Thursday, April 30, 2009

Not the best of Saturdays for the Glen- though Marine Harvest Award finally brightens up Treasurer's week-end .

Kingussie 5 Glenurquhart 1
Glengarry 4 Glenurquhart 2 (AET)

Not the best Saturday for Glen shinty then. The defeat of the big team in Kingussie was hardly a surprise given the fact that four of the side which made the move up to the top are now sidelined for a variety of reasons : Arran Macdonald, Andrew Macdonald, Paul Mackintosh and of course Eddie Tembo were not part of the squad. That necessitated Drew Maclennan, Ben Hosie and Ian Macleod being called in to fill the breach in the big side while the absence of these three plus the unavailability of Donald Fraser and Andrew Crichton were just too much for the second string to survive without. So all the excuses up front then but every club has these ups and downs-it’s just a pity that these problems all came on the one Saturday and Hendo’s Heroes are now out of the Strathdearn to a Glengarry side that probably are not as good as the Glen at their strongest.
Over at the Dell, the reports indicate that the Glen centreline had an excellent opening 30 minutes in which they pumped a rake of balls up to the front men but the goals did not come and in every sense the game was then up though it took a while to come to pass.. Kingussie scored through Thain in 30 minutes but the red and blacks went in at half time only one down and with a fair feeling that they really did merit at least a goal on the scoreboard. The second half was the same old...same old. Thain bagged his second and then with the Glen heads down Ross picked up two. With the Glen on the back foot John Gibson pinched the fifth.
At around this time Ben Hosie was introduced and it was clear from the outset that the surface of the Dell suited his style and within a few moments of coming on he had played at least three balls into the danger area between the D and the penalty area which caused some confusion in the Kingussie defence. From one of his movements the ball came across from the defence to Lewis Maclennan and he finished well. It was however too little too late.
What do we say then to this result? Not a lot except to confirm that when the chances are present the real trick is to take them. That is what Kyles did against Kingussie- and the bottom line is that is what we need to do.
The second team have a greater claim to being hard done by since they were leading Invergarry by 2 goals to 0 at half time thanks to strikes from Ewan Brady and Stuart Morrison. The problem with Glengarry is that “DeeDee” Cameron will run all day, every day and most of tomorrow as well and in the end his will power made the difference. The extra time nonsense was hard for the Glen to bear-the Wing Centre feels and always has that a Cup draw should earn a replay and that the play to a finish rule favours the home side. Then again it worked in our favour on a previous occasion.
The absence of Drew Maclennan, Ben Hosie and Iain Macleod plus the injury to Euan “Boo-boo” Fraser undermined the cause and allowed the Garry - as robust in their tackling as ever the Wing Centre remembers –to flourish. Good luck to them in the next round though if there is a law governing such affairs then they have used up their season’s full allocation of luck in the one afternoon.
The Glen of course did win something last week after all: a Marine Harvest award of £250. The Wing Centre has long bemoaned the fact that the Glen always seemed to miss out on Marine Harvest “Club of the Month” awards over the years so this little surprise coming as it did after a tricky pair of results did brighten up the day.
A picture. Something else to brighten up the day. The Glen at Canal Park with the North Division 1 Cup- in the background a rainbow, symbol of renewal. Prophetic or what? Destined to become an iconic photo if only because its composition is crazy. Why is young Neale not in his strip and balancing the picture? Why is JB not in the middle of the front row? Not even Mr Ferguson of the Write Image who took the pic and gave permission to the D to use it can work out what was going on at Canal Park that day. Still it fair brings it all back.
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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hopes for Glen seconds go Skye-high, while top team axe Lochaber

