To mark our 25th anniversary, club historian Ian Broadfoot is currently working on a book capturing the history of our club the with the emphasis on photographs. It will be called ‘Milestones and Memories’ and we aim to have it ready for purchase during the summer. After the unification of the two clubs, the Caledonian Thistle F.C. story began on 24 February, 1994, with the first meeting of the new Board at Balnain House, Huntly Street, Inverness. Here Ian recalls some of the early days, including that historic first Board meeting
Founding fathers would be amazed at progress of our great club
I am sure it is a sign of age but the club’s Silver Jubilee seems to have arrived remarkably quickly. Sitting in the stand at Telford Street Park on 30 July 1994 it was thrilling to see the new team run out for the first official friendly against St Mirren but it was a pity that the first competitive match took place at East Stirling’s Firs Park (sadly now out of use and overgrown) rather than in Inverness.
The 2-0 Coca-Cola Cup win was a fine debut and a signal to the Scottish football that there was a new kid in town. Fast forward four days and the first league match. I was puzzled as to where or when I should collect my paid-for season ticket but on the Friday evening a taxi rolled up at my house and brief number six was delivered in time to witness league history. Arbroath were the first visitors to Inverness and they went down 5-2 including a hat-trick from the late great Alan Hercher. The rest is history.
The first Caledonian Thistle Board meeting on 24 February 1994 at Balnain House was a major milestone and the culmination of much drama. Peace had broken out between the rival factions but it took time before all hostility disappeared. The Board’s first task was to allocate roles then appoint a manager.
Caledonian manager Sergei Baltacha’s international pedigree made him the obvious choice and he had the very difficult task of taking the unified club into an alien environment with a new team, extensive travel and battle-hardened opponents. Finishing the season in sixth spot with 45 points was a major achievement in the circumstances and Baltacha’s place in the club’s history is secure.
He was followed by Steve Paterson, the very successful incumbent for 7 ½ years, then a succession of high profile managers who each added his stamp to the team.
Those of us who have been privileged to witness the growth of the unified club owe a debt of gratitude to the founding fathers of Inverness Thistle and Caledonian who would certainly be amazed at what has happened in years since 1885.
In more recent times tribute must be paid to those behind the scenes that created the ‘new’ club in very difficult circumstances – their legacy is Caledonian Stadium and a team that has progressed from ground level through the leagues, won the Scottish Cup and played in the Europa League.