Football in Carloway can be traced back to 1920, on the initiative of veterans returning from World War I. Four teams were formed and matches were played on a fairly flat piece of ground at Altan Feirigro in Garenin.   Eventually, this led to the formation of Carloway FC and ambitions to play matches beyond the immediate locality.

Below we look back at some of the key moments in our history.


Carloway Football Club was first constituted in 1946. It is a current full member of the Lewis and Harris Football Association, which is in turn, affiliated to the Scottish Amateur Football Association.

In 1990 the playing surface was completely refurbished with assistance from the HIDB, Scottish Sports Council and the Local Authority. The pitch was finished to a very high standard and is now considered to be one of the best playing surfaces in the Highlands and Islands. The official opening of the upgraded pitch was marked by a match between Carloway and a Rangers youth team (including Steven Pressley in their line up, who went on to become Scotland International captain), which attracted over 1000 spectators to Cnoc a’ Choilich.

Two former Carloway FC players went on to attain national and international footballing recognition. Ronnie Mackinnon, was a centre half and captain of Rangers and Scotland, in the 1960s and early 1970s. His twin brother Donnie Mackinnon, played for Partick Thistle and was later the Physiotherapist for the Scotland team for many years.

Current player Domhnall Mackay was a member of the Highlands and Islands Select side to represent Scotland in 2004 at the UEFA European Regions Amateur Football Tournament in France. He has also represented the Western Isles at the World Island Games, helping the team to consecutive Bronze medals.

The Club has also provided many players to represent the Lewis and Harris Select over the years. One such occasion was when Carloway player Malcolm “Eno” Macleod captained the local Select to an historic victory over Ross County.

The club’s first trophy success was the 1952 Stornoway Cup, which was secured with a 5-1 victory over Point. Further success was achieved in 1956, beating Back 5-1 in the D’Oyle Carte Cup and Point 4-1 in the Tormod Mor Tankard, and defeating United 1-0 to win the 1957 Stornoway Cup. More recently, the 1990 Autumn Cup was secured with a 3-1 defeat of Harris. In 2012, the club won two cups. The Co-op Cup was secured after a penalty shoot-out with Back, following a 1-1 draw. They also lifted the Lewis Cup after another penalty shoot-out, this time against West Side after drawing 3-3.

The 2013 season has been the most successful to date, as Carloway became the Lewis and Harris League Champions for the first time. They also lifted the Acres Boys Club Cup with a 6-0 win over Back, and won the Jock Stein Cup following a 3-0 success over West Side.

Football in Carloway can be traced back to 1920, on the initiative of veterans returning from World War I. Four teams were formed and matches were played on a fairly flat piece of ground at Altan Feirigro in Garenin.

Gradually matches against opposition from further afield, such as Bragar, Shawbost and Tolstachaolais, were introduced as interest in the sport grew. Results of these matches are not known, although, with Carloway able to field four teams and the fact that they owned their own football, it is reckoned that they were able to give a good account of themselves.

It would be fair to say that Rev. Murdo Macaulay (Murd a’ Bhraisich) was one of the founding fathers of football in the area. Footballing skills and awareness of team tactics imported by him and contemporaries from The Nicolson Institute in Stornoway, was imparted to the enthusiastic locals. This led to the formation of Carloway FC and ambitions to play matches beyond the immediate locality.

The limitations of the field at Altan Feirigro were obvious and, following fundraising activity, tenders were invited to construct a pitch across the river from Cnoc a’ Chailich. This was probably the only piece of flat ground of the required size in the area. The contract for £100 was awarded to Murd’s brother John (An Ciumbal) assisted by Finlay Macdonald (Fionnlagh a’ Stiullaich) and the area was cleared and a pitch created.

Before the pitch was completed, Carloway FC entered the fledgling Eilean an Fhraoich Cup in 1933, and were drawn away against Uig in the first round. The Club’s first competitive match was, therefore, at Reef. Although the team played well, unfortunately they were defeated by 2 goals to 1.

The pitch was completed in 1935, the goal posts erected and goal nets made specially by Murd were hung. Then followed what was the first case of the classic and enduring dilemma for Carloway – a good pitch but a weakened club. It took some time to recover and they only played in another two Eilean an Fhraoich Cup campaigns before World War II resulted in a suspension of football in the island.

Tormod Mor Tankard Final 1956. Back Row L-R: Iain a' Phrobast, Tormod Nelson, Domhnull a' Chiudan, Iain Locaidh, Am Brot, Callum Thormoid. Front Row L-R: Hamma, Tiger, DR, Larry, Callum Aonghais 'an Bhain.
The 1990 Autumn Cup was secured with a 3-1 defeat of Harris.
Rangers XI 1991. L-R: Shaun Rouse, John Morrow, David Bowman, Craig Flannigan, Levi Smith, David Hagen, John Walker, Rodney Paterson, Stephen Watson, Danny Donnachie, Steven Pressley
Lewis & Harris League Champions 2013. Back Row L-R: Kenny 'Dokus' Macdonald, Murdo 'Squegg' Macleod, Kevin 'Gochan' Macleod, Kevin Anderson (Manager), Fraser 'Fraz' Macleod, Craig Hacker, David Beaton, Kevin 'Barra' Macneil, Donald 'DI' MacLennan, Gus Maciver, Graeme 'Windy' Miller (Assistant Manager). Front Row L-R: Scott Macaulay, Cameron 'Tiger' Macarthur, Billy Anderson, Dan Crossley, Domhnall Mackay, Ross 'Tiny' Maclean, Colin Maclean, Calum Tom Moody.
Lewis & Harris League Champions 2017. Back Row L-R: Graeme 'Windy' Miller, Gus Maciver, Gordon Craigie, Gordon 'Tago' MacDonald, Jordan Macleod, Andrew 'Tago' Maciver, Domhnall Mackay, Donald 'DR' Macleod, Billy Anderson, Kevin 'Gochan' Macleod, Stuart 'Gochan' Macleod, Andrew 'Lanky' MacDonald, Ali 'Laxay' MacDonald, Matthew Murray, Andrew Macleod, David Beaton, Callum 'Beag' Mackay. Front Row L-R: Kenny 'Dokus' MacDonald, Dan Crossley, Cameron 'Tiger' Macarthur, Donald 'DI' Maclennan, Joe Armstrong, Angus Grant, Archie MacDonald.

When the league resumed in 1946, Carloway entered the tournament for the first time, however, competition was stiff and Point and Back reigned supreme.

In these early post-war years, the team had some outstandingly talented individuals, some of whom had learned their trade on active service, people such as Angus ‘Massey’ Macaskill, Calum Murdo Seonag (Eno) and Norman ‘Tiger’ Macarthur (so-called because of the similarity of his play to the great Rangers left back Jock ‘Tiger’ Shaw), Jackie a’ Laochan, Calum a’ Bhraisaich and Iain Beag Mhurd. For the first time, but certainly not the last, there was also the important contingent from the Breaclete/Callanish area and players such as Donnachadh a’ Bhodaich, Murdigan a’ Phrobhaist, Murdo C, Iain and Calum a’ Bhiodachan and Alex a’ Bhlouse.

In 1950, Carloway formed a short-lived alliance with Shawbost and other villages on the West side of the island and entered the league as Western Thistle. This was not a success and they dropped out altogether in 1951 to attend to the pitch, which by this time was showing the signs of the neglect of the war years. For the second time a contract was made to renovate, re-drain and re-turf the pitch.

The work was undertaken by Donald Macdonald (Dollan Seonag) and the new pitch was officially opened in July 1951, with a match against Athletic (which was lost 2-1).

Dressing rooms were a luxury that no Lewis club could afford in those days and players would wash off in the river or at the Doctor’s surgery or at the nearby Drill Hall. In 1952, complete with their new pitch, Carloway re-entered the league, and drew 3-3 with Rovers in the first match. However, results got worse and the Club was anchored at the bottom of the league in August. After eventually overcoming Athletic in a much replayed tie, Carloway made it to their first cup final. The match was against Point, the newly-crowned champions and although they were firm underdogs, Carloway got stuck in from the kick off and ended up winning the Stornoway Cup by a remarkable score of 5-1.

The period from 1955 to 1957 was undoubtedly the high point of success for Carloway, a time when it was rare for a cup final to be played without our involvement. The Club reached the final of the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup three years running although, alas, all three finals ended in valiant defeat. In 1956, the D’Oyle Carte Cup and the Tormod Mor Tankard were won with a 5-1 hammering of league champions Back and a 4-1 defeat of Point respectively. The following year, Carloway beat United 1-0 to win the Stornoway Cup.

After the euphoria of their first cup win and this golden era, Carloway kept plugging away without success, due, in the main to the perennial problem – their boys were away at sea, at the whaling, at the sugar, at the Nicolson Institute, University, in fact, anywhere but at home. The team dropped out of the league in 1965.

Match circa 1948. Back Row L-R: Calum M Macleod (Eno) 20 Upper Carloway, Donald Macleod (Dol Cuddy) 32 Callanish, Norman Macleod (Tormod Long) 2 Borrowston, Murdo C MacIver (Murdo C) 7 Breasclete, Murdo MacIver (Murdigan a' Phrobhast) 31 Breasclete/ 4 Breasclete, Norman MacArthur (Tiger) 44 Upper Carloway/ Burnbank, Carloway. Front Row L-R: Malcolm MacAulay (Tal) 19a Breasclete, John Morrison (Iain Beag Mhurd) 12 Upper Caloway, Angus MacAskill (Massey) 46 Park Carloway, Malcolm MacAulay (Calum a' Bhraisich) 17 Upper Carloway. Also in the team was John Smith (Iain a' Bhiodachan). Photograph taken by Effie. Macleod (Oighrig an Cocaire) who was at home on holiday from USA
Match at Goathill Park, Stornoway circa 1948. Back Row L-R: Duncan Macleod (Donnachadh a Bhodaich) 14 Tolsta Chaolais, Norman Macleod (Tormod Long) 2 Borrowston, Calum M Macleod (Eno) 20 Upper Carloway, Norman MacArthur (Tiger) 44 Upper Carloway/ Burnbank, Carloway, Murdo MacIver (Murdigan a Phrobhast) 31 Breasclete/ 4 Breasclete, Murdo C MacIver (Murdo C) 7 Breasclete. Front Row L-R: John Smith (Iain a' Bhiodachan) 14 Callanish, Angus MacAskill (Massey) 46 Park Carloway, John MacNeil (Shonaidhean an' Fionnlaigh) 51 Upper Carloway, Murdo MacIver (Murchadh Aonghais Ruairidh) 42 Breasclete, Alex MacDonald (Ailig a' Blouse) 10 Tolstachaolais.
Tormod Mor Tankard Final 1956. Back Row L-R: Iain a' Phrobast, Tormod Nelson, Domhnull a' Chiudan, Iain Locaidh, Am Brot, Callum Thormoid. Front Row L-R: Hamma, Tiger, DR, Larry, Callum Aonghais 'an Bhain.

Carloway returned in 1978 and have competed in the league every season since, with the exception of 1998, when only the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup was entered.

A number of new faces took on the mantle of running of the Club in 1978, including Jimmy Craigie as team manager, Calum ‘Cobby’ Macleod and Calum Iain Macleod as Chairman and Secretary respectively and Donald ‘DD’ Macleod as Treasurer and Club representative. Every spare moment seemed to be spent fighting the Club’s corner and ensuring that the best possible team was fielded, and the Club is indebted to them for their contributions.

Between 1985 and 1989, a further four cup finals were reached. Unfortunately, each one was lost and the wait for silverware continued. In 1985, the outstanding Ness team were 1-0 victors in the Lewis Cup Final, while Pointed edged out Carloway 2-1 in the Jock Stein Cup Final the following year. 1988 saw the team reach the Jock Stein Cup Final again, only to lose 3-0 to Athletic, while in 1989 Ness scored seven without reply in the Lewis Cup Final. It should be pointed out, however, that Carloway’s talismanic goalkeeper Angie ‘Spike’ MacIver played on despite a fractured hand, an injury sustained saving a fierce shot early in the match.

Carloway did finally secure a trophy in 1990, in the form of the Autumn Cup, an end of season competition for teams occupying the lowest four positions in the league. Perhaps not the most sought-after trophy, however, a 3-1 victory over Harris offered some tangible reward for their efforts. It may also be no coincidence that the team manager was DR Macleod, a star of the successful 1950s teams. He had taken over as manager from Jimmy Craigie in 1987 and continued to serve the Club for many years as a committee member.

The Club was unable to build on this result as, the following season Shawbost re-entered the league after a long absence. This move undoubtedly weakened Carloway’s position, given the number of players lost to this team. On the positive side, the efforts of the committee and others to provide a suitable pitch paid off and resulted in Cnoc a’ Chailich being transformed once again, from a rush-ridden, bumpy playing area to a state of the art surface the envy of many throughout the island and beyond.

Lewis Cup Final 1985. Standing L-R: Jimmy Craigie (Manager), Fraser Macleod, Murdy 'Tago' MacIver, Angie 'Spike' MacIver, Malcolm 'Grapp' MacDonald, Derek 'Tricks' MacLennan, Willie A Morrison (Carpet World, match sponsors). Front Row L-R: Neilly 'Spike' MacIver, Donald 'Titch' MacLean, Norman Macleod, Iain 'Biodach MacKay, Iain 'Mac' MacLean, Donald 'Beag' MacKay.
Match v Rovers in 1986. Back Row L-R: Neil 'Spike' MacIver, Fraser Macleod, Angie 'Spike' MacIver, Derek 'Tricks' MacLennan, Norman Macleod, Angie MacDonald. Middle Row L-R: Murdy 'Tago' MacIver, Bobby Brady, Iain 'Mac' MacLean, Calum 'Ruadh' Morrison, Kenny Macaulay. Front: Robert Paterson. (c) Stornoway Gazette

The excellent new pitch was first played on in June 1991 in an Eilean an Fhraoich Cup fixture with Harris, which saw an inexperienced home side beaten 6-0. In the following month the Rangers Under 18 team played Carloway and officially opened the new park, attracting of a crowd of 1100.

The Club’s fortunes in the league continued to see them occupy the lower placings more regularly than not, although mid-table respectability was also achieved on occasions. The simple fact was that were just not enough young men in the area who were available to play regularly throughout a season and even fielding 11 players was a challenge at times.

In the late 1990s, the committee led by Calum ‘Cobby’ Macleod and John ‘Brooks’ MacDonald, with valuable assistance from a number of players and supporters, persevered and initiated plans to develop dressing rooms to complement the pitch and to attract more players to the Club.

In 1999 the club reached the final of the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup, knocking out Lochs 10-9 on aggregate, after extra time in an epic semi final. As their predecessors had done before them, the Club mounted a very strong challenge but were eventually beaten by 4 goals to 2.

That season also saw Carloway play its first competitive ‘overseas’ match when the Club was drawn to play in Benbecula in the fledgling inter-island cup competition the Co-op Cup. Due to a number of circumstances, travelling arrangements didn’t go to plan and a number of players ended up crossing the Sound of Harris in a vessel more suitable for transporting sheep! A local bus operator had to be found at the last minute to take the boys onwards to Liniclate, where they arrived in the nick of time to fulfil the fixture. Meanwhile, the Club captain Graeme ‘Windy’ Miller had flown from Glasgow to make the match, but ended up watching the first half of the game from the air as the plane was unable to land on schedule due to the weather conditions. The result seems irrelevant, but, for the record it was 3-1 to Benbecula.

Over the next few years, many of the stalwarts who served the Club so well over a number of years were gradually replaced as a new crop of younger players began to emerge to take on the challenge. Players such as, but not exclusively, Norman ‘Tormod a’ Ghuilc’ Macleod, Angie ‘Spike’ MacIver, Neil ‘Spike’ MacIver, Donald ‘Beag’ Mackay, Iain ‘Biodach’ Mackay, Murdy ‘Tago’ MacIver and Graeme ‘Windy’ Miller all served Carloway with distinction.

Official opening of the refurbished pitch in 1991. Malcolm 'Eno' Macleod and Calum 'Cobby' Macleod
Carloway line up for the match versus a Rangers XI to mark the opening of the pitch in 1991. L-R: Finlay Macleod, Richard MacDonald, Iain 'Biodach' MacKay, Norman Macleod, Neil Graham, Stuart Sutherland, John 'Brooks' MacDonald, Angie 'Spike' MacIver, AD Mulholland, Derek 'Ginger' Macleod, Jamie Duncan, Angie MacDonald. Missing from photo Neil 'Spike' MacIver.
Eilean an Fhraoich Cup Final 1999. Back Row L-R: Graeme 'Windy' Miller, Angie 'Spike' MacIver, John 'Brooks' MacDonald, Kenny 'Wellies' MacAskill, Angus Morrison. Front Row L-R: Derek 'Ginger' Macleod, Donald 'Beag' MacKay, George Smith, Calum Iain MacDonald, Gordon Craigie, Murdy 'Tago' MacIver.

Carloway Football Club completed the next phase of the overall development of the site in late 2000 by erecting the pavilion adjacent to the existing playing area.

This was made possible with financial backing from Sportscotland, the Local Authority and the Local Enterprise Company. It incorporates changing and showering rooms for two teams and officials, a sheltered spectator area, toilet facilities for players and spectators, and an equipment store.

Despite a mediocre league campaign, the team of 2007 managed by Angus ‘Dee’ Macarthur, reached the final of both the Jock Stein Cup and the Lewis Cup, where they met the all-conquering Lochs side and were beaten 4-0 and 4-1.

However, the team was showing signs of promise and it proved to be the springboard to achieving a Club-record equalling third place finish in the league and a quarter final berth in the Highland Amateur Cup in 2008, for a squad now led by Peter ‘Dokus’ MacDonald.

The following season began with higher levels of optimism and expectation on the shoulders of the management and playing squad. After a winless April, the season was kick-started with a sensational come-from-behind 5-4 away victory at Back. However, the absence of several key players throughout the season ensured a constantly changing line-up and fluctuating results were recorded. Despite this, the Club did manage to achieve 8 victories in succession in the league, propelling them into championship contenders. Unfortunately, defeats at the hands of Point and Lochs in the last three matches resulted in Carloway coming up just short and being deprived second place only by goal difference. Promising youngsters such as Kenny ‘Beag’ MacLennan, Dan Crossley, Seumas Macleod and DI MacLennan were emerging from the junior ranks and bolstering the playing squad.

The Club again reached the Jock Stein Cup final in 2009, and again they faced Lochs and a crushing 7-0 defeat was inflicted by the champions. As previous squads had done before them, the players licked their wounds and focused on the next opportunity for silverware. Exactly a month after their Jock Stein Cup mauling, Carloway produced an excellent display in the Lewis Cup semi final to knock out Lochs 2-1 on their own turf. It also brought an end to Lochs’ amazing 7 year grip on the trophy.

The Cup final was switched to Garrabost at the last minute following poor weather in the lead up to the match. Carloway raced into a 2-0 lead through a Gordon ‘Tago’ MacDonald brace. The huge Carloway support in attendance was just starting to believe that the trophy would be heading for Cnoc a Choilich when Back scored twice to force extra time. Alas, Back ran out 5-2 winners after extra time in gut-wrenching circumstances and farcically dark conditions by the final whistle.

Following the painful end to the previous campaign, the 2010 season began well and the Club lost only 1 of its first 12 matches, including being undefeated in the first 8 league matches. However, injuries and player unavailability continued to hinder team selections and the following 12 matches produced just 4 wins, leaving the Co-op Cup as the last opportunity for success. The final of that tournament was reached, after successive penalty shoot-out victories over Lochs and Point. Ness were beaten 2-0 in the semi final and local rivals West Side lay in wait in the final.

Yet again, this was a tale of what might have been as, despite Carloway dominating territory and possession, were not incisive enough in the final third and they failed to convert their chances and were ultimately defeated by 3 goals to 1.

At the end of the season, after 3 years in charge, Peter ‘Dokus’ handed the reins over to his assistant Kevin Anderson. Kevin inherited a team that he knew well and had been working with for a number of years. He also brought in former club captain Graeme ‘Windy’ Miller as his assistant. Five cup finals in the past four years indicate that the Club had been progressing and continued to knock on the door.

Lewis & Harris Select match in 2001, to mark the official opening of the changing rooms. Back Row L-R: John 'Brooks' MacDonald, Graeme 'Windy' Miller, Iain 'Biodach' MacKay, Derek Mackinnon, Gordon MacRae, Gordon 'Tago' MacDonald, Douglas Craigie, DJ MacDonald, Gordon Craigie. Front Row L-R: Kenny 'Dokus' MacDonald, Derek 'Ginger' Macleod, Gus Ritchie, Calum Iain MacDonald, Murdy 'Tago' MacIver, David Hanlon.
Jock Stein Cup Final 2007. Back Row L-R: Angus 'Dee' MacArthur (Manager), Kevin 'Gochan' Macleod, Chris 'Christy' Smith, Calum Tom Moody, Murdo 'Squegg' Macleod, Kevin Anderson, Louis MacDonald, David Morrison, Billy Anderson, Kenny 'Beag' MacLennan. Front Row L-R: Kenny 'Dokus' MacDonald, Domhnall MacKay, Gordon 'Tago' MacDonald, Scott Macaulay, Gordon Craigie, Phil Macleod, Donald Chisholm.
Jock Stein Cup Final 2009. Back Row L-R: Kevin 'Gochan' Macleod, Alex Smith, Kenny 'Beag' MacLennan, Andrew 'Tago' MacIver, Domhnall Mackay, Gordon Craigie, Billy Anderson, Calum Tom Moody, Donald Chisholm, Darren Mackinnon. Front Row L-R: Chris Macleod, Dan Crossley, Donald 'DI' MacLennan, Kenny 'Dokus' MacDonald, Gordon 'Tago' MacDonald, Calum 'HardAss' Mackay
Co-op Cup Final 2010. Back Row L-R: Andrew 'Tago' Maciver, Murdo 'Squegg' Macleod, Gordon Craigie, Calum Tom Moody, Kevin 'Gochan' Macleod. Front Row L-R: Kenny 'Beag' MacLennan, Benn Esslemont, Domhnall Mackay, Donnie Macphail, Gordon 'Tago' MacDonald, Archie MacDonald.

The start of the 2011 season, under the new regime, saw the club perform strongly in the league and, strangely, comparatively poorly in the Cup competitions.

Carloway were the early league pace setters after five victories from their first five fixtures. This included a 4-1 victory over reigning champions Lochs.

However, they had also been knocked out of two Cup competitions by then. A horror 20 minute spell against title rivals Back resulted in a painful 7-2 league defeat, after twice taking the lead in the match, and seemed to signal to many that Carloway were not ready to mount a serious challenge for the league.

The club took this setback on the chin and, having already disposed of Lochs in the Highland Amateur Cup, proceeded to record two excellent results in the open draw stages that competition to put them in the semi finals for the first time ever. A 4-0 defeat of Caithness outfit Castletown at neutral Fortrose was followed by a 5-1 success over Orcadian champions Kirkwall Rovers at Maryburgh. Carloway also reeled off a further five victories on the spin in the league to have a record of ten wins in eleven matches.

