Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Taking a philosophical view about the old game.

The German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel would have written the following if he’d come from Drum.  “What experience and history teach is this -  that shinty teams have never learned anything from history, or acted upon any lessons they might have drawn from it." Though Hegel did not come from Drum - and he was merely talking about governments and nations and not about the real business of a well lived life which is shinty and how to fund it, he still called it right. How fortunate he was that he never had to flick on his computer and watch a Glen team run around aimlessly hitting the ball relentlessly up the middle just low enough to be stopped and at the same allowing loads of space to the only uninjured forward left in Badenoch. The arguing was a rerun of the obvious too. At the end of the day all Hegel would have had to say was “Thank goodness for John Barr.”
It was all such a pity after the Kyles game in the Premier where there was a real competitive spirit, allied albeit to some wayward shooting. One supposes that the clues were there in the Beauly game when a good goal from Billy Urquhart was all that the Glenners could muster to progress to the next round of the MacTavish. Things will have to get better, though facing up to Inverness without several key players is not the ideal scenario.
Still the game against Kyles in the Sutherland was a good one from a Glen point of view especially when like all Glen supporters “ Yours Truly” has had to learn to deal with disappointment over many decades.
“Kyles are the holders” said the Bodach.
“They certainly are,” said the Treasurer. “Indeed it sometimes feels as if they have been the holders ever since they won it off us back in 1987. Dear old innocent days in the Glen when the Lodge called itself merely a Visitor Centre and Campbell Matheson in the Benleva sponsored the team without needing his name on the jerseys. “

“We chucked that one away,” said the Bodach.” 7-5 to Kyles after extra time: you tell the story of that game to people nowadays and they won’t believe you. Yet there’s a lesson from history in the narrative of that game”
“And that is?”
“The Glen are good at chucking away finals, even when their opponents make it hard for them to do so.”
 
 

The Bodach said nothing more and turned on his heel to watch the game. The Treasurer shrugged but inside made a mental note of the fact that sometimes not everyone in the green Glen was quite up to speed with his ability to comfort himself with the despair of expected disaster- and the game which unfolded at Blairbeg turned out to be a very positive experience indeed which just shows you that there are no lessons to be drawn from history at all…ever.
The game started on an uneven note with Kyles managed by Peter Mobeck and John Blair taking the game to the Glen but with Davie MacFadyen in super form making the usual spectacular stops and also sweeping the wee sneaky ones away, Kyles were unable to score. Paul Mackintosh at fullback and James Hurwood at buckshee really had to work hard to keep the men in blue at bay.
 
 

Then came a gem of a Glen goal courtesy of Dave “Dixie” Maclennan.

Iain Macleod at full centre swept a long ball down forward and Dixie picked it up and fired a peach of a shot past the Kyles custodian for the opener (as the Dunoon Observer & Argyllshire Standard will no doubt fail to say).

That was it for the rest of the first half except that James Hurwood took a knock on his ankle and Liam Robertson also came off. Of those that were left on, there were many that did well but for the Wing Centre the most hardworking and whole-hearted was Cairn Urquhart.

He simply ran himself into the ground. Also effective were Jamie Maclennan, Ryan Porter and Brad Dickson but apart from a super save by MacFadyen there was no serious action until after the break.
Connor Golabek and Andrew Young came into action in the second period and both played well lifting the tempo of the match and helping the Glen look more menacing though had the holders scored - and big Roddy MacColl certainly put in the effort forcing a series of corners - then the result could well have been different.
 
 

In the end however it all turned out OK and young Ryan Porter repaid his manager’s faith in his ability when he dispatched with aplomb a ball which broke to him on the edge of the “D” as the Glen played towards their favourite shop end.
Cairn Urquhart finally got the  reward for all his efforts when he fired home a cracking  goal three minutes from the end and put the Glen through to a second round tie with Lovat who had just defeated Boleskine by a goal or two.

