Thursday, April 26, 2012

Double Wash out

Beauly v Glenurquhart – Cancelled unplayable pitch (MacTavish Cup)
Glenurquhart v Kingussie –Abandoned at half time (North Division 2)

What happened to summer shinty? This was not supposed to happen-but we all know the reality. You’re liable to get a washout and games cancelled in any season of the year in the Highlands. Certainly the problems more usually occur during the winter in the west but cast your mind back and you will recall that no longer ago than August 20007 horrendous rain in Oban caused the cancellation of the Balliemore Cup Final between the Glen and Kinlochshiel. Not only that but there was no way the game could have been played in Drum or elsewhere in the east on that occasion for that was the weekend of the Runrig concert at Borlum, when cars got stuck in the mud and the river rose causing the specially installed footbridge across the Coilty river to be closed off.

It was a bit like that last weekend when heavy overnight rain caused Braeview to be ruled as unplayable thus causing the much anticipated MacTavish Cup-tie to be put off for another week. The seconds game at Blairbeg however despite similar amounts of rain went ahead with the field just playable at 2.30. The match lasted until half time with the continuous rain making conditions more and more hazardous until at half time ref John Matheson after consulting both sets of managers decided to call it a day. A sensible decision indeed what with youngsters-and some oldsters- slipping and sliding and the ball at times getting stuck in some of the longer pools which were beginning to appear on the surface of the park. The bottom goal mouth in particular began to resemble a garden pond – and doubtless it was only a matter of time before the heron who usually spends his time up at the Ivy Bridge came down to perch on the bar and try his luck at the fishing.
What was seen of the game was interesting enough with a young Kingussie side bolstered at the back by Rory Fraser and John Gibson playing some nice shinty, moving the ball in the time honoured Kingussie fashion. The Glen defenders-especially Donald Fraser at full back – were up to the mark while the forwards in particular Jack Hosie and Ewan Lloyd played equally skilful stuff themselves though they did find it quite hard to get by the experienced spine of the Kings defence . Lloyd in particular looked forceful and more than once he tested the Kingussie keeper. As the half wore on however Kingussie began to dominate more in terms of sending balls from midfield down into the Glen defence which the wet conditions hindered the home back line from clearing decisively. Manager Iain Macleod brought himself on at full centre to stem the flow switching Drew Maclennan to half back and there was some evidence that the move was bearing fruit as the supply forward diminished somewhat.
It did not stop completely though and in one of the later attacks of the half Kingussie were awarded a penalty when the ball got stuck in the mud in the D at the shop end- and a Glen defender was judged to have kicked it. The shot however was saved by Glen keeper Cameron Maclennan though it was to be said that the lad who took it (who shall remain nameless in order that he can continue to live without notoriety in Kingussie) was certainly hampered by the wet and cold as he took his strike.
By that stage in the game inadvertent sliding tackles were becoming extremely common and with lots of youngsters on both sides being in danger of slipping into the swing and perhaps picking up an injury the match was stopped at half time.
Will Blairbeg be playable next weekend? Only if the rain stops –and at the moment it does not look as if it is going to.

Photos ? Obviously the pitch at its watery best.
The others –a wee bit of nostalgia. There is a whole lot of tidying going on in D-Villa and as is usual distractions abound for the male of the species. A pile of snaps popped up relating to 1994-the summer of when the Glen first went to the Emerald Isle to play Dicksboro in Kilkenny in the mixed code match. 

There are three pictures- the Glenners, the guys from Dicksboro and then finally the lads from Tullaroan who are wearing green. Also included is an article from the Scotsman of the time (31/7/94) by an old friend of the D, Brian Denoon. You can double click on it, make it bigger and see how well you played.

Enjoy a wallow not in mud but in nostalgia!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Smart work gives Glen the points in Fort while youngsters do the business at Blairbeg.

