Sunday, June 26, 2011

Glen steals one ‘More win.

Glenurquhart 0 Glen Mackintosh 1

The game opened with a quick Glen attack but the most telling move of the match – and in truth the only one to count- came in the seventh minute when a corner taken out on the right beside the soon to vanish old tennis court came across the D. Newtonmore’s top scorer Danny Macrae stepped over it confusing the defence who presumably thought he would have a swing at it , but no, he let the ball slip through to Glen Mackintosh who fired it home just inside keeper Stuart Mackintosh’s right hand post. One nil and the only consolation to be taken from it at that point was that at least it was a boy called Glen who actually scored.
The real Glen then sort of woke up and within two minutes Arran Macdonald had tested keeper Sean MacQuarrie with a nice shot from distance but the ‘More keeper was up to the task. Glen continued to press and were awarded a series of corners from one of which the ball broke to Lewis Maclennan but his shot flew wide, while a second chance which fell to Ruaraidh Cameron was blocked by defender Norman Campbell.
Newtonmore themselves moved up field on the 20 minute mark and while Danny Macrae did not look to get much up front the more lively Stephen Macdonald did get himself on the end of a shot which Stuart Mackintosh stopped comfortably.
Glen continued to press at the other end but although they racked up a number of corners with no appreciable result in front of goal. A breakaway from the centreline by Billy Urquhart also ended in frustration when the ball went tight across the face of goal just ahead of incoming attackers Lewis Maclennan and David Smart. Cameron too had an opportunity when Maclennan played him in but found Newtonmore defender Rory Kennedy in the way. A long shy from Arran Macdonald again found Cameron but once again the ball failed to drop sweetly for the Glen forward and the chance was lost. On the balance of play by this stage the Glen really ought to have been level but the feeling was beginning to creep up on the spectators sheltering in the stand against the intermittent drizzle that is was just going to be one of those days. Trouble is that for Glenners of the black and red variety there have been too many of them over the past few weeks.
As the clock ran down to the interval Newtonmore began to reassert themselves courtesy of some uncharacteristic Glen footering about at the back and first Glen Mackintosh shot wide then Ackie Macrae missed a glorious chance for Newtonmore by firing the ball high over the bar just before the break.
The second half by common consent belonged to the Glen- and that is usually the case when they shoot towards the shop and early on in the second session Sean MacQuarrie in the visitor’s goals showed that he was going to have a big influence on the game when he got his feet to a shot by Lewis Maclennan and then knocked away another attempt from the same player just afterwards. At the other end Danny Macrae had a fruitless attempt- and then defender Fraser Mackintosh had to come off with an injury which if it proves long term could cause Newtonmore difficulties in the run up to the end of the season. By this stage the Newtonmore defence were holding on grimly and Norman Campbell at the back drove them on to resist the tide of Glen attacks. MacQuarrie just about hung on to his composure as a ball came across from the left and ran across the goal mouth with him lying on the ground but the incoming Glen front men could not squeeze the ball over the line and Campbell stepped in to rescue. Finally with almost the last hit of the ball, Arran Macdonald who had a fine game in the centreline , launched a high dropping ball on to the Newtonmore goal but the keeper stood firm to stop the shot and ultimately earned his side both points which was truthfully one more than they actually deserved on the day.
Best for Glen were the back line with John Barr excellent. Andrew Corrigan and Stuart Reid also did well. Good for Newtonmore was the red haired lad in the centreline and of course Norman Campbell and the goalie but their best player was the lady in the stand who kept up a running commentary on the match to the extent that Ally Mac (sen) was very impressed with a girl who knew so much about the game.
“I don’t think that lassie comes from Newtonmore,” said he to the whole stand. ”She talks too much sense”
She pretended not to be secretly pleased
“Have you only worked that out now from the accent?” said herself.
“I never thought about the accent,” whispered Ally to the Wing Centre “It just that she knows her shinty.” Al was clearly smitten.” If she doesn’t come from Newtonmore, she’s probably from further south from the sound of her voice-even out of the region. I’ll bet she was brought up at Dalnaspidal.”
“Never heard anyone from Dalnaspidal speak before but they would sound Perthshire-ish. To my mind she’s some dame-ac from Argyll who’s been exiled to Newtonmore-maybe she’s even from Oban by that voice” said the Wing Centre.
“Rubbish!” said Al “I’ve never met anyone from Oban who really knew about shinty- she’ll no be from there”
And it is possible that Ally was right but then again he’s not right always… so who knows? But she would be an asset in the Glen where a chick that can make the tea and talk about shinty is always welcome.
When the whistle blew at the end of the game there was then an exodus of ‘More players in a car –Mr Cheyne, Mr Mackenzie et al- back down to the Eilean where they arrived in just enough time to turn a game that was chuntering along at 2-2 (two first half goals from Daniel Mackintosh) into a 7-2 defeat for the Glen. Wish we had thought of it first.
Back in Drum though everyone appeared hopeful. The team had played well enough but had not actually made League progress. Still with Fort William to come at home the hope was that at least a point was there to be picked up.
Pictures- they are getting scarce. Perhaps Neil Paterson will send one over if he comes to cover the Fort William match?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Victorian Capers at Cabers

