Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Glen make a point at Kilmallie-Just!

Glenurquhart 2 Kilmallie 2

This past weekend saw many of   GUSC's most faithful supporters drafted away to Kintail to dodge the midges and distribute wrist bands and water to the hardy souls who for some reason wish to go the long way to Strathglass and thus take part i n the Highland Cross. All in a good cause you understand as our GUSC members were doing their bit for the community to ensure funding for The Glen Urquhart Care Centre and their much needed new minibus. This only left a few worthies to make their way down the A82 to Caol.
 With the ever patient Mrs Reid choosing to remain at home, Dod MacDonald was the unlucky individual charged with directing Mr Reid to Canal Park. Kilmallie’s home ground is one of those places that no matter how many times you have been to it, you are never 100% sure on which of the many streets to venture down in the hope you have chosen wisely enough to make it first time.
 Dod as it turned out was  reliable enough but Mr Reid’s ability to listen to others is  not his strongest  talent and it was only on arriving at Black Parks, Fort William that the bodach admitted his mistake!
 Meanwhile the game was getting under way in Caol with a strong wind blowing across the park which only added to the uncomfortable tension of the fixture. With both teams  capable of beating each other in every premier fixture this year, every game from here on in is that clichéd cup final but with Kilmallie being the closest to the Glen at the wrong end of the table, the feeling in the Glen camp was that they had to get something from the game.

 The Glen started strongly and looked dangerous in the opening phases as they usually do and with Ali Mackintosh drafted back in to defence to assist Mr Barr,Mr Corrigan and young  Master Heath the Glen looked solid at the back. At this stage a disgruntled Dod appeared with the said Plonker just in time to watch a GUSC corner. Training ground routines have been an area of frustration for the management team but -hold the back page- this one worked. David Smart made his move and stroked the ball neatly into the net.
 “That is the first time that corner has worked this season" explaimed Glen goalie Smack in an apologetic tone to the interested spectators who admired the skill its execution.

 This brought a sense of early relief to The Glen camp but Kilmallie are never a team to go down easy. The Glen dominated the opening 20-25 minutes with strong play across the middle from Arran Macdonald, Dixie Maclennan and E.J. Tembo. However The Glen centre line at times this season seem to be partial to dipping in periods of the game where they need to be at their strongest. When this combined with a forward line that at times appear allergic to blocking and cleeking and fundamentally defending from the front there can be trouble aheadt. The inability of the Glen  to hold the ball up front and play it into the corners made life difficult  and  let Kilmallie back into the game. A tricky Kilmallie corner saw Stuart MacKintosh scrambling towards his back post to push the ball up onto the cross bar and away. Kilmallie were playing a high line and trying to draw Barr away from his full back position which eventually paid off when a long ball through saw Smack getting caught in possession on the edge of The D – an uncharacteristic mistake which allowed John Stewart to stick the ball past him into the net.

 Frustration is an understatement in terms of watching the Glen  this year – at times they can be  brilliant against the best shinty has to offer and then they don't  have that self belief to stick to the game plan in more difficult games which is a hurdle they must cross to stay in the premier league. This frustration made its way to the touch line and for a brief period the strong wind was blown back in the opposite direction by a  hair dryer team talk at half time.

 Kilmallie started the stronger in the 2nd half and a contentious decision on the edge of The D gave them the break the needed. This time their training ground routines came to fruition when a goal was scored from the resulting free hit.

  Glen were now up against it and various personnel changes were made with Andew MacDonald coming on to release Fraser Heath in to the centreline.  At full centre. Liam Girvan came on to replace Lewis MacLennan and in a last throw of the dice Stuart Reid came on at full back to allow John Barr to venture up front. James MacPherson saw a couple of chances go past the post in the latter stages but it was Barr who in the 90th minute turned his man at 20 yards and struck the ball low past keeper Kevin Toye.
 The sighs of relief could have been heard at Blairbeg Park as Deek Cameron blew his whistle at the following throw up. Modern shinty is based on a series of fine margins and who  knows just how valuable this point will be in the weeks ahead but the players need to  take positives from it and move on  to the games ahead.
The photos are courtesy of Neil Paterson -many thanks to him. Drew's expression just about sums up Glenners feelings about shinty matters this season.
 The words come from the Chairman who can write and even talk in the style of the D without prompting and many thanks to him.
There was another match on with Glen interest involved and manager Iain Macleod provided an excellent report on what happened there- a fine 3-1 victory over Kinlochshiel in the Strathdearn thanks to goals from Ben and Jack Hosie plus a super strike (allied to an excellent performance) by Euan Lloyd.