Perennial Highland Amateur Cup specialists Avoch were drawn in the semi final and ran out worthy winners, despite a huge effort from those in blue. Carloway lost 3-1 to the eventual champions.

In the league, Carloway were narrowly beaten in their next two league fixtures. The title challenge was, therefore, over but Carloway ran Back all the way and can be proud of their efforts and a first ever league runner-up placing.

Having mounted such a strong league challenge and progressed in the premier cup competition in the Highlands and Islands in 2011, as well as a having a settled squad, there was cause for optimism ahead of the 2012 season. Further good news came with the acquisition of the outstanding Gus Maciver from Stornoway Athletic and the welcome return of striker Scott Macaulay following four injury-disrupted seasons. However, an opening night home defeat by Lochs was followed by a 3-0 reverse at the hands of Athletic in the Acres Boys Club Cup.

The early season cob webs were soon blown away and Carloway won their next five matches, including a 5-1 thumping of Champions Back, and a defeat of Lochs in the Jock Stein Cup. Just when we thought the prospects for the season were looking up, this was followed by a winless period of five matches. This included the disappointing elimination from the Highland Amateur Cup to Iochdar Saints on penalties, after a 5-5 draw. Stornoway Athletic then edged a tight encounter 3-2, before Lochs and Ness inflicted 2-1 defeats on Na Gormaich. Harris also secured a 3-3 draw in Tarbert.

This period also coincided with injuries to several key players, a feature that would continue throughout the season. Scott Macaulay suffered a broken leg whilst representing the Lewis & Harris Select, Calum Tom Moody sustained a nasty leg injury playing rugby for Stornoway RFC. A knee injury meant Gordon ‘Tago’ MacDonald’s season was over after just five matches and young Calum Macleod’s involvement was also brought to a premature end. Club ‘legend’ Gordon Craigie agreed a switch to Lochs to answer a short-term goalkeeper crisis there. However, he came back to haunt his beloved Carloway with his goal scoring instincts still to the fore as he netted the winner for Lochs.

The league challenge was all but over for the season, although the Blues were still in three cup competitions. The number of players on the injury list showed no sign of letting up and several players were also playing on despite not being fully fit. It also allowed players such as Cameron ‘Tiger’ Macarthur, Ben Smith, Calum Iain Macleod and David Macleod some much-needed game time. Billy Anderson was also coaxed out of retirement to provide craft and experience to a team stretched to the limit.

The Eilean an Fhraoich Cup provided some respite, and holders Harris were defeated home and away. In the semi final, a 2-1 deficit from the first leg at Cnoc a Choilich was overturned in Ness with a fine 4-1 victory and a place in the final was secured. West Side were the opponents and, despite taking an early lead through Billy Anderson and dominating in the first half, West Side emerged the victors by 2 goals to 1. Still the wait for a trophy went on for the Carloway faithful.

With the league challenge gone, hopes were now pinned on the cup competitions. The team defeated Lochs with a fine 2-0 home win in the Co-op Cup. This was followed by an edgy 2-1 away win over Point in the semi final. Meanwhile in the Lewis Cup, Carloway knocked out Lochs from a third competition of the season 4-1 in Carloway. Stornoway United were also beaten by the same scoreline, albeit after extra time and near darkness by the final whistle.

The result was a further two cup finals to complete the 2012 season. In the Co-op Cup final, Carloway met Back with the game switched to Garrabost. On a heavy pitch and following a downpour for much of the day, Carloway took the game to their opponents and ought to have converted their superiority into goals. Back have a great cup tradition and when they took the lead with 15 minutes remaining, many people would have been saying “here we go again.” The Blues managed to equalise with 7 minutes to go through Seumas Macleod and the teams could not be separated after 90 minutes. The format of the Co-op Cup meant it was straight to penalties and after an agonising 20 kicks, Darren Mackinnon slotted away the decisive penalty for Carloway to give Na Gormaich an 8-7 shoot out win. The relief was incredible, and Carloway had finally done it! What a weight had suddenly been lifted from the team’s shoulders. Discounting the Autumn Cup win in 1990, this was the first piece of silverware since 1957. It was even suggested that the team had to be taught the words to “Championees!” The players ran to acclaim Mackinnon and formed a mass pile-up, which included Stephen Macleod who managed to simultaneously keep the Carloway FC twitter account updated! Captain Domhnall Mackay was presented with the trophy by Gordon Craigie, the club’s record appearance maker and goal scorer who was on official duty with his employers sponsoring the competition.

Six days after this success, Carloway had another cup final to play, this time against West Side at Upper Coll. Kevin Anderson and Graeme ‘Windy’ Miller selected the same starting eleven as the previous week. Once again Carloway drew first blood when Kenny ‘Dokus’ MacDonald tucked the ball away after just four minutes. West Side were awarded two penalty kicks within minutes of each other, both of which were converted to give them a 2-1 lead at half time. Andrew ‘Tago’ Maciver, who missed the previous week’s match, was introduced to the fray and within minutes he had levelled the scores with a fine header. Despite losing the lead again to a weak goal from a Carloway perspective, another fine equaliser was created through the never-say-die attitude of Gus Maciver breaking forward on the right and crossing beautifully to the head of Calum Tom Moody to gleefully head home. With the sides level after 90 minutes, this time extra time would be required. However, the stalemate still could not be broken so, for the second time in a week, penalties would decide the winners. With West Side missing two early penalties, it was left to Calum Tom Moody to stroke home the winning kick and give Carloway their second trophy in a week.

It was a finale to the season that few would have dared believe through such an up and down season. Fifth place in the league, three cup finals and two trophies won, both on penalty kicks. The players and management team deserve great credit for this success. It was hoped that this was the beginning of another great period in the club’s history.

As the football season drew to a close, the new all-weather playing field in the village was taking shape. This fantastic new facility was completed in time for the team to train and prepare properly for the 2013 season. The managers reported greater numbers attending training than had done in previous seasons and the players were desperate to prove that the success of 2012 was no flash in the pan.

Another masterstroke had been pulled by the club as the free-scoring Fraser “Fraz” Macleod was signed from Back. Macleod had been the second top goal scorer in Lewis and Harris football for the previous two years, and provided much needed firepower for the team. Scott Macaulay was also fit to resume playing, having suffered a broken leg in 2012, and an already strong team was looking even more competitive and ready to challenge for further success in 2013.

The league campaign began with much anticipation and a trip to Tarbert, where Carloway recorded a comfortable 4-0 win and followed that up with a 3-0 defeat of Ness. The club’s first cup tie was a 4-1 success over Lochs, featuring a Fraser “Fraz” Macleod hat trick, and all the more remarkable as Carloway played the majority of the match with 9 men. This result set up a mouth-watering clash away to the reigning league champions, Athletic. Carloway ran out 3-0 winners, and another hat trick was bagged by “Fraz.” The reward was a first ever Acres Boys Club Cup Final, against Back.

In the final, Carloway completely dominated their opponents from start to finish in a downpour and rapidly deteriorating conditions at Goathill Park, Stornoway, winning the match 6-0 through goals from Kevin “Gochan” Macleod, Domhnall Mackay, Scott Macaulay, Dan Crossley and a late Fraser “Fraz” Macleod double. Any mention of albatrosses and monkeys were surely misplaced now! Scott Macaulay collected the Man of the Match Award and Domhnall Mackay stepped up, once again, to receive silverware on behalf of the club to rapturous applause.

The Highland Amateur Cup campaign began with a 3-0 victory over Ness, and then a trip to Harris, where a 7-1 victory was recorded. The mainland beckoned once more, and the toughest of draws against Avoch, the winners of the competition for the previous two seasons, at “neutral” Culbokie. Despite falling 2-0 behind, the team rallied through goals from Fraser “Fraz” Macleod and Scott Macaulay. Indeed, they were looking the stronger side in the latter stages of the match when Avoch snatched a scarcely deserved winner. This result also brought Carloway’s 13 match winning streak this season to an end, but the team was applauded off the park by a huge Carloway support.

No sooner had the first domestic cup competition been decided, when another commenced. This time it was the Jock Stein Cup and the team was again drawn away to Harris. Carloway were ruthless and racked up a 10-0 win with Fraser “Fraz” Macleod scoring 7 of the goals. The semi final of the competition meant a trip to Ness, where a combination of injury, fixture congestion and player availability resulted in a stuttering performance from “Na Gormaich.” Despite leading 2-0, they found themselves trailing 3-2 with minutes to go. Demonstrating great fortitude and desire, the boys dragged themselves back from the brink and emerged with a 5-3 victory after extra time.

The final would see Carloway meet neighbours West Side at Goathill Park. Although Carloway had contested the final of this competition on four previous occasions, we had yet to win the trophy. The class of 2013 was made of stern stuff and broke club records aplenty as this remarkable season progressed. The opposition line up included the ‘Carloway Legend’ Gordon Craigie in goal, and unfortunately he was injured during the match. After a tense and goalless first half, the final burst into life in the first minute of the second half, as Fraser “Fraz” Macleod broke the deadlock. Twenty minutes later, the score was 3-0 and Macleod had claimed all three goals. It was a match which may not have been as clear cut as the scoreline suggests. That the Man of the Match Award went to Carloway defender Gus Maciver may be further evidence of this. However, what cannot be underestimated are the skill, dedication, teamwork and determination of the current squad of players. Once again, Domhnall Mackay had the honour of being presented with the cup on behalf of his team, and he raised it aloft to great acclaim from all of the club’s players and supporters. This result also meant that the last four domestic trophies had been won by Carloway – and that takes more than good fortune.

In the league, following six straight wins, Carloway dropped their first points of the season against Point at Garrabost. Whilst there was an initial feeling of disappointment within the camp after this result and overall performance, the team was trailing 3-1 with 5 minutes to go and showed strong character in salvaging a draw. It was stated afterwards that it may well prove to be an invaluable point in the campaign. Two days later, reigning champions and principal title rivals Stornoway Athletic were the visitors. Carloway underlined their championship credentials with a disciplined and determined performance, winning a tight contest 2-0 with second half goals from skipper Domhnall Mackay and a cheeky penalty from ‘Fraz’ Macleod. This was followed up with a fine 7-2 away victory over Ness, a match which featured a four goal haul from ‘Fraz’ Macleod and a wonder strike from distance from the mercurial Dan Crossley.

The Eilean an Fhraoich Cup was also on the fixture list at this stage of the season. The rules and eligibility criteria of this competition continue to be the subject of much debate. Carloway were denied the services of the likes of Seumas Macleod, following his temporary relocation to Shawbost, and Gus Maciver, who spends more time in Carloway than many others who are eligible to play! First up were Harris in Tarbert, and a last minute goal from Kenny ‘Dokus’ MacDonald secured a 3-3 draw. The return leg saw Carloway progress to the semi final thanks to a 2-1 success at Cnoc a Choilich for a 5-4 aggregate. In the semi final, Lochs were the opponents, with the first leg in Carloway. Despite a fine strike from Kenny ‘Dokus’ MacDonald early on, the visitors were awarded two penalties and went on to win 4-1.

The scoreline may have been a bit harsh on Carloway, but in the second leg at Creagan Dubh, they really put Lochs on the back foot with a Dan Crossley double and a goal by Kenny ‘Dokus’ MacDonald turning the match on its head as Carloway led 3-0 at one stage to level the tie. In a highly controversial finale, a blatant and cynical body check on the Carloway goalkeeper Christy Campbell went unpunished, allowing Lochs to score and give them a lifeline. They went on to clinch a 3-3 draw in injury time for a 7-4 aggregate win and ended Na Gormaich interest in the competition.

The club was paired with Eriskay in the second round of the Co-op Cup after they disposed of Back 4-0 at Cnoc a Choilich. ‘Fraser ‘Fraz’ Macleod was the tormentor in chief claiming all four goals. Trips to Uist are never easy to negotiate, and Carloway’s record in the Southern Isles ensured that the tie would be taken seriously. In the end, Carloway ran out comfortable winners. Kenny ‘Dokus’ MacDonald went nap, scoring five goals in a 9-3 victory.

Two days later, the team had to travel to Goathill Park to meet Athletic in a crunch league match. Carloway took an early lead through an exquisite Murdo ‘Squeg’ Macleod goal in the first half and secured the three points and pole position in the league race with further goals from ‘Fraz’ Macleod and Kevin ‘Gochan’ Macleod for a 3-0 victory.

In contrast to the previous season when the league challenge fizzled out but two cups were won, this year the pursuit of the league title remained strong although ownership of both of the cups won in 2012 was relinquished at the semi final stage with narrow home losses to Lochs 4-5 in the Co-op Cup and 2-3 versus Stornoway Athletic in the Lewis Cup.

In early August, a 4-0 victory over Stornoway United at Goathill, was followed up with a 3-0 defeat of Back, coupled with a surprise reverse for Athletic in Ness, gave Carloway the opportunity to clinch their first ever league title in their next match. That match happened to be West Side at Barvas. A huge crowd gathered on Friday 16th August to see if Carloway could do the unthinkable and win the league on the ground of their near neighbours and rivals. In an understandably tense affair, Carloway took the lead through Fraser ‘Fraz’ Macleod which was immediately cancelled out by the hosts. Second half strikes from Seumas Macleod and a 50th of the season by ‘Fraz’ settled the contest and ensured Carloway could not be caught in the race for the championship. It could not have been scripted any better! As the Carloway faithful poured on to the pitch at the final whistle to acclaim their heroes, even the normally stoic Chairman had tears in his eyes following this achievement!

Kevin Anderson and Graeme ‘Windy’ Miller had guided the team to the league title with two games to spare. However, the club was keen to ensure that the entire league programme was completed without defeat. In the penultimate match of the season, Lochs scored in injury time to grab a share of the spoils. The season’s final match was at home to Point and Carloway rounded off the season in style with a 6-0 win. The final league record was 14 wins and 2 draws from 16 matches. All that was left was for captain Domhnall Mackay and his team to be presented with the trophy.

The previous season had been dramatic in its conclusion, whereas this season the club was finally able to shake off the tag of “Nearly Men” to being strong challengers in every competition. Eighty years after forming, Carloway were finally top of the pile in Lewis and Harris football. Supporters everywhere will remember the 2013 season for a very long time to come. Club records tumbled throughout the season, with the team winning 13 matches in succession, and 26 wins from 34 matches overall. They also scored 131 goals, including a 53-goal haul by Fraser ‘Fraz’ Macleod.

After the success and highs of the 2013 season, the following year would present a new challenge. Being the defending champions would see Carloway being the team every other side wanted to beat.

The close season saw changes within both the management regime and playing squad. Assistant manager Graeme “Windy” Miller stepped into the managerial hotseat and Kenny John MacLennan and Domhnall Mackay became his assistants.

The squad was also rocked by the departure of key members of the successful 2013 squad as work commitments meant that the services of Scott Macaulay, Seumas Macleod Kevin “Gochan” Macleod and Ben Smith could not be called upon although Macaulay and “Gochan” would feature sporadically. Added to this list was the departure of Calum Tom Moody to Lochs and DI MacLennan struggling to shake off an injury.

The team was able to welcome back Archie Macdonald, Phil Macleod on a month-on-month-off rotation and Gordon Craigie was also lured back to his rightful home. The squad was further augmented by the addition of Ness pair Lee Johnson and Josh Harris. Promising youngsters Cameron “Tiger” Macarthur and Jack Buchanan were showing up well and expected to feature on a more regular basis. This meant that Carloway still had a strong, competitive squad although perhaps not as deep as would be desired for a 30+ match season.

The 2014 season kicked off with a testing visit to face Lochs. Carloway took a well-deserved first half lead through Jack Buchanan which they held on to until the 86th minute and gained a point in a scrappy, tentative opening fixture which could have gone either way but ended up with honours even. In the following fixture Fraser “Fraz” Macleod bagged five in a 7-0 win over Harris before a delightful injury time winner from Billy Anderson settled a tight contest with Point 2-1 in the Acres Boys’ Club Cup. Next up was the visit of local rivals and title favourites West Side. Another point was gained, or arguably two dropped, in a typically intense and feisty match marred by an injury to Dan Crossley. Sadly, it would not be the last time an ambulance would be called to attend an injured player at a Carloway match this season. The month ended with a semi final victory over Athletic at Goathill which required penalties to separate the sides, setting up a cup final meeting with Westside.

The early season prognosis was that whilst Carloway were still not operating at the same level of incisiveness or panache as the previous season, they were going to be tough to beat. Unfortunately, the next fixture saw the side slip to its first league defeat in 20 matches, away to Point after a late wonder-strike from the home side’s Alexander Macdonald. This was followed four days later by the Acres Boys’ Club final, which turned into a horror show for Carloway as they were soundly beaten 5-0, missed a penalty, saw Fraser “Fraz” Macleod sent off and Gus Maciver injured.

Following this major setback, it could be argued that the last thing Na Gormaich needed was to travel to Stornoway to meet a confident Athletic side. However, the depleted and inexperienced squad turned in an excellent, disciplined performance to run out 5-1 winners with young Jack Buchanan bagging his first hat trick for Carloway. The result seemed to act as the stimulus for the team as the performances and results improved and the Blues were to embark on long unbeaten run. Successive trips to Uist to meet Barra and then Benbecula saw victories being secured 4-2 on each occasion in the Highland amateur Cup and the Co-op Cup respectively. Fraser “Fraz” Macleod was starting to find the net with the same regularity as the previous season and forming a good understanding with Jack Buchanan. Archie Macdonald also relished scoring against old foes in these matches too.

At the back, Gus Maciver and his lieutenants DI MacLennan and Cameron “Tiger” Macarthur had formed a very impressive partnership and defensive shield. Captain Domhnall Mackay commanded the middle of the park ably assisted by Archie Macdonald and Murdo “Squegg” Macleod, whilst the outrageously talented Dan Crossley performed strongly despite clearly being hampered by injury.

Mid summer and mid season also featured successive walkover victories. Firstly, in the Third Round of the Highland Amateur Cup, after great deliberation surrounding the Lochinver v Culbokie Round two fixture, the latter side was awarded the tie but was then unable to make the journey across the Minch. This was followed by Southend failing to travel to Carloway for the second time in three seasons. During this period, Fraser “Fraz” Macleod had obtained employment in Glasgow and would only feature in a limited number of weekend matches. So, after an impromptu respite, the team returned to action against Back in the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup. Two late goals ensured the match was won 4-1 and it marked the welcome return of Gordon “Tago” Macdonald to the squad. He capped his return with a goal and Jack Buchanan weighed in with a double.

The month ended with Carloway facing Highland Amateur Cup holders Wick Groats in an exciting quarter final tie at neutral Ullapool. A strong line-up bolstered by Fraser “Fraz” Macleod dominated the early proceedings and were rewarded with a smartly converted goal by Jack Buchanan after Dan Crossley’s shot had been saved. Back came Wick, and shortly before the interval, they equalised and it was all to play for. Following a rousing half time team talk, Carloway took control again and scored twice through a Fraser “Fraz” Macleod shot which seemed to take an eternity to cross the line followed by an own goal from a Carloway corner and Lee Johnson’s assist. The response from the Caithness men was to throw everything at Carloway, and they dominated the rest of the match. A penalty saw the lead reduced to 3-2 and a frantic finale ensued. Carloway battled heroically and held out, and David Beaton produced two fantastic saves late on to secure our passage to an all-Western Isles semi final. The Groats players were gracious in defeat and wished the Blues the best of fortune for the remainder of the competition. After this battle royale and barely forty eight hours later, the Blues were in action again away to Back in the Eilean an Fhroaich Cup. An understandably lacklustre display saw Carloway fall 2-0 behind by half time and dangerously close to exiting the competition. The second half was much livelier and two well taken goals late on from Jack Buchanan and Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald steadied the ship and ensured the unbeaten run was preserved. No sooner had MacDonald equalised, he took exception to another crude challenge on Jack Buchanan and was invited for an early shower along with the miscreant.

July saw the Blues continuing their league challenge in what was becoming a three horse race, as well as progressing in three cup competitions. After cruising an 8-0 win over Harris, their largest away victory in the league since re-entering the competition in 1978, the next fixture was the much anticipated Highland Amateur Cup match with Iochdar Saints for a place in the final. It was played at Goathill Park, Stornoway, much to the chagrin of the Uist side who clearly felt aggrieved that the venue was not neutral enough and favoured Carloway. Na Gormaich had no reason to be complacent, as they had yet to win against the Uibhisteach in two previous encounters. They were boosted by a number of injuries with the Saints ranks.

In an explosive start to an already high-tempo match, Carloway were awarded a penalty after Saints’ keeper Stephen Scott fouled Jack Buchanan as he raced towards goal. This was duly converted by Fraser “Fraz” Macleod to give the Blues an early lead. Saints rallied after this setback and they dominated possession. Despite their strong midfield play they came up against the impenetrable blue wall time and again, although they really ought to have restored parity with a gilt-edged chance shortly before half time. As a forecasted rain deluge arrived in the second half, Carloway took a decisive step in the contest as they doubled their lead with a marvellously executed lob from Jack Buchanan. This lead allowed Carloway to defend what they had and see out the match which they did with great aplomb, even allowing for a late Saints effort to be ruled out for offside. Saints contributed well to an absorbing and tight match and pushed Na Gormaich all the way. The match was tarnished by another red card being brandished to a Carloway player for raising hands when an opposition player escaped such a punishment, this time Fraser “Fraz” Macleod was given his marching orders after Jack Buchanan had been needlessly ‘taken out.’ However, when the dust had settled, Carloway were through to their first ever Highland Amateur Cup final.

The team had home advantage in the first leg of Eilean an Fhraoich Cup semi final where they met Ness and ran out 4-2 winners despite their rivals dominating possession and arguably chances. This was followed by a dour 0-0 struggle with Athletic on a sultry, energy-sapping afternoon in the Co-op Cup. Penalties were required to separate the sides for the second time this season and, once again Carloway prevailed – this time 3-0 as they converted all their spot kicks whilst Athletic contrived to miss all three of theirs. In the space of a week, Carloway had reached two more cup finals and were well placed to reach another. The next opponents were Point, the one side who had inflicted defeat on Carloway so far in the league. There was to be no repeat as Carloway won 4-0 thanks to two goals from Jack Buchanan, the returning Kevin “Gochan” Macleod and skipper Domhnall Mackay.

The month would finish with two key matches away to face Ness, before their date with destiny in Inverness. First up was the league match crucial to their aspirations of retaining the title, keeping up with leaders Westside and at the same time knocking their opponents out of the race. It was a keenly contested fixture made all the more testing by the selection challenges following a gruelling fixture schedule. Carloway took an early lead through Archie Macdonald which appeared to settle the nerves, although they were pegged back by a sloppy equaliser. The lead was regained by Kevin “Gochan” Macleod before another poor goal from a Carloway perspective was conceded for a half time score of 2-2. This result suited only rivals Westside and Lochs, and Carloway despite an undercurrent of tired inertia, knew they had to keep going. Just after the hour, Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald scored with an exquisite free kick from the edge of the box to give the visitors the lead for the third time. Play raged from end to end as both sides had opportunities to score again.

