Welcome to WAFC Official WEB Site
Welcome to the Wick Academy F.C. web site
WAFC is Scotland's most northerly senior football club. The team are based in Wick, Caithness, and play in the Harmsworth park. The supporters are known as the 'Scorries', and are renowned for their hospitality. WAFC was founded in 1893 and they joined the Highland League in 1994. The club welcomes your support both home and away, locally and distantly. If you have any questions regarding the club please use the 'contact' form on this web site.
(WAFC South Stand 2005 - Photo by Alistair Ross)
(WAFC South Stand 2009 - Photo by John Briskham)
History of The Town of Wick
On a line of latitude well north of Moscow the Royal Burgh of Wick is approximately 850 miles north of Lands End and 20 South of John O Groats. The town has a population of approximately 8,000 and serves as the county town of Caithness, the most northerly county of the British mainland.
Up until the early 1800s Wick was doubtless a rather insignificant little hamlet until the exploitation of the visiting shoals of Clupea Harengus. It was the catching, gutting, packing and selling to the world of herring that put Wick on the map as the herring capital of Europe.
The harbour at Wick was developed and extended due to the prompting of Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster and the British Fisheries Society by notable engineers such as Thomas Telford, Thomas Stevenson(father of Robert Louis) and the Keiss born James Bremner, who lived most of his life in Pulteneytown. Bremner was famous as a harbour builder and salvager of wrecks most notably the refloating of I K Brunels great iron ship the Great Britain, in 1847.
Pulteneytown was the new town planned by Thomas Telford to the South of Wick river built to house the fishermen and the other tradesmen employed in the fishery. Pulteneytown was to remain a separate entity from its neighbour Wick until 1902 when the two towns finally amalgamated.
At its peak in the 1860s there were over 1,000 vessels fishing out of Wick, with the population trebling during the season and over a million barrels of cured herring being exported to places such as Ireland, The West Indies and Eastern Europe.It is said that in just 2 days 3500 fisher lassies gutted in the region of 50 million herring! It is interesting to note that much to the disgust of the local clergy there were in the region of 50 public houses.
The early years of the twentieth century saw the transformation from sail to steam at a time when the fishing continued to be successful. It was after the First World War that the decline set in with a combination of poor fishing and loss of traditional markets, due to economic upheaval in Europe.
As the years went on more and more boats were going into seine net fishing with the last herring drifter ceasing fishing for herring in 1953.
With the demise of the fishing new industries have supplied employment notably the Dounreay Nuclear Power Station.
This is obviously just a taster of what Wick is all about and has concentrated on the herring industry which shaped the way that Wick developed. Lets hope in the near future Wick might also become known for its football team!!!
History of Wick Acacdemy Football Club
Wick Academy FC was founded in October 1893, taking its name from the cricket club which had been in existence for about 20 years.
The club was known in Wick simply as Academy and sometimes in other parts of Caithness as Pulteneytown Academy. An indirect and unofficial connection with the local school of the same name was maintained with the election of a teacher, John Davidson as the first captain or ‘leader' as it was termed in the minute book of the first meeting. The club's first game was a friendly away to Castletown. Home games were played at Harrow Park, now known of course as Harmsworth Park. Ten matches, with only two defeats, were played in that first season against teams like Thurso Thistle, Wick Thistle, John O Groat FC (formed that same year in Wick), Lybster Portland and Dunbeath.
The Wick League was started in 1896 and Academy won the championship in the third season 1898/9, the first of 17 league titles. From 1907 to 1914 Academy had virtually a clean sweep of the league and local cups and in 1911 applied successfully for full membership of the SFA so as to play in the Qualifying Cup.
Academy's Qualifying Cup debut was a home tie on September 2, 1911 and a crowd of about 800 saw a 4-0 win against Inverness Thistle. Men paid 6d, boys 3d, ladies were admitted free and gate receipts were £17. Caledonian won a 2nd Round tie in Wick 4-1.
