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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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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