BY DARREN JOHNSTONE – Capital City Press
Rothes chairman Iain Paul has praised the commitment of Derek Thomson and Gordon Younie after the pair – who have a combined age of 106 – came out of retirement to help the Highland League side last weekend.
Joint-interim manager Thomson, 51, climbed off the bench after only 18 minutes, while Younie, 55, played the entire game in Saturday’s 7-0 loss at Wick Academy.
Just weeks after the new committee at Mackessack Park agreed to a deal to pay a £36,000 tax bill that threatened the existence of the club, the Speysiders were plunged into a player crisis ahead of the match.
Midfielder Thomson and forward Younie heeded the call for help and returned to action decades after they had retired.
The duo are thought to be among the oldest players to have featured in a Higland League match.
Rothes chairman Paul said: “The club had been running on a shoe-string, and attracting players had proved difficult.
“We got to a point last Friday that we literally didn’t even have a team. We were trying to see if people would give us a hand, hence the reason Derek and Gordon pulled on their boots.
“Gordon ended up playing the 90 minutes up front and he never stopped.
“It was a tremendous effort from them both to pull on the boots and it was against Wick, it wasn’t just a case of nipping down to the local park.
“They had to jump on a bus at nine o’clock in the morning and weren’t home to nearly eleven o’clock at night, that was the commitment they showed.
“I think some people would have been shocked and thought, ‘that’s a nonsense’.
“Part of me thinks maybe so but the spirit they showed was very credible. I was really proud that they applied themselves the way they did.”
Paul insists their player crisis has eased ahead of this weekend’s visit of Deveronvale.
He added: “Things have improved to the extent that we’ve got some younger guys that have come to us.
“We will manage to get a team for Saturday but we’re far from sorted.
“We’ve got a decent core of boys but we don’t have enough strength and depth.
“We’re still very optimistic and positive about the future.”
Caretaker manager Thomson, who made his Highland League debut for Buckie Thistle at the age of 15, was delighted to play alongside 19-year-old son Stuart.
Thomson said: “I retired about 20 years ago, it’s a long time.
“But it was enjoyable and there was a wee added bonus that I was playing in the same team as my son. It was a thing that I never thought would happen.
“It was a long 70 minutes or whatever it was. They’re not the kind of records we’re looking for but it’s where we are.
“We’ve got a few players in so I hope to only be watching from the dugout this weekend. The boots will be on the peg for the rest of their days I hope, but never say never.”