Friday, August 21, 2009

Caber’s Youngsters Clobbered by Hendo’s Heroes .

The silence has now officially ended and the Wing centre has decided that the sensible thing to do in times of strain and trouble is to accentuate the positive- and what could be more positive than the comprehensive 5 goal victory against the young lads from Spa-town. Not that you would call Marty Maclean, the well-ancient Cabers keeper a youngster any more but to be fair to him he put in a good shift which helped to moderate the score .
The other impressive Caber’s players were genuinely young wing back , Declan Wilson , who was hard and determined in the tackle and Garry Maclennan whose attitude and interest in the game –he travels down from Skibo each week to play- is an example of what is good about the game.
The Glen opener came early in the match when wing forward Ewan Menzies latched on to a through ball from big Arran Macdonald and fired it home from about the penalty spot. The second strike came from Iain Macleod (he was to put in a double shift because later on he was called to help out against ‘More). Some neat work in the midfield and a pass inside from Ewan Brady and a touch back from Calum Fraser left Macleod with a chance on the edge of the D which he converted.
In between those chances which were well finished , the Glen created a host of opportunities around the edge of the box and even inside it but Maclean simply stopped the shots with body, feet or club and his all-round menacing appearance persuaded some of the Glen youngsters that after all, perhaps the ball ought to be his anyway.
Not that Cabers were a bad team. There were plenty times when they cleared the halfway line and penetrated the Glen backline only to come up against stout resistance from Glen defenders Ian Macdonald and Donald Fraser. Indeed such was the strength of the defence that keeper Garry Mackintosh had so little to do that some reports indicate he was seen eating a Jaffa-cake during the match.
The final Glen strike of the first half came from Calum “Jock” Fraser who after a corner had been taken in 42 minutes converted a difficult shot with a swift strike. Calum has been scoring regularly all season –doubtless he will tell the Wing Centre how many he has actually got up till now- and it has to be said that the way he converted his half chance in the Sutherland semi will probably stand as one of the Glen goals of the season not because it was spectacular but because it was sharp, understated and clinical which is always what is needed.
Elsewhere on the park Clan Smith was to the fore: Gary was his usual effective self while Calum gave quite an assured performance as a Wing Centre himself and showed that he has what it takes not to be fazed when the going gets tough. He took a nasty whack after the ball was away- made nothing of it which is always to be recommended- and continued at the same pace afterwards. Dave Smart showed all his touches- he just loves to gather , carry and work the ball- but his shooting was slightly off while Ewan Brady, as always had his exceptional moments.
The Glen finished the match in style with an early second half goal from Calum Fraser who tucked home a ball from close range just after the restart and then Ewan Menzies got his double with a long low shot which eluded Maclean in 67 minutes.
There was no further scoring and the game lost its way a little after that and it was a shame that the fans were deprived of a chance to see a final front line display from Ben Hosie but, given that he was due to leave Glen shinty for a year on a sports scholarship in the USA , it was as well that he sat this one out.
A pic with Ben receiving a wee presentation from the Chairman is appended to the Blog - as are snaps of the goal scorers and one or two other wee treats. The biggest of them is the following table.

