1977 AND ALL THAT
Mr Reid (Sen) is officially 60 : it must be true because Fergie Macdonald brought his button box all the way from Moidart to meet him at a surprise party in the Blar on a Friday night. Now Fergie is the most famous man in the whole Highlands , perhaps even the whole world-except in Drum. There the honour for being the most famous man in the world belongs to Mr Reid.
How did this come about? Well it all goes back to 1977. Those who wish an objective report on the match of the century should check up on the wise words of Peter English in his iconic book “Glenurquhart : its places ,people ,neighbours and its shinty in the last 100 years or more” The wing centre will refer at times to Peter’s book but only when he feels the necessity to be exact in his details - not a pastime of which he makes a habit. However, as he leafed through that august publication recently to sharpen up his remembrance of times past, it struck him that Peter had been too generous to the main neighbour of the Glen in particular. Had the book been written on the other side of the hill- and believe it or not , books actually have been written in Strathglass-then the mention of the Glen in these tomes would have been (and in fact is) minimal and dismissive. Sometimes the folk of the Glen are too generous in spirit to those who scorn them ,as has been amply proved by the number of games we have gifted this season to the opposition by the odd-some times very odd-goal . However, that is to digress when what we should be doing is taking a journey back in time to Saturday the 11th of June ,1977.
The wing centre possesses a detailed ability to recall in minute inexactitude the events of every pointless game in which he personally ever took part -like the anorak he is ,he wrote actual details down at the time and so it is to these that he refers.
The road to the top was long and hard-it was a weary passage to the final. The first round took the team over the loch to Boleskine . Interestingly enough ,predictive text calls it Moleskin which is quite accurate given the mounds of earth which dotted the old pitch at Foyers. There , facing a resentful Boleskine side-they were still upset at losing their two best players ,Toots Fraser and Billy Mackay, to the Glen- the visitors were fortunate enough to secure a draw. Mr Reid played unaccountably well because there is sadly no actual account of what he did. But at left wing back he must have had a great deal to do and must have done it well because he was still at left wing back to the replay which was won by the Glen at home but only narrowly 3-2.
The wing centre remembers Alan Bell confessing to be relieved after the result and wondering if we would ever be so lucky again. He need not have bothered being concerned .Mr Reid was smug with victory- and he deserved to be for he had put one of the Fraser brothers in his pocket throughout the game : the Fraser in question was small enough to fit there quite neatly. It was a wonder though that Mr Reid was able to run at all.
And so to Beauly and yet another draw 2-2 and a replay win 2-1. This time the match goes down as remarkable in the lore of the Glen because it marked the debut of Peter “Pecker” Macdonald or “Peter the Post Office” as he was known at that young stage in his life. Peter came on midway through the second half and scored. He was 12 at the time. No 12 year old has scored since for a Glen senior team which tells something- I am not sure what. Perhaps that we have a wider range of youngsters playing now or perhaps Pecker was exceptional. Probably the latter.
Mr Reid was again excellent at the back in both games and as one would expect extremely convivial in the Legion afterwards.
All roads now led to Spean Bridge for the semi-final with the mighty Newtonmore. It was a breeze at 5-2 for the Glen. Never mind that they had a team full of John Russells, Angie Macraes, the youthful Ricky Ross and a multitude of Mackintoshes who were all to grow up and win millions of Camanachd medals. Mr Reid was in great form once again as was Alec Shaw on the other side.
The final was held at Spean Bridge on Saturday 4th June 1977. In Peter’s book, the wing centre notes a quotation from the P & J preview which read as follows “Glenurquhart can repeat their 1972 Strathdearn Cup success tomorrow when they meet Ballachulish at Spean Bridge in this year’s final. Throw up is at 6.30pm. The Glen have hit top form at the right time and their team is a fine mixture of youth and experience. Youngster Donald Macdonald, who also plays for the Glen juvenile team, is a full centre. Improving with every game he looks a fine prospect.
Up front Ken Fraser is returning to peak fitness and can be relied on to give the Ballachulish defence a busy time. The star of the Glenurquhart team is Ken’s brother, Calum who plays at full back. Calum has a wealth of experience and is still a senior class player.
He will not find things easy against a very fast Ballachulish forward line who have top players in Andy Dunn and James Macdonald. However, if they play like they did on Saturday , then the Glen can lift the silverware.”
They don’t write ‘em like that anymore-well perhaps they do but the writer called it correctly-and it was not Bill Macallister in those days. He made his living from football back then and wouldn’t bother wasting a drop of ink on a teuchter sport like shinty.