“Lovat again,” said the Treasurer. “You could get fed up with them entirely. To pot with sharing the gate with them. They should give us half the money they will have saved by not having to take a team bus to Tighnabruaich.”
“I doubt if that will happen, “said the Bodach who was back on form again and taking a sneaky delight in seeing the Treasurer in a state about money.
“Harrumph!” said the Treasurer and he slipped off up the road leaving George, Ron and the Billies to take down the nets and the advertising boards which seems only fair because he had to go home to count the collection.
For the game itself the pictures were taken by Sheena Lloyd. The old ones are by Anon and the big point of interest is that Young Chris really was young back then. If you look carefully beyond big Mike you can see Peter Mobeck peeping over from the Kyles side.
As the Cailleach said “What a bonnie wee boy he was.”

By Monday morning though the victory against Kyles had been put into some perspective when the news came through that one of our former players Kenny Mackintosh had died at his home in Balmacaan Road. The Club website carries details of the funeral arrangements on Saturday morning and the fact that the times of this weekend’s fixtures have been adjusted to take account of this. It is worth while putting up the pic of the team of 1960. Kenny is third from the right in the back row.



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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Day of Mixed Fortunes


A disappointing day and then a day of relief - that just about sums up Saturday’s afternoon entertainment. The Glen seconds - woefully short - managed to play reasonably without completely capitulating and the top team were able to rescue a point when it mattered. What does it say about the rest of the season? Probably too much and at this stage it is not going to be said.
 
Glenurquhart 0 Kinlochshiel 2
This was always going to be a most tricky afternoon since ‘Shiel are more or less back to business with a full team while Glen were short. Short? Don’t mention it to Glen second team boss Iain Macleod because when the top side are down then his side, particularly in the circumstances of Saturday, struggles to exist. Doubtless it is not a situation which affects the Glen alone.
Enough of that. Glen played as well as the players on display could without really having a cutting edge. In the absence of Paul Mackintosh- off to Kirkton –the full back was youngster James Hurwood and he certainly put in a shift. He showed excellent touches that on another day could have been put to more effective use further forward. Also in the picture was new signing Connor Golabek, a former Glen under 17,  and while he struggled a little at full forward against the experienced Kinlochshiel full back, he came into his own more when he was pulled back to the centreline and certainly showed good movement and positional awareness.

It was always going to be an uphill struggle though and a defensive mistake allowed Chris Townsend through to score the opener for Shiel in 37 minutes, a loss the excellent David MacFadyen in goals did not really deserve.
 
 

Glen brought on the experienced Donald Fraser at full forward for the second half but although he dug in and put in the challenges, his touch was off and the few chances that fell in the Glen’s direction, and there were several, were unable to be converted. It was even enough at this point but a nicely worked goal from Shiel’s Fergus Dobson just after halftime put the game out of Glen’s reach. Glen then came back into it for a period, pushing towards the traditional shop end but despite causing occasional panic in the visitors’ defence the goals would not come.
 

A highlight of the game was the performance of the Glen youngsters: Jamie Maclennan had a particularly good match and stuck to his task despite taking a knee knock in the first half. His second half performance and particularly his fitness were impressive.

 
Fergus Robertson on the wing also played well against an older opponent and of course David Macfadyen in goals was his own secure self. For the Wing Centre however the Glen man of the match was Cairn Urquhart. You can’t really go wrong with a boy whose name is the same as that of the team. Cairn worked, ran, chased, harried and never gave up: at the end of the match he was exhausted, with nothing to show for it but the respect of the old guys watching. He gave everything and now the Wing Centre is going to use Sheena’s photo of him as the screensaver on his phone, replacing that one of Billy with the Cup!!
 
 
Positive? Yes. This was as good a result as the Glen was ever going to get considering the inexperience of the team. Will we do better? Yes. Will we do worse? Depends on who we play, in every sense.
Memo to Dunc Achtuie: when you get a knock fall down on the field of play. That way Archie the ref will have to stop the game. Go off the field with your injury and your mates have to carry on a man short. It’s not really cheating!

Kinlochshiel 1 Glenurquhart 1
 
While the home game was going on there was a background mood of insecurity since the news had come down from the west that Shiel were leading. Goalscorer? Unsure but the guess was a Macrae. So in a sense the crowd was prepared for loss and considering the absence of the experienced players then truthfully folk were thankful it was not more. Then came the equaliser from Heathie, via twitter it would appear and a collective sigh which was as much a cheer as could be mustered, ran round the stand.
How did the game go?