1. Glen 14 12 2 0 56 11 26
2. King 15 11 1 3 57 24 23
3. Fort 12 9 1 2 47 13 19

This table makes good reading – and provided the field is playable immediately after the Games what the Heroes have to do is keep their nerve on the run in. At this stage of the season the Club must make this the priority. How The Heroes have avoided reaching the finals of the Sutherland and the Strathdearn remains a mystery.
The afternoon game was a disappointment though Lewis Maclennan’s opening goal in 10 minutes raised Glen hopes -falsely as it turned out. Indeed the opening minutes as always saw the Glen pour forward and created three early chances which deserved a better fate. The Glen goal when it came was a long range effort which moved in the air and beat ‘More keeper Mike Ritchie leaving everyone rather unfairly wondering how he could have let it in. Easy, it was swerving and clearly came out of the sun and any shot which stays up for a long time can trick a keeper. Ritchie isn’t the first and will not be the last to lose a goal like that.
As was to be expected Newtonmore lifted their game and fair enough the aggression. John Barr was the victim of a heavy challenge from Danny Macrae which went unpunished by ref Deke Cameron and from the resulting advantage Glen Mackintosh levelled the tie from close range in the 18th minute. Three minutes later, Paul MacArthur fired in a ground shot from 15 yards out which took a nasty bounce off the hard Blairbeg surface past Stuart Mackintosh to give the visitors the lead.
From that point on while it was true that the Glen were still in the game, the truth was that Newtonmore's control of the midfield grew ever stronger. That is simply all that is to it. Newtonmore dug in and physically won the centre and you have to say that with big, strong long hitting determined players the League is theirs - if, and it’s a big if, they can deal with Ronald Ross. They managed it in the MacTavish but there was more than a touch of good fortune there since Paul MacArthur’s wonder goal looks like a one in a season.
You would have any of the ’More boys in your team but the pick of the bunch for the Wing Centre at any rate was buckshee back Fraser Mackintosh who had an outstanding match .
It could have been so different though because in the 42nd minute, the Glen broke through and missed a simple pat home from close range with Ritchie nowhere. The ball came off the bar and from the clearance the ball was bashed upfield to Danny Macrae. That was the Newtonmore way all over the field and we could and should learn from them.
Macrae leaned over the ball, used his strength to hold off defenders who in a less gentle day should have grassed him and fired the ball over to Glen Mackintosh in acres of space with ample time to slot home from five yards leaving the keeper with no chance. Ooh the irony of a boy called Glen scoring in the Glen against the Glen - old Sandy Russell would have had a laugh.
The second half was a waste of time from a Glen point of view. Evan Menzies found the ball at his feet after a clearance struck Danny Macrae and he stuck it home and then Glen Mackintosh got his third. Glen heads were down; ‘More hearts were high but they won the game because they can finish well and were physically too hard for the Glen centres to hold. With Norman Campbell powerfully back in business on the D and Owen Fraser playing extremely well at the back they are a competent outfit.
To play them on a sticky Blairbeg - the grass was a problem for the short passing game - the Glen would have had to adapt to a hitting game. Anyone going into a tackle with Danny Macrae or Norman Campbell will get steamrolled; Paul MacArthur will run and run all day-he was excellent, while Fraser Mackintosh is never going to be beaten by players trying to dribble past him on the tight Blairbeg park - you have to knock it by him and keep him running.
Can Fort William beat them? It is possible with big Macphee and Gary Innes in the midfield but will Fort want to play that intensely when they have the Camanachd final to look forward to and the League is beyond reach. ‘More ought to go top if they want it enough.
Will they beat Kingussie? That is the big question. The ‘More team the Wing Centre saw were a team of mortals – big, strong, good hitters with one very good finisher - and a clear number of players coming back from or succumbing to injury. However, Ronald Ross is unplayable - but Glen Mackintosh is not; the fate of the League depends whether the other Kingussie players have the bottle for the battle.
It should be an interesting September. Enjoy the pics especially the one of Donald Dunain in his run around. Don’t Hendo and Big Mike look pleased? Well perhaps Mike does-Hendo still wants more goals!! The other snaps show the guys who got two goals each-Jock and Ewan while the Wing Centre was intrigued by the 'More choreography before the match. Are these guys going to surprise the Irish by doing a version of Riverdance?

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Monday, August 03, 2009

The Glen up the Tembo to Top Premier League for Two Weeks.

