North Caledonian Football League

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
North Caledonian Football Association
Founded 1896
Country Scotland
Number of teams 9
Current champions Orkney (1st title)
Most championships Clachnacuddin reserves
2017–18 North Caledonian Football League

The North Caledonian Football Association is a football association operating throughout the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and is a Recognised Body of the SFA and as such has its senior football competitions officially registered with the Scottish Football Association.


Member teams have included reserve teams of Highland Football League clubs alongside amateur teams from throughout the Highlands and Islands region.[1] As Highland Football League clubs are full members of the SFA, disciplinary procedures in the league are handled directly by the SFA – a unique situation in Scottish amateur football.

As well as holding membership of the North Caledonian FA, Golspie Sutherland are also full members of the Scottish Football Association and as of season 2007–08 have obtained direct entry to the Scottish Cup. Prior to this they were entered into the Scottish Qualifying Cup (North) each season. Since 2013, membership is extended beyond the Highlands to clubs in the Islands, with Orkney, Shetland and Lewis & Harris all entering teams.

Member clubs for the 2018–19 season[edit]

Team Location Home ground Ref.
Alness United Alness Dalmore Park [2]
Bunillidh Thistle Helmsdale Couper Park [3]
Golspie Sutherland Golspie King George V Park [4]
Halkirk United Halkirk Morrison Park [5]
Invergordon Invergordon Recreation Grounds [6]
Inverness Athletic Muir of Ord Pavilion Park [7]
Orkney Kirkwall The Pickaquoy Centre [8]
St Duthus Tain Links Playing Fields [9]
Thurso Thurso Sir George's Park [10]

Member clubs (cup competitions only) for the 2018–19 season[edit]

Team Location Home ground Ref.
Lewis & Harris Lewis & Harris Jubilee Park, Dingwall
Nairn County U20s Nairn Station Park, Nairn
Shetland Shetland Sir George's Park, Thurso

Evolution of the league[edit]

The association was founded in 1896 as the "North of Scotland 2nd XI League" to accommodate "2nd XI" teams from the Highland Football League which upon its formation mostly consisted of teams from the Inverness area. By the turn of the century, the association had welcomed new member teams from throughout Inverness-shire and Ross-shire who were not affiliated to the Highland League who were instead playing as junior football teams, such as Muir of Ord, Beauly, Dingwall Victoria (later known as Ross County) and Tore United.

From 1948 the league was known essentially as the North of Scotland "2nd XI" League or "Highland Reserve League", having dropped its junior tag and instead becoming recognised as a senior football league. By the 1970s, the Highland League reserve teams which had frequently entered teams gradually dropped out with most finding that it was not financially viable to run "2nd XI" or reserve teams each year.

In a bid to shake the stigma of the "2nd XI" tag (and the inference of being "second best") the remaining amateur football clubs in the league took the decision to rename the league and at the 1984 annual general meeting of the North of Scotland 2nd XI Football Association in Bonar Bridge, member clubs voted unanimously to change the name of the association to the North Caledonian Football Association and the name of the league competition to the North Caledonian Football League.

The North Caledonian Football League is often characterised by the number of clubs who have used it as a 'stepping-stone' to the professional ranks of Scottish football. Among those to have 'graduated' from the league are Rothes, Wick Academy and Fort William who left to join the Highland Football League as well as the reserve teams of the Scottish Football League clubs Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Ross County.

Location of teams in 2017–18 North Caledonian Football League

Recent history[edit]

The 2008–09 season saw the league reduced to ten teams following the withdrawal of Dornoch City and Inverness City joining the Junior leagues. Late applicants Tain Thistle took the league membership up to ten teams for the start of the season.

Fort William entered a reserve side in the league for season 2009–10 as the first Highland Football League "reserve" side to compete since 1999. Helmsdale based Bunillidh Thistle withdrew whilst Alness United took a year out, and former members Dingwall Thistle returned to complete a ten-team league.

Season 2010–11 saw Alness return after a one-year absence whilst Tain Thistle withdrew after two seasons.

Clachnacuddin again entered a reserve side for season 2011–12, whilst Fort William Reserves dropped out due to problems with pitch availability.[11] Before the season started, both Bonar Bridge and Invergordon withdrew, leaving just eight teams in the league. The following season 2012–13, Invergordon returned while Balintore and Dingwall Thistle both withdrew from the league.

Invergordon again withdrew from competition for the 2013–14 season, however, the void was filled by a new team from Dornoch in Sutherland United. That same season, a newly formed Shetland team[12] and Lewis & Harris both registered for competition in the North Caledonian Cup.

The following season, 2014–15, Shetland and Lewis & Harris also competed in the Jock Mackay Cup, while a new team, Orkney,[13] was accepted as a member of the league – the first Islands team to do so.

Invergordon returned following a two-year period of abeyance, however, along with Muir of Ord Rovers, Sutherland United withdrew from the competition after just their second season, taking the amount of competing teams down to six for season 2015–16.

However, a total of eight teams registered for league competition in 2016–17, with St Duthus returning to represent Tain[14] and a new team Inverness Athletic was also accepted.[15]

Bunillidh Thistle are the most recent club to join the league - having been accepted at the North Caledonian League's AGM in June 2017. This marks a return to the competition for the Sutherland club, having last been involved in 2009 and increase to nine teams. For the 2018-19 season, all member clubs retained their membership status.

Previous champions[edit]

Club Performance[edit]

As of end of season 2017–18
Club Winners
Clachnacuddin reserves
Nelson FC
Golspie Sutherland
Inverness Thistle reserves
Caledonian reserves
Halkirk United
Inverness Citadel reserves
Wick Academy
Alness United
Dingwall Thistle
Brora Rangers reserves
Bunillidh Thistle
Dingwall Victoria United
Inverness Caledonian Thistle reserves
Inverness District Asylum FC
Muir of Ord
Nairn County reserves
Ross County reserves
Albert FC
Avoch Rovers
Buckie Thistle reserves
Catch-My-Pal FC
Elgin City reserves
Fearn Thistle
Fort William
Fortrose Union
Highland Light Infantry FC
Inverness Celtic


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-11-17. Retrieved 2011-07-09. 
  2. ^ Alness United,, Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  3. ^ Bunillidh Thistle,, Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  4. ^ Golspie Sutherland,, Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  5. ^ Halkirk United,, Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  6. ^ Invergordon,, Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  7. ^ "Inverness Athletic F.C." Retrieved 2016-06-08. 
  8. ^ Orkney,, Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  9. ^ "St Duthus F.C." Retrieved 2016-06-08. 
  10. ^ Thurso,, Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  11. ^ Clach back in North Caledonian League Highland News, Retrieved 23 July 2011.
  12. ^ "Shetland Squad : Shetland Football". Retrieved 2016-06-08. 
  13. ^ "Ball rolling on Orkney FC - The Orcadian Online". The Orcadian Online. 2012-08-02. Retrieved 2016-06-08. 
  14. ^ "St Duthus accepted into the North Caledonian FA | St Duthus Football Club - Tain, Highland, Scotland". Retrieved 2016-06-08. 
  15. ^ "North Caledonian FA - Latest News". Retrieved 2016-06-08. 

External links[edit]