Thursday, October 01, 2015

One last performance on shinty’s big stage from Old Vic

By rights it should have been Gordie Mackinnon that the “D” was congratulating .
Gordie was retiring-not a word you would normally associate with him- but at 40 he decided that enough shinty was enough shinty and indeed at the end of this game he was warmly applauded off the park by team-mates opponents and spectators alike. He had a fine game, worked hard and certainly did not look either off the pace or out of place. That said Fort William had come to Drum more than a little short of players in certain departments- and this was not helped when youngster Dean Williamson took a nasty knock on the foot and had to depart for Raigmore. Fortunately later reports indicated that Dean- who had scored the golden goal for Lochaber High School in the Great Glen Sixes (Schools Under 17 Competition only a few days earlier – had not suffered a break to his foot though it was clear that the knock will leave him with some heavy bruising.
Anyway here is a pic-with permission from the Fort William Club- that shows Gordie leaving Blairbeg for the final time. Thanks to them for that.
But what of the headline at the top of the column? Well with the Glen 3-0 up and the game more or less dead, Victor Smith-once upon a time described in the press as portly-obviously got fed up watching and decided to participate.
So he subbed his daughter Zoe-you could not make this up- and the Wing Centre hopes that Mrs Smith gave Vic an earful when he confessed to what he had done when he came home after the match.
Vic then came on at wing-forward or full forward- the nimble vet was buzzing about so much it was hard to tell where he was actually positioned -and before you knew it he back flicked a ball that took Glen keeper Stuart Mackintosh all of his years and quick reflexes to keep out of the net.
After that attempt the portly one was a little puffed and came to the side of the post, where goal judge Billy let him have a drink out of the Glen water bottle, something no Newtonmore player would ever be allowed to do. That is except Norman Campbell who once worked in the Glen putting a road in for wind turbines(not such an acceptable occupation in the Glen now) and as far as the Wing Centre knows no-one in the Glen apart from Andrew Iain or DP would be brave enough to stop Norman taking said drink and it has to be said they were not there at the time.
Anyway back to our hero.
“There’s goals in me yet,” said Vic. The thing with Vic is you never know if he is joking or being deadly serious. Sometimes he is both.
“Well keep them for another day, when people will appreciate them and they will do your team some good.” said the Wing Centre who had finished doing the collection by that time and had nothing left to do but annoy both sides by giving as he would see it valuable advice which might affect the course of the game.
Mistake. He should have said nothing. Certainly, Vic said nothing but you could see he took the comment as a challenge and before you know it he had chased a ball out the wing towards the A82 and fired it into the net from an outrageous angle. Not for the first time did the old entertainer steal the show but if he had listened to his own coaching advice he should have squared the ball to young Astie or one of the other lads up front.
Anyway for the next six or so minutes Vic kept circling the edge of the “D” like----what?  A lion hunting down its prey? Perhaps not- maybe like an old Balmacaan farm cat looking for an arthritic mouse in a bale of hay. Whatever he was like, you were only glad that his centreline were not able to get the ball up to him often enough for him to do himself a mischief…
And the Glen, the ostensible winners of this contest?
Well they opened as if they were going to rack up a record score. The first goal was a thing of beauty- a pass down the wing from Iain Macleod, James “Frostie” Macpherson pushes it to Neale Reid who sends it back out to Conor Golabek and his finish zipped in at the post for the opener inside 6 minutes.
A few more flurries round the goal brought some excellent stops out of Fort keeper Paul Mackay while other attempts ended high over the bar and bouncing among the cars in the shop car park.

 It was while retrieving one of these misplaced efforts that the Wing Centre missed out on the second goal which came about from a strike by James Macpherson. It was at this point-15 minutes- that the match was halted to allow treatment to the already mentioned Dean Williamson who took a knock trying to block the shot.
After that the game went to sleep. The Glen overplayed the ball at times, generally lost their shape in the centre of the field and were unable to add to their total until late in the game when a nice shy from Eddie Tembo was pulled down by Neale Reid and volleyed home in fine style.

