Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Lets go Clubbing

“No shinty -no pain” as Bob Marley would have sung if he had been a fan of the indigenous sport but he wasn’t and he didn’t. What is more to the point is that the Glen have not lost a goal -or for that matter a point for a whole two weeks but then again we didn’t have shinty for two whole weeks due to weather of a type that Old Bob would have struggled to recognise. Perhaps the two are in some way linked.
So what do you do when your home team have no shinty for two weeks. Read the Courier to see how well the other sides are getting on I suppose and truth be told Nairn are doing well as are Beauly. Hard to bear. The cat would appear to be among the Fort William pigeons too and I don’t know if I am happy or sad. I do want to see new teams winning Leagues but I don’t know if I want to see the trophies just rolling a mile up the A9 though to be fair if the guys are good players they deserve them.
All of which is another way of saying there wasn’t much to do in the Glen the past fortnight except to look at old snaps of great Glen teams of the past and indulge my collection of ancient and drying up shinty sticks to some long overdue in a drink of linseed oil. It may be of interest to note that these include an early schoolboy chestnut, a Macpherson hickory one-piece circa 1966 worn to nothing, a Rivdal, a Prolam, one from Dornoch Treecraft with a colourful sticky label on it depicting I do believe, a tree. Also to hand is an early Munro Caman-maybe even made by Munro- but definitely repaired by the late Willie Mackenzie, Inverness and marked with his stamp. A “Sloggie” Munro as well as a Kyles Caman complete the collection along with a couple of Irish Hurleys-one picked up in Sligo and the other in Dicksboro near Kilkenny.
It is a matter of regret I was never able to get a hold of a traditional Ballachulish Club-the one with snub nosed head and the broad heel. At the time when I could have done with one, I used to admire them from afar : no doubt you had to know the maker of the club personally and possibly even marry a girl from Ballachulish to obtain one. Calvin Oliver that excellent Glen goalkeeper of the 70s and 80s used to have two of them , both at the one time: he would use one for saving shots and the other for placing in the net at the start of a game no doubt as some grim guardian of the goals after the fashion of the devil gods of the South Sea Islands . I notice that many goalies still do that to this very day. Perhaps it is something they learn to do at goalie college.
I don’t actually carry a “Borthwick” or a “Heron“(should that be an Heron) in the collection. I don’t have one. It is hard to get a stick in the Glen because Alan usually locks them in his shed and only gives them out to real players, provided they hand over the title deeds to their property to him for safe keeping. From a young lad with no actual property to put up as collateral he will accept car keys, designer jackets and mobile phones which will only be returned when the stick (or appropriate parts of it provided they add up to a whole) is finally handed in.
The one major omission is however a “Tanera” -though now that Colin gets the clubs made elsewhere I suppose to be strictly a representative collection an “old Tanera” as well as the “newer version“ Tanera should be included . It is doubtful whether anyone other than an accountant could tell the difference between the two sorts.
You will notice that not included anywhere in this collection are presentation sticks of the sort handed out to winning captains in National competitions. These always look good on the walls of houses in Kingussie and Fort William but for myself I do believe they bring down the tone of a thatched cottage in the Glen making it look ostentatious and showy and taking away from it that Presbyterian simplicity which should mark the décor of the place of habitation occupied by a true shinty-loving Glenner. Doubtless they do exist though- I’m sure Geordie has a couple and perhaps big Tom. Billy Maclean is certain to have one somewhere and Burton must have several but I should imagine they will be hidden out of sight or kept behind the back door and only used to round up the cattle or deter burglars. Like mine.
So that’s it for the stick collection then. There only remains the question to answer.
Why do you keep so many?
You have to - they are an extension of the limbs and take root in the psyche. You can’t throw them away -if you have played with one it becomes a true soul-stick. Why -the ancient warriors even had them engraved on their coffin-lids
As for balls? On second thoughts , I think I should stop right there.

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