Ballachulish dominated the opening phase and with the new white ball wet and heavy * the Glen including Mr Reid struggled to hit out of defence. In 6 minutes Ballachulish went ahead through Peter Wood and though as Peter writes “Ken Fraser came close with a fierce drive”
“Play raged from end to end ” continued Peter “and there were plenty of thrills but it wasn’t until 90 seconds from time that the Glen equalised. Andrew Douglas carried the ball into the circle and cleverly flicked the ball past Sutherland to give Glenurquhart fresh hope”
Not so. The wing centre-who was incidentally playing at buckshee back -notes that it was not until the last 20 minutes of the first half that the Glen centre line managed to get into the game. In the last five minutes of the match ,in an act of desperation, the wing centre was moved up into the forward line switching with Davie Morrison-there he managed to mishit a shot in to the D , for Andrew Douglas to score with aforesaid “clever flick” This was more or less the last hit of normal time.
The extra time period so the “record” notes , was dominated by the Glen but as always Glen teams never score-at least in the shinty sense. There have been two exceptions however-Kenny Carmichael and the most famous red mullet to be seen outside of a fish-shop, wee Billy Macleod but that is to digress once again.
The replay of the final took place in Invergarry on Saturday 11th of June 1977. It was a sunny afternoon and the historic Glen team (pictured above) was as follows : Len Macrae, Calum Fraser, Alec Shaw, Mr Reid, Fraser Mackenzie, Kenny Maclennan, Donald Macdonald ,Alan Macpherson, Davie Morrison, Winkie Duff, Ken Fraser, Andrew Douglas, Richard Douglas and Alan Bell.
If you want to know the answer to the quiz question- who were the last twins to play in the same Glen team in a cup final, here is your answer. The Douglas twins-Ritchie and Andrew.
In the match as is traditional ,the Glen did not start well . Peter Wood put Ballachulish ahead after only two minutes and for a while Mr Reid , Calum , Alec Shaw and the wing centre-turned buckshee had a struggle to keep the slatemen out.
Then equally traditionally the centreline-who were kids really-got a hold and our forwards got three nice goals inside five minutes with Ken Fraser’s being an absolute rocket from distance. Andrew Douglas and Davie Morrison notched the others. This time the match was played with a black Tighnabruaich ball and when Mr Reid in particular struck it up the line it went for miles in the direction of Loch Quoich. Truthfully, with Mr Reid on our team Ballachulish never had a chance.
Davie Morrison got a fourth goal and then Mr Reid allowed Ballachulish to score a consolation which is truly in keeping with his generous spirit. A 4-2 victory then**- a chaotic yet posed photo-see above- with lots of Glen youngsters trying to infiltrate it- most notably Jamie Bell and then back to the Legion where old Tosh who had travelled with the party pointed out that he had won this cup over 40 years before. How true- a glance at the base showed us that Caberfeidh had won it in 1935.
Then up to Len & Kate’s on Balmacaan Road for a party with a fiddler and Kenny Maclennan’s mam playing the accordion. A lovely night- and a fitting one for Mr Reid to take his place in shinty history. Not only that but in the course of the cup campaign, Mr Reid broke six clubs at a price the wing centre noted of £42 in total.
A few weeks later some youngsters were knocking about on the shinty field at Blairbeg and the wing centre was passing.
“Who’ll you be” said one.
“ I’ll be Billy Reid” was the reply
“You can’t be Billy Reid” said another “ I bags Billy Reid. You’ll just have to be DP”
You know, right up until that time the wing centre had always assumed Billy Reid’s first name was Mister.
For those with an historical not to say hysterical interest in such matters ,the “new” white shinty ball had only just been developed for use in the mid to early 70s.The influence of the Shinty/Hurling link which seriously began in the modern era in the early 1970s influenced this for, if you pardon the expression the Irish hurlers had “white balls”. This naturally intrigued the Scots because they were more visible in the dull dark afternoons of winter shinty : the importing of hurling balls dates from that period. Before then the black Tighnabruaich ball made by John MacKellar was the top one to play with. Handmade, it probably still would be a truer more accurate ball. There also existed a horrible rock hard bullet of a ball supplied by John Macpherson Ltd. of Inverness.
**NB The Glen have won the Strathdearn five times in total-1960 1962 1972 1977 2002.
Disappointingly, (for them ) Strathglass have only won it thrice-1929 1967 1982.