Going up Balmacaan Road last Saturday at the back of half past four, the Wing Centre made a call to Astie Cameron in his office at Alton Towers to let him know that the young black and red D-Dodgers had beaten Fort William 2-1 in a game that should have been more comfortable than in fact it turned out to be. “You’ll have heard about how the game at the Fort went,” said Astie.
Of course the Glen had heard-the score was 4-2- and when we had last found out about the course of the game, Fort had been winning just before half-time, so there could have been no doubt about how the game would have turned out in the end. Not only that but everyone knew that Ruaraidh Cameron had been injured early on and was off to the Belford-so the mood was lowish.
“A good win for your boys,” said Astie.
“Very funny Astie-April 1st is long past”
and with that the phone was switched off and the Wing Centre went off home to reflect on the second team and to mark down the names of Cameron Maclennan , Jack Hosie , Bradley Dickson and Donald Fraser in his “Little Book of Excellent Performances”.
It certainly was a good result at Blairbeg even if the score was a little tighter than it should have been – and that was all to the good given that two of the young lads Ewan Menzies and Euan Lloyd had travelled with the top team to Fort William while Calum Miller and Drew Maclennan were also unavoidably absent. In the event however, Glen mounted an attack right from the start and provided all the early pressure, which to be fair Fort William handled quite well. Eventually however the breakthrough came in 17 minutes when after a corner from Calum Smith on the right , Glen front man Calum Fraser forced a save out of Fort keeper Cal Brown. The ball however broke to Jack Hosie and he rattled it home for the opener.
At this stage Hosie was on top form and his sure first touch out on the right was creating confusion in the Fort defence as he controlled, then moved balls forward into Daniel Mackintosh and Calum Fraser. Fort goalie Brown dealt well with the pressure which included a fine save from a drive by Daniel Mackintosh which he deflected by for a corner. The second Glen counter was a little unfortunate for him however when a long goal-bound shy from Ross MacAulay bounced awkwardly just in front of him and though he stopped the ball with his palm he had no time to get it away before Calum Fraser was in quickly to pop it in the net.
Within a few minutes Hosie had fired the ball into the net for a third time but the strike was rather harshly ruled out by ref Ronnie Campbell for a kick. So far the crowd had seen little of Fort William as an attacking force because not only was the Glen midfield trio of Calum Smith, Iain Macleod and Ross MacAulay extremely strong but also because buckshee back Bradley Dickson was having an exceptional afternoon. He was reading the game well and his speed allied to his first touch meant he was always ahead of the attacker.
Just as well Brad was in form however for the Glen were to really need his services in the final part of the second half. Before that however Glen had thrown away two glorious chances to increase the lead when first Calum Fraser put the ball over the bar from close in and then Daniel Mackintosh fired a penalty attempt wide.
That marked something of a turning point in the pressure and Fort as they were always going to, came into things more as the afternoon passed. Glen keeper Cameron Maclennan pulled off a series of good stops before Fort’s Graham Campbell pulled on back to put his side in with a shout.
Manager Victor Smith, revered throughout the shinty world for his pace and his delicate skills up front, then introduced Fort shinty legend big Addie Robertson as right wing forward. Sometimes if the job is big enough the craftsman has to use a crowbar – and all the Mums and Dads in the Glen crowd were scared for a moment- but Addie knows all about context and linked in with the rest of the Fort forwards nicely despite the fact he probably hasn’t played up front since he was in Primary 7.
Fort had a bit of territory by this stage and Calum Smith was called back into the back line to help out but central to the Glen’s success in this department was the display of full back Donald Fraser. From having had nothing to do in the first half he was unbeatable in the last 15 minutes and his long hitting out of defence relieved the pressure on several occasions. It wasn’t all one way though and the Glen launched further attacks of their own at least one of which might have been worthy of a goal when with 10 minutes to go Rory Maclean latched on to a ball out on the left and cut it back across the goals but Calum Fraser’s resultant drive whizzed narrowly past the post.
Glen held on – and there is nothing further to report- except one little scene at the top end before Addie decided to go back into defence to thwart the danger of late Glen attacks. Out on the bowling green side where the grass is lush Addie slipped and fell with the ball lying right in front of him. Wing-back Ross MacDiarmid who had a fine game throughout lifted up his club but held back the swing and looked over at ref Ronnie Campbell : he was awarded a free hit. These are the sort of sporting touches which shinty needs - and too often does not get.
So that was it- a win but truthfully it should have been more convincing and if that had been the only Glen win of the day it would have been fine but surprise surprise it wasn’t.
Up in the house just after five the Wing Centre opened up the Camanachd’s results e-mail attachment. Wowsers! Glen had won: Astie had not been trying a wind-up-he had indeed been genuine!! There was nothing for it but to put the tea in the oven and head off to the pub to await the return of the heroes. Eventually they made it- and they brought with them a tale of boldness and bravery of the sort that Glenners must have told after they had returned from cattle raids in days of yore. They had won 4-2. They had even taken an early lead when ball forward from Andrew Macdonald to Neale Reid tempted Neil Robertson into playing it clear of goal with the club only to find that the ball deflected past Paul Mackay into the net for the opener.
Of course Fort fought –literally in at least one case though least said etc…and they came back with two goals of their own, the first when Garry Innes fired a low shot past Glen keeper Stuart Mackintosh and then when Ryan Campbell shot past Stuart Reid’s attempted block to let Fort have a 2-1 lead. The driving force for Glen was half forward David Smart who put in a brave and committed performance and who despite taking a ball in the face which broke several teeth and a club on the head which required stitching refused to come off- and was rewarded with two goals the first coming just before half-time when he picked up a loose ball, drove forward and fired it high into the net past keeper Paul Mackay.
The Glen management pushed the centreline forward on the smallish Black Park – and though Fort dominated somewhat in the initial period of the second half the tactics eventually came good when Glen grabbed two goals.
The first came from that man Smart when he fired the ball home from a tight area and the second from Neale Reid a few moments later when blasted a shot in from close range. Glen were then awarded a penalty when Duncan Rodgers was judged guilty of double swinging but Paul Mackay made a good reaction save from what was a soundly struck shot by Neale Reid. Both young subs were used –Ewan Menzies put in a good shift right from the start when he replaced the injured Ruaraidh Cameron who had to leave the field in side five minutes after taking a blow on the head. Euan Lloyd also made an impact in the last 10 minutes or so when having replaced the injured Neale Reid he saw his shot whistle just past the post. The third bench player Billy Urquhart got the last half hour, played well, almost scored and altogether looked to have been untroubled by the injury that has restricted his appearances this season.

