had made to develop football in Muir of Ord.
Munro, who now lives in Sligo in Ireland and couldn’t attend due to a family event, spent over 17 years as a player, captain and for a long successful term as the Muir team manager.
The second award, given to former Ross County and Clachnacuddin player, coach and manager Sandy Wallace was presented by Highland League legend Peter Corbett, who recalled how he had never come across someone as committed and passionate about the game than Sandy.
Again, Wallace could not be present on the day, but he was delighted and surprised when told he was receiving this accolade.
Third up was an example of a very local player being honoured for being one of Dingwall's best known exports to English league football – Johnny Buchanan.
Ali MacIntosh told how Buchanan, despite becoming a Cardiff City legend over his seven years in Wales and regularly playing in Europe, never forgot his roots and never let his success change him. Buchanan would eventually come back and manage his boyhood team, Ross County.
The fourth award was presented to Edwin Skinner by Jim Oliver, who had started playing for Edwin when he was under 16.
Oliver shares how Skinner had a massive input and influence on football all over Easter Ross, and noted that most of the attendees from that area could tell positive stories about being managed by Skinner over the years.
Finally, Jim Savage gave a justified and heart-warming reflection on the undoubted influence of ex-Ross County man and assistant manager at Chelsea and Wigan Athletic, the late Ian MacNeil.
Ian’s son, also Ian and an ex-player himself, was present and heard how his father was held in great affection and respect during his time at Victoria Park, where he won the Highland League as both a player and manager.
There was one more surprise in store for organiser Bill Mackenzie, who was given a named Ross County shirt by Ross County commercial manager Duncan Chisholm and a unique cake made by Olivia Ross to celebrate his recent 70th birthday.
Mackenzie then finished the event off by thanking the people who made the event possible – Chisholm, the team from Red Poppy and especially Jim Oliver, who worked his socks off for several weeks to make it a success was was presented with his own keepsake as a token of thanks.