It has been fascinating to listen to old radio clips from 20 years ago this week, when fans of Inverness Caledonian and Inverness Thistle football clubs were denouncing moves to merge the two Highland League teams.
The angry and frustrated Invernessian voices, levelling charges of sell-out, betrayal, even treachery, brought back peculiarly bitter pages of Inverness's social history.
The merger was deemed necessary to apply for membership of the Scottish League. The public authorities could only provide the vital financial support for a united bid, rather than favour one.
At one point it looked as though it would be a merger of the three Inverness teams. In the end the wonderfully named Clachnacuddin opted to become the sole representative of the Highland capital in the Highland League.
But many Caley and Thistle fans were profoundly distressed by the merger. Some even crossed the Kessock Bridge to support Ross County, who were the other successful applicants to the league (the derby between the two has been christened El Kessocko).
However scroll down to May this year and a couple of posts on the Inverness Caledonian Thistle (ICT) website ,
The first from "Immortal Howden Ender" indicating a Caledonian-minded fan , as Howden's Garden Centre used to be beside Caley's old Telford Street ground.
"Well those of you who followed Caley or Thistle in the heady pre-merger days - would you ever have dared to dream that you would - one day - be standing in the away end at Dingwall, on the last day of the season, in the top division of Scottish football, with the prospect of European competition football the reward ?"
"Kingsmills" , a reference to Thistle's old Kingsmills Park, replied: "Yip, I remember when the likes of East Stirling coming to town for a Scottish Cup first-round tie was regarded as glamorous and victory was an act of 'giant killing'."
ICT didn't get into Europe. County took great pleasure in seeing to that, But this year things are going even better for the hybrid club and its supporters as it sits on top of the senior football pile in Scotland. With the celebrated "Super Caley go ballistic" defeat of Celtic along the way, it has been quite a tale.
However here has been one well publicised blot on the team's new landscape. Last season, despite winning their highest ever position, Caley Thistle had the second-lowest crowds in the SPL with an average home gate of 4067. Only St Johnstone, who ironically pipped them for the European slot, had lower crowds. Ross County got more,
But it should be remembered that apart from Scottish Cup ties when big teams headed north, or when they played each other, the three Inverness teams would barely get much more than 1000-1500 between them in the Highland League
With an adult ticket costing up to £30 at ICT as opposed to less than a third to see the Highland League , the crowds aren't so bad.
Finally most of the old wounds appear to have healed in Inverness.
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