Caberfeidh 1 Glenurquhart 2 (North Division 2)

Probably it was just as well that Cabers were involved in a Balliemore Cup semi-final at Balgate directly after this match because it was that which probably kept their focus away from this game and, more than likely, tempted them to keep one or two of their eligible players back for the real game. Still, you take what you‘re offered and by good fortune Glen were offered and took both points.
What you have to say though is that Castle Leod in early summer is a superb setting for a game of shinty. In the autumn it can be tricky with heavy turf and on the far side fallen leaves hampering the free running of the ball but with the grass mown short and not enough water in the burn to whisk the ball away off to the Cromarty Firth, it is the perfect venue. The pavilion with its verandah is something else. On a still night you could sit there like a true Victorian old India hand watching the sun go down, sipping a gin and tonic waiting with your gun until the tiger comes up to pounce on the tethered goat. Simply put, in shinty terms it is a paradise.
Which makes it all the more of a pity that the Glen played like angels for only 15 minutes- and then spent the remaining 75 minutes sprachling about in search of a way to lose the match. Fortunately they were unable to find one- but that was largely thanks to Gregor McCormack at full back who managed to handle Cabers full forward Alan Ross well. Credit must also go to the two young wing backs James Hurwood and Ross MacDiarmid who both played excellently but above all at full centre Iain Macleod inspired the side and led by example, especially in these dire patches of the match when it seemed as if Cabers’ goat might untether itself and pounce on the Glen tiger, so to speak. Oh and yes, Garry Mackintosh had a tremendous series of hit outs-three quarters of the park if they were an inch; he also had a fabulous save and scored a goal so he certainly played his part.
So how did the game go, Wing Centre?
Unfortunately, the note book is rather crumpled because it was stuffed into a pocket quickly as Ref Sloggie sternly ordered your humble scribe and Billy Macleod to retire smartly from the back of the Glen goal where they had positioned themselves to fetch and carry balls which , having gone over the bar, were bound for the burn. However the notes reveal the following: the Glen started extremely well with good long hitting and the first chance fell to Fraser Heath but he dug the ball up and over the bar. Cabers then exerted some pressure down the Glen left flank but James Hurwood was quick to the occasion and nipped the ball away and up the line. Glen then opened their account with a well taken goal which came as a result of some intricate build up play. The move was started by Daniel Mackintosh who picked up a ball hit out of the Glen defence by Gary Smith. Mackintosh carried the ball a step or two and slipped it forward to Fraser Mackenzie who turned it in to Stuart Morrison. He found Ewan Menzies out on the left and the young wing forward fired the ball into the net past stranded Cabers keeper veteran Donald Mellis. A mere five minutes was on the clock and the Glen looked as if they were going to walk the game when Menzies hit number two a few minutes later.
Cabers did fight back as one would expect them to but time and again their forward movement was halted by full back McCormack and buckshee Gary Smith. The young wing backs too stuck to their task and in the first period in particular played simple, sensible shinty getting to the ball first and moving it on with MacDiarmid catching the eye by his clean hitting and by the manner in which he had the presence of mind to slip the ball up the line when he was given the space and time to do so.