Just as Carloway had thought they had done enough, they survived a scramble in the box. However, in the final minute Gus Maciver had just broken up a Ness attack at the edge of his own box and proceeded to rampage forward. He collided with an opponent around halfway, conceded a free kick, but received a head knock and lay unconscious on the ground. The reaction from the referee indicated this was no trivial knock and Maciver was tended to by medical staff within the Carloway support before being ambulanced to hospital. It was an awful sight and many players and supporters were visibly shaken by this, not least the Ness player although to whom no blame was nor should be attached. When play resumed a full 45 minutes after the incident, 23 seconds were still to be played and we witnessed the whole Ness team crowd the Carloway box looking to get on the end of one last free kick to be pumped into the box. This was particularly unedifying in the circumstances. The match finished 3-2 in favour of Carloway, however, despite recording a creditable result the overriding feeling was that this was a somewhat pyrrhic victory.

Maciver’s season ended that evening and, such is his contribution to the cause, it dealt a further huge blow to the team’s aspirations. Gus Maciver is the defensive lynchpin and organiser-in-chief. His reading of the game and timing in the tackle are outstanding. As well as offering unrelenting excellence, he implores those around him to do likewise. Phrases such as “be careful” “take it easy” and “compromise” are simply not in his vocabulary. He is unquestionably the best defender in the islands and his is the first name on the team sheet. That he was awarded with the Club’s Player of the Year in their championship winning season bears further testimony to his value and contribution to the team. Performances were at least maintained throughout this season.

The fixture list dictated that the next match threw up the same opponents at the same venue. Those travelling Northwards that evening were reminded of events five days previously and there a somewhat surreal atmosphere at Fivepenny. The team had a job to do, and there was an opportunity for a fourth cup final appearance in 2014. Eilean an Fhraoich Cup ties have a habit of producing goals and this match was no different. The result never seemed in doubt and Na Gormaich won a goal-fest 7-4, with young marksman Jack Buchanan helping himself to four.

All roads then led to Tulloch Caledonian Stadium, in Inverness where Carloway would meet perennial favourites Avoch in the Highland Amateur Cup final. There wasn’t a spare bus anywhere north of Perth to be had as Carloway supporters and guests from other local teams clamoured to attend this showpiece. Rumours spread that the ferry operators, Caledonian MacBrayne, had warned the vessel was in danger of reaching its 600 passenger capacity prompted a further scramble in the ticket office. Exiles came from near and far to make the Carloway contingent form the overwhelming majority of the estimated 800 strong crowd.

Dan Crossley, Murdo “Squegg” Macleod and DI MacLennan were all passed fit and the squad was augmented by the availability of Scott Macaulay, Fraser “Fraz” Macleod, Billy Anderson and Kevin “Gochan” Macleod. A line up of David Beaton; DI MacLennan, Domhnall Mackay, Cameron “Tiger” Macarthur; Lee Johnson, Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald, Dan Crossley, Murdo “Squegg” Macleod, Archie Macdonald; Jack Buchanan, Fraser “Fraz” Macleod took to the field and acquitted themselves well in the opening stages. In the thirteenth minute, a Lee Johnson corner was met by the head of Fraser “Fraz” Macleod who nodded Carloway into the lead to the delight of blue-clad supporters within the stadium. The two teams were well-matched and enterprising midfield play was thwarted by strong defences with meant clear scoring opportunities were at a premium. Just ahead of the half time whistle Dan Crossley wriggled clear of a flailing tackle and as the referee blew up for a foul, Crossley was caught in another challenge and crashed to the turf in agony. He was stretchered off and received treatment throughout the interval, before surprising everyone by re-emerging for the second half. However, with his first touch in the opening minute of the second half, it was clear the injury sustained was too serious for him to continue and he was replaced, much to his anguish.

As captain Domhnall Mackay had dropped into the centre of defence replacing Gus Maciver, Crossley’s absence allowed Avoch greater space and the heavier the traffic towards the Carloway goal came. Na Gormaich bravely tried to defend their lead as Avoch became more desperate to seize the initiative. Beaton had to be smart to tip over a fierce shot and Avoch also struck a Carloway post. With nineteen minutes remaining, the dam finally broke as a moment of individual brilliance from Kyle Maclean levelled matters. The streetwise Ross Shire outfit sensed blood and before Carloway could adjust they were behind after Gary Urquhart flicked home what turned out to be the winner. It was now Carloway’s turn to seek to prise open the opposition rearguard and despite throwing everything into these last moments they could not get a clear sight of goal. Avoch had a chance to wrap up the match in the 89th minute as Carloway goalkeeper David Beaton lay injured on the ground and became the next player to depart with a serious Achilles injury. It was fitting that captain Domhnall Mackay was named man of the match but this was scant consolation for a side who had given their all and came so close to securing the prize they craved. The players were given a standing ovation as they left the field in recognition of their efforts.

An already depleted squad was shorn of the services of three more players for the remainder of the season following this match and this was to prove pivotal to their fortunes.

A thirteen match unbeaten run and one defeat in nineteen had been broken by Avoch. Once again, the inflexibility of the fixture schedule, particularly in light of matches being played on the mainland, meant Carloway would be in action again two days after the final. Fortunately, it was a severely weakened Back who provided the opposition and the Blues were able to get back in the saddle with a comfortable 7-0 victory. Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald notched his 100th and 101st goals for Carloway and as he was being congratulated for reaching this milestone was heard to reply “it’s a shame it was two days too late” highlighting the sense of missed opportunity within the ranks. The other goal scorers that night were Archie Macdonald with a double, Kevin “Gochan” Macleod, Lee Johnson and DI MacLennan with a rare though lovely finish.

Thereafter, the results deteriorated as the club failed to win any of their next seven fixtures. However, the first five of these matches were against the other top performers, Westside and Lochs. The Eilean an Fhraoich Cup final was lost 2-1 to Westside in a tight, though dour struggle lacking the intensity which usually characterises this fixture. The league challenge was finally extinguished following a 5-1 home defeat by Lochs, after a promising opening spell and a 4-0 reverse in Barvas. The selection and availability issues could barely have been more acute as for the Lewis Cup tie away to Lochs. Trialists and unknowns were drafted in to ensure the fixture was fulfilled. The squad who took to the field put in a sterling effort and matched their opponents for long spells. The result was only put beyond them in the final ten minutes.

The performances of Domhnall Mackay underlined why he was club captain, with increasingly impressive performances as the season progressed. His leadership qualities and sheer will to win galvanised the side as he sought to mitigate the loss of other key players.

Archie Macdonald was another who gave his utmost throughout and his versatility was evident as he seemed to be deployed at almost every position except goalkeeper.

A third cup final of the season between Carloway and local rivals Westside, and the Blues’ fourth this year saw Carloway slip to a 2-0 defeat in an eminently winnable match against a less than full strength Westside. An opportunistic strike from Ali “Barvas” Macleod on the hour separated the sides before an injury goal from the same player gave the result a more decisive look. The inability to find the net cost Na Gormaich dear in their final chance to secure silverware in 2014. Whilst there appeared to be a reduced confidence and coherence within the squad, the application of the players could not be questioned.

The season concluded with a 2-2 draw against Ness, followed by a 2-1 defeat to Athletic at Cnoc a Choilich, marred by the serious injury to Athletic player and Carloway Eilean an Fhraoich member Stuart “Bubble” Macdonald. The curtain came down on the season, and the winless sequence snapped with a 5-0 victory over Stornoway United with Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald scoring a hat trick, taking his tally for the season to an impressive 15. Jack Buchanan twice scored twice and was the club’s top goal grabber and the second top scorer in Lewis & Harris football with 26, an excellent return in his first full season.

The season ended with Carloway placed a creditable third in the league. It may be regarded by some as one of unfulfilled potential, after the club reached four cup finals yet it was unable to put blue and white ribbons on any of the trophies contested. It had undoubtedly been a challenging season but one from which the committee feel many positives can be drawn. Retaining league titles is tough at the best of times. In the last five years there have been five different sides crowned champions – two of them for the first time ever.

Highland Amateur Cup finals are not reached by good fortune alone. Whenever passing the stadium, it is difficult not to reflect on the day Carloway played there with the opportunity to win the greatest prize in summer amateur football in the highlands and islands, as well as the number who came to support the club.

The extent and severity of player injury and unavailability were certainly not propitious however; there was much to give cause for optimism during the season.

Players such as Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald, Murdo “Squegg” Macleod, Domhnall Mackay, Gordon Craigie, Kevin “Gochan” Macleod and D.I. MacLennan have formed the backbone of the side over several years and are firmly in the stalwart category. Dan Crossley, Gus Maciver, Gordon “Tago” MacDonald and David Beaton were all greatly missed following injuries and it is hoped that they can return to full fitness quickly and again contribute as before. The emergence of youngsters Cameron “Tiger” Macarthur and Jack Buchanan in particular into first team regulars and standout performers is pleasing and heartening, with others poised to break through. Lee Johnson & Josh Harris integrated into the squad and we anticipate a strong challenge can be sustained.

The 2015 season was always going to be challenging for the club, following the extensive injury list from the previous year and a relatively small squad. The number of teams participating in the league had also reduced to eight due to the withdrawal of Harris FC. Two players who had featured for Harris, Ali ‘Laxay’ Macdonald and Norman ‘Taz’ Morrison signed for the Blues and were to make a strong contribution. Before the club’s season had even started, DI Maclennan, another key player was lost to injury for the whole season whilst competing for Lewis & Harris FC.

The season opened with an Acres Boys Club Cup tie at home to Point. The visitors had been improving recently and were considered by many to be strong title contenders. However, despite Point dominating proceedings and opportunities, the score remained 0-0 after extra time and Carloway progressed to the semi final after a penalty shoot-out victory. The semi final paired Na Gormaich with Ness at Fivepenny and after a tight 120 minutes and a 1-1 scoreline penalties were again required to separate the sides. Carloway held their nerve, and reached the first cup final of the season when they would meet Lochs. This was also their sixth consecutive penalty shoot-out success.

The league campaign began with the visit of pre-season favourites Lochs. The visitors returned with a slender 1-0 victory which although deserved also highlighted a Carloway side able to compete with the strongest teams. However, it was also becoming evident that the aptitude for converting opportunities created into goals was not being demonstrated with sufficient regularity, and was becoming a feature in a stuttering performance at Upper Coll against Back when an injury time header from skipper Domhnall Mackay rescued a point for the Blues. This was followed up by a narrow and late 3-2 home defeat to Point, having twice recovered a deficit. More significantly, striker Jack Buchanan sustained an injury and, in addition to his scoring threat, his loss stretched the squad resources yet further.

The Co-op Cup threw up a visit to Eriskay, at neutral Benbecula. Once again, manager Graeme Miller had challenges with selection to deal with and a largely young and inexperienced squad was augmented by the inclusion of the manager himself. Despite taking a first half lead with a Domhnall Mackay header, the Blues were pegged back to 1-1 early in the second half. Sensing the momentum in the tie swinging the way of the Uist side, Miller decided that the best way to influence the match was to introduce himself to the fray. He certainly helped stem the tide and Carloway eventually ran out 3-1 winners after goals from Ali ‘Laxay’ Macdonald and Stuart ‘Gochan’ Macleod. Two days later, a tricky fixture in Fivepenny saw a gritty and determined display from the Blues and a fine 2-0 victory secured through goals from Ali ‘Laxay’ Macdonald and Jack Buchanan.

The club’s next four fixtures were in four different competitions. Unfortunately, all four were lost, resulting in elimination from three cups as well as a weakened league position. Firstly, Point in the Highland Amateur Cup. Nine months after competing in the final, Carloway fell at the first hurdle with a 4-1 defeat. This was followed by another narrow defeat at the hands of Lochs, in the Jock Stein Cup. The match was played in farcically windy conditions and despite a fine “backs to the wall” performance, the resistance was finally broken in the latter stages and the Blues defeated 1-0. Four days later, the same protagonists fought it out again for the Acres Boys Club Cup final. Again, Lochs were the more dominant side in the first 45 and led 1-0 at the break. An enforced change due to an injury to Andrew ‘Tago’ Maciver saw Ross Maciver introduced for the second half. A much more adventurous and expansive Carloway team turned the tables on Lochs and Ross Maciver scored a fine equaliser. With extra time looming and the Blues looking the more likely side, a hotly disputed free kick award to Lochs was tucked away brilliantly by David Macmillan to give Lochs the trophy and despair for Na Gormaich. Further woes in the league saw Carloway comfortably beaten by Westside 3-0 at Cnoc a Choilich.

Uist & Barra team Southend fulfilled their fixture making the journey to Carloway, after two concessions in three seasons, in the Co-op Cup. After Ali ‘Laxay’ Macdonald had given Carloway a 1-0 half time lead, Southend equalised and may have felt they had an opportunity to shock their hosts. However, a rare goal flurry with a Lee Johnson hat trick, Billy Anderson penalty and Ross Maciver secured a semi final spot with a 6-3 victory. In the next match, Ross Maciver pounced very early and, added another late on to ensure defeat for Stornoway United. Despite eventually securing victory, the inability to clinch the match through a plethora of chances caused anxiety amongst the Carloway players and management. The club was further boosted by the availability of Eachainn Miller, following the completion of his contract with Ross County.

Alas, the results deteriorated after this match as the club were unable to gain victory in their next eleven fixtures. Back knocked Carloway out of the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup 2-0 on aggregate, whilst another encounter with Point resulted in a 6-1 defeat in the Lewis Cup. The final opportunity for silverware saw the club meet Barra in the Semi Final of the Co-op Cup at neutral Liniclate. An understandably tense and closely fought tie appeared to be heading the way of Carloway, only to be snatched from them in the final moments. In the opening stages, The Blues took the lead through young Cove Rangers starlet Angus Grant after he capitalised on a defensive error. Barra came back strongly and equalised in first half injury time. Approaching the hour mark, Grant scored again with an excellent flying header from a trademark teasing Murdo ‘Squegg’ Macleod cross. With just over 10 minutes to play, both sides were reduced to 10 men after Ally Macinnes and Angus Grant were dismissed for a petulant kick and retaliation respectively. Shortly afterwards, Barra equalised and right on full time when James Davidson provided an exquisite run from his own half and calmly draw the keeper and score to make it 3-2, there was no way back for the Way.

In the midst of this lengthy winless run, there were creditable performances. At first glance, a 2-2 draw away to a Lochs side that was chasing, and would eventually secure, the league title may well go down as a good result. However, Carloway led this match 2-0 through Billy Anderson and a beautiful Gordon ‘Tago’ MacDonald strike. Lochs pulled back a goal before the break and Carloway were dealt a further blow in 55 minutes as Cameron ‘Tiger’ Macarthur saw red for two innocuous offences deemed worthy of yellow cards. They still repelled all Lochs efforts heroically until the 94th minute when the home side were awarded the most dubious of penalty awards, giving them the opportunity to rescue a point. The Blues also put in a spirited and encouraging performance away to Westside. After conceding a goal in the third minute, the portents were not great for a team in the midst of a wretched run. A quickfire double before half time and Westside’s 3-0 lead seemed unassailable. However, goals from Kenny ‘Dokus’ MacDonald and Murdo ‘Squegg’ Macleod either side of the interval gave Carloway renewed belief. After dominating play during the second period, it was Westside who clinched the victory late on, much to their relief.

With two league matches to play, there was the prospect that Carloway could end the season at the foot of the table, a mere two seasons from when they won the league title. A home defeat to United in a match they dominated for long spells but could not score only served to increase the likelihood of this happening. In their final match of the season, a home fixture with Athletic saw two sides struggling for consistency and confidence do battle. Carloway emerged with the victory courtesy of a Kevin ‘Barra’ Macneil double and three precious league points. This helped secure fifth place in the final league standings.

In the league, 28 goals were conceded. Whilst not equating to championship winning form, neither was it their chief vulnerability. In scoring 16 goals, Carloway were the lowest scorers in the league, providing further evidence of the primary reason the club returned such a modest win rate, lowly league position and were not able to secure silverware.

All in all, the 2015 season was one of frustration for players, management and supporters alike. To see the calibre of the players who attended matches but who were unable to participate certainly contributed to this emotion.

Perhaps the brightest point of the whole year took place at the conclusion of the playing season. Club Chairman Calum “Cobby” Macleod received a People’s Award – Adult honour, at the Scottish FA Grassroots Awards 2015 ceremony at Hampden Park, Glasgow. This award was in recognition of over thirty years of unstinting work on behalf of the club, and was richly deserved.

Highland Amateur Cup Semi Final versus Avoch in 2011. Back Row L-R: Andrew 'Tago' MacIver, Kenny 'Dokus' MacDonald, David Beaton, Gordon Craigie, Murdo 'Squegg' Macleod, Gordon 'Tago' MacDonald, Calum Tom Moody. Front Row L-R: Donnie MacPhail, Domhnall Mackay, Seumas Macleod, Darren Mackinnon, Archie MacDonald, DI MacLennan, Kevin 'Barra' MacNeil, Dan Crossley. Missing from the photo is Chris Macleod
Moldova Lewis Cup Winners 2012. Back Row L-R: Andy 'VP' Macleod, Calum Tom Moody, David Beaton, Billy Anderson, Murdo 'Squegg' Macleod, Graeme 'Windy' Miller, Ali 'Tolsta' Maciver, Gordon 'Tago' MacDonald, Andrew 'Tago' Maciver, Kevin Anderson (Manager), Donnie MacPhail. Front Row L-R: Donald 'DI' MacLennan, Dan Crossley, Gus Maciver, Domhnall Mackay, Seumas Macleod, Kevin 'Barra' MacNeil, Kevin 'Gochan' Macleod.
Carloway FC with the Co-op Cup which they won after an epic penalty shoot-out. SGD24320.
Acres Boys Club Cup Winners 2013. Back Row L-R: Kevin Anderson (Manager), Kenny 'Dokus' MacDonald, Colin Maclean, Billy Anderson, Fraser 'Fraz' Macleod, Kevin 'Gochan' Macleod, Dan Crossley, David Beaton, Murdo 'Squegg' Macleod, Craig Hacker, Gordon 'Tago' MacDonald, James Anderson. Front Row L-R: Kevin 'Barra' Macneil, Donald 'DI' MacLennan, Domhnall Mackay, Gus Maciver, Scott Macaulay Seumas Macleod. Sitting: Calum Tom Moody. (c) Eric Mackinnon
Jock Stein Cup Winners 2013: Back Row L-R: Kevin 'Gochan' Macleod, Murdo 'Squegg' Macleod, Cameron 'Tiger' Macarthur, Scott Macaulay, Fraser 'Fraz' Macleod, Kenny 'Dokus' MacDonald, Darren Mackinnon, Donald 'DI' MacLennan, Craig Hacker, Kevin Anderson (Manager), Graeme 'Windy' Miller (Assistant Manager). Front Row L-R: Calum Tom Moody, Dan Crossley, Gus Maciver, Domhnall Mackay, Iain Mackay, Seumas Macleod, Kevin 'Barra' Macneil.
Lewis & Harris League Champions 2013. Back Row L-R: Kenny 'Dokus' Macdonald, Murdo 'Squegg' Macleod, Kevin 'Gochan' Macleod, Kevin Anderson (Manager), Fraser 'Fraz' Macleod, Craig Hacker, David Beaton, Kevin 'Barra' Macneil, Donald 'DI' MacLennan, Gus Maciver, Graeme 'Windy' Miller (Assistant Manager). Front Row L-R: Scott Macaulay, Cameron 'Tiger' Macarthur, Billy Anderson, Dan Crossley, Domhnall Mackay, Ross 'Tiny' Maclean, Colin Maclean, Calum Tom Moody.
2014 Highland Amateur Cup Final. Back Row L-R: Kenny John Maclennan (Assistant Manager), Scott Macaulay, Gus Maciver, Billy Anderson, Lee Johnson, Murdo 'Squegg' Macleod, Fraser 'Fraz' Macleod, Dan Crossley, Kenny 'Dokus' MacDonald, Kevin 'Gochan' Macleod, Graeme 'Windy' Miller (Manager). Front Row L-R: David Beaton, Jack Buchanan, Josh Harris, Donald 'D.I.' Maclennan, Cameron 'Tiger' Macarthur, Gordon 'Tago' MacDonald, Domhnall Mackay, Archie MacDonald, Kevin 'Barra' Macneil, Gordon Craigie
2011 squad at the first game of the season. Back Row L-R: Seumas Macleod, Andrew 'Tago' Maciver, Murdo 'Squegg' Macleod, Gordon Craigie, Kenny 'Dokus' MacDonald, Calum Tom Moody, Billy Anderson, Dan Crossley, Gordon Mackenzie, Kenny 'Tolsta' Maclean, Andy 'VP' Macleod. Front Row L-R: Gordon 'Tago' MacDonald, Archie MacDonald, Domhnall Mackay, Darren Mackinnon, Donald 'DI' MacLennan, Kenny 'Beag' MacLennan, Donnie Macphail
2012 squad at the first game of the season. Back Row L-R: Calum Iain Macleod, Andy 'Barvas' Macleod, Donnie MacPhail, Dan Crossley, Murdo 'Squegg' Macleod, David Beaton, Calum Tom Moody, Kevin 'Gochan' Macleod, Kevin Anderson (Manager), Gordon Craigie. Front Row L-R: Gordon 'Tago' MacDonald, Seumas Macleod, Donald 'DI' MacLennan, Gus Maciver, Calum Macleod, Domhnall Mackay, Kevin 'Barra' MacNeil, Scott Macaulay.
2013 squad at the first game of the season against Harris. Back Row L-R: Kevin Anderson (Manager), Scott Macaulay, Fraser 'Fraz' Macleod, Billy Anderson, Kenny 'Dokus' MacDonald, Murdo 'Squegg' Macleod, Kevin 'Gochan' Macleod, Colin Maclean, David Beaton. Front Row L-R: Gus Maciver, Calum Tom Moody, Dan Crossley, Donald 'DI' MacLennan, Kevin 'Barra' Macneil, Cameron 'Tiger' Macarthur, Craig Hacker, Seumas Macleod
2014 squad at the first game of the season versus Lochs. Back Row L-R: Josh Harris, Kevin 'Barra' Macneil, Domhnall Mackay, Billy Anderson, David Beaton, Fraser 'Fraz' Macleod, Kenny 'Dokus' MacDonald, Murdo 'Squegg' Macleod, DI MacLennan, Gordon Craigie. Front Row L-R: Chris 'Christy' Smith, Archie MacDonald, Jack Buchanan, Cameron 'Tiger' Macarthur, Gus Maciver, Dan Crossley, LeeJohnson
2015 squad at the first league match versus Lochs. Back Row L-R: Gus Maciver, Kenny 'Beag' MacLennan, Norman 'Taz' Morrison, Gordon Craigie, David 'Lurch' Murray, Billy Anderson, Kenny 'Dokus' MacDonald, Phil Macleod, Josh Harris, Chris 'Christy' Smith. Front Row L-R: Jack Buchanan, Kevin 'Barra' Macneil, Domhnall Mackay, Cameron 'Tiger' Macarthur, Ali 'Laxay' MacDonald, Ben Smith, Joe Armstrong. (c) Eric Mackinnon

The close season saw the coaching team augmented by the addition of the talismanic player Gus Maciver. It also allowed two long term absentees, “D.I.” Maclennan and Dan Crossley to be able to regain fitness and return to the fold.