Then as we know-it was all about the old stager himself.
No not these old stagers-or old stags perhaps - who've been locked together in perpetual combat since at least the millennium. Notice how they push and pull jerseys without a care in the world. Good on them.
The real old stager is of course Vic!!
What happened before then?  There has been –not to put too fine a point upon it- a bit of a gap since the previous piece. Newtonmore came to Blairbeg and left with four goals and both points after a week’s delay caused by the fact the pitch had been rendered unplayable by the tug of war at the Games. A screamer from Glen Mackintosh, another from Fraser Mackintosh and two from Norman Campbell. Glen struggled to cause Mike Ritchie problems but then Newtonmore did pay the Glen the compliment of playing their youngest fittest defenders against our forward line and they probably had to.
Then the Crofters only went and won the Camanachd Cup. There is nothing else for a Glenner to say at this point but…..well done. No pics for you guys though unless you send one with Mary Ann, Ron Millican, Jimmy Gallagher and Big Finlay with the cup. Don’t worry  Glenners –it will never happen!
Even the Beauly guys couldn't believe it when they were told about it.

Thanks to Donald Cameron for his pictures.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Footnotes to the Season

For a while now in the Glen it seems that the shinty season has been over though the team has seemed not to realise this and carried on winning anyhow. Half the time the full squad hasn’t been available. You wonder how focused the side might have been had they anything to actually play for, like Newtonmore who are coming here this week. Why they are coming here when the pitch is still in a state of recovery from the Games and we have no matches scheduled for most of September this scribe does not know. It’s unusual too in that it does not fit the usual back to back pattern of fixtures which has become so familiar of late.  Oh well never mind.

What has actually happened since a certain date in June is that the Glen have  won a pile of matches  and  drawn one - and of the ones the Wing Centre has seen the only one he can be bothered to recall with any real clarity is the one that happened this past Friday at Balgate, though the earlier encounter which took place the week before also sticks in the mind.
The two games were chalk and cheese: on the first Saturday Lovat were dominant in the middle and had the bulk of the possession yet for some reason - you realise just how reliant they are on Greg - they could not score or even test Smack1 (Yep-somehow he got his place back after Fadgies2 Inveraray display - though maybe Fadgie was working). Glen had in fact more and better chances but James Macpherson, Ally Mackintosh and Fraser Heath all contrived not to score them. Meanwhile Lovat’s Ryan Ferguson came running through on several occasions and just when he should have shot for goal contrived to pass it wide out of the danger zone to the consternation of the Lovat fans and the bemusement of the Glenners young and old.

“He must have less confidence in his shooting than we have in John Barr’s,” said the old Glenner.
“But John Barr’s3 not playing,” said the young Glenner.
“That’s what I mean,” said the Old Glenner somewhat cryptically. Anyway in the second part of the game Lovat scored a scrappy goal through Lewis Tawse 4  but not long afterwards Macpherson had a shot that was saved by Lovat keeper Stuart Macdonald 5 only for the ball to fall to Glen’s Iain Macleod and he dropped his hands down the club and first timed the ball into the net. It was the best goal to come from that side of the Glen since Dunc Fraser6 first timed a corner home against Beauly earlier in some other season.

In the end the teams shared the points and although Lovat were without Lorne Mackay and Greg Matheson, the Glen were missing John Barr, Andy Corrigan Neale Reid and Ewan Brady, the latter two because they had been speaking to refs when they should have been listening or something like that.
The most exciting thing about the game was the fact that the collection was very good and thanks must be offered not only to our own people but also the Lovat folk because they were generous.
Anyway six days passed and the Glen went over to play Lovat at Balgate on the Friday night. Naturally Fadgie was back in goal and what an excellent closely contested game it was. Indeed it was only spoiled for the Wing Centre by the fact that he got a tick in his calf when he crossed the long grass from the road where he had parked his car.
Like the usual Lovat defence the tick was tenacious and took some time to be dislodged with a tweezers – but, surprisingly,  the Lovat defence was more easily penetrated this time because Neale Reid, back from suspension, opened the scoring in the second half after a really fine passage of play: then Ewan Brady, also back in the side, fired in a second and although Ryan Ferguson managed to pull one back as the fading light confused Fadgie, Neale Reid was still able to notch another before the end.