Glenurquhart 3 Skye 0
Lochaber 1 Glenurquhart 2
A good result and even the men from the Misty Isle will agree that if the Glen had scored with half their chances the 3 would surely be 30 though as Dave MacVicar pointed out Ross Graham and Davy Grant at the back were a pretty determined duo. Graham in particular , impressed with his quick reflexes and his ability to clear his lines without fuss.
Despite their superiority it took the Glen 25 minutes to breach the Skye defensive wall and it was a neat piece of shinty which produced the result. Keeper Dave Emery drove his hit out up beyond the centre circle where it was pulled out of the air by David Smart. Smart slipped it on to Iain Macleod who played it on to Calum Fraser and the big striker smashed the ball home from the edge of the D.
Unfortunately there was no further scoring for the rest of the half only a series of misses which became more and more outrageous as the game continued. Lots of pretty shinty proceeded but aside from a number of good stops from Graham several of which he achieved perhaps without his knowledge , the nearest to a goal came from a smart drive by Ben Hosie which struck the post and bounced clear.
Skye certainly did cross the half way line but they found full back Ian Macdonald and backs Donald Fraser , Ewen Menzies and Gary Smith working well together so that no clear chances presented themselves to the island forwards.
Glen went further ahead in 53 minutes again from a neat piece of shinty which involved Hosie whose sharp shot from the left was blocked by keeper Graham but the rebound fell to the club of Calum Fraser who tapped the ball home from close range.
The final Glen goal came in 75 minutes as a result of a long shot from Ross MacAulay who had come on as a late second half sub along with Calum Smith and Brad Dickson.
The Glen’s 3-0 lead was never in doubt and even the addition to the field for the first time at Blairbeg in Skye colours of former Glen favourite Malky Munro could do nothing to lift the Islanders spirits and the game came to its conclusion with the Glenners frustrated at not having added more to their tally.
Meanwhile the big team had an excellent 2-1 away victory at Lochaber which will serve well to keep up morale in the tough series of matches yet to come , though the fact of a home draw in the Camanachd to Kinlochsheil serves to whet the appetite. Lochaber started well at home but glen goals from Billy Urquhart (following up on a well saved shot from Andrew Corrigan) and a screamer from Neale Reid saw the Glen home with a little to spare. It is always going to be thus though spirits in the Glen camp were lifted by an excellent display at full centre by Lewis Maclennan. The booking of John Barr and the absence from the side through long term injury of Paul Mackintosh and Arran Macdonald is however a cause for disappointment. This week the picture is that of Gary Smith a long time servant of the Club who put in an excellent shift against Skye. Well done Gary!

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Kingussie Monarchs of the Glen-Sort of