The team had the nucleus of a competitive side and, bolstering the squad with these key players, along with the experience gained by the youngsters, indicated that the club would again be one challenging for honours.

Jake Allan was signed, whilst the services of Norman “Taz” Morrison, Gordon “Tago” MacDonald and Lee Johnson were lost for the season.

The opening match of the 2016 season paired Carloway with Stornoway United. The early season weather ensured that this match was eventually switched to Carloway due to the condition of Goathill Park. Carloway fully exploited this advantage as they ran out comfortable 4-0 winners thanks to a double from the rejuvenated Kevin “Barra” Macneil, Archie MacDonald and Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald. In the semi final of the competition, Carloway met a Ness side, who enjoyed a surprise penalty shoot out victory over Lochs. Carloway were in control from the moment they took the lead through Ross Maciver after 30 minutes. Further goals from Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald and Archie MacDonald ensured a smooth passage to their fourth consecutive Acres Boys Club Final, despite conceding a very late consolation goal.

Na Gormaich would then face neighbours Westside twice in a week, firstly to commence their league campaign and then to decide the destination of the first trophy of the season. These matches would also provide an indication of the competitiveness in the Carloway team. In the former, at Barvas, a howling gale spoilt any opportunity for a meaningful, cohesive spectacle. Carloway took an early lead when a well placed free kick from Domhnall Mackay was nodded into his own net by Westside’s Scott Graham. Despite wind “advantage” during the initial period, Carloway were unable to build on this lead and conceded an equaliser shortly before half time. After the turnaround, despite conceding possession and territory for large parts of the half, a similarly tight and resilient defensive display from the Blues was not quite enough as a Martainn Shields strike from the edge of the box meant a narrow defeat was inflicted.

Four days after this, the teams would cross swords again at Goathill Park, Stornoway. Carloway made only one change in personnel from the earlier encounter, indicating satisfaction with the overall performance despite the result. Westside took an early initiative, and led through a fine Innes Iain Morrison strike from around 25 yards. Carloway responded well to this setback, and after battling back into the match “D.I.” Maclennan climbed highest to meet an inviting Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald corner for an equaliser. Shortly afterwards, Archie MacDonald pounced on a defensive error to give the Blues a 2-1 lead they held until half time. Westside predictably came out after the restart searching for an equaliser and goalkeeper Gordon Craigie and the Carloway defence were repelling the West attempts until the latter stages when Johnny Wallace headed the Siarachs level. Play raged from end to end as both sides sought a winner, but the score remained 2-2 at 90 minutes, so the teams would have to slug it out for a further 30 energy sapping minutes.

In extra time, as the match intensified and the players’ legs grew wearier, again Carloway took the initiative in the 93rd minute as Archie MacDonald cleverly nodded home a “D.I.” Maclennan cross. However, this was quickly cancelled out by a cool finish by Jamie Sullivan. Incredibly, Carloway retook the lead 4-3 almost immediately when Wallace diverted a Kevin “Barra” Macneil cross into his own net and the half ended in controversy as Carloway were reduced to 10 men as Dan Crossley was shown a straight red card for a challenge. Opinion may be divided on the merits of this decision, but one thing for sure is the level of criticism directed at Crossley in the aftermath was excessive. Carloway knew they would be in for a long final 15 minutes protecting this lead, and they were further hindered as they were forced to play the final 10 minutes with only 9 men after Cameron “Tiger” Macarthur was invited for an early shower after being shown two yellow cards. The team simply refused to buckle and the sheer will to win saw them over the line and give Carloway their first taste of silverware since winning the league in 2013. The victory also represented the first trophy with Graeme “Windy” Miller at the helm. Astonishingly, this was also Gordon Craigie’s first success in a Carloway shirt in his 26th season and 13th cup final. He was also voted man of the match after a sterling display. The victory also highlighted the team’s intention to be once again challenging for honours.

Such is the nature of the crammed fixture list, no sooner was one competition concluded than the battle for the next one began. Three days after picking up the Acres Boys Club Trophy, Na Gormaich were in action at home to Back in the Jock Stein Cup. In a match again dominated by strong winds and heavy rain, Carloway raced into a 3-0 first half lead with three goals in 10 minutes through a Jake Allan double and Archie MacDonald. Having secured the large lead, their hard work was undone with the concession of a finely struck but preventable goal from Chris Stone, just as the queue for the half time refreshments was building. Clearly boosted by this, Back then attempted to lay siege on the Carloway goal as they sought to recover the deficit. A goal from Gordon Maciver early in the second half meant it was game on. With 87 minutes on the clock, Back managed to equalise through Jason Macleod and the outcome of the match was in doubt until the final whistle. The Back management team’s extravagant celebrations had barely settled down when Carloway regrouped and Jake Allan managed to find the net from an acute angle to complete his hat trick, settle the tie and avoid extra time for a second consecutive match. It was not a vintage performance, but despite understandable fatigue following the exertions over the weekend, this was an encouraging start to the season.

Just as the expectation levels were starting to increase, the next fortnight brought about five matches in a row which were lost and the season threatened to unravel with a noticeable dip in form. Firstly, a young Point side tipped to challenge strongly for the league underlined their credentials with a 3-1 win in Carloway. Consecutive visits to Back in the league and Highland Amateur Cup respectively were ultimately lost. In the league encounter, a tight and even affair was settled by Back taking their chances and Carloway failing to do so. Another very close match in the Highland Amateur Cup followed, and it took extra time to deliver a goal and separate the sides, to the anguish of Blues followers. To combat selection difficulties, Calum Tom Moody was coaxed into playing both of those matches and, despite lacking match sharpness, acquitted himself admirably.

The barren run continued when Carloway were very unfortunate to lose out on penalties to Point in the semi final of the Jock Stein Cup, following a 2-2 draw. The display was much improved and after a goalless first half Archie MacDonald gave the blues the lead on the hour mark. Despite passing up further opportunities, it looked to be enough to secure another cup final appearance until an 87th minute equaliser from Elliot Rudall. Early into extra time, Jake Allan volleyed Carloway back into a deserved lead. However, a contentious penalty award gave the home side the opportunity to equalise, before they completed the job on penalties.

The next match saw champions and favourites Lochs visit Cnoc a Choilich, and emerge with a deserved 3-1 win. The result left Carloway level at the foot of the table with 4 defeats from their first 4 league matches, destroying any hope of a strong challenge in the competition.

Next up was the visit of Benbecula, who were also enduring a difficult start to their season, in the Co-op Cup. After a cagey opening between two teams lacking confidence, Carloway held a narrow 1-0 lead through Archie MacDonald until the 60 minute mark. When Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald found the net shortly afterwards, the confidence seemed to return to the team immediately and they eventually overran their opponents and ended up scoring half a dozen without reply. This was followed up two days later when Carloway travelled to Ness and produced an excellent display to run out 5-0 winners.

The team was definitely returning to form and proceeded to run up a total of seven consecutive victories twice. This run included home defeats of Westside 2-1 in the league and 4-3 in the Lewis Cup, two high-scoring victories over Stornoway Athletic, 6-3 and 5-4, and home and away victory over Harris in the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup. The semi final of this competition paired Carloway with Ness, and the Blues won both ties with a 9-4 aggregate. The final was to be played at Creagan Dubh, Leurbost the home of their opponents, Lochs. After seven final defeats in the competition, the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup was the one piece of local silverware which had eluded Carloway’s grasp. Despite decisions being made recently to relocate the venue for the cup final to maintain neutrality, Carloway were now being asked to play the final as an “away” side.

In the lead up to this final, everyone in the country knew exactly where Carloway was as the area was in every national news bulletin following the grounding of the drilling rig Transocean Winner at Dalmore beach. Could this be an omen?

The match drew a large crowd, despite the arrival firstly of the dreaded midge and then a rain deluge. There was a strong Carloway contingent amongst the support easily outnumbering the home fans and eager to see their team finally capture this trophy. The Blues were able to call upon the services of ace goalkeeper Jack Maclennan, and were also boosted by the return to availability of John “Uig” Morrison for this competition. Not only did he provide further guile and class for the Carloway midfield, his absence from the Lochs side would weaken them. Andrew “Tago” Maciver was also newly available to the team for the latter matches of the season.

Carloway enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges and took the lead through a close range finish from starlet Angus Grant following a whipped cross from Eachainn Miller. Whilst Carloway were happy to be ahead at the interval it was felt that their dominance was not adequately reflected by the scoreline. Predictably, Lochs came back strongly at the start of the second half and equalised through their talismanic striker Jim O’Donnell. Just as they may have felt they could go on to turn the tie, Carloway immediately regained the lead after an unfortunate own goal by Graeme Mackenzie. Na Gormaich sensed this was their opportunity, and a fine third from Eachainn Miller coolly finishing into an unguarded net from distance gave them a cushion. The icing on the cake was delivered in the form of a fourth from Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald, and despite a late consolation to make the final score 4-2 in Carloway’s favour, the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup was heading to Carloway for the first time ever. Having waited so long for this, it would have taken more than the monsoon conditions experienced at the end to dampen the spirits of the team and supporters.

The team’s next encounter saw them edge another tight match with Point 1-0 in the semi final of the Lewis Cup, after a well taken Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald strike, setting up a final against Lochs. This also marked the team’s 15th victory in 17 matches, an excellent display of consistency and emphasized the competitiveness of the squad.

With a fourth place finish in the league secured, the final two matches of Carloway’s league programme against United and Lochs were going to affect little other than pride for the team. In a largely uneventful end of season match against United, Carloway took the lead through Ali “Laxay” MacDonald early in the second half and appeared to be comfortable. However, captain for the evening “D.I.” Maclennan was sent off and shortly afterwards and the town side converted a penalty to make it 1-1. The sting in the tail from the Wasps came late on as Hamish MacDonald scored from close range to take the points. The league programme was the concluded with a visit to title chasing Lochs. An understrength Blues line up was immediately put under pressure by a home side requiring a win, and Carloway appeared to have weathered the early barrage until they were undone by a fine opportunistic strike from David Macritchie to break the deadlock late in the first half. Lochs went 2-0 in front thanks to another excellent shot from distance by player manager David Macmillan. There was no further scoring in the match, despite both sides creating numerous chances in a fixture which was very closely contested.

The curtain came down on the 2016 season with the season-ending Lewis cup final, between league champions Lochs and Carloway, two evenly matched teams playing with confidence. There was an explosive opening as Carloway scored within two minutes through Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald. the Blues then created another excellent opportunity through Dan Crossley, who was playing in a more advanced role, which was well saved by James Macleod. They were made to regret this, as Jim O’Donnell equalised for Lochs in the fourth minute. On the half hour, Dan Crossley was in full flight and bearing towards the Lochs goal on the left hand side. Lochs goalkeeper James Macleod rushed out of his area and brought down the Carloway player. He was perhaps fortunate to receive only a yellow card following a rash challenge. Crossley’s injury woes continued as he was eventually replaced and it was later confirmed he had suffered a broken clavicole. Gradually, Lochs gained the ascendancy in midfield and on the stroke of half time O’Donnell scored again to give the Maroons a 2-1 half time advantage. In the second half Lochs’ experience and ability to grind out victories saw them stifle the Carloway midfield and eventually lift the cup after an injury time shot from Niall Houston put the seal on a 3-1 success.

Concluding the season with a defeat is never a pleasant experience, as one has to wait for winter to recede before being able to address this pain. However, there is no question that the 2016 season should be regarded as a successful campaign. Two trophies were won; the Acres Boys Club Cup and Eilean an Fhraoich Cup. The team also enjoyed a long successful spell encompassing the majority of the season. This was helped in no small way by established stars such as Dan Crossley and “D.I.” Maclennan making welcome returns to the squad. Maclennan was awarded player of the year by his peers and the manager, as well as the overall runner up, underlining his influence. He formed an impressive defensive partnership with the ever-improving and unassuming Ali “Laxay” MacDonald, who was the club’s overall player of the year. Players such as Domhnall Mackay, Archie MacDonald, Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald were almost permanent fixtures in the Carloway team and were also included in representative squads throughout the season, providing further evidence of their value the club.

The season also saw youngster Eachainn Miller continue to develop in the midfield, adding goals to his industry and creativity. There was cause for further optimism from the impact made by Callum “Beag” Mackay in his debut season. Others such as Ross “Tiny” Maclean, Euan Gilmour and Joe Armstrong showed improvement and gained valuable experience.

Whilst any manager will tell you that there is always room for improvement, the season saw tangible reward for their efforts, and if a relatively youthful and light squad could be preserved and extended then there would be cause for much confidence and conviction that the future of the club is bright.

2016 squad at the first match of the season versus Stornoway United. Back Row L-R: Kenny 'Dokus' MacDonald, Joe Armstrong, Donald 'D.I.' Maclennan, Ross 'Tiny' Maclean, Gordon Craigie, Jake Allan, Chris 'Christy' Smith, Ali 'Laxay' MacDonald, Josh Harris, Gus Maciver. Front Row L-R: Cameron 'Tiger' Macarthur, Dan Crossley, Archie MacDonald, Kevin 'Barra' Macneil, Eachainn Miller, Domhnall Mackay, Murdo 'Squegg' Macleod.
Acres Boys Club Cup Winners 2016. Back Row L-R: Graeme 'Windy' Miller (Manager), Ross Maciver, Jake Allan, Gordon Craigie, Ross 'Tiny' Maclean, Murdo 'Squegg' Macleod, Ali 'Laxay' MacDonald, Chris 'Christy' Smith, Andrew Macleod, Josh Harris, Eachainn Miller, Kenny 'Dokus' MacDonald. Front Row L-R: Donald 'D.I.' Maclennan, Kevin 'Barra' Macneil, Archie MacDonald, Domhnall Mackay, Dan Crossley, Cameron 'Tiger' Macarthur, Gus Maciver (Assistant Manager).
Eilean an Fhraoich Cup Winners 2016. Back Row L-R: Gus Maciver, Andrew 'Tago' Maciver, Ali 'Laxay' MacDonald, Jack Maclennan, Hamish MacDonald, Eachainn Miller, Kenny 'Dokus' MacDonald, Gordon Craigie, Euan Gilmour. Front Row L-R: Joe Armstrong, Angus Grant, Dan Crossley, Domhnall Mackay, John 'Uig' Morrison, Donald 'D.I.' Maclennan, Kevin 'Barra' Macneil, Callum 'Beag' Mackay. Standing: Jake Allan.

The 2017 season was approached with renewed optimism by those of a Blue persuasion, as the strong squad was bolstered with the welcome return of stalwarts and cousins Andrew “Tago” MacIver and Gordon “Tago” MacDonald for the whole season, the mercurial Dan Crossley would also return during the season, as would another long term injury victim David Beaton. Youth and pace would be boosted with striker Angus Grant expected to be available for the core of the campaign, and Jordan Macleod was also signed from Athletic, helping to compensate for the loss of Eachainn Miller, pursuing further education on the mainland and playing for his University team, as well as Jake Allan who had returned to Aberdeen.

The season opened with the Acres Boys’ Club Cup, and an away tie against Back. Carloway had transformed their previously modest record in this competition to feature in the previous four finals, winning it twice, and this year they were defending the trophy. They travelled to Upper Coll with goalkeeper David Beaton making his competitive return having been out since the Highland Amateur Cup final of 2014, and Jordan Macleod making his debut. Murdo “Squegg” Macleod was also coaxed into playing in the match despite not being able to participate in pre-season training. “DI” Maclennan was serving a suspension carried over from last season. The winter league and phoney war of pre-season were past and into battle they went. Almost immediately, Carloway conceded the opening goal, and passed up a number of opportunities for an equaliser. As the game stretched in the second half, and Carloway growing increasingly anxious for a goal, suddenly an equaliser was scored when Archie MacDonald carefully nodded in a Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald free kick. Despite the efforts of both teams in the increasingly gloomy conditions, they could not be separated after 90 minutes. Extra time was abridged to a total of 12 minutes as a result of the fading light and still no winner emerged. Carloway prevailed on penalties after netting all four of their kicks and David Beaton saving two Back efforts.

The reward for winning this match was a home semi final tie with Westside, and a three-match mini-series against their neighbours in three different competitions. First up was the Acres Boys’ Club Cup semi, and saw a Carloway side already weakened by the suspension of “DI” Maclennan, further handicapped by the absence of Ali “Laxay” MacDonald from the starting line up due to work commitments. A more purposeful and efficient visiting side, pre season favourites for honours, were able to capitalise on this and were three goals to the good by the half time break. “Laxay’s” eventual appearance for the second half did help to steady the ship and a late consolation goal from Andrew “Tago” MacIver gave a more respectful look to scoreline, but no fifth consecutive final appearance and a sore defeat for the Blues.

The following week, the league campaign got underway with arguably the most testing of fixtures for Carloway, a trip to Barvas. Carloway had not tasted victory in Barvas since the fabled 3-1 victory in 2013 which secured their first league title. However, a stronger starting eleven, approaching full strength, took to the field with optimism. After the customary frenetic opening exchanges, Westside took the lead after 20 minutes. Carloway had an immediate opportunity to equalise but Archie MacDonald struck the Westside post, before the home side capitalised and extended their lead through a hotly disputed penalty award. It got worse for Carloway as a third goal was conceded before another opportunity to rescue the situation when Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald smacked the bar with a terrific free kick. The half time whistle blew with Carloway five goals adrift and sagging alarmingly. Four goals had been lost in a 15 minute spell towards the end of the first half. Although they recovered a little pride in the second period, the final score of Westside 6 Carloway 0 was particularly painful for all associated with Carloway, with many observers suggesting any league aspirations they may have had already lay in tatters. Substitute Ben Smith had also been ordered off after frustrated comments he made were deemed to have been directed at the match official.

Three days later, the teams locked horns again, this time in the Jock Stein Cup, at Cnoc a Choilich. Nine of the starting eleven from the previous fixture again began for Carloway and the team looked determined to atone for such a poor result.

Once again, Westside’s early initiative produced a goal on 15 minutes. Two further goals in quick succession early in the second half from Westside secured a 3-0 victory, both on the night and also the mini-series. The score may have flattered Westside, but the victory was merited despite a greatly improved and competitive display from Na Gormaich. Goals change games and Carloway’s inability to convert chances presented was crucial.

There was no time to wallow in the wake of these results, as 48 hours later the Blues were in action again. This time they travelled to champions, Lochs, the team who had been the standard bearers in recent seasons, though they were also missing several key players through injury and gradually replacing the stellar squad members who served them through the most productive period in their history. After a goalless first half, the match exploded into life in the second period when Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald scored with a sweet right foot strike. Lochs responded well with goals from Ross Allison and a rocket from Robert Mackenzie put them 2-1 in front with 20 minutes remaining. The Carloway manager opted for an attacking substitution, sacrificing a defender for additional resource in midfield, and the tide seemed to be turning back towards Carloway. With 84 minutes on the clock, Archie MacDonald was brought down in the box, and captain Domhnall Mackay converted the penalty award to bring the match level. With just two minutes remaining, MacDonald got on the end of a Billy Anderson through ball and found the net, to the delight of his team mates and management and secure a valuable and morale-boosting come from behind 3-2 victory.

Having ended their winless run with a very late victory in Lochs, the next fixture could not come quickly enough, and Na Gormaich hosted Back, whom they had edged in their opening match of the season. With ongoing selection issues, as well as recognition of the need to carry a greater threat, Andrew “Tago” MacIver, who had been deployed in defence and midfield, was to spearhead the attack. Inside two minutes he had scored the opening goal. He added to his tally in the final seconds of the half to regain the lead for Carloway, after Back scored from a penalty. Domhnall Mackay found the net early in the second period to extend the advantage to 3-1, and the Blues were comfortable. Though Back did manage to pull back a goal in injury time, Carloway were worthy victors. Whilst it was a satisfactory if unspectacular result, the match may well be remembered more for a truly remarkable incident in the 85th minute. Stuart “Gochan” Macleod entered the field as a substitute for Joe Armstrong. However, it was deemed that the substitution had not been completed satisfactorily, and as Macleod was being cautioned for this, his words of surprise were too colourful for the match official and he was sent off!

Lochs were the next visitors to Cnoc a Choilich as the Highland Amateur Cup campaign began. The Carloway squad was beginning to have a more settled look, except for goalkeepers Gordon Craigie and David Beaton who seemed to occupy the gloves by rotation. Lochs were both boosted by returnees and hindered by a lengthening injury list. A keenly contested and typically tight match was settled by a solitary goal from Andrew “Tago” MacIver midway through the second half. The reward for winning this match saw Carloway drawn to face old foes and perennial finalists Avoch in their own back yard.

Whilst the margin of victory was slender, there were clear signs that the performance level of the team was building. Further evidence of this would be sought in the next fixture away to Point, another tipped to be strong challengers for the trophies, but whose league form was poor. Having secured the first silverware of the season, and enjoying home advantage, Point took the match to Carloway and enjoyed the majority of possession, but found the Carloway defence in fine form and impenetrable. The Blues were also looking to create opportunities and Andrew “Tago” MacIver continued his scoring streak with a spectacular powerful shot which went in off the crossbar, after 26 minutes. The pattern of play continued with Point having much of the ball and Carloway the better scoring opportunities. The match was settled in the 65th minute, when MacIver found the net again with a wonderful strike from long range after a strong driving run through midfield. This result highlighted the credentials of the Carloway squad and, along with results elsewhere, propelled the team to second place in the league as early pacesetters Westside dropped their first points.

The next fixture saw Carloway play Stornoway Athletic, with the teams occupying second and third places in the league. Carloway suffered an early setback when conceding an own goal in unfortunate circumstances, before responding well and scoring two goals in quick succession shortly after the half hour, through Andrew “Tago” MacIver and Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald. This was despite not playing with the same level of fluency as they had done in recent matches. Ten minutes into the second half, the visitors then proceeded to equalise with a goal which was claimed to have been from an offside position. Both sides sensed victory was achievable and sought a winner. Athletic took the lead 3-2 with 20 minutes remaining when John MacIsaac scored with a looping effort from distance. Just as it was looking like it was going to be one of those evenings when things don’t do your way, Carloway snatched a 3-3 draw through Andrew “Tago” MacIver with time running out.

There was a sense within the ranks that Carloway had dropped two points from this encounter and given themselves a harder task to catch leaders Westside. However, despite setbacks such as an own goal and a marginal offside decision going against the team in a comparatively below par performance, they had managed to rescue one point. They had also now gone unbeaten for 5 matches, and it would also steel them for the next match, which was a visit to Coronation Park, Avoch.

The team travelled to the Black Isle on a bright sunny day, with a strong squad boosted by the returning Dan Crossley and backed by large support from near and far. The pitch had been compared to Rally Park, Tarbert, yet whilst narrow was of full length. Perhaps the embankment along the far side and behind one goal contributed to the sense of it being a tight venue, however, this provided a good vantage point for spectators and the playing surface was in excellent condition.

