Thursday, April 28, 2011

First the team, then the sign, then the website: the whole Glen goes on the blink.

Lovat 1 Glenurquhart 3
Glenurquhart 1 Lovat 4

A week’s a long time in shinty- at least that’s what the back to back fixtures against Lovat proved though why had they to be back to back? –well that’s a question the answer to which only Astie knows. And then he goes and puts it out on Camanachd TV? Fair or what?
In the first game, things were as they should have been: goals from Calum MacAulay, David Smart and Lewis Maclennan put the Glen appropriately ahead and there was never any danger of a Lovat comeback but as this last week only serves to prove, you should never get ahead of yourself in Shinty. Such was the universal gloom that this result caused in the Glen that even the Club’s state of the art electronic sign (see pic) refused to function and thus the actual dimensions of the Lovat victory remained unknown and unremarked in the Glen. If it showed nothing else, this little episode-the malfunction in the sign-reveals the limits to solar power and there was not enough oomph in the old celestial body to permit the liquid crystals to display anything at all. What was worse, the Club website went on the blink as well-you couldn’t put this in a novel for no-one would believe you.
However, it should never have come to this in the first place. Despite the absence of John Barr, Eddie Tembo and Paul Mackintosh, the side that Glen had out were certainly good enough to win. Indeed Glen dominated the early period and both Lewis Maclennan and Calum MacAulay forced Lovat keeper Stuart Macdonald into pulling off excellent saves in the opening exchanges. Glen’s forward play was quick and brisk, the ball was moved quickly about but the appropriate opportunities were never actually fired in on goal in the manner they should have been. Indeed if Arsene Wenger had been in the home stand he would have surely recognised the ”Nasri, Walcott, Arshavin and Van Persie” syndrome as it was ably demonstrated by the Glen front men- lovely to look at, always impressive but when confronted by a determined Lovat backline - ultimately ineffective in front of goal.
Of course it was not the Lovat defence who won the game-though if the Wing Centre were to choose one player in the black and white squad who epitomised their spirit it was defender James Macpherson. He put in a splendid performance in front of the keeper and, given that dad Alan is a former and forever Glenner, then he was entitled to play like that.
Lovat indeed had hardly been out of their own half when they took the lead with a fortunate goal courtesy of Fraser Gallagher whose drive was going wide when it was deflected into the net by Greg Matheson. Glen were quickly back in contention however after another nice piece of interplay allowed Ruaraidh Cameron to get a drive in on the Lovat goal. The shot was well blocked by keeper Macdonald but the ball bobbled up off the goalie’s feet and was neatly knocked home by Neale Reid who was following up the shot.
The rest of the half went with the Glen but with the same result though both MacAulay and Reid picked up nasty knocks in challenges which bluntly ought to have earned the Lovat defenders a card apiece. They didn’t and by the end of the half, the Glen’s mobility up front had been reduced more than a little. Worse was to come however when in the final Lovat breakaway of the half Matheson took advantage of some uncertain Glen defending to score a proper goal and put his side in at halftime 2-1 ahead much to the disbelief of the Glen spectators.
The second half was less secure for the Glen but the Red and Blacks again secured territorial dominance for at least the first 20 minutes of the period – and at no time did the Glen support anticipate anything other than at the very worst – a draw. Gradually however –with chances missed and time going by doubts began to creep in. The injured front men began to be less effective and first Neale Reid and then Calum MacAulay were removed from the fray to be replaced by Calum Smith, who took up a role at wing back, allowing Dixie Maclennan to move in to midfield and then Calum MacAulay was replaced for a spell with the returning Liam Girvan. This produced a few more Glen opportunities but yet again these were not converted. Then, all of a sudden- out of the blue in the 80th minute, Greg Matheson, out wide on the right picked up the ball and fired a glorious drive into the net. It has been a while since the Wing Centre has seen a better struck goal. You are talking Dunky Kerr against Kingussie in a replayed Camanachd Semi: you are talking Gary Innes in last year’s Camanachd Cup final .Hit from an outrageous angle, the ball flew past Stuart Mackintosh and from that point on the game was lost to the Glen. Four minutes later with the Glen attempting to retrieve an impossible situation, that man Matheson added a fourth and in so doing put a gloss on the score which the true nature of the game did not reflect. Whatever! Matheson took the chances he was presented with and you cannot argue with that. It is certainly something the Glen need to learn to do.

