THE national stadium hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Peterhead over the past few years. A 4-0 defeat to Rangers there in the 2016 Challenge Cup final was followed by three visits in which they failed to win, score even.

That final defeat had much more of an impact than merely which medals Jim McInally’s side traipsed up the stairs to collect at Hampden that day. It sent Peterhead into a tailspin which has taken them years to redress.

At the time, that Blue Toon side were sunning themselves in the achievement of making it to the club’s first cup final since promotion to the then SFL in 2000, they sat second in League One behind only a rampant Dunfermline. They went on to lose their remaining three league matches going down in defeat both home and away to Ayr United in the play-off.

That form was carried into the next season when, starting among the favourites, they finished ninth and dropped into League Two. There began an unwelcome habit of failing to win when it mattered – from losing to Livingston when they had two matches to stave off relegation and the play-off defeats to Forfar and Stenhousemuir, to what proved to be the title decider against Montrose last season.


THAT was until Saturday.

Those past few seasons left some of the supporters, rightfully, with pessimistic dispositions, even after their excellent start to the league campaign this time.

Eight wins and a draw from their first 10 league matches was not enough to see Peterhead top, but they kept within touching distance. While all the early focus was on surprise package Edinburgh City, the Blue Toon quietly impressed, ready to pounce.

City struggled to keep up their imperious form and it was Clyde who came closest to denying Peterhead. After a stuttering start, Danny Lennon’s men slowly found their feet before an astonishing run of one defeat in 25 matches. Had it not been for a four-point deduction, Clyde may very well be champions right now.

Peterhead almost chucked it in the final weeks of the campaign, again. They emerged from the home tie with Annan in March with a victory and a 14-point lead over Clyde. Then came the unexpected midweek defeat to Berwick, before a series of results which allowed the Bully Wee to close in.

With two matches remaining, Peterhead required one win. At Balmoor they were so agonisingly close, there were people poised at the side of the pitch ready to construct the champions podium as Stirling’s Peter MacDonald slammed a 93rd-minute equaliser past Greg Fleming.

Thus, the only stage that was set was for Peterhead to blow it again on the final day. In the end, Saturday’s decisive victory over Queen’s Park at Hampden was as routine as they come, securing the club’s second-ever League Two title.


THEY did so without a stand-out performer, reflected in the fact not one of their players was voted for by their peers among the best four in the division. Rory McAllister, so often the talisman in the past, despite netting 16 and becoming the first player to reach a century of SPFL goals, has failed to hit previous heights in an injury-hampered campaign.

The quality runs right throughout this side, with Fleming in goals and Jason Brown and Michael Dunlop at the heart of a stingy defence, at times flanked by two naturally more attacking options in Jamie Stevenson and Willie Gibson – two of three Peterhead players to make team of the season. Then there are the likes of Scott Brown – the third to make team of the season – and Jack Leitch, whose double on Saturday sealed the title, dictating play in the centre of midfield.

In forward areas, the summer saw the pedigree of Derek Lyle and Ryan Dow added to an already loaded attack, with Shane Sutherland and Paul Willis following in January – leading some to raise an eyebrow at the area of the field being prioritised by the manager.


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THOUGH it’s possible that the club would not have attracted some of those names if they didn’t have at the helm McInally – the SPFL’s longest-serving manager, who continues to split opinion on the job he’s doing at Balmoor.

Some argue that, with the resources available, they shouldn’t be in League Two in the first place, or should have returned at the first time of asking at least. The fact remains that this is his second title with the club – with McInally describing the process of this latest triumph as “torture” – and, it should be noted, his points tally of 76 last season would have been enough to win the league this term.

What isn’t up for debate is that, this time, McInally and his men got over the line when it mattered to celebrate their victory on the Hampden turf.