Giving Honour Where it is Due
It has been a while since there has been any shinty activity worth writing about at least in as much as it actually affects the Glen. Not to say that the new Camanachd President does not affect the Glen nor that he should not require a word or two but then the Courier guy wrote a very good profile and the West Highland Free Press actually carried a picture of Himself – as he will be known here from now on in-in front of the family croft house and it was indeed a snap which complemented the Courier article exceptionally well. While there was some unease-not to say alarm -on the shores of Loch Ness at the prospect of a proud Kiltartan taking up Shinty’s top job, Mr Reid was pleased to note that with the departure of Mr Cameron from the hot seat that now, of all the senior people running shinty, he -that is Mr Reid- has the most hair.
Back in the Glen thanks to the snow, Zandra’s Sixes were postponed for the second year running and with an article on the funeral service for the Glen’s late great Eddie McGavin being held back for the Shinty Year Book then thoughts naturally turned to the New Year’s Honours list. Once again Mr Reid was overlooked in the lists of the great and the good but the award of an MBE to Ronald Ross has got to be good news for shinty. Of course Ronald was not the only person with a shinty connection to pick up a gong. Magnus Macfarlane-Barrow who played for Glenorchy and who also graced the dark blue International jersey in the 1990s was awarded an OBE for his charity work. Magnus is the founder of the charity “Mary’s Meals” which provides daily meals for undernourished children in their local school. In this way the hungry child is encouraged to attend school and, through education gain a better future. Mary’s Meals provides daily meals in school for over 400,000 children in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe and it has to be said that if we work on the principle of the greatest good for the greatest number then Magnus should probably have gotten a bigger gong. He was after all named as one of Cable News Network’s (CNN) 2010 Heroes; and was in fact the only British citizen in the final ten and given that that CNN considered over 10,000 nominations from more than 100 countries then the shinty player certainly done good.
Another recipient of royal approval (MBE) who has a shinty connection is of course Liz Buchanan who was actually honoured for her services to Tourism. Liz has dedicated more than 30 years to the Scottish tourism industry and to promoting Scotland primarily through her role as Chief Executive of VisitScotland’s subsidiary Tourist Board Training Ltd. In this role she was instrumental in the establishment of a training programme for information centre staff and securing European funding for Scottish tourism. Liz has played a key role in ensuring that Scottish tourism is represented at a European level. She is also president of the European Union of Tourist Officers. However Liz had the strongest of shinty connections back in the 1970s when as well as being heavily involved in editing and co-editing the Shinty Year Book she put in time as secretary of the North of Scotland Camanachd Association, the Referees Committee, the “Future of Shinty” Committee and also helped organize the Aviemore 6 a side tournament over a number of years. Beyond that she was also the first female Vice President of the Camanachd Association, a ground breaking role that might have seen her receiving the a royal award twenty years before she actually got one.
Of course the real deal for Shinty was Ronald’s MBE because he won it for his supreme mastery of the sport. Though he sustained an injured ankle when he captained the Scotland side in the recent Shinty / Hurling international against Ireland at the Bught Park he intends to continue his involvement in the sport in the Kingussie colours as captain in 2011. His career has had many highlights one of which occurred in June 2009 when he received a special award from the Camanachd Association for having reached the figure of 1,000 senior goals, the first shinty player ever to have scored so many. Indeed as Kingussie retained their Premier League title in October 2009 -it was their 13th triumph in the 14 years since the National League was introduced in 1996 -Ronald could have been excused for congratulating himself that he had done it all on his own. He in fact hit 55 of the 82 goals that Kingussie scored en route to the title - and in fact bagged 93 in all competitions that season, one short of his all-time record. This season- 2010- he was again Kingussie’s top scorer with 58 strikes to his name.
Beyond that in 2009 Ronald won the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Award when it turned out that he was in fact the first Scot in any sport to score 1000 goals. In winning the award following a public vote, he pipped golfer Catriona Matthew, bobsleigh ace Gillian Cooke and curler David Murdoch to the prize. What tends to be forgotten is that this is the second time Ronald has scooped the prize. He also lifted it in 2003 after scoring a record 94 goals in a single season.
This year of course Ronald was also named as the Sunday Mail amateur sportsman of 2010. He was selected for the honour by an esteemed judging panel which included Scotland football team boss Craig Levein, and Olympic 10,000 metre silver medalist Liz McColgan.
The MBE is of course for Ronald and for shinty , the icing on the cake and the award now means that he joins a prestigious list of shinty legends who have received similar awards from the Queen viz. Newtonmore legend and former Camanachd President John Mackenzie and referee Douglas Mackintosh have previously received MBEs as have Kingussie’s Donnie Grant and of course Ronald’s father Ian Ross.
Ronald may have got the award but the whole shinty community cannot really underestimate the value of his contribution towards raising the profile of the sport at a National level and having it seen as being on a par with other sports which have a wider appeal.
With his recent promotion to the position of Shinty’s National Development Officer the bosses at “Alton Towers” clearly are aware of the fact that his value to the sport runs beyond that of mere goal scorer for Kingussie though it’s in that capacity that the Wing Centre values the big man most. Which is your favourite Ronald Ross goal? Perhaps it was all of the four goals in Kingussie's 4-2 Camanachd Cup final victory over holders Fort William in 2006: it might have been all four goals he scored against Inveraray in the final of this year’s MacAulay. For the Wing Centre it has to be the goal that let Kingussie back into the MacTavish cup tie at Drum back in April. With Glen in the lead and Kingussie going nowhere in 55 minutes Ronald suddenly scored. The goal came via a set piece-but more interestingly it shows Ronald in the two lights that opposing teams like to see him in -the Villain and the Genius.
As the ball dropped into the Glen defence Ronald the Villain was one on one with John Barr. He barged John aside with a high elbow. A foul? Yes, definitely. Then Ronald the Genius - he has a split second free and as the ball is dropping over his shoulder he guides it first time into the net. No big swing – simply wrist and timing and Kingussie are back in a game that no one else looked like saving for them.
This may well be a Glen-orientated blog and a Glen biased Wing Centre that says it but that goal alone was worth an MBE- yet the betting is that Ronald has scored so many that are on a par with that one that it is doubtful if he even remembers it. Kingussie went on to win that Cup of course.
So well done to Ronaldo but who will be next from the world of shinty to get a kiss of the Queens hand?
Pics? One of Ronald (thanks to Kingussie Website) and one of Magnus receiving his CNN Award.