Have a read of what the Skye website says:

 Shiel were still without the injured Duncan “Ach” MacRae. Glen’s John Barr was free of suspension but work commitments ruled out Andrew Corrigan. Keith MacRae put Kinlochshiel ahead with a goal after 13 minutes. The goal came from a free-hit on the ‘Shiel left. John MacRae played the ball off to the right and Keith MacRae hammered it into the roof of the net from around 20 yards out.
However Fraser Heath rescued a point for the Glen with his third goal of the season just 8 minutes from time. Glen were awarded a free-hit when Heath was fouled. The Scotland U21 international initially looked to take it himself but left it for Ewan Brady. Heath ran wide before cutting in towards the centre of the edge of the D and he latched onto Brady’s ball into the D before tucking it past ‘Shiel keeper Scott Kennedy from close range to make it 1-1.


And that appears to be pretty good as far as it goes though there is no mention of the other three Glen absentees - Euan Lloyd, Billy Urquhart and Stuart Reid which is not a surprise as managers don’t usually broadcast their weaknesses.
Next week it’s the MacTavish v Beauly over at Braeview. Let’s just wait and see.
The pictures are from Sheena Lloyd and those atmospheric ones from Kirkton are from David Win who put them up on World of Shinty. Thanks to both.


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Friday, March 20, 2015

Discovering the Power of Positive Thinking-umm –not sure about that.


“You have to be more positive,” said the Master Plumber to the Wing Centre as they drove along the A82 in pursuit of enlightenment. “Shinty has continued over the years despite all its difficulties. Just like the Games. The last thing it needs is someone being depressed about it: that will just make it worse…”
 
The Wing Centre had been ranting about something he saw in the Courier. Piles of money was being promised for sports facilities at the Bught - a velodrome, a rugbydrome, a tennisdrome- but he did not read anything about a shintydrome! It worried him that Inverness would lose its outside Bught pitch to a caravan park- and that there was no word of doing up the old wooden shinty stand at the very home of the native sport. How could the Camanachd Association have let that go by without a cheep? When you needed them, where were all the Councillors who had drunk the free Glenmorangie in the past and eaten the Marine Harvest smoked salmon vol-au-vents more recently?
 
Indeed, where was Donald Stewart when you needed him?
The Master Plumber was not impressed. “I’m too busy living in the here and now to worry about existential problems especially when they are concerned with shinty. Things will work out. After all Highlanders couldn’t make up their minds whether to spell their names Macdonald or MacDonald. And even then they were never sure if it was Mc or Mac. What happened? Nothing. They still all got called up for the First War and bit the dust in equal numbers with or without a capital. Both teams won on Saturday - why don’t we talk about that?”
And so the conversation in the van turned to the fact that Iain Macleod’s bunch of kids had crossed the watershed to take on a Lochcarron/Lochbroom select and managed to come back with two points. One goal scored but two points granted.
It turned out that Dunk Achtuie got the goal and that a description had been given that implied it was a fabulous strike. Cairn Urquhart had fired a shot across the field from some distance out and Dunk had seemingly stuck up his stick, guided the ball on to the oxter of a passing guillemot from whence it rebounded, confusing Lochcarron goalkeeper Peter Mackenzie and ended up in the net.    It was a goal that will live for ever in the annals of Glen shinty lore.
 
 
At the other end Glen keeper David MacFadyen had a couple of excellent early saves before turning acrobatic in order to save a screamer from Gregor Cushnie. Lochcarron put in plenty effort but full back Paul Mackintosh stood firm supported by James Hurwood, Lachie Smith and Liam Robertson. The rest of the lads in front also had to put in a shift because notwithstanding their present predicament some of the Carranachs have plenty experience at a reasonably exalted level. From a Glen point of view the game was notable not only for the inclusion of three youngsters-Finlay Robertson, Ryan Porter and Jamie Maclennan- but also for the return to Glen colours of Andrew Young.
Down in Inveraray the first team without John Barr managed to win 2-0 in a match which the Wing Centre had considered before-hand to be a difficult contest. The fact that the A82 was blocked by a boulder and the lads had to make a detour round by Inverness and the south shore only added to the pressure. It turned out all right in the end though as always there was a price to pay: Euan Lloyd tweaked a hamstring and had to come off. He also got himself booked as did Ewan Brady though neither fared as badly as Euan MacMurdo who picked up a straight red and a two game rest. You have to wonder what ref Billy Wotherspoon has against boys who are called Euan/Ewan.
 