At the other end chances were still coming but sharpness had gone from the Glen shooting and first Fraser Mackenzie and then Calum Fraser saw attempts go over the top. The Cabers defence played as befitted a team whose wives and mums were up in the square dressed in Victorian garb to celebrate the village’s gala day - that is to say in a Victorian manner . They stopped the ball with their feet and battered it up field: they might have been wearing knickerbockers and hand knitted socks but they kept the Glen comfortably at bay and after Glen’s Stuart Morrison had hit the side netting and Fraser Heath had done likewise, the men in blue came more and more to the fore. However it took until the 35th minute for them to have their first shot at goal.
Then came a series of attacks at the Glen goal as Cabers struggled to get something from the game and twice they were thwarted by keeper Mackintosh while on another occasion the ball was neatly knocked into the net but was ruled out for offside.
At half time as the Glenners queued in pensive mood for a cuppa – the fixture could yet be tricky-they swapped stories about their entry to the ground. All had a similar story. They were stopped at the gate by someone who looked as if he was about to charge them money. “I’m going to the shinty match over there” was not quite detailed enough to gain admittance. The clincher was a test question of masonic complexity. “Who’s playing?” All the Glenners the Wing Centre spoke to had known the answer and were let in. Others may well have been turned away or charged money and whisked off in a bus to the Victorian Gala day, though one doubts that MacBrayne’s Buses, however old they may be, were ever in vogue in the days of the Queen –Empress.
The second half saw Glen pick up a little and a nicely worked ball from a free hit was laid back to Iain Macleod and he narrowly missed the Cabers goal from distance. A further piece of interplay saw Ewan Menzies play in Fraser Heath but the youngster’s shot was blocked by the ever green Mellis in the goal.
The game stuttered on for an extended period in a similar fashion but with Cabers emerging as a force more and more. Fortunately it was late in the day when Cabers winger Arran Ross picked a ball out on the right wing and fired it into the goalmouth where it took a wicked deflection, hit Garry Mackintosh’s leg and popped into the net. Cabers were back in the game-only they weren’t because there wasn’t enough time left on Granddad Sloggie’s clock for them to get back in properly and by then the cheers of the Cabers fans were muted as most of the die-hards were getting ready to head off to Kiltarlity where their big team were to book a place in the Balliemore final by 20 past 4 that same afternoon.
So then Glen shook hands, picked up their kit and went off to Kiltarlity too where they saw Beauly play silky interpassing “Glen style” shinty – but they lost. Perhaps the Victorians got some things right: after all they did have an Empire.
The picture is of wingbacks James Hurwood and Ross MacDiarmid : they both played well enough to merit a snap.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Glen struggle to find meaning in the Rule of Three.

Glenurquhart 3 Tayforth 0 (Sutherland)
Glenurquhart 3 Skye 0 (North League Div 2)
Kinlochshiel 3 Glenurquhart 0 (Camanachd)

