The turn of the year brings with it Derby Day in the Press and Journal Highland League, and gives supporters the opportunity to exchange the gifts of gloating and misery in front of friends, family and work colleagues.
Lossiemouth, however, have been left without a proper derby since the departure of Elgin City for pastures new fifteen years ago, and attempts to fill the gap in the calendar with games against Rothes have failed to inspire a similar level of enthusiasm or contempt. Some recent meetings with Forres Mechanics came close to elevating that fixture to derby status, but the intensity of the pairing has been reduced significantly due to midweek meetings. And so, with no-one else to first foot, Lossie have been paired with coastal neighbours Buckie for the last couple of festive seasons.
The two towns glower at each other across the water in winter, with the picturesque summer setting long forgotten by the time this fixture comes to the fore. Were the towns a little closer Buckie residents could, on their evening walk home from the workhouse, catch a glimpse of strange horseless carriages cruising the clean streets of Lossie, their journey guided by electric street lights which illuminate both the street and the night sky, taunting the hardworking lamplighters of Buckie who long for such technological advances to make their way across the border into the Shire.
Despite the lack of distance and an almost inbred history shared between the two sides, the idea of this being their derby match is probably as strange a concept to Buckie as it is to Lossie. Deveronvale are their rivals as much as Elgin were Lossie’s, and with four titles and numerous other bits of tin accumulated between them over the past decade and more, the two would no doubt like to become reacquainted in the holidays and pull in the kind of four figure crowds that attended the final day title shootout three seasons ago, but the presence of Turriff United means Vale now face farmers instead of fishermen over the festive season.
Whatever opinions are on the stature of the fixture, it hasn’t stopped Lossie from giving Buckie the kind of beating from which even a New York police officer would fail to escape punishment. The Coasters romped to a 3-1 home victory last January and on Saturday cruised to a 4-2 win at Victoria Park. Scott DUNN opened the scoring before Chris ANGUS score once in each half to give Buckie the lead. Lossie may have turned up with coal and shortbread but once through the door they made straight for the drinks cabinet, and goals from Shawn SCOTT and Ryan FARQUHAR were followed by a late Kevin FLETT penalty as the visitors made merry before staggering out the door with a first win for Charlie Charlesworth since his return. The noisy band of travelling supporters took great delight in what had just happened, while the few remaining Buckie fans left in the ground at full time were open mouthed at what had unfolded in front of them and, having watched their side fail to beat Lossie in 2014, must have been wondering if 2015 is to be equally miserable.
Elgin City’s impending relegation from SPFL League Two at the end of this season means the possibility of a reunion between Lossie and the Skiters is on the cards, but if for nothing other than the three points, perhaps we can play it in the summer and keep on meeting Buckie Thistle during the holidays.
Happy New Year indeed!