No game in the premier on Saturday but the youngsters face Newtonmore in a semi at the Bught. All the best ,lads

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Not such a good day for the Great Glen

Glenurquhart 1 Fort William 3 (Premier League)
 Lochaber 1   v Newtonmore 5 (MacTavish Cup Final)

Sometimes shinty gets to you: other times it’s just life that does your head in. They are not quite the same thing though you would be forgiven for thinking that for some in the Glen they were.  The Wing Centre, who has been resolutely hanging on to his “Reasons to be Cheerful” tee-shirt, finally has to admit that it’s not so funny after all.  A short week after beating Kingussie in the MacAulay Cup, Glen find themselves not carrying on from where they were last week but instead taking up from where they left off some weeks before  at Lovat – and from there heading on downwards. Downwards? Why so?  Because didn’t Kilmallie not go and take two points off league leaders Lovat, away from home and thereby nip past Glen on goal difference thus leaving us in a less than comfortable slot.

Still it has to be said that one can take delight in the honest pleasure on the faces of Fort bosses Towser and Peter when they realised with Gary Innes’s well taken third goal that they were definitely going to win a match that twenty minutes after the start they looked certain to lose.
There is no point in obsessing about it but if you don’t score your chances you are liable to regret it. Fort William? By half time they had one chance and scored twice. Glen started off as usual full of early vigour despite the last minute loss of Lewis Maclennan who injured himself in the warm-up. A series of early chances presented themselves at the top end, the best of them coming when Neale Reid’s drive came back off Fort keeper Paul Mackay but Ali Mackintosh was unable to convert the rebound.  Shortly afterwards a solid drive from Dave Smart was deflected for a corner and Mackay was on hand to thwart another attempt from a long ball from the centreline. At this stage Glen were going well with Eddie Tembo in particular and Arran Macdonald forcing the midfield pace.
Then Ryan Campbell scored against the run of play, out of the blue and without really meaning to. A Fort clearance went down the left hand side, Glen wingback Stuart Reid slipped on the greasy surface and Ryan patted the ball towards the goal – and somehow it went into the net past Glen keeper Stuart Mackintosh.
Glen continued to press – but Fort heartened by their early unmerited success gradually did some pressing of their own- and then in 30 minutes Ryan Campbell nipped through the defence to score a second and that is the way it stood at half-time.
The second half saw Glen continue to push towards the shop end but Paul Mackay and the rest of his teammates kept the Glen at bay, though in the course of their defensive duties two went into the book  one of whom Mark Grant was dismissed for what one can only assume to be a second bookable offence.
John Barr who had spent his afternoon policing Gary Innes was called into the front line and yes- you’ve guessed it- Garry Innes hit a third.
So here we are three down in a game – and they have only 10 men- and as the Spean Bridge guys on their way to the MacTavish final in Inverness put it “The town were there for the taking.” They may have been but some Saturday’s the Glen don’t do “taking” though it has to be said that Glen’s James Macpherson fired home the goal of the day three minutes from time.
So what has to be done? Sometimes we just have to shoot- simple.

