Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Kilmallie Pay the Penalty

MacTavish Cup Semi-final
Glenurquhart 4 Kilmallie 4 (aet)
(Glen win through 10-9 on penalties)

As a game this had everything - goals, excitement, passion and a top gun penalty shoot out. The only thing disappointing about it was that there could not be two winners. Make no mistake about it Kilmallie were worthy opponents, as the Glen knew they would be - and while they were no doubt desperately upset about losing out in the end, John Morrison’s men earned a lot of friends in the Glen by the sporting manner in which, having stood up to be counted throughout the match and especially in the penalty shootout, they accepted the administrations of the cruel hand of fate with generosity and genuine best wishes for the victorious Glen team.

A thank you also to referee Coke Macdonald who reffed firmly but fairly and played his part in keeping two well hyped teams within the bounds of commonsense.
It was however a game in which, having got off to a flying first half start, Kilmallie took their foot off the gas. It is usually the Glen who like to start fast and in the opening six minutes there were opportunities to put Neil MacNiven under pressure but first Andrew Corrigan shot wide and then an attempt by Neale Reid skimmed over the bar. Kilmallie were not so wasteful and in a quick raid up to the shop end John Stewart was on hand to drill the ball low past Stuart Mackintosh. If things were looking gloomy for the Glen in 8 minutes the picture looked even worse in 17minutes when a lovely piece of interpassing by the Kilmallie forwards -at this stage running the Glen defence ragged - ended up with Fraser Massie doubling the visitors’ lead. The Glen were determined to make a fight of it and for the rest of the half the two sides were evenly matched for the most part with the Glen perhaps shading it for possession although the Kilmallie midfield looked powerful and always in contention. The visitors were also helped out by a superb display in goals from Neil “Bauchie” MacNiven who had a number of important saves including one particularly important stop in 30 minutes when Reid slipped the ball to Corrigan whose low fierce drive was kept out of the net by the quick feet of the keeper.
When the Glen got back into the game they really had to. With the last hit of the first half Dave “Dixon” Maclennan blasted a shot in from the left. Did he mean it? Dixie will always say he did and truthfully on that left hand side he is pretty accurate. However he took his shot from an extremely acute angle and just as the pavilion experts got ready to groan in despair at the madness of a youth shooting from such a narrow angle, the net bulged and the ground erupted. It was to be the Glen’s ticket back into the game.
The second half was barely four minutes old when Andrew Corrigan levelled the match after pouncing on a through ball. In sixty minutes Gregor McCormack who throughout the afternoon had exerted constant pressure on the Kilmallie fullback, put the home side in the lead with a neat touch into the net. Given that the Glen were in the ascendancy and playing with a sharp breeze in their favour, it looked as if the red and blacks would hold on until a wonder strike from all of 40 yards by centre man Donald Lamont threw Kilmallie a lifeline and brought the contest into extra time.
By that time Calum Miller had replaced the injured Gregor McCormack and the game went into its extra period.
The add-on minutes repeated the pattern of the second half of normal time. It was the Glen who enjoyed the bulk of the pressure but came away from the contest having put the ball in the net just once. This came in 94 minutes when Lewis Maclennan smashed a shot on target : keeper MacNiven palmed it down but his attempted clearance was charged down but the speedy Glen front men and the ball fell into the path of Neale Reid and he fired it into the net. Further chances to finish the match fell to Reid and Corrigan but they found MacNiven in excellent form and from one of his clearances the play switched rapidly to the other end where veteran Alec “Tottie” MacNicol managed to salvage an equaliser.
This took the match into extra time and a penalty shootout was required to settle matters. Given that Kilmallie had been through this several times and that the bulk of their players had big time experience from having played in the Camanachd Cup final three years ago few of the Glenners gave the youngsters much chance of keeping their nerve.
In the end it took 26 penalties to settle matters : Glen had three saved and Kilmallie missed with four. Things were worse than that however because the balance of scoring when matters reached sudden death left the Glen staring at defeat seven times in a row with the red and black striker having to hit the net to keep Glen in the contest.
A Kilmallie miss left Lewis Maclennan with the pressure penalty to put the Glen into the MacTavish final for the first time since 1977. He shot. He scored- and the guys became legends in the D.
The Courier (27/5/2008) printed a superb picture of the end of game celebrations - Phil Downie certainly captured Lewis’s good side - but courtesy of Milky Fraser , the Wing Centre has another iconic snap of the immediate aftermath of this charge.
So how good is the team?
Good enough to get to a MacTavish final..
After all the Glen has only been in the MacTavish final twice - in 1902 and 1977.
So its D-Day for Kingussie then? Well certainly the Wing Centre will slag Kingussie off but can the Glen beat them ? Realistically?
Whenever were the Glenners realistic about shinty ? More important short term is to rally the wounded troops and prepare for the arrival of the Caranachs because - and this is realistic - the Balliemore is the Cup to win.
The Wing Centre would of course like to thank the present day Glenners for providing him with the opportunity to party, to reminisce and of course to live dangerously in the company of former Glen legends so that when he finally made it home he could say “Big Ron , Geordie and DP made me do it…” To be fair, first footing in May is pushing it as an excuse, and the only way out is a trip over to Beauly to see if Ian Marr has any lines he would like to off-load.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Whatever would Sir Fitzroy have said ?