The match was a very closely contested affair, with few scoring opportunities. Avoch had the greater share of possession but were contained well by an organised and disciplined Carloway side. As the second half progressed, Avoch enjoyed an increasing share of the ball as well as the opportunities, though Carloway remained well in the match with the scoresheet blank. The home side seemed to have identified the Carloway left as a potential weakness, but found Joe Armstrong in outstanding form. On the hour mark, Dan Crossley was introduced to the match and looked as if he had never been away, as he played with pace and panache. Unfortunately, with just 3 minutes remaining and extra time looming, Carloway’s resistance was finally broken with a strong finish by the home side’s Docherty. It was tough on the visitors who had competed so well. The relief of the home side, and Carloway’s misery, was apparent. Thankfully the home manager George Patience, did not reprise his celebration of a late winner in a previous encounter in Culbokie in 2013. Avoch did edge the match and carried a greater attacking threat, but it was readily acknowledged that The Blues pushed the side who would eventually win the competition all the way.

Whilst frustrated by their elimination from the competition, Carloway’s response was to embark on a run of victories and rack up goals aplenty as their season was transformed. Their next opponents were Uist and Barra League Champions, Barra, in the Co-op Cup at neutral Liniclate. The team travelled without regulars Ali “Laxay” MacDonald, Andrew “Tago” MacIver, Billy Anderson and goalkeepers David Beaton and Gordon Craigie. On the plus side, Eachainn Miller and Dan Crossley were available. Andrew Macleod deputised as goalkeeper for his first starting appearance. Despite a much changed line up, Carloway started very strongly and were 3-0 up in little more than 20 minutes. Four goals were scored in each half as they ran out resounding 8-2 winners. Eachainn Miller and Dan Crossley in particular terrorised their opponents, creating several chances and scoring five goals between them. Miller grabbed three, Crossley scored twice, Gordon “Tago” MacDonald and a Domhnall Mackay penalty found the net. The match also saw Cameron “Tiger” Macarthur notch his first goal for Carloway, much to his relief. The one sour note from this match was a knee injury sustained by Archie MacDonald which effectively ended his season.

Two days later, Carloway met Stornoway United in what would be their final match before a “mid season break” arising due to a Western Isles representative squad participating in the World Island Games at Gotland. As they had done against Barra, Carloway started particularly strongly and led 3-0 in the opening 15 minutes through goals by Andrew “Tago” MacIver, Domhnall Mackay and Eachainn Miller. Despite continuing to press for further goals, they would score only once more through Gordon “Tago” MacDonald in the second half. The 4-0 result was welcome, as was news of leaders Westside being held to a draw. At the mid season break, Westside were 4 points ahead of Carloway, although the Blues did have a game in hand. Carloway were also 4 points clear of the rest of the challengers in what was becoming a two horse race.

The season resumed in early July, with Carloway facing a tough home fixture against Lochs. Both sides had notable absentees, with the visitors’ continuing lengthy injury list persisting and hampering their selection options. Carloway knew victory was essential if they were to maintain their challenge. Once again, early pressure brought a goal for the Blues through Kevin “Gochan” Macleod. This appeared to settle the team and they continued to dominate the match but could not capitalise further. Though this pattern persisted for much of the match, gradually Lochs became a greater threat, and the outcome was still undecided.

After surviving a couple of late scares, Carloway appeared to have done just enough for victory, then Lochs scored right on the 90 minute mark through veteran David Martin’s powerful header from a corner. However, the match wasn’t finished as, deep into added time, Carloway underlined their credentials by scoring a winning goal. An Andrew “Tago” MacIver shot was well saved by Lochs’ James Macleod, and Kenny “Dokus” followed up to stroke the loose ball into the net. Cue wild celebrations both on and off the field with the importance of the goal and result not lost on any of a Blue persuasion. The news that league leaders Westside had suffered their first defeat of the league campaign at home to “Jeckyll and Hyde” side Point did not dampen the mood. Westside’s lead was down to 1 point over Carloway, and Na Gormaich still had one match fewer played.

This was followed by the commencement of Carloway’s defence of the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup they won for the first time in 2016. In the semi final stage, they were paired with Point, who had eliminated Harris in the earlier round. With the likes of Jack Maclennan, John “Uig” Morrison and Stuart “Bubble” Macdonald missing, the Carloway starting side consisted entirely of players who were signed to the team, which did provide a strong degree of continuity. They were also able to call on the services of striker Angus Grant, who would be available for the majority of the remainder of the season. Once again, there was an explosive start, with Angus Grant needing only 90 seconds to give Carloway the lead. However, the visitors drew level on 5 minutes after an own goal. Further opportunities were passed up, before Carloway regained the lead with a beautifully struck shot by Angus Grant on 53 minutes. It was a closely fought encounter and despite further chances for both sides not being able to be converted, Carloway would travel to Garrabost for the return leg with a slender 2-1 lead.

A resurgent Ness side were the next opponents for Carloway, at Fivepenny. Carloway did have the greater number of scoring opportunities, with Ness causing concern principally through free kicks in dangerous areas. With half time approaching, Ness took the lead through Jack Dunlop, a little against the run of play. This setback only seemed to galvanise Carloway, and the response was almost immediate as they scored twice before the half time, through Angus Grant and Dan Crossley. These two players were causing the home side considerable concern and the second half three further goals by Grant and Crossley, as well as a first for Jordan Macleod put the result beyond any doubt. Dunlop scored again for Ness, whilst Grant completed his hat trick, to make the final score 6-2.

The next opponents were Eriskay, who were making their first visit to Cnoc a Choilich, in Round 2 of the Co-op Cup. The visitors may not have been enjoying the best of seasons but were given every respect as they faced a virtually full strength Carloway side. There was a job to be done, and inside the first minute Carloway had taken the lead with a Jordan Macleod strike from an Angus Grant pass. The Blues continued to press and the second goal duly came with a reversal of roles between Grant and Macleod. When Andrew “Tago” MacIver added a third just before half time, the result looked a formality. Shortly after the resumption, Grant added a fourth for the Blues, whilst Ben Smith scored his first Carloway goal. Eriskay contributed well to the match and scored two goals of their own, through their star performer Ali MacDonald and a wind assisted free kick from the half way line by Jordan MacPherson in the final act of the match. The match finished 5-2 in favour of the Blues.

Another cup tie next as Carloway then travelled to Garrabost to meet Point, with a one goal advantage from the first leg, and a place in the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup at stake. As is the nature of this competition, there were changes to the Carloway starting eleven with goalkeeper Jack Maclennan and Stuart “Bubble” MacDonald augmenting the team. As was now becoming the norm, there was a flurry of early goals. Angus Grant found the net with a calm finish after little more than a minute’s play. However, the Blues were given a nasty jolt as the Reds score twice through Andrew Murray and Matthew Wright to level the tie on aggregate with 70 minutes still to go. After a brief period of uncertainty, Carloway drew level on the night through an Angus Grant header. In the second half, The Blues stepped up a level and were the dominant side. Although it took them until midway through the second period, they made up for their earlier profligacy in front of goal with three terrific goals to run out 5-2 winners. Dan Crossley back-heeled the Blues into the lead, then Grant completed his second hat trick, and 10th goal in 4 four matches with another cute strike. Crossley then sent a free kick curling gloriously high across goal and into the “postage stamp” corner to complete the scoring.

Seven straight victories, and sixteen goals scored in their previous three match indicated that confidence was high within the Carloway ranks. This was to be welcomed as they faced Westside in a crucial league encounter. The manner and scale of defeat in their earlier meetings this season were sources of irritation within Carloway ranks. Defensive rock “DI” Maclennan was passed fit after an injury absence of three matches, whilst Westside’s injury woes were also beginning to ease. It a typically tense and combative encounter with both sides giving everything. Carloway drew first blood in the 12th minute when Angus Grant squared for Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald to score. Carloway then got a second when hit-man Grant battled his way through two crunching tackles to break clear in the centre, then stroke the coolest of finishes home into the goalkeeper’s bottom left-hand corner. Shortly before half time, remarkably it was 3-0 when Grant’s first-time volley was sent between the ‘keeper’s legs and into the net for his 12th goal in 5 games, and Carloway were in control.

Westside were like a wounded animal, and still they came at Carloway seeking to claw their way back into the contest. The intensity of the match increased further shortly after the hour mark, the contest appeared all but over. A high ball forward by Domhnall Mackay was chased by Andrew “Tago” MacIver behind the line on the Blues’ right. “Lurch” Murray came for it but couldn’t quite make it, and brought “Tago” crashing down just inside the box for a clear-cut penalty. Domhnall Mackay took the responsibility and thundered the ball home expertly to the keeper’s left. Seconds later, the referee pointed to the spot again, this time for Westside, after Cameron “Tiger” Macarthur felled Westside’s Mackay. Martainn Shields squeezed the ball beyond Gordon Craigie. Despite a late second goal by Westside’s Scott Graham, Carloway held out for a hugely significant victory which took them to the top of the league. Every player in a Carloway jersey had performed admirably, on message and with full commitment to ensure this result. The race for the league really was on now!

There is an old adage which states that getting to the top is the easy bit, it is staying there that is the difficult part. Before this would be put to the test, there was another cup tie to negotiate, Stornoway Athletic at Goathill Park in the Lewis Cup. Following the scintillating victory over Westside, it was a strangely disjointed performance from the Carloway side. Coherence and fluency were missing, as if the oil had been drained from the sump. The Blues fell behind after a quarter of an hour, when “Titch” Macritchie stabbed a left-footer high over the line from 24 metres and the flight of his lob-shot carried it over David Beaton to drop under the bar in the centre for the opener. There was no further scoring in the first half, and into the second half, Na Gormaich immediately looked more threatening. An opportunity for an equaliser arrived when Angus Grant was bundled over in the box, but Domhnall Mackay’s penalty was well saved by Murdo MacIver. It got worse for Carloway as “DI” Maclennan was dismissed for two yellow cards in quick succession. The Athletic goalkeeper then made a remarkable reaction save from Domhnall Mackay’s goalbound effort. However, the final 20 minutes witnessed frenetic action in the Athletic box. Finally, Fraser “Frazmac” Macleod whacked a ball against the underside of the bar and when it came down, he managed to bundle it over the line. Despite their numerical inferiority, it was Carloway who looked the more likely side. However, in injury time, there was a sting in the tail as Athletic won the match with a penalty award which was converted by Connor Maciver. Whilst a commendable unbeaten run had ended abruptly, the Carloway camp was not despondent. They had been performing well over a prolonged period.

Their next match was the league game in hand, a home fixture against Ness which was postponed early in the season. Early pressure by the home side gained a quick break-through. In 4 minutes, captain Domhnall Mackay smashed home through a crowded area after a Jordan Macleod corner. In the space of two minutes on the half-hour, the tie was effectively settled. An Ali “Laxay” MacDonald free-kick from the right of the centre circle cleared the central ruck on the edge of the box to reach Grant, lurking 16 metres out in the centre, and his superbly-timed right-foot volley flew low inside the Ness left-hand post. Immediately from the restart, Domhnall Mackay swiftly transferred the ball diagonally forward to Crossley breaking left behind his marker. He checked at the edge of the box and whipped a low right-footer which cannoned off the inside of the right-hand post across the face of goal and a delighted Grant banged the rebound home in the centre from 10 metres. His remarkable scoring streak was now 14 goals in 7 matches. Having built such a commanding lead, Carloway appeared content with securing the 3 league points and contained and subdued a spirited Ness team. They added a fourth goal late on when a Fraser “Frazmac” Macleod shot was parried in to the path of Jordan Macleod to prod home. Jack Dunlop scored a late consolation for the visitors. This result meant Carloway now had a 5 point lead over nearest challengers Westside with each having four matches to play, and Carloway were now favourites to win the league.

It was a trip to Upper Coll against Back next for the Blues. This had often proved to be a challenging venue for Carloway. A penalty shoot-out was required to separate the sides on the opening fixture of the season, and they were in no doubt that any positive result would have to be earned. Carloway began the match in the ascendancy, and eventually took the lead in 24 minutes when Dan Crossley robbed an opponent, then sent the sweetest of chips diagonally forward leftwards for Grant to outpace the full back before whipping across a perfect squared low ball for the arriving Fraser “Frazmac” Macleod to nip in to ram home. The congratulations had barely died down, when a highly contentious penalty was awarded for Back and duly converted by Gordon Maciver. The sense of grievance at this award did seem to spur on the Blues and they regained their composure and the lead when “Frazmac” nodded home a lovely clipped Dan Crossley free kick. Right on half time, there was further consternation, this time from Back, as Ali “Laxay” won a free kick around 30 yards from goal for Carloway after a marauding run from deep in his own half. Dan Crossley proceeded to stroke the ball into the Back net, after seeking permission from the referee, while Back were still organising their defensive wall. The goal was awarded and the ends were switched with Carloway 3-1 to the good. In the second half, Back sought to gain a foothold in the match, but they were unable to pierce the resolute Carloway back line. Just as the match appeared to be concluding with another Carloway win, Back scored a second when Maciver curled in a free kick which crept beneath Beaton and into the net. Despite an anxious last few minutes, Carloway emerged with a deserved though narrow 3-2 victory. With a mixture of elation and relief, Carloway were now one win away from securing the league title, as Westside had been held 2-2 by at home by United. Na Gormaich were 7 points ahead with just three rounds of matches remaining.

The first opportunity to seal the league title was against Point, in what was their final home league fixture. There was an understandably larger attendance at Cnoc a Choilich, the majority of whom were eager to witness the home side secure the championship. Point were in no mood to just make up the numbers and shocked the home side by taking an early lead through Andrew Morrison. Perhaps the weight of expectancy was heavy to bear for those in Blue but they did not panic. Whilst not performing at their peak, application and desire could not be questioned. Gradually, they were gaining a greater share of the pressure, and suddenly shortly before half time, the Blues were on equal terms, a goal which did not depend on any patient build-up, but an enormous clearance straight downfield from Mackay, just inside his own box. It caught the Rudhachs over-committed and Angus Grant managed to get behind the defender on his left and race into the right of the box, then slot it coolly to the helpless keeper’s right and inside the far post. The relief inside Cnoc a Choilich was palpable, and the goal came at just the right time. Ten minutes into the second half Carloway took the lead, when Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald finished off a loose ball after good work from Cameron “Tiger” Macarthur and Kevin “Gochan” Macleod. With the outcome of the match in the balance there was much tension in the air and both sides created and spurned chances. In the dying minutes, Carloway survived a shot against their bar, and even more dramatically Point had the ball in the net, but the referee’s whistle had already blown for offside. Moments later, the whistle sounded signalling the end of the match, and Carloway would be crowned league champions.

Whilst the performance may not have been the most sparkling of the season, Carloway deserve great credit for coming through this fixture to clinch the points which confirmed the title. Leagues are won over the course of campaigns, and for the most part the march to the title had been exhilarating. After the opening-game misery with the 0-6 defeat at Barvas, the Blues demonstrated essential consistency and were unbeaten thereafter. On occasion they blitzed opponents, and also ground out narrow triumphs, the team had grown in the course of the season. The availability of Andrew “Tago” MacIver added power, drive and goals to the team and he played in every area of the pitch over the season; a fit-again Dan Crossley continued and enhanced the imaginative creativity of Billy Anderson and Eachainn Miller to utilize this power effectively, and the late arrival of Angus Grant provided the deadly finishing to augment Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald and Kevin “Gochan” Macleod in racking up the points. The season also showcased rock-fast defence from keepers Beaton and Craigie, Cameron “Tiger” Macarthur, “DI” Maclennan, Ali “Laxay” MacDonald and witnessed the developing maturity of the next generation of stars: Callum “Beag” Mackay, Joe Armstrong, and Jordan Macleod.

Four days after securing the league, Carloway had another opportunity for silverware, as they met Ness in the Eilean an Fhraoich cup final at Garrabost. As they had done in the earlier round, Jack Maclennan and Stuart “Bubble” MacDonald again augmented the Carloway line up, in which nine of starting side who ended the long wait for success in this competition in 2016 sought to retain the cup. Carloway began the match as favourites but it was Ness who made most of the running in the early stages without really troubling the Carloway rearguard. As Carloway began to click, they broke the deadlock when Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald sent a lovely ball to Angus Grant, who ghosted to the bye-line, then whipped a low squared ball Stuart “Bubble” MacDonald knocked home. After a tight first half, the Blues really underlined their superiority in a second half which they dominated from start to finish. The second goal arrived in 50 minutes, when a dangerous Carloway corner was challenged by Domhnall Mackay and crossed the line off a Ness player. This goal effectively killed off any Ness aspirations, and Carloway extended their lead when Domhnall Mackay nodded home from a Dan Crossley near post cross. The tails were up and shortly afterwards Angus Grant broke forward up the left channel and squared to Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald who slid the ball into the net. The scoring was completed when Gordon “Tago” MacDonald converted a penalty he had earned himself. Never mind buses, after waiting 83 years to finally win the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup, they now had back to back victories in the competition.

After a momentous week which yielded two pieces of silverware, there was little pressure on Carloway, although they were anxious to continue their impressive sequence of results. The penultimate league fixture saw a return to Goathill Park against an Athletic side which was the last to defeat them, and also the last team to deny them the full 3 points in a league match. There was never any threat of a repeat of these results, and Carloway ran out comfortable 6-1 winners with braces from Andrew “Tago” MacIver and Jordan Macleod and Domhnall Mackay following Billy Anderson’s opener.

It was the Co-op cup semi final next for Carloway, when they faced a much-improved Southend at Cnoc a Choilich. In front of a modest Saturday morning attendance on a drizzly day, Carloway looked to reach another final and have a tilt at a third trophy. They began the stronger side and were soon 2-0 in the lead, thanks to goals from Dan Crossley and Andrew “Tago” MacIver. The visitors from Uist were not done and on the hour reduced the deficit through Shaun McCormick. With a spirited performance they struck the woodwork on three occasions and it took a wonder save from Gordon Craigie right at the final whistle to preserve the slender Carloway lead and ensured a cup final against Westside.

The league programme was completed with Carloway travelling to meet Stornoway United. The hosts were immediately ahead when Kenny Macsween bundled home from close range in the second minute. Carloway remained calm, and sought to atone for this early setback. They contrived to create and pass up a number of opportunities, then in 41 minutes they suddenly found themselves looking into the abyss. Eilean an Fhraoich Cup squad member Hamish MacDonald punished Carloway as they looked to play the ball out of defence. However, the Carloway response was immediate and strong. Firstly, Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald sent a right-foot screamer whizzing wide of Maclennan and just inside his left-hand post and then Dan Crossley squared for Andrew “Tago” MacIver to send a left-foot side-footer high into the net to Maclennan’s left. Shortly after the resumption, the comeback was complete when a Gordon “Tago” MacDonald corner from the Blues’ right dropped perfectly for cousin Andrew “Tago” MacIver, 10 metres from goal in the centre, and his first-time right-foot volley flashed home, low inside United’s right-hand post. Carloway continued to dominate and really ought to have added to their tally but had to be content with a 3-2 victory. The result ensured Carloway completed their league programme with 12 wins, 1 draw and 1 defeat in 14 matches. The final margin of victory was 10 points ahead of second placed Westside. It also stretched their uneaten league sequence to 13 matches.

The season finale was the Co-op Cup final against local rivals Westside switched at Creagan Dubh, Leurbost due to prevailing weather issues. Carloway were missing kingpins Andrew “Tago” MacIver and Ali “Laxay” MacDonald for this fixture. The former would be named the club’s player of the year and the latter the previous holder of the award. Both had performed admirably throughout the season and their influence on the team was even more apparent by their absence. Carloway fell behind after 6 minutes through a Duncan Maclean strike. The Blues continued to press but could not penetrate a well organised and aggressive Westside team, whose victory could not be grudged. Their greater performance on the night was underlined by further goals by Martainn Shields and a last minute lob from half way by the league’s top scorer, Innes Iain Morrison.

This result meant that again, the season concluded with defeat in a cup final. However unpalatable this may be, it should not overshadow what has been a remarkable season for the Blues’ faithful. The league was won and after a crushing early defeat, and the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup retained. Both of these trophies were won for only the second time in their entire history.

The Club was fortunate to have two quality goalkeepers to call upon and who both played significant roles. David Beaton made a welcome return from long term injury, whilst the evergreen Gordon Craigie continued unabated and breaking Club records. The defence was consistent throughout the year, with Ali “Laxay” MacDonald and “DI” Maclennan proving a formidable shield. MacDonald’s reading of the game, timing in the tackle and coolness under pressure was complemented perfectly by Maclennan’s tenacity and aggression. With strong support from Cameron “Tiger” Macarthur and Joe Armstrong at full backs, the defence also benefitted from continuity of selection. The midfield combinations varied throughout the season, but the leadership of Domhnall Mackay and contributions of Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald, Archie MacDonald until his injury, as well as the timely return of the inspirational Dan Crossley pivotal. The emergence of Callum “Beag” Mackay and Jordan Macleod as regular starters was also encouraging. The old guard of Kevin “Gochan” Macleod, Gordon “Tago” MacDonald and Billy Anderson provided valuable depth and experience at critical times. Up front, Angus Grant’s availability seemed to come at just the right time, and the goals began to flow. 15 goals and 7 assists from 11 matches underlined his contribution. Over the course of the season, Andrew “Tago” MacIver was deployed in virtually every position bar goalkeeper, and excelled, offering strength, desire, fitness and goals in abundance. Unsurprisingly, he was named the Club’s player of the year. After a shaky opening to the year, the team embarked on a fantastic run, winning 19 of their next 22 matches, which provided the platform to their success. Finally, the management team of Graeme “Windy” Miller, Gus Maciver and Kenny John Maclennan were all winners as players, treating every match with the utmost commitment, and defeat as a personal affront. Their impact on the team was considerable, and their philosophy was reproduced by the class of 2017. It is hoped that the success this season will provide confidence to enable them to continue to reap the rewards for their efforts. C’mon The ‘Way!

2017 squad at the first match of the season versus Back. Back Row L-R: David Beaton, Donald 'D.I.' Maclennan, Murdo 'Squegg' Macleod, Andrew 'Tago' Maciver, Stuart 'Gochan' Macleod, Kenny 'Dokus' MacDonald, Matthew Murray, Andrew 'Lanky' MacDonald, Andrew 'D.D.' Macleod, Gordon Craigie, Ali 'Laxay' MacDonald. Front Row L-R: Archie MacDonald, Sven Wiltshire, Domhnall Mackay, Cameron 'Tiger' Macarthur, Joe Armstrong, Jordan Macleod, Callum 'Beag' Mackay.
Eilean an Fhraoich Cup Winners 2017. Back Row L-R: Cameron 'Tiger' Macarthur, Euan Gilmour, Kenny 'Dokus' MacDonald, Hamish MacDonald, Stuart MacDonald, Jack Maclennan, Ali 'Laxay' MacDonald, Andrew 'Tago' MacIver, Gordon 'Tago' MacDonald, Graeme 'Windy' Miller, Gus Maciver. Front Row L-R: Callum 'Beag' Mackay, Joe Armstrong, Angus Grant, Domhnall Mackay, Dan Crossley, Donald 'DI' Maclennan, Gordon Craigie.
Lewis & Harris League Champions 2017. Back Row L-R: Graeme 'Windy' Miller, Gus Maciver, Gordon Craigie, Gordon 'Tago' MacDonald, Jordan Macleod, Andrew 'Tago' Maciver, Domhnall Mackay, Donald 'DR' Macleod, Billy Anderson, Kevin 'Gochan' Macleod, Stuart 'Gochan' Macleod, Andrew 'Lanky' MacDonald, Ali 'Laxay' MacDonald, Matthew Murray, Andrew Macleod, David Beaton, Callum 'Beag' Mackay. Front Row L-R: Kenny 'Dokus' MacDonald, Dan Crossley, Cameron 'Tiger' Macarthur, Donald 'DI' Maclennan, Joe Armstrong, Angus Grant, Archie MacDonald.

