Thursday, February 28, 2008

Clearly, the Wing Centre can hardly wait for the new shinty season to start

Since looking on the bright side of Glen shinty is the only purpose for the existence of this column, the point must immediately be made that one of the important things that came out of the recent series of pre-season fixtures was the fact that we did the double over Lovat. Hendo’s Heroes won against the Wee Crofters on the first Saturday and then a week later two goals from Neale Reid and a strike from Lewis Maclennan allowed the Glen to record a victory against the side that undermined our season last year. Not that any of that counts in real life.
However- the pic at the top of the page taken by an old snapper friend, Brian Denoon, is one that speaks volumes and can be read on many levels . Indeed if this were a real blog with prizes to be won surely a caption competition would be in order.
What do we see? Certainly the dug out is neat, clean and tidy and looked after in a Glen -like manner in stark contrast to the photo some months earlier in the blog of the Lovat dugout (scroll down if you must). Thus do well kept farms of the Glen contrast with the messy hill crofts of Kiltarlity. More importantly - and young Ewen Weatherspoon , who has an exhibition of his shinty pictures on display at Inverness Museum ,should take note- here we have in the background two shinty legends having a conversation while young masters Corrigan and Barr burst through the middle to launch yet another attack. The old have handed on the caman of glory to the young.
In any exhibition of shinty photos perhaps there should be included a photo of greats of the past like the Glen’s Jimmac Mackintosh and Lovat’s Jackie Henton. Maybe these two old boys are there on display-the Wing Centre hasn’t gone in to see yet- but the snaps of the old boys like Ali Mac and Tarzan which he saw reproduced in a recent Courier article look as if they would come in handy to put up on a string to frighten roe deer out of the garden.
Back over at Blairbeg however, the heroes did not do so well. The WHFP gave a proper account of the game which the Wing Centre is too distressed to give here. Sufficient to say that the Sgiathanachs won by 4 goals to 1 and played quite well but would probably not have achieved such a margin if full back Donald Fraser had not gone over his ankle. Though he did not manage to come out for the second half-no point in pushing your luck in a friendly-the injury did not turn out to be as serious as was first thought and DF, agriculture permitting, will be OK for the start of the season.
The absence of full back Fraser left the Glen rather light and with seven schoolboys on the park at various times-Neil Porter, Calum Smith, Drew Maclennan, Ryan Brady, Bradley Dickson, Ben Hosie and Ewen Menzies for the list makers amongst us-it was no surprise that the Skyemen came out ahead.
Skye took a first half lead with a neat finish from Angie Macdonald (Borve) before Calum Fraser pulled one back as the cliché goes. Still it is worthwhile for Calum’s sake to describe the goal because it was either a brilliant piece of shinty artistry or the result of a divine judgement on the Skye keeper for having been bad in primary school. Calum got on to the ball some 25 yards out-he was having a good effective game by the way- and on his left hand with little backlift (this supports the artistry argument ) drove the ball hard and low past the goalkeeper (sheer pace involved-more artistry detected). It was precisely 2.25 on the Wing Centre’s watch (this is where the divine intervention may be involved) and at the end of the match the watch still showed 2.25. Why so? Because the Wing Centre , thinking that the shot was a direct goal pulled out the winder of his old fashioned watch thus stopping the movement of the hands. He was then distracted by the fact that Calum’s shot , having passed the goalie smashed into the post , rebounded back , struck the goalie on the heel and returned net wards ,crossed the line and counted in the Glen’s favour by a mere two inches (the case in favour of divine intervention now rests, as Davie Bell would say) .
The Wing Centre forgot to push in the winder and so was able to precisely record the time of Calum’s goal but since he had not taken a note of when the game actually started the GMT measurement is useless as a guide to the precise minute of the strike.
None of this matters because when the Wing Centre usually times goals in a real game and then compares his figures with the times recorded by the former President, the two sets of data might well have been gathered on different sides of the globe, if you get the drift.
Anyway Danny Morrison got two nice goals for Skye before Neil MacVicar finished off the match with a sharp shot into the corner for number 4.
Of the Skye team there is more than a little to be said but by now the WHFP will have said it better . However to give credit (reluctantly) where it is due, Skye did look to be a compact team- in places a little older than the Glen and thus more wily in the ways of shinty. Of course leading them was that old Glen warhorse himself Davie MacVicar and a fine job he’s doing.
As he watched “MacVic“ organise his squad of youngsters, a memory of his youth came back to the Wing Centre. His grandfather , being a crofter (though emphatically not from Kiltarlity) used to release a bunch of stots out of a shed on to new grass and they would charge about daft just like the Skye youngsters let off the island onto fresh Glenurquhart sward. Then the Wing Centre’s ancestor would lead his ancient grey half Clydesdale horse out of the other half of the shed. He had been too sentimental to get rid of the beast when he procured -admittedly late in life- a tractor-and this old horse would plod wearily behind him out of the yard when , scenting the grass or seeing the stots charging around, he would neigh loudly and start to buck and pull on his rope, anxious to get into the action.
Now if the Wing centre was of a Buddhist persuasion- a persuasion not unknown in the Glen let it be said- he would be tempted to say that old Jackie had come back in human form.
Enough of this nonsense- if the weather manages to stay semi decent- there will be a proper match to write about. Otherwise the next entry will be a detailed account of the Glen First Aid kit. The Wing Centre watched the Managerial duo sorting through it the other night and truthfully more than one item had the appearance of being taken directly out of a World War 1 Lovat Scout Medical Kitbag . It will probably have to be updated. .

