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Cup-winning comeback for Lairg footballer after 11-month recovery from leg break


By Niall Harkiss

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A Sutherland footballer who suffered a devastating double leg break enjoyed a cup-winning return to the field last Friday, scoring the winning goal in the Stafford Cup Final.

Dean Fraser, who also plays for Bonar Bridge, grabbed the plaudits with a 94th minute winner for his hometown club Lairg Rovers against Lochinver in front of a buoyant crowd in Alness.

Lairg Rovers substitute Dean Fraser grabbed the winning goal in the final minute of the match in his first came back from injury.
Lairg Rovers substitute Dean Fraser grabbed the winning goal in the final minute of the match in his first came back from injury.

Fraser's remarkable return from injury followed an 11-month spell on the casualty list after suffering a double break to the tibia and fibula of his right leg last November.

He subsequently developed component syndrome and suffered damage to the muscles and ligaments in his leg, resulting in a longer than expected period of recovery.

The 26-year-old was playing for North Caledonian League side Bonar Bridge at the time of his injury, and he is hopeful that his recovery will progress to allow him to return to action for the senior side.

Fraser said: "Bonar Bridge paid for my recovery as I was playing for them, and they wanted me to have a good recovery and looked after me. It has been a long and stressful recovery, and was a slow journey back. It still hurts and swells up but I've just got to build my muscle back and strengthen the ligaments.

"Obviously when it first happened I had put work first and knew I couldn’t afford to have that much time of work again, so I did doubt whether I'd ever play again. But it’s so hard to give it up when your so involved in football.

"It felt good to play in the final. It's always good to win a trophy with your home club, and Lairg have won it the last three years in a row so it’s good to keep that going. I only played 15 minutes but it was still good to get back out.

"I will hopefully now get back to full fitness and get playing some North Caley next with Bonar."

Lairg Rovers were made to work for their silverware in wet and blustery conditions under the lights at Dalmore Park.

James Ross opened the scoring for Rovers after 20 minutes with a well timed lob over the Lochinver goalkeeper.

It was 2–0 just six minutes later when a Kyle Taylor shot was guided into the net by Harris Mackenzie.

But a second half fightback saw Lochinver draw level with successive strikes from corner kicks.

James McLean grabbed the first for the west coasters just before the hour mark, before Clarke Hutchison levelled with 13 minutes remaining.

It was all square between the sides deep into injury time with penalties looming when Fraser struck.

Adding the finishing touch to a cross from Lyle Mackay in the fourth minute of stoppage time, the winger's half volley found the net to fire Rovers into the lead and secure the trophy.

Post-match, the team were presented with the trophy by David Ross, in the absence of North West Sutherland AFA secretary Hugh Morrison.

Lairg Rovers, winners of the Stafford Cup for 2023.
Lairg Rovers, winners of the Stafford Cup for 2023.

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