After the high of the 2017 season, the 2018 campaign was always going to more challenging due to the number of players who would not be available for one reason or another. Player of the Year joint top-goalscorer, Andrew “Tago” MacIver would be missing for all but a handful of matches at the end of the season. Fellow joint top-goalscorer Angus Grant had signed for Turriff United in the Highland League, and Dan Crossley still recovering from injury. Ali “Laxay” MacDonald had been prised away to join Lochs and the untimely and tragic passing of young star Jordan Macleod left a gaping void in the Carloway ranks. Archie MacDonald had to depart mid-season to return to Uist and Eachainn Miller’s availability continued to be short.

Carloway did manage to secure the services of Stuart “Bubble” MacDonald, Andy “Bernera” Morrison from Athletic. The former two have pulled on a Blue jersey previously, in the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup, and they were welcome additions to the squad along with Callum Masson. Neil Sinclair was effectively a new signing, having only seen action on the final day of the previous season. The Blues did also manage to secure the signing of Euan Shirkie during the season, from Westside, and he featured regularly making a strong contribution.

The season began with an Acres Boys Club Cup tie versus Lochs at Cnoc a Choilich, on a cold, damp April evening. The visitors were managed by Kevin Anderson. The teams were evenly matched and whilst there were few clear cut opportunities, Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald did have a well struck shot brilliantly tipped on to the crossbar by Lochs keeper James Macleod. With the light fading and the prospect of extra time being required, Lochs scored through Ross Allison to edge the contest.

The defence of the league championship commenced with a trip to Garrabost, to meet the fancied Point side. Carloway took an early lead through new signing Callum Masson after a Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald through ball. Point equalised before the half hour through Ali “Wally” Maciver and a strong second half showing from the hosts saw them run out 4-1 winners.

Carloway then travelled to Bayhead, to meet North Uist United in the preliminary round of the Highland Amateur Cup. Carloway may have been favourites, but were well aware that there were no guarantees when crossing the Sound of Harris. “D.I.” Maclennan made a return from injury and despite enjoying the bulk of territory and possession, were being well contained by their stubborn hosts. The Blues were also grateful as Gordon Craigie produced an excellent instinctive save from a powerful header from Kiltie to repel the Uist side. After a scoreless first half, Carloway eventually penetrated the home defence and Callum Masson scored shortly after the resumption with a neat back-heel from a Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald cross. This did seem to settle Carloway, and two further goals in quick succession midway through the second period from Masson saw him claim his hat trick and decide the contest. North Uist scored a well-deserved consolation before Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald completed the scoring with a deflected shot from the edge of the box to seal a 4-1 victory.

The following match was the first league fixture at home, with Stornoway Athletic the visitors. Again, Carloway were favourites for this fixture against the side who picked up the wooden spoon in 2017. Allied to this, three players who performed for Athletic were now in Carloway blue. Once again, Carloway dominated the match from the early stages but were unable to convert chances into goals. As with the previous fixture, the scoresheet remained blank at half time. Carloway did make the breakthrough early in the second period through captain Domhnall Mackay, and after a double from Callum Masson, including a spectacular lob from 40 metres following a clearance, the Blues ran out comfortable winners 5-0 with further goals from Kevin “Gochan” Macleod and Callum “Beag” Mackay.

Lochs were the Blues’ opponents in the next two fixtures, bringing the number of meetings between the sides to 3 of the opening 6 matches. The league fixture was heavily influenced by a very strong wind. Despite playing against the wind, it was Lochs who started the match the brighter and were 2-0 up in the first 15 minutes. The scorers were former Blues Gordon “Tago” MacDonald and John “Uig” Morrison. Carloway gradually came in to the match, and their endeavour paid off with two goals in the last five minutes of the half through Callum Masson and Kevin “Gochan” Macleod ensuring the sides went into the break level. Carloway knew a strong performance was required in the second half facing into the wind, and they competed well. Lochs did regain the lead just short of the hour mark through a disputed penalty which was well finished by John “Uig” Morrison. Lochs sealed victory through David Macmillan late on, although Carloway were encouraged by the improved showing.

Three days later, the sides met again, this time in the Highland Amateur Cup. Again these sides slugged it out for supremacy and another keenly contested and tight affair was won by Lochs by 2 goals to one. Lochs opening goal was an excellent curling free kick from John “Uig” Morrison, and despite matching their opponents for long spells Carloway were behind at the interval. Dan Crossley was introduced adding pace and ingenuity. The Blues hauled themselves level with Neil Sinclair the scorer, netting his first goal for the Blues. However, their good work was undone shortly afterwards, when a soft second goal was conceded from an awkward ball into the box was deceived the home defence and was nodded in by Jim O’Donnell.

The first round of the Jock Stein Cup paired Carloway with Stornoway United, at Goathill Park, Stornoway. Although dominating this match throughout, it was only settled in Carloway’s favour with goals from Neil Sinclair and Callum Masson in the final 20 minutes.

Another cup tie followed, this time the Co-op Cup, and familiar opponents Southend. After squeezing through 2-1 against this team in 2017, another difficult match was expected. Callum “Fluffy” Maclean made his debut for Carloway in goal, with an otherwise familiar line up for the Blues. At the other end, man of many clubs, including one match for Carloway, Andy “Gress” Macleod kept goal for the Uist side. Carloway went into the break with a slender 1-0 lead thanks to Callum Masson’s ninth goal in his first seven matches for the club. A flurry of goals early in the second half saw Carloway firstly go 3-0 up with goals from Neil Sinclair and Andy “Bernera” Morrison’s first strike for the Blues. Southend responded immediately through McCormick and when he scored again on 71 minutes, it was 3-2. Carloway pulled away again late on through Sinclair and Fraser “Fraz” Macleod in an entertaining and competitive match.

The following match was an away fixture with Stornoway United. Carloway were looking to climb the table with a victory, but a subdued performance resulted in a 0-0 stalemate, and more league points dropped. Captain Domhnall Mackay had a heavy cold in the lead up to the match and was fit only for the bench. After a bright opening from Carloway, United were the more purposeful as the match progressed and may well have snatched victory. The disappointing match also featured Kevin “Gochan” Macleod being sent off for a second bookable offence in what was to be his final match for Carloway.

Next up was the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup, a competition Carloway had won for the past two seasons. They were paired with neighbours Westside, with the first leg at Barvas. The squad was bolstered by Jack Maclennan, John “Uig” Morrison, Hamish MacDonald and Gordon “Tago” MacDonald all of whom had played in at least one of the previous successes. Eachainn Miller was newly and temporarily available and Coinneach Smith debuted. Matches with Westside are always fiercely contested and this was no different. Carloway appeared the slicker side and did have the better of proceedings. They took the lead in the 55th minute after a beautifully flighted corner from John “Uig” Morrison was met expertly by Eachainn Miller as he got ahead of his marker and powered a header into the net as he was leaning away from goal. Andy “Bernera” Morrison added a second goal with 10 minutes to play, just seconds after coming on as a substitute for Hamish MacDonald, for a good win for Carloway despite Cameron “Tiger” Macarthur’s red card late on.

The sides met again three days later, this time in the league at Cnoc a Choilich. This time, it was Westside who struck first with a fine goal from distance by Innes Iain Morrison. Carloway were quickly level through Archie MacDonald and went into the break 2-1 ahead and in the ascendancy with Masson lifting the neatest of left-foot lobs over the approaching keeper and inside the far post. Victory was secured in the final quarter with a goal from Neil Sinclair.

Carloway next travelled to Fivepenny to meet Ness in the semi final of the Jock Stein Cup. The home side had been enjoying a fine season keeping pace with Point at the top of the league. However, Carloway have established a strong record in recent seasons against Ness, and a tight match was expected. Carloway took the lead 10 minutes before half time through Eachainn Miller. Ness were level just before the hour, when James “Titch” Morrison was fouled in the box and Micheil Russell-Smith tucked away the penalty. The home side took the lead after another free kick ward in a dangerous area was curled into the net by Russell-Smith. 2017’s player of the year completed his hat trick in the final minute to book the home side’s final berth.

Two nights later, Carloway travelled to Upper Coll to meet the youthful and useful Back side. A new addition to the side was Euan Shirkie following his transfer from Westside. Lee Johnson also returned from injury, though it was to be short lived. Looking to bounce back after losing out to Ness earlier in the week, Carloway started strongly and were ahead in 10 minutes when Callum “Beag” Mackay’s cross was diverted into his own net by a Back defender. Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald converted a penalty after Callum Masson was fouled to put Carloway in command. Gordon Maciver, on as a substitute at half time, reduced the arrears with around an hour played. Suddenly, Carloway appeared fragile and Back were the stronger side going in to the latter stages. Maciver equalised with 7 minutes left, and completed his hat trick in added on time to snatch victory for Back and shock Carloway. It was another painful result for those of a Blue persuasion.

The following match was the second leg of the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup tie with Westside. Carloway were missing the injured Eachainn Miller and suspended Cameron “Tiger” Macarthur but did send out a strong side for the tie. As they held a two goal advantage from the first leg, Carloway did not need to chase the match and they appeared to be comfortable. This position was strengthened further after half an hour, when Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald was felled by the visiting goalkeeper for a clear penalty award. “Dokus” duly converted the spot kick. As the visitors were trying to get back into the match Carloway were repelling these attacks with stand-in left back Calum Mackay particularly effective. Just as it seemed that the match would peter out with a Carloway victory, Ali Macleod finally got the better of his man to pull one back for Westside on 74 minutes. This sparked the visitors into life and three minutes later it was 3-1 to Westside and 3-3 on aggregate as the visibly tiring home side were hit by fine strikes from Luke Mackay and Innes Iain Morrison. With Carloway hanging on, Westside grew stronger and sealed the comeback with a wonder strike from Alex John Morrison from near the left touchline and dipped sharply inside the far post, and a goal fit to win any match. If the previous two matches were hard to take, this was particularly painful. With what would have been a fine result so close, Carloway grip on the trophy was relinquished and Westside’s finishing was exemplary.

The team was drawn with Barra in the Co-op Cup, at neutral Liniclate. Barra were leading the way in the Uist and Barra league this term, and were in determined mood. In 2017, the sides met and Carloway blew away their opponents 8-2 with arguably their best display of the season, and one which propelled them to the league title. This time around, Barra were clearly the better side, and in truth Carloway never really got going in this match. After surviving for almost 30 minutes, the Blues conceded 3 times before half time. Archie MacDonald was forced off at half time with a gashed leg and a fourth goal from the penalty spot early in the second half put the result beyond any doubt. Salt was rubbed in the wounds with late goals completing a 6-0 score line for Barra and a fourth straight defeat for Carloway. It was a subdued journey back to Carloway for those who travelled.

A fortnight after their disappointing Jock Stein Cup exit, Carloway were back in Ness on league business looking to halt their losing run. After an even opening spell, Ness took the lead through exploiting the lightning pace of James “Titch” Morrison breaking clear of the Carloway defence to slot home. Ten minutes into the second half Carloway were level when Domhnall Mackay converted a penalty. Their joy lasted ten minutes when Ness were then awarded a penalty from which Scott Macrury scored. Carloway drew level a second time when Fraser “Fraz” Macleod played in Eachainn Miller. With a draw looking the likely and fairest outcome, “Titch” Morrison reprised his earlier exploits as he gathered a through ball and slid it into the net for a 3-2 victory for Ness.

Having now suffered defeat in their past five matches, confidence could have been considered to be low in the Carloway camp. However, wounds must be licked, and onwards to the next challenge. That lay in the form of league leaders and champions-in-waiting, Point. The visitors were aware that Carloway presented them with a major obstacle in their quest for the league and set out to capitalise on any weaknesses in the home ranks. Point struck first, through Angus Macdonald, although Carloway were well in the game. Indeed, Carloway netted an equaliser from Andy “Bernera” Morrison shortly before the break. Both sides continued to press, and the Blues spurned a golden opportunity when Fraser “Fraz” Macleod lashed a shot off the bar from around 12 metres out. In fairness to Macleod, there is photographic evidence to suggest that the ball did actually cross the line after hitting the bar, though any appeals were swiftly waved away by the referee.

It looked as though this miss may come back to haunt Carloway, as within minutes Point had scored twice and Macdonald registering a hat trick on 70 minutes. That appeared to be that, however Carloway launched a storming comeback belying their form and league position, rescuing a point and almost a winner in a frantic finale. Domhnall Mackay and Callum “Beag” Mackay supplied the late goals for the Blues, who would have been encouraged by the performance in an entertaining contest. Some within the Point contingent even hailed this result as a point gained rather than two dropped.

On the back of such an encouraging performance, it was perhaps a little frustrating that a couple of weeks would pass before Carloway had an opportunity to build on this. Their next match was an away fixture against Athletic, the side at the foot of the table. Whilst not at the peak of their powers, Carloway had established a lead through Neil Sinclair midway through the half and were in the ascendancy. Approaching half time, the home side had a free kick which was played into the box. Carloway’s Beaton came to clutch the ball under the challenge of Athletic’s Morgan. The Athletic player was adamant he was fouled and disagreed with a referee’s view of matters. Unfortunately, he shared his thoughts a little too forcefully and was shown at least one red card by the official. Whatever the merits of his opinion as to the original incident, his actions thereafter are difficult to support. It also made the task for his side all the more difficult. For the remainder of the match, as one might expect Carloway enjoyed almost complete domination and eventually strolled to a 3-0 win with further goals from Neil Sinclair and Fraser “Fraz” Macleod putting a more realistic reflection on the scoreline.

A combination of elimination from the cups and fixture rescheduling meant a further three weeks passed before Carloway were in action again, and once more the venue was Goathill Park, with United the opposition in the Lewis Cup. The enforced absence did appear to impact on the Carloway rhythm as they huffed and puffed but were lacking a spark of creativity. An early goal through a fine finish from Callum “Beag” Mackay was cancelled out on the stroke of half time when Joe Armstrong could not prevent a goalbound effort from Kenny Macsween hitting the net. Being a cup tie and with the scores level, it was all to play for. Both sides passed up some opportunities. Carloway perhaps had more of the ball and the greater chances, though United’s openings were arguably the better. The tie was eventually settled on 87 minutes when a pass from Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald gave now available Andrew “Tago” MacIver the opportunity to lift the ball over the outrushing United goalkeeper and in to the net.

The sides met again four days later, in the league at Cnoc a Choilich. Whilst Carloway were the more progressive and dominant side, the outcome of this match was in doubt throughout as a result of profligacy in front of goal which resulted in a nervy conclusion. Carloway did manage to secure the three points with a 1-0 win with a well taken Stuart “Bubble” MacDonald goal – his first as a fully fledged Carloway player.

Carloway then travelled to meet Westside at Barvas. Last year the Blues suffered a 6-0 loss at this venue in their first league match, before embarking on an unbeaten run for the remainder of the campaign to their second league title. Na Gormaich made the worst possible start, conceding twice in the opening seven minutes to strikes from Luke Mackay. “D.I.” Maclennan was then sent off, having been adjudged to have denied a clear goalscoring opportunity despite the incident occurring a good distance from goal and there being other defenders in the vicinity. With that, it became a case of damage limitation as Westside sought to underline their advantage. Mackay completed his hat trick on the half hour and his fourth early in the second half. A miserable result was completed in added on time as a 6-0 reverse was suffered at the hands of their rivals for the second consecutive season.

League pacesetters Point were next up for the Blues, as they battled for a place in the Co-op Cup final. The visitors had clearly prioritised their league campaign as their cup form was patchier this term. For Carloway, this was their last opportunity for silverware or a cup final. Point were without some key players, and Carloway took the initiative in the game from the outset. Euan Shirkie coolly finished off a lovely move in the early stages and Fraser “Fraz” Macleod added a second after 30 minutes. Carloway’s domination was underlined in the second half with further goals from Domhnall Mackay and Stuart “Bubble” MacDonald and an emphatic 4-0 victory achieved.

Carloway then hosted Back in a match which may decide who would finish 5th and 6th in the league table. Carloway made a very early breakthrough through Stuart “Bubble” MacDonald, but could not add to this strike despite being in complete control of proceedings. On the threshold of half time whistle, Cameron “Tiger” Macarthur picked up the ball in his own half and embarked on a marauding run up the left channel. Suddenly, he made his way for goal and just as it appeared he had lost the opportunity to cap this fine run, he managed to force the ball into the roof of the net for a rare but memorable goal. Early in the second half, “D.I.” Maclennan poked home from close range to put the match beyond the reach of the visitors. Carloway coasted towards the end of the match, and despite losing a late goal, ran out worthy and comfortable winners 3-1.

The final home match followed with Ness travelling to Cnoc a Choilich. Ness were still in the hunt for the runners-up spot whilst Carloway stood no more than an outside chance of a top four finish. For the fourth match running there was a goal in the opening minutes as Ness scored through Allan MacDonald. The visitors were in control of the match for long spells and really ought to have added to their tally. They were guilty of some poor finishing and Carloway relieved to be only one goal adrift. Into the second half, Carloway gradually started to improve, helped by the arrival of the travel-delayed Neil Sinclair’s introduction. However, a second Ness goal just beyond the hour mark appeared to settle matters in Ness’ favour. Eventually, Carloway found the way to goal in the final ten minutes, as Callum Masson broke an almost 3 month personal scoring drought after being played in by strike partner Fraser “Fraz” Macleod. Suddenly Ness were struggling to contain Carloway, and when Macleod equalised on 86 minutes, they were under siege. A glorious opportunity to snatch an improbable victory was passed up in added time. On reflection, in spite of the barnstorming finish by Carloway both sides were satisfied with a point apiece.

The season concluded with a double header against Lochs in the league and then the Lewis Cup Final. At Creagan Dubh, a highly entertaining match was played out despite nothing but pride being at stake. The now customary early goal in a Carloway match arrived, and it was for Lochs when Andy Murray scored. Fraser “Fraz” Macleod equalised on 20 minutes after being set up by Callum “Beag” Mackay. Lochs responded immediately and David Macmillan nodded home at the near post from a corner. Carloway were well in the match and shortly before half time, the sides were level again as Callum Masson scored. Lochs took the lead for the third time through David Martin, and still Carloway kept battling. They were rewarded for their endeavour when Lee Johnson bundled the ball into the net from close range after a fine ball from Fraser “Fraz” Macleod. The points stayed in Leurbost, when David Martin scored from the penalty spot as the home side squeezed through 4-3. This was certainly Carloway’s best performance against the maroons this season, and gave grounds for optimism in the final clash.

To the Lewis Cup final, and Carloway and Lochs locked horns once more, at Goathill Park. Unfortunately, Stuart “Bubble” MacDonald and Neil Sinclair were unavailable for the match and so Carloway recalled the recently departed Archie MacDonald back from Uist, and pressed Dan Crossley into action for only his second start of the season. Having already secured two trophies this season, and multiple victories over the past 15 years, the Lochs side had amply demonstrated that they knew how to win big matches, and their contained many heavily decorated players. Carloway dominated the opening exchanges and shortly after Lochs’ Andy Murray suffered an injury recurrence, Carloway took the lead from a corner. “D.I.” Maclennan challenged for the ball and it fell to Dan Crossley, who coolly flicked the ball into the net with his back to goal. Carloway shaded a competitive first half, which concluded with a further injury for Lochs as Jim O’Donnell appeared to land on his ankle and was unable to continue.

Almost immediately at the start of the second half, it was Carloway’s turn to suffer injury as goalkeeper David Beaton dislocated his thumb clutching an innocuous looking ball. There followed an extended delay as Beaton’s digit was repositioned and strapped up and he bravely played on. As the game stretched and play raged from end to end the intensity grew. Niall Houston squeezed an equaliser beyond Beaton from the edge of the box with 75 minutes on the clock, and the tension grew still further. Both sides had opportunities to clinch the match as the initiative went one way then the other. Having gone beyond the 90 minutes, the question was how many minutes would be added due to Beaton’s earlier injury and substitutions. Having reached 90+9 minutes, Lochs struck the mortal blow to Carloway’s aspirations as David Martin powered home a header from a cross from the right wing. It was agony for the Blues, yet there were still two more minutes to play and at least another four yellow cards brandished. Sadly, they could not muster a goal to preserve the tie, and Lochs won their third trophy of the season. Carloway did come close several times, even edged the chances, in a very even, well-contested tie which could have gone either way, right to the end.

So, for the third season running Carloway’s season concluded with a defeat in a cup final. It is such a tortuous way to wrap up a campaign, as there is absolutely nothing that can be done to ease the pain for at least 6 months. Carloway will feel that they could have won this match, and it would be difficult to fault any individual. Once again, Lochs somehow managed to find a way to win a tight match, and they deserve credit for this.

Unfortunately, the season’s conclusion also brought an end to the tenure of Graeme “Windy” Miller’s managership after five years. His impact has been huge, not least in the tangible rewards in the shape of the four trophies which were secured during his tenure. This included the League title when a largely unheralded and disregarded squad defied the odds in 2017. Finally bringing the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup to the Carloway trophy cabinet in 2016 and retaining the Cup in 2017 were other highlights. The Acres’ Boys Club Cup of 2016, Miller’s first as manager, will also be fondly remembered as the Blues held on to win 4-3 in extra time with 9 men in an epic encounter against Westside. Carloway also made their mark on a broader stage as they reached the final of the Highland Amateur Cup in 2014, and came very close to winning it, roared on by an outstanding support. “Windy” has been an integral part of the management structure of the senior team for the past 8 years and the team is all the stronger from his input. We will miss his encouraging yet authoritative input on the touchlines, and thank him most sincerely for his service to the club.

To the Lewis Cup final, and Carloway and Lochs locked horns once more, at Goathill Park. Sadly, they could not muster a goal to preserve the tie, and Lochs won their third trophy of the season. Carloway did come close several times, even edged the chances, in a very even, well-contested tie which could have gone either way, right to the end.
2018 Prize Winners L-R: Iain "Dougie" Maclean, Stuart "Bubble" MacDonald, Graeme "Windy Miller, Callum "Beag" Mackay
The conclusion of the 2018 season brought an end to the tenure of Graeme “Windy” Miller’s managership after five years at the helm. His impact at the club has been huge, not least in the tangible rewards in the shape of the four trophies which were secured during his tenure.
2018 squad at the first match of the season versus Lochs. Back Row L-R: Graeme 'Windy' Miller (Manager), Billy Anderson, Donald 'DI' Maclennan, Dan Crossley, Neil Sinclair, David Beaton, Andy Morrison, Graham MacDonald, Callum Masson, Stuart 'Bubble' Macdonald, Andrew 'Lanky' Macdonald. Front Row L-R: Kenny 'Beag' Maclennan, Domhnall Mackay, Kenny 'Dokus' MacDonald, Ben Smith, Joe Armstrong, Cameron 'Tiger' Macarthur, Matthew Murray, Archie MacDonald.

