Don't You Just Lovat?
Well no not really-don’t really love it at all , especially when the Wing Centre has spent a number of his columns trying in turns to irritate and amuse the good crofters of Kiltarlity, they turn round and give him the only answer that matters. They win the League. And as is always true, he who laughs last , laughs….and laughs…and laughs, though from the look of this snap John and James are still fired up for battles yet to come. Still , their Mams will like the picture, even if it will put every hen in the Glen off the lay for months.
So it’s a humble Wing Centre who prints this picture and wishes the Lovat boys all the very best for their journey up to the Premier League. Here they are for posterity, John and James with the Division 1 (North) Trophy which they well deserved : they beat the Glen twice and if you beat the Glen twice you are probably better than the Glen, hard though that is to say.
“Anything worse than Lovat winning the League?” the Wing Centre asked a young Glen player who shall remain nameless.
“Yes” he said
“Strathglass staying in the Premier ”
And when you look at it like that , Lovat winning North Division One was not the worst that could happen this season.
Truth to tell, Lovat seemed to come late to self-belief and perhaps the experience of coming from behind to beat the Glen in Drum brought on their confidence. So we can take credit for that then.
When the Wing Centre went over to see them last, he had to travel to Castle Leod where they were up against a determined Caber’s outfit and despite sharing an even first half the black and whites ran out clear winners in the end scoring six goals. Steven Cameron was the player that most intrigued on that day and on others too- he can hit a ball with excellent accuracy and without any obvious back-swing. He is strong physically and can make himself space by throwing off the defenders : the nearest player one can compare him to is former Skye full forward Calum Murchison . The only doubt is whether Cameron will have the mental toughness to prosper at the highest level and whether he will add some serious fitness to help him make the most of his talents. Murchison did that when Skye were at the top and he has a Camanachd Winners medal to prove it. Time will tell for Lovat. Whatever he does in the Premier, he was certainly too good for the Glen in the North Division.
Watching them demolish Cabers that day, it was clear they had too much of a never say die attitude to let ‘Shiel simply run away with the title however much their final fixture against Inverness helped them. They did take 6 off Cabers , a feat ‘Shiel never looked like matching but because -some honourable exceptions aside-their side was packed with kids the Wing Centre did not really think they were on for the League until it was too late to do anything other than be jealous of them.
At Castle Leod, they had a royal defence-(four Jameses-geddit!) but their real ace was between the posts . That boy is going to be a great asset in the Premier- and this respect comes from a club which has a top goalie itself.
The Premier will be a big ask - though Strath have stayed up for two seasons or so now- but at least three of the Jameses are not getting any younger and will have to dig deep to hold out Premier forward lines.
They will take points at Balgate if they can keep their self-belief .Raymond Rennie and Martin Bell are long overdue a run at the top level and the kids will grow into the job-they always do. The talismanic figure in the side however ,to the Wing Centre anyway, is Ewan Ferguson : he never gives up and never stops running. In any sport at any level, that has to be inspiring. If they get Fraser Gallagher back- and he decides he wants to be part of something then who knows?
On Saturday past, James and John picked up the award as Coaches of the year and well deserved too - to the victors go the spoils - and it was nice to see a Lovat table in the Camanachd tent to greet the victory. Mary Ann, Ally Macrae , Graham and Linda Bell have waited a long time to see their side on the up- and the Wing Centre hopes the young guys realise they didn’t just do it for themselves. Theirs was also a victory for Jackie , Big Finlay, Don Neil, the two senior Jimmies G & J and the two Ronnies - yes and for the memory of Hughac and wee Ali as well.
*The Wing Centre would like to thank John MacR for the photo which was taken by Phil Downie