One of the biggest shocks to hit Buckie Thistle this season is the departure of Kevin Main to Turriff United and this has brought down the curtain on a quite glorious career which many fans will recall for years to come. ‘Mainser’ indicated his desire to leave and played his final match for the club against Strathspey Thistle and, as ever, his performance that day was of a high standard and there is no doubt that he saved the Jags from defeat that afternoon. It was typical of Kevin that despite his departure looming that he put on a tremendous performance that day. That was nothing new for a goalkeeper who has attained legendary status at the club thanks to an innumerable amount of incredible displays between the posts and you could count on one hand the number of ‘bad days at the office’ Kevin had at the club. Signed in the Summer of 2003 by Kevin Will our hero made an instant impact in his first game….playing for the opposition! It was a friendly against Stirling Albion and the Binos keeper was called away as his wife was expecting a baby. Albion had no back up so asked for the loan of a keeper for the game and Kevin filled the breach. A superb display followed so much so the Binos cheekily asked if they could sign him! Thankfully the answer was no and the rest, as they say, is history. ‘Mainser’ wasted no time in becoming a hero for he performed superbly in the penalty shoot-out decider in the Scottish Qualifying Cup (North) Final in November 2003. The Clachnacuddin goalkeeper, Martin Rae, had a kick to win it but Kevin was having none of that and duly saved. The Jags went on to win the shoot-out and thus secured the cup for the first time since 1958! It would not be the first time shoot-out heroics by Kevin would be decisive as, two years later, a superb Aberdeenshire Cup Final against Deveronvale at Huntly was decided by penalties and here our hero saved two spot-kicks in the shoot-out having saved one in normal time as well allowing another legendary hero Jamie Shewan to net the winning kick! 2007 saw double trophy success as Thistle defeated Keith to win the Aberdeenshire Cup and then Inverurie Locos to win the Aberdeenshire Shield (the first time since 1992) and ‘Mainser’ was delighted to keep clean sheets in both. The former was by far the sweeter triumph for him as just four months earlier he had been sent off in the disastrous League Cup Final defeat by Keith at Banff, his only red card in his Jags career.
The only Thistle triumph ‘Mainser’ missed in his career at Victoria Park was the Aberdeenshire Cup success in September 2009 when he was on holiday but eight months later came the greatest success for him and the club in recent times on that glorious May Day at Harmsworth Park when, thanks to a superb controlled display, the Jags secured their first Highland League championship in 52 years. A downer came in September 2010 with defeat by Cove Rangers in the Aberdeenshire Cup Final and even worse followed at the start of 2011 with an absolute mauling by Deveronvale at Banff. The return was four months later though and this time the title was at stake! A draw would not have harmed the Jags but Vale needed to win. On a glorious day a stunning late free-kick from Andy Low won the title and for Kevin it was, in some respects, a greater triumph than the year before because the game was at Victoria Park. Finally, in 2012 came his last great success as part of the team when they defeated Cove Rangers at Banff to secure the Highland League Cup for the first time since 1986 with another powerful display. In many ways this was one of his greatest highlights for it enable Kevin to complete a ‘full set’ of North football honours including the North of Scotland Cup which he won with Lossiemouth. Great as all those triumphs was he was very much part of a huge team effort on each occasion but if there is one game that sums up his brilliance then it has to be that historic occasion in the Scottish Cup in 2012. Having drawn at home to Annan Athletic the Jags were underdogs for the replay but Thistle stunned the ‘experts’ with a momentous 2-1 victory. Many will remember the two great goals from Zander Sutherland that won the day but for me the real hero was Kevin Main with a world class performance. Late in the game Annan threw absolutely everything at Thistle and shots rained in from all angles but ‘Mainser’ stood defiant to the very end and I will never forget that performance. July 2013 saw another great event for Kevin with a testimonial match against Aberdeen, part of a great year of memorable events for him. On his night he was a start with a string of superb saves and but for him the Dons would have secured a bigger winning margin. The crowds flocked to Victoria Park for the game and the memories created for ‘Mainser’ will remain with him for the rest of his days.
It was only fitting that last season Kevin chalked up his 400th appearance for the club and did so with a typically defiant performance away to Turriff United. There is absolutely no doubt that in any Buckie Thistle Hall of Fame the name of Kevin Main would be proudly displayed. Only the legendary custodian Norman Wood played more games between the sticks than ‘Mainser’ and there is absolutely no doubt that in the post war era he is the greatest ever keeper to don the jersey for Thistle, and one of the greatest Jags custodians of all time, and not only that he is rightly regarded as one of the finest keepers ever to play in the Highland League. It will be very strange to see Kevin trot out for Turriff United against the Jags but great though his appreciation for Thistle is he will be as professional as ever and that is nothing less than you would expect and he will be delighted if his new team wins the encounters. ‘Mainser’ still has plenty of years ahead and could go on to be a legend at the Haughs as well and how remarkable would it be to be regarded as a great at two different clubs! From myself and everyone at Buckie Thistle I’d like to say thank you Kevin for your sheer devotion to the club in eleven magnificent years of service. You will be regaled about for many years to come and you will always be welcome at Victoria Park – thanks for the memories and all the very best for your career with Turriff United, except when you play against Thistle of course!
The departure of Kevin Main left the Jags in a bit of a conundrum though for two games goalkeeping player/ coach Darren Strong filled the breach. However, work commitments were always going to be a factor for Darren and thus Thistle needed to recruit new goalkeepers and quickly. The answer came from an unexpected source as gaffer Gary Hake was alerted about a giant keeper making his name in the North Junior Super League Andy Burr when talking to Bob Jarvie at Bridge of Don Thistle about goalkeepers. From there Bob mentioned their talented young keeper so the Jags manager wasted no time in trying Andy out in the first Aberdeenshire League game of the season against Banks O’ Dee at Spain Park. Whilst he was rarely tested in Thistle’s emphatic win there he did what he had to do well and was constantly barking at his defence. The gaffer saw enough to put him in as a trialist in the Highland League game at Banff and here he showed real quality and it followed suit that he would line up for the more challenging game at home to Brora Rangers. In both games he acquitted himself well, at 6ft 8 the 22-year old won’t be beaten in the air too often but he showed agility in saves in both games on the deck. All the indications are that Andy has a lot of potential and at only 22-years young he has plenty of years ahead of him in the Highland League and when he gets to his prime then Thistle have another potential legend in their ranks. Andy is his own keeper and must never be compared to his predecessor and must be judge on his own abilities and from what we have seen so far he clearly has talent. He has a lot to learn though and being thrown in at the deep end in massive matches for the Jags is a challenging start but so far the report card is excellent and there is no reason as to why that cannot continue for many years to come. I am sure I speak for everyone in giving a hearty welcome to Andy to Victoria Park and wish him a long and successful career with Thistle for whom he has signed until May 2017.