Given that it was MacTavish Cup final day the hot ticket was at the Bught where the fare on view was a side which we took to extra-time banging five goals against a nice stick playing side who never got started on the day. There is a moral there somewhere.
It just could be “take your chances.”
The Herald guy was there in the stand at the Bught and he gave the Wing Centre his original copy to use. This is what the original shorthand appears to say:
From the moment that Glen Mackintosh fired them into a first minute lead, Newtonmore never looked like slipping up in their attempt to bring the season’s first piece of silverware back to Badenoch. For lower league opponents  Lochaber, in their first ever senior cup final, that goal was just the start of a long afternoon trying to get back into a match that proved ultimately beyond them.
Newtonmore, the present Camanachd Cup holders, started powerfully forcing a corner in the opening minute. When the Lochaber defenders hesitated in their attempts to clear, Mackintosh first timed the opener home from an acute angle giving Lochaber’s teenage keeper Callum Macdonald no chance.
Newtonmore continued to press and were awarded a free hit on the left after defender back Bryan Macdonald brought down ‘More winger Chris Sellar. Centre man Paul MacArthur chipped the ball forward and Sellar, who was to cause Lochaber trouble all afternoon dodged his way through the defence to score his side’s second in 15 minutes.
To their credit Lochaber fought their way back but they found the big Newtonmore centreline trio of Jamie Robinson, Blair Mackintosh and Paul MacArthur too physically powerful to overcome and they did not get close enough to test ‘More keeper Mike Ritchie until just before half time when he had to look lively to thwart a snap shot from Ben Delaney.
Lochaber lifted their game but when Delaney beat Norman Campbell on the left but his ball into the D was safely cleared by Rory Kennedy before the inrushing Stuart Callison could make contact. Lochaber finished the half on the attack and on 42 minutes, Shaun Nicolson and Callison linked up to set up a chance for Delaney but his drive flew wide. Ben Delaney again threatened from the left and his pass found Stuart Callison but Ritchie blocked the ball with his foot.
After the break, a head injury to ‘More’s Glen Mackintosh saw him replaced by Danny Macrae – and though clearly hampered by the injury that saw him miss the starting line up his neat touch with the stick piled pressure on the Lochaber defence. The third Newtonmore goal came in 51 minutes when half back Steven Macdonald, who was ultimately awarded the medal for man of the match, hit a monstrous clearance which Lochaber defender Neil Macdonald was unable to clear. The ball fell to Sellar and he fired the ball home from distance.
Lochaber kept plugging away and in the 59th minute they got a goal back when internationalist Sean Nicholson who had found himself starved of supply finally managed to make himself enough space to drive the ball past Ritchie. It was too little too late however and Newtonmore further underlined the gulf between the sides when captain John Mackenzie fell upon a Danny Macrae strike which hit the post and helped himself to number 4 – and to rub salt in the  Lochaber’s wounds, Macrae himself made it 5 with a minute remaining.

Such a shame for Lochaber’s efforts to be reduced to 400 words of clichéd description- but it could have been different. A little more ruthlessness in front of goal; a little more steel in the middle and it might have turned out better for them.  But it didn’t – and so Duncan MacTavish’s silver rosebowl  is off back to Newtonmore for the 38th time- and the Wing Centre is not holding his breath for it or any other senior shinty trophy going to anyone other than the usual suspects any time soon.

Pics- Nothing from Drum just the MacTavish prog cover and one other. Never mind pics of the game or the result ,this is the moment these Macdonalds and Campbells on either side will share for the rest of their lives .

Friday, June 15, 2012

Flame of Hope burns bright in Glenurquhart

Glenurquhart 3 Kingussie 1 (MacAulay Cup)

So little time-so many questions- but after a win like Saturday who cares if they get answered. Of course, the existence of a question does not imply that you will find an answer, though you won’t get a Kingussieman to agree to that.
From a Glen point of view the obvious question is “why didn’t we play like that last week?” From a Kingussie point of view the query would simply be “why?”
 To the Glen question there is no answer-quite simply that is the way it is and always has been. For our visitors from above the snow line the answer may lie in the fact that on the side-lines Barry Dallas and his injured hand were interested spectators while Lee Bain was suspended and Martin Dallas did not seem to be included in the party at all.  Despite that the notebook states that Kingussie had the early pressure and that Stuart Mackintosh in the Glen goals had to deal competently with some attacks that were not out and out top-drawer but did invite punishment had  Smack hesitated or seemed uncertain. He didn’t and wasn’t, so they didn’t either.

