Inverness Caledonian Thistle

Inverness Caledonian Thistle Football Club

  • City: Inverness, Highland / Inbhir Nis, A’ Ghàidhealtachd / Innerness, Hieland
  • Founded: 1994
  • Ground: Caledonian Stadium (7,512)
  • Nicknames: Caley Thistle; Caley Jags; Super Caley
  • Colours: Blue shirt with red side vertical stripes and black trim, blue shorts, and blue socks with red trim.
  • 2022-23 League: Scottish Championship
  • Club Website:
  • Club Twitter: @ICTFC


  • Best League Finish: 3rd in the Scottish Premiership (2014-15)
  • Best Scottish Cup Finish: Winners (2014-15)
  • Scottish Cup
    • Winners (1): 2014-15
  • Scottish Challenge Cup
    • Winners (3): 2003–04, 2017–18, 2019–20*
  • Scottish First Division
    • Champions (2): 2003-04, 2009-10
  • Scottish Third Division
    • Champions (1): 1996-97
  • Inverness Cup
    • Winners (7): 1995–96, 1997–98, 1998–99, 1999–00, 2001–02, 2004–05, 2009–10
  • North of Scotland Cup
    • Winners (4): 1999–00, 2007–08, 2009–10, 2011–12

Inverness Caledonian Thistle Football Club is a Scottish team that currently plays in the Scottish Championship, the second-tier league in the Scottish football pyramid. They are based in the scenic city of Inverness / Inbhir Nis / Innerness, one of Europe’s fastest-growing cities with a population of approximately 48,000 inhabitants. Inverness is Scotland’s and Britain’s most northerly city and is considered the capital of the Highlands, as well as being the county town of the historic county of Inverness-shire. ICT currently plays its home games at the 7,512-capacity Caledonian Stadium, which was built in 1996 as part of the club’s acceptance into the Scottish Football League (SFL) and it was further expanded in 2004 when the club gained promotion to the Scottish Premier League (SPL). The stadium is located in the very north of the city, on the banks of the Moray Firth, and next to the Kessock Bridge that lifts the main A9 road over the confluence of the Beauly and Moray firths.

Inverness Caledonian Thistle was created through a controversial merger between long-time city rivals Inverness Thistle and Caledonian FC, who were both founding members of the Highland League in 1893 and had won 26 leagues between them throughout their history. The Inverness-based clubs were combined as it was thought they would have a better chance of taking one of the available spaces in the SFL as a unified unit, which it did alongside another Highland League club, Ross County. Initially called Caledonian Thistle FC, and playing at Caledonian FC’s Telford Street Park, the merged club made its debut in the SFL Third Division in the 1994-95 season.

The club added ‘Inverness‘ to its name and moved to their Caledonian Stadium home in 1996, and it coincided with the start of ICT’s rise up the football pyramid as they finished that season’s Third Division champions. They spent a further two seasons in the Second Division before earning a promotion to the First Division in 1999. The five seasons spent in the second tier was a time that Caley Thistle gained recognition within Scottish football, famously beating Celtic in 2000 and 2003 in the Scottish Cup, with the former result leading to the famous newspaper headline “Super Caley Go Ballistic Celtic Are Atrocious“. The 2003-04 season was greatly successful for Super Caley, with the club winning that season’s Scottish Challenge Cup by beating Airdrie United 2-0, and subsequently gaining promotion to the SPL for the very first time as the First Division champions, achieving the feat on the final day of the season. They reached the top flight ten years after initially joining the SFL.

Inverness Caledonian Thistle’s first stint in the SPL lasted for five seasons, with their highest league finish being seventh position in 2005-06. During their debut season, they had to play their home games over 100 miles away at Aberdeen’s Pittodrie stadium whilst their stadium was upgraded to the required standards for the SPL. Following relegation from the SPL in 2009, they quickly returned back to the top flight after just a season’s hiatus as the 2009-10 First Division champions, and would then spend the next eight seasons in the SPL/Scottish Premiership. The early 2010s were ICT’s best period in their history as they finished fourth in the 2012-13 season, before finishing fifth and reaching the final of the Scottish League Cup the following season. However, the 2014-15 season was Caley Thistle‘s best-ever season as they finished a record-high league placement of third place and also won the Scottish Cup that season. The 2-1 victory over Falkirk at Hampden Park was historic as it was the club’s first major trophy, they became the first Highlander club to ever win a major trophy, and it also qualified them for European competition for the very first time.