Camanachd Cup- First Round
Glenurquhart 11 Strachur 0

When the Wing Centre was a lad he met Sir Fitzroy Maclean at the side of the pitch outside his house in Strachur. Sir Fitz was walking with the aid of two sticks presumably after having been given a plastic knee or hip to replace those he damaged in the service of his country when parachuting into the Balkans during the War. He was quite welcoming to the Glenners as they wandered off into the undergrowth to change in the henhouse . Indeed so dark it was it may indeed have been the dungeon.
The Glenners , of course , are hardy sons of the soil who have never been beholden to authority ever since the Laird persuaded some of the more conformist of their number to give themselves up after the ‘45. Those who did so were deported to Barbados where their shinty skills were turned to cricketing purposes but it is from those who hid and lived rough in the woods of Polmailly and Glen Coillty that the present Glenners are descended. They are therefore fierce and independent and as a result were relaxed in the company of this august Highland Chief.
“Hey man, “ said one of the company. “You’re not allowed two sticks to play in a shinty match. In the Glen we just have the one each ”
Sir Fitz took the jest in good part and made a pretend swipe at a pretend ball.
Without exaggerating too much, that is just what his son’s tenants were reduced to last Saturday at Blairbeg - having pretend swipes at a pretend ball as the Glen ran up a large score against Strachur in the Camanachd opening round match at Blairbeg.
Truth to tell the problem for Strachur was that they had played very few games in the early part of the season due to appalling weather in the Heartland. The result was that they did not have the legs to compete with what is a good Glen side but let’s not be too big on it - the Glen have been on the receiving end of at least one defeat of just such a magnitude so there is no room for either complacency or triumphalism.
The first half was a tighter contest although it took the Glen just 4 minutes to go into the lead. A foul was awarded to the Glen up on the left and Neale Reid managed to slip the ball across to Gregor McCormack and he finished off the move with a sharp strike past keeper Donnie “Doughnut” Macdonald who despite some second half lapses had a fair game overall though doubtless he will not see it that way.
The next strike of note came after a nice move from Andrew Corrigan sent the ball out wide to wing-centre Dave “Dixon” Maclennan but his powerful shot was well saved by Keeper Macdonald. Within seconds Glen goalie Stuart Mackintosh had to look lively to parry a long range Strachur effort but the Argyll men were slow to follow up and the chance to equalise was lost.
The Glen’s second goal came in 13 minutes after some fine play by Lewis Maclennan put Neale Reid in possession in front of goal and he finished off the move at the second attempt, his first having been thwarted by keeper Macdonald.
The Glen’s third goal game after a some delightful interplay from the Glen forwards. Arran Macdonald drove the ball wide right where it was picked up by Lewis Maclennan who slipped it over to Corrigan who finished with a well struck shot into the roof of the net. There were 27 minutes on the clock
So far - so Kinlochshiel but , the Wing Centre thought ominously “Why no more goals? If there are not any more, does that mean the Glen will let them back in the game? “
The answer to the lack of goals was of course that “Doughnut” appeared to be in inspired form. Nice interplay between Gregor McCormack and Neale Reid resulted in a shot which was blocked by the big keeper ; some chances were fired past and then just on 45 minutes some artistic interpassing between Neale Reid and “Cork” Corrigan came to nothing -in a goal scoring sense that is because the custodian was at his reactive best once more.
It was of course to be a game of two halves - and for the record ( and with due apologies to the boys whose goals are thus dismissed because there is not enough band width to do them justice) the goals were as follows:
Lewis Maclennan 47- “a fine drive” attrib Mr Reid.
Gregor McCormack 48- “a deft touch into the corner” attrib Geordie Stewart
Neale Reid 61- “a superb shrike” attrib ex-President Bell
Gregor McCormack 64- “a beauty” attrib Gregor McCormack
Gregor McCormack 66- “unbelievable goal, unstoppable” attrib Gregor
Billy Urquhart 73- “a neat finish” attrib Chairman J
Calum “Rhino” Miller 79 - “round one man, slipped it past the full back , then rolled the ball precisely into the net. ” attrib Managers 1 & 2
EJ Tembo 82 - “a goal” attrib Calum Duff ( referee)

