Inverness Athletic FC - Club History
Inverness Athletic FC were officially formed in 2016, after a meeting with various football minded people involved with different amateur football clubs in Inverness, but were first thought of in 2014 by now Chairman Sandy Stephen. Sandy had always wanted to be part of a club based in Inverness and competing in the North Caledonian League, and in May 2016 this happened when Inverness Athletic FC were officially accepted into the League.
Chris Darch was appointed the clubs first ever manager. Chris quickly appointed a coaching staff to help him achieve his goal of getting a brand-new side to compete against the quality that the North Caledonian League had to offer. Mark McAuley, who was previously Manager of Dornoch City for 2 seasons, and Balintore for 2 seasons was appointed as the club’s new coach along with Kevin Gilmour, Darren Macmillan and Ricky Lennan, all of whom brought a wealth of footballing experience to the club.
In June 2016, it was announced that the club would be using the fantastic facilities at Inverarnie Park as their home ground for the 2016/17 season. The club was granted to use of the facilities by the Farr Community and were delighted to be able to have somewhere to call Home.
2016/17 Season – Chris Darch
On the 3rd of September Inverness Athletic FC finally got to play their first competitive game against Orkney FC on Orkney, which finished 2-0 to the home side. The clubs first ever home game was against Invergordon FC at Inverarnie Park on the 10th of September 2016. Once again Inverness were on the end of a defeat, 4-1, with Phil Macdonald having his name written into the clubs History books with the first ever competitive goal scored. Further defeats followed away at St Duthus, 4-2 and at home to Halkirk United, 4-2 before Inverness Athletic would register their first win. It was worth the wait. On the 8th October 2016 Inverness Athletic FC face a very young Alness United side at Inverarnie Park. The score line flattered Inverness Athletic, 10-0, but everyone at the club was delighted to get the first win in a competitive match and hopefully kick start the season. Unfortunately, further defeats at the hands of Golspie Sutherland, 3-1, and 8-1 away to Invergordon in the Cup, quickly damped the excitement after the clubs first win. This also signalled the end for Manager Chris Darch, who stepped down after the Invergordon Cup defeat.
In November 2016 Inverness Athletic moved to a new home in Muir of Ord. The club was forced to find a new place to call after being unable to use the facilities anymore in Inverarnie. The club took up residency at Pavilion Park in Muir of Ord, home of former North Caledonian League side Muir of Ord Rovers.
2016/17 Season – Tommy Wilson
Tommy Wilson was appointed the club’s new manager in November 2016. Tommy arrived with a wealth of football experience and knowledge and decided to shake things up on the coaching side of the club. Ryan Rutherford was appointed as the club’s new player/assistant manager. Ryan, who was already a player at the club, was a North Caley veteran and his experience and knowledge of the league was invaluable to Tommy. Mark McAuley stayed on as part of the new management team as a coach. Tommy’s first game in charge was a 1-1 draw at home to Thurso. This was followed by another home defeat at the hands of St Duthus, 3-1. Things once again looked up for Inverness when they travelled to face Alness United. Tommy and his squad managed to secure all 3 points, winning 4-0, and in turn doing the season double over Alness. Inverness only managed to pick up a further 1 point for the rest of the league season, a 3-3 home draw with Golspie Sutherland, as they suffered defeats away to Halkirk United, 3-0, Invergordon 3-1 and Thurso 6-1. An ill-fated trip to Orkney followed which ended up in the club’s heaviest defeat to date, 12-1 which was quickly followed by a 3-1 home defeat to finish the season at the hands of Orkney FC.
On April 15th, 2017, the club held its first ever Sportsman’s Dinner at the Mercure Hotel in Inverness. Alan McInally was the guest speaker along with Les Gibson as the entertainment for the night. Highland League legend Rab Mulhearon was the host for the night. The Players awards were also presented on the night. The winners were as follows
Player of the Year - Roddy MacPhee
Players Players of the Year - Roddy MacPhee
Top Goal scorer - Phil Macdonald
Young Player of the Year - Terrance Brady
In May 2017, the club achieved its SFA Quality Mark Award. The Quality Mark Accreditation Scheme is designed to recognise the work of clubs who have a desire to be the very best they can be. To attain the award, the club must meet a list of criteria aimed at improving or supporting management, development structures, administration, planning and welfare.
Shane Carling and Cameron Stark
In June 2017 Tommy Wilson once again reshuffled his coaching staff in readiness for the 2017/18 season, which would be his first full season in charge. Shane Carling was added as Tommy's Assistant manager after Ryan Rutherford stepped down from the position at the end of last season to concentrate on playing. Tommy also added coach Cameron Stark to the management team. Cameron joined after a short break from football and brought a wealth of coaching experience and knowledge, having been a full-time coach at Ross County.
