About The Club
Tain Thistle were formed as a club in 1996, mostly playing at the "Links Playing Field" in Tain. The club concept (based on the ideas of founding committee member Brian MacAngus and Ronnie Mackie) initially surrounded the need for a younger team in the town, playing during the summer while Tain's senior team, Tain St Duthus, competed during the winter. The name of "Tain Thistle" was chosen by MacAngus when the team registered for the Ross-shire Welfare league in 1997, after an initial suggestion of "Cabarfeidh Thistle" was rejected.
The parents of talented young player of the time, Colin Burry, took on the organisation of the club, with his father Gordon handling the reigns as team manager. With Gordon and wife Pat's hard work, the club began playing in 1997, struggling through a first season, mostly all of which was paid for out of their own pocket. Players came and went but Gordon stayed true to his belief that if you trained, you played. The proudest yet most heartbreaking moment for the club during the Burry era was reaching the Coronation Cup Final in 2002, unfortunately losing on the day.
In 2003, Gordon stepped down as manager of Thistle to be replaced by the team of Bill Russell and Jim Robertson. Introducing a fresh approach, Russell guided the side to the upper half of the table, bringing a variety of younger players through the ranks turning Thistle into a force to be reckoned with. Setting a new standard every season, Tain enjoyed their most prolific season in 2005, reaching no fewer than three cup finals, finishing 2nd to Invergordon Social Club in the league, and narrowly losing the end of season Charity Shield.
Following the departure of Russell and his team in 2007, Thistle appointed the temporary pairing of former players Arron Christie and Robbie Ross. The relatively inexperienced combo surprised many, as they guided Thistle to their first ever trophy, reaching the Pattison Cup final defeating Ross Club 3-1 on the day.
The following year, Thistle moved to Grant Park, located across from the historic Links Park to allow redevelopment of the lower pitch. It was that year that Tain Thistle narrowly missed out on their first Ross-shire Welfare league title, falling just a point short of rivals Black Rock Rovers, in heartbreaking fashion. Thistle finally went on to win the league title in 2009, on the back of their capture of the Cordiner Cup the same year.
During Thistle's early existance as a Welfare club, Tain St Duthus represented Tain at senior football level, competing in the North Caledonian "Second XI". Thistle continued to co-exist with St Duthus until 2005 when, due to financial difficulties, St Duthus were forced to withdraw from the league and fold.
In 2008, Tain Thistle were accepted into the North Caledonian league as Tain's newest representative, bringing senior football back to the Royal Burgh. Thistle followed in the footsteps of St Duthus, who also made the transition from Welfare to Second XI football in the early 70s. Under the guidance of Robbie Ross, Thistle finished 10th in their first season. New manager John Oliver led the Jags to an improved 8th place finish the following season, before the club opted not to renew their registration with the league in 2010. The "Jags" continue to play in the Ross-shire Welfare league to this day however, and their recent successes include the League Cup (2011) and the Seaboard Cup (2012).
Along with clubs from Cromarty, Contin and Dingwall, Tain Thistle were also a part of the resurrected Mid-Ross Shield league in the autumn of 2012, winning the competition with an unbeaten record after six games. Thistle became the first Tain team to win the glamorous prize since its introduction in 1905.
The club generated a much higher level of media interest than usual during November 2008 as a result of their inclusion in Football Manager 2009. Club chairman Niall Harkiss was interviewed live on the subject by Peter Allen from BBC Radio 5 Live and also appeared on BBC Radio Scotland's morning news programme, Good Morning Scotland. Tain Thistle were also featured on BBC Scotland's flagship television news programme, Reporting Scotland. Since then, software publishers Sports Interactive have continued to include Tain Thistle in each subsequent release of the game.