With the exception of Calum , the rest of the guys are describing goals in Blogspeak quite naturally. It has now become impossible to work out who wrote last week’s piece on Aberdour- and the Shopkeeper wasn’t even asked for a quote.
So there you have it - 11 Glen goals. Given that Gregor McCormack scored four goals and that he is like the Strachur team - and like this weeks referee Coke Macdonald- of an Argyllshire origin , he gets the honour of being the POD for this week. Keep your game to the fore, Cork, and you could - nay - will be next.
For the record, Sir Fitzroy would have said the same this time as he said last time to the Wing Centre. “Good luck in the next round -and make sure you shut the gate behind you on your way out.”
He wasn’t to know that DP, who was there on that day in front of the big house at full centre for the full 90 , never left a gate on its hinges in his entire life especially when he was going through it.
For the record, the Wing centre saw Sir Fitz’s gate up behind DP’s house the other week. It’s time he was taking it in to Dodo Johnstone.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Last Glen MacTavish Semi-Final Squad

Here they are-the last Glen squad to make the MacTavish semi.
The date is February 1987 and from the bare trees in the background it is clear that the venue is the Bught Park-a neutral venue for the Glen and for Lovat who were contesting the game that day. Even the Wing Centre feels badly for Kilmallie because of fickle coin of fate they have to come up North to play a semi final on their opponent's ground.
The Wing Centre would not relish a trip to the Canal Park and there is little doubt that Kilmallie would have preferred a different ground for this match, no matter how much they will try to tell themselves it does not matter . Truthfully a neutral ground is what both teams should have had.
However , we shall see : it will be a test for both sides -especially for the Glen. Kilmallie are a side with Premier experience- a year or three ago they were Camanachd finalists. They can play a bit.
It might also be salutary to remember what happened at the Bught 21 years ago.: Lovat were underestimated and in the end won 4-3 to make it to the final when the Glenners , man and boy, basically thought that all they had to do was turn up. How could they have underestimated a Crofter's team which could boast Don Neil Murchison, Ally Macrae, the Cumming brothers and possibly a youthful Gallagher and Macritchie. Easy enough-the Glen are great for being complacent. On the other hand there is no point in going out and being too concerned about Kilmallie. A proper respect is all that is required.
Look at the photo and marvel. At what?
At the absence from the photo of big Ron. No but he is in the photo! Look behind Iain Ross on the left-surely that is the unmistakable “Bella Mhor”, the favourite caman of the big man just visible behind the Strone urchin’s hip- and who else could be leaning on Bella but Ron himself.
Go oan yersel big man! Trouble is -too often he had to.
So none of that Lone Ranger stuff up front against Kilmallie on Saturday. Ron could do it but you can't. Just go ahead and recreate yourselves as Glen Legends!

Friday, May 16, 2008

To Aberdour and Bust (the Window!)

The Wing Centre was unable to go to Aberdour but he had thought he would have some fun with a posting. Indeed he had started work on a long ballad in the Auld Scots Style filled with allusions to Mr Bell as the “eldern knight,” “the blude red wine” of the managers and Sir William Reid as the “skeely skipper” in charge of the minibus on this hazardous voyage to Fife. The whole point was of course to get in a reference to the line “Half ower half ower to Aberdour” which appears in the original Scots ballad, “Sir Patrick Spens.” That’s right the one you did not bother to listen to when you were in school.
But then all of a sudden there was no need to bother. Ping!
Into his mail box popped the piece below, written in the style of the blog- but by whom? The Yahoo e mail address was anonymous and so there was no saying who had actually written the piece. What bothered the Wing Centre was the fact that the style was precisely accurate.
“Is the style of the Blog so easy to rip the p*** out of” he replied to the anonymous Yahoo-er.
“Not just the Blog, Wing Centre, you as well” was the reply from Mr Nobody.
There is no point in arguing with someone who is not there and so without further ado-here is the voyage to Aberdour in the Kingdom.

