Thursday, March 25, 2010

Glen Second String certainly not second best

Glenurquhart 1 Kingussie 0
A 65th minute strike from Ewan Brady gave Glen both points in this tight clash at Blairbeg but if the truth be told the Heroes had more than a few rocky moments both before and after the youngsters welcome strike . Both sides were extremely evenly matched and that doesn’t only mean that to the untrained eye both sets of jerseys seemed closer in pattern and colour that they strictly ought to have been.
Despite the presence of three “greats” in the Kingussie line up-Rory Fraser, David Borthwick and Michael Clarke - it was the Glen who opened the stronger with Stuart Morrison up on the D and youngster Kelvin Mackenzie on the left wing causing a great deal of bother in the King’s defence. Morrison in particular saw a lot of the ball in the early minutes and his duel in the weak March sun with Fraser had a retro feel to it in that the skills were real enough but the pace was not. It was left to young Kelvin to supply the pace and on numerous occasions he came deep to pick up the ball before his back and move it through quickly, avoiding the temptation to get caught in possession. However the old fox Morrison still has the ability to get the ball on target – almost. Within 15 minutes he had hit both bar and post while at other times his attempts were blocked by the Kingussie keeper.
It was not all one way traffic however for at the other end, Garry Smith had his hands full trying to prevent David Borthwick hitting the net. He was ultimately successful, though not before Glen had undergone a few scary moments.
One feature of the game though was the massive hitting of Glen keeper Garry Mackintosh, whose by-hits regularly put the ball up to and beyond the buckshee back, converting what was a simple hit out into an attacking opportunity.
In 15 minutes, Centreman Ross MacAulay who faced a tough opponent in the experienced Greg Macrae , fired a long ball from midway which the King’s keeper sneaked away for a corner. There then followed a spell in which it appeared that Glen were determined not to score at all with both Morrison and young Mackenzie contrived to miss.
The Glen defence up at “Sandy Whyte’s” end put their backs into their work with Calum Smith and Donald Fraser delighting the crowd with the length of their clearances. Smith on one memorable occasion fired the ball from his own by line to the far side of the pavilion while Fraser regularly lifted the ball from his wing back position diagonally over to the wing forward. The other defender was Iain Macleod and his ability to read the game and inspire the players around him kept Glen focused even when Michal Clarke was mortar -bombing the defence with his characteristically long shies.
Glen finished the half on top however though shots from Morrison and Dave Smart who was playing up to his name in midfield failed to count. Ewan Menzies who was growing as a threatening presence in the Glen attack also had an attempt but he fired his shot past the post.
The same pattern pertained in the second half and as always was built on the back of sound midfield performances from the Glen trio of Ross MacAulay, Ewan Fraser and Ewan Brady. The problem was the Glen just lacked the killer punch up front and fears began to grow amongst the black and red faithful that one more Kingussie attack and all the good work would be undone. Time for a Hendo master stroke: Ewan Brady was moved up to the front, the positions were shuffled and bingo - Glen scored the vital strike.
The goal was exceptionally well worked beginning when youngster Ewan Menzies picked a loose ball up about the halfway line. He hit it long upfield where Morrison brought it down and drew the attention of Rory Fraser before playing the ball into the path of young Brady who blasted it home with composure.
Kingussie responded by pushing their big three up front and Hendo replied by bringing on the final three Glen youngsters Sam Cumming and Daniel Mackintosh and he shifted Ross MacDiarmid so that the front four for the last 25 minutes consisted of last season’s under 17s, a move which was certainly brave considering that the opposition was an experienced Kingussie side. Kings then had a series of chances but Keeper Mackintosh and his defenders kept the Badenoch stags at bay for the final quarter and thus, when the final whistle blew the points were bagged for the Glen.
As the sign boards for Mardon were being taken down and stored in the shed the news came through that the top team had beaten Bute. It was not until later in the week that a clear picture of the game emerged and here, courtesy of “The Buteman” is the whole story.

Bute 1, Glenurquhart 3
BUTE'S unbeaten start to their Premier League campaign was brought to a grinding halt at the Meadows on Saturday as a well-drilled Glenurquhart side deservedly recorded their own first win of the season.
Stewart Strathie's strike 20 minutes from time gave the islanders a fighting chance of taking something from the game after first-half goals by Calum Miller and Ali Mackintosh put Glenurquhart in control - but the visitors refused to be rattled and tied up the points when Neale Reid added a third late on.

Bute knew they faced a much sterner test than in either of their opening games, against Glasgow Mid Argyll and Lovat, and the home side's hopes weren't helped when Iain MacDonald was sidelined by a work-related injury, joining his namesake David on the sidelines.

Also absent from the Bute ranks were two more first choice picks in David Whitelaw and Graham Fisher, which meant the island team could have been forgiven for hoping for a quiet start.

