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New Jags boss excited by start of Highland League season

By Gavin Musgrove

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New Jags boss Charlie Brown has been using his contacts in the game to devise a system to get the points away at Huntly tomorrow.

But he admits that at times it will be somewhat of a leap into the unknown for them and the rest of the Highland League sides given the hiatus caused by the pandemic.

There have been no matches in the league for nearly 18 months.

The Grantown side goes into tomorrow's opener on the back of a moral boosting 1-0 victory over Brown’s old club Forres Mechanics last weekend.

Brown is looking forward to finally taking charge of his first game in the hot seat after the best part of a decade as an assistant.

He said: “I have managed to learn a few bits and pieces about how Huntly could shape up this weekend with their new signings, and I will be trying to pick a team to counter that.

“I have spoken to a few contacts and they have given me an idea on how Huntly will play. They have brought in a few new players and their manager has had them working hard in pre-season.

“They will be well up for the game just as we will be.”

Strathspey Thistle have also been busy bringing in new players, with four new faces so far arriving at the club for the 2021/22 season.

Keeper Robert Donaldson has been brought in to challenge Mike MacCallum for the number one jersey, along with young Elgin City loanee central midfielder Jake Thomson, who scored the winner on Saturday.

Fraser Russell was already on-board from Inverness Caley Thistle ahead of Brown’s arrival, having been signed by former Jags boss Gordie Nicolson.

The 18-year-old midfielder has signed until the end of June 2023.

He was part of the Thistle set up from under 9s until 18 years old.

Russell was in training full time for a year until he was released and the Jags are his first senior team away from Caley.

The latest signing last Saturday sees the return of centre-half Jordan Wardrope to the club.

Brown said: “Jordan used to play for Strathspey but then went to Forres where he unfortunately got a bad injury.

“He’s been out of football for a while but is coming back into it and agreed to join us.”

He continued: “The new boys have fitted in really well and been made to feel very welcome by the rest of the squad.”

Brown has a full squad to chose from: “Everyone is fit and well for Saturday.

“Kieran Chalmers had a niggle in his groin so I have not risked him in the last couple of games, but he managed to train last Thursday night.

“So he will be fit and ready to go.”

Looking ahead to Saturday’s visit to Huntly, Brown said: “The boys have done well in pre-season and they are itching to get going.

“Beating Forres Mechanics 1-0 was a boost going into the first game of the season; they are geed up by that.”

MacCallum started the game in nets and then was replaced by Donaldson on the hour.

Brown said there are still a number of decisions to be made, including his keeper for team selection, which would be taken after this evening’s training.

Away fans are allowed to travel to the Huntly game.

* Strathspey Thistle host North Caledonian League side Golspie Sutherland in the first round of the North of Scotland Cup next Wednesday, with an 8pm kick-off.,

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