Elsewhere the Glen Reserves appear to be having a struggle. A 4-3 defeat at home to Lovat – by all accounts a disappointing afternoon and then surprisingly a more creditable 4-0 loss to the Garry down at the Parc des Midges. Why more creditable? The Garry game featured a very young side with a number of under 17s and under 14s putting in an appearance and the return of veteran keeper Dave Emery. So well done to Lachie Smith, Sam Maclean, Rory Maclean, Cameron Maclennan, and Ewan Lloyd for stepping up into the squad and making a game of it.
This week the seconds have Kinlochshiel at home while the top side travel to the end of the known world all the way from Pictland beyond the lands of Lorne into the wasteland that is Cowal. The Wing Centre’s fervent wish is that they get out alive-for they are going into Campbell Country where no sane man goes of his own volition. While they are there they might want to have a wee look in the grass (and perhaps mud) at the bottom goal to see if they can find DP’s contact lens. It’s been there since 1979!
The pics? The sign which went on the blink- and the interested on-looker will be pleased to note that there is no mention on the road sign behind of either Lovat or Kiltarlity which is only right. The other one is of the boys stretching as they attempt to come to grips with defeat.

Hit Counter

Free Counter

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spot The Ba'

Glenurquhart 4 Newtonmore 3 (Sutherland Cup)
Glenurquhart 5 Kilmallie 1 (Premier League)

Spot the Ba’ eh? It was certainly true that to do just that was by no means easy for either of Saturday’s visiting keepers, Sean McQuarrie of Newtonmore and Kevin Toye of Kilmallie: between them these two lads lost nine goals and if it had not been for the fact that they both expended considerable amounts of energy keeping their respective goals intact them the Glen tally would have been much greater.
Of the two victories it has to be said from the Wing Centre’s point of view-the Sutherland victory over Newtonmore was the sweetest. Why? Simply said, Glen have unfinished business in that competition having had an excellent opportunity last year to put the said trophy in the Blairbeg Cup Cabinet (Yes! It does exist- and Roy, take note-it has been reasonably well occupied this last while)
However Hendo’s Heroes let the opportunity slip last session and while they picked up both League Title and the Strathdearn, this season they are a much changed team and so after a shaky start it was good to see them get back on the winning trail with two consecutive victories over Newtonmore. Of course it doesn’t mean that two such consecutive swallows make a shinty summer but it is a start. Indeed come to think of it when last did the Glen hold three straight victories –at both levels-over Newtonmore? Certainly not this century.
This Newtonmore team was certainly stronger than the one that visited Drum two weeks ago. John Mackenzie and Cameron Binnie were on the park and their presence alone plus that of Blair Mackintosh meant for a competitive game. For all that Glen had most of the opening pressure and on two occasions shots from Lewis Maclennan whistled narrowly past.
Glen’s breakthrough came in 17 minutes when a ball across the face of goal was picked up by Gregor McCormack and his low drive went emphatically home for the opener. Glen’s second goal came a few minutes later when Calum Fraser pounced on a loose ball out beyond the D and his fierce left hand drive left keeper McQuarrie stranded. ‘More were not so easily subdued however and they created their own chances which the Glen defence ably marshalled by Iain Macdonald had to be at their best to deal with. Alarm bells began to ring however in 29 minutes when good work by the Newtonmore centreline got the ball up wide right to winger Ross Aitken and his sudden strike unexpectedly found the net. An excellently struck goal but from such a wide angle and distance that he caught the defence unawares.
If Aitken’s goal was a shock the Newtonmore equaliser just after the interval was a greater let-down for the Glen faithful. Confusion reigned at the shop end and Ackie Macrae was able to infiltrate the defence and place the ball past Garry Mackintosh to make the score 2-2. With only 48 minutes on the clock and Newtonmore beginning to show their teeth in the tackle the game was poised on a knife-edge. The next 20 minutes or so settled down into a rather untidy physical battle though the addition of youngster Daniel Mackintosh to the front quartet did revive the Glen front line with his quick movement of the ball. Out on the right Calum Smith swapped heavy blows to the leg with Cameron Binnie and both were spoken to by Referee John Sloggie who also had a word with side-line’s coach for ‘More, Glen Tonkin. Glen had an opportunity in the 65th minute but Billy Urquhart’s drive flew over the bar. Then in 68 minutes Lewis Maclennan worked the ball out right to Calum Fraser who finished from inside the box but as he did so was felled by a carelessly wielded caman from the ‘More defence who were by this stage growing increasingly restless.
