Monday, April 23, 2007

2007 Glen Squad look to emulate Heroes of 1977 and 1982 and 1988 and 1992 etc....

Strathdearn Cup Preliminary Round

Glenurquhart 12 Lochbroom 1

Not so sure that a score like this is a good thing though to be fair to Lochbroom they played much better than the goals against column would ever suggest and what is more even 4 goal sharp-shooter Stuart Morrison would be the first to admit that he scored one goal- the Glen’s 3rd- that was as good a counter as he had ever scored before in his life. Well no he wouldn’t but it’s written down now so he cannot retract it.
There were also a few other strikes which the fiery pitch and good fortune caused to go in that on any other Saturday would not have crossed the goal-line . They would have bounced wide or gone past the post. Still they did not and the score stands though young Iain Dubh would have kept the figure down because of his sure timing and clean hitting. Where was the Lochbroom hero? On holiday stalking deer in Tenerife or some such nonsense. Whatever, the Klondyke Kids missed his presence greatly though that did not take away from the fact that Lochbroom have more than a few skilful teenagers who will be a serious handful for future opponents. The hope is that they manage to keep the lads going and avoid having them snapped up by The Caranachs or even Caberfeidh. Doubtless some of them will go off to College or University and the trick there is to keep them playing at some level or another.
Ruaridh Hughes in the Lochbroom goal had a good game- though no doubt he will think he did not- but the truth is he could do very little to keep the shots that did beat him from going in.
If there was a lesson to learn - and he will know this already-it was that the second ball is the killer in shinty. The keeper cannot kill the ball unless he manages to concede a corner: anything on the goalie , especially on a dry hard pitch is going to cause trouble, and Ruaridh stopped any amount of shots which were promptly fired back in after they had bounced out from him. He is a good guy and he will learn from that.
Probably on any other Saturday, the Kintail man would have waded in to the area of the rebounding ball and caused enough consternation to put the Glenurquhart hens off their food but on this occasion the two veterans of the 1988 Camanachd Cup final had more than enough guile to profit from the confusion. As it was Stuart Morrison helped himself to 4 goals and Davie Stewart had 2 - not all were memorable but some are worth preserving in print.
It was 1-1 in about 10 minutes with a strike from Morrison countered by one from Cameron Macrae and then in 25 minutes Neale Reid worked some magic. Reid, along with Ali Mackintosh , was back from first team duty because the senior match with Inverness had been put on hold due to the funeral of Murdo Maclean . Reid grabbed the ball at buckshee and slid it across to Ross MacAulay - and Ross did the simple thing for the conditions. He fired it in at goal and the resulting save by Hughes broke out to Davie Stewart who hit it home.
Stuart Morrison then finished off the first half with three goals, the first of which was superb. A shy from Euan Fraser came across from the right and Morrison first timed a drive into the corner of the net. His other two strikes came after good work from Reid and MacAulay though one of them came as a rebound back from keeper Hughes who had managed to deal effectively with a number of other shots from the other Glen forwards. Neale Reid had several attempts but at this stage in the match was to remain unrewarded and increasingly frustrated : he did however have to deal with the presence of Lochbroom youngster Macdonald who, along with veteran defender Macfadyen , showed his mettle on several occasions to save the day. Sadly for Lochbroom it was only to delay the inevitable deluge until the second half.
Neale Reid finally found the net in 50 minutes and it was not long before the floodgates opened and the Lochbroom back line began to be overrun.
After Reid ,it was Davie Stewart and then Ross MacAulay with a long drive who added to the tally and next with the introduction of Ben Hosie into the forward line came the sweetest move of the afternoon. First Reid slipped the ball up the line to Hosie who worked himself clear before driving a shot powerfully at Hughes. The Lochbroom keeper made an excellent stop but Reid was quick to pounce on the rebound and ram it high into the net. The production of balls to the front line was further helped by the addition of Andrew Young to the centreline while Andrew Macdonald’s arrival on the field allowed the returning Calum Fraser to move up front. The backs had ,apart from the first ten minutes or so, a firm grip on the match and the quick tackling of Drew Maclennan and sound defending of Neil Mackintosh meant that keeper Dave Emery had little to do.
Late in the match Calum Fraser , back for his first run-out since the Caberfeidh match, helped himself to two goals while Neale Reid completed his hat-trick.
So a good result- but one that should not blind the Club to the fact that the previous week had seen the side slump to a 6-1 defeat at Kinlochshiel. Nice to see Mr M Munro and Mr A Macdonald back in the squad but the absence due to injury of Garry Mackintosh and Lucas Chapman may play a big part in the future progress of the side in this cup. Mark Stewart will also be a necessary stalwart too in the quest for the holy grail of the Strathdearn. Hopefully Ian Macdonald will still be available and Bradley Dixon will soon recover though it is more than likely that Ali Mackintosh and Neale Reid will return to senior duties before too long.
Just a word about the tone of this piece: usually the Wing Centre is chipper and happy to irritate, annoy and otherwise disconcert those who oppose the Glen and all that its shinty stands for- but several hours before the match he was one of those present at the funeral of Inverness stalwart Murdo Maclean. It was a large gathering of present but (mostly) former players to pay tribute to a man who was at the heart of his club for 20 years and more. “Lean gu dluth ri cliu bhur shinnsre” That’s what Murdo did; that’s what the Glen do; that’s what Lochbroom do; that’s what all shinty folk do. It doesn’t do any harm to remember it sometimes.
It's nice to win cups too though-so have a look at the picture at the top. What did these guys win then?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Rennie's hat-trick bitter pill to swallow.