Inveraray were without David MacPherson as he was due to run the Barcelona Marathon in aid of the Beatson Charity the following day. They were also missing John Kennedy and Garry Macpherson which tends to suggest that they were not liable to perform at the highest so the fact that John Barr had to serve a one match ban for a points accumulation carried forward from the end of last season was never quite as significant as it might have been. The Glen went ahead 4 minutes before the break when Lewis MacLennan fired a dipping 20 yard shot in from the right which was stopped by Inveraray keeper Graham MacPherson. However the ball got caught up underneath his feet and Fraser Heath ran in to knock the ball over the line from only a yard out.
 
Glen sealed the win 15 minutes from time when Heath got his second after some superb passing and movement involving the whole of the Glen forward line. Heath pushed the ball to James MacPherson on the left, around 25 yards from goal. MacPherson slipped the ball back to the forward-running Heath and he flicked the ball over his marker, who slipped, and this allowed the Scotland U21 international time to volley the ball into the net to make it 2-0.* (This description was pinched from the Skye website which is by far the most reliable source to pinch things from- and the Wing Centre of all people should know this)  
 
All said and done, it was a fine result and it certainly made the four hour journey back up the A82 a little more bearable.
Saturday however sees both Glen sides face up to Kinlochshiel and with them both being somewhat shorthanded it will be a tricky afternoon for the red and blacks particularly up at Kirkton where there is for the first time in ages a full and fit squad.
“There you go,” said the Master Plumber, “getting all down about it. Our lot are as good as anybody.”
“If only they believed it”, said the Wing Centre.
The picture of Fadgy has been captured by Garry Mack, El Presidente ;the rest have been composed by Sheena Lloyd. Thanks to both.
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Monday, March 02, 2015

Glen retain Macdonald Cup against a stuffy Strath side.

 
 

Glenurquhart retained the Macdonald Cup with a clear 3-0 victory over ancient rivals Strathglass and while the result was decisive enough, it was a competitive game and a number of the young Strathglass players showed that they will be a force to be reckoned with in North Division 1 this season.
Last week the Glen ran out 5-1 winners over visitors Kilmallie and it has to be said the margin of victory was a bit of a surprise to all at Balbeg. It must be remembered though that Kilmallie were without their young keeper and they had to weaken their outfield from the start of the match by pulling Michael Rodgers back into goals. Added to that they suffered a number of unfortunate injuries including one which may come back to haunt them later in the season-namely an ankle knock to John Stewart who has been without fail their most high profile player over the last decade.
 
The Glen’s goals were fine and for the most part well taken and one was especially fine-goal number 2 which came in 25 minutes. Fraser Heath knocked a ball out to Eddie Tembo and he fired over a high ball to the far post where Lewis Maclennan was on hand to glance it into the net with the heel of his club.
 
 
 
This week’s Macdonald Cup encounter was refereed by John Angus Gillies of Skye and it commenced as was appropriate with a minute’s silence in memory of the late Dolly Fraser of Shewglie. Dolly was an institution in the Glen and a lifelong supporter along with her late husband Danny who was one of the folk who instigated the revival of shinty in the Glen in 1948.
The opening stages of the match were very even though the Glen put together some fluent forward moves which unfortunately did not result in an accurate shot on goal. As against Kilmallie the Glen defence marshalled by John Barr and club captain Andrew Corrigan played well and denied the Strathglass forwards clear opportunities on goal though it has to be said that they made Glen keeper Stuart Mackintosh look lively on a couple of occasions. At the other end Strath keeper Steve MacLachlan was in fine form and kept the Glen out until the 31st minute when buckshee back Michael Stokes, who had a fine game throughout conceded a free hit some 20 yards out. Lewis Maclennan quickly slipped the ball forward to Neale Reid and on the turn he whipped it past MacLachlan for the opener.