This game tells Lovat quite a lot about what they have to do in order to beat Kyles in the upcoming Camanachd Cup. In a sentence they need to get Greg Matheson back fit for the fray. Lorne Mackay would also be useful but Fraser Gallagher would be even more valuable. Otherwise the look of their subs bench is long on experience but probably ,as the picture shows, short of pace.
However,it was a pleasant evening and the game drew an excellent crowd which has got to be a good thing.

Nothing has been said about the Lochaber games or the Kingussie games except that for this pundit at least back to back fixtures are not really appropriate. Let’s leave it at that and hope the Camanachd are able to look at such things a little more carefully in the season to come.

What else has happened? Not really very much of note for the second team except that Michael Fraser fired in a hat-trick against Lovat seconds and now appears to be the top scorer for this season in the second string.

A series of poor results before that against Strathglass and against Kingussie mean that there is now no hope of winning North Division 1 – not that that was ever realistic. The thing that does disappoint however is that manager Chris Surtees has had to patch together teams in order to compete at all just as we have arrived at the business end of the season. Still the youngsters who have turned out have put in plenty effort on the field and the Lovat result was a boost.
Then came the Glen Games and a tractor push which took the lads from Corriemony down to Blairbeg and once round the track all for the sake of cash to keep the side solvent. A pic or two is included as a record of the event. Iain Macleod organised the event while Mr Chairman drove the tractor and provided a manic edge to the whole afternoon.

The Club also ran a bar in the Hall on games day with Louisa Urquhart in charge of business while Helen Maclennan, Laura Stoddart and Laura Quinn were kept on their toes dealing with the orders.

The actual bar itself - put together by the four Bs (Bobo Morrison, Billy Macleod, Billy Reid - also known as Mr - and Bill Urquhart) also looked fantastic and thanks are due to them for their efforts.

 For the first time ever, the “D” while it doesn’t aspire to the style of Samuel Pepys’ diary, has included some footnotes if only because yours truly has managed to learn how to do superscript!!

The first two pics are from Neil Paterson while the rest are from Sheena Lloyd. Thanks to both. 

1 Smack – Stuart Mackintosh former Glenurquhart goalie, now third in line behind Fadgie and the Ralston boy. He does not appear to smoke.

2 Fadgie- David MacFadyen – would be Glen’s first choice goalie if he did not have to work on the occasional Saturday. Is a physio so he can sort his own injuries. He does not smoke either.

3 John Barr- shinty player who was brought up in Abriachan. The only other Glen player who does not smoke.

4 Lewis Tawse- a Lovat shinty player. One of the 11 Lovat players who do not smoke. Has a remarkable geometric hairstyle. If he really wants to be cool, perhaps he should smoke.

5 Stuart Macdonald- another Lovat shinty player. He is the only one who does smoke.
6Dunc Fraser- a Glen shinty player who scored a great goal. We don’t know if he smokes or not because we have not seen him for the month of August

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Shinty life goes on

It has to really, though the MacTavish still resonates from Corriemony to St Ninians which is why the “D” has had a break from the tyranny of the deadline in order to wallow in the glory of the win - something that guys everywhere else outside Badenoch and the Kyles will clearly understand.

That being the case a little self-indulgence will allow some other pics to be uploaded onto the blog for the sake of.............. well... self-indulgence!


They come from amateur photographers – and show that the cup has gone the rounds of the local primary schools (Glenurquhart Primary and Balnain),

Smack was chosen to give out the prizes at Glen Urquhart High School at its closing ceremony which certainly beats a politician any day- and various locals have been posing with the cup- and no doubt at the local Horticultural Show in a few weeks’ time it will come out from under the thatch so it can be put to its original use as a rose-bowl.

