2016-17 will see a thoroughly deserved Testimonial season for one of the great fans favourites at Buckie Thistle since the new millennium began and the events will kick off on Saturday 9th July when the Jags take to the field against Inverness Caledonian Thistle to honour one of the most recognisable players in Highland League football, Andy Low. The fact that the Jags will face the Scottish Premiership side for Lowzer’s testimonial match could not be more apt as there will be a link right back to where it started for Andy with Thistle. Season 2005-06 was only a couple of months old when the then manager was alerted to a talented player plying his trade with Inverurie Locos, namely Andy Low. The manager acted quickly to sign him up little knowing that his new signing would go on to write his name into Thistle folklore. That manager was none other than one time Aberdeen legend, one time Scotland international and former assistant manager to Steve ‘Pele’ Paterson at Inverness CT and Aberdeen, Duncan Shearer, who is still involved nowadays with ICT. Andy made his debut at Fraserburgh in October coming on as a sub and made his first full start a couple of weeks later at home to Fort William. His first goal soon followed in a 2-1 away victory at Wick Academy. A promising start then, to a Jags career of many highs and little lows.
His career with Thistle has been in two stages as he spent another season at Inverurie Locos in the midst but he has always been a fans favourite at Victoria Park for many reasons, not only has he been an outstanding player but also one of the nicest blokes you could speak too off the park. His choosing to join the Jags was anything but misplaced on his part as under Duncan Shearer he lifted Aberdeenshire Cup and Aberdeenshire Shield winners’ medals in the double trophy success in 2007-08. Serious injury sadly robbed him of being part of the glory in 2009-10 but one season on he as back little knowing at the start of that campaign that he would write his name all over an historical game in May 2011 which I will come back to!
In a glittering career with the Jags the only trophy he has missed out on is the Highland League Cup and would it not be a crowning glory if that was secured in his testimonial season. Above all else Lowzer has been a grafter who has given it his all for the club whenever he has played and allied to that is bags of skill and one of the deadliest strikers from set-pieces, when a free-kick is awarded to Thistle within a certain range the cry goes up ‘that’s Andy Low territory’ and it was within that that his most famous goal would be scored! He has scored many vital goals for the club but two come to mind. Firstly it is September 23rd 2006 and a week after drawing at Harmsworth Park in the Scottish Qualifying Cup (North) 2nd round, the Jags are hosting Wick Academy in the replay with a place in the Scottish Cup proper at stake. With 16 minutes to go the dream appears to be in ruins as the visitors are 2-1 up but then, in a glorious two minute spell the Jags turned the game around. Firstly Leis MacKinnon equalised in the 75th minute and then, two minutes on, Thistle was awarded a free-kick 25 yards out in THAT territory. Cue Lowzer who calmly stepped up before curling an absolute beauty of a free-kick past the defence, although the keeper got a hand to it the pace and accuracy saw the ball fly home. It proved to be the winner and one good enough to win any game.
Fast forward though to May 7th 2011 and a far greater occasion – a League title showdown at Victoria Park between the defending champions, Thistle, and their fiercest rivals, Deveronvale, it literally was a winner-takes all although just a draw would suffice for the Jags to retain their crown. There was no thoughts of playing for a draw, not with former Vale gaffer Gregg Carrol in charge of Thistle but at half-time the home faithful were down in the dumps with the Banff side one up. Moments into the second half that all changed as Martin Charlesworth scampered through to equalise and then it as game on! The battle raged on but then, with seven minutes left, ‘oh no’ a free-kick to the Vale right in the territory of the hard hitting Mike McKenzie and the home fans feared the worst but his effort was poor. Then, just 60 seconds later, came THE defining moment when Lowzer, not long on as a sub for Gary Clark, became a legend. A free-kick as awarded to the Jags about 23 yards out and all in the Shed cried out who should take it. Cue Andy Low, and to this day I can picture what happened next, up he steps and proceeds to crash home on of the greatest free-kicks ever seen at Victoria Park, nay in the Highland League, as the ball flew into the top corner and no keeper would have saved it.
It was a goal worthy of clinching a title which it duly did and an historical one at that for it as the first time Thistle had retained the title in 53 years and the first time they had clinched it on home soil in 67 years!
Andy has often said ‘it was just another goal’. Oh no, Mr Low, it was far more than that and as a result you are embedded in Jags folklore! I am delighted then that Andy, who has played 207 games for the Jags netting 43 goals, has been awarded a Testimonial by the Jags, it could not happen for a more tenacious player and likeable person. Well done Lowzer and here’s to more glory!
Manager Graeme “Spider” Stewart said:
“It’s been a privilege to play in the same team as Lowzer and we have built up a good friendship over the years. We have both spent the majority of our football careers at Buckie Thistle so the club means a lot to both of us and we have experienced a lot of highs during our time here. Even when Andy suffered his serious knee injury, which could have ended his career, he showed great character to come back stronger than ever determined to win the Highland league with Buckie Thistle.
Before I was given the manager’s job at Buckie I had already sounded out Lowzer about taking on a coaching role at the club. Although a very likable member of the changing room he is never one to shy away from giving you his opinion whether you want to hear it or not, and that is what I was looking for on my team. He is the under 20’s manager and has been helping me out with the first team training in Aberdeen. Seeing the potential he has the club have already agreed to put him through his C and B licences which I have no doubt he will sail through.
I have already asked Andy to join the first team coaching staff from next season and he will combine those roles with the under 20’s and playing, again showing his dedication to Buckie. He has given everything he possibly could to Buckie Thistle Football Club and I can’t think of anyone who deserves a testimonial more than Lowzer. With his help, and the rest of the coaching staff, the future looks good for Buckie.”
Courtesy of Easton Thain.