Certainly being born and bred in Inverness is a good reason to support ICT, especially if you are young enough not to have had any allegiance to the 3 Highland League teams before Caley and Thistle merged. For us oldies however (and I know that at 76, I am one of the oldest on the forum), it was not just a case of being born in Inverness, but which specific part of the town you came from which determined in many cases which team you supported. Obviously the Merkinchers supported Clach (and still do), those from 'up the hill' supported Thistle, but Caley's catchment area was not so well defined. I suppose the growth of the Dalneigh housing scheme provided a good number of Caley's core support.
But my own case was different. Living near Holm Mills, and with parents uninterested in football, it was only when I was about 9 or 10 that a neighbour just a few years older took me and a friend to our first Highland League match. It was Clach v Caley at Grant St and Caley won 2-0. I was hooked from that day onwards. I still remember the wonderful Caley team of the early 50s. Willie Bruce, the keeper and Donnie (Ginger) McKenzie, the inside left, were my favourites.. In fact Donnie's sister and one of my much older sisters were best friends, and I can still remember how thrilled I was to meet him socially on a few occasions.. Many years later I was a guest of him and his wife in their home in Winnipeg, Canada, and I well remember chewing the fat about Caley well into the wee small hours. Very soon after that first match, my parents and I moved to Hilton, where most of my friends , and also most of my school friends right through my six years in the Academy, were Thistle supporters. So, but for that fortunate trip to see Clach v Caley, it is entirely possible that I could have ended up a Jags supporter.
Leaving school at 18, I then studied in Glasgow, followed almost immediately with a couple of years in Canada, so I never really lived in Inverness again except for college vacation periods, and a few months in 1964 when I returned from Canada, before, later that year, moving down south, initially to London and about 3 years later, to Twyford in Berks where I've been ever since. My love for Caley never waned however, even though I only got to see them a couple of times a year when on holiday back in Inverness. Well do I remember these 13/14 hour drives through the night with the 3 kids stretched out in the back of the Morris Traveller. (Couldn't do that these days!).
I was not in favour of the merger in 1994, and would have voted against it had I been in Inverness at the time. However, I soon embraced the newly formed team. And, that year, 1994, coincided with me leaving the corporate world and going it alone as a computer consultant. Some of my clients were in Scotland so I'd arrange Friday meetings when possible so that I could incorporate an ICT match. Also, my children were 'off our hands' by then, so getting up to Scotland at short notice was a lot easier. So, I probably managed to see ICT at least 4 or 5 times a season, and even a bit more frequently after we made it into the SPL, by which time I was retired.
I've not managed as many trips in the last couple of years as BA have changed their schedules and the last plane from either Glasgow or Edinburgh to London is now about 19.30 which makes it just a bit tight for getting up and down in a day. So my trips north nowadays usually have to incorporate an overnight stay as well, which for both time and cost reasons, make them less attractive.
But my love for ICT remains. I have never had a 'big club' either in Scotland or England. I just hope that we can survive these terrible times we are going through at present (and all last season) and that we can regain at least some of our former glory.