Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Good, the Brad and the Ugly

Kinlochsheil 3 Glenurquhart 5
First the good news : the result at Kirkton was a tonic after the disappointment of the big team losing out in Oban. It was even more disappointing because of the fact that first Gregor Mc Cormack and then Neale Reid had put us in the lead on two occasions before we finally lost out to a goal which was seemingly nothing special. They all count however. So, nothing more to be said about the Mossfield game.
What a boost the Heroes result provided though. At least it did when the news finally managed to filter back to Drum that Hendo’s crew had scored five goals and lost only three- away in the uttermost part of Wester Ross. That makes the Heroes unbeaten in three and guess what- top of the League.
Five of the afternoon’s eight goals came in the first half and as the headline hints the Glen hero was Brad Dickson who finished off his afternoon’s work in fine style with a hat-trick. Brad grabbed his first one inside 10 minutes with a neat touch which deceived the Shiel keeper Ian Cameron.
The next Glen goal came courtesy of a penalty which Calum Fraser put over the line and through the goalie if you catch the drift. Not the best penalty that Calum has ever taken but then as the Oban boys taught us-they all count.
Notwithstanding the fact that the Glen side is filled with youngsters, the presence of the old heads like Calum makes the press pencil in the description “strong Glenurquhart team” but it was the youngest man on the field, 14 year old Ewan Brady who scored the next Glen goal in 33 minutes. The Wing Centre can’t recall every scorer for the Glen over the years but Ewan must be the youngest goal getter for the red and blacks since 12 year old Primary 7 pupil Peter Macdonald scored in a Strathdearn Cup match back in 1977-but then Pete was big and an exceptional player -at darts!
Kinlochshiel’s Ross Macmillan pulled one back for the home side but just before half time livewire Brad bashed another one over the line for the Glen to go in for their Jaffa cakes 4-1 in the lead.
The next part of the match belong to Shiel -Big Mike is happy to concede this- and the Balmacara boys got back in business with a strike from Duncan “Ach” Macrae and then in the 75th minute they pegged back the Glen lead further when another of the Macrae tribe “DA” helped himself to a fine goal. The Glen lads kept their heads- young and old- and within in a few minutes of the close of play Superbrad had completed his hat trick with a cool touch over the line which put five on the board and the Glen into top spot.
It was a good overall performance from Hendo’s guys and nice to see debutant Sam Cumming getting on to the field for a spell along with more established youngsters Ewan Menzies, Calum Smith, Drew Maclennan and Ross MacDiarmid.
Given that this blog is Glen obsessed, it is appropriate to give a mention to Shiel youngster Donald Nixon who has a Drum mum -no other way to say that- and of course the young man in question by that token qualifies to play as a native born Glenner should he ever see the light -which one day we hope he might.
And now the picture – no chance of getting one up at Kirtkton not least because the Wing Centre was not present with his box brownie. He even went down to training on Wednesday but young Brad had been late in from work so he was not present for a photocall. There are of course many snaps from other matches but this was one which was being kept under wraps either for next year’s Xmas Card or a Quiz Comp of the “Who is this former player?” type. It also has a tenuous relevance to the above article.
So here he is , spectating at Blairbeg- former goalie, long time full forward, child shinty prodigy and international darts player, big Peter Macdonald.
And ugly? No not big Pete. Ugly is the way the Glen will have to win to get points in this Premier League. Lets start with Inveraray on Saturday. Go Glen!!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Charlie is Lovat’s Darling but Glenners take both points.

Lovat 0 Glenurquhart 1
The gaps between the games and the reports are getting longer but if the Wing Centre is honest there are so many crazy things going on in the world of shinty today that sometimes reflecting on a game - especially one as dour as this one was- is quite hard to do. As the former Finanace Convenor himself said the other day in a forum where these things were being discussed “Losing one director is unfortunate; losing two looks a little careless, but losing three - that has to be verging on the criminal” Hard to see where they are going to get the directors from to replace the ones who are missing what with all the volunteers working hard at their own clubs to try to raise the money to pay the fines for not being able to provide refs and goal judges.
Still we love the sport and there is nothing that Hendo and his heroes like more than a victory on foreign soil - not that the rich farming lands of the Kiltartans proud is foreign soil except that it was nice to go over Culnakirk en masse and enjoy the peace and quiet while the crofters themselves were over in Beauly fighting with and losing to the gutter-sparrows.