The introduction of youngster James Hurwood also pepped up the Glen forwards and he played the sensible ball at all times, moving it before he came into contact with an opponent and always looking for space on the wing. The next action of note was that ‘More's Brett Munro went, a little harshly, into the book for what amounted to a defensive block on Hurwood and then with Glen swarming around the top goals Newtonmore conceded a penalty amid scenes of protest. Lewis Maclennan kept his nerve and expertly sank the pressure shot. Game over? You would have liked to think so but no- Newtonmore kept on going and two minutes from time Chris Sellar got them back into the match with another easy goal. Just as well it was two minutes from time-any longer and the Glenners would have been unable to sustain their own energy levels and would thus have safely avoided The Garry in the next round. Oh well, you can’t have everything.
Except that very afternoon at about 4.45 it seemed that we could have everything. Kilmallie had been defeated by 5 goals to 1 and Glen forwards at Premier level had not scored 5 goals since that memorable afternoon back in the dear departed swine flu days of May 2009 when Kyles were put to the sword in similar fashion. Somehow looking at the Kyles results one doubts whether we will be doing that this year: though if they can be beaten like that at Blairbeg, how come they can make it into a Camanachd final. On second thoughts-think not on that. That way madness lies.
Glen did however have some divine intervention on Saturday. Kilmallie’s John Stewart had been over in the Western Isles at a wedding. The mist , which had rolled up Loch Ness on the Friday night and then rolled out again on the Saturday morning, did not roll far enough away and thus the Stornoway plane to Dalcross could not land and John was left on the Island and to his fate. His presence and that of Fraser Massie was sorely missed.
What was pleasing for the Glen was that the forwards seemed to click right from the start and Ruaraidh Cameron’s opener was a splendid affair. Neale Reid, whose physical presence is growing with every game got on the ball out on the left and turned it back to David Smart. Smart slipped it in to Calum MacAulay and his touch through was superbly finished off by Cameron. Glen then proceeded to dominate the match and played a great deal of slick interpassing shinty which had the crowd in raptures. Cards on the table though: on two occasions the ball should have gone into the net and the Wing Centre, born as he was in another age, prefers a simpler more direct game which, though less artistic and less aesthetically pleasing, is to his mind more effective- but then that is only feasible if you have a player like big Ron Fraser up on the dust.
No matter, Glen dominated the half-David Smart was excellent- but did not get their second until not long before half time when the pacey MacAulay opened his account for the Glen by driving a ball on goal from the edge of the D. It squirmed through the keepers legs and just over the line but with Smart following it up Toye had no chance to scramble it away. However, the frustrated keeper felled Smart as the Glen forward turned away from goal and were it not for the fact that Ref Deke Cameron had already moved away having given the goal then the lad would surely have been carded.
The second half saw Kilmallie come out fighting and Liam Macdonald pulled one back with a neat finish just after the interval. The same player then had an excellent chance to level the game but he just pulled his shot wide and the Glen breathed again.
The match continued to seesaw back and forth in this manner – and as always congratulations are due to the Glen backline especially keeper Stuart Mackintosh for his handling of matters at the sharp end. However, as time ticked on the Red and Blacks gradually seemed to gain the upper hand and finally they made the game safe with two goals in quick succession –Cameron in 62 and MacAulay in 64 before a final strike in 73 from Neale Reid convinced Kilmallie that further resistance was futile.
An encouraging result then but as always one that must be built upon. It will count for nothing if the lads slip up-against the Crofters, as they can do- over on the Common Grazings next Saturday. Teams are having a hard time over there as Fort William can testify, and so the Glen have to be on their guard.
As he went home after a satisfying afternoon at the Shinty the Wing Centre had only one little twinge of disappointment. What a pity Russ couldn’t flash up the score on our newly installed energy efficient, solar panel powered electronic scoreboard. Really! Yes really! The first in Scotland –powered by green energy- truly a sign of the times.

