Lochs FC - Lewis and Harris Football preview

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The Maroons rolled their rock to the league peak last season for the ninth time and for the second season on the bounce.

But now the football clock resets with the rock back again at the base of the mountain as they dream of their own version of ‘La Decima’ or ‘An Deicheamh’ – a tenth Lewis and Harris league title.

This year Lochs have a new manager in the Creagan Dubh hot-seat trying to satisfy the Magnificent Maroons’ unquenchable thirst for silverware.

Former player Alex ‘Tippex’ Maciver has taken over from David Macmillan which will allow the mercurial midfielder the chance to fully focus his attention on playing rather than juggling the role as boss-in-boots.

“I’m really looking forward to the new season and I feel I can offer a different perspective from the sidelines and it obviously gives David the release to just concentrate on the playing side which is something he wanted to do,” said Maciver.

“Having played with most of this team myself I know what they can do which will help me and I’m very confident of a good season.”

Traditionally Lochs come into the new season juggling player availability and concerns over the fitness of players – usually their core, experienced guys.

Again this year there are question marks over the fitness of Andy Murray and Donald ‘Nomie’ Macdonald while Robert Mackenzie has only just recently returned from a long term lay-off.

Elsewhere Angie Campbell will miss the entire season after having an operation on his knee and Jim O’Donnell, both Lochs and Lewis and Harris football’s top scorer in 2016 with 34 notches on his belt, hasn’t trained much over the winter.

“The key for us will be managing the older players fitness I think as a lot of them have been struggling with injuries,” admitted Maciver.

“But I have six juniors from the under-18 side I would have no hesitation in playing. I’ve seen them all training for a few months now and I’m confident they could do a job for me.”

On a brighter note Peter ‘Robbie’ Mackenzie is fit again after injury and midfield warrior John ‘Uig’ Morrison is now permanently based at home after a decade in the oil industry.

Ross Allisson has put pen to paper in the Lochie book from Aths while Lewis Mackenzie has signed from Ness Social Club in the Communities League which should afford Lochs a little more strength in depth.

Yet despite the adrenaline injection from a pair of young, hungry and technically able footballers like Allison and Mackenzie, the absolute key factors remain the veteran quartet of David Macmillan, Andy Murray, Peter Mackenzie and John ‘Uig’ Morrison. These four are somehow, managing to fight the psychological rust that usually ends winning eras.

Elsewhere Jim O’Donnell brings that non-stop, ruthless, one-track mind, “get-out-of-my-way-I-don’t-care-how-it-looks” appetite for scoring. Top scorer in the league last season and man crucial to spearhead the Lochs attack.

And in midfield Robert Mackenzie, with last year’s Lewis and Harris Player of the Year trophy tucked away in his back pocket, will be key with his driving runs and a man who has more gears than a Top Gear box set.

Lochs always want their players to run and run and run -- in training and in matches. The Maroons have a devotion to make sure their players are fitter, hungrier, sharper than anyone else and thereby to unleash the footballing excellence they possess.

Confidence breeds confidence, hard work seems worth it and self-doubt evaporates.

The fact that rookie gaffer Alex Maciver gobbled up finals and trophies wherever he went as a player indicates the truth: he’s intense, hard working, dedicated to winning.

“Lochs have done what no side has managed in 10-years in Lewis football and that’s defend the league title,” added Maciver.

“And with us keeping the majority of the squad I believe we can keep the momentum going but I think Point are the ones to watch and will be a huge threat.”