Following Graeme “Windy” Miller’s departure as manager, Billy Anderson was appointed to the role.

The squad from the previous season was boosted by the return of Murdo “Squegg” Macleod following injury and Kevin “Barra” MacNeil from mainland-based employment. Goal scorer extraordinaire Fraser Macleod was back on-island to further strengthen the pool. Promising midfielder Duncan Shirkie was also signed from Western Thistle.

The 2019 season kicked off with the toughest of tests, a league match versus Westside at Cnoc a Choilich, on a cold, damp April evening. Both sides were missing key players, for Carloway skipper Domhnall Mackay through suspension and the injured Stuart “Bubble” Macdonald. The first half started slowly with both teams taking a while to find their flow. West Side pushed on towards half-time and only two good saves from the evergreen Gordon Craigie in the Carloway goals kept the scores even at the interval. Carloway regrouped after the interval and showed increased purpose in attack. It looked like a share of the spoils, however, in the ninety third minute, Ali “Barvas” Macleod scored from close range. It was a sore loss in a tightly contested game although many positives for the new manager to draw upon.

The Blues then faced Ness in the preliminary round of the Jock Stein Cup, again on home soil. The home side were keen to kick start their season and started brightly. Despite this, former Blue Lee Johnson gave Ness a shock lead. This was short-lived however as Carloway responded well. Neil Sinclair broke strongly down the right and crossed for Fraser Macleod to volley home and, with Murdo “Squegg” Macleod and Duncan Shirkie pulling the strings in midfield, went two ahead before half-time. Neil Sinclair got the first firing into the corner following a “Squegg” through ball and Fraser Macleod then crashed home the third five minutes later. Carloway’s dominance continued and they went further ahead two minutes into the second half when Callum “Beag” Mackay played in Kevin “Barra” MacNeil, who slotted calmly past the visiting keeper. Kevin “Barra” MacNeil scored his second on 62 minutes from close range when Fraser Macleod’s flick was parried by the goalkeeper.

At five one and the game looked over but to be fair to Ness they fought hard and Lee Johnson scored his second following casual play in the Carloway defence. Spanish sub Albert then made his debut replacing “D.I.” Maclennan and looked good in his short time on the pitch. The victory was wrapped up when Euan Shirkie crashed home a header from a fine Callum “Beag” Mackay corner. Unsurprisingly, Murdo “Squegg” Macleod stole the show with a classy display in his landmark 300th game.

Carloway were on their travels in the next match. Following Harris re-entering the league, it was the first visit to Rally Park since 2016 and their first on league duty since 2014 and resulted in a deserved but hard-fought victory.

Billy Anderson had clearly fired up his troops and Carloway were fast out the traps. A long ball from skipper Domhnall Mackay split the Hearach defence in the opening minute and Fraser Macleod fired narrowly over on the half volley. A minute later and Carloway were through the middle again with Dan Crossley running onto Fraser Macleod’s pass. This time the finish was clinical and Carloway had the perfect start.

Harris were shell-shocked and struggled to get a foothold in the game in the early stages. Their evening got worse after ten minutes when, having been fed by Callum “Beag” Mackay down the right, Fraser hit a belter from the corner of the box into the left-hand corner of the goal off the stanchion of post and bar. A fantastic strike and no chance for the Harris keeper.

Carloway continued to attack in numbers and Harris began to stir with Andrew “Brownie” Morrison starting to get on the ball up front and Finlay Macsween threatening with his pace on the right-handside. Macsween escaped twice in quick succession with one effort being well saved by Davie Beaton and a second being cleared off the line by Cameron “Tiger” Macarthur. The young winger took his chance at the third time of asking however, slotting home at the near post after breaking free once again on the half hour. Harris continued to press and could have been level at the interval if the crossbar hadn’t denied Andrew “Brownie’s” clever chip.

Carloway started the second half in more confident fashion, and the improved second half performance paid off with a third goal for Carloway in the 57th minute. Murdo “Squegg” Macleod was the creator with a through ball to Fraser Macleod who finished sharply from outside the box. Another fine finish and a crucial two goal cushion. The team kept their shape and discipline and saw the game out for a deserved three points despite Kevin “Barra” MacNeil departing with a suspected broken thumb.

The next fixture was against league champions Point in the Acres Boys Club Cup. Point started the game quickly and the home team found themselves under pressure early on. A sustained period of pressure around the Carloway goal ended with Angus Macdonald flicking the ball past Craigie for Point’s opener in the seventh minute. Things got worse shortly afterwards when Joe Armstrong got caught in possession by Point’s Martin Macdonald. The young winger squared the ball quickly to Angus Macdonald who fired home sharply with his left foot for his and the Rudhach’s second. Carloway were stunned and had to work hard to stay in the game. There was further dismay when Stuart “Bubble” Macdonald limped off with a recurrence of his hamstring injury.

As Carloway pushed forward, gaps appeared in the home rearguard and Point missed three great chances to increase their lead. Martin Macdonald mis-hit his shot when faced with an open goal allowing Joe Armstrong to clear off the line, Angus Macdonald fired over from a similar distance having been set up by Stewart Munro before having another effort saved by Craigie. Point progressed with a deserved victory.

The next match was again at Cnoc a Choilich, the fourth in the opening five fixtures, with Lochs the opposition in the opening round of the prestigious Highland Amateur Cup. There were five changes to the line up from the side who slipped to defeat in the previous match. The Shirkie brothers returned from injuries and Dan Crossley was included as his game time was being carefully managed. Albert Calsina Latorre started for the Blues in what was to be his final appearance.

It was all Carloway and after a few near misses the breakthrough came in the thirty third minute. Lochs made a hash of a free kick and Murdo “Squegg” Macleod found himself free on the left-hand side. His cross field pass set up a straight race between Fraser Macleod and James Macleod in the Lochs goal which Fraser won, skipping past the keeper and walking the ball into the empty net.

Fraser Macleod nearly doubled the lead just before the break but was deemed offside having slotted home from Albert’s pass. Carloway extended the lead almost immediately after the break. Lochs stopper, Peter Mackenzie, was caught in possession at the back, leaving Fraser Macleod one-on-one with James Macleod and the Lochs keeper couldn’t keep out the striker’s chip. Carloway were in full throttle now with Duncan Shirkie dominating midfield and Albert Latorre causing problems down the left-hand side. The lead was extended in the sixty-sixth minute when Fraser Macleod chased down Cameron “Tiger” Macarthur’s clearance and slotted confidently past James Macleod for his hat-trick.

Lochs could have crumbled at this point but four of their players on the pitch have winners’ medals in this competition and they were never going to go down without a fight. Lewis Mackenzie gave them hope when he burst clear on the left and fired past Davie Beaton with his left foot. Suddenly, there was an urgency to the Lochies’ play and Dave Martin found himself clear in the box only for his strike to hit the post with the follow-up being cleared for a corner.

The next goal looked likely to be crucial and so it proved. Albert Latorre glided past two players cutting in from the left and as he approached the Lochs keeper, he unselfishly squared for Fraser Macleod to tap home his fourth with just over ten minutes left.

Carloway were back on league duty in the next match when they met Athletic at Goathill Park. Although it was early May, it was a bitterly cold evening with snow showers. It was a frenetic start from both sides, though Carloway settled the better. After a near miss from Callum “Beag” Mackay, his cross from the right wing was volleyed in by Fraser Macleod. Great cross, great finish. The lead was short-lived however and Athletic were level shortly after. Carloway conceded a free-kick thirty yards out and ex-Carloway defender Ross Macrae placed a beauty past an unsighted Davie Beaton.

Fraser Macleod came close again, heading over from a Callum “Beag” Mackay corner, before Athletic’s midfielder Jon Clough hit the post after strong work from Lewis “Preston” Robinson. It looked like the teams would escape indoors all square, but Murdo “Squegg” Macleod had other ideas, curling in a well-struck shot from the right-hand side of the box to bring some much-needed warmth to the Carloway support.

The game was still finally balanced at this stage with the next goal likely to be crucial in a night increasingly dominated by the swirling wind. So it proved in the fifty second minute and thankfully it was the Athletic net that bulged with Fraser Macleod crashing home his tenth of the season from the right-hand side of the box via the boot of an unfortunate defender The home side continued to work hard and Carloway had to stand strong to protect their two-goal cushion and collect the 3 points.

Three nights later, Carloway hosted Point in the bank holiday sun at Cnoc a’ Choilich. Both sides started with intent, but it was Carloway who struck first. Joe Armstrong playing in an advanced position wide left crossed from the left and confusion in the Point defence allowed Callum “Beag” Mackay to sneak in and score. A great start for the Blues but Point were not for sitting back and nearly equalised when Angus Macdonald broke through the middle. His lob over Craigie looked goal bound but “D.I.” Maclennan appeared from nowhere to clear it off the line. Brilliant defending. Point weren’t to be denied however and their pressure paid off when Ali Gillies headed home Alexander Macdonald’s corner on 19 minutes. Both sides created and spurned opportunities and it remained level at half time.

Both teams came flying out the traps and Joe Armstrong, thriving in his new advanced role, brought out a fine save from young Macdonald in the Point goal. This was to prove important as within fifteen minutes Point were two ahead. The first was a beauty, Cammy Nicolson playing a one-two with Mikey Jones before firing past Craigie with his left foot. Then there seemed little danger when a free-kick was conceded on the half-way line but one straight pass freed Alexander Macdonald who slotted home calmly.

Carloway knew they had to react quickly, and Billy Anderson did exactly that, replacing Joe Armstrong with Andy “Bernera” Morrison and switching to a more offensive 3-5-2. There was an immediate reaction with Duncan Shirkie cutting the ball back for Fraser Macleod whose drive was kept out by a combination of keeper and post. Fraser wasn’t to be denied however and he kick-started five minutes of madness with a great strike from the edge of the box following a through ball from Dan Crossley to make it 2-3 in the 75th minute. Carloway won the ball back from the kick off but Dan Crossley’s pass back to Craigie was charged down by Angus Macdonald leaving his strike partner Alex Macdonald with a tap-in to restore the two goal lead for the visitors.

Na Gormaich were in no mood to give up however and the ball was immediately transferred down the right wing. Callum “Beag” Mackay swung it in and “D.I.” Maclennan arrived late to head in at the back post. Carloway were in full flow now and the equaliser came in the 83rd minute. Fraser Macleod hooked the ball into the danger area after concerted pressure and, when Point keeper Daniel Macdonald couldn’t hold on under pressure, Dan threw himself bravely at the loose ball to head home for 4-4.

There were no more clear-cut chances and both teams drew breath with a share of the points after a terrific contest.

Next up was a Jock Stein Cup tie at home to United. For this match, Carloway were missing Fraser Macleod, and were able to call on Archie MacDonald, as well as Ross Maciver at home from Florida. After the thrilling match with Point, this was an even though largely uninspiring match. Both sides struggled to gain the upper hand and as the match progressed it became an increasingly tetchy encounter as the result remained in the balance. In the latter stages, it was United who created and missed some good chances. The deadlock was finally broken in the fifth minute of injury time when Hamish MacDonald found the net for United. However, the match and the drama were far from over. Incredibly, Carloway forged an equaliser in the 90+8th minute when the ball bundled over the line with “D.I.” Maclennan credited with the goal. It was hotly disputed by United who claimed for a foul. Having somehow retrieved the game, Carloway may have been favourites to complete the job in extra time. As it turned out, it was United who secured victory with a long range strike from Seumas Beaton in the second period and Carloway were knocked out.

Cnoc a’ Choilich was again the venue for the next match, the seventh home tie in nine fixtures. The visitors were the ever improving and youthful Back side in the Highland Amateur Cup. Both sides were eager to progress in this competition and the opening exchanges were much like a boxing match and round one saw the two teams trying to get a foothold in the game, neither side could land a punch as the defences stood strong. Midway through the half, Back struck first as Euan Anderson used his body to turn Euan Shirkie before unselfishly squaring to Louie Macdonald who managed to squeeze the ball past Domhnall Mackay and David Beaton on the goal line. Carloway sought to get back into it, but it was Back who extended their lead to 2-0, when a great whipped delivery from Anderson found Louie Macdonald who was tightly marked by Euan Shirkie the powerful back striker challenged with Beaton and Shirkie for the ball and forced it into the net.

The returning Fraser Macleod was really starting to look in the mood becoming much more involved in the game and forcing a great save from “Titch” Macritchie after he had been sent through on goal by “D.I.” Maclennan. Carloway were knocking on the door and as we approached half time Cameron Macarthur powered in a great cross which was met by the head of Macleod he connected well and missed by a matter of inches.

Despite a promising start to the second half it was once again Back who hit the net. Joel Martin this time cut inside from the left before smashing the ball through David Beaton and giving Back a three goal lead. However, Carloway were playing well and not willing to accept their fate. Just past the hour mark they pulled one back through Domhnall Mackay, heading in at the back post from a dangerous Callum “Beag” Mackay delivery to give them hope. This goal was the catalyst the home side needed, and they found their second wind after a period of pressure. On 72 minutes, Dan Crossley rose to flick on a throw in toward the dangerous Macleod who lashed the ball into the net.

With a remarkable comeback now in sight Carloway continued to attack the now weary Back defence but were reminded of Back’s talented strikers when Stevie Mutch weaved his way through the Carloway defence only to be denied by good reactions from David Beaton. Despite that scare, Carloway continued to attack and on 80 minutes they won a free kick 25 yards from goal. Fraser Macleod stepped and slotted the ball past the keeper and into the side netting, a brilliant finish from Carloway’s front man. For the second match running, extra time was required.

The first period of extra time saw both times re-energised by the break and Back’s front two of Macdonald and Anderson continued to cause bother despite being unable to seriously test Beaton. Carloway did manage to create a clear-cut opportunity in the second period with Callum “Beag” Mackay finding the feet of Fraser Macleod who took a great touch before testing Colin “Titch” Macritchie. Carloway also had to contend with both of the Shirkie brothers departing during extra time due to work commitments.

As the game went on it became increasingly clear that this game was destined for penalties. Love them or hate them they are always the source of excitement and having fought back from 3-0 down Carloway now had to rely on the cool heads of the eleven still on the pitch. Fraser Macleod, “D.I.” Maclennan, Domhnall Mackay and Dan Crossley all scored their penalties for Carloway as Back missed two of theirs to give Carloway a remarkable 4-2 success.

Two days later, the Blues were back in action, travelling to a Creagan Dubh. This is a notorious venue for them, although it is also the scene of the Club’s first Eilean an Fhraoich Cup victory. Carloway were boosted by the return albeit temporary of Eachainn Miller, who was about to sign on in the Highland League with Clachnacuddin. The Blues were forced into changes as talismanic striker Fraser Macleod and mercurial Dan Crossley were not available. Along with Miller, Kevin “Barra” MacNeil returned from injury.

Lochs took only four minutes to puncture the optimism of Na Gormaich’s healthy travelling support. The ball was given away in midfield and quickly transferred to Ross Allison who toe-poked home and they went further ahead after 9 minutes. A cross from the left was well controlled by David Martín who slotted home after Davie Beaton had saved his initial shot. Not the best of starts for the Blues, however the comeback started on 15 minutes when Eachainn Miller crashed home a header from Murdo “Squegg” Macleod’s free-kick.

This changed the flow of the game and, after Stuart “Bubble” Macdonald’s effort was save by James Macleod at close range, Carloway drew level on 32 minutes. Eachainn Miller went past two defenders on the left before squaring to Kevin “Barra” MacNeil who fired the leveller high into the net. It only took a further four minutes for Na Gormaich to go ahead. This time Euan Shirkie carried the ball out of defence before playing through Eachainn Miller who rounded James Macleod and fired into the net. The celebrations had barely died down and Carloway were playing very well when Murdo “Squegg” Macleod was shown a red card, his first ever in senior football, after picking up a second yellow for blocking a quickly taken free kick.

Being down to ten men did not adversely affect Carloway, and they stretched their lead before the break. Domhnall MacKay’s shot struck the hands of a Lochs defender and the skipper slotted home with his left foot after his penalty was saved by James Macleod.

Carloway continued on the front foot in the second half and extended their lead on 53 mins. Eachainn Miller broke free on the right and his crossfield pass was met strongly by Kevin “Barra” MacNeil. James Macleod made a fine save but “Barra” was alert enough to get up and fire home the rebound with his left peg.

Lochs got one back against the run of play when former Carloway stopper Ali “Laxay” Macdonald crossed from the left and Lewis MacKenzie lifted a clever finish over Davie Beaton midway through the half. The scoring was completed late on when Eachainn Miller released Cameron Macarthur on a storming run down the right which was brought to an abrupt end in the box for a clear penalty. Miller completed his hat trick from the spot, capping an outstanding display.

The Blues looked to continue this run of form against the next opponents, Ness. With Point meeting Westside on the same evening, there was also the prospect of Carloway reaching the top of the league with a victory. Having fallen behind in the last three games, Carloway were determined to get going early and came flying out of the traps. Eachainn Miller made space on the right and when his cross was knocked down by Stuart “Bubble” Macdonald, Duncan Shirkie crashed a deflected left foot strike into the net in the second minute of the game to give the Blues an early lead. Ness were competing strongly in midfield and Carloway were caught napping on the right on 9 minutes with Innes Smith finding time and space to drive home at Craigie’s near post.

The game refused to settle and Carloway went back ahead on 15 minutes when Eachainn Miller sliced open the Niseach defence and Stuart “Bubble” Macdonald fired home his first of the season. The game continued to be fairly even with both sides creating chances. Ex-Carloway keeper Ross “Tiny” Maclean saved well from Stuart “Bubble” Macdonald following a “D.I.” Maclennan cross and Callum Mackay shot over from a cutback from Eachainn. At the other end, Craigie had to use his feet to clear a raker from Ali “Ness” Morrison before another former Carloway man Lee Johnson fired over when clear through.

It looked like Carloway would take a narrow lead into half-time but they increased their advantage on 43 minutes. Duncan Shirkie, playing with great composure and confidence in midfield, crossed from the right and when Eachainn Miller’s header crashed off the crossbar, Ben Smith was on hand to slot home.

If the first half was tight, Carloway pulled away after half-time with three goals and a fifteen minute hat-trick for Eachainn Miller. The first was a header from a Callum Mackay corner, one of many fine deliveries from Callum “Beag”; the second a clever finish after driving through the middle of Ness defence (5-1); and, the third, a precise right-foot lob over “Tiny” Maclean from the edge of the box following a pass from Cameron “Tiger” Macarthur. There was no respite for the Niseachs and Euan Shirkie, stepping out like a young Beckenbauer, split the defence with a precise through ball and Eachainn Miller, one-on-one with Ross “Tiny” Maclean, slid the ball home for his fourth and Carloway’s seventh. Ness scored a second through Mathew Maciver before Andy “Bernera” Morrison brought the entertainment to an end, firing home from close range after Ali Murray had saved a shot from Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald. Eachainn Miller was in imperious form scoring four goals and 3 assists. Carloway also finished the evening on top of the league as Point beat Westside.

Carloway then played host to Eriskay in the first round of the Co-op Cup. Na Gormaich had made a habit of falling behind in games recently and the curse struck again after an edgy start. Dominic Macaulay was a threat all game playing on his own up front for Eriskay and when he whipped a free-kick over the Carloway wall in the 7th minute, Craigie was at full stretch to palm it away. Unfortunately, the danger wasn’t cleared and, when the ball was squared back in, Liam Mackinnon knocked it home to give Eriskay an early lead.

Eriskay were clearly going to be competitive and Carloway were given little time to settle on the ball. Skipper Domhnall Mackay brought the Blues level in the 12th minute, bundling the ball home from another of Callum Mackay’s expert corner deliveries. The rest of the half was extremely tight with Eriskay competing strongly and disrupting Carloway’s attempts to play through them. Chances were at a premium and the home side spurned one of the few clear cut openings on the half hour. Eachainn Miller burst through on the right and squared the ball to the available-again Fraser Macleod who looked certain to score from the centre of the penalty box only for his scuffed effort to be saved by the Eriskay keeper, Roddy Paul Macdonald. Fraser made up for the miss just before half time when he latched on to a flick on by Eachainn Miller and slotted home comfortably with his left foot. So, two one at the break and Carloway relieved to be going in ahead.

Despite the lead, manager Billy Anderson tweaked the set up introducing Dan Crossley in an advanced position, with Eachainn Miller going to a more familiar midfield beat. The team immediately looked more comfortable and went further ahead in the 53rd minute. Crossley took a quick throw-in on the left and Eachainn dribbled past two defenders before finishing in the right-hand corner of the Eriskay net. Carloway were in full flow now and put the game bed in the 67th minute when Fraser Macleod drove home his second and Carloway’s fourth from close range. Four wins in a row for a Carloway side playing well and scoring goals.

Two days later Carloway travelled to Stornoway to meet a resurgent United side who sat just one point behind the Blues in the league.

Again, team selection was challenging. Fraser Macleod dropped to the bench to protect a back strain, Stuart “Bubble” Macdonald replaced Callum Mackay who had a minor injury, and regular keepers Davie Beaton unavailable and Gordon Craigie out with a finger injury, Gordon Macrae made a dramatic return in goals, 15 years after his last appearance. Ross Maciver moved up front to partner on-fire Eachainn Miller. Carloway had started slowly in a number of games recently and were nearly caught cold again with Kenny Macsween clean through after three minutes. Thankfully the young United striker screwed his shot wide and Carloway got time to settle. The game was evenly balanced and looked like it would be all square at the break but Carloway had other ideas and had an electric finish to the half. In the 43rd minute, Ross Maciver swept home his first of the season after a fine run and cutback from Stuart “Bubble” Macdonald. Two minutes later Eachainn Miller was brought down in the box but the referee brought play back for an earlier foul and a Carloway free kick from outside the box. Undeterred, Eachainn curled the free kick round the wall and past keeper Jack Maclennan for Carloway’s second goal. A breathless finish to the half.

Carloway were maybe fortunate to be two goals ahead and Billy Anderson reacted by bringing on Fraser Macleod up top for Ross Maciver. The big centre-forward nearly made an instant impression, striking a post with a clever volley from a “D.I.” Maclennan cross. Carloway were playing much more fluently and were four nil up just after the hour. Firstly, Stuart “Bubble” Macdonald capped a strong performance with a clever volley from Duncan Shirkie’s corner, then Kevin “Barra” MacNeil continued his scoring run of five in five games with a good finish following a clever Stuart “Bubble” Macdonald flick.