Then it will have to go round the Highland Games… then it will go out to be filled with grog at birthday dos and weddings - there is even talk of it being pressed into service as a baptismal font for some bairn who has already been sitting in it anyway. Torquil shouldn’t worry though because the wee one was wearing a nappy. At any rate the list of possibilities goes on and on and on……...
However the Wing Centre became a little upset when he read a post in World of Shinty that someone in authority had the bright idea for a shinty exhibition at Hampden. The idea was that artefacts and trophies go on display there to inform the world at large about shinty. The WOS actually asked what trophies shinty folk would like to see on display there - certainly not the MacTavish is the Glen plea because having taken 130 years to win it and having filled up its diary for the next 12 months with community-building activities the last place Mr MacTavish’s fine bowl should go to is Hampden - and that is saying nothing about the deep ideological divisions which exist between the followers of shinty and the followers of the other sport.

Anyway it’s getting to near time for the Glen Bulletin to come out and to help the editor remember what has been happening it’s as well to note that the Glen have been on a winning streak, which now that the holidays and festival season are upon us, is bound to come to a halt. Well, it was good when it lasted.

Since Day Zero, the Glen seconds have gone 5-1 Fort William (H) 3-1 Lochcarron (H) and 5-3 Strathglass away) : the top team have gone 5-1 Shiel (H) 2-1 Kingussie (away) and 3-1 Kingussie (H). What is not to like?
Well perhaps the fact that the Kingussie fixtures were back to back which just doesn’t seem right and does not give a balance to the League structure. Of course the procedure affects other teams - obviously Kingussie but this year already Lochaber have gone back to back with Kingussie and will go back to back with the Glen too.

The games?  Fort William 2nds were short of players with Victor having to call up Duncan Rodger for first team duty and Glen were exceptionally strong though the absence of David MacFadyen meant that under 14 keeper Finlay Ralston had a game between the sticks. Michael Fraser also made a return in the red and black jersey and the goals were scored by James Macpherson (3) and Calum Miller (2). Scott Knox scored a late counter for Fort.

Against Lochcarron Glen also played well enough and Michael Fraser the former Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Motherwell and Ross County goalkeeper opened the scoring on 13 minutes. This was the only goal of the first half but Lochcarron’s Daniel MacRae levelled on 49 minutes. Michael Fraser scored again to make it 2-1 in 62 minutes while David “Dixie” MacLennan rounded off the win with a goal 10 minutes from time to make it 3-1

Last week Strathglass were the opposition and the Glenurquhart made it five league wins in a row when they beat Strathglass 5-3 at Cannich. Darren Reid scored two goals for the Glasaich with Donald Fraser getting the other. Daniel Mackintosh, who made a welcome return the previous weekend, bagged a brace for the Glen with Michael Fraser also on target – his third goal in two outings. Cairn Urquhart also scored twice.
This week’s match is an away trip to Fort William and they, despite the earlier result, are liable to be stronger that the Glen because their Camanachd Cup match is on hold and Duncan Rodger plus assorted others will be available. The Glen will have lost one or two to various festivals and Raymond Robertson picked up a nasty injury last weekend v Strath. Given the holes in the first team, the side is not likely to be stronger.
A far as the first team games are concerned the Wing Centre watched the Kinlochshiel match and does not know what to make of ‘Shiel. They were a good side with competent players who went to sleep for a three minute spell just before half time.

The Wing Centre cannot do better than quote the report which appeared on the Skye website describing that crazy spell:
We then saw a 3 minute lapse in concentration from Kinlochshiel which cost them the match. First, the visitors missed chances to clear their lines and Neale Reid waltzed through the Red’s defence and he poked the ball through Scott Kennedy`s legs to make it 2-1 with 39 minutes played. Then, just 2 minutes later, a Ewan Brady shot from distance took a wicked bounce to beat keeper Kennedy to make it 3-1. The home side went 4-1 up from the throw up when Ewan Brady won possession and he played the ball to Fraser Heath who lost his marker and fired a great shot into the roof of the net with 42 minutes played.

‘Shiel rallied but
Glenurquhart signed off in style though when substitute Eddie Tembo broke through the visiting defence and put the ball high into the net to make it 5-1 and round off a good team display. The final winning margin was tough on Kinlochshiel and their 3 minutes of madness at the end of the first half cost them dearly.”