However, the winning of two valuable points away from home only serves to rub in the fact that others were carelessly dropped at Blairbeg to Inveraray and Kinlochshiel. As for players Saturday saw the team also play without the Bute hero Arran Macdonald who was down with a virus, Fraser Heath (broken hand) Paul Mackintosh (broken hand) Dave Maclennan (knee) and Dave Girvan- not to mention Ruaraidh Cameron who played no part after five minutes. Of these both Paul Mackintosh and Dave Girvan will be out long term but it would be nice for once to have a full squad. Goodness knows who else will be missing for the Beauly game but even with a full team they will be out to prove something against the Glen especially over in Calderville especially after them not doing so well in their last two games. Glen need to start well and make sure they keep an eye on both Jamie Maclennan and Barry Macdonald only two of whole group of Beauly players who would walk into most Premier sides.
Make no mistake about it Beauly are a big banana skin and Glen have to watch where they are putting their feet.

Pictures are from Neil Paterson– except the one of Cameron Maclennan. Can’t you tell? The focus is on David Smart who was man of the match v Fort. Liam Girvan features in the other while Drew and Fraser must be worth a snap after Saturday. Is that a wee smile? Let’s hope it lasts.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Lewis saves Glen’s day with a “Butey”

Glenurquhart 1 Bute 0
It should have been expected that in a week given over to reminiscences about the loss of the Titanic and indeed on the very day that a swimmer with a grievance disrupted the Oxford/Cambridge boat race, that Bute should have staged their own boat race incident last Saturday. How come?