But Glenurquhart, who had begun their campaign with two home games, a draw with Newtonmore and a defeat to Fort William, were in no mood to allow the hosts any such luxury, and the visitors gave notice of their intentions in only the third minute when Miller forced Bute keeper Kevin Queen into a good block from a Reid cutback.

Calum Fraser was next to try his luck for the Glen when he seized on a mishit clearance by Brian Liddle, but Queen was again equal to the shot.

Reid brought out a third good stop from Queen in the seventh minute, the keeper palming the ball out for a corner after a quick Eddie Tembo free hit, but the visitors' early pressure paid off from the corner, when Tembo found Miller with more than enough time and space at the back post to pick his spot and slot the ball into the net.

Tembo sent a powerful drive whizzing just over the bar as Glenurquhart went in search of a second, but Bute gradually weathered the storm, and Leighton Reid had the hosts' first serious attempt on goal of the afternoon, shooting just over the top.

Glenurquhart keeper Lewis MacLennan was called into action for the first time in the 22nd minute, knocking away Robert Walker's 25-yard shot through a crowd of players; the resulting corner led to an almighty scramble inside the D, though referee Graham Cameron waved away Bute's loud claims for a penalty.

Tembo was a real danger man for the visitors and again had Queen stretching on 29 minutes with a ferocious drive from 30 yards which was only just off target; at the other end Walker did well to get a shot away as he fell to the ground following John McCallum's free hit, but his effort was a foot or so wide of the target.

But Glenurquhart still looked the more dangerous of the two teams going forward, and five minutes from half time they doubled their advantage, again from a corner, Mackintosh firing an angled drive into the roof of the net from Reid's knock-down to leave Bute trailing by two at the interval.

Bute coach Barry Martin made his first change of the day in only the third minute of the second half, Gordon McMillan replacing Reid, but Glenurquhart continued to hold the upper hand and David MacLennan saw an ambitious lob from 30 yards fall only just wide of goal as the visitors looked for a third.

Bute, though, could not be faulted for effort, and captain James Craig was unlucky to see his good work go a-begging after an hour when he gave Drew MacLennan the slip but over-hit his final ball into the danger area.

Reid came close for the visitors as the game entered its final quarter, shaking off his marker before getting in a decent strike from 25 yards which flew just wide.

But with 20 minutes to play Bute suddenly gained the foothold they so desperately needed when a nice ball in from the right wing found Strathie with the time and space he required to send a well-placed shot flying past MacLennan and into the corner of the net.

Glenurquhart's Stuart Reid was booked for obstruction on 75 minutes when he blocked Walker's path after losing his stick as the two players tangled, but Bute were unable to make use of the set-piece - and the visitors sealed the points with 11 minutes remaining when Fraser's cross into the danger zone wasn't properly cleared and Reid thumped home the loose ball for the goal his individual performance richly deserved.
(With thanks to the Buteman
And there we have an example of how a local newspaper ought to report the indigenous sport. The Inverness Courier should take serious note.
The pic shows the Young Guns who finished up front for the Glen against Kingussie. They are Ewan Brady, Daniel Mackintosh ,Ross MacDiarmid and Sam Cumming

