Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The biggest shinty fortnight since the season began

“Well,” said the Chairman, as he adjusted his new hands free kit in the Caman-mobile so he could listen in to the first shinty scores on Radio Free Beauly, ”That must have been the biggest fortnight for shinty since the season began.”
“Couldn’t disagree with that”, said the Wing Centre, “what with Kyles dropping that vital point to Inveraray and then Newtonmore getting the Premier League winner in the last minute of their final match. You couldn’t make it up”
The Chairman looked at the Wing Centre: there was a profundity of pity in his regard. “EJ was right, Wing Centre. You always miss the point. I never gave Newtonmore, Inveraray or Kyles a thought when I said it was a big fortnight for shinty. What I meant was that Glenurquhart have had a Sale of Work, an AGM and a Dinner Dance all in the last week or so”
“Wow!” said the Wing Centre, “What happened on these auspicious occasions?”
“I don’t have time to go through it all now “ said the Chairman “but why don’t you do what everyone else in Shinty does when they want to find out something about their own club. Just Google up the Skye website- you will find it all there.”
With that he engaged the gears in the Caman-mobile and set off in the general direction of Pitkerrald Road.
There was nothing for it then but to take his advice and look up the Skye website and what a treasure trove that turned out to be. It was nearly all there. You wonder how these Skye guys do it. If their League position is to be believed they can’t play shinty like boys from Lochalsh and Kintail,but they can find out secrets all right. Suppose when you think of it there’s a Skye person to be found in every village in the Highlands either living openly or not letting on, and it’s clear from the website that they are gathering info on the local shinty teams with thoroughness reminiscent of the East German Stasi. Still it is useful.
The mole missed out on the Sale of Work though, a spectacular event which took place on Friday 5th November and which saw the hall packed with a most lively throng of happy buyers. All the usual stalls were to the fore with the venison, the baking, the books and the bottles flying off the shelves with abandon. A particular feature this year was the large number of Christmas decorations which sold especially well to youngsters and families.
The next event was the AGM which was held for the first time ever in Glen Urquhart High School as opposed to its usual venue of Blairbeg Hall which was otherwise engaged.
To find out what happened it is as well to quote what the Skyvers say :
Scottish Hydro Premier Division side Glenurquhart has pulled off a management coup by appointing Fraser Mackenzie and Drew McNeil as first team co-managers at their Annual General Meeting on Friday 11 September 2011.The two most recent Scotland managers take over from Jim Barr who stood down at the end of the 2011 season and they are already preparing for the 2012 campaign.
Drew McNeil managed Scotland in the Shinty / Hurling internationals against Ireland in 2010 and 2011 and before that he was assistant manager to Fraser Mackenzie when he managed the Scots.
The duo has also experienced the highs and lows of club management. Drew McNeil won the Scottish Hydro Camanachd Cup with Fort William for three years in the row before he was replaced by Peter McIntyre. Fraser Mackenzie managed the Lochcarron first team prior to taking on the Scotland job.
“I’m delighted to be back in management and can’t wait to get going,” said Fraser Mackenzie. “Drew and I have previously worked together in the Scotland job and we are both driven and we get on well. Drew has had a lot of success at club level with Fort William and I’ve had my time in charge at Lochcarron so we know how it can go right and how it can go wrong. We also hope to appoint an experienced assistant manager from within the club and we hope to be able to make an announcement on this in a couple of weeks’ time.”
Mackenzie and McNeil are both keen students of the game. “Drew and I have both been at Glenurquhart for a season and we have had a good meeting with the players where we discussed what is expected of the team next season and we’ll try to bring success to the club. We are not looking at this short-term but we want to help the club longer-term from the youth set-up right up to the first team and I must say that everyone is very positive.”
“We are looking forward to a good pre-season so that we can build on the last few seasons. We have a great bunch of guys and the players can certainly take belief from beating Kingussie and Newtonmore on their own pitches this season, We just need to get consistency and we can look at Kyles to see what can be achieved. James Perlich has done a fantastic job training the Kyles boys and their fitness is fantastic. You get out of the game what you put in.”
Mackenzie is expecting the strongest top division for a few years now. “The Premier Division is going to be very tough next season,” he said. “Bute are a good side and I think Kinlochshiel will surprise a lot of teams and I would be very surprised if ‘Shiel were relegated at the end of the season.”
Drew McNeil’s two year tenure in charge of the Scotland team has come to an end but he has aspirations of continuing in that post. Fraser Mackenzie doesn’t see why his international successor cannot continue in a dual role especially with a strong management team looking after Glenurquhart affairs.
Mackenzie also has a family link to the area, “It’s great for me to be involved with Glenurquhart as half my family come from the area and my mum lives here. The new season can’t come quick enough.”

