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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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Spell Bound

First things first- after yesterday’s defeat to Inveraray in the Camanachd, Glen know where we stand and where we must focus for the rest of the season. There is first the MacTavish final which has been reached for the third year in a row and then, beyond that there is the business of consolidation in both leagues for both teams.
After the heady experiences of the last few years it is disappointing to be back down to earth with a bump especially when with a little bit of bite up front another day in the sun or at least in partial sunlight was beckoning.
What happened to the cheery note that used to run through the “D”?  Life intruded perhaps but for “life” in this instance read Inveraray. After leading the first half by a goal which sneaked through the Inveraray’s goalie’s legs-he’ll be glad the TV cameras were absent-Glen lost out in the second to a fine strike from Davie Macpherson and another from Ewan McMurdo after the red and blacks had wasted a pile of chances in front of goal. And that result came about despite the fact one of their top front men Grant Griffin found himself side-lined with an injury. How come their old guys can score better than our young guys?
“Oh dear, how sad! Never mind” as the late Windsor Davies was prone to say to the moaners in his troupe of entertainers in “It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum”. Mr Google will help with the reference if you’re baffled. There are much bigger things to be concerned about.

One of these for instance is the subtle change in the spelling of this Glen. A while back Roy the Glasaich asked about the appropriate spelling of this particular geographical location.
“How do you spell the name of the Club?” he said.
“Why do you want to know? “said the Wing Centre suspiciously because you know that when one of the Glasaich asks a question of a Glenner there is definitely an ulterior motive. Roy came out with some flannel about a sports editor at one of the Inverness weeklies wondering in a spirit of genuine enquiry what the definitive spelling was.
The Wing Centre was unwilling to commit. After all the sports editor guy only had to go onto the Camanachd website to find out that it was spelt/spelled “Glenurquhart.”

That set the Wing Centre to wondering though what was the correct way to spell what required to be spelt/spelled.
Have to say that was a fine way to waste a weekend. The first point of reference was MacKay’s “Urquhart & Glenmoriston” (pub 1893). Interestingly while running Glenmoriston together he spells Glen-Urquhart thus. The late Prof. Peter English in his book on the Glen (pub 1985) refers to both Club and Glen as Glen Urquhart while a programme for the Glen Highland Games (1985) says “Glenurquhart”. “Glen Urquhart High School” appears on a sign adjacent to “Glenurquhart Primary School”.
 Hugh Dan in “Shinty” (pub 1993) says “Glenurquhart”. A host of programmes (not really a host- for how many cup final programmes do the Glen really feature in?) switches back and fore between GlenUrquhart, Glenurquhart and Glen Urquhart-MacKay’s hyphen having dropped out of the running completely it would appear.
The earliest to hand is one for the Frew’s Trophy, Saturday 30th June 1973 and it says “Glenurquhart”

But here’s a thing- the Wing Centre was of a mind to claim that Glenurquhart had become the settled, definitive spelling of the people as the 70s, 80s and 90s moved into the noughties. Gradually he became aware that the website had taken on a “GlenUrquhart” flavour though the www. bit still retained the “”. Then he checked up on the MacTavish posters: in 2008 we were Glenurquhart; in 2013 we were Glenurquhart but by 2014 we see to have defaulted back to Glen Urquhart.

What will this year’s MacTavish poster be like? Glenurquhart? Surely not GlenUrquhart!  A word with a capital in the middle seems bizarre. Much better to give us back our hyphen and revert to MacKay’s original Glen-Urquhart.  Who is behind all this shape shifting anyway? No doubt the Camanachd President will have a view – at times like this the temptation is to move to Fort Augustus, a place named by two words and totally without any controversy. Or should that be Kilcumein?

The other big thing of a controversial nature is why should the bowlers drive over the pitch to get to their green? You cannot imagine bowlers being allowed to drive over the Eilean or the Dell to get to the rink, though the surface at An Aird might well be improved if bowlers were actually to be allowed to drive over it. That last is perhaps a little unfair though because the word on the street is that Fort have taken over the maintenance of the park for themselves and no doubt it will come on in leaps and bounds.
In GlenUrquhart, Glenurquhart or Glen-Urquhart though, bowlers seemingly are able to exercise some ancient “droit de seigneur” and take their vehicles across the grass at the A82 corner while they would appear to have a perfectly good parking place at the Druimlon side.
Enough already-the Wing Centre is getting roused over trivialities when the real thing that is annoying him is the defeat by Inveraray. Grrr!
Donald Cameron's pic of Neale Reid accurately sums up just about how all Glenners felt after the game.

The other illustrations are chosen from amongst Sheena Lloyd’s snaps of the Skye match and the programmes are from the Wing Centre’s heap of rubbish in his “room” which his good lady keeps threatening to throw out unless he can prove he has a genuine research based reason for keeping them. This piece should prove his case-for the time being.

