Thursday, November 10, 2011

We live in interesting TV Times.

What an interesting world we inhabit here in shinty’s little parish. You wouldn’t learn it anywhere else but the Wing Centre can reveal that the reason the Shinty/Hurling internationals were held on the 22nd & 29th October was because the Stag shooting season closes on the 20th October (having started on July 1st for those with an interest in precision) and Astie and Torquil at the Camanachd Association hoped that clever timing would maximise the number of stalkers and gamekeepers coming through the turnstiles of the Bught on the Saturday. Now Astie is a Lochaberman and one would have been entitled to bet that he would not actually be aware of such dates, since everyone knows that Lochabermen if they are not stealing cattle, are certainly poaching deer and for such a pastime , legal dates are irrelevant . Torquil? I would bet that with a name like that he has a touch of the Sgiathananch or Hearach in him and behind that smooth exterior he will also have a Highlander’s distaste for the rule of law. Who knows? Astie and Torquil may have been right but in the end it made no difference. The Irish “Wild Geese” flew in and flew out with the International trophy thanks to a late, late strike from Joe Bergin that some might have considered to have been offside. But then some didn’t and that’s all that mattered.
The Wing Centre asked a newspaper guy if he could have a report- and the guy said yes-so here it is right down to the deeply dull last line that tries to imply that the result is somehow linked to the national psyche. As if. Anyway here it is….
Scotland failed gallantly today in their attempt to narrow the gap between themselves and Ireland’s hurlers left after last week’s defeat in the mixed code international. Trailing by five points and frustrated by the conditions in Co. Kildare, the Scots had hoped they could turn the series around on the more closely shorn home turf- and they gave it a real go leading their opponents in points scored until a goal from Brendan Maher in the dying minutes sealed an Irish victory which had looked unlikely for most of the afternoon.
Though injuries had forced Scotland boss Drew McNeill to refresh his squad –with Kyles Athletic’s Roddie Macdonald, Lochcarron’s Mark Sproule and Bute’s Ian Macdonald the new faces–his side got off to a superb start when Kevin Bartlett popped the ball over for two points in the opening minutes. A nasty mouth injury then deprived Scotland of chief play-maker John Macdonald but when a long drive from Finlay Macrae eluded Irish keeper Paul Dermody for Scotland’s opening goal the stage looked set for a home victory especially when Bartlett had added to the lead with two more points. Dermody however soon redeemed him-self with a series of fine saves .Then Bartlett was denied points by the post and Roddy Mac-donald struck the ball into the net with his foot rather than his caman after Macrae had set him up with an open goal. These were missed chances which would come back to haunt Scot-land but for the moment Bartlett was on hand once again to add two more from a free hit awarded for a push on Macdonald.
Then in 35 minutes Ireland woke up for the first time with a single from Willie Hyland. Worse was to follow for the Scots when Bergin scored from a narrow angle and then Craig Doyle further eroded the differential with a single. Though Bartlett hit two more points be-fore the whistle the 6 point half time lead was cold comfort to a Scotland side should have been well ahead by the interval.
Playing into the wind in the second period Scotland also found themselves confronting an Irish side clearly galvanised by manager Joe Dooley’s half time team talk. Gradually the visi-tors began to chip away at the Scotland lead with five points from Hyland, and two from Kil-kenny All Star Michael Rice. Though Scotland did partially stem the flow with a single from Innes and another double from Bartlett they were riding their luck. That eventually ran out when, with the defenders claiming offside, Maher’s s long range shot deceived Scotland keeper Stuart Mackintosh and gave Ireland a victory on the day that they barely deserved. For Scotland it was a case, as always, of what might have been.

So that was it and if there is a slightly elegiac air about this piece it is because we have reached the end of shinty as we know it in the Glen for yet another year- and so what if we still don’t know who won or who is going down from the Premier yet. To Glenners all that hubbub is simply noises off stage- and yet maybe the Wing Centre should take the wider view- and reflect on the broader shinty world for once- as long as that means he avoids all mention of Beauly or Strathglass. The Glen won nothing- but that means other people did, which was nice for them.
Earlier on the season the Wing Centre was watching the boys training on the Astro and there was a group of guys following Eddie around with a TV camera and stuff. Nothing odd in that – Eddie is the sort of chap who has always had his own PR man, personal shopper, personal trainer and all the rest of it – so the Wing Centre waited until Spielberg and his pals had gone away and asked Ed what was all the fuss about.
“TV crew, making a programme about shinty” said Ed.
“Who’s all in it?”
Eddie told the Wing Centre about who all was in it in confidence and said not to tell anyone else until the director had a chance to tell Alex and Chris Evans about it on the ”One Show”. So the Wing Centre wrote nothing about it at the time but recently reviewing it with Ed it seemed that a theme emerged.
First Eddie said it dealt with Sunny and the Rodgers Family from Fort William and Kilmallie.
“What did Fort and Kilmallie win this year?
“ Nothing” said Eddie.
“Any other Fort guys?”
“Big Niall MacPhee”
“Suppose he won nothing as well”
Eddie agreed that was true.
“Then there were the Borthwick boys from Kingussie and manager Stevie but they never won the Camanachd Cup either. In fact none of the Kingussie guys-even Ronald Ross himself- won the Camanachd Cup which seems to go against the natural order.”
Eddie agreed with that too
“An Inveraray guy was in it too- and they didn’t win the Celtic Society Cup. In fact things haven’t gone too well for them this season and then take yourself Ed and you spent most of the season injured and the Glen haven’t won anything either although the under 17s did win a six a side cup but the TV crew missed that. In fact these TV guys had all the shinty clubs in the world to choose from and every one they picked won nothing. You’ve got to admit that takes a special skill. ”
“Wing Centre” said Ed ,” as usual you’ve missed the whole point.” and off he went to his work.
Later , pondering the point, The Wing Centre reflected that Ed was right.
In fact the programmes are not really mainly about shinty at all. They are about people and families, fathers and sons, relationships and communities and how they are bound together by shinty. You have David Macpherson in Inveraray facing up to a massive health issue and the shinty community is there with him. And Big MacPhee has made enormous efforts to stay with his shinty community, What is Lisa Norman doing in Aberdour but building a community- and Aberdeen University Camanachd what sort of spirit has kept it going over 150 years?
All bound together by the indigenous sport, eh? That thrill of getting the ball up off the ground for the first time as a kid certainly never leaves you.
Some people –even Highland people -don’t get shinty- but then they probably don’t get life. It’s that simple – but the Wing Centre can’t write that because then even shinty people will think he is just full of it. They would be right…………………. but he wrote it anyway .
The pictures –just the guys who took part in the internationals. Thanks as always to Neil Paterson who took the ones that look decent.

The programme? When is it on?
Toisichidh a chiad prògram aig 8.30 air a 'phriomh latha den Dubhlachd.
That's what Eddie said anyway.

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