BY ALAN TEMPLE – Capital City Press
Forres boss Charlie Rowley knew Graeme Shinnie would become a star when he was willing to get his hands dirty during an apprenticeship with the Mechanics.
The 24-year-old spent the second half of the 2011/12 campaign on loan with the Can-Cans as a fresh-faced teenager, helping them lift the Highland League Cup.
Rowley acknowledges that it would have been easy for the classy full-back to rest on his laurels during his stint at Mosset Park.
Instead, Shinnie thrived in the rough-and-tumble world of the Highland League – paving the way for him to break into Terry Butcher’s first team upon his return to the Caledonian Stadium.
The Forres Mechanics told Capital City Press: “I was the assistant to Gordon Winton when Graeme came to the club and he was a delight to work with. Some players might think that they are demeaning their ability by stepping down a few levels, but that was never the case with him.
“He trained full-time with Inverness – but also came to all of our training sessions on a Tuesday and Thursday. That was testament to his determination to improve and make name for himself.
“He came here to get game-time against adults and with a view to strengthening his physique and showing his quality. I think it was one of the major reasons he broke into the Caley squad so quickly.
“Graeme was small in terms of his height and build, but that never hindered him at all. His work ethic was tremendous, he was willing to battle and his moments of quality really did stand out.
“When you combined the attitude that Graeme had with the quality he showed, his career was always going to go on an upward trajectory.”
Rowley was keen to give Shinnie all the credit for his own progression, but admits he is proud in the part Forres played in his rise to Scottish Cup winner and potential international player.
He continued: “If we can play any part in a player’s rise to the top level of the game, we will be immensely proud of that as a football club.
“Some of our players still keep in touch with Graeme and we will always wish him the best for his career. I’m sure he remembers his time fondly with the Mechanics and we were delighted to have him here.”