To the frustration of the Glen crowd there was no further scoring in the first half, though Lewis Maclennan had a strike ruled offside – and at the break the Glen management rang the changes. Eddie Tembo came on in the centreline and James “Frosty” Macpherson took his place in the forefront of the attack leaving Reid and Maclennan in supporting roles. The changes did not immediately take effect though Strath keeper MacLachlan made a series of excellent saves. Glen continued to press and eventually with 20 minutes to go made the breakthrough- James Macpherson fired a shot on target and the rebound from keeper MacLachlan fell to Neale Reid who poked it home. Within 10 minutes the Glen went three ahead when Macpherson latched on to a through ball and dispatched it purposefully past MacLachlan to put the issue beyond doubt.

After the match Glen captain Andrew Corrigan was presented with the Cup and retiring chairman Russell Fraser also received a presentation to mark his stepping down from the Club hot seat.
Player of the match? The Shewglie trophy went to Steve MacLachlan the Strathglass keeper for services rendered.

There were a number of other Strath players who turned in performances in particular youngster Josh Fraser who has excellent pace and stick work and Sam Todd at wing centre also played his part but the Wing Centre cannot sign off this match without a mention to Strathglass full back Donald Fraser- and the Wing Centre got the story from the mouth of the Treasurer himself. The Treasurer was going round the field doing a collection and happened to stop beside goal judge Billy Macleod of Glen fame and Alan Macleod the ex-Strath keeper. As the conversation continued the Treasurer lost focus on the match and suddenly realised that Donald Fraser was heading back towards the “D” to challenge Neale Reid and to save a probable goal he would have to play the ball out for a corner. If he drove it out full strength he was definitely going to do the Treasurer a mischief since he was less than 10 yards away. If it had been another Strath player there would have been no mercy-teach the old Glenner a lesson- but Donald is a true gent. He quickly buckled his wrist and chipped the ball high over the Treasurer’s balding pate. As he did so he gave a wee grin which let the Treasurer know that he had done it deliberately to save the distress of a fellow Fraser. No-one else in the crowd would have realised what had happened except the two Macleods who being Macleods had scuttled out of the way sharpish.
Earlier in the day, the Glen under 14s picked up the Slater’s Arms Cup courtesy of a 4-0 win over Strathglass youngsters. It was an entertaining game and the Glen goals came from Jed Stoddart (2) and Fergus Robertson (2). Glen captain full-back John Peteranna was presented with the cup by Jimmac Mackintosh former proprietor of the Slater’s.

Talking of presentations the final picture shows Glen Chieftain Alan Bell handing over a cheque for £1000 to the manager of the Glenurquhart Care Centre Carolanne Mainland. This money was raised at the Xmas SwINNdle which was organised by the Shinty Club and Isla Urquhart of the Loch Ness Inn with prizes, as was mentioned in an earlier blog, kindly provided by the Miller family of Loch Ness Gifts. We couldn’t avoid a second mention of this because the picture is so sweet in that it shows Centre user Tom Cave (l) and Alan (r) pinching a kiss from the mum of two Lovat players.

Finally and still on a charity theme , a cheque for £300 raised at Saturday’s Macdonald Cup match will be winging its way to the Isle of Skye as our contribution to the “Lucky 2B Here” heart-start charity set up a few years ago by Skye Camanachd’s Ross Cowie.




The pictures are from Sheena Lloyd , apart from the last one which shows the trophy back in its rightful place in the Loch Ness Inn where former Strathglass "hero" Roy Mackenzie was able to see it at close quarters for the first time in many years!!

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Thursday, February 05, 2015

Shinty’s getting ready to go again


A whole lot of snow has fallen on the Meall (not to mention Balmacaan Road as may be seen from the pic at the top of the page) since the last posting - and perhaps that is just as it should be for the close season held some measure of sadness for supporters of the Glen and its shinty.
 Life goes on certainly and will do so but at the same time the Club remembers other lives which have come to an end.