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Friday, May 01, 2015

Skye must not be the limit !

Semis of the MacTavish or a win over Oban Camanachd? Go ahead - you choose. Well, the Wing Centre would have chosen the win over Camanachd because in all honesty at the time it seemed that it was worth more to the team - or maybe it just appeared that way when viewed through the half empty glass through which Yours Truly darkly peers at the world of shinty.
In the end no choice was required because the Glen got both results as well as a 1-1 draw with Kingussie seconds - and that was when the loss of a point at home to Kyles really hit home.

So here we are on the verge of crossing over the bridge to the former Isle of Mist to take on Skye - live on radio. It doesn’t get any better than this. Well it has to and perhaps will if we suddenly find some real goal scoring form or someone finds a way to clone Fraser Heath.
One or two things have annoyed this season though. The biggest one is the fact that a Glen player received a one match ban on the totting up system for a booking he should not have received. Yep - it’s out in the open. The ref booked a Glen player-rightly for a misdemeanour-but misidentified him.
Perhaps the ref forgot to note the number down at the time or simply thought he knew who the culprit was but didn’t really. First thing the club knows about it is when the paperwork comes through with the wrong player identified - and sadly that player was then banned for one game because he had done some stuff wrong last year.
Can the Glen appeal it?
No the Glen cannot- and now the player was not only out for a game but also has points on his record which in future may see him out for an even more important game. There might be a case for no appeal against a situation where the referee has interpreted an action as nefarious when in the opinion of others he was a little harsh in his judgement-but a simple case of mistaken identity which appears to be a genuine mistake? Come on.

Let’s just hope the Glen kids turn out alright-though to be fair with a 3-0 win over ‘Shiel under-17s and a 5-0 victory over Lochaber they seem to be OK so far. As ever of course the proof will be when the kids play against the Badenoch youngsters. We have been here so many times it isn’t true; every Glen generation has a story about the great lost hope-the lad who could keep to Ronald Ross in the juveniles. What happens to them? What happens is that they do not translate their talent into the seniors- and that is true for every other side-and  maybe it’s even true about Kingussie now though there remains a sneaking feeling that Badenoch always  bounces back.

Enough of girning already.
But before then just one last thing-in all the talk of sports facilities being revamped in the exciting new Inverness not a word has been heard about a wee revamp of the Bught. Given that shinty is the one sport which has its national HQ in Inverness it might have been though that some cash ought to have been put into facilities for the old game. Is there even an Astro which can take full size shinty? Not at all and is there likely to be? No- but doubtless there will be a velodrome before long. A shintydrome? Not even in Oban which has four shinty teams is there a full size astro for the shinty-indeed the chance to have one was blocked off recently because the rugby lads would not share. Maybe the CA ought to be pushing Candidate Hendry about how he is going  to further the cause.
The Wing Centre really have to stop this: he’s been reading Daniel’s BBC Blog and has been carried away by revolutionary fervour.

Daniel played for Oban Camanachd of course and last weekend the Glen edged to a 1-0 win over Camanachd as mentioned above. Though why Oban would want to annoy the Glen by turning up in Lovat strips eludes this writer. Anyway, for a few days the Wing Centre was feeling a little flat because the side had not played that well, though Fraser Heath’s goal was well taken. Oban will feel that they switched off for that one certainly. Then again Oban appeared to be a fit and competent side with young Connor Howe up front doing well but needing a bit of back up from Lorn Dickie and Andrew MacCuish-though the Glen defence were pretty solid.

In the end Oban missed chances they should have at least put on target while the Glen could easily have won it 2-0 when Paul Mackintosh fired a rasper just past the post which Oban keeper Robert Dunnings would have struggled to handle if it had been on target. Such are the narrow margins by which Premier shinty sides thrive or fail. Not that you need to tell the Glen that: that much was clear in the Kyles match.
The seconds now move on to play Lovat in some cup or other- and these are difficult games to predict. As always, it depends on who is in the side - or rather both sides. The last time the youngsters were playing they picked up a 1-1 draw with Kingussie in an excellent competitive match in which Kings, to be fair to them ,didn’t walk it by simply sticking Ronald up on the dust.
In that context it was very sad to hear of the sudden loss to Kingussie and to its club of ‘Andy’ Anderson. He was with the Kingussie side in the Glen two Saturdays ago and had a blether with the Wing Centre, Alan Bell and a pile of the older Glenners who’ve known him over the years. Of course he was a shinty great and all the rest of it- but above all he was cheery and enjoyed the crack with everyone- and for that he will be greatly missed. The sympathy of the “D” and all at the Glen club go out to the Anderson family at this sad time.

The pictures from the three games are from Sheena Lloyd. Thanks to her for these.

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