Senior boys storm to North glory but S1 agony
Rumours that King Midas has been caught casting envious glances across the Minch to the Nicolson Institute have been confirmed after the fantastic footballers from the Stornoway school mined yet more precious silverware.
Four of the six North of Scotland Cups have once again been claimed by the Niccy for the second season in a row. Eight of the last 12 North of Scotland Cup’s have now had the Nicolson name etched into their body for eternity.
Ahead of another double North of Scotland Cup final hosted at the Highland Football Academy the school’s S2 Boys, Junior Girls and Senior Girls had already triumphed for the school.
There was an opportunity to make it five trophies out of six as the senior boys and the S1 boys took on Dingwall Academy in finals run at the same time on neighbouring pitches.
In the end back to back victories was out of the reach of our boys who won one final and slipped to defeat in another.
The seniors ran out 3-0 winners, drenched in the Dingwall sunshine, while the first year boys were undone 5-1 - a scoreline which is much worse on paper than in reality with the boys undone by a sluggish start and struggles to defend set pieces.
Playing in the shadow of Ross County’s Victoria Park both sides put on performances to be proud of with the seniors particularly slick as they ruthlessly put their rivals to the sword.
Goals from skipper Eachainn Miller and a late double from James Murray, shot the Nicolson to glory in what was a first school football trophy for all involved with this age group.
While the victors danced on the bone-dry turf and punched the air in delight there was a little, just a pinch, of sadness for a quintet of yellow shirts.
Bringing the curtain down on their Nicolson Institute football career were Alexander Macdonald, Michael Macmillan, James Murray, Eachainn Miller and Connor Maciver who were each pulling on their school crested football strip for the final time before moving on from school.
Two of the aforementioned five netted the goals which landed another trophy for the Sandwick Road sideboard.
Eachainn Miller opened the scoring in a keenly contested first-half which showed very little between two neat and tidy football sides.
A corner was whipped in from the right which saw the Dingwall keeper charge towards, flap around and get nowhere near. Michael Macmillan rose to meet the ball and knock it down into the turf where Miller burst onto like a doberman on freshmeat to blooter into the net from close range.
Miller came agonisingly close to a second minutes later after header another well dispatched corner from Calum Mackay which thundered off the underside of the crossbar.
The Nicolson were more in control of the game in the second-half as they enjoyed longer bouts of possession and making more passes than Casanova.
But they would have been hauled back onto level terms within minutes of the restart but for the bravery of keeper Ali Murray who, upon seeing Dingwall pick a hole in the right side of the Niccy rearguard, charged off his line in the famous Peter Schmeichel ‘starfish’ style to spread his body and make a crucial stop.
At the other end, Miller picked out Connor Maciver with an excellent near post cross which the latter steered just wide with his head.
As the minutes ebbed by, Nicolson manager Graeme Mackenzie made full use of his rolling subs rule to continually freshen up his side with energy and pace.
There was no let up for the slowing Dingwall rearguard who were undone twice in the final minutes.
Both goals came from James Murray, reintroudced by Mackenzie late on. The first came as he made a run across his marker to casually flick his right boot at a Miller cross which resulted in the ball looping into the air and dropping over the keeper.
It was a great yet unexpected finish to a ball into the box.
Murray then wrapped up proceedings and sealed the trophy with a late finish which he stabbed under the keeper from inside the box prompting wild celebrations from all in yellow.
Meanwhile, across the white line of battle in the senior fixture the S1 boys were also in sporting combat.
They went into the match in confident mood but within ten minuntes all their preparation was undone by a whirlwind start for Dingwall.
Three goals inside the opening ten minutes left the Niccy youngsters with a near impossible task to overturn.
Dingwall opened the scoring with a controversial goal which looked to most, but not the one man it mattered most with a whistle, a clear foul.
A ball into the box drew keeper Todd Morrison towards it and as he stretched his arms into the sky to claim the ball he was challenged by a Dingwall attacker who hooked his arm making it impossible to clutch it.
Both players and the ball hit the turf with the attacker reacting first to hook it into the empty net for the lead.
Crosses into the box proved to be the Nicolson’s achillies heel and a pair of corners sent into the mixer produced two goals for Dingwall who were 3-0 up in no time.
Another corner into the box was volleyed into the top corner for a fourth goal as the Nicolson dreams were unpicked stitch by stitch.
Liam Mackay scored for the Nicolson to offer faint hopes of the most dramatic comeback since Lazarus but it was never really on the cards.
Mackay could have galloped clear to have a shot for a second goal after a beautiful through ball from Kyle Maciver sent him into space.
But Mackay seemed reluctant to motor away and instead turned back into traffic.
In general play there was very little between the sides despite the three goal cushion. Pushing forward through skipper Adam Mackinnon the youngsters were comfortable in possession and playing their way from back to front.
Dingwall won, and missed, a penalty in the second-half as Todd Morrison made a flying save before smothering the rebound.
Dingwall did net another pair of late goals to rack up a 6-1 score which was a harsh lesson on the Nicolson S1 boys who will dust themselves down and learn a valuable lesson.
They only need to look across a few hundred yards of turf for inspiration as they saw their older school pals lifting the same trophy for their age group having never won it in their own junior years.
Time is very much on their side and they will have five more attempts at becoming North of Scotland Champs.
Now with the school on summer hiatus four of North of Scotland’s six most precious pieces of silverware are tucked up in the Stornoway school where our young footballing heroes will look to defend their titles in 2016.
On this form, and going by their footballing history, few would bet against a repeat next time around.
Senior Boys: Ali Murray, Euan Shirkie, Lewis Macdonald, Ruaraidh Macmillan, Angus Macdonald, Calum Mackay, Michael Macmillan, Eachainn Miller, Connor Maciver, Alex John Morrison, Alexander Macdonald, Colin Morrison, Andrew Mackay, James Murray, Luke Mackay, Ruaraidh Graham.
S1 Boy: Todd Morrison, Ross Maciver, Cailean Linklater, James Maclennan, Joe O’ Loughlin, James Macdonald, Adam Mackinnon, Luke Morrison, Samuel Duncan, Liam Mackay, Kyle Maciver, Murdo Angus, Cailean Macleod, James Cunningham, Lewis Macleod, John Angus Morrison.