Aberdour 0 Glenurquhart 4
It was with some trepidation that Hendo’s heroes headed for Fife on Saturday to fulfil the 2nd round Sutherland Cup draw, against the unknown quantity of the relatively new club Aberdour.
Mr Reid was contacted at a very early stage in the week leading up to this game, and was taken aback by the organisation of this outfit. Used to the Friday night phone call from some of the North’s more senior clubs the communication from Aberdour nearly had Mr Reid falling off his couch. A number of questions and a host of information came from their Chairman, Mr Fred Mathieson.
The one that touched Mr Reid most deeply was
“ Do you think your boys will be likely to stay at all after the game?”
“Stay” exclaimed Mr Reid, “ you’ll be lucky if you get rid of them by Tuesday!”
It was a somewhat changed band of heroes that headed down the A9 from the side which had turned out the previous week. With a number of players unavailable for selection from the previous Saturday, some reshuffling was going to be required. This week only Bradley Dixon and Calum Smith could be claimed as falling into the youth category, but they also welcomed Garry Mac and Rodger Grant back from injuries
Given the lack of youth in the side, the management were somewhat concerned with the overall pace of the squad, and their fears were to be realised early on when the bus
stopped at the greasy spoon in Balinluig and at least six full breakfasts were spotted.
It would appear that the Dr Whyte diet decreed for first team consumption was by no means suitable for the Heroes.
Eventually they arrived in Aberdour, after finally
realising that the “railway Bridge”, Fred had said to look out for was not that of the “Forth” variety. They quickly realised too that some of their opposition were Scottish Internationalists, Yes, Female shinty internationalists - players with plenty experience. This was met with yet more trepidation-what would happen if these chicks beat them. Embarrassing or what . Despite the initial hesitation of his heroes , Mr Reid and Hendo were not for wimping out and the players were quickly told to get on with it.
Wherever a new shinty team starts up in the south, it is always interesting to carry out some background info on how things started. No explanation was necessary on this occasion however, as the familiar figure of Jack Asher was spotted in the foreground. A quote from the sideline banter came from Fred, when he said that Jack had told him once: “ Listen Fred, the whole world wants to play shinty, they just don’t know it yet”! If you could take a small proportion of Jack’s enthusiasm for the game and inject it into some of the youngsters of today, shinty would be much the better for it.
The match itself got going with the home side playing the best of the shinty, and all Hendo’s fears were realised early on. The Glen were being shown up in terms of fitness and they received a lesson in how to play shinty for the first 20 minutes. Some major re-shuffling was needed in the middle of the field to try and keep the home side at bay. After the “non full breakfast participants” were moved into the centre line, the Glen started to tighten things up a bit. However, most of the early chances fell to Aberdour, through strong play from Calum Shaw at full centre and Ally Hutt at buckshee forward. Many of the chances went a begging however, and Monkey made a number of amazing stops in the Glen goal.
An injury to Aberdour full back John MacLachlan midway through the first half, could be argued as the turning point in the game. Rather than moving the injured player, Ally Hutt took up the dual role of both forward and defender, and with only the likes of Kingussie’s Davie Anderson, having ever made this a success, it was a role too far for the impressive Hutt.
The stalwarts from the Glen put this decision down to inexperience, and probably something the Young Fifers will learn from for the future. The pace of the Aberdour players certainly caused the Glen real problems throughout the game, and Booboo Fraser must have thought narcotics had been taken because of the constant running of Ross Nicol at wing centre. Forest Gump wouldn’t stand a chance against this kid! Eventually the Glen began to get the ball up to their forwards, and on 37 minutes “Panda” Crichton, gave Tom Bowerman no chance in the home Goal.
The nerves of the away team, and that of poor Hendo were eased just after half time when “Panda” again found his range and sent a strike high into the roof of the Aberdour net. Panda’s shooting certainly poses a threat to the opposition - not to mention the windows of the bus- and if he can improve his fitness and overall play, this animal shows good promise and should create competition for places up front.
Early in the 2nd half, a tiring Mathew Clark was replaced by the returning Rodger Grant, and his fitness and strength helped to shore up the team, and finally the Glen started to settle.
Lisa Norman at buckshee back began to find Stuart Morrison’s distribution hard to deal with, and in 62mins, he was rewarded with a goal from his own build up play, this finishing the game off as a contest. The Glen could have been more had it not been for the excellent work of Fraser Mathieson at wing back, and saves from goalie, Tom Bowerman. On one occasion the excellent Aberdour keeper went on a mazy run out of defence after a fine save, whereby he was promptly told by his player coach; “Well done Tom. Now get back in your cage”!
Lisa probably did not realise the irony of her remark what with the Glen having a Monkey in “the cage” at the other end, and a Panda firing shots at her poor keeper!
Mid way through the 2nd half, Garry Mac was brought on at full back, and this released Grant into wing centre and in turn Calum Jock up front, who in 83 minutes hit the best strike of the game, and made it four.
The message from the stalwarts at the game was, that Chips put in a sterling effort in trying to keep Calum Shaw at bay, but other than that, the only hero was the one in the picture, who drove the bus! The other heroes of course were Aberdour, and the score line was flattering to say the least towards the Glen. Fred, Lisa and Co, must be congratulated in what they have achieved with this squad, and they are a real credit to the game. The stalwarts wish to thank their hosts for their great hospitality, and hope to meet up with them again in the future.
The lesson from Fife was that if this Glen team wants to achieve success this season, they are going to have to cut back on the fry ups, and improve on their fitness levels. They will not get away with it in Aberdeen on Saturday, because there they will have to face the most famous runner the Glen has yet produced in the shape of Jamie Bell. But then his Mam is a wifie fae Fife and ,on the evidence of the Aberdour females in the team, that is where he got his running from.