Glenurquhart 1 Fort William 0
Bute 1 Glenurquhart 2

It has been a heady fortnight in Shintyville-By-the-Loch. Both teams have topped their respective leagues and friends of the Glen out on the prairies, in the outback, on the veldt and on the pampas of Patagonia have been ringing up the D with words of congratulation. Naturally the D-meister passed these congratulations on to the guys in question but having taken over a fortnight to recover his power of speech after the wedding he has not been available to pump them out into the blogosphere. Naturally this is going to take two attempts because not only have the first team squad managed to beat Fort William and Bute but the Heroes quickly recovered from their Sutherland disappointment to win over Lovat and Kilmallie.
The Fort William result was one that was hard earned- and clearly given the fact that Gary Innes was also added to Fort’s absentees, fortune was certainly favouring the Glen. Certainly the absence of key players in the Fort side has come for them at a difficult time but truthfully three of the absentees brought matters on themselves through indiscipline. Gary Innes though, happened to be on Lewis on the very afternoon the Almighty decided to teach Calmac a lesson for putting on a Sunday ferry without first asking permission. Naturally the ferry broke down, Gary was late and the Fort consequently were off-key. On the other hand the Glen were still missing Dave “Dixie” Maclennan (he was to have a dramatic return against Bute) while Calum Millar was also carrying a nasty ankle injury which ruled him out.
For the Wing Centre the match was won generally because of the belief and determination shown by the Glen side. Neale Reid, Gregor McCormack , Billy Urquhart and Andrew Corrigan worked tirelessly and constantly pressurised the experienced Fort backs while Eddie Tembo simply enthused the centreline with his commitment. At the back John Barr was immense while Stuart Mackintosh simply stopped everything that came his way. The same was true of Stuart Reid, Dave Girvan, Andrew Macdonald and especially Ali Mackintosh. The goal however that split the teams was in the end all down to technique- and no one has better technique than Lewis Maclennan. He has been playing well in the centreline over the past few weeks- at first timing the ball no one can touch him-but in an attempt to win the match he had been slipped up forward where in 59 minutes he took a dropping ball in the air and fired it past Fort keeper Scott McNeill for the only goal of the game.
The rest of the match continued as before-fierce commitment from both sides- but Fort were not able to make inroads into the Glen defence while at the other end they were rather fortunate to keep the black-and-reds out. The point has to be made that ref Ron Kennedy controlled the game well, keeping a close handle on- let us say- some of the more forceful personalities in yellow shirts. Not that they can be blamed for being forceful: it is what is needed to tip the scales in the big league. It has been present in Kingussie teams, Oban sides and the Bute team. Perhaps the answer is for Glenners to do the same but in a controlled manner. It is only a form of method acting after all.
The Wing Centre did feel sorry for the Fort players though because Big Drew made them sit on the damp grass at the end of the match and gave them all a row, which was a shame because they were all really trying so far as the Wing Centre could see from the sidelines.
The Bute result was perhaps more surprising given that the Glen were held to a draw at home by the men from Rothesay. The Wing Centre, still being in rehab, did not make the game but he asked DP and Eric all about it.
“Pretty tight” was the verdict. “Indeed a draw would not have been an unfair result”
And that is the problem with sport. How well the Glen have played against for instance Kingussie , matching them all the way and then Ronald Ross nips away and scores four or five goals. Here the Glen opened through Dave Maclennan, back after an absence since his eye injury sustained v Lochaber and Neale Reid nabbed a beauty at the end. Bute only scored one.
The Wing Centre managed to procure a copy of “The Buteman”, not an easy task in the Glen where natives of Bute are harder to find than natives of Warsaw, but there he read an account of what appeared to be World War III.
“A LATE winner from Glenurquhart's Neale Reid saw Bute fall to defeat in a dramatic game in Rothesay on Saturday which almost ended in an all-out brawl between the two teams.
The islanders' frustration at enjoying most of the possession and creating the lion's share of the goal scoring opportunities saw the game reach boiling point more than once in the second half, with both teams almost coming to blows on a couple of occasions after a succession of undisciplined and rash tackles.
The game began in the worst possible way for the home side, with Glenurquhart opening the scoring in the second minute after a corner was hit into the D - and despite Bute's stand-in keeper Davie MacDonald putting in a block, the ball fell kindly for MacLennan to tap in the opening goal.