Well the Wing Centre and all his mates headed down to Blairbeg for the match with the Islanders scheduled to start at 2.30pm (as per the Camanachd website)only to find the match well and truly underway- and in fact running on to half time. Fortunately the score was at that stage 0-0 for it would have been a shame to miss out on an actual Glen goal seeing as they are so rare-but that might be another story.
“When did the game start?” was the natural question to goal judge Billy Macleod.

And so Billy told us the whole story- that Bute had turned up about 1 pm at Blairbeg for a 1.30 pm start only to find the field of broken dreams unoccupied by red and black players. Bute need the early start in order to escape back “doon the watter” to their island home because in the 21st century the ferry stops too early for them to take part in an away match up in Teuchterland scheduled at the normal time. Anyway the fiery cross was put round the Glen and so the guys assembled early and the game got underway shortly before 2 pm thus giving the Bute lads a more sporting chance of winning their own boat race home.
What happened? A mix up- a bit of poor communication- no big deal except that some fans missed out on at least half of what was an interesting game. Or it might have been an interesting game. All Billy said was that for the 35 minutes or so played unseen, the Glen were on top but that Bute had a couple of chances and that “Smack” Mackintosh in goals had made two nice saves-but then Bill was goal judge at the bottom end where Smack was custodian and so he was bound to focus on that.
Perhaps The Buteman had a guy there? Sadly not because all that was dug up on its website was the following “Bute’s first team remain without a league win so far in 2012 after Lewis MacLennan’s 73rd-minute strike gave Glenurquhart a 1-0 win at Drumnadrochit in the Orion Group Premiership on Saturday.” It’s succinct certainly but does not really give a flavour of the game.
The Skye website was no help either
“Crucial points were at stake when second bottom Glenurquhart played draw specialists Bute at Blairbeg. The Islanders were just a point better off than their rivals before the match after drawing three of their opening four games. Neither side has been particularly potent in front of goal in the league this season and it turned out that way again as only one goal separated the sides. The man who got the all-important goal was Lewis MacLennan and his 73rd minute strike gave Glenurquhart both points. Glenurquhart now leap-frog Bute in the table as the Islanders fall into the relegation zone.”
And the Wing Centre? Not much more use. Why? Because most of the second half instead of watching the game he was involved in explaining to spectators why the match had started before they arrived. The rest of the time he was accosted by tourists asking about shinty (it was a busy Easter weekend in Monsterland) and as is well known he does go on a bit.
In between times he saw bits of the match and for what it’s worth this is what he saw. Arran Macdonald had an excellent game-good hitting and excellent long shies of the type remembered from the play of a youthful Michael Clark. The Glen’s defence seemed sound on the whole and Bute did not especially threaten though one black point was an unfortunate accidental injury to his left hand suffered by defender Paul Mackintosh which has left him in plaster for the next five weeks or so and so out of commission . He will be a big loss.
Elsewhere Ali Mackintosh had a sound game in defence as did David Smart in the centreline. Neale Reid always looked dangerous and effective. Beyond that there was little between the sides except in as much as Bute playing Hector Whitelaw in defence directly against John Barr were set up to hold out the Glen and it has to be said that they did so effectively enough though on a number of occasions there were chances which were not taken. If the games was won anywhere it was won in midfield where certainly in the half watched by the Wing Centre the Glen trio –Smart, Tembo and Macdonald –had the upper hand.
Bute? They are missing Brian Liddell (damaged ankle) and Donnie MacDiarmid and if they could get Hector Whitelaw up front sooner then their chances would be transformed. As it is they are a stuffy side that can keep opponents out but so far are struggling to find the net. They have a lot of good players on paper but luckily for the Glen perhaps they don’t play on paper.
Glen’s goal coming in the 73rd minute (the time at least is accurate recorded as it was in Deke Cameron’s notebook) was as good a goal as the Glen have ever scored. David Smart coming down the left towards the shop end picked up a short pass from the Glen midfield and chipped the ball high over the Bute defence to Lewis Maclennan coming in at the back post. He took the ball first time as it dropped and volleyed neatly and at pace past the Bute keeper Kevin Queen for the goal of the day.
Just before the end Glen had an opportunity to extend their lead when they were awarded a penalty for a Bute infringement in the D. John Barr took the strike, kept it on target but it was saved by Kevin Queen in the Bute goals. Sadly, Liam Girvan coming in on the rebound was unable to convert the second opportunity.