Ah the Rule of Three. If you don’t know about it then let the Wing Centre enlighten you. It is the idea that things which come in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things. It is certainly familiar to those who have studied the ancient art of rhetoric- and usually dismissed without a second thought until three results like those noted at the head of the column come along. You know the sort of thing- you are waiting for half an hour for a bus and then three come along at once, though if you live in the Glen there are sometimes occasions when a bus does not arrive at all. It is a formula beloved of politicians and speech writers. Its uses have run the gamut from the American Declaration of Independence “life ,liberty and the pursuit of happiness “ to the more sinister popular appeal of Adolf Hitler’s “Ein Volk , Ein Reich , Ein Fuhrer!”. Indeed it is only in our present day that its use has been somewhat uneven: Obama uses it with eloquence but all that Tony Blair could come up with was “Education, Education, Education” which is either a testament to his lack of imagination or irony of a most sophisticated kind. You must choose- but this is to digress.
Whatever the value of the “rule of three” in the murky world of political intrigue it has never struck the Wing Centre as applying to the world of shinty before. One cannot imagine El Supremo calling the guys together in the changing room at the start of the season and enthusing them with a call to arms along the lines of “One season, one team, one cup”-though it might have been an idea if the power of numbers had struck the backroom boys sooner. It might just have worked too because when you have three results like that on the trot it certainly makes you think –though in this case the third score was neither funny , satisfying nor effective.
However though the proud name of Glenurquhart will not be inscribed on the Camanachd Cup any time soon, all Cups are not lost. Mr. Sutherland’s fine piece of silverware is still a possibility certainly if the side plays reasonably well and the fringe youngsters keep their focus.
The Tayforth result was quite a satisfying one – though Iain Macdonald was a necessity at the back to keep the hems on Tayforth’s Stuart Ferrier who is one of the most skilful, unsung players in the game. As usual-it’s their default position- the Glen started quickly and within five minutes they had put the Tayforth defence under pressure with quick running and snap shooting. The shots though failed to count with a drive from Daniel Mackintosh just flying past the post and another from the lively Ewan Menzies just grazing the bar. Gregor MacCormack was next to shoot but his strike bounced back from the post then Bradley Dixon making a welcome return at wing centre had his strike on target but this ball too was well saved by Tayforth keeper Donald MacInnes .
A drive from Daniel Mackintosh was turned past for a corner in 31 minutes and from the resulting cross the same player fired in a powerful shot which came back off MacInnes and fell into the path of Fraser Heath who made no mistake from inside the D.
The Glen powered on - and though Tayforth broke forward once or twice they were unable to get the score back on even terms and the ref’s half time whistle came just after another Glen attack had ended unsatisfactorily when Iain Macleod‘s attempt from the right had flown across the face of goal with the young forwards being unable to capitalise on the chance.
The second half continued in the same vein with the Glen pressing in on the Tayforth defence where veteran Derry Barton- that man is worth an M.B.E. for services to the sport in hostile territory if any is- having to deal sportingly with a series of ever changing young opponents.
By that time -55 minutes-youngster Fraser Heath had made the game safe with an excellent shot from distance- and that was followed up by a fine attempt from the excellent Daniel Mackintosh whose shot went high. Gregor MacCormack then got on the end of a neat piece of interplay with Ewan Menzies but once again the ball was saved as was a further attempt by Calum Fraser after a neat touch by Mackintosh set up the shot.
Finally two minutes from time Calum Fraser scored a goal he – and the spectators- will long remember. The ball was cut back into his path and without hesitation, deviation or repetition he drifted it into the roof of the net sending the Glen through to the next round of the Sutherland.
The next run out for Hendo’s Heroes was against Skye. Not being stuck on the Island and not having the patience to work out who is or isn’t in the side and why, it must be confessed that it is quite hard to make out this Skye team. They are still in the Sutherland on the back of some impressive results but they obviously have a different side for the cup from what they have on League duty. Glen’s 3-0 result was quite comprehensive – and if it were not for the keeper - called unusually for a modern Skyeman - John Macleod, the score would certainly have been higher.