Aberdour Team:
1 Tom Bowerman (GK)
2 Ross Nicol (Wing Centre - it's a lucky shirt number thing)
3 John MacLachlan (FB)
4 Fraser Mathieson (FB)
5 Lisa Norman (HB)
6 Alistair Shaw (HB)
7 Calum Shaw (Full Centre)
8 Katy Smith (Wing Centre)
9 Ally Hutt (Half Forward)
10 Doug Newsom (Half Forward)
11 David Rogers (Wing Forward)
12 Joe Dunton (Full Forward)

The forwards move about a lot (except maybe Joe) as tactics or necessity require, so whether they were a square, a diamond or an irregular polygon would be hard to say).


Ruaridh Reid (came on for Joe)
Amy MacDonald (not used)
Fred Mathieson

There it is , just as it came in, along with the picture of Mr Reid himself surprised that he has actually found Aberdour. He seemingly had no trouble finding Ballinluig.
As for the parallel Blog writer , there has been no further word as to his identity . The rumour from the Blar is that they are all in there practicing the style now, which can only be greeted as good news for the arty part of Drum but presumably regarded as a mark of shame up the Glen

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Even Stevens or What?

North Division 1
Glenurquhart 2 Kinlochshiel 2

After all the negative publicity you read about the old game in the papers and after the Treasurer had moaned on to the Wing Centre about a boorish spectator who had refused to participate in the collection, it was a pleasure (almost) to be present at a high tempo match which was an advert for most of what is good about shinty.
It was, sadly for the Blairbeg support, a game of two halves and for some reason Kinlochshiel refuse to be beaten which, if there is a good quality for any shinty side to have, must be at the top of the list.
No doubt there will be an excellent report in the WHFP which will come out as usual on Thursday and may - as would be natural -have a Kinlochshiel angle to it and why not?
The WHFP reports have been excellent of late and no way does the Wing Centre have either the energy or the sheer number of pages in his notebook to match their scribe. Thus a broad brush approach will have to suffice though there will be some attempt to dwell on the Glen goals-as would equally be natural.
As for the ‘Shiel strikes they came courtesy of Neil Fraser and if he keeps on scoring like that no doubt he’ll soon win his way back into the Lochbroom first team alongside his dad. Actually while the subject has been raised , it seems pretty clear too that young Mark Macdonald is now just about ready for a step up into the Lochbroom team, so one should expect Ruaridh and Mr Irving to pay up the £50 quid each and give them a call now to get them back from the nursery club.
From the Wing Centre’s point of view, Mark and Neil appear to have developed enough not to look out of place in the Broom squad. Hopefully these transfers will have gone through before the Glen next meet Shiel in the return League fixture.
Enough of this nonsense except to say Manager Keith Loades looked very sad in the first half and his legendary shortness in the grain with his team was on the point of erupting so whatever hairdryer treatment he and Johnstone Gill gave them at half time must have been very special because it did the trick. The two supremos know their shinty and certainly moved their men about , made their centre line compete to get a grip and ultimately that forced the chances required to square the game out of a Glen defence that did not like the questions being asked of it. It would not be unfair to say that Shiel took both their chances.
The first half however was another story. The Glen started with a bang and were one up within a minute. Paul Mackintosh fired a ball up to Neale Reid on the left who sprinted his way past Steven Callender, fired the ball across the D where it was sharply dispatched by Gregor McCormack before the Shiel defence had woken up to the fact that the game had started.
