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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