Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Great Glen Cup Scare

Macdonald Cup
Glenurquhart 1 Strathglass 0

Ali Ban
Glenurquhart 3 Strathglass 2

It’s that time of the year again- or at least over the last year or two it’s become that time of the year. Which is to say that it is the time for pre-season friendlies and with them comes the Macdonald Cup and the Ali Ban, those traditional reasons for the ordinary folk of Glenurquhart and Strathglass to be nasty to each other on the shinty field and, occasionally on the side-lines. Point is when the Wing-Centre played the ancient sport of the Gael he did so at the end of the season in June or July: now the match is fitted into a pre-season scramble for fitness and the old rules as to who should be available for selection to the teams apply. When the Glen went to play the match they had to face up to the fact that none of their new signings were eligible for selection while some of their old signings had moved on to pastures new. Probably the same had happened to Strathglass but in a Glen blog that is naturally of no concern.
However Roy’s comment did cause a little feeling of guilt-however fleeting-to trouble the Wing Centre’s conscience. With the score at 0-0 well into the second half of the game of the day things were looking as if “ even stevens” was to be the note on the non-existent score-board (The Royal Marines lorry knocked it flat on Games Day. Don’t ask: it’s a long story). That would have meant that Strath would have retained the trophy, as they apparently have since 2002, because a draw means the holders keep the cup.
“So” said Roy with his characteristic tact “You won’t be writing about the Macdonald Cup in the Blog. In fact you have never written about the Macdonald Cup in the D”
It wasn’t strictly true-the D has featured big Arran Macdonald being man of the match and then on another occasion published an ill judged snap of young George Phimister standing with the cup but without his head. Juvenile stuff indeed- but MacCoinnich was right: there never was a “proper” report on the Macdonald Cup as a game. There didn’t look as though there would be one this year either.
“Why would that be? “asked himself.
“Well,” said the Wing Centre “it’s just that the Ali Ban is a bigger story at the moment and it is in pole position- but if there is any breaking news ….” and with that the Wing Centre moved off down the line and down to the shop end for a blether with some veteran Glasaich who take a more relaxed view of matters. Indeed Roddy, Dooley and Johnny G were in grand form: it’s amazing how a blue sky, some warm sun and a half decent game of shinty can lift the human spirit. They were full of the “crack” as well they might be because up until that point in the game the Glen, though they had territorial dominance were only in the game because of two paranormal saves by international keeper Stuart Mackintosh. Who fired them in? Robert Geddes that’s who –the best striker of a shinty ball west of Loch Ness since-----since…well since Billy Macleod.
Fortunately in the 70th minute the breaking news finally broke. Neale Reid pounced on a ball 35 yards out from goal, smashed it hard and low on the turn into the net past big Raymond Fraser who had had an excellent afternoon between the Strath sticks. Indeed right at the start of the match, when the Glen looked as if they would sweep their visitors off the park and into the Enrick it was big Raymond who had saved the day with a series of stops from Calum Miller and Reid himself.
At the time the goal had gone in the Wing Centre was having blether with Strath legend George Fraser who was rightly pleased with how the Strath under-14 had performed earlier in the day. Since one always likes to encourage the youth it might appropriate to say the young Strathers won but not to mention the score.
At the time however George was happy to admit it was a strange game and that defences were on top. John Barr was powerful in the Glen back row as was the outstanding Ali Mackintosh while Strath’s George Phimister kept the pressure up on Eddie Tembo so that while the big man played well he never really got the room to shine.
Strath’s player of the day – at least it seemed so to this unbiased observer- was Scott Douglas who had a fine game at buckshee back. He seemed to read the game clearly, timed his tackles well and cleared his lines effectively. But then he is of course half a Glenner so a fine display was only to be expected.
In the end the day went with the Glen and Stuart Mackintosh as captain picked up the trophy for Glen’s second piece of silverware of the season. The first piece was of course the Ali Ban which came to the Glen courtesy of a hat-trick from Kelvin Mackenzie against a brace from Strath’s Brian Mackay, The third bit of silverware was of course the Shewglie trophy for man of the match which went to Ali Mackintosh. Young Al had an outstanding afternoon in defence and in attack and was the immediate choice of ref Deke Cameron. That was certainly one ref’s decision no-one could dispute.
A nice evening of celebration followed in the Loch Ness Inn but next morning reflecting on the game it seemed to the Wing Centre that perhaps Strath had every reason to feel they had been hard done by. Then again perhaps Glen simply need to learn to score goals when they have the chances to do so.
The pics are all local except for the one of 3 goal hero Kelvin Mackenzie: he moves so fast only a professional can snap him. Acknowledgements as usual go to Neil Paterson

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