When Lewis and Harris FC were granted entry into the North Caledonian Cup it is a safe assumption the established superpowers and regular winners of the competition weren’t expecting the Hebridean upstarts to make quite the impact they have.
After a first-round exit in their maiden campaign, Lewis and Harris FC stormed to glory the following year.
Now just another 12-months on and they are back in the North Caledonian Cup final and stand just 90-minutes from a glorious defence of the precious silverware.
They have long since proved they are capable of going toe to toe and blow to blow with anyone in the North Caledonian League and they are just one knockout punch from a glorious back to back triumph.
Cup final opponents Golspie are known as the greyhounds of the North Caley League with their significant player pool and reach but Lewis and Harris have the pedigree to retain the trophy.
Last time out a thunderbolt from midfield warrior Robert Mackenze saw Lewis and Harris get themselves into the outside lane and stretch their noses in front to win the trophy against one of the league’s most established strongholds.
2015 sees a repeat of the final with all on this side of the Minch hoping for a repeat result.
There is a new man at the Lewis and Harris helm after 2014 manager Billy Flower stood down but Kenny ‘Bugsy’ Smith has carried the baton impressively well – drafting in a host of first-cap kids and steering them past Alness and Invergordon en-route to the final.
Speaking to the Gazette ahead of the final Smith insisted he remains confident and cautious at the same time ahead of a huge occasion for island football.
“I’m very much looking forward to the match now although I’m aware it will be a tough game,” he said.
“We are still unsure if Scott Macaulay will recover in time and if he is missing it will be a blow but that apart we won’t be making many changes to the squad which played the semi-final.
“All the players involved so far have done brillianlty for us and while I would like to add another striker I’m not sure if Jim O’Donnell is avaialable and Stewart Munro, who I also thought about, is away this week.
“The biggest dilemma for me is centre midfield where we are very strong but some of the boys, who prefer to play centrally, may have to move out wide. I still haven’t decided yet on who will play where but I do intend on sticking to the 4-2-3-1 system which has been working well for us. This formation offers real stability and versatlity.
“I don’t know much about Golspie apart from that they are a physical side and they have a particularly dangerous striker. But if we can keep a clean sheet then we will win the match. We have an excellent goalkeeper, a solid back four and playing two midfielders sitting in front gives us versatility while protection too.
“The first goal will be crucial but we can’t wait now for the match.”
Lewis and Harris FC (Semi-final squad - final squad not confiemed at press time): James Macleod, Gordon Mackenzie, Gary Macleod, Peter Mackenzie, Campbell Macdonald, Johnny Wallace, Scott Macaulay, Elliot Ruddal, Chris Macleod, Micheil Smith, Robert Mackenzie, Alasdair Macleod, James Morrison, Robert Jones, Innes Iain Morrison, Ally Macdonald.
The North Caledonian Cup final is scheduled to take place Saturday, October 17 in Alness at Dalmore Park with a kick-off time of 1.10pm.
A supporters bus is available for any Lewis and Harris fans who wish to cheer the team on during this historic occasion. Any supporters wishing to travel can add their names to the list in Sportsworld in Stornoway.