By day, Lewis Mackinnon (39) is a Project Manager for Places for People based at the award-winning Tornagrain housing development in the Highlands, but on Sunday (21 January) he will be walking out in front 60,000 people to take on giants Celtic FC at the iconic Celtic Park.
Centre back Lewis signed for Buckie Thistle, a football club based in the town of Buckie, Moray, who currently play in Scotland’s Highland Football League, in 2006 and took on the dual role of playing and Assistant Manager in 2015.
Videos of Lewis’ teammates went viral on 16 January when they were drawn against Celtic in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup – a competition the Glasgow side have won 41 times. Celtic were also the first British football club to become European champions and have won the Scottish league championship 53 times.
Lewis’ day job is overseeing and managing the Tornagrain project eight miles east of Inverness in the Highlands, which will create a new sustainable town that will eventually comprise 5,000 homes interspersed with open green spaces and neighbourhood squares as well as local amenities and job openings.
Lewis said: “I’m 39 now and have played for Buckie Thistle for 17 years, so this could well be my last season as a player, but I’ll remain as Assistant Manager, and it feels surreal that I’ll be walking out with my team in front of 60,000 people to play Celtic – a huge and iconic club.
“When I found out, I was in disbelief. The draw is absolutely huge for us as a club in terms of our profile and revenue and I’m really proud to be part of something so historic for what is an amazing club and community.
“Unlike the Celtic players, we all of course have normal day jobs we’ll all go back to on Monday. Being a football Assistant Manager is slightly different to developing homes but both are real passions of mine and I know everyone at Places for People will be cheering me on when Sunday comes.”
Greg Reed, Chief Executive of Places for People, said: “I am so proud to lead an organisation made up of so many incredible people and what Lewis and his team mates have achieved in earning the opportunity to play on such an enormous stage is remarkable.
“I’ll have to be careful not to upset any of our staff or customers who support Celtic, but Lewis we are incredibly proud of you, and we’ll be backing you all the way on Sunday.”