To be fair to both sides though - and that is a rare declaration of intention from this writer- the game was spoiled as a spectacle by the fact that the wind was howling down from Strathglass for the full ninety minutes making it very much , to steal a cliché, a “game of two halves”
The first half belonged wholly to the Glen. With Iain Macdonald and Iain Macleod pumping long balls forward it appeared odds on that the red and blacks would quickly be into double figures while the few Lovat attempts to break free petered out at the Glen halfback line where Gary Smith was in charge of the iron curtain. Except at the Lovat end, the Glen forwards who were playing some nice stuff found Charlie Mainland in excellent form. For once, Charlie, who is prone to charging off his line like a stag making for high ground, was disciplined. He kept between the posts and got his club to a series of shots from Ben Hosie, Stuart Morrison and Dave Smart.
Finally in 27 minutes the Glen got the opening goal. The hope was that it was the start of the floodgates opening but in truth it was the decider, fortunately enough. It came about from Ewen “Boo-Boo” Fraser who, though he hasn’t been mentioned up till now, had been playing a stormer up till this point. On several occasions, despairing of the efforts of the front men, he made runs down the right wing with the ball and this time he burst through the Lovat defence straight to the by-line before cutting the ball back into the path of Calum Fraser who rifled his shot high into the net.
After that there was little to do but walk around the field, put some money in the collection and talk to the loyal Lovat fans who were gobsmacked as we all were, with the news coming from the Dell and Spean. On the other hand, they were not gobsmacked with the news that Lorne had been dismissed at Beauly.
The second half was the mirror image of the first, although with the aid of black and red specs it was possible to imagine that the Glen had a chance or two which Supercharlie was quick to stop crossing the line. For the record, “Boo- Boo” had to come off and was replaced by Brad Dickson who played well on the right hand side. As well as Brad, the Glen also made use of youngsters like Ewen Menzies Drew Maclennan and for his first start in the black and red, Ewan Brady.
Unfortunately despite the best efforts of Iain Macleod and Ross Macaulay against the wind it was very rare that a ball came up front with them having any hope of getting on to it.
At the other end Lovat pushed forward but they found Donald Fraser and Iain Macdonald in total command while Dave Emery, though he wasn’t tested as he was against Fort William was in fine form. He did do a Charlie however on one occasion and came charging out of his goal and despite slipping, managed to sclaff the ball out of danger - just.
“We’ll lend you the rope we used to use on Charlie” said Linda Bell “one of those rubber ones used in bungee jumping. It’s the only way we could keep him in between the goals”
“Good idea” said Mr Reid. “But what is it about goalies?”
The rest of the Glenners paused to consider the question but soon realised it could not be answered.
With Lovat pressing hard, the Wing Centre wandered round the field to see the Lovat managers and if possible keep them talking so they would not think about any tactical changes that might undo the Glen. Willie Mainland and Alan Macrae are both sociable fellows but while they were quite willing to shoot the breeze they still kept an eye on the game and continued to make changes - none of which fortunately made any difference.
The game finished 1-0 and if there was anything else to add it was that referee Deke Cameron had a good game. Hard to say - even harder to bear - but nevertheless, still true. Poachers do make the best gamekeepers.
Hard to find an appropriate picture – but perhaps Ross at Balgate is as good a pic as could be got on the day. Don't know how the Lovat number 13 - a mini me indeed- managed to pop out of the back of Ross's shirt though! He is wearng a mouthguard too- and that should be a lesson to all you youngsters out there!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

An Afternoon of Mixed Fortunes-but Youngsters Storm the Fort.

Glenurquhart 4 Fort William 2
The weather wasn’t any good and the news from Newtonmore wasn’t any good either but at Blairbeg, Hendo’s Heroes made an excellent start to their first season in North Div 2 , so without apologies to anyone and because the Wing Centre was present for the victory , that is the game which will be featured.
A 4-2 win against Fort William- probably the first occasion they have been beaten for about a season -is some reason for celebration. However, as always it is not wise to let the heart rule the head. This Fort William squad are a good side : the majority, with the exception of Victor Smith, Willie Macdonald and a couple of others, are youngsters and their emphasis is on quick fast moving shinty which was a style that the heavy turf of a wet Blairbeg did not permit them to play. They did however start off with a bang when right wing forward Daniel Stewart pounced on a loose push out from the Glen defence. He just had enough space to hammer the ball home from an acute angle before wing back Calum Smith could get his blocking club beyond the ball. Not that that bothered Smith however for until he came off with an injured back in the second half, he gave Stewart, one of the brightest of the Fort youngsters a tough time. He imposed himself on the ball as he had to, cleared well when required and made these tracking runs which none but former wing backs and centre men ever notice but are nevertheless the bedrock of a sound performance. It was an effective afternoon for the youngster.
