Thursday, January 24, 2008

Every Picture Tells A Story

On the 10th of this month a large and sorrowful crowd from the Glen and beyond gathered at William Fraser’s Funeral Home at Culduthel to bid farewell to Jocky Macdonald . Jocky, who died after a long illness bravely borne, was of course a loving husband , father and grandfather before anything else but in his youth he was also an intelligent and skilful shinty player for the Glen . He was an important member of that squad of players whom the Wing Centre has earlier featured as being perhaps “The Greatest Glenners of Them All”, the team of the late 50s and early 60s.
This was of course the team which started at the bottom in 1956 and in the course of the next 7 years progressed to be the top team of the old Junior divisions. In these 7 years-the years of plenty-the Glen reached 10 junior finals. They lost the first three but then won 5 out of the following 7. Their wins included two in the MacGillivary Junior League, two in the Strathdearn Cup and of course the Sutherland Cup.
During this period many of the players -including Jocky- were serving their time whilst living in “digs” in Inverness and so training sessions at the Inverness High School Gym and “knockabouts” on the Bught Park were an essential feature of preparation for the matches. On these occasions Jocky used to confound the Inverness players who turned up to take part in the hit around for his skills were such that it was very difficult to steal the ball off him . He would often run with the ball on the end of his stick , show it to his opponent pull back the caman and ball and dodge away. These skills used to amaze and frustrate “Beelac” Kennedy in equal measure.
Latterly , Jocky and his old team-mate and best buddy John Alec Mackenzie became Vice-Presidents of Glenurquhart Shinty Club and were regularly to be seen in their seats of honour at the Pavilion . More or less right up until the end of this past season ,Jocky was present at games week after week and it is a great pity the present Glen side could not have rewarded his loyalty-and that of all their fans- with a cup win.
There is delight as well as sadness in the picture of the Glen team of veterans which was taken at the Bught Park in 1987 where they played the veterans of Inverness Shinty Club to mark the Centenary of the “Town” club. One can say “Town “ rather than “City” of course because back in 1987 Inverness still had to achieve city status while the Glen had yet to reach a Camanachd Cup Final. The Wing Centre was present at the game and while the score has slipped from his memory he can remember the silky skills of Bob Macdonald on one wing and Jocky Macdonald on the other. Both Macs were on target that day, Bob’s strike being a first time drive from a ball slipped across from Jocky. Of course supplying the midfield power were Peter English and a tireless Jimmy Burnett who was guesting for the day. Jimmy was the player with pedigree on the park having captained Kilmallie to Camanachd Cup glory in 1964. Sadly including Jocky, four of these Bught veterans are no longer with us .
Don Cumming, Bob Macdonald and of course Jimmy Burnett himself have all passed away and shinty in the Glen is the poorer for their passing.
On the other hand, as was his wont the Wing Centre -who has been asking far and wide for an action snap of the glorious goal scoring Chrissie Surtees taken at Zandra’s sixes-took a trip down to the Astroturf the other night and was astounded to see two full 12 a side teams playing against each other in a practice match. He also observed at hit-ins on the park some fantastically powerful shooting from particularly the youngsters -hard , accurate and unstoppable. Funnily enough, these are the very qualities one wants to hear when describing a Glen team.
Incidentally the picture was provided by Glen secretary Hazel Stewart .
For those who are curious the players are as follows:
(Back) : Andrew Ian Macdonald, Peter Macdonald, Geordie Stewart, Jocky Macdonald, Tommy McKenna , Peter English, John Alick Mackenzie, Bob English
(Front) Don Cumming ,Jimmy Burnett ,Alan Bell, Iain Macdonald, Bob Macdonald, Calum Fraser.
Five Macdonalds in a Glen team - now these were the days !!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Sixes of the Best