Glenurquhart 3 but Lovat Won

If there is any explanation as to why Lovat came out of this contest with all the points and Glenurquhart , despite having the ball in the net 5 times , ended up with nothing , then the explanation has to be that the halftime Jaffa cakes , traditionally supplied in the Glen were either too great in quantity or purchased from an inferior supplier. For the uninitiated of the outer world, who might have otherwise thought that the half time snack of choice would be a ¼ slice of a real Jaffa orange filled with vitamin C , the sophisticates of the Glen First team have a Jaffa cake and a draught of Earl Grey tea delivered to the dressing room in porcelain cups on a silver tray. The boys certainly have Premier League tastes but with one half of the management team away on the continent looking for new players , the remaining supremo had purchased Tesco own brand type Jaffa “sponges” instead of the real MacVitie and the dressing room was in uproar. Clearly John Collins managed to do the same thing at Hibs the week before with very much the same result. Upon such little hooks history hangs or something like that - and as a consequence a team which was roaring in front at 3-1 before the break, came out in a confused state in the second period and conceded a victory to Lovat which the crofters barely deserved.
It had all been going so well. Before the Wing Centre had taken his seat in the stand Andrew Corrigan had opened the scoring when he followed up on a ball which came back off Lovat keeper Stewart Macdonald. Then on the 8 minute mark Lewis Maclennan hit one of two goals he was to score that afternoon and it was an excellent strike which lifted the Glen spirits and simultaneously made President Ferguson, Johnny MacRitchie, his mam , his auntie and most importantly Jimmy Johansen, sad. It had the makings of a very agreeable afternoon and then out of the blue Raymond Rennie got the ball about 18 yards from goal and hit a blistering right hand shot past Stuart Mackintosh. Whatever way you want to spin it- and the Wing Centre certainly wishes it had spun away from “Raymondo of the Glens“ - it was a superb goal but from the Glen reaction at that point it did not look to be game-changing. Why? Because about 14 minutes after that Andrew Corrigan increased his own personal goal tally and restored the two goal difference with a fine finish.
Then the team retired for tea and biscuits which was the first big mistake.
No sooner had the game restarted and indeed while the Wing centre was buying a venison burger Rennie got a second goal. There is no point in describing it because it would only be a second hand account of the action. Ryan Ferguson got another and then it was Rennie again- and suddenly the Glen are down 4-3. Now this is history repeating itself-look to last year’s match report for a similar occurrence.
The serious point is this- Rennie is excellent with the stick and is a big powerful player who can push and shove this way into some space if he is in the mood. When he gets the opportunity of a shot at goal he can take it. So what was the second big mistake? Probably not treating Raymondo to a little more physical pressure after he had nabbed his second goal. This might seem a little blunt but the Wing Centre is absolutely certain that the two Lovat Jimmies, Messers Johansen and Gallagher, will know exactly what he means. Hindsight is a wonderful quality and the Wing Centre is a past master at it-and much else besides- but despite his Neolithic tendencies he would prefer to see skill triumph over brute force- except in a match with Lovat.
But the whole tale has not been told-some time between Rennie getting his second goal and young Ryan Ferguson bringing the sides level the Glen had the ball in the Lovat net. It happened like this. There was a clash between two Lovat defenders as the Glen mounted an attack. One of them fell down with an injury to the head-the ball popped out of the box and Andrew Corrigan put it between the posts from a difficult angle with other Lovat players trying to stop him doing so. All this time , the ref has not stopped the play. The goal looks as if it might be given then it’s ruled out. Why? A kind hearted Glen forward has stayed in the D to help the stricken goalkeeper-so he is offside. Correct decision on both counts -by player and official.
And there’s more! The Glen began to come much more strongly into the match after they had gone behind especially with the introduction of Paul Mackintosh in the centre line, back for his first game since the Cabers match. The attacks built up strongly at the shop end but Macdonald in the Lovat goal was in excellent form. He palmed away a fierce shot from Corrigan and then had to concede a series of corners as the revamped Glen forward line of David Smart and Neale Reid turned the screw ever tighter. You will recall that earlier it was stated that Lewis Maclennan had scored two goals - he did but his second one was ruled out for offside though Lewis still finds it hard to believe. Whatever, from a corner on the right he met the ball beautifully and rocketed it into the roof of the net- does he ever score a trickler or a scrappy goal? Perhaps he should try. The Ref gave it offside- and Lovat breathed again and rode their luck once more when Neale Reid charged down a low hit out and keeper Macdonald was lucky enough to be hit on the leg by the youngster’s follow up shot. The ball bounced past the post ; the fulltime whistle went; Lovat were pleased.
The Wing Centre acknowledges the gleeful Lovat supporters but does not make eye contact. As he looks after Jimmy Johansen skipping off to his car, he feels an acute pang of jealousy-he’s kept his hair, and his team have now kept two points which did not belong to them. So it goes. Unfortunately.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