The Glen despite the early Fort lead showed themselves capable of taking the game to their opponents and in a short space of time Fort keeper Paul Mackay had to make a string of good saves from Stuart Morrison and Calum Fraser. On the 15 minute mark the young Fort keeper pulled off an excellent stop from an Iain Macleod drive after a cleverly worked Ben Hosie free hit.
Eventually late in the half the Glen got back on level terms with a goal from Calum Fraser after Iain Macleod had fired the ball across from a free hit, the big forward ran into space and dinked the ball past the keeper. The same player had the ball in the net a few minutes later only to have it ruled offside because a team-mate was off side. It was the correct decision and it has to be said that referee Irvine had an excellent game in what one might have thought could have been a fiery match. He stuck to his guns and rebuked those on the field and officials off it who were tempted to go too far- and the game was the better for it.
The second half started with the Glen on the back foot as the Fort changed the focus of their attack, with veteran Willie Macdonald coming on to replace Victor Smith up on the saw dust. The Glen were fortunate that Iain Macdonald, who had been on the sidelines at the back end of the season with an arm injury, was back to his best after a spell in the first half when he struggled with the muddy surface. The Glen struggled hard for the next period and Fort forced a number of corners and shies up on the right but they were wasteful in front of goal.
Glen wing back Calum Smith had to leave the field at this point with a back injury and was replaced by Ewan Menzies while Ben Hosie finally had to give way to Brad Dickson. Hosie had put in a great deal of effort all afternoon and possesses an excellent touch with the caman but the heavy park was not conducive to his style of play and as the afternoon went on it became clear it was not going to be his day. It was Fort William however who took the lead with a strike by Daniel Stewart in 60 minutes. By this time the Glen back line was beginning to buckle a little and the goal came about because of a mix up at the back and Stewart when presented with the opportunity made no mistake.
Despite going behind, the Glen kept their midfield shape and the three men in the middle resisted the temptation either to flood forward and crowd out the front men or to drift back and overman the defence. Euan Fraser, Ross MacAulay and Iain Macleod are all players who know what they are doing and eventually with Macleod in particular driving them forward with excellent hitting they breached the Fort’s defences when some excellent work from Brad Dickson presented Euan Fraser with a simple chance from close in.
Game on - and to hold the point the Glen consolidated both centreline and defence with experienced performers. Back to defence came Euan Fraser while Calum Fraser stepped back to midfield and all of a sudden David Smart put the Glen in the lead with a smart shot in 70 minutes. The Blairbeg crowd went wild and the Fort front men began to lose their focus in front of goal.
At this stage with Brad Dickson looking hungry and big Ross MacAulay moving forward another goal looked on the cards and come it did in the shape of an excellent drive from youngster Ewan Menzies who drove the ball past keeper Mackay high into the net for a glorious winner.
An excellent result for a team that all pulled together to grind out a result in what was probably the most competitive game the 2nd X11 have had for some years. Worthy of mention is Gary Smith who put in a solid shift at buckshee and Donald Fraser whose strength at the back was inspirational. Above both, however was Dave Emery , keeper extraordinaire. Dave had an excellent game and kept the Glen in the game especially in the early part of the second half when he pulled off a string of first class stops which not only prepared the ground work for the result but caused a great deal of frustration in the ranks of the Fort forwards.
The Newtonmore match? A disappointment and a defeat. The score can be recorded in the club minutes -it will not appear here. Lessons to learn? Without Arran , Rhino , a fit Lewis and of course EJ things were always going to be hard. The motto must be “Score goals, be direct and keep the collective nerve.” Newtonmore should have taught us something about competition and wanting to win. The Courier guy said the team played well enough and competed in areas of the pitch. A more realistic test will come with Kyles, Lochaber and Bute but we will still need to score.
Anyway on a more happy note-today’s pics- Booboo looking moody and muddy , Ewan cheery after his goal and -specially for the ladies, Monkey in the gutters.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Glen get it smack on against Lovat

Glen 4 Lovat 1
This was the last friendly before the Premier League started and the opponents were none other than those sons of the soil themselves- the Crofters from over the hill. The last minute switch of venue threw the Glenners a little bit and as such they found themselves without out any of the female gender available to run the kitchen. The sad result was that our guests had had to remain uncatered for since it is a given that none of the male Glenners has the slightest ability to run a catering establishment and watch a shinty match at the same time: that level of multi tasking only comes on the female chromosome, at least in the Glen.