Verdict- a very necessary two points but what are we going to do in July and August when if things carry on the way they are just now we’ll have no home games left having used them up in March and April.

The pictures - Arran after a tough shift- while David Smart and Lewis Maclennan are apparently about to start their own idea of what constitutes a tough shift.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Glen progress in “The MacTavish”

Glenurquhart 4 Inverness 2 (MacTavish Cup)
Glenurquhart 5 Lochaber 2 (North Division 2)

So the Glen are off over to Beauly then? Saturday’s 4-2 victory over Inverness has brought us the dubious pleasure of going over Culnakirk to Calderville to play the green and whites in the next round of the MacTavish.
Not to worry, it’s always a pleasant trip over the hill: first you go round by the Master of Lovat’s Cairn near Kilmorack, then into a’Mhanachainn itself for a wee glance in Campbell’s window at grandpa’s jackets, next into Marr’s with no intention of buying, a quick wander round the square just to check there have been no new names added to the Lovat Scout Memorial then finally back to Braefield for the match.
But what have they done to the pitch? Not so sure that it is as effective as the old alignment but doubtless there is a reason. Just as well however that the Glenners of old played the Beaulacs on the Ferry Park because nowadays the red and black centre men, who all played with lofted clubs would be firing the ball over the nets on to the roofs of the new houses beyond the pitch and no doubt breaking tiles and windows. One suspects it’s only a matter of time before the neighbours start to moan.
Never mind, these delights are to come - of a more pressing nature is a report on the game v Inverness itself but before that a word or two about the ‘Shiel games.
Full reports have been carried elsewhere of both games and the Wing Centre has little to add except to note that the West Highland Free Press was good enough to indicate that the Glen seniors had been unfortunate not to share the points. They headlined their sport section with the admission that “Shiel hold out under second half barrage” but that still did not give the Glen any points though Lewis did get his trademark beauty of a goal. There isn’t a better striker of a shinty ball furth of Badenoch than Lewis but sometimes the Glen faithful wish he would just score loads and loads of scuffers and daisy cutters and they’d give up the pleasure of watching the screamers go into the net.
Even more disappointing was the second team result-2-1 to Shiel-with the visitors’ goal coming via the last hit of the game.
Glen were without Ross Macaulay, Jack Hosie and Ewan Fraser but despite these absences started the game well and also got an early goal through Calum Fraser. However, as the first half progressed they struggled to get the ball up to the forwards. Kinlochshiel came back into the game and eventually equalised deservedly.
With the score 1-1 at half time Glen decided to ring the changes. Manager Iain MacLeod strengthened the defence by dropping Drew Maclennan back to half back from full centre to give some stability and the midfield was also reinforced to provide more service to forwards. As a consequence Glen dominated the second half and certainly created more than enough chances to win the game but unfortunately could not score. Then totally against the run of play Kinlochshiel scored with the last hit of the game to win.
The lesson is clear. Teams have to score in the periods of the game when they are on top and Glen were cruelly punished in this game for not scoring the winning goal when they should have. However on the positive side Ewan Menzies had an excellent game at wing back, meeting the ball first and showing bite in the tackle. Ross MacDiarmid and Drew Maclennan both performed well.
Cameron Maclennan in goals dealt effectively with a number of shots that were on target while Bradley Dixon, James Hurwood, Duncan Fraser and Euan Lloyd all had good games, all working extremely hard throughout the whole match. The other forwards too worked extremely hard, fighting for every ball, but were just unable to score the winning goal that Glen deserved and needed to kill the game off. Liam Girvan also put in a good performance and coped well with the fact that he had to play in different positions as the game unfolded. The main thing was that the attitude was excellent-the lads showed a fine collective spirit, picking up neither bookings nor sendings off, a spirit which prevailed in Saturday’s fine 5-2 victory against Lochaber. This was just revenge for the previous match with Glen getting their counters through Calum Miller (20) Ewan Menzies (30, 78) Daniel Mackintosh (68) and Calum Fraser (70).
It would be nice to spend some time writing about this game at length but the Wing Centre missed it which is why the stats about the goal scorers are so accurate. It is also worth it to point out that Jack Hosie, Ewan Fraser and Ewan Lloyd missed out via injury while Donald Fraser was at his cousin David Girvan’s wedding.

