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Marcus Goodall learned off Celtic youngsters Stephen Welsh and Karamoko Dembele in his Ross County days and is now starring in the Highland League for Huntly on loan from Buckie Thistle

By Craig Christie

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PLAYING against Parkhead future stars was a dream for Celtic fan Marcus Goodall during his days as a Ross County youth player.

Marcus Goodall on his way to a Huntly hat-trick at Turriff. Picture: Kyle Ritchie
Marcus Goodall on his way to a Huntly hat-trick at Turriff. Picture: Kyle Ritchie

But the 19-year-old Buckie boy had to leave the Dingwall club to start enjoying his football again and is doing that in the Highland League.

Goodall remembers playing against current Celtic centre back Stephen Welsh and highly-rated midfielder Karamoko Dembele, who made his first team Hoops debut at the age of 16.

He also recalls how difficult it was playing against Caley Thistle regular Roddy Macgregor and summer Hibs signing Daniel Mackay during County development matches.

Learning off some of Scotland's best football prospects can help Goodall carve his own niche in the future, as he is determined to bounce back from the disappointment of not breaking through at County.

"I was at Ross County at primary seven, so the age of 12," he said. "I moved up there for 18 months and I left in October 2019.

"I wasn’t really enjoying my football, the way they had me playing wasn’t suiting me and I felt I was getting dealt a rough hand with minutes to games.

"I wasn’t getting a chance at reserves so I took a step away from it to get back to enjoying my football, which I’ve done at Buckie and now at Huntly."

The former Buckie High pupil earned a professional contract with the Dingwall outfit and featured against the Premiership's best development teams.

"I’m a Celtic fan and I’ve played against Stephen Welsh, Karamoko Dembele and boys like that.
Stephen Welsh is now a Celtic first team regular. celticfc.com
Stephen Welsh is now a Celtic first team regular. celticfc.com

"Just seeing the way they play, you try to pick things up from those boys as well and I did that when I was at County.

"The likes of their dribbling ability, just the way they receive the ball, things like that. You could see how good they were.

"There were a lot of good players at Caley Thistle. Roddy Macgregor is doing really well in the Championship and Daniel MacKay is at Hibs, they caused us a lot of bother when I was at County and I’m pleased to see both of them doing well."

Goodall hasn't closed the door on full-time football in the future, as he knows he is young enough to make the step-up if he keeps impressing in the Highland League.

He was just 17 when he signed for Buckie and broke into their first team, playing as a pacy attacker and scoring several times.

Buckie born and bred, Marcus Goodall relished the opportunity to sign for his home town club. Picture: Eric Cormack.
Buckie born and bred, Marcus Goodall relished the opportunity to sign for his home town club. Picture: Eric Cormack.

More recently, Jags have strengthened their squad substantially and Goodall realised he may be limited to the occasional sub appearances, so elected to take a loan move to Huntly.

The Christie Park club have benefitted greatly, as he scored a hat-trick from midfield in their 4-0 win at Turriff United last Saturday.

"That’s my first goals for Huntly and my first hat-trick in men’s football so I was delighted," he said.

"I got four goals in seven or eight games for Buckie. But the quality of their squad is undeniable.

"They are scoring so many goals I can’t really question it, I can only do my job when I come into the team."

Goodall is expected to return to Victoria Park in January, aiming to have a string of goals and good performances under his belt at Huntly to strengthen his claim for a regular game at Jags.

"Spider (Buckie manager Graeme Stewart) messaged me after Saturday's game, congratulating me on the hat-trick. So he is noticing that I’m scoring goals.

"It's really good for me playing regularly and getting more match sharpness. If you’re only getting 20 or 30 minutes like I was at Buckie it doesn’t get you up to pace with other boys so if I’m getting more game time somewhere else I’ll take it.

"Hopefully Huntly’s getting the best of me and I’m using it to the best of my ability.

"If the chances come my way I need to take them and keep the shirt at Huntly and prove I'm worth a place in their starting eleven.

"Allan (Huntly boss Hale) and Stefan (assistant Laird) have been brilliant and I’ve really enjoyed it. I train there once a week and their sessions are brilliant, the way they are involved in the group.

"Like Spider, Allan Hale is a good man manager and know how to get the best out of you.

"Both Buckie and Huntly have started well this season. A lot of people saw Buckie as challengers but that’s the kind of ambition that Allan and Stefan have as well, to be right up there.

"Maybe in the past people have seen Huntly as a pushover but the way their management style is, it is changing opinions and I like that.

"It’s a brilliant dressing room. The boys are really buying in to what the management team is telling them.

"That was clear when we beat Lossiemouth with seconds to spare, everyone was fighting for each other."

One date when Goodall definitely won't be playing for Huntly is Saturday, October 16, the day they play Buckie.

"I've already been told I'm not allowed to play against Buckie," said Goodall, a wise move on Jags' part knowing what damage their own player could do to their title aspirations.

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