Tuesday, January 30, 2007

To all the shinty tunes I’ve ever loved before

Every shinty team deserves to have a tune of its own. I saw some piece of writing somewhere which linked various clubs with songs. Have to say these songs seemed uninspiring to me but it would be wrong to slag off Ballachulish for being linked with “Gleann Baile A’Chaoil”for instance. On the other hand, while the song might bring a genuine tear to the eye of an exile, it doesn’t seem to me to do much to spur the players on to action but then again the Wing Centre has been known to have been wrong once before.
Skye probably have chosen a divine piece of work by Mairi Mhor to inspire them to greatness-though probably the song itself has achieved a wider currency with rather more aplomb than the shinty side in recent years. Various bits of doggerel probably do the biz for Beauly, Strathglass and Lovat: somehow or other I don’t see Caberfeidh as inherently musical although they would appear to have named the whole club after a song.
Glenurquhart now are different- if there was a psalm tune called Glenurquhart, the Wing Centre wouldn’t be a bit surprised. There most certainly is a pipe tune called “Leaving Glenurquhart” but haunting though it is ,the tune does not inflame the fiery passions of the players. No - for a generation of Glen players of a Latin temperament the tune that cheered was “ Spanish Flea” by Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass. So profound was the impact of this tune upon the psyche of the fit young Glenners of the 70s and 80s that they were propelled into finals and semi finals in a hot blooded frenzy of over achievement. How had such a cultural collision come to take place in such a tranquil Highland Glen? The blending of salsa with shinty was the inspired work of Glen trainer of the time , Bob Murray. Bob who sadly passed away very recently had cut his PI teeth in the Royal Navy and in correction houses for juvenile delinquents on the Canadian prairies. The Glen side of the 70s and 80s had its fair share of juvenile delinquents but Bob was up to them.
In the corner of the Borlum Riding School on frosty Wednesday evenings Bob would place his little Philips cassette recorder. He would switch it on. In time to the music the mustangs which had been milling inside would be driven out of the corral by assorted peons and vaqueros, some riding bareback on the fringes of the herd. The heavy stable doors would be closed after the horses had bolted-for the first time in his life the Wing Centre perceived the original force of that cliché- and the music of the prance would begin.
“Dadada da da da dada- Ally Mac Keep Up ! Mackay keep your knees up! DP is that you just arriving now?” shouted Bob the boss and through the thick sawdust and steaming piles of horse manure the future finalists would trot like Billy Smart’s Circus ponies.
“Dadada da da da dada- daaaaaa!!!!” That Latin music had a beat to it that lightened the tedium of training and caused the hombres to sing in unison as they pounded round the periphery of the show ring. Films of American Marines in training reveal singing of a similar pattern.
But all things come to an end. All of a sudden after about 8 years, Borlum decided they no longer wanted the shinty club to scare the brood mares and it was back to the Blairbeg Hall and sprints down past the churchyard in the dark and loping runs round Balmacaan and down Lewiston. The Wing Centre was reminded of this last week when he saw the Glen squad set off briskly down the road in the direction of Achmony. Trainer Barry Connor was keeping them on their toes. No music though. Pity.
“What” wondered the wing centre,” would be an appropriate Latin tune for the guys to suffer in time with?” Speedy Gonzalez? La Bamba? The Macarena? Whatever it was you’d never get a wee cassette player as good as that one. If we ever get a shinty museum in the proud new Camanachd HQ in Inverness, we don’t need a wall full of old photos, or mounted clubs. A Philips battery operated cassette recorder should have pride of place in the section marked “The Glen” - that and of course Peter’s book.

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