For the next 30 minutes the Glen had the game in their pocket and it was not long before Neale Reid-a constant thorn in the flesh of the ’Shiel defence despite taking big hits from the his marker- doubled the Glen lead with a super strike. The ball was worked up right to Gregor McCormack and he fired it out to the left wing ,where Reid coming in at pace skipped into the clear and powered the ball high into the top corner of the net with keeper Graham Kennedy helpless
At this stage of the match the Shiel defence looked ragged and referee Macrae had to keep on top of a range of persistently late defensive challenges from the ‘Shiel backs and centre men who seemed to be off the pace. However, keeper Kennedy was on form and while he was helped by the post on one occasion , he still had the reflexes to deal with strikes from Reid , Andy Corrigan and a particularly fierce drive from 30 yards from Lewis Maclennan which counted as a game saving stop.
Gradually however, in the last quarter of the first half things began to change. Perhaps the Glen’s fitness was not enough to sustain the opening speed, perhaps the physicality of the Shiel resistance took its toll or perhaps the ‘Shiel boys are simply scared of Keith and Johnstone and began to play better as the Glen tired.
Whatever the reason the Kinlochshiel centreline began to win more of the ball and Finlay Macrae came more into matters. The introduction of Scott Maclean also had a great deal to do with matters from the Shiel point of view since it was clear that young John Macrae was not fully recovered from last week’s knock to the ribs.
Shiel maintained their competitive edge in midfield and for a while the Glen defensive hitting looked snatched and uncertain. The ‘Shiel fight back properly began in the 61st minute when Scott Maclean crashed through two tackles on the left to force the ball across the D where Neil Fraser was on hand to crack it past Stuart Mackintosh from close range. From a defensive point of view the Glen had time to clear the ball but neglected the opportunity to do so and paid a heavy price.
The pattern of play continued in the same direction with Shiel edging it for possession although the Glen made themselves sufficient opportunities at the other end to seal the game. By now however their shooting was out of sorts and Paul Macrae was finally proving to be too strong for the Glen forwards. The Shiel forwards however must have earned the wrath of their managers because of the way they neglected to put shots in on target when they had legitimately won the opportunity.
As play became more physical both the Glen’s Andrew Macdonald and Shiel’s Scott Maclean were lucky to remain unbooked and it was from a controversial decision by referee Macrae on the left-a foul by Maclean was not picked up -that the ball was played across to Neil Fraser once again unmarked on the edge of the D , and he had a simple task to finish it off.
The Glen mounted a late surge to get back what they had thrown away but there was not enough time or passion left in them to turn back the tide. As a game it was almost a repeat of last season’s League match when the Glen romped away to an early lead before neglecting to keep it right to the final whistle.
Shiel have themselves probably thrown away too many early points at the start of the season to feel happy about their League winning chances and being out of the Balliemore- thank goodness - they can look forward to a barren season unless of course they win the Camanachd Cup which, lacking goal scorers as they do would not seem to be a good bet. They are a hugely talented and determined team however and they have a nice edge to their play. For the Glen the message must be train harder and make sure you finish off teams when you have them at your mercy.
Even Stevens or What? Too much what in these encounters for the Wing Centre’s liking.
*Thanks to Brian Denoon for the picture