Glenurquhart 1 Kingussie 3
At a time when only Astie seems constant as the northern star in the changing firmament of the stick sport it is a disappointment to the Wing Centre that Kingussie can somehow manage a win at Blairbeg no matter how short we make the pitch. It might have been thought that having dropped a game to Kyles that Gow’s men were not at their best-indeed perhaps were past their best. Not quite so- and although the Glen gave them a game of it, the effort was sadly not quite good enough.
The Glen started the match minus three players-Paul Mackintosh looks to be a long term doubt with a muscle injury while Dave Maclennan and his cousin Lewis also missed starting the match being less than 100% fit. Calum Miller booked a starting berth in the full forward position while 16 year old Drew Maclennan was pulled out of the 2nd team to counter the threat of Kingussie’s teenage hat-trick hero of their match against ’Shiel Ryan Borthwick.
The first half was an entertaining affair and there was not much between the sides, though Ally Borthwick should have scored for Kingussie but took too long to get his shot away over on the right and the chance was lost. The same was equally true at the other end when Neale Reid went close with a drive : as the Beauly man said “If it gone in the net, it would have been a goal.” Suppose it would but it wasn’t .
Towards the end of the half there began to be ominous signs of progress from the Kingussie forwards and they began to win a free hit or so and one supposes that Referee John Macphee was correct in some of these decisions because Ronald Ross is such an awkward player that it is not possible to deal with him for a full match without conceding fouls, though Ronald, bless him, always lets the man in black know when he is being tackled. It is part of being competitive. He is not as expert at this craft as is Ally Borthwick however. If he gets on the ball and is put under pressure he runs across the opposing player then over he goes and appeals to the ref for mercy and a foul. He is good at it and while its not as though he does it every move he appears to do it often enough to play a successful percentage game and earn himself the title of the “Drogba of the D.”
Maybe it doesn’t seem like that to the Dellboys but that’s what it looks like through black and red specs.
Not so Paul Gow who is a 100% player. On Saturday’s performance he is invaluable in attitude alone. He put in a shift all afternoon, did not go down when he didn’t need to and looked to the Wing Centre like the glue holding the Kingussie forward line together.
As usual though it was Ross who got the opening goal. A penalty was given after a tangle with John Barr - the feeling on the Glen sidelines was that Ross was lucky to be given it though given the pressure and the power of the challenges a penalty was always a possibility.
It was given and Ross blasted it home.
Glen eyes lit up however two minutes later when Calum Miller latched on to a long ball from the Glen defence, prevented Rory Fraser from clearing it and with goalkeeper Andrew Borthwick somehow out of position pushed it home to level the scores. If truth be told a good goal for the Glen but from a Kingussie perspective it must be seen as soft.
The second half was an anticlimax from a Glen point of view. Having gone in 1-1 and shooting towards the shop end, the spectators must have felt confident that a second half at least as exciting as the opening period would be on the cards. It wasn’t.
The Glen went about their business well enough but gradually began to lose focus without Kingussie ever really impressing. Ally Borthwick put Kingussie ahead in 50 minutes with a drive from the right that eluded the defence and then the match settled to a rather scrappy affair without much in the way of clear-cut chances though it was a concern that Glen attacks did not really make keeper Andrew Borthwick work between the posts.
Ronald Ross got his second goal when a ball broke into his path and such is his technical ability that nearly everything he hits it on target : this strike went home without ever being a classic. Glen revived their fortunes bringing on the two Maclennans, Lewis and Dixon, and for a while the focus of the match switched to the Kingussie defence where the nature of the desperation in the back row saw Kingussie full centre James Maclean take a nasty hit off one of his own defenders.
By that time however, the Wing Centre had given up on the chance of a Glen victory and was phoning Hendo to see how the Heroes were doing. An impressive 5-0 against Beauly in the Sutherland with two strikes by Brad and goals from Panda Crichton, Ben Hosie and Ewan Brady.
Before we know it Big Mike will be practising an inspiring pre-match talk and Hendo will start wearing ties to training sessions. It’s all getting too much.
Back at Blairbeg the game stuttered to a halt with a flurry of half hearted Glen pressure but in the end Kingussie made off with both points.
If there was a consolation in it for the Glen it was in the performance of the defence. John Barr was at his most commanding - he is a formidable player for the big occasion - while Stuart Reid, Andrew Macdonald and of course Drew Maclennan played their parts admirably.
The pic has to be Mr Barr - and the other a snap of Jim Gow and Michael Thain discussing the Lorne Sausage pieces that they have just enjoyed. The girls in the pavilion told the Wing Centre they had sold out of Lorne Sausage, a thing unheard of in North Division 1 where venison burgers are the scoff of choice. From the look of the pic we know where the sausages went..

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Brady Grabs a Bunch of Goals to kill off 'Mallie