Right winger in those games was Jimmy Miller who was later secretary and President, his commitment to the club continuing almost 50 years to 1954.
A Caithness County League was started in 1926/7 by which time the Harmsworth family had bought the park and gifted it to the town with the Burgh Council as trustees and local sports clubs forming a management committee. Only the football clubs seemed prepared to do the work of the ground improvements and building a stone wall to enclose the park. Changing rooms were built and were saved from demolition in 1973 when Academy agreed to keep them in a good state of repair. The building now houses an office and the tea hut. Academy won the county league in 1927/8 and again in 28/9, 30/1, 35/6 and 37/8.
As the only SFA club in Caithness (Thurso Pentland were also members for 3 years from 1936), Academy was allowed to sign players of other clubs to play in Qualifying Cup games. From 1928 onwards they were unbeaten at home in Qualifying Cup ties. In 1933 they beat Nairn, Caley and Keith, all away, to reach the Scottish Cup proper losing 3-0 to a strong Scottish League Division Two side, St Bernards on January 20, 1934 at the Gymnasium Ground in Edinburgh. In 1936 Academy drew 3-3 in Wick with local rivals Brora Rangers, won the replay and two more games at Forres and Buckie to earn a tie at Stirling. Academy scored first against King's Park but lost 6-1. Several prestigious friendlies were played and Celtic and Aberdeen were among the teams who appeared at Harmsworth Park in the 30s.
Academy had also joined the North of Scotland FA in 1914 but had been unable to play their first tie away to Forres Mechanics as most of their players had been called up by the Territorials. They had to wait until 1954 to be readmitted but made up for lost time with a 4-3 win at Brora before losing 3-1 in the semi final away to Caley.
In 1960 the Caithness Amateur Football Association switched to summer football and to retain its SFA membership Wick Academy had to stay with the normal winter season playing only cup ties and friendlies for the next 12 years.
In 1972 with Clair Harper now as chairman, the club joined the North of Scotland 2nd XI Association to have regular league fixtures, drawing 2-2 at home to Dingwall Thistle in the first game. Academy were a strong team in this North Reserve League, later to become the North Caledonian League and were champions four seasons running from 78/9 to 81/2 under manager John MacDonald and also won several of the league cups. With former goalkeeper Pat Miller as manager Academy won the league again in 1986/7. In July 1984 Heart of Midlothian fielded a full strength first team in a friendly which attracted 2,400 fans to Harmsworth Park. 900 copies of a souvenir programme sold out five minutes before kick off. Richard Hughes scored for Academy in a 6-1 defeat.
After having several applications knocked back Academy were at last voted into the Highland League in 1994 when Caledonian and Inverness Thistle amalgamated and left to join the SFL along with Ross County. The first game at home to Cove Rangers drew a crowd of 1700 but ended with a 3-0 defeat. After a draw with Rothes, Academy beat the then League leaders Forres 1-0 and after three straight wins in October were briefly 4th in the table.
In 2001/2 Qualifying Cup wins over Lossiemouth and Nairn County saw Academy in the Scottish Cup proper and BBC TV cameras were at Harmsworth Park where Threave Rovers won 3-2. Academy regularly reach the semi final of the North Cup but have so far been unable to make it to a final.
Midfielder Martin Gunn represented Scotland in the Four Nations semi-professional tournaments in May 2005 and May 2006.
After finishing usually between 10th and 13th, Academy completed a run of ten successive league wins in 2008/9 to finish 5th. Co-managers Ian Munro and Richard Hughes received the league's Manager of the Year Award with Richard Macadie voted Player of the Year.
In 2009/10 wins over Clachnacuddin and Girvan put the team in the third round of the Scottish Cup for the first time, earning a home tie with SFL Division 2 side Brechin City. Academy almost pulled off a shock but an equaliser for Brechin five minutes from full-time saw the game finish 4-4 and Brechin then won the replay at Glebe Park 4-2. Academy finish the season in 9th spot in the league and midfielder Sam Mackay is voted the Sunday Post Young Player of the year.
