Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Despair in the Square-Would Gerry have put up with it?

Beauly 1 Bute 2

Don’t Beauly do Gala days well. Balliemore Cup Day was no exception- superbly sunny weather, a well organised operation for relieving punters of their money, hospitality tents, an excellent new pavilion and the grass at Braeview like the turf at Wimbledon. If the Camanachd Cup final is to go anywhere else it could do worse that go to Beauly where at least the populace play the game and ,if the noise coming from the crowd as Donnie MacDermott of Bute was taking his shies is anything to go by, are actually passionate about the result. Credit to the Buteman- he took the barracking and the shies stayed immaculate.
By that time, sadly for the home side Bute had taken a 2-1 lead and were strong enough- and the word “strong” is the key word - to hold on to it long enough to win the match.
It is difficult to know how to say it kindly but Beauly ought to have done better. Certainly Bute have played in National League Division 1 for a number of years and over the last two have made the Celtic Cup final. That has made them just more than a little hard. They are also more than a little competitive and they are expert at these annoying aspects of gamesmanship which seem to win games- they challenge the ref, they question the goal judge, they use the little pushes swings and nudges and the verbal aggression that gives them the psychological advantage over opponents. They are also good shinty players -not least in the forward line. One would also judge Hector Whitelaw to be a class act. He is probably even a nice guy.
So as the guy in the Herald said “Bute kept the flag flying for south shinty with a fine 2-1 victory in the Balliemore Cup over a disappointing Beauly side . Playing in their first national final since 1957 , Beauly enjoyed home advantage but never quite got to grips with a Bute team which over the piece, played the more creative shinty. Bute took the lead in the 7th minute with a blistering strike from the right by winger Stuart Strathie. Beauly levelled the score within two minutes. Danny Marshall picked up a cut back from veteran front man Stephen Maclean to lash the ball past keeper Kevin Queen.
The game remained evenly poised until just before halftime when slack work in the home midfield allowed Bute centre man James Craig space to hit the ball at the Beauly goal where a mistake by Beauly keeper Stephen Lymburn presented Bute with the lead.
The second period was equally tight and at times the competition in the midfield became over physical and referee David Mitchell had to work hard to keep the lid on the game. The home team lifted the effort level in the last quarter after switching former under 21 internationalist Jamie Maclennan to full forward but despite the urgings of the partisan home crowd Beauly did not have enough to get back in the game.”
So that is it in a nutshell. Beauly do Gala days well: now they need to do the Shinty that wee bit better. Not that Glenurquhart are anything to go by. Last time The Glen played Bute in a game that really mattered was back in 2004 at Kingussie in the semi-final of said Balliemore ; they beat us as well.
We also came off the field feeling we should have played better. We counted up in the dressing room afterwards the number of times we felt we ought to have scored. In real life of course we didn’t actually do it. Bute did. They have the medals to prove it. You cannot hold anything against a side , however, that makes the journey up the A9 in a rusty minibus with a broken window covered with cardboard. The thing they came to Kingussie in would not have been given an MOT in Raasay. Rothesay seems beyond the rule of law in many ways. The hope is they will never get a bridge.
The gentleman from “The Buteman” was there on Saturday too. In true Victorian holidaymaker style as befits a denizen of “Doon the Watter” he travelled up to Priory Central by train and was going back by choo-choo as well. I call that cool.
I like Beauly- hard to believe but I do. It has a touch of class about it. The perfect Saturday would have been a wee browse in Marr’s antique shop, some Stornoway black pudding purchased at Cameron’s butchers shop, coffee at “ Made in Scotland”, over to Campbell’s to buy new kilt socks and then up to Braeview for the shinty. You could not find a more satisfying, more ethnic Saturday in the whole of ....well Canada.. Drum doesn’t come near it-except we have a shinty team.
There was of course another game at Beauly. Another Cup Final too.
The Herald guy encapsulated the Sutherland Cup final thus :”Earlier in the afternoon Glenorchy’s father and daughter combination of Lucy and Des McNulty tasted cup disappointment when Fort William ran out easy 6-0 winners in the Aberdein Considine Sutherland Cup. Though the match was a personal triumph for Fort William forward John Wood who scored 4 goals, the early plaudits went to Glenorchy keeper Iain Gibson who pulled off a series of superb saves in the first half to keep the score to a single goal . The roof fell in on Glenorchy in the second half however especially with the introduction to the Fort William front line of Willie Macdonald who scored in 52 minutes. Woods (4) and James Denholme completed the scoring.”
I felt sorry for Glenorchy but I think the Fort guys were more fortified than they should have been if the snap at the top of the Fort goalmouth refreshment is to be believed. For the good name of the noble sport of Camanachd, I am still hoping it was water. Then you wouldn’t expect anything different from a guy called Wells.

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