ONE of the north’s top football management partnerships has called it a day after almost 30 trophy-laden years.
Avoch’s legendary manager George Patience and his assistant Michael Hind stepped down from their roles with the Black Isle club following one of its most successful seasons.
The Avoch players were told the news by the pair shortly before the Association Cup final against Loch Ness at the Caledonian Stadium in Inverness on Saturday.
One of the club’s longest serving players, Martyn MacAllister, told the Ross-shire Journal: “It was a big shock to us all. You could see a few shocked faces in the dressing room – no one saw it coming.
“But after all their success, no one could grudge them the decision to step down. They have had a lot of success in the 28 years they have been in charge.
“It certainly won’t be the same again that’s for sure. A lot of managers in the area will be glad to see the back of them,” he laughed.
“They are really nice guys too. George is more outspoken than Mikey, who’s the quiet one. But they work well together, they bounce off each other. They are a good partnership and their record speaks for itself.”
Avoch have won numerous league titles and trophies under the duo, along with six Highland Amateur Cup victories, including the one a couple of weeks ago – a 2-1 win against Staxigoe United in the final at Dudgeon Park.
MacAllister, who has won five Highland Amateur Cup medals, three of them as captain, and has just been voted the club’s player of the year, also revealed his manager’s mischievous side.
He recalled: “I scored five goals against Cromarty a few years ago but George didn’t credit me with any of the goals. I’d never scored that many goals in a game before and I was looking forward to reading the report in the paper the following week.
“But the headline read something like, ‘Craig MacAllister five-goal hero’. George had given the goals to my brother – he’s never let me forget about it!”
Avoch’s captain, Shaun Kerr, who also has five Highland Amateur Cup winners’ medals with the club, revealed that he would be taking over as manager next season.
He said of the retiring duo: “I think they have done an unbelievable job. I don’t think the success they had will ever be repeated.
“They have won everything there is to win – it will be a tough act to follow.”
Avoch won all four of the trophies they competed for this season – the Inverness and District Premier League, the Premier League Cup, the Association Cup and the Highland Amateur Cup. The only match they lost was a league game against Tomatin after the title had been won.
Both George and Mike will still be involved and are going to stay on the club committee.