Glen fielded a changed side from that which won over Tayforth. Rested were Iain Macdonald, Iain Macleod, Gregor MacCormack and Donald Fraser while James Hurwood was out with injury. Into the side making welcome returns were Ross MacDiarmid and Kelvin Mackenzie while Dave Girvan got his first start of the season since picking up a cartilage injury in the opening senior match of the season against Kingussie. Calum Smith who has been with the top team for the last few weeks was needed to fill the full back berth in the absence of MacDonald.
By the time the Wing Centre had made it down to the field the pattern of the game was set-though doubtless the Free Press will have seen it differently. Glen were encamped up at Sandy Whyte’s end and goalie Macleod was busy trying to turn the tables on the Glen by putting in the best performance between the sticks by a visiting goalie since wee Archie from Cabers had a daft day four years ago. Daniel Mackintosh had a series of early attempts saved, before Macleod had a particularly superb stop from young Dan but the rebounding ball went unpunished. Equally unlucky was Ewan Menzies when after a lovely run he found his shot smothered and the ball ran out for a corner. From the resulting hit Menzies found the ball popping up of his boots on to the club of the incoming Billy Urquhart who finished off the move with a tremendous first time drive past Macleod into the net for the Glen’s opener.
At the other end Garry Mackintosh had to look lively at his near post on a couple of occasions but the majority of the Skye attacks were thwarted by a most capable defence with Calum Smith playing coolly at full back, hitting long when he could, working the ball out to slip it wide otherwise. Macleod finished the half as he started it with another superb save in 42 minutes this time from a fierce drive from youngster Ewan Lloyd.
The second half promised more Glen frustration as Macleod opened the second period with a tremendous save from Billy Urquhart. A second save moments from the same player was every bit as good with the rebound picked up and fired just past by Kelvin Mackenzie who had moved into the front line after an impressive first half at wing centre. Macleod next denied Ewan Menzies before Glen made it 2-0 after some lovely interplay. David Girvan knocked the ball forward up the middle; it was knocked out wide left for Daniel Mackintosh to cut it back across the D, wrong footing the Skye defence and into the path of Billy Urquhart who quickly controlled it and drilled it home for his and the Glen’s second.
David Girvan then had his attempt on goal saved by Macleod before the Glen finally sealed the game with a goal of the topmost quality.
It came after a passage of intricate play which saw Billy Urquhart touch the ball into Kelvin Mackenzie who laid it back into the path of Calum Fraser and he finished off the move with a devastating drive past Macleod which would have been the goal of the season if Billy Urquhart hadn’t scored that very goal in the first half.
The scoring might have been over but the Glen were still hunting goals particularly when Mackenzie burst away from his marker to latch on to a through ball from Ross MacDiarmid but his shot went agonisingly wide. Cameron Maclennan was next with a chance but his under -hit shot was once again stopped by Macleod and Calum Fraser was unable to convert the rebound. With that ref Jock Matheson blew the full time whistle and the Glen sideliners were left wondering where the real Skye team was. No doubt they will be lying low until the Sutherland semi.
So to the Camanachd Cup. The score above tells the story: assorted witnesses tell the rest-lots of possession, enough pressure, chances wasted-always in with a shout until we weren’t. If that disses ‘Shiel, then read their side of the story in the WHFP on Thursday.
More interesting was the discovery in the Sutherland Cup match collection of a small round hard piece of rubberised plastic material with a hole in the middle which obviously had some sort of technological origin. Now being the possessor of an expensive public education which would allow him to converse fluently with the citizens of ancient Rome but leaves him a stranger to things industrial and technological, the Wing Centre was puzzled for a time. On holding it up to the light, he discovered that it bore the logo “Vacca” and this led after a little bit of sleuthing on the internet to the discovery that it was in fact a 3/4" Vacca Tap Washer (sold in a Flat Pack of 10) which retailed at £3. Interesting or perhaps scarily significant? But who on earth would have one of these in a pocket? The Wing Centre awaits the appearance in the collection bag of its 9 companions (3x3).

Enjoy the three pictures.
They are:
The Dressing Room after the Sutherland.
Glen mount an attack against Skye.
Calum and Billy leave the field in the company of Macleod the Goalie.

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