The Highland League - Founding Member
The league was conceived at the Inverness Workman’s Club on August 4th 1893, all the clubs present expressing an enthusiastic willingness to become part of a league. After discussing the logistical matters, the Scottish Football Association blessed the venture and The Highland Football League was born. By February 7th 1894, after undergoing the teething problems of a new venture and having lost one of the original teams from the fixture list, the League reported a surplus of five pounds. This rocky first season was concluded, and Thistle became the first champions of the Highland Football League. The league consisted of seven teams in 1893-94, those of Thistle, Caley, Clachnacuddin, Forres Mechanics, Union, Citadel and Camerons.
The War Years
Forres Mechanics were a founder member of the Highland Football League and have played in the league continuously but for a few seasons at the start of the 1900’s and occassionaly during war time.
Indeed due to the Great War the Highland League was suspended in Feb 1915 and did not reconvene until the 1919/20 season.
In October 1939 the league was again abandoned with the outbreak of WWII. The Highland Emergency and Central Highland leagues were set up that year but were not completed. Football did not return to the North in league form until 1946/7 with Peterhead dominating the post war years.
The period after the Second World War saw a number of changes in personnel. Toward the end of the war, games were organised between the team and many of the servicemen from Europe who were stationed in the area. Polish servicemen in particular featured in these games.
Whilst the local press did not attempt to name the opposing players in reports, names such as Mrowonski, Drynda, Lesz and Becci became regulars in the post war Mechanics team known affectionately as the Foreign Mechanics.
In the years to come Forres would sign the good players who had chosen to settle in the area. Perhaps the most famous of the Foreign Mechamics was goalkeeper Henry Wisniewski. Henry became a long serving player and kept goal during many cup successes for over 10 years.
League Champions 1986
Two and a half thousand fans entered Mosset Park on Friday 9th May for the visit of Caley. Matches against Caley are difficult enough under normal circumstances but in the tension-laden atmosphere that evening a win seemed so much more difficult. We need not have worried as the Mechanics played superbly.
Taken from the first Match Programme of 1986/87 season, Forres raise their first ever league flag after 101 years.
Forres Mechanics first started playing at Mosset Park in 1886. Previously they played at fields at Burdshaugh and Greshop. Since then the ground has changed twice.
Bumper crowds at games in the late 1940’s prompted the club to improve Mosset Park. In 1948 the club had purchased a hangar, we assume surplus to requirements after the war. The idea was to use the hanger to provide new seating for around 500 people. Discussions at committee meetings eventually led to the club agreeing to a more substantial structure. It was agreed to spend a quite considerable sum of £3000 on concrete based wooden stand. Committee reports suggested that £2000 had by this time already been raised and a shrewd deal was also done to sell on the hangar for £500 giving a £400 profit! The resulting structure and improvements to the entrance and perimeter made Mosset Park the envy of many clubs although when the time came for change again in 1986 the old stand had definitely served its purpose.
In the early 1980’s permission was given by the Government to construct a bypass around the town. There had been much debate by local interests including shopkeepers and those who wanted to preserve the ‘Common’ land to the North of the Town around Bogton and the ‘Walkies’, a popular walking area alongside the railway line. As plans showed the route of the bypass disecting the existing ground and stand at Mosset Park the club too had a fair interest in the proposals!
In the end agreement was reached and for Forres Mechanics this meant the relocation of the ground some 500 meters to the south-east. If the new stand built in 1948 was the envy of visiting clubs then one can only imagine the envy of visitors from 1987. The relocated Mosset Park featured a brand new stand a perimeter wall new entrances with access at either end of the ground and facilities including board rooms, and a social club.
The new ground was at the time the finest in the Highland League and given the League Championship and North of Scotland Cup success the previous two years marked a big high in the history of the club. The new stand was opened with a game against Heart of Midlothian with the legendary BBC commentator David Francey the guest announcer.
You might not think it but the Royal Engineers AFC and the Cans have some things in common. Just like the club, the Royal Engineers came into existence in the late 1800’s and just like us they were instrumental in helping establish league and cup structures still in place to this day. Established in 1871, success for the Magnificent Royal Engineers came fairly quickly. Royal Engineers AFC will forever hold a place in history as the first team to win an FA Cup Final replay doing so against the Old Etonians in March 1875.
The presentation in the picture took place at Mosset Park before the home tie against Turriff United on the 6th October 2012 following the original presentation in July. In the picture the club are presented with this memento to celebrate new links between the club and the Engineers to mark their arrival at their new home at Kinloss Barracks. Already the club have seen benefits of this new friendship with some of the new arrivals training with the club and the Forres players making use of facilities at Kinloss.
The club welcome the arrival of the Royal Engineers to the area and look forward to developing further relationships as they settle into their new home.