In the Name of the Father : Let’s hear it for the old guys

This pic owes a great deal to Mr Reid- who though he may be retired
( but never retiring) still has to put up with some slagging in his domestic situation with two shinty playing sons who don’t imagine their father to have been quite the iconic figure he actually was in days of yore when the Glen were a force in everyone else’s Glen as well as their own. As well as being part of the 1977 squad ( we are not worthy etc…)he was also a member of the 1978 squad which won -for the second time the Dewar Shield (Don’t ask!!). Guys - last time the Wing Centre checked, apart from the Robertson Cup you don’t have what Dad has!
The snap also perhaps will let Dixon Maclennan realise that his Dad also has more medals than he has and as for Paul and Neil Mackintosh , they might come to a new awareness that their dad DP , follically challenged though he may now be, still retained a greater thickness of thatch in his 30s than they now sport in their 20s -admittedly the pace of life is much faster now.
Stuart Mackintosh and Young Ali Mackintosh should always be aware that unless they get to a Camanachd cup final and play better than the entire Kingussie team, Ali Mac will always be one up on them
Stewart Morrison is grey haired now but here forever youthful is Graham Morrison -with a winners medal too
Mark and Davie Stewart , Stuart Fraser, Craig Carmichael and Master Ruaridh Cameron should take note -Dad’s are the Lads
So there we have it - 1978- Lochcarron is the venue and the prize was the Dewar Shield. Who(m) did we beat? Find that out for yourself.
And the others in the pic? Angie Macinnes went off to Canada with his bandage: Len Macrae’s son Brian has turned out for Ardnamurchan.
And the Wing Centre and Wee Billy Macleod - nothing but daughters but then, with all that testosterone, what else can you expect?

