Just another Saturday
A perfect Highland Saturday : the Free Church Coffee Morning followed by the Camanachd Final at the Bught Park- and all the better because of the soft Highland rain which didn’t let up for a minute . Whateffer! The afternoon was a perfect one-drive into the Bught; follow the directions of Big George Campbell and Malcolm Fraser; on past Davie Glass up to Stevie Munro who directed the parking of the Glenmobile as if he was bringing a Jumbo jet into a landing bay.
Then pick up the tickets, and off to the stand- and because the Glen are not on duty the next 90+ minutes are spent jotting down some jumbled notes on the big game . Here it comes.
Fort makes it Four in a Row-Just
“A last minute goal from man of the match Gary Innes saw Fort William lift the Camanachd Cup for the fourth time in a row- edging out a disappointing Kingussie side by 3 goals to 2. In the end Fort just about deserved the win though judged on their second half performance they would have had little to complain about if, when ref Billy Wotherspoon blew his final whistle, the cup had been on its way down the A9 to Badenoch instead of the A82.
Kingussie have won shinty’s premier trophy 22 times, the last occasion being in Dunoon in 2006 when Fort William were their victims, but on the slippy Bught surface they failed to impose themselves on an understated game which was crying out for a big personality to step forward and make a difference to the pattern of the play. Usually you can rely on Ronald Ross to provide such an injection of energy and power: after all he has already scored 56 goals this season- but this Saturday out of all possible shinty Saturdays it wasn’t quite Ronald’s day.
Indeed so closely shackled was he, with two Fort William defenders deputed to dog his footsteps that it wasn’t until 18 minutes were up on the clock that he got away his first shot of the day, a nice piece of opportunist striking from a chance he created himself but it bumped harmlessly past the right hand post of Fort keeper Paul Mackay.
By that stage Fort William were already in the lead having moved ahead thanks to a Gary Innes strike in 15 when he blasted the ball home from just outside the D having picked up the slip ball from free hit. James Clark might have made it two for the Fort a few minutes later but under severe pressure from defender Lee Bain, who put up an outstanding defensive display, he spurned the chance and Kingussie began to come into the game. Part of this was due to the fact that with Liam Macintyre and Addie Robertson hovering within Ross’s immediate environs, Kingussie’s Barrie Dallas was left virtually unmarked in the middle of the field and he began to feed up ball to the front men. The problem was that apart from Ross up on the D, the other forwards, cousins Thomas and Ryan Borthwick were unable to physically power their way through the Fort defence. The wet grass too played its part slowing down the ground passes and making the ball heavier- and when push came to clash some of the Fort defensive tackling in the first half had an admonitory edge about it.
For all that the tackling was hard, the game was played in good spirit and referee Wotherspoon had little to do in the earlier stages although Fort William’s John Macdonald did have to go into the book after a high swing at Kingussie‘s Paul Gow.
At the other end Innes was the man on form and in quick succession had a shot saved by Andrew Borthwick and then having muscled Ricky Grant out of the way he fired a shot just wide. At the half hour mark Ross began to drift deep off the dust to hunt out balls that were being denied to him up front. In 36 minutes he picked up a ball from Dallas drove straight at the Fort William defence and fired the ball out wide to Thomas Borthwick who found himself unmarked at the back post, the youngster had just enough space to squeeze off a shot but with the ball net-bound, Fort Keeper Paul Mackay turned it past the post.
Two minutes later Ross picked out Ryan Borthwick with a neat ball but the youngster failed to convert the chance. Then with Kingussie pushing strongly for what seemed the inevitable equaliser, some slackness crept in at the back which allowed Fort William’s Bryan Simpson, playing with his hand in a protective cast, to pounce on a through ball from Innes and finish emphatically from close range.
The loss of a second goal stung Kingussie into more co-ordinated action and finally Barrie Dallas’s unmarked situation paid dividends when he placed a long diagonal ball into the D and Ross, having reverted to his front role, was on hand to finish the move with a precise flick past Mackay to make the score 2-1 at halftime.
Kingussie continued their assault on the Fort defence after the turn around but somehow their attacks seemed not to get the break of the ball. When Paul Gow juggled the ball through a ruck of players the crowd rose in anticipation, but his flick sailed over the bar. Then Ross drifted out, and fired a shot on the turn only see it fly back off the post a feat that Thomas Borthwick replicated shortly afterwards. Kings continued to string the passes together and in the move of the match Fraser Munro slipped a ball to Gow who fed Dallas on the right but the shot was blazed wide. Fort momentarily reversed the situation when a long free hit out of midfield by John Macdonald was picked up by Gordy Mackinnon but his shot went high over the bar.
At the other end Ross was still on the prowl bringing down the unprotected Neil Robertson with a fierce swing, hitting a slip from a free hit over the bar then having a dink at goal once more saved by Mackay who was belying his inexperience with a solid performance between the Fort sticks. Kingussie then stuck on James Maclean in the centreline and moved Fraser Munro up front in an effort to make their pressure count which it finally did in the 75th minute when Ross in his unaccustomed role as provided released Thomas Borthwick at the back post and he blasted the ball past Mackay for the equaliser.
With a mere 9 minutes left on the clock veteran Rory Fraser came on in the back line to replace Ricky Grant who was beginning to find Mackinnon troublesome while James Clark who had been well marshalled by Bain was also withdrawn to be replaced by Victor Smith. It was still anybody’s game – and when Paul Gow made another lung bursting run up on the Fort backline he deserved better that to be brought down by Addie Robertson just outside the D.
Robertson went into the book but the resulting foul came to nothing and the ball rapidly returned to the other end where King’s keeper Borthwick had to concede a corner.
From the set piece Fort William managed to work the ball to Innes who got some space free on the right, held his balance under pressure and drove the ball home for the winning goal.”
Then there was singing and dancing, Gary Innes picked up the Albert Smith medal for the second time and James Clark brought a baby out from under his shirt to put in the photo.
And the Wing Centre? He is now a Kingussie supporter – after all his daughter married one of the Masons from Ardbroilach road, - and now that Kings are the underdogs, the traditional position of Glenners everywhere, he feels he can support them at least until they start winning again.
Enjoy the pics. The opener is obvious. A nice one of Scotland Manager Drew MacNeil- but boy was he cold what with scarf and earmuffs and everything!
And Bobo? The only man from the Glen to get a medal on Camanachd Cup day.