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

What on earth are the Glasaich up to now - and why don’t we care?

The news when it did come, arrived like a bolt from the back of Beinn na Sparra - but was it true ? Seems it was but the whole story left the Wing Centre wondering what was what. The season is about on us and after a winter speculating as to whether there would be anyone left at the Camanachd Association by the end of February who knew what a Prolam was or could agree that Tanera wasn’t an island or was aware that Heron had nothing to do with ornithology, the prospect of beating Strathglass was the only thing keeping the Wing Centre going.
All of a sudden the news was broken that the Strath had pulled out of the Macdonald Cup. Indeed they had actually pulled out of what was going to be a double header which included ,in the winner’s haul, the Highland Year of Culture Sculpture. How could they do this to us?
As may be seen from the snap at the head of this entry the two Stuarts are all dressed up in the folk costume of the Glasaich and were hoping to welcome them with a Glenurquhart “haka” and all for the sake of a little gentle mirth and then they duck out of the match. To the initiated of the inner world ,it is clear that they do not wish to relinquish their grasp on Old Macdonald’s silver cup by any means.
It is not as if- being brutally honest- we scared them off with a superb display against Fort William in our practise match although their Ally Ban squad have every right to fear Hendo’s Heroes who defeated the Crofters Kids by 2 goals to 1 over at Balgate. Glen put in a good performance in the first half, meaning that James Clark and Gordy Mackinnon came up against stiff resistance in the Glen defence where John Barr, Stuart Reid Andrew Macdonald and Davie Girvan played right out on the edge of their abilities and did well . It has to be said also that the goalie did very well too : he was quick off the mark- his greater application in training has been noted- and he has superb anticipation.
On the other hand while the centreline held firm the forwards posed little threat to the Fort defence-but given that few Premier sides posed them any problems last season either perhaps one can expect too much.
Tiny Macleod, Big Robertson ,Rodgers and wee Robertson are quite good - at least in the Wing Centre’s opinion - and on the day they proved good enough to stop the Glen scoring ,though Andrew Corrigan had some nice bursts through the line and looked extremely pacey.
The second half was where Fort’s experience told of course : Mackinnon opened the scoring with a shot that he was lucky to get over the line -off the keeper’s foot or something ,and into the net by way of Balnain.
“A goal and half that” said the Wing Centre to young Master Mackinnon after the match was done.
“It went in like a Gaelic song” he said and laughed. The Wing Centre was disconcerted by the simile and wondered if Gordy had divined a blas of the west in his accent and was in fact “at it” but he seemed genuine enough and so it would appear that the Fort have a poet in tune with his Highland roots. Gary Innes is obviously not alone at the post match ceilidhs.
James Clark notched the next two- rasper A and neat finish B -although for B he was abandoned to take his time- and then Bryan Simpson finished matters with a well taken goal. The Glen came on stronger in the last quarter but sadly, it did not come to pass.
After the nets were taken down - the Wing Centre likes to watch Geordie and Peter working as a well drilled team at this most irritating of tasks -your correspondent went down to the Blar for a conversation about the game and to await the triumphant return of Hendo and the Heroes.
In the course of the afternoon the “S” word came up again.
“What are they up to?” asked the Wing Centre of the Manager-which Manager it is now hard to remember with any certainty - but the reply was clear.
“They are off to Hampden for a training session” said he (or perhaps it was the other fellow who said it)
Given that Strathglass are one of the most ancient of clubs and cling to the purest most evangelical of shinty faiths- indeed they are much like the Glen in this - it was too much for the Wing Centre to take in.
“Never” he said “They would never be seen to train on a football pitch far less the very home of football .”
In the Wing Centre’s mindset - and it must be confessed in the mind set of all true Glenners- shinty is in a state of permanent war with football - and so all who collaborate with it should be cast into outer darkness for ever.
“Tell us it’s not true , Manager . Tell us they are off to play golf or even that they have gone shopping with their wives. Tell us that it is part of Geddes’s cunning plan to disrupt our pre-season training schedule” The Glen Greek chorus were aghast and disbelieving. How could the Glasaich be so untrue to their Highland roots?
“I don’t blame them for being scared to play us,” said Big Ron “That’s only natural. But you’d think they would come up with a more believable story”
“Oh it’s true enough “ said the manager. “Seemingly Lovat were offered to go down but they refused to go and said they would rather play shinty against Lochcarron”
The Blar went silent at the thought of Lovat having higher principles than those of Strathglass. After all Lovat are nearly in Ross-shire.
“ I cannot imagine the Carrie being in favour of it”
“ I believe he was the man behind the whole thing. He thought it up - him and Gordon Smith at the SFA”
The Blar was unanimous in agreeing that there must be some devious benefit in this action to Strathglass even if it was hard to work out exactly what that might be.
“The Glasaich eh? You’ll never be up to them” said the Vice President.
“Of course its all a Clan thing” said the Goalie.
“How do you mean?” queried the clientele of the Blar
“Well its obvious. Their Frasers just want to annoy our Frasers. It all goes back to a boll of meal or something”
And that’s about as close as the Blar came to making sense of Strathglass’s day trip to Hampden.

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