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Buckie Thistle fans’ favourite Shaun Wood looks forward to his testimonial match against Elgin City and recalls his best Victoria Park memories

By Craig Christie

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Shaun Wood plans to celebrate 12 great years at Buckie Thistle at his testimonial match against Elgin City on Saturday.

And he will have his late grandfather in his thoughts when he troops out on the hallowed Victoria Park turf one last time.

At the age of 32, Wood will hang up his boots after this weekend’s match, as a sickening 2022 injury left him with plates inserted in his ankle and led to the onset of arthritis in the joint, making football too painful a prospect for the future.

The Portsoy boy tried a comeback last year, playing in Buckie’s famous Scottish Cup win at Broxburn which earned the club their biggest-ever day at Celtic Park.

After a loan spell at Deveronside at the end of last season, Wood plans to take his final bow this weekend and is relishing his big occasion.

“I’m looking forward to it - well I don’t know what my fitness is going to be like,” he said.

“I have not played in a month and because of my injury I’m not able to go out running a lot as it flares up. I’ve been trying to do stuff in the gym and on the bike to get ready for Saturday.

“I’d like to play an hour at least and we will take it from there.”

Wood is aiming to walk out to his guard of honour on Saturday with his three-year-old stepson Grayson, as family has played a big part throughout his football career.

His grandfather Sandy was one of Jags’ biggest supporters, while he is thankful to his parents for helping him achieve his dream of becoming a Highland League star.

“It will be a magic day, seeing all the faces that I’ve seen over the years and saying goodbye to them,” he said.

“It will be a good day for my family as well. They have taken me to football since I was a wee boy and saw me progress through the leagues, so it is for them as well.

“I’m from Portsoy and my grandad supported Buckie, he used to go to every single game before he passed away. He will be in my thoughts on Saturday, definitely.

“Grayson is going to walk out on the park with me, as long as he’s not too scared. He will have his strip on and come out with me, he might help me forget about the game for a moment or two!”

Wood will also have many close pals in attendance at his testimonial, and one will even be on the pitch in opposition.

Fellow Portsoy ‘loon’ Matthew Cooper is Elgin City’s captain and right back, the same position where Wood has taken up for the majority of his career. The buddies may not be in direct opposition on Saturday but their paths might cross from time to time.

“As always, I want to win the game and I definitely want to get one over ‘Coops

“We will be at opposite ends of the park so we might not see each other too much in the game. If I get the chance to nutmeg him even once, he will never get to live that down if that happens.

“But I’m sure it will be a great day. It will give me the chance to thank all the fans for the support they have given me over the years.

“I will see them going about at Viccy Park when I’m down watching as I plan to get along every now and then to support the team. Those fans have supported me from day one, they have been brilliant over the years.”

Testimonial matches often involve guest players who have been team-mates of the honoured player over the years he has played - but not on Saturday.

With both teams kicking off their Premier Sports Cup campaign just a week later, the match will be treated as a serious pre-season fixture although Wood will always be the central figure.

Now living in Buckie, Wood has taken up employment in Aberdeen and has to go offshore with little notice, another reason why he couldn’t continue his footballing career.

“It’s not a set rota but as-and-when. It was going to be hard trying to balance playing for Buckie and going offshore now and again, because you never know when you are going to be away and for how long.

“When I’m not offshore I work in Aberdeen, I leave at half six in the morning and I’m home at half six at night so I'm not getting a lot of time with my family.

“You need 100 percent commitment for Buckie and I couldn't give that.

“But when I found out I had arthritis in my ankle as well, that kind of put the final nail in the coffin when it came to carrying on my football.

“I’ve been playing football since I was eight years old and I’m now 32, so I’ve managed to get a good few years out of it. I’ve played for Buckie for 12 years and that was always at a high standard.”

He has been part of two title-winning Buckie squads in 2017 and 2024 but doesn’t count last season’s league triumph in his own honours list because he didn’t play in any league matches.

His final campaign produced perhaps his most memorable moment, when ten-man Jags defeated hosts Broxburn Athletic on penalties in the Scottish Cup then land the best possible draw.

“That was my last competitive game for Buckie and that was the only minutes I played for them last season. I came on in extra time and played half an hour.

“It was probably the best buzz I’ve had in football after that game. We knew the big teams were in the draw and when Celtic came out of the hat, everyone was buzzing.

“It was a great final season. Being at Celtic Park with the squad was something I will never forget, seeing all the Buckie fans singing away was something else. It was a magic day out.

“I missed the title-winning day as I was on loan at Deveronside and we had a semi-final that day so I missed all the celebrations.

“I played six or seven games for Deveronside to finish it off. I could get through games, I was moved to centre half where there was less running about and you can read the game a bit better.

“I was OK during games but after games I was struggling. I couldn’t train between games, because I needed all the time to recover for the next game.

“It was good to play for them but it just wasn’t right when I wasn’t training and I couldn't keep my fitness up. It was frustrating.

“But I have a lot to look back on. I won the league and the Aberdeenshire Cup.

“I was suspended for that game (Shire Cup final v Coce) as I got sent off in the semi-final against the Broch. I came on in that game, scored and got two yellow cards and got sent off. It was harsh, especially missing the final.

“I wish it was a lot more and there should have been. We have been in plenty of cup finals and last day title days and we just couldn’t cross the line.”

Wood says he has made so many lifelong friends at Buckie Thistle, it is difficult to pick out any individuals who have mattered more than others.

“I can’t really pick anyone out in particular. The whole bunch of them there, players, coaches, managers, down to people like Sandra (Paterson) in the boardroom, doing the teas and coffees.

“You get to know everyone at the club, it is just a massive family feel playing for Buckie, and Saturday will be special.”

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