Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC
Inverness Caledonian Thistle is a peculiar club. Formed after the merger of Caledonian FC and Inverness Thistle FC in 1994 to fill a vacancy in the Scottish Football League, later changing its name to Inverness Caledonian Thistle in 1996. Born of opportunism then, the club has nevertheless taken the chance to establish itself in the Scottish leagues and hasn’t looked back since.
Caley Thistle play their home matches at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium, and are nicknamed Caley Thistle or the Caley Jags. More remarkably though, their arrival into the Scottish Third Division in the 1994-95 season was the first instance of Scottish League Football in the Highlands.
The first official Caledonian Thistle match was played on Saturday 30th July 1994 against St Mirren, and on July 31st, the doors of Telford Street Park were opened for a Caledonian Thistle match for the first time.
In August 1994, Caledonian Thistle played their first competitive match, against East Stirling in the 1st Round of the Coca-Cola Cup at East Stirling’s Firs Park. Caley Thistle won 2-0, and the honour of scoring the first goal went to Wilson Robertson. A week later they played their first Scottish League match at Telford Street, trouncing Arbroath 5-2, with Alan Hercher grabbing a hat-trick.
Having finished sixth in their inaugural season, Caley showed signs of improvement a season later, finishing third. The signs were clearly here, and Caley Thistle were showing the potential to climb up the Scottish football league ladder.
When Caley Thistle were accepted into the Scottish Football League, one of the conditions was that they had to move to a newly-built ground within their first few seasons. In 1995, construction of the new Caledonian Stadium begun as Caley prepared for life away from the old Telford Street Park, and in November 1996, the ground hosted its first league match – a 1-1 draw between Caley Thistle and Albion Rovers.
The Beginning of ICT
In their first season as Inverness Caledonian Thistle (1996-97), Caley finished champions of the Scottish Third Division and graduated to the third tier of Scottish football. This incredible achievement was arguably eclipsed during their second season in the Second Division, when Caley Thistle finished runners-up in a closely-fought season, moving up to the First Division.
Cup success also came simultaneous with progress in the league. In January 2000, Caley were drawn against Celtic in the 3rd Round of the Scottish Cup. The original match at Parkhead was postponed 45 minutes before kick-off when gales damaged the roof of one of the stands. The re-arranged fixture was played on 8th February and produced the most incredible result – and, without doubt, the biggest shock – in 30 years of Scottish Cup football, as Caley won 3-1.
The game was famous not only for the result, but also for the headline on the back page of The Sun – Super Caley Go Ballistic, Celtic Are Atrocious – a headline now framed in the foyer at the Caledonian Stadium.
Lightning then struck a second time when Caley repeated their heroics on home turf in March 2003, beating Celtic 1-0 in the Scottish Cup quarter-final. Not only have they stunned Celtic, but they have also knocked the likes of Motherwell and Hearts out of other cup competitions.
In the first ten years of their existence, Inverness Caledonian Thistle were responsible for ten shocks, but are now classed as giants instead of giant-killers because of their place in Scottish football’s top flight.
Caley’s Rise to the Top
After spending a few seasons establishing themselves in the First Division and staving away the threat of relegation, Caley Thistle enjoyed arguably their best ever season in 2003-04. They won the Scottish Challenge Cup in November, defeating Airdrie United 2-0 at McDiarmid Park. They then reached the Scottish Cup semi-final, going out 3-2 in a replay against Dunfermline Athletic after a 1-1 draw at Hampden Park, before the season came to a perfect finale.
By beating St Johnstone 3-1 on the final day of the season, Caley edged out Clyde to the First Division title, taking them to the Scottish Premier League, an astonishing achievement considering the short lifespan of Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC. Football in Inverness had certainly come a long way since the days of Inverness Thistle FC and Caledonian FC battling it out in the Highland Leagues.
Caledonian Stadium Redevelopment
One downfall of the success of the 2003-04 season was that the Caledonian Stadium was deemed unsuitable in relation to the SPL’s stadium criteria, thus requiring changes to the structure.
While the Caledonian Stadium was redeveloped during the first half of the 2004-05 season, Caley were forced to move over 100 miles away to Aberdeen’s Pittodrie Stadium, a sacrifice the Caley board and supporters believed was worth making for Premier League football.
However, following a change in SPL rules during the 2004-05 season that meant stadia only required 6,000 seats for SPL membership, the Caledonian Stadium was made a valid venue after a rapid ground expansion, in which two new stands at both ends of the ground were built in a remarkable 47 days by the Tulloch Construction Company.
The construction of the two new stands made the stadium an all-seater and increased its capacity to over 7,500. Coincidentally, Tulloch is the club’s largest shareholder, and as they had paid part of the development costs, the stadium was renamed the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium.
On January 29th 2005, in the first SPL game at the newly developed stadium, Caley defeated Dunfermline 2-0 thanks to goals from Barry Wilson and the then player manager Craig Brewster (now manager). More importantly though, the revamped stadium was there for all to see.
The club recently supplemented their cosy stadim with another stand opposite the club’s Main Stand, inventively entitled the West Stand. With a capacity of around 400, the stand is the smallest free-standing football stand in the SPL.
Caley now have plans to build a full scale West Stand which would be similar in appearance to the Main Stand. However, a gas pipe in the vicinity may pose difficulties. A full-scale West Stand would take the ground’s capacity to approximately 10,000 seats, and there are even plans to join the Main Stand with the North Stand to give the ground an even larger capacity.
After their launch in 1994, Inverness Caledonian Thistle have sprung up from the depths of the Highland Leagues to the altitude of the Scottish Premier League. Now, under Craig Brewster, Caley are battling it out with the Old Firm and Scotland’s other big name clubs, and hope to climb the SPL table in search of an elusive UEFA Cup place.
- Scottish First Division – Winners (2004)
- Bells Challenge Cup – Winners (2004)
- Scottish Third Division – Winners (1997)
For club enquiries and ticket information/applications please contact:
Tulloch Caledonian Stadium
Ticket office opening hours are 10am-4.30pm Monday to Friday. It is open from 10am on matchdays.
To purchase tickets please call the Ticket Office on 01463 222880 (selecting Option 1), or call in at the Club Shop.
|Match Ticket||Match Type||Main Stand||North Stand||Family Stand|
- Match Type A – Games vs Rangers and Celtic
- Match Type B – All other games
- 1 – Aged 60 as at 01/05/07.
- 2 – Aged under 16 as at 01/08/07 or still at school.
- 3 – Proof of student status required.
- Please note that Family tickets are NOT available on the gates – they must be purchased from the Ticket Office at least one hour before kick off.
Inverness is situated beside the Moray Firth, in the shadow of the Kessock Bridge.
From South – From Perth, head north on the A9 until you reach Inverness. At the Longman Roundabout before the Kessock Bridge, take the third exit and carry on round until you come to the Stadium and away car park.
From East – Head west on the A96 as far as Inverness. On the outskirts of Inverness, take the second exit from the roundabout (Retail park/Tesco’s) towards Inverness. Go under the fly over and take third exit towards A9 North Wick. At the Longman Roundabout before Kessock Bridge, take the third exit and carry on round until you come to the stadium and away car park.
From North – Head south on the A9 as far as Inverness. Cross the Kessock Bridge and take the first exit from the roundabout and carry on round until you come to the Stadium and away car park.
The nearest mainline station is in Inverness (about 1 mile away) with regular trains from both the South and East coast.
There are regular coaches daily from Glasgow, Edinburgh Aberdeen and Perth to Inverness.
Taxi Ranks are located within the bus station and outside the railway station. Alternatively, call 01463 222222 for pick-ups.