Though the game was won, Carloway’s first clean sheet of the season continued to elude them after Hamish Macdonald slotted him his twelfth goal of an excellent season. Na Gormaich reacted strongly however with Eachainn Miller hitting the bye line for Fraser Macleod to finish sharply from close range. The big centre-forward then scored his second of the night and seventeenth of a prolific season, volleying home sharply after a fine run and cross from sub Andy “Bernera” Morrison. This was a much harder game than the scoreline suggests and it took an excellent Carloway performance to make it so comfortable in the end. Billy Anderson had instilled the side with confidence and the quality of finishing continued to astound. With five wins in a row, this result also meant Carloway would top the league at the mid season break. This was also Eachainn Miller’s final match of the season. In just four matches, he scored nine goals and made six assists, and contributed hugely to some fine team performances.

Before the break, there was another important fixture. This was against Shetland champions Whitedale in the Highland Amateur Cup. The match was played at neutral Tain. Manager Billy Anderson had to juggle his team with Murdo “Squegg” Macleod, Eachainn Miller, Joe Armstrong and Ross Maciver all unavailable. Skipper Domhnall Mackay moved into midfield to cover for “Squegg” with “D.I.” Maclennan moving to centre back and Kevin “Barra” MacNeil standing in at left back. Dan Crossley replaced Eachainn upfront and Jack Buchanan made a welcome appearance on the bench.

Both teams had early starts. Whitedale flew from Sumburgh to Aberdeen and immediately travelled by bus to Tain to make the match. However, they started quickly and stunned Carloway with an early goal after five minutes. The Shetlanders were moving the ball quickly and extended their lead with further goals in the sixteenth and twenty first minutes to lead 3-0. They were a very slick outfit providing impressive pace and power and forcing the match against Carloway.

Anderson shuffled the pack, changing to a 3-5-2 and for the first time Carloway managed to get some possession and a foothold in the game. The improvement continued in the thirty eighth minute when Domhnall Mackay played in Fraser Macleod who smashed the ball home to make it 3-1. The boys were down at half-time but there was a swing in momentum and all to play for.

Carloway started the second half on the front foot with Fraser Macleod coming close twice. It was clear that the next goal would be crucial and unfortunately, these chances were costly, it went to Whitedale who extended their lead in the sixty fourth minute. A further two late goals by the Shetland team made the final score a painful 6-1 defeat. It was by no means a poor performance by the Blues, but Whitedale were the more clinical and deserved the win. It was a tough lesson for Carloway against a strong Whitedale team who would make a strong impact in the competition. They were also good sports in the short post-match de-brief before they had to rush off to catch the overnight ferry from Scrabster via Kirkwall back to Lerwick.

On the resumption of the season, Carloway’s next three fixtures were against Back in the space of a week. There were the two-legged Eilean an Fhraoich Cup ties as well as a league clash. The first match saw Carloway travel to Upper Coll in the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup. After many years of misery in the competition, Carloway won the trophy in 2016 and 2017. However, this season at least, there would be a team entered from Uig & Bernera. Whilst additional teams are to be welcomed, the impact of this team entering would result in greatly impacting on the geographical boundaries of eligibility of the Carloway team. Unfortunately, Carloway were unable to call on the services of at least ten players from the league squad. Billy Anderson was able to include brothers Coinneach and Domhnall Smith, and included himself in the starting line-up.

The team went out more in hope than expectation against a strong Back squad. Despite having little possession and some early scares the Blues were managing to hold their own. The Carloway defence was finally breached after 30 minutes when Euan Anderson eased home concerns. Three goals in the final five minutes of the half knocked the stuffing out of the Blues and put the match out of sight. Further goals from Back’s Anderson brought the score to 6-0 and his personal haul to five, before another late flurry rubbed further salt into the wounds and a 9-0 defeat. The result felt harsh on the Blues, who sought to be competitive throughout, though their opponents were sharp and took their opportunities.

After this chastening defeat, the teams met again, this time on league business. Carloway were able to field a stronger and more recognisable team. “D.I.” Maclennan, Murdo “Squegg” Macleod and Dan Crossley were all unavailable, the latter’s season concluded due to injury. Callum Masson, last season’s top goal scorer, had made a welcome return to the island though he was short of match sharpness. Within two minutes Carloway were behind after Euan Anderson continued his scoring exploits against the Blues. Confidence was clearly sapped and further strikes from Louis Macdonald and Connor Mackay had the visitors out of sight by half time. Joel Martin added a fourth late on for Back before Fraser Macleod’s consolation at the end provided the only glimmer of light for Carloway.

The final instalment of the trilogy of three matches against Back in just over a week was the second leg of the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup, with Carloway starting with a hefty deficit from the first leg. Available players were at a premium for manager Billy Anderson given Uig and Bernera’s entry to the tournament and he named the same line-up as started in the first leg, thus making a second start of the season himself. The line-up remained four-four two but skipper Domhnall Mackay moved into midfield with “D.I.” Maclennan moving back to centre-back.

The game was even in the first ten minutes but any hopes of a first clean sheet of the season were banished by a Chris Macleod free-kick which sailed past Gordon Craigie in the Carloway goals for Back’s opener. Back’s second came in the 29th minute and was a smart finish by the lively Joel Martin.

Carloway were determined not to fold however and started to cause the Back defence problems. Firstly, Cameron “Tiger” Macarthur made a strong run through the centre only to see his shot saved by James Macleod in the Back goals then (player) manager Billy hit a long-range effort wide. Unfortunately, Callum “Beag” Mackay had to go off injured just before half-time but this meant a welcome return to Carloway action for Calum Iain Macleod. Unfortunately, the break in play seemed to distract Na Gormaich and they conceded a third right on half-time when the excellent Stevie Mutch fired home a beauty from outside the box.

Things didn’t get any easier after the break with Back hitting the crossbar before going four ahead through a Euan Anderson penalty in the sixty second minute. The fifth goal came in the seventy eighth minute, Euan Anderson with his second and his eighth against Carloway over the three games.

Billy gave a debut to young keeper, Aaron Ingram, with ten minutes to go allowing Gordon Craigie to move up front to relive his years as Carloway’s centre-forward! Aaron, who is the grandson of former Point goalie Norman “Buck” Macaskill, looked very much at home and produced a fine save from a Louie Macdonald blockbuster to keep the score at five.

Next up for Carloway was a Co-op Cup tie against league pace-setters Point. Squad disruption continued with a number of regulars unavailable. Carloway started strongly with Cameron “Tiger” Macarthur breaking on the right and having his shot well saved by Daniel Macdonald in the Point goals. However, the Rudhachs were in good form, top of the league and unlucky to lose to Wick Groats in the Highland Amateur after a strong performance. They quickly gained a stranglehold on this game with Rob Jones pivotal in centre midfield, strongly supported by Stephen Dunn and Andrew Murray.

The chances started to come after twenty minutes when Jones twice shot over from good positions and Gordon Macrae in the Carloway goal had to look sharp to save a Dunn header before Jones headed over from a Cammy Nicolson cross. Ali “Wally” Maciver was prominent in the Point attack but couldn’t finish despite having four good chances towards the end of the half. However, the score remained blank at the break.

Carloway started the second half with renewed purpose. Fraser Macleod started to get on the ball and, after playing a one-two with Ross Maciver in the fifty-third minute, he found himself one-on-one with Daniel Macdonald. The young Point goalkeeper stood strong however and the chance was gone.

As so often happens, Carloway then conceded during their best spell of the game. “D.I.” Maclennan fouled “Wally” Maciver on the edge of the box in the fifty eighth minute and the young striker dusted himself down before firing the free kick low into the corner of the net. This turned the tide again and within ten minutes the young Rudhach had completed his hat-trick. His second in the sixty-sixth minute was a beauty, stroked home after a Cammy Nicolson cutback, and his third was a left-foot finish having been released through the middle by a Dunn flick-on as Point progressed 3-0.

The tough run of fixtures continued, with the Blues making the short journey to Barvas to meet a Westside outfit battling for the league. Having lost their corresponding fixtures 6-0 in each of the past two seasons at this ground, coupled with a five-match winless run this was always going to be a challenge for Carloway. The cause was not helped after conceding the opening goal within two minutes to Ali “Barvas” Macleod. The hosts continued in the ascendancy and added a second through Innes Iain Morrison. Ten minutes into the second half Morrison scored the third, before two goals in a minute from Shields and Ali “Barvas” Macleod heaped misery on Carloway. A late double from Fraser Macleod brought his tally for the season to 21 and gave the score a slightly more respectable look. It did, however, extinguish any faint hopes Carloway may have had of challenging for the league.

The next visitors to Cnoc a Choilich were a resurgent Harris side looking to build on their good form after a slow start. Both teams would have felt that this was a good opportunity for collecting points and they both created chances. There was a strong claim for a penalty when Cameron “Tiger” Macarthur charged into the Harris box and looked to be fouled. However, the award was a yellow card for the Carloway defender. Honours were even in a dour first half. The deadlock was broken just before the hour mark when Harris veteran James Maclean finished off from just inside the box after a fine pass. The visitors were defending well and repelling the increasingly desperate Carloway attacks. Whilst there was plenty of endeavour, it was one of those evenings when opportunities broke down in the final third. With the clock going past the 90 minute mark and another defeat looming, Carloway were given an opportunity to rescue a point when they were awarded a penalty after a foul on Cameron “Tiger” Macarthur. After the referee had waved away the furious Harris players, Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald calmly stroked home from the spot. The drama still wasn’t over, and with both sides pressing for a winner, Harris’ James Maclean hooked the ball home from the edge of the box to seal a dramatic 2-1 win for the visitors, and their first at Cnoc a Choilich since 2006.

The following fixture was Carloway’s last opportunity for silverware this season, in a Lewis Cup tie away to Point. The Blues had a reasonably strong squad, however, it was Point who started very quickly and were two up within six minutes. The first was a cracker fired home from the left of the box by Angus Macdonald, the second very fortunate with a cross from new Point signing Stefan Jackson rebounding off Cammy Nicolson and trundling into the corner of the net. Point went further ahead in the twenty first minute. Ali “Wally” Maciver found space to turn in midfield and played in Cammy Nicolson who cut in to finish calmly with his right foot. The fourth did arrive just before half-time and came directly from a Carloway corner. Angus Macdonald picked the ball up on the edge of his own box and, after driving forward and playing a one-two with Stefan Jackson, he fired home past Davie Beaton.

Billy Anderson’s half-time words had a clear effect and his team came out with renewed purpose, and created some chances of their own. The game was put fully out of Carloway’s reach with two quick goals in the fifty sixth and sixtieth minutes. The fifth gave Cammy Nicolson his hat-trick after being played through by Ali Gillies and the fifth was a cracker, headed home by Rob Jones after another break down the right. Point’s seventh came in the eightieth minute when Rob Jones knocked in from close range following a “Wally” corner.

Carloway regained some pride with two quick, late goals. Firstly, in the 87th minute, Murdo “Squegg’s” cross found the back the net when Fraser Macleod put pressure on the Point goalie, and two minutes later Fraser himself lashed home a fine strike from the edge of the box. This was a landmark strike for Fraser, his 100th goal for Carloway in just seventy four appearances. A fine strike rate and a total only eclipsed by legends Gordon Craigie and Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald in the modern era. Point finished the night as they started when Angus Macdonald fired home their eighth and his own third in the ninetieth minute.

Four nights later the teams faced each other in a league match a very important fixture for both the teams involved. Point in their league title aspirations, Carloway to redeem some pride after the previous 8-2 loss to Point and also to attempt to halt a depressing run of losses.

The stoic travelling Carloway support in attendance (who outnumbered the Point support within the ground, anyway) approached this fixture with some trepidation especially when the teams were lining up as Point were, arguably, stronger from Monday with the addition of Stuart Munro and Elliot Rudall and Carloway, arguably, were weakened with their missing talisman and prolific striker Fraser Macleod due to work commitments.

On a filthy night for football, Point, as expected took the initiative and were in the ascendency especially in the early stages of the game but the Carloway midfield and defence were disciplined and stood firm restricting Point’s attempts on Carloway’s goal. David Beaton also produced a couple of fine saves and also made some timely punches and catches to keep Point at bay. However, Carloway did have some opportunities of their own with Callum Mackay, Andy “Bernera” Morrison and Andrew “Pongo” MacIver causing the Point rear guard some trouble as the first half progressed.

With the assistance of the wind in the second half it did not take Carloway long to make an impact, when in the opening minute the ball arrived at “Pongo’s” feet with his back to goal, a deft touch got the ball under control ,despite the close attention of Ali Gillies, then, swivelling to his right he lashed a left foot pile driver over the keeper’s head from some 30 yards out. A spectacular, but a trademark “Pongo” strike, especially against Point in recent years. However, the lead did not last long as in the 63rd minute after some sustained Carloway pressure which led to a corner, the ball was cleared by a Point defender with the ball landing at Ally “Wally” Maciver’s feet. ”Wally “,who was standing just inside the Point half turned quickly, ran down the right touchline the length of the Carloway half sending a low cross along the six yard line ,which eluded the three Carloway defenders in the box, and found Rob Jones who slotted the ball into the right had corner of the net.

Carloway continued to press and were, arguably, in the ascendency until the enforced substitution of Domhnall Mackay and Andrew “Pongo” Maciver on the 75th minute. These changes together with “D.I.” Maclennan’s unfortunate sending off in the 82nd minute allowed Point to dominate possession but thanks to some resolute team defending and Beaton’s dominance of his six-yard box, as in the first half, with some timely punches and catches Carloway saw out the game to secure a well-earned and hard-fought draw. The team deserved great credit for such a performance after a tough series of results.

Encouraged by a superb display and a hard-earned draw against Point in Garrabost, the next match was more eagerly anticipated. Manager Billy Anderson was forced into a number of changes with Domhnall Mackay and Andrew “Pongo” Maciver injured and David Beaton and Joe Armstrong both unavailable, with Joe stranded in Barra with work. This allowed Gordon Macrae, Kevin “Barra” Macneil, Neil Sinclair and Fraser Macleod to return to the team against a Lochs side struggling in second bottom place.

Carloway started strongly and Fraser Macleod had an attempted lob saved by Lochs keeper James Macleod in only the sixth minute. However, Lochs started to get hold of the ball in midfield with the experience of Andy Murray, John “Uig” Morrison and Dave Martin enabling them to dominate possession. Lochs created a number of chances the best of which fell firstly to Lewis Mackenzie who hit the bar from a David Skene cross and then to Scott Ross who was foiled by an excellent Gordon Macrae save after being played in by Gordie Maciver. No score and stalemate at half-time.

The management team would have had something to say at half-time and Carloway came out with renewed purpose after the break with Andy “Bernera” Morrison’s strong running and energy was causing problems. Na Gormaich’s momentum was further boosted by the arrival on the pitch of substitute Archie Macdonald in the sixty-fifth minute and it was the Ubhisteach who opened the scoring. “D.I.” Maclennan played an exquisite free-kick behind the Lochs defence and Archie calmly placed it past James Macleod. The game was over three minutes later when the Lochs keeper was robbed when trying to dribble past Fraser Macleod at the edge of the box, Macleod calmly rolling the ball into the empty net to secure the Blues first win in ten matches.

Two nights later, there was a quick return to Cnoc a’ Choilich for Carloway as they faced Athletic. Kevin “Barra” MacNeil was injured and replaced at left-back by Ben Smith while it was Gordon Craigie’s time on the goalkeeper rota. Otherwise, manager Billy Anderson stuck with the same team on a cold and wet night.

As in the previous match, Carloway started strongly and were ahead within five minutes when the in-form Andy “Bernera” Morrison produced a stunning overhead kick after holding off the Aths keeper Reece Montgomery. Na Gormaich extended the lead on the half hour with Fraser Macleod heading home from a Murdo “Squegg” Macleod free kick. Murdo “Squegg” Macleod was in dominant form, winning the ball in the tackle and controlling the midfield.

After a timid opening half the town team started to dominate the game. Lewis “Preston” Robinson was finding space on the right-hand side and passed up three good opportunities when through on goal, the first being sliced wide, the second being cleared off the line by Cameron “Tiger” Macarthur and the third striking the post.

The pressure continued to grow and, in the seventy-fifth minute, Aths were awarded a penalty after a challenge at the edge of the box. Veteran goalie Craigie stepped up to the plate, however, and saved Darren Stewart’s effort.

This took the steam out of the Aths challenge and both Fraser Macleod and substitute Callum Masson had chances to make the scoreline more comfortable for Carloway in the last few minutes. However, another clean sheet and three points were a good reward for a hard night’s work as Carloway moved ahead of Back in third place.

After a clear upturn in performance and results, Carloway then played basement club Ness at Fivepenny in confident mood. It did not take Carloway long to pressure the Ness goal and Fraser Macleod opened the scoring from close range after a Callum “Beag” Mackay corner.

The lead was doubled on the 17th minute when Andy “Bernera” Morrison collected the ball just outside the Ness half and picked out Stuart “Bubble” Macdonald with an exquisite 45 yard pass, which split the Ness defence: “Bubble” then squared to Fraser Macleod who hit the ball from 10 yards out into the net.

In the 35th minute Macleod and Andy “Bernera” Morrison combined to present Stuart “Bubble” Macdonald with an opportunity to slot home from a central position just inside the box.

Carloway continued to press, and Andy Morrison delivered an identical pass to the one he had for the set up for the second goal, this time picking out Fraser Macleod who despite being on a hat trick had an opportunity to score himself but unselfishly set up Stuart “Bubble” to score his second of the night. There was still time for another goal before the break, as Stuart “Bubble” Macdonald turned provider setting up last year’s top goal scorer, Callum Masson, who beat the keeper from 18 yards to open his account for the season. In an outstanding 45 minutes of football, the Blues were 5-0 up at the break. Fraser Macleod tapped the ball into the empty net from 6 yards out to complete his hat trick with an hour played. The pace and intensity palpably dropped after this and the match drifted to a conclusion. Credit to Ness who finally got their consolation goal as Morgan Macleod found himself unmarked, to the left of the Carloway goal and slotted home. The Ness goal took only a slight gloss off what had been a dominant performance by Carloway.

The next match and final home fixture of the season saw Carloway meet United. The Blues were seeking to consolidate their third place, and it was “Cnoc a’ Choilich for goals” as Carloway hit United for fourteen without reply to record their highest ever league victory, with Fraser “Frazmac” Macleod grabbing 8 goals to increase his tally to 35 for the season in only 19 appearances. Carloway’s record victory is 15-0 against North End in the Co-op Cup on 1st July 2000, the day Gordon Craigie scored a remarkable 10 goals.

Carloway were ahead as early as the second minute, despite having scored five goals in 14 minutes Carloway’s insatiable thirst for goals continued throughout and they were 9-0 ahead at the interval. Into the second half and United managed to stem the flow for the next 15 minutes, before a further flurry completed their misery. The Carloway goals were scored by Fraser Macleod (8), Neil Sinclair (2), Andy “Bernera” Morrison (2), Kevin “Barra” MacNeil and Kenny “Dokus” MacDonald.

It was a truly remarkable performance from Carloway. United were undoubtedly weakened by missing two of their main players, top goalscorer Hamish MacDonald and keeper Jack Maclennan. However, you really have to credit Carloway with how well they played with their slick and incisive passing movements, breaking forward at speed, looking dangerous in every attack combined with being clinical in front of goal.

One of the ironies of the night was that the smallest home support of the season was in attendance to witness the best performance of the season.

The season concluded with Carloway meeting Back at Upper Coll. There were a number of notable absentees for this match with Fraser Macleod, Murdo “Suegg” Macleod, Neil Sinclair unavailable and “D.I.” Maclennan suspended. Back started on the front foot and earned a penalty after only six minutes when Joe Armstrong caught Back winger Stuart Macdonald in the box. Fortunately for Na Gormaich, Chris Macleod stroked the penalty wide of goal. Carloway made the most of the reprieve and were ahead on twenty minutes when Andy “Bernera” Morrison finished sharply from outside the box.

The lead was short-lived however and within five minutes Back were ahead. They equalised after twenty three minutes with a bizarre own goal. There looked little danger when Domhnall Mackay rose to head away a Louie Macdonald free-kick but his header rebounded off Euan Shirkie straight into the net leaving Beaton with no chance. Back’s second came two minutes later. Euan Shirkie upended Chris Macleod in the box and Louie Macdonald made no mistake from the spot. Carloway worked hard to get back into the game and Kevin “Barra” MacNeil shot narrowly wide from a Stuart “Bubble” Macdonald cross after good work on the right by Callum Masson. Back were more clinical in the final third though and Joel Martin increased their lead with a smart volley from a Louie Macdonald corner.

Once again Back started the second half the stronger and increased their league after fifty-eight minutes. Chris Macleod hit the bye-line and his cutback was forced home by Jason Macleod. Carloway didn’t give up but the Back defence, well marshalled by Callum Maclennan, stood firm and Chris Macleod fired home Back’s fifth in the eightieth minute to complete a 5-1 win.

At the end of the season, Carloway finished a creditable third in the league table, albeit well adrift of the top two. The team has played attractive football and eighty one goals in twenty seven games is testament to that. There will be disappointment that no silverware was secured nor cup finals contested. There is also no doubt the mid season break came at a time when the team were flying and at the top of the league, was unfortunate, but there are plenty positives for next season.

The management team of Billy Anderson and Gus Maciver were faced with constantly changing team selections virtually every match. On their day, the team was a match for any others in the league, and Fraser Macleod’s thirty-five goals in nineteen appearances was an exceptional return. “D.I.” Maclennan, Cameron “Tiger” Macarthur, Euan Shirkie and Callum “Beag” Mackay played virtually every match and provided consistently strong performances, and we look forward to the team challenging for further honours. The end of season awards saw Fraser “Fraz” Macleod collect the player of the year, players’ player of the year and top goal scorer prizes. “D.I.” Maclennan was runner up. The manager’s award went to Euan Shirkie, whilst the Under 21 player prize was won by Callum “Beag” Mackay.

2019 squad at the first match of the season versus Westside. Back Row L-R: Cameron "Tiger" Macarthur, Kenny "Dokus" MacDonald, Dan Crossley, Andrew "Lanky" Macdonald, Gordon Craigie, Chris "Christy" Smith, Andy "Bernera" Morrison, Callum "Beag" Mackay, Euan Shirkie, Billy Anderson (Manager). Front Row L-R: Neil Sinclair, Joe Armstrong, Donald "D.I." Maclennan, Murdo "Squegg" Macleod, Domhnall Graham, Duncan Shirkie, Fraser "Fraz" Macleod.
Murdo Squegg 300 Apps
Murdo “Squegg” Macleod being presented with an inscribed memento, by former player and manager “DR” Macleod, in recognition of his 300th appearance for Carloway FC .
The final home fixture of the season saw Carloway meet United. The Blues were seeking to consolidate their third place, and it was “Cnoc a’ Choilich for goals” as Carloway hit United for fourteen without reply to record their highest ever league victory, with Fraser “Frazmac” Macleod grabbing 8 goals to increase his tally to 35 for the season in only 19 appearances.
L-R: Euan Shirkie, Fraser "Fraz" Macleod, Donald J Macleod, "D.I" Maclennan, Donald "Beag" Mackay, Callum "Beag" Mackay. The end of season awards saw Fraser “Fraz” Macleod collect the player of the year, players’ player of the year and top goal scorer prizes. “D.I.” Maclennan was runner up. The manager’s award went to Euan Shirkie, whilst the Under 21 player prize was won by Callum “Beag” Mackay.