2010/11 saw the Scorries under-achieve in the league with a disappointing 14th place finish, but the Club reached their first senior Cup final in September 2011. Academy beat Brora and Thurso to reach the North of Scotland Cup semi-final where we produced a magnificent performance in beating a strong Inverness Caledonian Thistle side 3-1. This set up a final against current cup holders Forres Mechanics. The final was played in Brora and Academy took over 1,000 supporters over the Ord where they created a sea of black and white inside the grounds of Dudgeon Park. Unfortunately Academy had a poor first half and went into the break trailing by three goals to zero. A battling performance in the second half saw the score pegged back to 3-2, but as we pushed for an equaliser the clock ran out and Academy hearts were broken.
It was a similar story in the Scottish Cup in season 2010/11. After a 1st round bye we drew Whitehill Welfare in the second round away at Ferguson Park in Rosewell. Academy travelled as far as Perth the day before the game and woke up on the Saturday morning to the news that the game was postponed due to a water-logged pitch, so had to turn tail and head for home without a boot being dirtied. The return trip the following weekend also ended in disappointment. The sides went in at half time with the spoils shared at a goal each, but Whitehill scored 3 second half goals in a 5 minute spree that put them in a commanding 4-1 lead. Academy however fought back and pulled the score back to 4-3 but again the sands of time ran out and Whitehill went on to face Montrose in the 3rd round whilst Academy headed back up the A9 for another marathon trek home.
At the end of season 2010/11 co-managers Tichie Hughes and Zeeky Munro announced their resignation and the hunt began for a new manager. Former East Fife, Ranger, Hearts, Airdrieonians and Raith Rovers player Davie Kirkwood was appointed into the hot-seat. Davie who had previously worked as head of youth with Raith Rovers, Rangers and Ross County duly appointed Tichie as his assistant and Gary Manson bolstered his back-room team as a player coach.
The Harmsworth Park also had a make-over during the 2010/11 closed-season. The Club are striving to apply for a SFA National Club License for the start of 2012 and work necessary to take the park up to the required standard was completed. This included the upgrade of the floodlight, creation of a medical room and a successful safety inspection and associated "letter of compliance" from Highland Council. In additional both stands received a freshen up with bench seating installed against the south stand back wall, boarding was erected around the park perimeter fence, new goal posts were erected and a massive amount of work was done to the playing surface to take it into tip-top condition.
As a result of all the hard work the Club was one of the first Scottish Highland League sides to be awarded a SFA National Club License in February 2012. As a result of obtaining Club licensing the top two licensed SHFL Clubs were invited into the first round of the Ramsdens Cub. Wick Academy along with Inverurie Locos secured the two slots and Academy drew a home tie against Raith Rovers. The Scorries gave the 1st Division side a real fright and at 2-2 it looked as if an upset was on the cards, but unfortunately Raith went on to win the game 4-2. Pre-season 2012 saw the club draw with Aberdeen 3-3 Inverness Caledonian Thistle 0- 0.
At the end of August 2012 Manager Davie Kirkwood resigned to join local rivals Brora Rangers. Richard Hughes took over as caretaker manager but the shock resignation of Kirkwood was taken in the stride of the players as they did their talking on the park. As fate would have it Academy met Kirkwood's new team in the semi-final of the North of Scotland Cup within a few weeks of his sudden departure, and the Scorries thrashed Brora 3-0. Academy faced Nairn County in the final which was played on October the 20th 2012, but lost out 2-1 with Nairn's winner coming in the first period of extra time after the game had ended 1-1.
In the Scottish Cup Academy became the first Highland League team in over 10 years to beat Cup specialists Spartans 2-0 down at Ainslie Park, and then drew another mammoth away trip to Berwick Rangers in the second round. Academy missed a penalty in that game and with the score at 0-0 in the 90th minute and a re-play on the cards Berwick were awarded a penalty of their own which they converted to win the game 1-0.