Bute were chasing the game from then on, pushing forward at every possible occasion. Good use was made of the wings in the first half to open the game up and keep their opponents away from the action, with the hosts' first few chances going to Strathie and John McCallum, whose shots went soaring high past Glenurquhart keeper Stuart Mackintosh's goal.
The pressure was mounting as Bute controlled play and continually pushed forward, Robert Walker almost netting an equaliser in the 20th minute after a long shy by team-mate Iain MacDonald saw him go one to one with Mackintosh, only for the Bute player to commit a foul as he was about to take the shot.
Glenurquhart had a couple of decent chances in the half, Andrew Corrigan's shot on goal in the 25th minute after Bute conceded a shy in their half being the most notable.
Bute upped the tempo as the first half neared its end, enjoying some long spells of possession, but it was their final touch which, not for the first time, stopped them levelling the match and taking the lead.
The home forwards were causing plenty of problems for Glenurquhart defenders John Barr Ali Mackintosh and Andrew MacDonald, who were caught off guard on several occasions but just about managed to soak up all the pressure the hosts could apply.
Roberto Zavaroni had the last opportunity of the half for Bute when he attempted to lob Mackintosh from the half way line, his shot sailing just over the bar.
Glenurquhart created the first chance of the second half from a corner, Corrigan's shot going wide, but tempers soon began to rise as the game intensified and took on a more aggressive and rough pace.
Bute soon tried to recapture their hold on the game, Zavaroni hitting another shot just outside the D which again went just wide of the goal.
Glenurquhart, though, seemed to have a new lease of life, creating more chances up front and applying continued pressure on the Bute keeper, and MacLennan almost doubled their lead in the 54th minute after his shots were blocked by MacDonald and defender Brian Liddle, before Corrigan had another opportunity following a good run by Neale Reid down the wing.
One of the best opportunities of the match came in the 74th minute when Reid hit the ball through to MacLennan in the D, and the unmarked Glenurquhart man would certainly have scored but for a last-gasp interception by Graham Fisher.
But with play swinging from end to end and each team turning up the heat on the other's defence, it was clear that frustration was beginning to build amongst the players.
However, all that frustration - in the Bute ranks at least - was forgotten in the 75th minute when Iain MacDonald's shy found Walker, who set off on a blistering run towards the Glenurquhart goal and went head-to-head with a defender before releasing the ball to Strathie, whose thundering shot left with flying into the back of the net.
The goal, though, came at a price for Bute, with Ali Carmichael, who had just come on for David Zavaroni, having to be carried off the pitch after he received a nasty gash to his thigh in the build up to the goal; Carmichael was taken straight to the hospital where he received several stitches.
And the islanders' joy at levelling the scores wasn't to last long: only a minute after Bute's equaliser, Reid took advantage of confusion in the home defence after an altercation between two players in the middle of the field saw the forward take advantage of the distraction, as play had not been stopped by the referee Duncan Kerr.
By now tempers had well and truly reached boiling point, and shortly after the goal half a dozen players got involved in an altercation after a Bute player was fouled, with the substituted Zavaroni even running onto the pitch to confront one of Glenurquhart players.” (The Buteman July 29th 2009- with name corrections inserted)

Now, as a report, that certainly beats the Inverness Courier and the Glen, despite topping the League, can only dream of such coverage in their local rag given that it is obsessed with Caley Thistle and determined to be a “big city” pretendy paper. Bute Shinty Team are indeed lucky to have their exploits so faithfully reported. What wouldn’t the Glen, Strathglass, Beauly and Lovat give for such serious coverage? Well done the Island!
However what the Wing Centre also took out of it was that some of the Bute boys perhaps need to watch their discipline.
Anyway, the wing centre is left with the thought that the Camanachd Semis will feature four teams all of whom Glenurquhart have beaten this season- which is another way of saying that deep down, beneath it all he would trade two maybe all four of these points to see the Glen play in the Camanachd Semis in a fortnight.
The pictures speak for themselves except that Lewis has got his jersey on the wrong way round. At least his Mum will be pleased he is smiling

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