That just about sums matters up- and ‘Shiel, though the Wing Centre does not know the true facts about the individual games - have gone on to play erratically ever since. One week good - one week bad.

Then came the two Kingussie games - they were without Lee Bain and Savio Genini for both -need one say more. Yes the Glen played well enough. In the first match the Kingussie keeper Craig Dawson had a brilliant early spell that kept the Glen out but two goals –Ewan Brady and James Macpherson* -were enough to see the Glen over the line. Craig can get roused though.
Last week’s game saw Kings up again and this time the win was 3-1. Ewan Brady put the Glen ahead on 32 minutes in the only goal of the first half. Fraser Heath fired in to make it 2-0 just 10 minutes after the restart with Neale Reid adding a third a couple of minutes later. A solo effort from Chris Hollysong pulled a goal back for Kingussie 10 minutes from time.

For the Glen, Euan Lloyd impressed with his speed and efficiency at the back while Ewan Grant caught the eye for Kingussie in his tussle with Neale Reid.


An unlikely star of the game was farmer John Cameron’s bull which occupied the field behind the top Druimlon end goals- and his presence was enough to deter the pack of Glen youngsters from attempting to retrieve some of the new match balls which were fired over the fence. The balls might well still be there.
Apart from that the only topic of interest was why John Barr was wearing Kingussie socks. One can only assume his Mam gave him a pair for his birthday. By the same token Kingussie’s Hutchie clearly wanted to wear Fraser Heath’s shirt because he kept pulling at it. Russ should just send him one from Shintyshop.
This week, with the Lovat replay on -     then off, the opposing team will be Lochaber. It will be a difficult afternoon especially bearing in mind a trip to Fort William with the seconds.

All the decent pics are from Sheena Lloyd.

*These scorers were wrongly named as Euan Lloyd and Neale Reid. It’s time for that to be amended on the CA website.
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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Finally, Eventually, Magically……………………the MacTavish is won.

Newtonmore 1 Glenurquhart 3


The scenes of revelry by night had moved on seamlessly into the morning when the Wing Centre came across the Chairman in his tartan finery and still to the fore on the field of battle.
“What will you remember particularly about today?” asked this reporter ever anxious for a quote.
Mr Chairman paused for a moment then said “It has to be the way Newtonmore Shinty Club handled their defeat. It must have been a sickener to lose after beating us twice this year already - and yet they all came over and congratulated us generously and they really meant it. That is real class - you have to hand it to them”
The Wing Centre had to agree - and adds his own congratulations to the representatives of a great Club.

And so finally after years of trying and huge disappointments on the way, you get a euphoric day like Saturday when if you are truthful you started out hoping  for the best and preparing  for the worst. You can be confident that you have done all you could  to make sure all the players are ready and they know what to do but you just never know. The unforeseen can---will--- always happen.
Remember the Camanachd final when Cork broke a bone in his foot inside ten minutes and before we could get over that psychological blow we found ourselves a goal behind. On Saturday other things happened and the Glen got their name on a cup which had eluded the Club ever since old Duncan MacTavish put it up for grabs back in 1898.
Tradition is important in every shinty club and while the world knows that the Glen have been on the go for a while - the clue is in the date on the badge - not so many know that they first contested a MacTavish final against Newtonmore back in 1902. That game was drawn but the replay lost and since then though they have made the MacTavish final on several occasions, the Glen have never won it till now.
It is hard to explain to people not in tune with shinty what a win like Saturday’s MacTavish victory actually means. Perhaps even  folk in Badenoch don’t appreciate what a shinty cup victory means to other clubs since over the years they have won so many - though the players certainly would - but Neale Reid spoke nicely and summed matters up perfectly in his half-time interview. It was for the village and for the old boys and for everybody in the community. It’s tricky to get that through to the non shinty folks but it is vitally important that we do so especially at a time when the Glen is changing, growing and perhaps turning into everywhere else. Never mind - Neale spoke well and then went on to perform well and the picture taken of him this week contrasts with the one that concludes the previous post.

