Way out West where the hills are all high and the cattle all low.
Just what is it about Skye, the Island? Could it be the lure of the west that mesmerises the opposition and allows the most immortal of all the isles that Seton Gordon ever wrote about to produce a seriously jammy shinty team. Whatever secret spell the Skyvers can cast , it was always going to be hard for the Glen under-17s (what with Dael Macdonald-Haig ill and unable to play) to fight against the forces of nature and those of cultural superiority both at the same time.
And so it came to pass that the London Shield passed into the hands of the Skye under 17 squad after a game on a heavy, wet Battery Park at Lochcarron that was as Mr Reid confided “hardly a classic.”
Of course the Wing Centre wasn’t at the game having thought some weeks before that Shinty, in all its various manifestations would have long since been over and done with- and so he had booked a weekend away from the green glen of tranquillity. Even when forewarned that the match was scheduled for Lochcarron he felt secure in the certain knowledge that the match would never go ahead especially since the Carranachs could hardly ever get the pitch fit enough for their own scheduled matches let alone such fripperies as an under-17 cup final.
So it was a surprise to hear that the match had gone ahead and that the Glen should have lost out 2-1 especially since the Glenners possess the two best players in the whole age group and a pile of players some of whom have played at Premier level and others who have won reserve championships back to back.
Mr Reid was generous in his analysis.
“Skye deserved the win,” he said. ”They played quite well -though to be fair they were lucky to have kept a full team on the park”
“But the Glen didn’t keep the full squad on the park”
“True enough-but the ref could have had two or three off on either side”
Which seemed to be a view quite widely held in the Glen and the reason for this unfortunate turn of events was probably the heavy pitch , which prevented youngsters playing the ball on with the speed required to prevent them getting tangled up with one another and allowing adolescent testosterone to play a starring role so to speak. No harm done in the end- and good luck to the Skye youngsters just so long as they don’t feel - in contrast to Mr Reid’s verdict- that they actually deserved the win.
Whatever- included at the top is a picture of the youths on a happier day, at Balgate where they won over Oban Camanachd and also up there is a snap of Drew Maclennan and Ewan Brady at Tullialan with the North Under 17 select trophy (Brady also captained and played in the under 14 select team) but there were at least 4 of the Glen under 17 squad that should have had a shout for the select on the day but then what does the Wing Centre know?
He does know one thing though, that on the last Saturday of November the senior side should not be scheduled for a league match half a world away, especially which actually means something. It is a match which the Glen needs to win in order to be fair to every other side – and yet with our annual dinner dance the night before the match the pressure on the side will be more than it should ideally be. Given that the Kingussie match has been held over then there is an argument that this match should have been pulled too – and perhaps games between sides in danger of relegation should have had priority to sort that mess out first.
Of course there is a bigger picture which the Wing Centre does not always see-but here’s a suggestion for the future-only one Premier side should be relegated. The two down scenario means that a really good side will lose out on top tier shinty- and too much of the latter stage of the season is a nasty dogfight for survival.
Still let’s enjoy the Dinner Dance and forget about Saturday’s early start. Wonder who’ll get the young player trophy? Watch this space next week for all the snaps from the social event of the year.
And for those who collect Glen Shinty ephemera- and these number not a few-the ticket is included.