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Darren McConnachie is Highland League football’s Rent-A-Goalie after coming out of retirement at the age of 40 to keep a clean sheet for Lossiemouth at Turriff United

By Craig Christie

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‘I’m Highland League football’s Rent-a-Goalie’ says 40-year-old Darren McConnachie after keeping a clean sheet in his latest comeback for Lossiemouth.

One of Darren McConnachie's comebacks for a testimonial match four years ago.
One of Darren McConnachie's comebacks for a testimonial match four years ago.

The Coasters didn’t have a keeper for Saturday’s league visit to Turriff United, but a call to distillery operator McConnachie led to the experienced Moray veteran pulling on the gloves again.

The man nicknamed ‘Mini’, twice a goalscoring goalkeeper for the Grant Park club in the space of two weeks during his long career, shutout the Turriff raiders to earn Lossie a point.

And while his shift work limited the time he can devote to football, McConnachie wouldn’t rule out more emergency appearances between the sticks in the future if any club is stuck for a custodian.

“I suppose I’m rent-a-goalie,” he said. “If anyone needs a goalie, I might be available.

“I have been saying for a few years that I maybe should train now and again just to keep my eye in. You are going to get the odd phone call to help out and you don’t want to go and make a fool out of yourself.

“You always want to do yourself justice and I think I did on Saturday. I always tell people I’m not the goalie I was even five years ago. Some folk think of me when I was 25 and I have to tell them that’s not the version you are going to get here.”

McConnachie began his goalkeeping career at Elgin City youth, won two league titles with New Elgin juniors and stepped up to the Highland League with Lossiemouth in his early 20s.

He became a Grant Park favourite until then Lossie boss Charlie Charlesworth took over at Highland League rivals Deveronvale and brought ‘Mini’ with him for a three-year spell at the Banff club.

A return to Lossiemouth came around the time that his first son Mac was born, and family time combined with his distillery work led to him planning his retirement from Highland League football.

But a short time later, Rothes persuaded him to sign on for more than a season.

Unable to devote all of his time to training and playing, McConnachie officially stepped away from semi-professional football five years ago.

He made a comeback at the age of 37 to play for Lossiemouth against Brora Rangers in a league game, while his phone hasn’t stopped ringing since.

“Over the last few years I have had Forres, Strathspey, Rothes, Lossie, clubs looking for a goalie. But I can’t always do it because of my work.

“Stuart Cameron (ex-Lossiemouth team-mate) is in charge at New Elgin now so i helped them out in January. Then I got a message from Frank (Lossie boss McGettrick) asking if I fancied playing on Saturday.”

With Coasters regular Cammy Farquhar unavailable and no experienced keeper available, McConnachie answered the emergency call.

“At least I can say I got a clean sheet,” he said. “It wasn’t the greatest of games, which probably suited me. I think I had one, what you would call a good save.

“I am kind of out of the loop with the Highland League so I wasn't really familiar with the Turriff players so I wasn't sure what they are capable of. But when I knew I was playing, I looked at the table and noticed they were mid-table so I knew they would be decent.

“They had a lot of possession and crosses and came at us at the start of the second half. But in the last 10-15 minutes, I thought we were going to nick a goal. We started creating a bit, getting crosses in and corners and forced their goalie into a good save.

“We defended well as a team, not just a back four but as a team they worked really hard and they got their point which I think means they beat their tally for last season, which is great.”

McConnachie’s biggest regret of his Highland League career is he didn’t win any team honours, but he does have a very special claim to fame - scoring two goals in the space of a fortnight in 2008.

Back in 2008, Darren McConnachie acclaims his feat of scoring in two Highland League matches in two weeks.
Back in 2008, Darren McConnachie acclaims his feat of scoring in two Highland League matches in two weeks.

“The first one was against Fraserburgh at Bellslea with a kick out of my hands that bounced over the keeper and went in.

“The second one was a header against Forres Mechanics at Mosset Park not long after.”

A few years later in a Scottish Cup tie between Forres and Lossie, again at Mosset Park, McConnachie saw his own scoring feat turned against him when Cans goalie Stuart Knight netted a last-minute header to earn a replay for his side.

“I think that was a case of what goes around, comes around,” he said.

McConnachie’s main football connection now is with his sons Mac and Monty, who are showing some promise.

He has coached Mac, who prefers to play as an attacker, at Elgin City’s pre-academy squad and McConnachie has also helped out as a coach for the club’s young goalkeepers.

Younger son Monty has shown a willingness to try out in goal, and could follow in dad’s footsteps by becoming a top shot-stopper in the future.

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