Glenurquhart 8 Kilmallie 0
This was a surprise result to the followers of the Glen because Kilmallie are a side with a history of achievement at this level having been more or less permanent fixtures in the Sutherland cup final over recent years. Perhaps we were fortunate in getting them on a bad day - because as Ken Kennedy and Dougal pointed out - there were a few youngsters off with the senior team on MacTavish Cup duty. Whatever the reality, the Glen ran out convincing winners but it was not so straightforward in the first half and there were times early on when Kilmallie’s youthful line up looked as if they could score. Fortunately they did not but it took until the 15th minute of what was in truth a very scrappy opening, for the Glen to get their noses in front and this they did courtesy of a penalty. The circumstances were a little unfortunate against Kilmallie because the full back was judged to have kicked a ball which was being fired across the goal area. Stuart Morrison fired the resultant free hit home and the score seemed to settle the Glen.
At this period Ben Hosie was in top form, gathering the ball on the run and attempting to vary the play at all times and his invention paid off in 25 minutes when he picked up a high ball on the left. Hosie slipped it to David Smart who chipped the ball across the D. The Kilmallie keeper swung to clear it but his attempted clearance bounced off the inrushing Morrison and crossed the line for the Glen’s second strike of the match.
The Glen continued to have the better of the exchanges for the rest of the half but to the frustration of Manager Henderson they did not seem to have the penetration which playing at this level requires.
The second half however was to tell a different story: the match had hardly got back underway when in the first attack Hosie gathered the ball on the left wing and conjured it back into the path of Dave Smart and his rocket shot from the buckshee position gave the keeper no chance. Three minutes later it was the turn of Iain Macleod to score from distance. Having unconvincingly taken a free hit which was charged down by a Kilmallie defender, Macleod chased the loose ball won it back and blasted it past the keeper from just outside the centre circle. It was a superb strike but better was yet to come.
Goal of the game arrived in the 50th minute with once again Hosie as the instigator. Again having picked up a ball on the left he fired it forward to Stuart Morrison who deftly turned it across into the path of Calum Fraser and the big man smashed it first time into the net with perfect timing.
With the game safely in the bag at 5-up there were three substitutions in quick order with Andrew "Panda" Crichton coming on up front for Stuart Morrison, Calum Smith returning from injury taking his place in the defence and 13 year old Ewan Brady coming on at right wing forward. The player of the day turned out to be Brady who capped his short spell on the field with a well taken hat trick in the last ten minutes of play as a tired Kilmallie gave up all pretence of resistance. The first of his three came in 80 minutes when after showing close control on the right wing he fired his shot though a ruck of players into the bottom corner, a second followed in 85 and two minutes from time he kept his balance, enticed the keeper to fall and clipped the ball neatly home between post and stanchion at the shop end.
A good result then and one that pleased the home fans though it has to be said that Kilmallie really did not deserve to lose by such a margin. Equally pleasing was the form of the home team with Smart, buckshee Gary Smith and full centre Iain Macleod in excellent form. Drew Maclennan also had a solid game in defence while up front Hosie was in outstanding form and linked well with the tireless Euan Fraser. Donald Fraser had a convincing defensive performance and when he came on Calum Smith showed he has lost none of his presence of mind, despite missing out for three weeks with a back injury.
The only thing that put a damper on the match was the news that the top team were being held to a draw in Glenorchy while at the same time missing a penalty and having a goal ruled off side. Billy Urquhart scored the Glen goal in the 1-1 draw while Grant MacPherson bagged a penalty for Glenorchy. Still the Glen have three points from their matches and with a bit more finesse in front of goal particularly in Oban they would surely have had more.
The picture today- Ewan Brady. Why? He scored his first hat trick for the Glen. Well done Ewan!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Maclennan Boys make it a Happy Birthday for Dolly.

Glenurquhart 3 Inverary 1
Hendo’s Heroes 1 Glengarry 1
Shewglie Frasers 2 Rest of the World 0

A busy and successful afternoon at Blairbeg and the Wing Centre absent: Oh dear; What a pity! Never mind. The main thing is that the senior side picked up their first win in the Premier League and more to the point Lewis Maclennan got back in business with two goals. Lewis was runaway top scorer in the club two seasons ago and he was also the guy who sank the penalty which took us to the MacTavish Cup final last season which is why it was disappointing that this season he has found it hard to get off the mark. Anyway that is all gone now- and with two goals to his name he's a top scorer again.
Not that the match against Inverary was an easy win - indeed for the first 15 minutes or so the Glen defence found themselves under a bit of pressure and that wasn’t lifted until in 25 minutes Lewis Maclennan, back to full-forward for the first time in ages, pulled a long ball from midfield out of the air and smashed an unstoppable shot past newly restored Inverary keeper Graham Macpherson.
Inverary were quick to break back into the match and in 35 minutes international forward Gary Macpherson brought the teams level when he pounced on a ball that broke from the Glen defence and finished with a well struck shot past keeper Stuart Mackintosh.
The second half belonged more clearly to the Glen although Mackintosh still had to be on his toes to thwart a number of Inverary attempts on goal. It was the Glen’s other Maclennan, “Dixon” who thrilled the spectators in 50 minutes with a truly spectacular strike from the centreline that flew into the net to put the Glen back in front. This strike was no fluke - time and again the Blairbeg faithful have seen Dixie get the ball on target from distance and at least one of his strikes made the difference against Kilmallie last season.
Lewis Maclennan finished the game off as a contest 20 minutes from time again with a well taken strike, this time following up on a rebound from a Neale Reid shot. A timely and well worked win then for the Glen with the best players on the day coming from the midfield trio- superb work from the wing centres Ally Mackintosh and of course “Dixon “ Maclennan, while Arran Macdonald returning from injury impressed at full centre - and when he tired Paul Mackintosh took over to contribute well in that berth.
The next match will be against Glenorchy down on the farm. Not an easy gig – Glenorchy seem to have some nice young players up front and behind that they have the Brothers Mackechnie about whom a whole motivational manual could be written. Then again we have John Barr.

