Sunday, September 26, 2010

Former Glen School Shinty Player turns in Top Performance in Camanachd Final

It has taken a long time since 1988 but finally -if you pardon the pun -another lad who came through Glen Urquhart High School’s Shinty Academy has made it to the big stage and performed well. This thought came to the Wing Centre as he sat in the stand at the Bught and watched what was an excellent display from Kingussie full back Lee Bain in Shinty’s biggest match of the year.
Camanachd Cups and indeed Camanachd medals are not ten a penny in the Glens on the warm side of Loch Ness. Before ’88, Davie Thow who picked one up with Lovat in ‘53 and the legendary Jimmy Burnett who captained Kilmallie to their ‘64 triumph were the only chaps in the whole of Glenland who had made an appearance in a Camanachd final. Then there was ’88 and all that- but since then despite a whole heap of Glenners who have made international squads at various levels there has been nothing. Nothing that is until former Glen Urquhart School player Mr Bain made it to the big time with Kingussie.
How he got there is a bit of a story - as was detailed in a recent article in the Scotsman by Kenneth Stephen. When he left Glen Urquhart High School, Lee became a gamekeeper and in the course of his training through North Highland College he picked up a two year placement in Pitmain Estate near Kingussie. There he came into contact with head keeper Graeme Mabon assistant manager of Kingussie second string.
Whist there, Lee continued to play in North Division 1 but when his job at Pitmain became a permanent one, he decided to attempt to move clubs. On Mabon’s advice he wrote to the Kingussie club stating that he was now living and working in Kingussie and on the strength of that letter, was accepted and the rest is rapidly becoming history. After starting the season as an outsider carrying an injury , he recovered to clinch a place in the top team and has given assured performances in all three cup finals he has played in this season. A win over Kilmallie in the MacTavish was followed by victory over Fort William in the MacAulay Cup and in the Camanachd final he kept the hems on big James Clark so effectively that it can only have been that glorious last minute strike from Gary Innes that prised the Albert Smith medal from his grasp.
How well did he do? Pretty well if this unbiased observer is anything to go by. Kingussie were rather unlucky not to hit more goals in the second half but Bain’s ability to block Clark and more importantly to nip in front of him to smother Fort attacks kept King’s in the game when they were under first half pressure. The other feature that impressed was his ability to clear the ball for distance when he got the chance of a free swing: we’d seen him do it in the MacAulay and the MacTavish but the Camanachd certainly confirmed that he was a player whose time has come.
For all that he is a nice lad and deserves every success. Last year he lost his twin brother Scott in a road accident -but his displays this season have showed a grit and determination that all in the shinty world admire.
Will he continue to play for Kingussie? He most probably will but if he returns to the sunny side of Loch Ness to guard Lord Burton’s pheasants then he is always welcome to write a letter to the Glen.
It will most probably be accepted.
Two pictures to note. Lee with the MacAulay Cup and - what else- playing against the Glen. Thanks to Kenneth Stephen at Heartland Media for the first and to Neil Paterson ( the second.

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