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199495The first official Caledonian Thistle match was on Saturday 30th July 1994 against St Mirren although two low-key matches had been played the previous week.

On Wednesday 20 July they beat RAF Kinloss 2-0 and on Friday 22 July they beat Golspie Sutherland 5-1 with both matches being played away from home.

The 31 July came and the doors of Telford Street were opened for a Caledonian Thistle match for the first time. St Mirren won 3-0 but the result was less important than the fact that the match took place.

The Club's first competitive match was a Coca-Cola Cup 1st Round match against East Stirling on Tuesday 9th August 1994. It was played at East Stirling's Firs Park and Caley Thistle won 2-0. The honour of scoring the first goal went to Wilson Robertson.

The following Saturday they played their first Scottish League match at Telford Street and spectacularly beat Arbroath 5-2. Alan Hercher was the local hero with a hat-trick. The Inverness fans came down to earth the following Wednesday when they went out of the Coca-Cola Cup 3-0 at Dundee.

The first local derby against Ross County was on the 27th August in Dingwall with the visitors winning 3-1. By September 10th the new Inverness Club sat proudly at the top of the Third Division after victories against Albion Rovers and Forfar.

September 28th saw a classic B&Q cup tie against Dundee at Telford Street. The score was 1-1 after extra time and the Inverness side only went out 4-3 on penalties.

League performances began to decline after this and Caledonian Thistle slipped down the Division. It was clear that promotion was not going to be achieved in the first season.

December 17th marked the Club's Scottish Cup debut against Queen of the South. After a lacklustre performance they lost 2-1.

The second half of the Season saw few good results and open criticism of the manager's defensive style of play. Two 3-1 victories over Cowdenbeath were heartening and a 3-0 win at Telford Street against Ross County on the second last Saturday of the season was relished - this result ended County's bid for promotion.

Pressure on Sergei Baltacha mounted and before the season was over he decided to resign. He left after the last league game of the season on 13th May having achieved 6th place in the Third Division.

Off the field financial matters dominated - not least the matter of a new Stadium. Its location was a matter of long debate. In the end it came down to a straight choice between Stratton Farm, just off the A96 Nairn road, and East Longman. Inverness and Nairn Enterprise favoured Stratton but East Longman was chosen, mainly as land assembly was simpler.

The Club agreed to lease a 9.03 acre site for 99 years from Inverness District Council. A major financial hurdle was the transfer of both the constituent clubs' assets to the new club and this proved very difficult.

It was not until May 1995 that the final major impediment of a court case involving Thistle assets was resolved. Sheriff James Fraser ruled against an interdict motion brought by Thistle member Martin Ross.

Caledonian members had already pledged their assets after lengthy battles. Kingsmills Park was sold for £486000 to builders Hugh MacRae and this money became part of the sum required for the new Stadium.

May 1995 not only saw the conclusion of the court case but it was also the month that full planning permission for the Stadium was granted. Sadly it also saw the departure of Jock MacDonald as Chairman but he was immediately made Life-President.

Stadium Director Dougie MacGilvray took over and in the same month ex-Manchester United player and Huntly player/manager Steve Paterson was appointed to replace Sergei Baltacha. Ex-Dundee and St Johnstone player Alex Caldwell became "Pele" Paterson's assistant.

29th June 1995 witnessed the inaugural meeting of the unified Caledonian Thistle Members' Club which was to be open to season ticket holders but with membership subject to the veto of the Board. The members voted to amend the Club's name to incorporate the word Inverness from the start of season 1996-97 but the detail of how this was to be achieved was left for another day.

This had been the wish of the Council when granting the lease of the East Longman site although it had not been a requirement. It had long been clear that the Stadium deadline of summer 1995 would not be met but the Scottish League were sympathetic and could appreciate that the merger was a unique situation with many unforseen complications.

The aim now became Summer 1996 when hopefully promotion to Division 2 would have been achieved. Telford Street Park had already been sold to Texas Homecare and they agreed to retain their option to purchase despite the delay.

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