County footballers will lock horns with mainland amateur select

The Shetland football team will be tackling a Scottish amateur select team on Sunday, with hopes the blues can be involved in more games on the mainland, including Scottish Amateur Cup ties.

Coach Niall Bristow said the team will be very similar to the squad who were victorious in this year’s inter-county on home soil, beating Orkney 2-0.

The Shetland Times was alerted to some uncertainty about the future of the management team, though Bristow said he and Kevin Main would be taking the team as normal in Sunday’s match, at Gilbertson Park at 2.30pm.

The Shetland football management team of Niall Bristow (left) and Kevin Main. Photo: Kevin Jones

“It’s a great finish to the end of the season,” Bristow said. “It’s great to welcome them up and hopefully we will impress a few people.”

Talks are planned with the president of the Scottish Amateur Football Association, Charles Gallacher, who is visiting this weekend, with the hope that Shetland can face more mainland opposition, particularly with the absence of football from the 2019 island games in Gibraltar.

Main is part of the management team with Bristow and said both will be there on Sunday. He said they had agreed to review their position 12 months after taking the job.

The pair took up the mantle after the shock resignation of Alan Graham and John Scott Christie last September.

Main said: “It’s all the same. Me and Niall will be very much in charge of management this week, in terms of preparation over the weekend. There on, when we actually took on this role ‘x’ amount of months ago, we gave a commitment to the committee at the time that we would review our position and our situation.

“How we came into the job wasn’t maybe ideal in terms of a couple of guys walking away and me staying.”

Main said talks with Gallacher are being held this weekend and one of the ambitions he has is for more cup games. That would be an incentive for Main to commit to long-term plans, he said.

“A lot of mine and Niall’s future hangs on the commitment from the Scottish Amateur Football Association in terms of if they allow us to progress the way we wish,” he said. “It hangs on that as well as a couple of personal issues that we haven’t discussed between ourselves.”

Main would like to see teams visiting Shetland and playing in an “inter-county sort of situation”

He added: “We’ve both committed to one year and we haven’t thought much more beyond that, but we have this opportunity which seems to present itself now.”

With the next Island Games being four years away, “it’s left a bit of a void in terms of the senior select team,” Main said.

He said the blues had dipped their toe in the water of the North Caledonian League Cup for the last four years.

“We’ve probably not got enough out of it in terms of competition and commitment from that league body in terms of maybe coming to Shetland … The travel to play games in Alness and such for me doesn’t give us that inroad to national football that we feel like we deserve.”

Home matches in such cup ties for the blues “seem to be 10 minutes away from the opposition,” he said.

Other island games teams have been playing against opposition outwith their islands, Main explained.

“You only become good at winning competitions by playing competitions and being competitive,” he added.

• Prior to Sunday’s game the visiting team will be taking on a Shetland Works League select, with that match scheduled for Clickimin at 4pm tomorrow.



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