The Wing Centre did not however miss the Inverness cup-tie though the squad was a few down through injury and wedding duties. It is only fair to point out that Inverness were down a couple too, with Sorley Macdonald, presumably home for the lambing in Canada, and James Cameron suspended.
Firing towards their favourite shop end, Glen opened the match in blistering style and Inverness goalkeeper Adam MacMaster soon showed he was the man to beat when he excellently stopped a drive from Lewis Maclennan in the opening minute. Glen poured forward and the Inverness defenders conceded the opener when in the 11th minute Neale Reid broke free on the wing to cut the ball across to Ruaraidh Cameron who fired home from the edge of the D.

Within a minute Glen were two up when Reid popped home the ball from close range and when in 18 minutes Lewis Maclennan played the ball through for John Barr to score, it looked as if Glen were on the road to a barrow load.
Inverness though are no mugs and within a minute Euan Macleod had pulled one back to make it 3-1. Glen tightened the screw however when after a long shy from Arran Macdonald, a cut back from Neil Reid saw Barr make it 4-1 with the Inverness defence chasing shadows.
Just before half time, Glen’s Ruaraidh Cameron again had the ball in the net after a good clean strike but with John Barr slow to get out of the D, the judgement of ref Jock Matheson rightly was that it was off side.
Then came the second half- and Glen simply stopped scoring. Why?
Possibly two reasons- Glen rejigged the side taking off Neale Reid, Ally Mackintosh and Arran Macdonald and perhaps they were too many changes together for the balance of the side to cope with. But young Ewan Menzies, who came on after his scoring feats in the earlier second team game against Lochaber, did what was asked of him. He played the ball early, picked it up early and moved it on while his accurate shooting on at least two occasions was only thwarted by fine goal keeping from MacMaster.

The other reason is that Inverness co -managers Stevie Munro and James “Shuggie” McDougall shifted their squad around to nullify the Glen. Davie Glass at buckshee had a fine game throughout as had Danny Polombo. Indeed as the match went on the town side simply got better. They also have in Connor Golabek one of the better players of his age group who helped Glen under 17s to last season’s London Shield. Fraser Stoddart eventually got the measure of Barr and dug in as he always does while James Ross and new signing Scott Douglas also played their part- as in fact did every Inverness player including Dougie Rankin who scored their second goal in the 73rd minute.
In the end the Glen deserved their victory even though the antics in the second half drove supporters Allan and Ina Wilson to seek refuge in John Cameron’s field behind the top goal.
You have to hand it to Inverness for putting up a fighting performance though - and for the sake of Malcolm Fraser, Lewis Stewart, Dennis Swanson, Peter Gow and big George Campbell in particular the second half performance was good to see.
Question for the pub quiz. Which shinty club in the north is the most important one for the profile and future health of shinty as a highland sport? There is certainly a case for saying “Inverness”. Politically, it’s placed in the Highland Capital where the Camanachd has headquartered the sport. To be healthy shinty needs a thriving club in the town based at the Bught Stadium, the North’s home of shinty. However, it’s just a pity that as Inverness becomes a pretendy city, local politicians don’t always get that. Just a thought….
The photo is of Ruaraidh Cameron with his man of the match trophy from the Macdonald Cup. Presented in memory of the late Danny Fraser , Shewglie, Ruaraidh was a worthy winner selected by no less a judge on the day than Rab Ritchie, Newtonmore.
Memo to Ruaraidh’s mam-Look again! Ruaraidh really is smiling.If you don't believe it doubleclick on the photo to make it bigger!
Ruaraidh also features in the other two pics provided by Inverness's regular snapper Donald Cameron who was kind enough to give permission for their inclusion.

Scottish Blogs