by JACK NIXON
AFTER nearly 25 years of reporting on the game in Caledonia region, involving trips to over 50 Scottish grounds, I was never more proud of the area’s product than I was on Saturday at Bridgehaugh.
Aberdeen Grammar and Highland, the two top clubs from the area, served up a full-on, all-action spectacle, which, while never a classic, was a final to savour in the heat of the Stirling sun, sapping the energy of two genuinely amateur teams, led by two inspired coaches.
Ali O’Connor of Grammar has done a remarkable job at Rubislaw, taking the club to the Premiership, and landing the team’s first national silverware since 2003, while Davie Carson has won hearts and minds in Inverness after six years of dragging the club from the depths of Caley 2 North to National League 1.
I would also like to pay tribute to the two veterans of both sides who, in the steaming heat, turned in sterling performances, as Greig Ryan of Grammar and Kevin Brown of Highland have done for years.
Perhaps it was the heat which got to referee John Shaw who did not enjoy the best of games, failing to exert his authority on a cup tie which demanded a tighter reign.
And, finally, what is it with my central belt colleagues in the media who cannot be bothered to make even the shortest of trips to take in a national final, even if it was between two clubs they had probably never heard of?
In the end I was happy to have enjoyed the excellent company of the few scribes who did make the effort, and were rewarded handsomely for doing so, with a day to remember for the substantial support carried by both clubs.