SAINT DUTHUS FOOTBALL CLUB were founded by a sub committee of the St Duthus Cricket Club in 1885, following the playing of the town's first ever competitive 'association' game at Culpleasant Estate between two teams, the "Lords" and the "Commons". For the winners, a vase was donated by Robert de Graéme Graéme of Garvock - the owner of the estate and the man who would a year later be named as the club's first President.

In 1896, the "Saints" competed for and won the first ever Pattisons' Challenge Cup, the first 'association' trophy to be competed for in the Tain area, which was donated by whisky distillers, Robert and Walter Pattison.

Now under the Presidency of the Count de Serra Largo, the Tain team developed a fearsome rivalry with Victoria United of Dingwall that would continue into the 20th century, up until the mid 1920s when the 'Vics' joined the Highland Football League and became known as Ross County.

St Duthus Cricket Club, circa 1880s.

  • St Duthus Football Club, League champions 1919-20.
  • St Duthus Football Club, North of Scotland Cup winners 1924.


THE GREAT WAR HAD ENDED and St Duthus were first to earn the distinction of being crowned Ross-shire Junior League champions when they captured the title in 1919/20 and recaptured the Pattisons' Cup the same season. Four years later, they reached the pinnacle of junior football in the region by winning the coveted North of Scotland Junior Cup with a 2-1 win over the prominent Inverness junior team, and North of Scotland Junior champions, 'Catch My Pal' at Thistle Park.

Following the death of Serra Largo in the early 1930s, the team fell into a two year hiatus before being resurrected by George Davidson and Leo Pieraccini. The team now wore a new look black and white hooped kit and they enjoyed success as members of the new Ross-shire Junior FA, winning the Mackenzie Cup and Pattisons' Challenge Cup before the advent of war brought an end to football.


THE SAINTS re-emerged in 1947, having allowed a year for the Tain Links playing fields to recover from years of being used as a camp for services personnel. In doing so, they absorbed the "war-time" team, The Eastern Rose - a combination of servicemen and foreign nationals stationed in the area - who had represented Tain in the Ross-shire Junior League in 1946.

The team continued under the stewardship of Hugh Aird, then proprietor of the Saint Duthus Hotel, and it was around this time that the Saints appointed their first ever designated "Team Manager", with former goalkeeper Norman Ferguson taking the reigns. In the late 1950s, the club had joined the newly formed Ross-shire Welfare FA as founder members.

  • St Duthus Football Club after the war, 1947.
  • St Duthus Football Club, League champions 1955.

  • St Duthus Football Club, 1963.
  • St Duthus Football Club, late 1960s.


WITH THE CLUB in full swing by the turn of the decade, young manager Christopher 'Christy' Grant had established a team competing for honours. Meanwhile, Leo Pieraccini, still very much a feature in Tain football circles, became a pioneer when it came to youth football in the town with the introduction of the Pieraccini Cup, a trophy for juveniles, which became the carrot for aspiring youth teams across the county.

Under the management of Christopher 'Christy' Grant, St Duthus enjoyed their most successful year as a Summer-time "welfare" football team in 1963, completing a clean sweep of all four cup competitions, but narrowly missed out on the league championship to Alness United. It wasn't surprising that a number of the Saints' better players went on to greater things with teams competing in the Highland Football League and beyond.


ENTRY INTO THE NORTH CALEDONIAN LEAGUE followed in 1973, as St Duthus moved toward senior football. The team gradually became known as "Tain St Duthus" at this time - competing against teams far outwith the Ross-shire landscape, and as members of the highly competitive "Highland League Second XI" division, they captured their first silverware in 1975, having been awarded the MacNicol Shield for having the best disciplinary record in the league! An unlikely first trophy.

On the field honours eventually followed in 1978/79 under the management of Edwin Skinner, winning both the Ness Cup and the North Caledonian Cup. The Saints went on to win the North Caledonian Cup a further three times in the 1980s, capturing it in 1983/84, 1986/87 and 1989/90, while also winning the Football Times Cup twice in 1980/81 and 1981/82.

The 1990s started well with back to back Chic Allan Cups in 1990/91 and 1991/92, however, that was to be the last silverware for the Tain side.

  • Tain St Duthus FC, 1979.
  • Tain St Duthus FC, North Caledonian Cup winners, 1985.

Tain St Duthus FC, 1993.


ST JOHNSTONE FC traveled to Tain for a glamour tie against Tommy Ross's Tain St Duthus in the summer of 1993 - arguably the most high profile team to play on the Links.

Two years later, Highland League Champions Huntly were the visitors as Tain St Duthus opened their new ground, Grant Park - named after former manager Christy Grant. The friendly match attracted a great crowd for the match as the "top park" became the home of Second XI football.


MIDWAY through the 2000s, the curtain fell on Tain St Duthus. Following a series of managerial changes, and with resources wearing thin, the club committee elected to withdraw the team from the North Caledonian FA at the end of the 2004/05 season. The gap left for a Tain team to compete in the North Caledonian league was temporarily filled for two seasons by Tain Thistle FC, a member club of the Ross-shire Welfare FA, however they tendered their resignation in 2010.

Following a meeting in the Saint Duthus Hotel on Thursday February 4, 2016, preliminary discussions took place to initiate the revival of St Duthus Football Club in a bid to apply to gain membership of the North Caledonian Football Association and bring winter football back to Tain for the first time in eleven years. An Annual General Meeting followed on Tuesday March 22 and office bearers and a committee were elected to take the club forward. An application was made to rejoin the North Caledonian FA and this was duly accepted on May 28, 2016 thus confirming the revival of the Saints.

Revived St Duthus FC, 2016.

Ross-shire Football's Forgotten Pioneers

The pre-war history of St Duthus Football Club was published in 2014 by chairperson Niall Harkiss via K & N Publishing. For more information, visit Amazon.co.uk.

K & N Publishing