Sunday, February 25, 2007

Macdonald Wins Cup

The news came to Drum by telegram at precisely 4.46 pm on Saturday afternoon. The telegram read as follows MACDONALD WINS CUP STOP STRATHGLASS AWARDED DUBIOUS PEN STOP RAIN DID NOT STOP….…..
The rest of the story whatever it was disappeared in a hiss of static and so when Postmaster David Paterson commandeered a child and told him to run up to the Braes with the news, the story was incomplete. Depending on the Wing Centre’s mood and memory as this piece continues , it may well remain so.
Whatever, lets hear it for Arran Macdonald : a doubt earlier in the week because of a muscle injury, he became man of the match and undoubtedly the most famous player in Lewiston and indeed the whole Glen with an outstanding performance at full centre against former Scotland international Les Fraser. At the end of the match Arran was called from the changing room to receive the cup for Man of the Match from Glenurquhart legend Ken Fraser . He was well worthy of the award.
The Glen’s own dear Ikey Fraser - who owes his hand-eye co-ordination as a football goalie to his early shinty training- came up to watch his old team mates in the big match.. Now Ikey might play Premier League football with ICT but even he agrees that the real sporting hero in the Glen today is big Arran.
The Wing Centre was there with his note book for both the Ally Ban and the Macdonald Cup- indeed he is very fond of the cultural and sporting significance of these trophies- and what follows is an honest account of his observations.
The first game was an excellent context with some superb skills shown by young Neale Reid who took two nice goals on a difficult pitch to put in a strong claim for his own Man of the Match award. Odd to think that the two best players in each team live in the same block of houses in Lewiston. This makes the Wing Centre wonder what an excellent Lewiston squad there would be if the old village had some proper sporting facilities on which to develop the next generation of shinty players . The site of the Lewiston Arms -since it appears that it will never again be put to community use as a pub - would be well worth utilising to build an all weather dedicated shinty training ground with astro turf and…….but back to the day trip to Strathglass.
Ben Hosie also caught the eye with some excellent stick work up front . He has excellent positional sense and if the ball had gone in the net more times than Strathglass managed to achieve, why then Ally Ban’s silver cup would have been won by the Glen. That it wasn’t is entirely due to the fact that Stewart Morrison who was beginning to win the duel in the centre got his knee trapped under an ample Strathglass bottom and had to retire from the fray. Duncan Fraser came on late in the match as did Bradley Dickson and both did well. Strathglass however had some experienced pensioners at the back of whom the most nimble was Roy Mackenzie and his will to win - though the Wing Centre is loathe to admit it- is invaluable. And thus was the Ally Ban lost for the first time in living memory.
“Get your glasses cleaned,” the Strathglass supremo advised the Wing Centre.
“Cleaning my glasses won’t remove my blinkers” our hero replied a little too smugly but blinkers or not , the scribe was very upset when he returned to Drum to find that the rain had caused his scribbles in the notebook of truth to run and much of what he wrote in the heat of battle about the big game was unreadable. More’s the pity…..
The return to Drum was of course via Struy and Cul na Circ : as the Chairman said “I have never gone back up Kerrow Brae beaten and I am not starting now.”
The Wing Centre concurred with these sentiments though he was not sure what beaten meant. In all his years as a Glen player he never knew the meaning of the word at least in Macdonald Cups except for the Billy Bolton match. The Wing Centre has had therapy and counselling to come to terms with that trauma and has no intention of rehearsing the gory details here. All he has to say is that the game was played with a black ball and no further explanation should be required.
Suffice to say that when the ball was thrown up at the start of the match, Arran won the centre, pushed Les aside and launched the ball forward where Ruaridh Cameron had a half chance. The ball did not go in.
Around ten more periods of possession were monopolised by Arran in the next 15 minutes- he won every ball and as the pitch became heavy his big hitting and work rate kept up the Glen spirits. For forty minutes Arran, Paul Mackintosh and Dixie Maclennan held the centre firm but then for some reason Referee Sloggie brought the ball back to the centre again before half time. He did this twice in fact and Arran won the throw up both times. Perhaps Referee Sloggie simply wanted to admire the handiwork of a true artist of the caman.
The second half was of a similar nature- Arran at the heart of everything. Strath were awarded a penalty and one of the guys in maroon jerseys managed to keep it below the bar by some stroke of good fortune which allowed Arran to have another shot at winning a centre against Les. He did so with ease. Then Paul Mackintosh, who must have run Arran very close for man of the match, burst through and scored an excellent goal. Arran won the resulting centre. Young Master Reid came on for the last few minutes but the Strath defence managed to hold on and the game drew to a close.
There was then a speech and some cheering from the Strathglass boys who kept putting their fists up in the air in defiant gestures : the Wing Centre did not go over to see why because as a west coaster he has been wary of the Glasaich ever since his grandmother told him how they murdered the Kintail Macrae after he had stopped for a drink at the Struy Inn . The body was found in a pool in the River Glass and with that caution in mind the Wing Centre had to turn down the invitation to drink from a silver vessel offered to him by young Donald Fraser, an excellent shinty player and by far the most civilised of the modern Glasaich. With the prospect of a long drive back via Struy and Kiltarlity there was no knowing what might have happened.
Then Arran was called forward to collect the Cup and the crowd went wild with delight.

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