The 2014-15 Scottish Premiership table.
[IMAGE: Wikipedia]

Alas, two seasons after their league and cup heroics, Super Caley were relegated from the Premiership after finishing bottom of the table following the loss of key players and changes in management. Since their relegation in 2017, ICT has been unable to return to the top flight and has competed in the Scottish Championship, with the 2022-23 season being their sixth consecutive season at this level. They lost in the promotion playoffs in 2018-19 following a third-place placement, then they finished second the following season, but it was the COVID-affected season. Resultantly, only the league leader Dundee United got promoted following the conclusion of the shortened season. ICT again finished third in the 2021-22 season and reached the playoff final, but failed to achieve promotion to the Premiership after losing 2-6 on aggregate to St. Johnstone, disappointingly losing the second away leg 0-4.

To talk about a club that is one of the strongest sides in the Highlands region, and agonizingly missed out on promotion to the Scottish Premiership last season via the playoffs, we interviewed Andrew Young from the excellent The Wyness Shuffle. TWS is a regular podcast hosted by fans of the club that reports on everything involving Inverness Caledonian Thistle throughout the season. To find out more about their superb podcast, their social media accounts and link to the pods are listed below:

Q. Firstly, how did you decide to start following and supporting Inverness Caledonian Thistle?

As a kid growing up in Inverness in the 1980s I used to support Inverness Thistle, one of the parent clubs of ICT. By the time Thistle merged with Caledonian FC in 1994, I was at university in Glasgow and had kind of lost interest in football, so I wasn’t really affected by all the bitterness around the merger, which certainly wasn’t supported by all the fans of both clubs. A close friend started going to see the new club, and in its third season of existence, 1996-97, he persuaded me to go to a game with him, away against Albion Rovers in Coatbridge. ICT won 3-0 and despite the insalubrious surroundings I was hooked pretty much from there on in.

Q. Who would you say is ICT’s best player, and coach/manager of all time, and the reasonings behind the choices?

Steve ‘Pele’ Paterson

Although we won the Scottish Cup and qualified for Europe by finishing third in the Scottish Premiership under John Hughes, for me and for a lot of ICT supporters our best manager of all time remains Steve ‘Pele’ Paterson [manager from 1995 to 2002]. Joining us at the start of our second season from Highland League side Huntly, where he had won multiple titles, he took us from the bottom half of the fourth tier to the top of the second tier in seven seasons, before leaving for Aberdeen, putting the foundations in place for our promotion to the top flight the following season. He masterminded massive cup shocks against Celtic and Hearts, and assembled a team of players largely drawn from the north of Scotland, the core of which sustained the club throughout most of its first five-year spell in the top flight. He was also utterly committed to attacking football, and under him, the team went on a run of more than 140 consecutive competitive games without being involved in a 0-0 draw.

Dennis Wyness

The best player of all time is much harder to judge. The player who has gone furthest in the game since leaving us is Ryan Christie [27-year-old midfielder who currently plays for AFC Bournemouth], who has been capped 35 times for Scotland, but when he was with us he was still a young, inconsistent player, albeit with enormous potential. Graeme Shinnie [31-year-old left-back or central midfielder who is on loan at Aberdeen from Wigan Athletic], who captained us to the Scottish Cup aged just 23, also ranks very highly. Certainly not our most talented player, but arguably the one who achieved most with the talent he had, was right-back Ross Tokely, who is the club’s record appearance holder, playing 589 games for us over fifteen seasons, and being a first-team regular in all four tiers of the Scottish Football League. And then there is the striker Dennis Wyness, the man who gave The Wyness Shuffle podcast its name, the club’s all-time top scorer, a player of gorgeous skill on his day who nevertheless only really fulfilled his potential with us, despite spells at Aberdeen and Hearts. I’d possibly go for him; others will disagree. We’ve been spoiled over the years.

Q. Of the current squad, who would you say is the best player at the club and why?

Billy Mckay

At this moment it’s Billy Mckay [34-year-old Northern Irish striker], now in his third spell with the club, and closing in on Dennis Wyness’s all-time top scorer record: two goals against Livingston in the previous Scottish Cup tie took him to 95, and you wouldn’t bet against him getting the seven goals he needs to break the record before the end of this season. Mckay apart, our biggest talents are Robbie Deas, an elegant young centre-half who has unfortunately missed much of this season with a broken leg, and Scott Allardice, a powerful, composed central midfielder who has only recently returned from a lengthy injury break. Their absences have probably played a pretty significant part in our poor league form since October, and they’re also the players we’re most likely to lose in the summer.

Q. Who would you say is the most exciting up & coming talent at the club?

Roddy MacGregor

There are a few good young players coming through, such as Cameron Harper [21-year-old left-back], Lewis Hyde [20-year-old defensive midfielder], Lewis Nicolson [18-year-old left-back], and Ethan Cairns [18-year-old forward], but the most talented is arguably 21-year-old Roddy MacGregor, who is yet another victim of this season’s injury curse. He’s best in the number 10 role, but can also play right across the middle, is a good passer, capable of beating a player, and has a wicked shot on him.