Saturday afternoon was dull and cold and when the Glenners arrived it was dampish as well- and the game? From the outset it was clear that Glenurquhart had learned the lessons of two earlier defeats to Newtonmore and they set out to deny the Newtonmore midfield space and possession. This cut down the supply of balls up to the usually deadly ‘More forwards and the Premier League’s top scorer Glen Mackintosh and his sidekick Evan Menzies never quite managed to get going. They certainly had chances to shoot but the sense was that they were not only having a go from too far out but they also were not accurate enough.
At the other end, Glenurquhart forced several corners and almost took the lead when a strike from wing centre Conor Golabek was pushed on to the post by ‘More keeper Mike Ritchie.
On the 20 minute mark, Newtonmore lost full centre Jamie Robinson. Frustrated by the close attentions of opposite number Ally Mackintosh he lashed out with his caman and received an immediate red card from referee Evan Macrae. It was the pivotal point in the game and it left the Glen a man ahead and in a gruelling physical contest played on the wide green spaces of the Bught that imbalance in numbers could only help the Glen.
Before Newtonmore had time to adjust Glenurquhart took the lead when a corner from Iain Macleod was knocked back by full forward Fraser Heath. The ball fell to Andrew Corrigan who tried a shot at goal but his shot was intercepted and pushed wide by Neale Reid to Heath who found himself free at the back post and smashed the ball high into the net for the opener.
Glenurquhart should have added further goals before the break but excellent covering by international full back Norman Campbell and some frantic work by his fellow defenders kept the Glen out and the sides went in at halftime with the Glen holding a slender 1-0 lead.
Every Glenner in the stand was left rueing the misses and doubting if the lead was enough given the fact that the wind was now going to be blowing in Newtonmore’s favour.
As expected Newtonmore upped the tempo after the break but with their centreline blocked out, much of their penetration came from long balls fired up from defender Stevie Macdonald which were dealt with reasonably comfortably by a Glen defence in which full back Lewis Maclennan was outstanding.
At the other end Glenurquhart were playing neat interpassing shinty but after a series of missed chances and a goal by Heath ruled offside it was beginning to look like they would have to settle for a single goal victory. That all changed in the 69th minute when a snap shot by Glen captain Andy Corrigan  came back off ‘More keeper Ritchie and Ewan Brady was quickly on hand to push it home from close range.

Newtonmore midfielder Paul MacArthur immediately got one back when he fired home from 25 yards to throw his side a lifeline but the Glen had their tails up and when Neale Reid worked himself free and smashed home a third for Glenurquhart in the 72nd minute there was no doubt that the cup was finally bound for Lochness-side rather than its more fancied Badenoch destination.

Glenurquhart finally turned up for a final and in parts up front they played nice little patches of shinty in which they created chances  and they really should have scored more than they did.

As for Newtonmore despite being a man down they kept in the game and both Norman Campbell and Steven Macdonald drove themselves on relentlessly and displayed excellent hitting for distance.
As for the Glen players, they all looked as if they wanted to play for each other while it’s quite hard to pick out players.
 Ewan Lloyd and Mike Brady both performed well on what could have been for both of them a very difficult afternoon. But then so did Iain Macleod and Conor Golabek - as for Ally Mackintosh - he won the Tommy Mackenzie medal for man of the match and given how hard Ally has had to work to get over a long term injury then no one deserved it more.

Anyway, the final whistle blew: everyone went crazy with delight,

then Cork accepted the cup and the silver caman from Martin Girvan, RBS North of Scotland Manager and Glen Committee member while Glen’s own Jim Barr looked on as Camanachd President. It could not have been more perfect. Then we all went back to Drum,  had a party  after Hazel took the cup off us for safe-keeping, then some of us were sick and then we all went home. Guess that the ducks that survived last week’s Shinty Gala day race down the Coilty into the Loch were finally, at long last, all lined up all in a row.
Enjoy the photos - the ones you think came off the Wing Centre’s phone probably did. The rest are from Sheena Lloyd, Neil Paterson and Donald Cameron.

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