With Saturday's Football Times Cup final, Sponsored by The Inverness Trophy Centre, just around the corner, we thought we would sit down with both managers and get their thoughts ahead of what is shaping up to be a fantastic afternoon of football.
HALKIRK United manager Ewan McElroy believes the fact the Football Times Cup final is an all-Caithness affair is testament to the standard of coaching in the county.
"With it being a Thurso v Halkirk Utd final it showcases the good work from coaches up in Caithness," said McElroy, who has worked wonders since he took over the reigns at Morrison Park. Halkirk Utd have being flying high near the top of the table all season and will go into the final as firm favourites. But the Anglers' boss is not taking anything for granted.
"I think it is going to be a tough, tough game," he said. "There is never much between ourselves and Thurso. We are under no illusions. Thurso are a strong team. they have plenty of boys that can hurt teams. The likes of Marc MacGregor could quite easily be playing in the Highland League. It is going to be a difficult game but it is one we are looking forward to."
The Anglers go into the final on the back of a rare 2-1 loss against Orkney. They played the last half hour of the match with 10 men after top scorer Jonah Martens was sent off and will miss Saturday's match through suspension.
"We had a few niggles, knocks and aches from Saturday's game," admitted McElroy, "It was a bit of a tough one going down to 10 men. We are disappointed losing Jonah but it gives an opportunity for another player to come in and capitalise in a big game. Andy MacKay went off in the first half with an ankle injury and Graham MacNab is still a good few weeks away from being fit. We will need to assess one or two players before the final."
Overall, McElroy has been impressed with what he has seen from his troops this season. "It's been a terrific season. I'm delighted with the boys' attitude and effort so far. They are showing a real hard-working, positive spirit within the group. They are doing really well, I can't complain."
The Angers' boss was also quick to praise the work his backroom team do: "I've had a lot of first-class help along the way. There is a lot of folk in the background you don't see who put in a power of work. There is my assistant manager, Liam Anderson, who is doing a sterling job with the group. Then there is, Megan MacKay, who has come in as our physio, she pretty much does a bit of everything."
McElroy will be hoping teamwork helps Halkirk Utd capture the first piece of silverware of the season.
NEW Thurso manager, Michael Bremner will lead his side out in the Football Times Cup final in only his second game in charge. The former Wick Academy player, who took over from Stevie Reid as Vikings' boss earlier this month, led the Vikings to a 2-1 win against Nairn County A at Station Park last Saturday in his opening game. He is hoping to keep his winning start going by adding the first piece of silverware of the season.
Bremner also has a rich pedigree in winning trophies, having steered Saturday's opponents, Halkirk United to two North Caledonian league titles as their manager. But sentiment for his old club will be put aside when the game kicks of at 2 pm.
"I'm just focussing on Thurso now, hopefully, we can get a win,"said Bremner.
He added: "I was quite surprised when I came in and saw how good a squad there was. We have Marc MacGregor and Ben Sinclair coming back in who have been missing for a few weeks - they should make a difference. We are quite confident. They are all looking forward to the final, training has been good and everyone is buzzing about it."
Bremner will be helped out in the dugout by Scott Davidson, someone with who he has a good rapport with. "Scott and I are kind of job sharing, it is a joint-manager situation," he said. "Scott was at the club with Stevie Reid before I came in and he helped me at Halkirk too."
The Thurso boss also revealed he is thinking of adding former Thurso player, Michael Petrie to his coaching team for Saturday's final. "Michael has not played for a couple of years, but we are hoping to get him involved. Hopefully, we will have him in the dugout with us for the weekend."
Bremner is relishing the chance to play on his old stomping ground of Harmsworth Park. "I played there for a couple of years myself so I'm looking forward to it. I'd like to think we will get a fair crowd through from Thurso and Halkirk Utd. There is a lot of Wick boys in both teams, so hopefully, there should be a bit of interest."
Bremner is certainly not underestimating the task facing his side, he said: "Halkirk Utd are flying just now. They will be the favourites but we are confident with what we've got. I think it will be a cracking game."
Report by John Macleod