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Glen fail to hold the Fort

Glenurquhart 1 Fort William 3
This was a game of two halves – sort of - except that the Glen put in no sort of performance in the first one and in the second one played well enough to cause Fort hearts to skip a beat or two. That was before they lost out to a late Gary Innes strike which was at that stage a little against the run of play. You have to hand it to Gary Innes though; not only is the boy almost as good on the accordion as Stuart Mack but every goal he scores really matters. Last week he hit the net against Oban: this week he managed to hypnotise three Glen defenders who let him fire the ball into the net in the 82nd minute. Where was he at the time? Out beyond the penalty spot, that’s where, so it seems not unreasonable to ask what wasn’t he closed down?
He is an athlete though and he ran tirelessly for the whole ninety minutes which was something no-one in the Glen side could manage. Eventually if you keep up that sort of activity you will make an impact. It is not as though he looks so much better than the other players on the field: it’s just that he is driven to perform and he has a sweet touch when it comes to goals. If you are going to stop him you will need to have him man marked but given that on this occasion he was playing in the centreline, that’s what was done anyway and it still made no difference.
Cards on the table; Glen performed so poorly in the first half that if he had not had a blog to write the Wing Centre would have gone off to Lovat to watch the seconds. He might have just as well gone there anyway because Hendo’s little tribe won 5-3 there thanks to a hat-trick from “Chips” Smart , and singles from Kelvin Mackenzie and Ewan Brady.
The opening few minutes however promised better. Indeed Calum “Jock” Fraser drove a powerful shot on the goal in the opening attack which was well stopped by young Fort keeper Paul Mackay but the rebound ball was not picked up by the Glen wing forwards who were too slow to follow up. Glen continued for a further ten minutes but something about the Fort defence including veteran Adam Robertson and the masterly Duncan Rodger who came back to pick up the loose balls gave a notion to the spectators that, for this period at least the Fort were a superior side.
Fort then began to turn the screw and within a short period had won two free hits and three corners which the Glen more or less dealt with - and truth to tell, James Clark made nothing of John Barr throughout the whole course of the game. Barr mastered him, blocked him and even out muscled him on a number of occasions- though perhaps this actual occasion wasn’t important enough for big Jim to really lift his game. He really does seem to need TV cameras to be present before he hits the target, though he had one whizzer of a shot which fortunately flew wide of the Glen keeper ‘s Stuart Mackintosh’s right hand post in the 16th minute.
Keeper Mackintosh (Smack to his friends and admirers like Gary innes) meanwhile pulled off a series of top class clearances and tidying up manoeuvres. It’s not that he had actual saves to make- just that messy clearing up, bread and butter work which few can do better and which is certainly the test of a true Premier keeper. It might be early days but young Mackay also proved he could do that task just as well as his counterpart at the other end, although perhaps he was not subjected to the same intensity of pressure.
The opening goal came about by a mixture of luck and careless Glen play. In 19 minutes a Glen defender missed a through ball and it fell to Bryan Simpson who fired it powerfully from distance in on goal where it took a sharp twist off the uneven ground and deceived Mackintosh. Two minutes later things got even grimmer for Glen when Victor Smith profited from yet another missed clearance and slipped the ball home from inside the D. You can never get tired of admiring Smith’s skill. Portlier now and the familiar scuttling run is less fluent, but he finishes with the deft touch of the true goal artist ; there is simply no one else who has that sort of quick precision with the caman in front of goal.
So that was it for the first half which continued in the same dire manner. DP went off home but the rest of the crowd stayed- and when the Glen management switched things about in the course of the second period things began to look better. Lewis Maclennan took over at full centre and Stuart Reid moved forward. Calum “Rhino “ Miller came on and finally when the guys went two and two, the Glen worked a number of chances one of which was buried in the 65th minute by Neal Reid. Reid who had tried hard with little result in the first half, found more space when he dropped deeper and this began to make a difference to the sort of threat the Glen posed.
Reid’s goal came after a nice patch of play which brought some good saves out of Mackay but he was helpless to stop the goal scoring shot which first flew past him and then flew back out off the back stanchion. The fact that this goal was actually given caused extreme displeasure to Fort full-back Adam Robertson who seemed to take it as a personal insult that his team had lost a goal. Now Adam is ageing and his visual acuity is probably not what it once was , even though his will to win is still to be admired.
He was massively less than impressed when the Treasurer who was on his money collecting rounds offered Adam the use of his specs. It is fair to say that Adam refused the offer and then one of the Fort defenders suggested that the Treasurer being “an old man” should go away and “calm down” which on the face of it was a reasonable request.
“Very polite chap, that Fort defender,” said the Treasurer afterwards.”He did not swear or threaten violence like some of our north neighbours would have done-but I got the impression from his tone that he really did mean me to go away. He was probably being insincere about the calming down bit though”
“Who was it that spoke?” asked Whitey
“Don’t know” said the Treasurer. “ I could not make him out. After all, I had my specs off to offer them to Adam”
Whitey exchanged glances with the Manager. The Manager spoke. “Now look Treasurer. You are responsible for taking the collection: you are not authorised to have any communication with Fort William. All offers of specs to Adam or anyone else will have to go through Committee and the correspondence concerning them should be handled by the Secretary. Is that clear?”
The Treasurer agreed that it was, but in his heart he could not see the point of the Secretary writing to offer to buy Adam some specs because he suspected that Adam probably wore them anyway in real life. Nobody could have actually missed that Glen goal could they?
It’s just a pity Gary Innes didn’t miss his shot at goal.

The two good pics are courtesy of Neil Paterson ( are quirky and worth a peek as is his website.
In the other, the boys are putting their siege weapons back in the shed-think about it!

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Glen Penalty Miss Spares ‘More Blues