The pics ? Some action shots from the games- clearly a goal at the top end and EJ in action. Can you spot the ba'? A really good one of Ruaridh (thanks to Mick Evans)
The team-

the official one from the Website (thanks once again to Mick ) and the one the Wing Centre took himself with the old guys still in it.
Calum and Daniel? Well believe it or not that's them smiling. Their Mams will be pleased. But check out the cool boots!! Wow.

And the lower picture? Saturday morning and the Wing Centre and DP were booraching about on the hill. The pic shows how bonnie the Glen is but it is placed here to show the mist (they call it "fog" in town) that closed the airport and caused John Stewart to miss the match.
This was as far as it rolled up the loch. Imagine how bad it was in Dalcross! Peter Jackson and the guys will definitely believe you now, John

Hit Counter

Free Counter

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.

Hit Counter

Free Counter

Friday, April 01, 2011

Five goals, rolling subs…one couldn’t ask for 'More

Glenurquhart 5 Newtonmore 1
After the upsets of the last week or two this was a welcome return to form for the Glen’s second team – and it has to be said that to get a victory over Newtonmore at any level and any venue is in itself no mean achievement. For the first time this campaign the red and blacks started out with a stronger squad-indeed one that allowed Hendo the luxury of actually rolling the subs.
Have to say the Wing Centre was not really a fan of rolling subs when the new ruling was first mooted particularly in the opening weeks of the season, such was the scarcity of resources on the bench. Well, you could hardly call it a bench: it was more like the sort of shaky stool you used to make in the Techy room and you could only sit on it because the Billac made all the proper joints for you. Whatever- it could only ever seat one- and now here was Hendo with two or three on the waiting list- and the thing about the rolling subs is that the rule is excellent for the youngsters. They go on-they play hard: they come off but their heads don’t go down because there is every chance that they will get back on again. Result-all the boys on the bench are fully engaged in the game. They are not hopping about and haphazardly smacking a ball off the pavilion wall, knowing that in their heart of hearts, they won’t see action unless someone is hurt. It brings a new dimension to the tactics of the sport provided that you actually bother with tactics in the first place.
Iain “Balbeg” Macdonald was at full back; big Donald “Dunain” Fraser was at Wing back and youngster Sam Cumming was on the other. Not only that but with Dave “Dixon” Maclennan on one side of the centre and Calum “Jock” Fraser was on the other , it was always going to be difficult for ‘More to get through to Garry Mackintosh in goal. Hendo did have youngsters on the field too and it was one of them, teenager Ewan Lloyd, who opened the scoring inside 5 minutes when a strong push forward by Lewis Maclennan was overlooked by the Newtonmore defence and the youngster tucked it home low at inside the keeper’s right hand post.
There was then a long spell of even play in which the Newtonmore side gave as good as they got without really putting Mackintosh in the Glen goal under serious pressure except on the one occasion when, having judged a shot to be going harmlessly past, the Glen keeper was surprised to see the ball come back off the post. Fortunately he retained the presence of mind to blast the returning ball off in the direction of the A82 and thence to safety.
New Glen signing reformed Crofter, Calum MacAulay ”rolled” on as sub in 20 minutes and from the start looked neat and lively : the lad has a nice turn of pace and in 30 minutes he showed the fans in the stand that he also knows where the goals are-a part of the geography of a shinty pitch which remains largely unexplored by native Glenners . With a neat turn and touch he made himself space before drilling home the Glen’s second- and giving himself a dream debut.
The goal galvanised ‘More into action and before minutes had passed Garry Mackintosh had to pull off a fine save with his hand to keep the Badenoch boys at bay but they were not long to be denied when after some neat work up front Ackie Macrae got enough room to blast home a low shot and open the scoring for the visitors.
It was a dangerous moment in the game. Newtonmore are a proud side: their seniors are simply the best side in the land at the moment (though judgement has to be reserved on Oban who also seem to be flying). Any obvious weaknesses in the Glen defence and the Blues would pour through the gaps like the wolves of Badenoch from whom they are descended. (Oops! Not really historically accurate-they were by no means as scary to Glenners of old as were Lochabermen)
It was as so often in the history of the Glen- a Fraser who turned the tide in our favour. Calum Fraser in 38 minutes moved on to the ball in the middle after a little slip forward by Sam Cumming and drove it long hard and high-into the net to make it 3-1 in favour of the Glen. Working in Beauly every day has clearly done the fellow no harm- though it is not a life style the Wing Centre would advocate for other Glenners.
The fourth goal came shortly afterwards and Fraser also had a hand in its creation when his long shy was gathered in by Lewis Maclennan who quickly moved it on to Iain Macleod who rattled it home with authority and sent the spectators off for their half time venison burgers for the first time this season with a spring in their step(s)
Following such a half was always going to be difficult- and so it proved to be for the second period was duller though Newtonmore pressure did force Garry Mackintosh to look lively on a couple of occasions to tip the ball over the bar when the sporting thing to do would have been to let ‘More have a goal. The final Glen counter came ten minutes before time when Dave “Dixie” Maclennan finished off a move by scoring-well a goal. Not a great one though Dixie told the Wing Centre that it was - so there is no point in describing it, it was that good.
Ref. was John Sloggie- and it has to be said he was up to the mark in every way. He let the game flow, was firm when he had to be and particularly showed how to handle the rolling subs. No fuss – let them come on-noted them down and got on with things: a contrast, one hears, with how nameless others deal with the matter.
At Kilmallie there was a disappointing exit in extra time from the MacTavish. A creditable performance in some senses what with Neale Reid’s late goal balancing out an earlier rather fortunate strike from Michael Rodger. Glen, for whom Stuart Mackintosh had his usual array of excellent saves, might have pinched it when they had a 15 minute spell of pressure towards the end of the second half. The extra period belonged to John Stewart who hit two goals and though Liam Girvan got one back, the game was eventually lost when as a result of pushing forward to grab yet another equaliser , Glen left themselves short at the back and Peter Macintyre took the chance that mattered.
This week the big game is in Badenoch-at the Eilean. So no pressure there then!

The pics today are nothng special but I do wonder what Hendo is saying to Fraser about Brad. Donald Fraser and Iain Macdonald are formidable foes to get past but in the background Sam seems to have an opinion.

Hit Counter

Free Counter

Scottish Blogs