Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Donald Campbell's Memorial Cairn Glenshiel

Shinty’s journey through the last 100 years has many interesting lay-bys which should be stopped in for a little time and the stories linked to them recalled with affection. Kintail has had a long sporting history : today it still produces shinty players of note. It doesn’t forget them either. “Lean gu dluth ri cliu do shinnsirean” meant something then just as it means something now. The proof is to be found on a gentle bend on the A87, one and a half miles east of Shie1 Bridge, where stands an inscribed cairn about 5 foot high surmounted by a stone cross 1 foot 6ins. in height. The cairn is in the traditional bee-hive shape of the typical Scottish cairn and built of rough local stone. On the side facing the road is fixed a heart-shaped stone tablet which contains the following inscription:
The cairn which was designed and built by a local mason ,was erected towards the end of I927 by his fellow members of the Glenshiel Shinty Team as a mark of respect to a comrade who died so tragically young. The tradesman who built the cairn was probably John Grant, mason, who lived at Shiel at that time
In the presence of a large number of spectators the cairn was unveiled by his father Mr. Colin Campbell, Shiel House. You pass the cairn quickly because the A87 nowadays is a relatively fast trunk road and with the cairn sitting on a curve many travellers must be unclear as to why it sits there. A pity this certainly if shinty folk drive by without stopping off because not only was Donald Campbell a shinty player but like most of his unlucky generation he had seen service in the Great War.
Campbell was born in I895 in G1enshiel,the second son of Col1n Campbe11 Shiel House a much respected County Councillor and widely acknowledged expert on Highland Ponies. As he grew to manhood by the shores of Loch Duich he developed a deep love of his Kintai1 homeland and there too, in common with all other youngsters of his age, then as now, he learned his shinty and first played for his local team, one of the three parish teams of that part of Wester Ross, the parishes of Glenshiel, Kintail and Lochalsh. These have since merged to form Kinlochshiel who presently play in the premier division of north shinty.
During the First World War Donald Campbell served with the Lovat Scouts and with them was posted overseas ,serving in Egypt and Palestine where he contracted malaria from which he was never to free himself completely. For almost ten years he lived to suffer from recurring bouts of malaria which progressively weakened this once robust Highlander and was the eventual cause of his untimely death at the early age of 3I years
On his return to civilian life Donald worked for a time as Inn-keeper. at Cluanie Hotel, half way between Invermoriston and. his beloved Shiel Bridge, before he took up the task of driving the mail-bus from Glen Shiel to Kyle of Lochalsh.
He continued to play shinty for Glenshiel but not as regularly as he would have wished for his ill-health and heavy business commitments ruled him out as a regular in the first team. His two younger brothers did however play regularly and well for many years.
He managed compensate for his lack of physical involvement in the game by acting as Secretary/Treasurer for a number of years, an undertaking which he carried out diligently throughout the twenties and which he still held when he died. On the day of his funeral/he was carried by his former team-mates the mile and
a half from his home at Shiel Lodge where he died to the spot where the cairn now stands at which point his remains were put aboard the hearse which was to bear him to the village of Beauly where his ancestors came from.
At the roadside spot where the Cairn now stands a short service was held, and in keeping with an old Highland tradition, the impromptu cairn was set up. The remains. then left, followed by the family on the long overland journey . to the church of St. Mary's, Beauly where he was buried beneath the granite cross erected by his parents to commemorate his elder brother John, who had died at the Somme in January I9I7.
Not long after his death it was decided in Glenshiel that Donald Campbell should have some sort of permanent memorial in the Glen he loved and served so well.
A fund raising campaign was set in motion and it was decided that the spot on the shore of tiny Loch Shiel to which his team-mates had carried him would be the most appropriate place for such gesture of fellowship and affection,
Permission for this was readily granted by Lady Baillie of Dochfour and the cairn was quickly erected. It is presently maintained by the Campbell Family of Glenshie1 and they have recently cleaned up the inscribed marble tablet which had been badly stained by algae.
‘Gad chuimnachadh, A Dhomhnaill, gu brath tuilleadh’.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Faster than a speeding bullet……its SuperBarry.

