Dawn of a new Era
The new season kicks off with the visit of Brechin City to the Caledonian Stadium for a Group A Betfred League Cup encounter, Robbo's first competitive game back at the helm. Brechin did well to win promotion having finished fourth in the first division, but they pipped Alloa in the play-offs to send them into the Championship.
It's over thirteen years since we last played a competitive match against The City who now have former Caley Jags machine Darren Dods as their player manager. The last game ended in a narrow 1-0 victory for Inverness in the Highlands. John Robertson was our manager that day and Barry Wilson grabbed the only goal from the penalty spot.
When we first entered the Leagues, Brechin held the upper hand over Inverness, winning two and drawing one, with ICT taking the last encounter in 1996. Since then, Inverness gradually got the better of the Angus club and in season 2003/2004 we won all five games against Brechin, scoring 17 goals in the process.
However, although the manager remains the same at Inverness, it's all change on the park and there was little given away in pre-season to give us any indication of what to expect this campaign. Signings were arriving at the double with striker George Oakley coming in from AFC Wimbledon and Inverness lad Mark Ridgers via Partick where he was back up keeper last season. Collin Seedorf a nephew of the great Clarence Seedorf arrived from Dutch football and Ricardo Calder and Mathew Elsdon were next to wave the Red'n'Blue scarf above their heads whilst proclaiming their lifelong ambition was to play for Caley Thistle in the Championship. There is also an exciting prospect in Zak Elbouzedi coming in from the West Brom set-up, a flying winger similar to Jake Mulraney, so that could be interesting. Former Motherwell defender Joe Chalmers has been added to the squad gaining a two year deal. Alex Cooper has also been linked with a move to Inverness having featured in a couple of pre-season games.
A lot has changed since the end of the season, chairmen, directors, managers, players, ball boys, tweeters and ticket sellers have all been removed. Some have been replaced and it's not easy to keep tabs on. Notable faces out or on their way are Richie Foran, Kevin McNaughton, Scott Boden, Alex Fisher, Larnell Cole, Josh Meekings, Owain Fon Williams and another as yet unnamed high earner (if there is such a thing at ICT), an endless list really.
Struggling for information this early in the season, but apparently over the close-season Dougie Hill, Ross Caldwell, Gareth Rodger, Alan Trouten and Darren McCormack have all left the Hedge at Brechin. No doubt due to cuts and trimming the squad. However, Willie Dyer, Liam Watt, Aron Lynas, Finn Graham, Chris O'Neill, Gary Fusco and Elliot Ford are all staying. Top signing appears to be Ryan McGeever ex-Falkirk who has signed on as has Isaac Layne, defender Ewan Spark. Late arrivals from Livingston are midfielder Jordan Sinclair and defender Sean Crighton and winger Kalvin Orsi from St Mirren. All are expected to be in the squad for tomorrows game.
We begin the season with a lengthy injury list. The aforementioned Zak Elbouzedi is out (he'll be just Zak from now on), his crutches a bit of a giveaway. Strikers John Baird and George Oakley are struggling with knocks, Carl Tremarco and Aaron Doran have longer term injuries. After that it's anyone's guess who Robbo will be selecting for this seasons opener.
Brechin have Liam Watt out with a broken wrist. They also have a few suspended, allegedly, Chris O'Neill, James Dale and Finn Graham. Star signing Ryan McGeever is reported to be on holiday at the moment. Over to you Dods, you're on the bench, so who are the other two subs? Name yer team Machine.