25Years!! Where has the time gone?
Club Secretary Jim Falconer will be retiring at the end of the season after continuous outstanding service to the club. Along with groundsman Tommy Cumming, he hailed from the Telford Street side of the amalgamation of Caledonian and Inverness Thistle when a place in the Scottish Football League was won on 19 January 1994. Prior to the start of the first season, when there was still a fair amount of uncertainty, they agreed that they would give things a few months to “see how it goes”. 25 years on and they are both still with the club!!
I look back with pride and pleasure at what the Club has achieved in a relatively short time. It just seems like yesterday that we were having our first Scottish League game at Telford Street with the late, great Alan Hercher scoring a hat-trick in a 5-2 win against Arbroath. The euphoria of the 70 to 80 people crammed in to the Hospitality Suite (previously a second hand wooden sectional temporary classroom) at the end of the game remains fresh in the memory and was a stark contrast to the preceding dark and difficult days of the amalgamation. We were on our way!
Just 10 short years later we were rubbing shoulders with the elite of Scottish Football in the Premier League. In those ten years we had won Division 3, won Division 1, won the Challenge Cup and had been in two Scottish Cup Semi Finals.
Another Championship win, a League Cup semi Final, and Final, has since followed along with, of course, a Scottish Cup win and participation in the Europa League. – what memories!
There are Clubs with a hundred years of history who can not match what we have done in 25.
For the majority of the early years Steve Paterson was the Manager and there is no doubt that, with his cavalier attitude of ”as long as we score one more than them” he was instrumental in establishing the Club’s DNA. Every Manager however contributed to the success of the Club and moved us forward. For instance, Craig Brewster, made sure the players were fit and strong and John Hughes brought a new approach to coaching – not to mention the Scottish Cup. Possibly an indication of their success is that during our 25 years, we have had more Chairmen than Managers!
We all have favourite games. Mine is every game we win! However, a few do stand out for different reasons. There was the shock of going ballistic against Celtic in the Scottish Cup in February 2000, the drama of helicopter Saturday in May 2004 when we beat St. Johnstone to win Division 1, the celebrations at the end of the 7-0 defeat of Ayr United in May 2010 when we won Division1 for a second time, the disbelief when Graeme Shinnie (left back) drove in to the opposing box to pass to David Raven (right back) for the winning goal against Celtic in the Scottish Cup Semi-Final in April 2015 and the agony and ecstasy of our 2-1 victory in the Scottish Cup that followed in May.
I have always held the view that, given our finances and fan base, we are essentially a good Championship side who punch above our weight but I would concede that the fact that we have spent almost half of our 25 years in the Premiership would appear to contradict this.
There is no doubt that there are players and managers who have contributed immensely to the success of the Club but they come and go and, it is my opinion that, it is collectively us (directors, staff, helpers and supporters) who together make this Club that bit special – long may it continue.