NORTH CALEDONIA CUP FINAL
Lewis 1, Golspie Sutherland 0 (H.T. 1-0)
Lewis FC, a team of select players from the Lewis and Harris League, won the North Caledonia Cup on Saturday after defeating Golspie Sutherland 1-0 with a winning strike fit to grace any competition.
This is the second year that a team from the island has entered the knock-out competition of the North Caledonia League, which effectively operates a level below the main Highland League through the winter months.
And the Lewis lads proved they were well worthy of the platform, giving a tremendous performance in last Saturday’s final to lift the trophy.
They had disposed of Sutherland and Shetland in the earlier rounds, but knew that in Golspie Sutherland they faced one of the strongest teams in the tournament and one packed with experience.
Nevertheless, the island squad won — with a fantastic strike by Robert MacKenzie from Lochs being the only goal of a very physical and tense encounter.
As Golspie pushed for the equaliser there was little doubt that Lewis rode their luck for long periods, with the ball hitting the bar on one occasion and keeper Colin MacRitchie of Stornoway Athletic pulling off a number of crucial saves.
The only goal of the match came around midway through the first half. When MacKenzie picked up possession in the middle of the park 30 yards from goal there seemed little danger, but the Lochs midfielder let fly and the ball cannoned off the underside of the crossbar and into the net leaving the opposition keeper helpless.
It was then simply a question of whether the younger Lewis lads could hold on to their lead, which they did — thanks partly to the width of the crossbar. As the final whistle sounded the 40 or so Lewis supporters who made the trip rose to voice a chorus of approval.
Kenny MacIver, chair of the Lewis and Harris Football Association, said: “We are very proud of the boys. They performed brilliantly, particularly against a more physical and street-wise team like Golspie. We did ride our luck a bit at times if I’m being honest, but it was still well deserved. The boys and their coaches, Billy Flower and Dano MacDonald, deserve a lot of credit.
“Who would have thought that having just entered the cup competition 18 months ago we would already be in a position where we have lifted a trophy? It shows that football on the island is as good as anywhere.”
However, Mr MacIver did not think they would be in a position to enter a team in the North Caley League.
“Stick to the cups is my advice,” he said. “We play our football in the summer and it would be too much to ask the guys to continue playing through the winter.
“You’ve got the cost of all that, plus ferry cancellations because of bad weather. You would probably be looking at having all your home games on the mainland and it would just be too much to ask, I think.”