As for the Lovat female chromosomes, the Wing Centre couldn’t possibly comment.
However, it was good to see the Lovat tribe back over the hill once again. Macritchies were there young and old, Gallaghers young and old, Fergusons young and old - but Millicans were merely old. All of them were however still game for a game. More than that, they brought with them a good side and they will perform well in the division and have every chance of picking up top place again, provided they all do some serious training. Again that depends on how much they love their shinty.
However, there is no point in being fooled by this result : Lovat did not look up for the match particularly and if they were then they should have pushed Martin Bell up to half forward. The team played well though Ryan Ferguson tended to take a few too many touches while Raymond Rennie scorned a chance to open the scoring early in the match. Ewan Ferguson is always a strong presence but the Wing Centre prefers his determination in the centreline where the competition tends to be most intense.
It was a privilege however to watch a match which had two top class keepers on display. Stuart Macdonald the Lovat keeper is an excellent stopper and in the first ten minutes he had a top class run of saves especially from Andrew Corrigan who was in sparkling form. The problem was that it was clear that Macdonald was never going to be beaten from range at least in the early part of the match.
At the other end Stuart Mackintosh was breezing through the game; little came at him directly but it was the professionalism with which he clears up the rubbish that bobs about inside the D that marks him out as special.
The Glen opener came about in 15 minutes after an excellent passage of play in which Calum Miller was prominent. The ball was worked out wide and a drive on the goal was blocked by keeper Macdonald only to fall at his feet where it was gleefully dispatched by Billy Urquhart who was following up at pace. It was a simply worked second phase goal and one the Glen will have to work hard to master this season. The object must be to get the ball on the keeper not necessarily at pace -in fact too much pace and the blocked ball will clear itself off stick or body- and then follow up into the box. The class keepers can deal with these situations but not even they can manage it all of the time.
The Glen were for the next period camped in front of the Lovat goal and though the Wing Centre was surprised to see him in the midfield, Lewis Maclennan’s long hitting was having an effect. Ali Mackintosh was next on the move but as he entered the Lovat “D” he was brought to ground but Ref Mike Cameron was unsighted. Finally just before half time another piece of Lovat skulduggery saw Lewis Maclennan presented with a penalty which he scored comfortably.
The game continued in similar vein in the second half except that in 75 minutes Andrew Corrigan got a fair reward for his afternoon’s labour when he volleyed the ball high into the roof of the net beyond keeper Macdonald. The Glen rounded off what was in fact a comfortable victory with the goal of the afternoon when John Barr got wide on the right and placed the ball in the path of Neale Reid who brought it down and fired it spectacularly into the net for the clincher.
So what is to be taken from the win. Perhaps some comfort though the same number of goals the previous week against Strathglass would have been more welcome. The Glen are certainly missing Arran Macdonald and Eddie Tembo but it was nice to see Donald Fraser and Drew Maclennan perform well at this level. It is also true that there are one or two other second team lads who might be able to make the step up if opportunity knocks and it is also true there are old heads who could do a turn if called upon.
This is going to be an interesting season - all the more so because Glenorchy seem to be able to score goals against Strathglass away from home, a feat which many other sides failed to do. The real buzz word will be character. John Barr has to be inspirational this season and the other guys have to rise to the challenge : there will be nowhere to hide and goals will have to be scored and mouths kept shut in games which will see an intensity of physical challenge which we have only met about four/five times in the last three years - v Newtonmore in Drum, against Kyles in Tighnabruaich, against Fort William two years ago and twice against Kilmallie (more so the second time). The MacTavish Cup final has been omitted because although there were periods of intensity on that Saturday the game was never close enough to be a happy memory. We played Kinlochshiel, Skye and indeed Bute in Balliemore games but in the Wing Centre’s opinion at least, these were tame matches in contrast to the ones earlier mentioned. It is just something about the atmosphere and the intensity and it must come from both sides.
The picture was intended to be of Ron Millican as goal judge, an old Lovat friend and adversary from days of yore. However Smack popped into the snap since he assumed , modestly, that he was to be pictured as star of the day, which he was to an extent. However on the serious side after JB he will be the key player of the season. Nothing else will do but top of his game from now on in.
Best of luck, S.

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