North Caledonian Football Association

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.

North Caledonian Football Association
Number of teams9
Current championsGolspie Sutherland (10th title)
Most championshipsClachnacuddin reserves
2019–20 North Caledonian Football League


The introduction of the North of Scotland Junior Cup in 1888 prompted to the formation of a new junior association for the region, and following the first cup final, the North of Scotland Junior Football Association was formed.

The Association's league competition was later introduced in 1896 as the "North of Scotland Junior League" with the initial aim of providing a league format for its junior members and "2nd XI" junior teams from senior Highland Football League clubs. Upon its formation these teams mostly came from the Inverness area. By the turn of the century though, the Association had welcomed several new member teams from throughout Inverness-shire and Ross-shire, such as Muir of Ord, Beauly, Dingwall Victoria United (later known as Ross County) and Tore United.

By 1948, the league had dropped its junior status and became known 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 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.


As well as holding membership of the North Caledonian FA, member clubs are also governed by the constitution of the Scottish Football Association, and as such disciplinary and registration matters are handed by the Scottish Football Association. This is a unique situation in that member clubs are not required to be full members of the Scottish Football Association, despite their players holding senior SFA registrations (professional and amateur).

Golspie Sutherland are the only North Caledonian FA member club to hold full membership of the Scottish Football Association and since season 2007–08 they have obtained direct entry to the Scottish Cup. Previously, they were required to enter the Scottish Qualifying Cup (North).

Since 2013, membership has been extended beyond the Highlands to senior clubs in the Islands, with Orkney, Shetland and Lewis & Harris all entering teams.

Member teams have previously included reserve teams of Highland Football League clubs alongside teams from throughout the Highlands and Islands region.[1].


North Caledonian LeagueEdit

A senior Scottish FA registered competition, the North Caledonian League is an annual league competition which runs from September to April, with teams playing each other both home and away with the champion determined after all games have been played.

Over the years, the North Caledonian League has often been characterized 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.


The North Caledonian Cup (also previously referred to as the North of Scotland Reserve Cup or PCT North Cup) was the first competition to be contested under the auspices of the North Caledonian FA during the latter part 1887-88 season and it remains part of the season calendar today.

Member teams of the North Caledonian FA also compete in two other cup competitions:

  • Football Times Cup
  • Jock Mackay Memorial Cup

Several other cups have been contested or awarded during the Association's history, each of which are now inactive:

  • Chic Allan/Port Services Cup
  • Morris Newton/SWL Cup
  • Ness Cup

Member clubsEdit

Thurso's home ground, Sir George's Park

League and cup membersEdit

Team Location Home ground Ref.
Bonar Bridge Bonar Bridge Migdale Playing Fields [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 Inverness Inverness Royal Academy 4G [7]
Orkney Kirkwall The Pickaquoy Centre [8]
St Duthus Tain Grant Park [9]
Thurso Thurso Sir George's Park [10]

Guest members for entry into cup competitions onlyEdit

Team Location Home ground Ref.
Alness United Alness Highland Football Academy, Dingwall [11]
Lewis & Harris Lewis & Harris Jubilee Park, Dingwall
Nairn County U20s Nairn Station Park, Nairn
Shetland Shetland Sir George's Park, Thurso

Location of teams in 2017–18 North Caledonian Football League
Location of teams in 2017–18 North Caledonian Football League

Recent historyEdit

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.[12] 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[13] 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,[14] 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[15] and a new team Inverness Athletic was also accepted.[16]

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 championsEdit

Club performanceEdit

As of end of season 2018–19
Club Winners
Clachnacuddin reserves
Golspie Sutherland
Nelson FC
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.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Bonar Bridge,, Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  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. ^ Alness United,, Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  12. ^ Clach back in North Caledonian League Highland News, Retrieved 23 July 2011.
  13. ^ "Shetland Squad : Shetland Football". Retrieved 2016-06-08.
  14. ^ "Ball rolling on Orkney FC - The Orcadian Online". The Orcadian Online. 2012-08-02. Retrieved 2016-06-08.
  15. ^ "St Duthus accepted into the North Caledonian FA | St Duthus Football Club - Tain, Highland, Scotland". Retrieved 2016-06-08.
  16. ^ "North Caledonian FA - Latest News". Retrieved 2016-06-08.

External linksEdit