Sunday, September 11, 2005

No Longer Broken Down in Beauly

Its 2-1 when I arrive and Beauly who need a victory if they are to look in the mirror on Sunday morning and actually like themselves seem to be endeavouring to lose what they ought to be winning. I have arrived late because I have been watching Glenurquhart’s second team edge in front against Kinlochshiel. A text message tells me Beauly are two down and I feel I must cross Culnakirk in order to share the pain of defeat with the green and white fans. On the other hand if they look set to reject a stranger I have every intention of crossing to the other side of the pitch and passing a pleasant afternoon in the warm sunshine along with the Lovat camp-followers who will take a country boy to their hearts. I will not tell them I am a villager myself.
Glorious day , pitch in perfect condition.
“Never been better “ says old Murph and he’s right. Old Murph is the goal judge: young Murph is the Beauly team manager. He tells me Lovat have lost their young keeper to a leg injury. He has had some terrific saves.
“Hope he’s OK “, says Old Murph.
I have hardly agreed with him when Barry Macdonald holds the ball close to the end of his caman and pushes his way through the Lovat defenders. He drives it low into the net. Beauly might just be back in business.
Further down the line -I’m with the Beauly fans at the moment-I am introduced to an American couple who are on a pilgrimage to visit some of the holy shrines of the great god shinty. They are heavily involved with a shinty club in California and good luck to them. They are so fortunate to have been granted a glorious Highland day and a fast paced game a rare delight.
Beauly are impressive- quick and sharp in the tackle but also extremely creative up front where Barry Macdonald , Sean Stewart and Danny Marshall are making the Lovat backs who are fair players themselves look to their laurels. In the centreline Sandy Tulloch is holding his ground well and to be fair to Sandy, whose career has been chequered and who has changed clubs several times in a sport where most guys serve their hometown for a lifetime, even from where I stand amongst Beauly’s finest he is receiving some very personal abuse. I go to mix with the Lovat crowd in front of whom Sandy is isolated. I feel there is little need for it and then I learn that he has scored the opening goal. It doesn’t change my opinion. I secretly wish he will score another but daren’t voice my desires.
Superbarry scores another goal to let Beauly take the lead. I am now with the Lovat crowd. “Fair enough player” the Lovats say to themselves and when you compare his athleticism to that of some of the Lovat front men- I except the ever intelligent John Mac Ritchie -then they should be more gracious. Raymond Rennie is an excellent goal scorer but does not seem to have worked hard enough to add sufficient pace to his game : he fades in the second half. Barry is quick with good close control and a fine shot- it would have been interesting to see how he would have done if Beauly had come up against Kingussie at Braeview. They have completely dominated lesser teams this season: Oban Celtic and Kingussie reserves were over run and Bazza has ended up top goalscorer in the division by miles.. The thing is -other guys have been scoring too.
The neatest of moves begins on the left with Sean Stewart wriggling past two defenders ; he guides the ball back to Christiansen who manages to ride a challenge from James Gallagher then slips it out wide left and super Barry dinks it round the wingback before letting fly. As with all the best moves it strikes the side net.
No matter. Danny Marshall who is having yet another excellent game rams home a fourth goal while Simon Holmes completes the scoring. With any luck Niall Maclennan who came on for the last 10 minutes should have made it six but he mistimed the strike and the chance was lost.
The whistle goes : Bert Loades phones and groans when I tell him the score. The Glen seconds have won 4-1 making it two bad weeks in a row for Shiel.
Its not been a bad day for Beauly though. Two further heaves and they are there and if they get repeat performances of this calibre frpm the experienced core of the team especially from Innes Simpson and Jamie Maclennan they are a safe bet. Did the injury to the Lovat keeper make a difference? We’ll never know but then he wasn’t outfield marking “Superbarry”. I don’t think anyone was.

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