Barry Wilson was announced as the new manager on 14 October 2012 with caretaker manager Richard Hughes staying on as his assistant. Barry Wilson's first game in charge was a 5-1 demolition of Keith which took his new side to the top of the Highland League.
In November 2012 a new sponsorship deal was announced with Scotty Youngson of PHDBarga Ltd. Scotty owns the Comm Bar in Thurso which will be used by the Club as the main sponsorship logo until the end of season 2014-15. As well as the Comm Bar in Thurso Scotty also owns the Central Bar and Hotel, Top Joe's and Caffe Cardosi.
Academy ended the season with a 4-1 win over visitors Deveronvale and finished in 3rd spot in the table, the highest league finish achieved to date for the club. Other records also tumbled as the Scorries went the whole of season 2012-13 with a 100% home league win record (17 wins from 17 games), and extended their unbeaten home league run to 29 games. Fraserburgh being the last team to win a league game at the Harmsworth Park back in October 2011. 2012-13 also saw the Scorries score over 100 league goals in a single season, and keep the most number of clean sheets - 12 in total. The best previous clean sheet total in a single season was 6.
Barry Wilson left the Club in January 2014 to take up the Managers post at Elgin City following the departure of Ross Jack. Gordon Connelly was appointed as the new Manager with Richard Hughes staying as his Assistant Manager. At the same time Wick Academy also appointed Ross Suttar as the Club Development Officer and 1st team coach. Academy finished the season in 8th place in the league.
In season 2014-15 the Club reached the semi-final of the North of Scotland Cup where we were beaten 2-1 at Harmsworth Park by local rivals Brora Rangers in an evenly contested game. Disappointment however in the Scottish Cup as we were dumped out of the competition in the first round away at Huntly. In the Highland League Cup Academy beat Fraserburgh, Clachnacuddin and Nairn County to reach the final. That was played at Grant Street Park Inverness in front of over 1,000 Scorrie supporters but Academy disappointingly lost 4-0 to Cove Rangers.
League form for season 2014-15 was excellent and Academy finished the season in 4th place. In the process the team racked up a record 12 away wins and broke our record of unbeaten league games with an impressive run of 14 matches (13 wins and a draw). Our defence was pretty solid and only conceded 43 goals in 34 league games, a ratio of 1.26 goals against per game. Between the sticks we also clocked up a club record number of 13 clean sheets.
2015-16 was arguably one of Academy's best seasons when in November 2015 the club won its first piece of silverware since joining the SHFL defeating Nairn County 6-2 in the final of the Menzies Distribution North of Scotland Cup. The club also got to the 3rd round of the Scottish Cup. All three games went to replays with Academy beating Whitehill Welfare and Nairn County before being knocked out by Linlithgow Rose. League form was also good and a 5th place finish was secured following a great run-in finishing with a fantastic 4-0 win against Fraserburgh down in Bellslea in the last game of the season.
In 2016 Academy beat Dalbeattie Star and then Whitehill Welfare to reach the 3rd round of the Scottish Cup. Unfortunately, we were beat 2-0 by Stirling Albion at Forthbank Stadium thus ending the Cup run for another year.
2017-18 was a somewhat disappointing season for Academy. A poor start to the League campaign was compounded with a first-round penalty shoot-out defeat in the North of Scotland Cup at the hands of Invergordon. Gordon Connelly stood down as Manager in August 2017 and he was replaced by Tom McKenna. The Scorries bowed out of the Scottish Cup in the first-round. We drew 2-2 with the University of Stirling in the first round at Harmsworth Park, but were beat 1-0 in the replay at Falkirk Stadium. A first-round exit in the Highland League Cup followed as Nairn Country ran out comprehensive 4-0 winners at Harmsworth Park. League form did however pick up including a run of 16 games that only saw one defeat. We finished the season with a League position of 12th.