Monday, April 09, 2007

'Broom Swept Away

Glenurquhart 3 Lochbroom 0

This was an interesting game not least for the fact that the Glen were down to the last XIII with an injury list of top team players which needed replacement from the 2nd string. As a result, Manager Henderson -and the Wing Centre knows this for a fact having interviewed the Supremo just before, after and during the afternoon’s activities- is more than a little concerned about next week’s match against Kinlochshiel. Paul Mackintosh , Gary Mackintosh ,Billy Urquhart ,Bradley Dixon, and Neil Porter are all out for the next while with nasty injuries and in yesterday’s fixture Lucas Chapman had to leave the field after sustaining a recurrence of a heel problem with which he has struggled for the past week or so. Add to this the fact that Calum Fraser is in the Shetlands for next week at least- and the situation becomes a little sticky.
What is the Boss to do? The Wing Centre is reluctant to let this out to the public at large but prominent on the list of phone numbers which was sticking out of the top pocket of the Bossman’s red and black shirt was the number of a certain Stewart G- but then that might be just to make sure that the Boss could get Stewart G to help get a hold of Stewart M and Stewart D if these guys had switched off their mobile phones. But then you never know, do you?
So what was the game like then? Well if anything, it demonstrates that Lochbroom have come on considerably in the two seasons since they have entered the league and above all they now have a good crop of young players who are as effective as any others anywhere in their age group. So what if they need a forward who can finish off in front of goals-but then perhaps yesterday their front men were up against it because for the first part of the match the last line of defence was former under 21 international Iain Macdonald who has returned for the odd game to help Hendo’s cause : he played with authority and indeed when Lucas Chapman had to come off in the second half he stepped up to the centreline where his long hitting helped put the final seal on the victory.
The other good sign for the Glen side was the fact that in the absence of the Mountaineer at fullback (and in the absence more seriously of Gary Mackintosh) what other side would be happy with a 15 year old stand in? Well the Boss was delighted with the efforts of Drew Maclennan who stepped up to the plate, put his nose on the line and played the last 35 minutes under heavy Lochbroom pressure ,managing to clear the ball every time he was asked to.
As the game started off with a fine goal from Mark/Davie Stewart in 12 minutes there was every reason to hope that the afternoon would be without any serious threat. It was not to be and for the rest of the first half the game was even- Mr Fraser at the back for Lochbroom was very effective as was the buckshee Mark Macdonald who was quick and clean in clearing his lines and did not give the Glen’s buckshee Ben Hosie a great deal of joy.
Now the Wing-Centre has had a look at his notebook and finds it ambiguous on the first goal -the script approximates to middle period Aramaic and while that cannot be taken as gospel, it appears to say “free hit -12 mins-Mark Stewart -Davie Stewart -low drive. Goooaaal!!!” Sad, juvenile but true -as proof, one day the page will be preserved in the still to be conceived “Shinty Museum of Scotland”
As to the meaning of the text, the Wing-Centre has placed two interpretations on it. The first one was revealed to him at 4.45 pm on Saturday afternoon when he undertook a phone call to Alton House , World HQ of Shinty and let it be known to the functionary there that the goal was scored by Mark Stewart. Why? Largely on the strength of the fact that said Mark Stewart had -in a spell of Glen pressure sometime after the goal- driven a low drive into the side netting. Ergo he was capable of hitting low drives in between the post which would count as goals.
However, more mature reflection on Sunday afternoon led to the conclusion that the true exegesis of the text should be along the grounds of “in 12 minutes then Glen were awarded a free hit which was tapped forward by Mark Stewart. After a titanic struggle with the forces of darkness, the ball fell to Davie Stewart who- and this is the bit that is hard to believe- struck a low drive past Ruaridh Hughes into the net.”
The Goooaaal !!! bit stands as being unequivocal.
In the second half -on 60 minutes Mark Stewart did in fact hit a low drive into the net after a neat passage of play which saw Ben Hosie and then Davie Stewart lay the ball across the goal face for the finishing strike- except that it broke out some distance off a defender and was pounced on and finished off by Mr S from out beyond the penalty spot. This was proof positive if ever it was needed that he was capable of scoring the opening goal as well.
For the next part of the match it can only be stated that the Glen went to sleep and the play was monopolised in the midfield and up front by Lochbroom. In fact a group of kids came out of a minibus wearing Galatasaray shirts -presumably attracted to stop by Kenan’s Kebab Shop-and asked Ken the goal judge if they could play football in the shop end goals since it was obvious there was so little Glen forward activity in that area. Ken said that although he might be wrong there was just the outside possibility of another Glen attack and that they ought to wait-which was just as well because the Glen bounced back in the last 14 minutes.
Part of the credit for the revival has to be given to Roger Grant the winger who came on to take the place of Dunc Fraser who moved back to defence when Lucas went off and when Drew moved back and when Balbeg moved to full centre and----whatever! The Wing Centre’s head was spinning with the permutations because Hendo is ,as we know , a masterful if somewhat complicated tactician. Anyway Roger played well on the wing, was unhampered by the burden of the No 13 shirt, and had a blistering attempt at goal which was well saved by Mr Hughes. In time he will realise it’s the trundled shots which go over the line and count.
But not always because in the 80th minute was scored the goal of goals- a rare hail of delightful skill. Roger cut the ball back from the left wing, Davie Stewart knocked it on and up to Ben Hosie who overhead flicked it into the net. The Wing Centre has stood on the sidelines and played in shinty matches for many years and apart from a goal of his own scored in a meaningless game against Hughie Chisholm on the Eilean on a day when the wind blew a whole shed slowly across the pitch ,he has rarely acclaimed a goal with so much delight. Arise Sir Ben!!
Still it’s a snap of Sir Roger which he has chosen to enliven this report.

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