Friday, April 08, 2011

Too Much for 'More

Newtonmore 0 Glenurquhart 1

After a morning of heavy rain in Brig o’Drum and throughout the Western World, it was no surprise for the Wing Centre to hear that the Kilmallie game had been cancelled- and that a trip down the A82 to watch Hendo’s Heroes at the Canal Park was no long on the agenda. This left a problem for the keen Glen fan. Would it be sensible to head to Newtonmore knowing that there was less than a full Glen team going to take to the field, and that their Newtonmore opponents were reckoned by many-including yours truly- to be the strongest team in the Premier League. Remembering also that Glen were due to face a Newtonmore side who hit six against Inveraray and eleven against Skye with Danny Macrae scoring up to three goals every game including a hat trick in a game that did not even count. A no-brainer!
The sensible move was to have a sandwich then nip over the hill to the common grazing, to see the Crofters put to the sword by the foot soldiers of the Fort. That way one would be aware that even while the Glen were being defeated on the Eilean, at least one could observe our dearest neighbours being beaten on their own park. That is not however what happened.
Lovat –and you have to hand it to them-kept the Fort at bay. Gary Innes had an early drive at goal which was excellently saved by Stuart Macdonald and then there was a bit of bright buzzing around the home goals by Gordy Mackinnon, Boob Simpson and the youngster Campbell – and though the Fort had chances to strike a telling blow, the young Grieves and Lorne –keeping his temper-were smart enough to prevent a score. Smiling affably to everyone and engaging the locals in conversation – even being polite to the Glasaich who were there watching the match after their own Camanachd tie had been called off, the Wing Centre was inwardly depressed. Here were Lovat on the way to picking up a point against Fort while doubtless up on the high moor, the Glen were being defeated. It was hard to keep a civil tongue – and yet, it was excellent crack because everyone who mattered in the Aird and beyond was there. It was like the Lovat Cup without the snow. The Glasaich were there as already mentioned but so were the Beauly boys, since their game was off. So were the Inverness lads for the same reason-naturally the Kiltartans were there as were the faithful of the Fort. Not only that - since Bute is a long way away, the Cabers crew were on the side lines too as were the few Drummers brave enough to risk the trip through Glen Convinth. It was even like the Drum Games without the tartan and all the hassle of parking.
The real trick was to forget about what was happening on the far side of the Slochd but you couldn’t take a step round the park without folk either wondering why you weren’t at Newtonmore or asking for a latest score. Naturally there was no way the Wing Centre was going to put in a call to the Eilean and so at halftime helpful goal judge Alan Macpherson decided to phone on the Wing Centre’s behalf despite the fact that he had merely stopped to give Alan’s dog a clap. Whatever, it was at that point 0-0 and for a little while the pressure eased. However as Lovat came more into the game at Balgate and as it began to look less and less likely that Fort were going to win, what with Lorne keeping calm and Ewan Ferguson playing on top of his game, it was an easy decision to pop in the car and drive back to Drum.
A phone call to Astie at Alton Towers from the layby near the Red Burn was even more stressful because he indicated that the Glen were now leading 1-0 and that there was very little time left. But was it a wind-up? Astie’s tone was somewhat ambiguous and so the score wasn't confirmed until after a call to John Barr at 4.45 (Neither Jim Barr nor Drew MacNeill were answering their phones- and it would have been mad to phone Brick since he would assume that the score was already known and that the call was simply malicious)
John’s verdict was straightforward. “The defence played well-kept on top of Newtonmore and though they had shots at goal they were rushed and a lot went wide. Smack had a good game as usual. Neale Reid got a goal at the other end-a deflection off a defender’s stick and that was enough to win it. Two good points. Oh and Ed got hit on the head”
John’s understatement-including its incidental internal rhyme- probably does not tell the whole story but getting the whole story has proved difficult. Old friend and former Newtonmore player Donald Hugh Watson who provided the pics claims only to have seen the last bit of the game- and thus could not comment. However, being a Newtonmore man he would say that wouldn’t he?
A call to Dave Fallows who writes about Newtonmore’s victories in the “Strathie” (The Strathspey and Badenoch Herald for the uninitiated) was helpful enough though Dave did say that anything he was going to write would be about what Newtonmore didn’t do rather than what Glenurquhart had actually done. Understandable enough from Dave’s point of view- and precisely what the D would do in the same circumstances- but no way now can one crib from the Strathie. Dave did however confirm the primacy of the defence and the fact that they made ‘More snatch at their chances- and consequently miss them. Stuart Mackintosh‘s hardest save was stopping a deflection off one of his own defenders. He missed the fact that Neale Reid’s goal was a deflection though he did describe it looping up and over Mike Ritchie into the net. On that description it could have been a mishit and bearing that in mind it seems more prudent to go with John’s original take on matters.
On Sunday , Bill McAllister put in a call and at that point it became clear that the story-vague as it was – was about to go viral in its own modest way. The Wing Centre passed him on to Jim Barr to expedite matters and thus on Monday the following came out in the P & J under Bill’s byline all of which is fully acknowledged.
“Surprise club Glenurquhart is proving it has the Premier League’s iron curtain defence after shutting out the Badenoch big two. Glen followed their goalless draw with Kingussie by going to The Eilean and inflicting a rare home defeat on champions Newtonmore. Their 1-0 win, courtesy of a Neale Reid goal, means neither of the Badenoch sides have put the ball past Glen goalkeeper Stuart Mackintosh and manager Jim Barr said: “It’s quite an achievement but our defence is working extremely hard and deserves great credit.” Barr was disappointed to see David Girvan, injured in a pre-season friendly, break down on his comeback and the influential player’s knee problem will keep him out for at least four weeks.”( P & J Monday 2nd April 2011)

A result then – and no Corky! No Davie Girvan! No Liam Girvan for that matter!
So Glen were too much for More-but will they kill off ‘Mallie on Saturday.
One would be more confident if they were scoring more goals per game. There is of course no point in doing anything other than accepting with graciousness and humility what was a superb away win over the world champions.
The pictures provided by DH show the ‘More forwards and the Glen defence in “Meercat” pose while number two shows “ Ed’s rap on the head”. The final shot shows Ed in full flow.

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