This last while there were three losses and all of them, it has to be said, were premature. Ronald Robertson formerly of Gartally who played for the second team for a number of years in the early to mid-1970s died after a short illness. Geoffrey Cameron once of Balmacaan Road, a fine youth player who also had a spell with the seconds, passed away at the age of 41. Finally Linda Smart, mum of internationalist and first team regular David Smart, sadly died at the age of 60 after a brief battle with cancer. Linda (nee Duff) had a connection with the club which went of course beyond her son’s commitment to the team for two of her brothers were heavily involved in the Drum sides of the past. Winston (Winkie) was a member of the 1977 Strathdearn winning side while Ali was the fiercely competitive full back who captained the second team for a time during the late 1980s: he had the misfortune to lose out in the Sutherland Cup final to a fine Kyles side at Taynuilt in 1987.  

(Sadly, just as this post was about to be uploaded, word came to the “D” that Mrs Dolly Fraser, Shewglie, has died. Mother to Glen stalwarts Calum, Ken and Ron Fraser, Dolly has been a much loved figure in the club ever since it was reformed in 1948 as her late husband Danny was one of those instrumental in reviving the ancient game in the Glen. A more detailed appreciation will be included in a later posting.)

However, to the new season. Just as the Camanachd Association are preparing for the new season by unveiling a renewed sponsorship deal with Marine Harvest - a six figure sum over three years would appear to the deal - so the Glen are putting matters in hand to collect the more modest three figure sums which accrue from their pitch side display boards.
The C.A. sponsorship is certainly good news though the Wing Centre did feel his heart fall a little when he learned that the deal did not involve a company new to the sport. No Global? No Lifescan? No Tulloch? No Diageo? It is a pity that none of these business folk see shinty as a partner in the commercial journey - and it was a pity to see Orion make a clean break particularly since their name gave a dynamic edge to the title of the Premiership.
Still we live in the real world and there at a local level in late December with the help of the Miller family of Loch Ness Gifts, the Club successfully organised the annual “SwINNdle” at the Loch Ness Inn and the results of that are to be shared with the Glenurquhart Care Centre later this month.
Also in preparation for the new start a goodly number of the Club’s trainers went through a UKCC Level 1 course under the tutelage of the Camanachd Association’s Graham Cormack, Russell Jones and our old friend Jemma Docker. With other coaches in the club having already picked up Level 1 or Foundation certificates it shows that the Glen Shinty club are attempting to put themselves in a good place for the future.

The “D” has banged on for years about some of the problems that shinty faces: at times it feels like you’re walking up a down escalator and just as you start to make progress someone throws a switch to make it speed up. It’s all about Shinty’s place in the community in the narrow sense and about its place in the Highlands and Scotland in a more general sense. This is a theme which one could go on about at some length - but the upshot of it all is that there are not enough shinty players coming through in the peripheral areas and even in some of the traditional heartlands. The clubs mostly do their best but the sport does need some official backing from the institutions of the state and local government - and the bottom line is that it is the job of the Camanachd Association to keep on pushing for that.
Otherwise no matter what the participation figures might seem to say, they mean very little if a team like Lochbroom goes into abeyance and neither Bute nor Lochcarron can carry two teams with one performing at the higher level. Of course there will be individual circumstances which pertain to each community and the scarcity of young children in some small communities especially in the Highlands is disturbing – the pictures of the new P1 intake that are published in local papers tell their own stories. So where does this leave shinty? Certainly having to expand into the cities as the C.A. recognise is a necessity for long term development but the Heartland needs shoring up too. Certainly the issue runs wider than the Glen but here too the trick is to keep working at it in the face of whatever has to be faced.
With that in mind preparation for the new season is now in full swing with two sessions per week under the eye of trainer Gavin Heath. The snow cover on the Astro has however prevented much in the way outside activity taking place and may well play havoc with the friendly fixtures which have been arranged for the next few weeks before we open our season with the Macdonald Cup & Ali Ban matches at home on the 28th February.
In the younger age groups the action has started too: the under 14s travelled to Dalfaber, Aviemore for the 2015 North under-14 indoor championship and did well by making it through to the semi finals in which they were edged out by Kinlochshiel. Meanwhile the P5 and under side took part in the IACC Indoor first shinty 6-a-side tournament at the Craigmonie Centre and put in a sterling performance.
This weekend it is the turn of the P6/7 squad and the “D” wishes them all the best. Indeed the “D” wishes all the best to all shinty players wherever they are to be found: let’s hope this season is one to remember for all the right reasons.   
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