(To be found at

In the interests of historical accuracy it should be pointed out that the Fraser Mackenzie mentioned as manager is of course the “Official” Fraser Mackenzie. The Original Fraser Mackenzie continues as Treasurer. Unusual, two Fraser Mackenzies in Glenurquhart? Not so- far stranger is the fact that there are two Ally Mackintoshes, two Andrew Macdonalds, two Peter Macdonalds and at least three Dave Maclennans in the village.

The Chairman continues as chairman while Hazel Stewart remains in the key post of Secretary while Mr Reid keeps his fingers in his many club pies including the lottery and Stuart Mackintosh stays on board to handle the fixtures secretary’s post. Second team boss is to be Iain Macleod.
Better was to come for Smack though at the annual “Do” held at the Clansman when he was awarded the club’s trophy for Player of the Year. The accolade was richly deserved too after his excellent season and international honours though if rumour is to believe he was pushed close by his brother Al while as you may see in the snap his cousin Paul is indicating how close the voting was. Gary Smith was named Junior Player of the Year for his performances with the second team. Also honoured was young player of the year Fraser Heath who has not only had some first team experience this session but has also had under- 17 district and national acclaim. A special award in the shape of an inscribed caman was presented to retiring second team manager Steven Henderson. Hendo has won 3 league titles in a row, a Strathdearn Cup and made a Sutherland final. This year though League form was a problem the side, despite big changes in personnel, also made it through to the semis of both the Sutherland and the Strathdearn.
Other presentations made on the night were to Jim Barr who stepped down as first team supremo, Helen Maclennan for all her efforts, everywhere, all the time Janet Emery for her work at the pavilion and present High School Head Teacher Josie Mackenzie retiring after 31 years of tirelessly promoting shinty in the halls of academe.
In sum it was an excellent night with superb food with over 70 persons present amongst whom were some of the Clubs most generous sponsors and as ,we were wont to write of yore,” a good night was had by all ...... while everyone else seemed to enjoy it as well.” On the top table was a fine display of trophies amongst which was the Macdonald Cup , the “Clash of the Camans “ piece of kindling, under 17s Inverness Sixes Cup and of course the Tug o’War Cup from the Glen Games.

At this point the Chairman returned to vet the blog. We have, it is true, tight media control in the Glen after experiencing some choppy journalistic waters earlier in the season- and after a minute or so of tutting the boss said “It‘ll do but I’m not sure I like the tone of the last par. It does not seem to be entirely respectful of the trophies”
“But we do respect them. At least EJ didn’t take them up to the top of Queen Mary’s Rock and pose for a snap without his shorts on”
“Who did that?”
“The Newtonmore boys. They took the Camanachd and the Premier League Cup to the top of Creag Dubh and took off their pants for a photo. The shot was captioned ‘Naked Ambition’. It is a visual pun.” added the Wing Centre helpfully.
“I bet their Mams weren’t pleased,” said the Chairman.
“I doubt if they were. Still you can’t blame the guys-they must be Team of the Year now. All the Twits say so”
“It’s not Twits...It’s Tweets- but you still don’t get it do you Wing Centre?”
“Get what?”
“This Team of the Year thing. Look, which team beat the Glen twice this season?”
“Well it wasn’t Newtonmore or Kingussie was it?”
“No, It was Kyles. Ergo, Kyles must be Team of the Year. If the Glen can beat someone then there is no way that team can be Team of the Year, so it has to be Kyles, hasn’t it? Astie chose them and Astie’s not daft.”
Apparently not.
Enjoy the pics.

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