The new Lewis and Harris Senior season is due to begin next month with a much shorter season after the entire 2020 campaign was cancelled due to the pandemic.
But the island football rumour mill has been in overdrive in recent weeks with suggestions both Lochs and Ness - ironically paired together in the first round of fixtures and two of the most successful clubs in Lewis and Harris football over the past 30-years - are struggling to gather enough players to begin the new season and fulfil their fixtures.
The Stornoway Gazette spoke to Lochs boss Mackenzie and Ness manager Martin Macleod and they are encouraged and keen to ensure these two great island football clubs will join the other seven confirmed clubs in crossing the painted white line of sporting battle.
“We have been short of players,” admitted Mackenzie, “but positively we seem to be welcoming a few more faces to training again and we are positive we will be able to put a team together in time.
“We are of course working very hard to make sure Lochs have a team and maintaining representation in the league is very important to the club. It’s not been easy as we lost a lot of players as they got older at the same time and then the year out of football with covid has also had an impact but we are hopeful.”
Lochs, league champions as recently as 2015 and 2016, have been represented in every Lewis and Harris senior league season since 1961.
Ness boss Martin Macleod has dismissed suggestions his side won’t be part of the new season although he concedes it might be a tricky summer at Fivepenny.
“I think it’s going to be a tricky season for us,” he explained to the Gazette, “but we will have a team.
“If everyone who is signed for us comes along every week then we will be ok and you never know what will happen but we have ok numbers.
“We are training as much as allowed and when restrictions ease more we hope to arrange and play a couple of friendlies so I think Ness are good to go and we are looking forward to it.”
Competitive football is due to return to Lewis and Harris with the league kick off on Friday, June 11, which would be the first senior football league matches played in Lewis and Harris since West Side clinched the title in the historic and dramatic title play off back in October 2019.
In addition to the league a single cup competition is also to be played in Round Robin style which would see the clubs split into three groups with each side enjoying one home match and each group winner, and the best runner-up, advancing to the semi-final stage.
Three points would be awarded for wins in the group stages with draws being decided by penalty shoot-out with two points earned by shoot-out winners and single point going to those on the wrong end of the penalty kicks.