Friday, May 09, 2008

Its just too damn quiet out there

North Division 3
Glenurquhart 4 Inverness 1
Balliemore Cup
Kinlochshiel 1 Glenurquhart 2

If the big game was the Balliemore Cup match against Bert’s Boys at Kirkton , the game that the Wing centre actually went to see was the match at Blairbeg where Hendo’s Heroes managed another creditable win, albeit against a mixed Inverness side which contained some tiddlers-not to say toddlers- up front. Fair play to them they weren’t a bad side and for all the big guns that the Glen had in their armoury, the result reflects quite well on the town team whose hitting impressed the Wing Centre and the revered former President.
In the Glen ranks there was a welcome back to Donald Fraser and “Panda “ Crichton also made a second appearance of the season. Not only that but there was also the welcome re-appearance of Dave Smart in the front line : “Chips” has been sidelined with an injury for the past two weeks but his return and that of Calum “Jock” Fraser gave a bit of bite to a forward line which Beauly found quite straightforward to contain the previous weekend. . The youngsters -having had a hard week of shinty what with travelling down to Kingussie in midweek and returning with a 5-4 win at under 17 level-had to be content with a half about - though content is never the word to describe players who have to step down to let other on for a run. It is however what team rotation is all about and Hendo ,like Benitez is a Spanish sounding name appropriate enough for a supremo.
With Bradley Dickson and Ben Hosie pushing the Inverness defence in the opening quarter it did not take the Glen long to get their noses in front courtesy of a Calum Fraser strike in five minutes. That however was as much as went well for the Glen in the first half and despite a lot of ball being pumped forward Clive Girvan at full back , Kenneth Loades at wing back and “Dink” Fraser in goals did not seem to be too bothered.
Furthermore, Inverness midfielders George Johnstone and especially “Copper” Macdonald were particularly competitive and it took a concentrated effort by the Glen to keep on top of them.
In the second half the Manager brought on two more youngsters for a run-Calum Smith in defence and Ewan Menzies in the front line and both acquitted themselves well- so much so that Ewan makes his way into this weeks headline shot-once more ahead of first teamer Cork who must surely be wondering by now what he has to do to feature as a jpeg. Just you keep playing away well Cork and you are bound to get noticed by the Wing Centre.
Back on the field of play pressure eventually began to tell in favour of the Glen and Dave Smart struck to make the game reasonably secure in 47 minutes. The Glen were perhaps more focused in the second half or it may have been that the young Inverness side tired a little. Whatever the reason , the Glen added two further goals through Ross MacAulay and Andrew “Panda” Crichton though a close range strike in 72 minutes by Fraser Heath reduced the leeway for the town team and spoiled goalie Dave Emery’s hopes of a shut out.
Up at Kirkton in the Balliemore last year’s beaten finalists-as the Press is wont to call us-yes that is us, Glenurquhart produced the Balliemore Cup upset of the day with a fine 2-1 victory against current (that is more correctly former holders) Kinlochshiel-. It has not escaped the Wing Centre’s attention that the Glen have recently revamped their front line having moved defender Gregor McCormack to full forward where his experience and sharp stick work has added a new bite to a front four that last season struggled to score as often as the old gits on the sidelines thought they ought to have.
Glen took the lead in 16 minutes when a drive from wing centre Eddie Tembo put pressure on ‘Shiel keeper Graham Kennedy . As the ball broke from defence, last week’s hat-trick hero Andrew Corrigan was on hand to first time it high into the net for the opener.
For the rest of the first half ,Glen continued to create chances but good defending by Shiel particularly from halfback Finlay Macrae prevented the Drumnadrochit side from adding to their early lead. At the other end, the Glen’s former under 21 international goalkeeper Stuart Mackintosh had to look lively on several occasions to keep his goal intact.
The second half saw a gradual increase in Glen dominance (it has to be said that the WHFP has an entirely different take on this but Mr Reid , whose words the Wing Centre reports verbatim is a fearless and unbiased reporter) and as the Kinlochshiel midfield tired , long hitting by Glen full centre Arran Macdonald began to make a difference to the pattern of play. The second Glen score came in 75 minutes when after a spell of Glen pressure the Shiel defence once again failed to clear their lines and the ball fell to Gregor McCormack who tucked it in neatly through a ruck of players .
Kinlochshiel were however not quite finished. Desperate to retain their hold on a trophy which was fast slipping from their grasp they threw defender Finlay Macrae into attack and he it was who provided the cross for Neil Fraser to pull one back in 85 minutes.
“What was it like?” asked the Wing Centre to Mr Reid who appeared from the noise in the background to be partying much harder in the Dornie hotel than is wise for a man of his age.
“It is the sort of goal you go to watch shinty for” said the 77 Vet , thereby proving that he is an honest punter and can tell a gem when he sees it.
It is however with a little trepidation that the Wing Centre can write that young Neil’s goal was too little too late and as the final whistle blew the Glen were once more in the ascendancy.
Why the trepidation? Well ‘Shiel are down here in the League on Saturday and one would hate Mr Reid’s words to fire them up so that they raise their game and start thinking the unthinkable……..
What is even more worrying is that they might not have to raise their game. It is supposed to be wet on Saturday and the fear is that they will feel too much at home , what with Mairi down the road at the Blar and Stevie Callender apparently hoping to be naturalised as a citizen of the Glen.
Perhaps to avoid hassle from Keith and Johnston and especially Bert, the Wing centre should go off to Aberdour with the Heroes

* Many thanks to Tina of Inverness Shinty club for the above snap. have a look at their website at They have even more pictures of the Glen than the Keeper of the D has

