Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Chirpings of a Glenurquhart Gutter Sparrow

Camanachd Cup First Round Replay.

Glenurquhart 3 Beauly 0

The Macdonalds have a thrush -the boys in Kingussie might even have an eagle -but for Glenurquhart the bird of choice has to be the sparrow. A wee bird, a brave bird and no matter what you do, you can never keep him down.
Last week the Sparrow was too busy at the nest to fly over Cul na Circ (the sparrow favours the Gaelic spelling of old Mackay rather than the more modern Cul na Kirk which Mrs Sparrow prefers) to see the match. When the result came back though , he was very pleased. 0-0 at Braeview and rave reports of a buckshee back called Mackay Murray who had a stormer. He was fouled , hit off the ball ,hit after he played the ball and still he came through and carried on with out going mental - no way are his people originally from Beauly. Unfair crack but when the Sparrow overhears old Glenners two hours after a match wondering who was that wee buckshee back especially when the second team are leading Inveraray (with “Chin” Watt at full forward) ,you know you’ve just seen someone special. The Sparrow regretted his absence.
In his heart the Sparrow was secretly pleased that the Beaulacs seem to have a buckshee back of some style. The Sparrow is of course of Beauly ancestry on Mrs Sparrow’s side and indeed back in the 1920s and 1930s ,in the pages of the Football Times and the Highland Times , the chirpings of a Beauly Gutter Sparrow was a regular column. The Glen sparrow, while he keeps a diary of events, has never hit such heights with the pen.
But for all his Beauly leanings, the Sparrow is a Glen sparrow down to the very mites in his down if he might be allowed to use a homonym- an expression that would see him punched in Beauly- and having heard about the week before he wasn’t very hopeful of a result.
So it was with a heavy heart and much foreboding that the Sparrow went down to Blairbeg to see the replay. He stopped at the chipper for a blether with Kenan and by the time he reached the pitch “Chips” had scored. The sparrow took that as a sign from God but sorry Dave he did not see your goal. It occurred in 8 minutes and according to Alan it was a good goal. He went on to tell the Sparrow more but by that time the Sparrow was involved in an altercation with the Beauly left back who verbally abused him for encouraging Girv to be harder and him just booked too.
Of course , our feathered friend hadn’t seen who Girv was against and when he looked again he realised that Girv had hit a very small person and because the Sparrow knew Niall Maclennan wasn’t on the field yet , he felt bad about it. Still it was unfair of the back to draw the ref’s attention to the fact that Sparrow was perched behind the goal when all he had done was to congratulate Lymburn on a good save. Mr Sloggie- an extraordinary force of nature -quite rightly told the Sparrow to move on. If Sparrow had been ref he too would have told himself that very thing. Was he humiliated? Only when Davie Calder told him he was on a yellow card and that were he to get anymore he would have to watch the game from John Cameron’s field. Not so keen on that was the Sparrow. That’s where the crows hang out and if you fly with the crows…?
The Sparrow recalled the many times Mrs Sparrow’s mother had told her that very thing while they lived in the nest in Roselea on Ferry Road years before she flew over the hill to make her own nest in the Glen. The Sparrow hopped on and listened in to Davie Mackay at the top goals.
“Hope Cottage is for sale, “ said one of the passers by. The Sparrow unfeathered his ears, for Hope Cottage was another house in Beauly in the gutter of which Mrs Sparrow’s family had nested before moving to the Glen after competition for places in the gutter in Beauly from humans had become too intense.
“Where is it?” said another.
Davie told them. “It’s not hard to find,” he said “because there not a lot of hope in Beauly”
Just at that point Arran Macdonald hit a long ball up and it came back from the defence to Lewis Maclennan who finished it off well. This would seem to suggest Davie as well as being once a coalman is also a prophet- and so it proved because late in the game -in 83 minutes- to be precise John Barr scored a goal.
The Sparrow was intrigued by this goal because young Master Barr is a fine player but after watching him at home for most of this season Sparrow did not feel that young Master Barr intended to score before the end of June. Still the goal was gratefully received by the home support.
It caused the Sparrow some concern however because with that rash act by young Master Barr, the Glen were suddenly out of the Balliemore Cup and Beauly were through to the next round. How bizarre!
Could Beauly have thrown the game?
Unlikely the Sparrow thought because of an excellent piece of skill by the Beauly full back . John Barr is running through on goal and he is brought down just outside the box. “Toad “ acknowledges the foul-no malice intended. The retired Glen backs-including the Sparrow himself look on in admiration.
“We would have done that. Top Class”
The Sparrow agrees, Billy Maclean agrees, DP agrees , Jocky , John Alec and Calum all agree. Ron agrees -if only the present Glenners had done that to Ewan Ferguson of Lovat two weeks ago? One can but hope that they have learned from the lesson being taught by a master of the defending craft.
It behoves the Sparrow to comment on the game now seeing that its over and the team now are out of the Balliemore. Andrew Macdonald and Paul Mackintosh were excellent but the most consistent over the game and indeed the whole season has been Gregor McCormack. At full back he is superb.
Arran enjoys the full centre role-the forwards are beginning to move around the way Jimmac likes them to : it is a hard lesson to learn but nothing annoys backs more than being pulled out of position and not knowing who you have to mark. Dixon works hard and as for Mr Reid at wingback, he was on the money yesterday. One must not overlook the goalie-he had a wee bit to do which he did well. His presence gives confidence to the Sparrow and to the team.
Still a word of caution. The Sparrow notes that too often we wish to score the perfect goal. We are too elaborate up front :the Sparrow urges the fowards to hit the ball on target quicker and sooner especially in the early part of the game when players are fresh and the forwards can get in on the second ball coming back of the keeper more quickly.
However, any win will do for the Sparrow and let us face it yesterday's was our first home win. The Sparrow was inordinately pleased.
To round off a day of joy , the Sparrow learned that the second team had won 4-0 and that Gary Smith had scored two goals. It doesn’t get much better. Neil Porter and Neil Mackintosh scored the others- why are the most consistent goal scorers in the Glen called Neil ? The Sparrow is not sure of the answer.
Such is the homely nature of the Glen that nothing more could be done to round off the night but have a social shinty Quiz at the Blarmor The Sparrow perched in the rafters to enjoy the happy occasion. Who won the Strathdearn in 1977 ? The Sparrow knew the answer.
When the music round came, he recognised the opening bars of “Moving on Up “ by M People . Perhaps , he thought to himself, that’s what the Glen are doing too.
Anyway the next round against Newtonmore is a fortnight off ; perhaps they’ll all be called up into the army. Then again Sparrows might fly.

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