Manager Tommy Wilson kicked off his first pre season with Athletic with some very convincing wins against Dornoch City, Forres U20s and Balintore, which saw him experiment with a variety of new faces as he overhauled the Inverness squad from their debut season. The season kicked off with a defeat away to St Duthus, as the Tain men won by the odd goals in 3, followed by a horror show away at The Damies as Inverness were swept aside 7-1 by a rampant Thurso. The Football Times Cup gave Inverness their first win of the season when they got the better of Halkirk United by 4-2, with a Chris Innes wonder strike the pick of the goals. Defeats away to Invergordon in the league, 5-2, and home to Orkney in The Football Times Quarter Final, 8-1, quickly followed to dampen Athletics spirits. The clubs first home League win was just around the corner as they welcomed St Duthus to Pavilion Park. Goals from Glenn Donoughue and Connor Ross secured their first 3 points of the season and started a good run of games for Wilsons men. An away win to Bunilidh Thistle, 2-0 and a draw at home to Alness, 1-1, followed as Inverness secured seven points from a possible nine.
That run would came to an abrupt end with a run of 3 defeats on the bounce. Golspie Sutherland ran out 4-1 winners away in the League meeting at Geroge V Park, Alness United were 5-4 victors in the North Caledonian Cup before another League defeat at the hands of eventual Champions Orkney at Pavilion Park, 4-1. December saw Inverness only have one fixture due to the weather, but it was the start of a great run of games. Back to back home league win against Halkirk United, 3-1, and Bunilidh Thistle, 9-2, gave Athletics League position a timeless boost. These league wins were quickly followed but another win against Halkirk United, 2-1, in the first round of the Jock Mackay Cup with Glenn Donoughue with a last minute strike. February kicked off with the worse score line in the clubs history, as Orkney ran riot in Kirkwall by finding the net 13 times, in what was a day to forget for everyone at the club. This was quickly followed by a 3-1 home defeat to Thurso. The home defeat to Thurso signalled the end for Manager Tommy Wilson who stepped down from his role to spend more time with his young family. Assistant Manager Shane Carling was swiftly installed at Manager till the end of the season with his first task to get Inverness to their first ever cup Semi Final. Lewis and Harris were the visitors to Pavilion Park in the Jock Mackay Cup Quarter Final and goals from Craig Stuart, Russell Macintyre and Connor Ross were enough to give the new manager the win. Carlings men then went on a run of four league defeats in a row as Invergordon, 3-2, Alness United, 3-2, Golspie Sutherland, 3-1 and Halkirk United 4-2 all managed to get the better of the Inverness club. These defeats ended a very up and down league season for the club where they finished in seventh place in the league, a place higher that their debut season. The Jock Mackay Cup gave Inverness a chance to finish the season on a high as St Duthus stood in Athletics way to their first ever Cup Final appearance. A commanding performance from Carlings men with goals from Craig Stuart, Russell Macintyre and a double from Phil Macdonald were enough to see of a very good St Duthus side and book Athletics Cup Final place against Invergordon, where they would eventually lose out 3-1.
On March 3rd, 2018, the club held its 2nd annual Sportsman’s Dinner at the Mercure Hotel in Inverness. John Hartson was the guest speaker along with Mitchell Gibb as the entertainment for the night. Highland League legend Rab Mulhearon was the MC once again for the evening. The Players awards were also presented on the night. The winners were as follows
Player of the Year - Russell Macintyre
Young Player of the Year - Connor Ross
Committee Player of the Year - Martin Mainland
Top Goal scorer - Phil Macdonald
Connor Ross - North Caledonian League Young Player of the Year 2017/18
It was announced at the end of the 2017/18 that our very own Connor Ross was named the North Caledonian League Young Player of the Year for the 2017/18 season. The big striker, who can also play on the wings, made his Inverness Athletic debut against St Duthus in September last year, and went on to play a further twenty times for the club, netting an impressive ten goals along the way. Despite Inverness Athletics final league position, Ross obviously impressed the other clubs in the league with his performances, as it was them who voted for him as the outstanding Young Player of the season. On receiving the award Ross said, “I am delighted to receive this award in what was my first season in the North Caledonian League. To be voted Young Player of the Year by the other clubs in the league is a massive boost for me and I would like to thank them for that. I really enjoyed playing for Inverness last season and can’t wait to get going again.”
Carling Continues as Manager
Before the start of the 2018/19 season, Inverness Athletic announced that Shane Carling will be staying on as the clubs Manager. Shane took over the team on a short-term basis at the end of the previous season, after previous manager Tommy Wilson stepped down, and his energy and enthusiasm for the role ended up securing him the role full time. Shane guided the club to its first ever Cup Final, in the Jock Mackay Cup, with impressive wins over Lewis & Harris and St Duthus. Despite missing out on silver wear on the day it was a fantastic effort from Shane and his team to get the club to the Final and shows the excellent work he was doing in a short period of time. He said "I'm very happy to get the Managers job full time at Inverness. I obviously took charge of the team when Tommy left at the end of last season and really enjoyed it, so was delighted when the committee asked me to take the position full time. I am really looking forward to the new season and am excited to get pre-season started." Shane got to working quickly by filling the various coaching roles at the club to help him drive the club forward on the pitch.
Iain Flint - Assistant Manager
Andrew Sutherland - Fitness Coach
Jason Golabek - Coach
Scott Crossley - Assistant Coach
Sandy Stephen - Goalkeeping Coach