Q. Who would you regard as ICT’s biggest or historical rivals?

Ross County, from the small town of Dingwall fifteen miles northwest of Inverness. They entered the Scottish League at the same time as ICT, and have benefitted from drawing sizeable support from Inverness itself as well as from the wider Ross-shire area, and from being bankrolled by one of Scotland’s richest men, Roy MacGregor. For a long time, they lagged behind ICT, but money talks and they have only spent one season out of the Scottish top flight in the past ten years.

Q. Looking at the club’s history, what would you say has been the best game, result, or performance in your opinion?

The most famous result remains the 3-1 away win against John Barnes’ Celtic in 2000, although the 1-0 home win against the same opposition in the same tournament in 2004 was equal to that as an achievement; Celtic were then managed by Martin O’Neill, had Henrik Larsson in their starting 11, and had just knocked Liverpool out of the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup.

Our most important result, however, and arguably our greatest performance, was our third Scottish Cup win against Celtic in the semi-final in 2015. In an end-to-end game, after going 1-0 down to a Virgil van Dijk free kick, we survived a handball to prevent a goal in our penalty area which the referee missed, then equalised from the penalty spot after Celtic keeper Craig Gordon was sent off for a last-man foul. In extra time we went ahead via Edward Ofere, were pegged back again by a John Guidetti goal, and then, on 117 minutes with penalties looming, left-back Graeme Shinnie wrong-footed the Celtic defence and put in a driven low cross which right-back David Raven forced home at the far post. Pandemonium! We then went on to lift the trophy that year after beating Falkirk 2-1 in a game that had its own moments of controversy and drama, but much less quality than the semi-final.

Q. What do you think of the situation in Scottish league football currently? Are there any improvements you would like to see happen?

Scottish football does feel a bit like it’s in stasis at the moment. The disproportionate financial power of the two big Glasgow clubs means that no team other than Celtic or Rangers has won the Scottish top flight for nearly forty years. This isn’t likely to end any time soon unless they somehow manage to achieve their long-held ambition of getting into the English league system. A lot of people, me included, would be happy to see them go but it’ll probably never happen.

Also, there isn’t enough movement between leagues – just one automatic promotion from each division, with a second team potentially going up through a play-off system that is heavily weighted in favour of the second-bottom team in the higher division. A sixteen or eighteen-team top league with just two games between each team each season would make the season far more interesting, but again, due to the likely drop in income from only playing the big Glasgow clubs twice at home instead of four times each season, the top flight clubs are unlikely to vote for it,

Q. How would you describe the current performance or state of the club? How do you think this past season has gone?

Despite an excellent, unexpected win in the Scottish Cup fifth round over Livingston, our season overall has been disappointing and the current situation at the club is a little concerning. Injuries have undoubtedly played a part in a disappointing league campaign. Still, even our better results often haven’t been accompanied by particularly convincing performances – we struggle to command games, and we’ve taken a few hammerings, which isn’t something that happened last season. With the club now in its sixth season in the second tier since relegation, home crowds are dwindling, which is bound to have a knock-on effect on playing budgets, making it even less likely that we’ll be able to build a team capable of winning the league. The board, which has taken quite a lot of criticism for failing to communicate adequately with the support, is apparently trying to create alternative revenue streams from land owned by the club, but the timescale for this, and the amount we’re likely to see from it, isn’t clear.

Q. What are the best and worst things about being a fan of the club?

The worst aspect of being an ICT supporter at the moment is the club’s apparently permanent residence in the second tier. From a purely personal point of view, living so far from the club (I live in North Ayrshire, nearly 200 miles from Inverness) is frustrating as it means I can only get to a handful of home games each season. Fortunately, most of the away games are easier to get to.

The best things about supporting the club are the memories of our pretty remarkable rise in the first 21 years of our existence, culminating in the Scottish Cup win, a trip to Romania to watch ICT play Astra Giurgiu in the second qualifying round of the UEFA Cup, and the number of good friends I’ve made through following the club. The supporters who regularly go to away games are a fairly small but pretty loyal bunch, and over the years I’ve probably got to know maybe 40 or 50 of them well enough to go for a drink with them, and some of them, including the people I do the podcast with, have become really close mates.

Q. Finally, what are your hopes for the future of Inverness Caledonian Thistle?

That some sort of sustainable investment comes in that allows us to get out of the second tier (in an upwards direction, of course) and that we can taste a bit more of the success that we achieved in our peak years between 2012 and 2015. Another Scottish Cup win and another European tour would be particularly welcome.

The Caledonian Stadium, home of Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

A massive thank you to Andrew from The Wyness Shuffle for answering our questions on the Scottish Championship side Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Remember you can find their excellent podcast and social media accounts in the links towards the top of the blogpage.

If you have any comments, suggestions, reactions, or even your own answers to the above questions, please write them in the comments box below. Likewise, you can either email us at or send a message at @The94thMin on Twitter.


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