Glenurquhart 0 Newtonmore 0
When the two policemen walked along the front of the pavilion at the start of the second half towards the Newtonmore squad, the Glen crowd fell collectively and individually silent. Who were the plods going to lift? Of course it had never crossed the mind of any Glenner that two of Highland’s finest dressed in yellow high-viz jackets and equipped with those weapons of offense and defence which are deemed appropriate for the modern enforcer of law , would be paying other than a courtesy call on the biggest shinty crowd of the day. And so it turned out though more than a few of the black and red spectators silently wished that the police had come to nick Mike Ritchie in the ‘More goal because he, more than anyone else in the visitors squad broke Glen hearts as they attempted to score.
The Wing Centre, who had had been tempted to slip incognito behind the pavilion at the approach of the bobbies, was certainly surprised to see the duo because it was clear that they had gatecrashed the field without putting anything in the Treasurer’s collection bag This implied that they thought they were working- but by not arresting anyone they plainly proved they were off duty and merely spectating at a match in the course of their working day, an action which would see anyone else in hot water.
“At least they might have paid”, said the Treasurer.
“They might have come to the field at a time they are liable to be needed. Like at 11 o’clock on a Saturday night when there’s a whole crowd of youngsters causing a fuss at the pavilion”
The crowd all agreed with this sentiment but by then the boys in blue had lost interest in the match and had headed off presumably to take in the Beauly/ Shiel match at Braeview.
Which was a shame for them because the game at Drum had been and continued to be an intriguing contest.
It started out as a reunion day for a scattered tribe who had not seen real grass for many months. The Badenoch lads in particular – and that included a big Kingussie contingent as well as the ‘More lads- were intrigued to find that the stuff was still growing at least somewhere in the Highlands.
After such a long break the Wing Centre could only concentrate on the match for the first half before going off round the field for a blether but that half summed up the game as a whole. Two superb goalies, a great deal of honest endeavour, some fine play in both defences and luck good and bad for both.
Ref Ronnie Campbell got the match under way after a minute’s silence for the late Newtonmore great Ken Smith who himself had graced Blairbeg often enough in the 70s and 80s. As is customary, Glen took the game to More for the first period and Mike Ritchie was soon in action tipping over a drive from Calum Fraser. Shortly after Lewis Maclennan had a drive blocked and then “Dixie” Maclennan, who had an excellent match, drove a shot wide. More came back strongly and forced a series of corners and Stuart Mackintosh had to look lively to smack a shot clear from his line under pressure from Glen Mackintosh.
The game then settled into a dour pattern which was not helped by the heavy ground which made it hard for either side to employ a short passing game and the Glen forwards did not really click as a unit. Calum Fraser played well, attempting to hold up the ball and play it into the D but the follow up was too slow to make any impression on a good ‘More defence in which full back John Mackenzie and keeper Mike Ritchie caught the eye.
Just before the break Glen regained the ascendancy but Ritchie was on hand to tip a shot from Lewis Maclennan over and block a drive from Arran Macdonald with his feet, the latter being the closest Glen came to a goal in the first forty-five.
In all the Glen had no more than a dozen direct attempts at goal of which only three caused Ritchie some trouble. Newtonmore who were admittedly minus Danny Macrae up front had if anything fewer attempts but you could probably say they were of better quality.
In the second half the Wing Centre went “talk about” round the margins of the pitch which were peopled by the shinty fraternity from far and wide : there on the road side was Ronald Ross working out how to sneak through the Glen defence-present too were the Newtonmore lads Angie Macrae and Tarzan Ritchie, former Camanachd president John Mackenzie and international boss Drew MacNeil. Jimmy Gow, Stevie Borthwick and Russell Jones were also there as were Lovat lads Jimmy and Fraser Gallagher , P C Macrae ,and Young Fergie. Alan Macpherson was there-“Toots” Fraser was there. Camanachd Communications Director Donald Stewart also had his place in the stand while Dave Fallows, Stewart Mackenzie, Rab Ritchie and Ian Gibson occupied the top touchline along with a Newtonmore granny who was pushing a pram round the side in an attempt to get a very bonny baby to drop off to sleep. Strathglassers Roddie and Billy Maclennan were there on the road touchline while Ian Ross and Kenny McColl were blethering at the bottom goal as the Glen mounted occasional attacks; all shinty life was there but where was the actual shinty?
To be fair it was happening on the field occasionally but both Smack the Glen goalie and Mike Ritchie from ‘More made sure none of it actually counted for real. Then in the 80th minute Calum Fraser was brought down in the D by John Mackenzie. Up stepped Lewis Maclennan with the new ball and.......fired the ball past Ritchie’s right hand post and ‘More were let off the hook.
A fair result- probably so but given that ‘More stepped out onto Blairbeg without Danny Macrae, Norman Campbell or Fraser Mackintosh the chance of a victory was surely passed up. Still the match would have helped the two teams to get rid of the ring rust – and if anyone apart from keeper Mackintosh comes out of the match with flying in colours it has to be buckshee back Andrew Corrigan whose pace and ability to read the game was a telling factor. Also on song for Glen was full centre Arran Macdonald who had a good early period before the effects of flu saw him replaced by E J Tembo who also acquitted himself well. Sub forward Calum Miller also gave his all in the encounter. Elsewhere John Barr, Stuart Reid, Ally Mackintosh and Dave “Dixie” Maclennan each put in a good shift. Still we really will have to score next time!
The main pic is from the camera of ace snapper Brian Denoon and the snap of Cork was sent in to the D by his mam.

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