The Cups and Downs of Shinty.
Like all of shinty’s faithful followers in the Glen and the Aird, the Wing Centre likes the “Courier” even though he gets a little tired of the fact that in recent times its sports page has tended to focus too much on Caley Swizzle. Not that he is in any way against Caley manager Terry Butcher because, despite living in Abriachan, he at least seems to perform the socially useful function of attempting to keep the traffic on the A82 under some sort of control with his admonitions. To be fair though the Courier does give shinty a regular place-we have even had a recent sports editorial on the indigenous sport-though, as always, there is more that could be done.
Which is why the Wing Centre was most disconcerted last week to see the following little snippet in the Courier section which is entitled a bad week for....
In the Glen we did not really consider that particular victory to be the marker of a bad week. Winning a National Trophy for the first time in ten years was generally held to be a good thing , though when the point was put to the Chieftain he did indicate that he hoped the victory would not go to the heads of the youngsters involved and that having won at that level, they would continue to think of themselves as students of the game “with a lot to learn”. It is possibly a groundless fear because the last time that this trophy was won, it was with a side that was captained by Michael “Ikey” Fraser and contained Corky, Arran ,Lewis and Stuart Reid all of whom have gone on to be mainstays of the senior side. Michael has gone on to play in Ross-shire, not only in another county but also in another sport. It seems like a waste of a good Glenner but there you have it. That day victory was claimed at the Jubilee Park , Ballachulish and the opponents were Inveraray – and some of their guys have gone on to do quite well too.
This year’s victory came over at the Crofterdome on a day when that noble stadium undoubtedly harboured the only playable sward in the whole of Shintyland. A dreadful morning of wind and rain made for an anxious hour or so of wondering whether the match would go ahead but in the end Kinlochshiel came over the bealach and the match got underway with ref Graham Macmillan in charge of proceedings. The Wing Centre enjoyed the atmosphere- because despite the weather there was a sufficiency of aficionados present to create one- and the game wasn’t half bad either. Being of a gloomy disposition your reporter did not start out with too much faith in his valley’s young folk – especially when he considered that Shiel’s Connall Fraser had got four goals in the semi – but right from the start the young Glenners put in a shift. Inspired by Ewan Brady , Ewan Lloyd and Jack Hosie in the middle ,the black and red babes, with the help admittedly of a strong breeze, managed to secure some territorial advantage though secure defending from Shiel prevented both Daniel Mackintosh and Sam Cumming from turning early half chances into goals.
Glen took the lead though in the 15th minute when Connor Golabeck was put through on goal and the youngster kept a cool head to slip the ball past Shiel keeper Hugh Macrae for the opener. Glen kept up pressure and Cumming saw a drive come back off the post while another chance or two also went begging. At the other end Kinlochshiel tested the Glen defence when Jordan Fraser edged his shot just over the bar but both Fraser Heath at full back and James Hurwood at buckshee were on top form while Rory Maclean and Lachie Smith on the wings also kept the pressure on the Shiel forwards and star player Connal Fraser found himself with neither enough time or space to strike a telling blow. However just before the half time break Shiel got back into the game thanks to a close range strike by Aedan Macrae. Played in by Connal Fraser he slipped the ball past Glen keeper Cameron Maclennan and the sides went into the interval all square.
If Glenners on the side lines were worried that their youngsters were going into a second half having not made enough of the advantage the wind gave them in the first period they need not have worried. Glen kept on the front foot and their defence was alert enough to deal with whatever the Shiel lads could throw at them. Daniel Mackintosh fired home the decisive strike in the 57th minute when he persevered to find himself space and fired a powerful drive high into the Shiel net for what turned out to be the winner. Shiel were not completely out of it yet and Glen keeper Cameron Maclennan had to make an excellent save from a powerful drive by Fraser before Shiel resistance was finally overcome and the trophy went over Culnakirk for the first time in a decade.
An excellent advert for youth shinty, this game raises hopes that perhaps in the years to come it might be that a Glen side will have more trophies to put on the top table at the Dinner Dance than the Games Cup for the Tug of War !!
So what on earth were the Courier guys thinking about when they judged the victory as heralding a bad week for the Glen?
“That’s an easy one.” said Mr Reid, as he sorted out the Lotto tickets for the weekly draw.
Now if Mr Reid thinks it’s easy then most likely it is very complicated but in this case everything hinged on something that the Wing Centre hadn’t quite taken in.
“I bet they’ve got a little mixed up over the Premier League situation.”said Mr Reid and he went on to explain that when the last Premier game of the season, the Kyles v Kingussie match, had been cancelled the Camanachd decided that the points should be shared. Kings and Kyles got a point each, so the Glen slipped from 4th to 5th in the Premier League table since Kings now had the same points but a better goal ratio. Glen lost a place without even playing.
“A little bit like the old Pools Panel eh Mr Reid?” said the Chieftain. “What was the score?”
“What? They didn’t even give Ronald a goal? That was pretty mean of Astie.”
“Suppose so” said Mr Reid “but I bet Stevie Borthwick was pleased.”
“ ‘Cos Kings finally kept a clean sheet , that’s why”
With that Mr Reid went back to sorting out the Lotto. It was clear that he thought Kingussie were so jammy that if a Kingussie guy had come in and bought a ticket, he would have won. Not that Mr Reid would have sold him one.
Thanks to Neil Paterson(www.neilgpaterson.com)for all the pictures except the first one and the one of Garry and Dan.