The win against Inverary was a happy 90th Birthday present to Dolly Fraser too, a gracious lady who has been at the forefront of Glen Shinty since the team was revived after World War II. Dolly’s late husband Danny, for many years Chieftain of the Club, was involved in the resurrecting of the game in the Glen in 1948. Dolly still attends every match and in her honour a match was played between the Shewglie Frasers and a Rest of the World select headed by Alan Bell (73 years old and never even been kissed by a Fraser) Geordie Stewart (married to a Fraser but couldn’t get into the Fraser side) Mr Reid (once had a pint with a Fraser but that didn’t seem to count) and Donald Paul Mackintosh ( one son going out with a Macdonald / another going with a Chisholm - never going to be in a team of Frasers)
As was only natural on Dolly’s big day, the Frasers won. The score was 2-0. The first man to hit the net was Stuart Fraser and the second was Calum “Jock” Fraser. It was fortunate for the rest of the world that the ref. blew his whistle when he did because
that saved them from losing a third goal to the predatory caman of Russell Fraser.
It was all in all a successful event and much enjoyed by all especially the lady herself who was presented by the Glen Club with a lovely bouquet of flowers to mark the happy occasion.

And then there were the Heroes. They dropped a point - hold the back page!!
Having said that Hendo probably had his mind on Dolly’s match because it appears that he qualified for the Shewglie team, one assumes, because not only does he actually work at Shewglie but he also has a Fraser mam.
The Heroes played well but struggled to break down a tough Invergarry side which refused to lie down. Indeed the absence of Garry Smith probably was a telling factor though equally important was the physical strength of the Garry boys. The Glen goal was a well taken one through David Smart in 22 minutes and with a bit of luck the drive from “Jock” Fraser which came off the inside of the post would have made the match safe but it was not to be.
Spare a thought too for young Ewan Brady who put in a tough shift in the black and red whilst in the other team were all his known relations. Still the youngster coped well with the pressure – and if he sticks with the Glen then hopefully things can only get better. Best player though was Iain Macleod though Drew Maclennan won the award for breaking the most sticks belonging to an opponent- three from DD Cameron: Ian Macdonald fractured a fourth. There must be a moral there but the Wing Centre can’t for the life of him think what it could be though perhaps it could be that the Glen were hanging on a bit in the last part of the match. Certainly it was a disappointment to lose a goal to Glengarry’s Ken Henderson three minutes from the end of the match with the points all but safe. Still that’s shinty for you. There’s always the next match. Too bad it’s against Kilmallie.
A tough prospect - but you cannot expect anything else in this League. Hopefully Gary Smith will be back for this one.
The pictures are of course Dixie and Lewis – the Maclennans. Sometimes one can see the Clearances in a good light. If Arthur Balfour hadn’t cleared Strathconon of Maclennans in the 1830s then Inverary might have won although that is not to say that the Clearances were altogether a good thing. At least the boys can smile about it now!
The other picture is that of the Birthday Girl herself. Many Happy Returns Dolly!

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