Friday, May 02, 2008

Talking and Playing Rubbish in Beauly

Division 3 (North)
Beauly 0 Glenurquhart 1

MacTavish quarter Final
Glenurquhart 3 Skye 0

A good weekend for the Glen in the realm of shinty - if only all weeks were such. Of course the top side made it past the men from the Inner Hebrides to reach the last four of the MacTavish Cup for the first time since 1987. Extraordinary isn’t it- that a generation of Glenners have come and gone and the team has never made it to a MacTavish semi in all that time, so the youngsters have a chance to move closer to immortality when they play Kilmallie in a week or so at a venue as yet to be decided.
However more of that later, because at the top of the page you may observe a picture of Matthew Clark. Why so ? Well, in the estimation of the Wing Centre , out of two games and despite the wonderful hat-trick awarded to Cork on Saturday, Matthew’s point winning long distance power drive against one of the three traditional enemy teams was goal of the day.
It came in two minutes -a long try from the wing centre position (where else are goals of the game scored from?) which flew, one hears, straight and true past the Beaulac in between the sticks.
Now the Wing Centre says “One hears” advisedly because even although he was present in Beauly for the game he had several chores to do and several distractions to fulfil and as a consequence did not actually see the goal. Beauly is always a place of pilgrimage for the Wing Centre and the shinty is only part of a rich and varied day.
The Wing Centre always starts with a walk around the square; he reads the names on the Lovat Scout memorial to see if any new ones have been added since he was last there; then there is a peek into Iain Marr’s window to see if there is anything, not too over the top, that might perhaps be usefully used as a bargaining chip with Mrs Wing Centre should he blot - as he inevitably will in the course of a normal shinty season - his copy book. This last was a tip he passed on to Big Ron but he appears not to have paid it any attention. But then if you’ve scored in a Camanachd Cup final you don’t need to pay any attention to mere advice .
Anyway, to lengthen a short story it is up to the field and over to the take away at the pavilion for a cup of tea and a blether with Innes’s Mam who is always cheerful and in no way appears to be hostile to the Glen. It is always best to see the nice side of Beauly before you go up to the touchline to receive stick from the diehards and the ladies in the pavilion make you feel that there is hope for Beauly after all.
This time the Wing Centre had brought some of the club rubbish to dump in Beauly, specifically at the bottle bank where he was charged with getting rid of the multitude of empty bottles of Chateauneuf du Pape that the managers consume with their Roquefort cheese at half time whilst the plebs in the stripes are eating their jaffa cakes. Truthfully, there were quite a few bottles…..
It was as he was holding an empty bottle up to the light to see if it was clear, brown or green that the Wing Centre was spotted by Davie Mackay . None of that rubbish in Drum - the Wing Centre just horses them in the one skip but over in Beauly you have to be careful. There they sift through the rubbish so you have to play by the rules.
“Dumping your empties in Beauly so your neighbours won’t see what your drinking?” said Davie with all the malice of a Lewis policeman who has just caught a Barra man parking his boat on a double yellow line at Stornoway harbour.
“No”, said the Wing Centre “ I am merely dumping my rubbish in Beauly since I am sure it will never be noticed here”
“Talking of rubbish,” said Davie smoothly switching gear, “Your team isn’t up to much-you’re one down already” and Davie laughed.
So the Wing Centre took Davie at his word and when he asked some Drum worthies what the score was they simply said 1-0- and so when Big Ron arrived and asked the same question the Wing Centre said “Drum are losing 1-0.”
So Davie had his sweet revenge - the Wing Centre and Big Ron spent the rest of the match in an unhappy losing frame of mind- and when you saw the game you wouldn’t wonder why. Glen spent the match in the same way Rangers spend UEFA Cup nights- giving ground , getting booked , always outnumbered but never quite outgunned.
The Manager even had to play and how well he did. Back and fore , up and down, fetch and carry : he was a lesson to us all and living proof of the health benefits of red wine.
It truly was a game won against the odds : Beauly were awarded a penalty-controversially because the claim was that they had not retreated 5 yards at a free hit but then it was missed. Then they had late in the second half a ball in the net which was ruled offside by young ref Daniel Macrae who made the brave decision and stood his ground.
Towards the end of the second half the Glen came on a little stronger but when Beauly threw “Toad “ Maclean up front for the last 10 minutes it was all hands to the pumps and credit to backs Malky Munro, Gary Smith and Calum Smith and full centre Iain Macdonald for keeping the ruffians at bay. Up front youngsters Bradley Dickson and Ewan Menzies put in a good shift against hard tackling Beauly backs.
Then “Panda” Crichton had to come on and he had a chance to equalise as the Wing Centre thought at the time , but the shot went past the post. Finally, the President himself had to take off his red boiler suit and don the garb of old Glen.
It was only when the final whistle went and Hendo and Russ were threatening to go home to dance in the streets of Pitkerrald that the Wing Centre tumbled to Davie’s wheeze. The Glen had been winning all along. The news was broken gently to Big Ron who had also spent a depressed 80 minutes convinced of defeat.
They ought to do something in Beauly about that Davie Mackay. Telling lies like that, he’s bound to be a worry to his mother.
Nothing to say about the game in Drum against the pride of Portree. The Glen were able to score : Skye were not able to get the better of an excellent Glen defence. Without David Girvan, Gregor McCormack and above all Arran Macdonald - out with the flu- the team played well enough especially in the opening period where the shinty was fluent and quick though apart from Cork, the finishing was not.
The Wing Centre can do no better that quote from the WHFP - nobody -not even the Wing Centre could say this better.
It was Corrigan, the former Scotland under 21 international who took all the scoring plaudits last weekend.
His first goal came in the 14th minute. Receiving the ball fully 35 yards from goal Corrigan arrowed a shot high into the roof of the net to leave the stand in keeper beaten all ends up. A quarter of an hour later from a similar distance and position Graham was beaten again by Corrigan -with the ball cannoning off the top of the goal keepers stick and in off the inside of the post. The game ended as a contest with 17 minutes remaining. This time Corrigan peeled away at the back post to latch on to a corner before dispatching a crisp low drive into the corner to complete his treble”
With all that arrowing, latching and peeling, one would think that Cork would be worth a photo. Well confession time- a snap was taken of the Winestopper Kid in action but he was moving so fast that all that could be digitally developed was a blur!
However, let’s hope for tomorrow’s game - and it is a big ask- Cork repeats the same performance at Kirkton against Bertie’s Boys and then all the WHFP will have to do is cut and paste.

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