Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Our revels now are ended: let the shinty begin….soon …please!

In the Glen for the moment all traces of stick game activity have vanished completely off the radar and for the connoisseur of the Celtic sport for the time being there has been little diversion save reading about the game, watching Caman on the telly and going down to the A82 to read the notice board at the field. This last is understandable if you want to find out the lotto numbers but apart from a general Happy New Year to all and sundry, there has been little to catch the eye of the committed shinty fiend.
The Wing Centre has poured all his festive energies into reading in particular two excellent shinty publications. The first of these, and the one the Wing Centre did not open until that dull windy period between Christmas and New Year was “Toss thine antlers, Caberfeidh“ It was read in a oner and a fascinating oner it was. Edited by Hugh Dan Maclennan -where he gets his unlimited bags of energy and enthusiasm is a mystery to this writer-it takes the reader through the successes and personalities , past and present of Ross-shire’s greatest ever shinty club. Family connections, continuity, loyalty, courage and tradition-it is all there. When the Wing Centre thinks of Cabers, he always thinks of Willie Maclennan as the player par excellence in a blue jersey but doubtless there were heroes in every generation and if the performance of Kevin Bartlett in the international against the Irish recently is anything to go by the present generation is no different from those that went before. And the Glen angle? - because there usually has to be a Glen angle in anything that gets into the “D” On page 18, in the centre of the picture of the victorious Cabers team which beat Kingussie 2-0 in the McGillivray final at Inverness in 1963 is none other than “Doey” Fraser (Doey Kerrowdown) who played for and managed the Glen in the 1970s. “Doey” was a fine player and a gentleman and his untimely death in 1980 at the age of 46 was not only a family tragedy but left a gap in Glen shinty which took a long time to be filled.
The second publication which the Wing Centre had time to read with some care was of course Aberdeen University’s “Keeping the Camanachd Flag Flying” which came out in August in time for the 2011 Sutherland Cup Final which the Glen failed to reach (to the chagrin of the Wing Centre who had already booked accommodation in the Silver City in anticipation of a great Glen day out)
The Glen angles to this book are far too numerous to mention running as they do the full gamut from Peter English to Jamie Bell and from John Alec Mackenzie to Billy Urquhart but if the Wing Centre was to think of Aberdeen University then the player par excellence that comes to mind is Burton Morrison- and his piece on the 1970s was a particularly pleasant if nostalgic read .
The Wing Centre-and his good lady – spent an interesting afternoon picking out the Glenners in the pictures- and truth to tell it was an endlessly diverting pastime because no sooner did you think you had got them all when up would pop Jamie Macpherson or Corky in a photo. Should you count those who went to Drum School but did not play for the Glen as bona fide? No –Well perhaps it’s always best to agree the rules of a Christmas game before you start to play it.
Thanks for production of this excellent book of course go to Steven Mackenzie who hails from Beauly but despite that little blip he has worked tirelessly on behalf the indigenous sport in the Granite City over the years. Steven also popped up on the final episode of Caman to talk about shinty in Aberdeen- and the verdict has generally been that the series has been a positive thing for shinty, showing the community roots and the athletic focus of the players. Also on the last episode was the First Minister. Did he really say ‘fitba’? That can be said in an Aberdeenshire accent and be natural-and Oor Willie can say it- though only in writing if you catch the Wing Centre’s drift-but otherwise it just sounds a little patronising given the surrounding verbal context. But then who is the Wing Centre to talk (or even write) about the subject of patronisation! However, given the momentous events about to happen in the next year or two, it is probably a good idea to sound genuine.
With snow on Culnakirk it was simply not sensible to nip over the top to see the Lovat/Beauly New Year game (which Greg Matheson won with his usual brace) so further effort had to be put into diverting oneself without any actual games to watch. As always the Skye website keeps one up to date with matters caman-shaped and Torquil Macleod, the Chief Operating Officer of the Camanachd has provided the Sgiathanaich with a 6 part interview which pretty much says it all, though there is still some uncertainty about where the Association stands on the Iranian nuclear question. Perhaps T will let us know in part 7.
What did catch the eye however was a really nice piece in the WHFP (23/12/2012) which escaped the Wing Centre’s attention until the windy day after New Year when he was going to use it to light the fire. By Angus Peter Campbell, it dealt with Kinlochshiel’s Noel Gordon and was filled with shinty crack about Kinlochshiel and Sorley, as well as a nice picture of the ‘Shiel Sutherland winning side of 1962 with Willie ‘Doonsie’, Noel and his brothers, Colin Campbell, Philip Mackenzie from Kyle and of course Iain Dubh. This latter picture sent the Wing Centre back to Hugh Dan’s “Shinty-100 Years of the Camanachd Association” –the only work of Shinty reference known to man- and this tells us that Shiel beat Kyles 5-4 at Fort William. This was of course a year before the Glen managed their solitary triumph in 1963 at Spean Bridge, Kyles being once again on the losing side.
And that was all the Shinty fix that was available unless you count Radio nan Gaidheal’s Annual Sports Round Up which took forever to get round to the Shinty. The Wing Centre had to sit through football, rugby, the Island Games and goodness knows what before they reached that memorable commentary of Gilleasbuig going mental at the Camanachd final. It has to be said that it is only memorable after being heard on 31st December for the first time, since the Wing Centre was at the match in question and thus never heard it on the radio. Now he wishes he had.
Hugh Dan was talking about Rugby. The Wing Centre hopes that for Uisdean it’s only business and that he can find some time to update his book because without an update you are never going to know who won what, when and where unless you go looking back through old Camanachd Cup Final programmes, and then the one you find only has a list of the referees. To get Hugh started, the Wing Centre will give him a title –“Shinty – 119 Years of the Camanachd Association”. Yep-it’s really been that long though perhaps it wouldn’t seem so bad if the Wing Centre got out more!

Come on HD. The Wing Centre has even done the Maths on the cover.

The last pic ? The Glen coaches get prepared!! Good.

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