I stepped out of my acceleration shell after the collapsar jump from Drumnadrochit to find myself on the touchline at Braeview Park ,Beauly. There amid the marquees , the locals were about to celebrate the opening of their new pavilion with a defeat at the hands of Aird All-Stars. For those with an interest in statistics the score went against the Beaulacs by 5 to 2. That said, the game was entertaining- an advert for shinty even although the avoidance of cliché is the first rule of the interstellar shinty reporter.
Sadly not enough of the inhabitants of the little green place turned out to view the afternoon’s sport. And them with SuperBarry Macdonald, the shinty world’s top human scorer too.
It was however, an occasion for reflection and for conversation rather than spectating, though the All Star side that Lochcarron’s Fraser Mackenzie and Lovat’s John MacRitchie had put together certainly had too much firepower for the Beauly squad. The All-Stars went three up in the first 20 mins with an opener from Stewart Maclennan of Caberfeidh . The second was a long drive from Glenurquhart’s Paul Mackintosh which Beauly keeper Steven Limburn misjudged and the third was an excellent effort from Strathglass’s veteran player/coach Robert Geddes. Picking up a pass on the right he wove his way past Innes Simpson and Martin Maclean before placing the ball neatly past Limburn.
So that was it as a contest : we may as well have gone into the marquee and had the mulled wine but that was never the aim of the day was it?
Norrie Matheson was on the touchline - and he remarked that this was a small Beauly team. Norrie is a retired gamekeeper and knows a thing or two about beef on the hoof and whether a stag is worth shooting.
“How do you mean , Norrie?” said I.
“Well just have a look”.
I could see what he meant. With the exception of Innes Simpson, Martin Maclean , Murph and the excellent Roger the rest of the guys, nippy and hardy though they were , were lacking in the altitude department. More worryingly I would say for the future-even allowing that the summer season will permit them to exploit their fleetness of foot- they lack some bulk, though keeper Limburn does his best to bring up the average avoirdupois.
Will this be a problem? After all they kept Fort William company in a Camanachd Cup-tie at An Aird then lost out at home to a determined Fort team which eventually lifted the trophy. It did seem to be a problem on presentation day : Danny Marshall , Mackay Murray and Hutchie found it hard to hold “Denzil” Macdonald and Paul Mackintosh who bumped them over more than a bit. I was reminded of Gary Dallas of Kingussie-super player, winner of many medals but knocked over too often when it mattered. However if the Beauly youngsters can pump themselves up like Kingussie’s Davy Anderson and Ally Borthwick or go superskill like Inveraray’s Gary Macpherson then it may be all right on whatever night they need it to be all right on.
A second half goal by “Denzil” Macdonald and a penalty by Gary Reid further stretched the All-Stars lead before Beauly picked up two late strikes to take the bite out of the result somewhat. SuperBarry, though he came close three times, did not find the net.
I suppose if the game did anything it showed that the Aird teams have some super players between them- but sadly not in enough quantities in each team to make them serious challengers for a major trophy.
The Beauly greats of yesteryear were there- though I did not see Mike Macpherson or sadly Dave Simon on this day of days though the big man’s photo was everywhere to be seen in the pavilion into which I was graciously ushered after the top men in two great Highland institutions James Campbell of the Tweed Shop and John Mackenzie of the Camanachd Association, had cut the ribbon that barred entry to the holy of holies. Incidentally the good James provided scissors for the act of snipping which were, in fact , older than the Beauly club itself- but that is just a point of local trivia which would be useful in the WRI Quiz.
I did see Clickan Maclennan , Donnie Fraser (The Rathad) and Alan Simpson : time has taken its toll on these gentlemen but also absent were the late Rox Maclean and of course the great Sandy Mackay who passed away so tragically early. Then of course there was no Alastair Sellar.
John Mackenzie spoke : James Campbell spoke: Murph received the cup and the photos were taken. Indeed I clicked myself and naturally I include one for posterity.
To be parochial-the four Glen boys in the All-Stars played well but I was at a loss to work out how they were chosen. Gregor McCormack and Paul Mackintosh are regular first teamers and certainly were worth a spot in the side but Davie Stewart and Stewart Morrison though capable of playing at a high standard- (they are former premier League players after all and were the only ones on view ) have taken a back seat in the Glen recently . John Barr , Andrew Corrigan , Stewart Mackintosh and Arran Macdonald each had a greater claim to represent the club. No matter.
Where does this result leave Beauly?
They have a pavilion, an excellent pitch, a fair team and a mower to keep Kingussie happy. I would like to think that in a few years time they will get a secondary school back which would help with the throughput of players. Beauly and the whole of shinty certainly needs that. But then, even in the deepest darkest part of the Cosmos we knew that all along.

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