The Wing Centre has detected a distinct lack of impetus in the shinty environment of the Glen over the past few weeks and even although much might appear to have been happening in the world of the caman in general, it just happens to be unworthy of comment. For those playing catch-up it is worth noting that Mr Duncan Cameron has been voted into office as Camanachd President (he is due to take over after the AGM). More exciting than that, Allan Macleod has resigned as Competitions Manager and Richard Gall has also stepped down from the Camanachd. Much has been written about these departures to which the Wing Centre will add nothing except to say that in a sport with as precarious a hold on existence as shinty has, personnel losses of this kind are not especially sustainable. It is to be hoped that both parties continue to take an active part in the organisation of the sport. For what they have done up to this point the Wing Centre would like to thank them sincerely and also welcomes Davie MacMaster of Cabers to his new post on the Executive.
With these few words the time has come to move on to a more considered piece about the recent successful Sixes in memory of Zandra Mackintosh . The Club has run these Sixes as part of the Hogmanay celebrations which have done much to make a New Year stay in the Glen a more meaningful experience for the visiting tourist as well as undoubtedly a lucrative week in the dead season for local B & B’s. Thanks are here due to the sponsors and the ladies who organise the events.
Whilst a cloud was cast on the opening of the event by the announcement of the death after a long illness of Mrs Cathy Barr , mother of Club President Jim Barr and grandmother of John, as a showcase for the indigenous sport in the Glen, the day was an undoubted success.
As usual the various districts organised themselves to raise sides to contest Zandra’s trophy and this year eight sides mustered appropriate pools of players - each team must include a veteran, a juvenile and a female-and in the end the winning side came via a penalty shoot out between the “Up the Glenners” and Lewiston.
For the record the teams were as follows :
Group A : Balmacaan ; Up the Glen: Blarmor ; Druimlon.
Group B : Townies ; Lewiston; Smiddy; Hillside.
The top two teams in each group made it thought to the semi final stage and thence on to the big game to see who would have custody of the prized trophy for the ensuing twelve months.
There was a total of at least 64 players on the Astroturf throughout the afternoon and it was a most absorbing contest but for the connoisseur of the ancient game the interest was in seeing how the veterans had hung on to their skills. Sandy Macdonald back from New Zealand for a festive break showed the neat touches which we all missed when he decided to emigrate in 1976. Chris Surtees showed good skill in front of goal and impressed the Wing Centre with his speed on the park. The Wing Centre observed Mrs S take a snap of her hubby but at the pace he was moving it is doubtful whether she managed to capture him in the frame. If she did it would be nice if she were to send it to the Wing Centre and we can run a caption competition.
It was good to see Dave MacVicar getting off the Island and mixing with normal people again. Himself and his son Neil both played well but and from their performance on the pitch it was hard to tell who was the juvenile. Neil certainly displayed a maturity with the stick that makes one hope that in future he would consider playing for the Glen with whom his heart will undoubtedly lie. As for Dave-you can take the boy out of Kyles-you can even take him across the bridge to Kyle- but when someone goes past him-and this is happening more often nowadays- he will still take them down-man ,boy or girl. We could do with more of that in the game!
Ron Fraser still has the touches though in the game the Wing Centre actually watched, schoolboy Calum Smith didn’t give him a hit of the ball. Big Mike Cameron still has his amazing skill allied to an acute awareness of position on the field -he knows where he ought to be without having to look : the only pity is that Old Father Time now inhabits his body and makes it hard for him to get to where he is never mind where he ought to be, if you catch the drift. That apart, his control and the little flicks wide were as always fabulous. Geordie and Ken , released from their duties on the Shinty results panel, played their parts - in goal for George and as Ref for Ken. Indeed Ken was so good at the decisions and so clear with his toot of the whistle that if you closed your eyes and concentrated on the taste of your hog roast bun, you would swear it was Coke Macdonald who was the ref- not that you would EVER say that to Ken.
For Ken however ,after reffing ,the best was yet to come. In the end he got a game in the final as a veteran after Ali Mac (sen) did in his Achilles tendon-ruptured is the technical term -and he had to be replaced as the geriatric in the “Up the Glen” Team. It was a role Ken filled to perfection.
In the end , the final concluded in a 2-2 draw. An opening goal from Paul Mackintosh saw Lewiston take the lead- Scott Douglas pulled one back for the “Up the Glenners” who then went behind to a superb Chris Surtees strike before Andrew Corrigan squared matters once more.
Penalties were then taken which went in favour of the “Up the Glenners” though Neale Reid’s ferocious penalty( Stuart Mac showed how sharp he was by diving OUT of the way) was undoubtedly strike of the day.
The trophy was presented to the winning captain Ali Mackintosh (Jun) by Mrs Josie Mackenzie (pic of presentation above) whose only claim to fame is that she was Ladies Player of the Tournament at the Aberdeen Shinty Sixes back in 1977. Google it if you like. The winning team is also included above.

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