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Stornoway teenager Andrew MacLeod’s reflects on loan spell in Highland League with Nairn County from parent club Ross County

By Andrew Henderson

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Andrew MacLeod has often been in amongst the goals for Nairn County. Picture: Beth Taylor
Andrew MacLeod has often been in amongst the goals for Nairn County. Picture: Beth Taylor

Nairn County loanee Andrew MacLeod has loved his year at Station Park – saying his time with Steven Mackay’s side has been a throwback to his days growing up in Stornoway.

The 19-year-old has been a regular member of the Wee County team, filling in at various different positions and contributing plenty of goals and assists.

However, what the youngster has been most pleased about from his time at Nairn is just the opportunity to play so frequently.

After a frustrating year in the Highland League where loan spells at Clachnacuddin and Brora Rangers did not truly work out thanks to injury, MacLeod arrived at Nairn last summer just desperate to string a run of games together.

In that sense, the 2023/24 campaign has definitely delivered. The teenager has played three games-a-week at times for the first time since he was out on Lewis, playing for three different age group teams at the same time.

That has made it an incredibly successful season for MacLeod on a personal note, regardless of the outcome of this Saturday’s closing match against Huntly.

“It’s been a great season,” MacLeod said.

“Last season I was injured for two or three months so I never really managed to put a run of games together and get that consistency. This year I’ve been able to play nearly 30 games, chip in with a few goals and assists, so it’s been positive.

“It’s so much better just playing games rather than training, for me anyway.

“It can feel like a long week Saturday to Saturday, but when you get a Wednesday game in the middle it’s perfect. Win or lose, you can just look forward to the next one.

“To be fair, when I was about 13, I would play on a Tuesday with the 13s, a Thursday with the 15s and then sometimes on a Friday with the 18s.

“It was quite tough, and then sometimes I’d have to come over here and play on the Saturday and Sunday.

“I was kind of used to it, but then I lost that rhythm last year with my injuries. My body wasn’t great at the start of this season trying to get back up to it, but now I really enjoy it.

“I want to play as often as possible. Football would help get me through school, because I had that to look forward to.

“There was a lot of homework being dished out, because if I had an away game on a Sunday I’d sometimes have to stay overnight or get the freight ferry through the night, and I wouldn’t get into school until 10am. Even if it was just for training though, I’d be looking forward to football.”

MacLeod was also part of the Nairn squad that made it to the North of Scotland Cup final. Although ineligible to play against his parent club in the final, the chaotic semi final victory of Inverness Caledonian Thistle is a moment that will live long in his memory.

“It was quite a strange situation to be in (for the final), but these things happen,” he added.

“The semi final was mental. On another day they could have been away 10-0, and if it had gone to extra time I don’t think we would have been in a very healthy situation, but it just shows that these things happen in football.

“They had a really strong team out, a lot of first team players, but that made it a really good experience as well.

“I took a penalty, and got the chance to go up against players like David Wotherspoon who has had loads of years with St Johnstone in the Premiership.

“That was a challenge in itself, but the whole game – I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of something like that.

“I must only have touched the ball about 15 times the whole game, but it was mental.

“Before the game, I had no idea what to expect, and then when their team comes in you’re just like ‘wow’. I don’t think I realised it in the moment but looking back I can see it was really big.”

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