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  • North Caledonian Football Association

Clachnacuddin are no strangers to the Macleod and MacCallum North Caledonian League.

A founder member of the old North of Scotland Junior association (the former name of the North Caley), their “second eleven” or reserves have won the league championship no fewer than fourteen times between 1904 and 1992.

While their involvement has been in/out over the years, they remain the most decorated league side in the association’s 125 year history.

Now in 2022, the Lilywhites are looking to the example of Highland League counterparts Nairn County, by reviving their reserve set up as a means of developing their younger talent.

Clach’s aspiring group of U20 hopefuls recently rounded off a season in the summer amateurs by winning the Inverness & District AFA’s second division title, having competed in the ranks of the North of Scotland U20 league last summer.

A premature end to the NOS league resulted in many of the players having to wait until the summer for regular football, and the recent amateur season has served as an ideal pre-season for a return to the North Caley.

Head coach Paul Maclennan said: “Since the disappointment of the North of Scotland league being cancelled, we have kept the boys training and playing friendlies and also entering the IDFA amateur league to keep match sharpness up and work on things tactically.

“Training once a week and playing once has been a great experience for the lads. It was important to get them playing against adults and it will only benefit them in the long run.”

It is the ambition of the club to use the new reserve side as a stepping stone for talent looking to play for their Highland League side.

“Some of the lads have moved up through our youth system including some from our successful under 18s who won their regional division. It’s important that there is a pathway throughout the club and it shows it’s working. It shows with our first team, a lot of who came from our U20s previously.”

The Inverness club will kick off their return with a Highland capital derby at the new home of Inverness Athletic in North Kessock.

Maclennan added: “We have a local derby to start and we are looking forward to it. It will be a good test. Athletic have established themselves in the league and with a change in management, the players will be keen to impress so it’s on us to step up.

“We have no expectations going into the season. The main thing is for us to adapt, be competitive and earn as many points as we can. It’s about embracing the experience and pushing these young lads to be the best they can be and give them a platform to perform.”