At the other end Glen have their own opportunities – a free hit worked to Neale Reid goes  past the post, a drive from Ali Mackintosh is saved by King’s  keeper Andrew Borthwick, a chance falls to Ruaraidh Cameron and is sent wide as is a good solid strike from Dave Maclennan- and while all this is happening the crowd on the side and packing the stand  shout a whole lot of random stuff to put Ronald off because they know that if he gets the ball in the net it is a goal.
 John Barr plays him tight- and generally restricts his chances but marking Ronald is like playing with petrol-competitive petrol. He is always liable to explode into action and grab the golden goal. Still for the moment he has taken his cue from the Glen crowd and is shouting random things at the ref in a plea for either justice or favouritism depending on your perspective. For the moment he doesn’t get either- and then Neale Reid scores for Glen at the other end. A first shot on goal is blocked by Borthwick and Reid turns and fires the ball back home through a ruck of players.
Now scoring against Kingussie can either be a good thing or a bad thing, for all that it’s become safer to do so in recent years. You might provoke them-and it certainly seemed to be like that for the rest of the period up to half time. They came roaring back and the Glen defence were tested by a series of corners after one of which John Barr was booked for a tangle with Ronald. In the end however the defence held, the centre held-Arran Macdonald, Eddie Tembo and David Maclennan competed fiercely and the side just about made it to half time intact.
The second half? Kingussie just went flat- and after Glen had grabbed a second via Neale Reid just after the restart and James Macpherson was given space to rap home a third in 67 minutes, it has to be said some of their lads lost their composure a little.
For that 30 minute spell Glen had Kingussie under pressure and as the visitors mask was slipping it ought to have been a time of further goals but instead in the 80th minute it was Ronald who scored.
A ball was hit out to the right of the “D” and under severe pressure and close attendance from at least three Glen players he had the instinct to fire it precisely past Glen keeper Mackintosh for what turned out to be a consolation goal. Kingussie mounted some further attacks but they lacked precision and then Ronald found himself being booked near the end of the match for what one assumes was protesting a decision too vigorously.
In the end Glen won because they probably needed the win more. After the disappointment of losing to Newtonmore on penalties in the MacTavish – and more especially losing to Skye in the Camanachd-this victory has basically saved the Glen’s season. Without it we might as well all have gone to the hill lochs until Games Day in August.
Now the Glen must  face Fort William in both League and Cup- and after last week’s crazy Kilmallie result (one doesn’t like to second guess but no way could Hector have been on the field) then Kilmallie could be back in with a shout of putting Glen under League pressure. That we can do without.

Suddenly, just at the end of the match the A82 filled up with police-a tremendous number of police. There were buses full of them; they were on the beat; they were in cars and on motorbikes. The vans indicated that while some of them were of Highland origin; other vehicles proudly bore the logos of Strathclyde and Grampian. Foremost amongst them however were a group of tall strangers with, as far as one could make them out ,Stornoway accents. They were, according to their uniforms, the proud representative of the Metropolitan police.
“Surely they must have been expecting crowd trouble if we beat Kingussie- but haven’t they taken it all a little too far,” said the Treasurer somewhat afraid that the club would be billed in some measure for the presence of such a variety of constabulary.

“Maybe they think that after the match Kingussie will need a police escort past the Drum Hotel-I see there’s a few of these wild Munros  and Borthwicks going home in their car past the crowd now,” said the chief goal net taker-downer, “but it’s more like we need police protection from them.”
The President as always took a more rational view and berated the twosome on the fact that their obsessional interest in shinty had blinded them to other goings on in the wider community.
“Don’t you read Tony’s local info website? It says there that the Olympic Torch is going past the field and its being carried by young Rodger Watt who used to play shinty for the Primary 7s. It’s got nothing to do with Kingussie. You guys need to come into the real world and smell the Coco-cola.”
And just at that point, right on cue a Coco-cola bus came past with the police and a shower of girls wearing the light blue of Caberfeidh and started dishing out bottles of special Olympic coke to the grasping horde of mothers and toddlers lining the road.
“You wouldn’t expect girls wearing Cabers strips to be dishing out Coco-cola, “said the goal-net taker downer. “You would have thought they would have been on the Carlsberg bus”
The President was about to explain about sponsorship and its vital role in modern global sport but he held himself back when he realised  that, as usual, no-one was actually listening to him.
“Let’s go and give Rodger a cheer” he said instead.

They did so- and when the circus had finally left town, off the three friends went to the Loch Ness Inn, light of heart and step, each in in his own way looking forward to a bus trip to Oban but at the same time aware that bad Lochabermen lay in wait ahead hoping to wreck the future happiness of the Glen as they had done so many times in the past.

Pictures? Well there were no real snappers present but the pics show the boys are pleased and tired after the game. Keen supporter Ina Wilson is also pleased. Kingussie get a police escort out of the village as the Glen bosses look on and boo. Finally Rodger comes past with the torch.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Glen Camanachd Hopes are Pie in the Skye

Skye 2 Glenurquhart 1 (Camanachd Cup)
Lochaber 1 Glenurquhart 2 (North Division 2)
Glenurquhart 2 Newtonmore 1 (North Division 2)

Yep! Glen are not going to be winners of the Camanachd Cup any time soon – and if it doesn’t sound too churlish, neither are Skye. Not that the Wing Centre got a chance to watch this match but he kept in touch via a phone call from Mr Reid at half-time and then with a call to Astie shortly afterwards . Thanks to Astie’s advice he listened to it on Cuillin FM, though until Astie told him better, he had always thought Cuillin was a beer sold in the Benleva.
Neil Paterson, the picture –taker would have been able to help out with some objective analysis but because of Kingussie’s nonsense over not taking a strip with them to play ‘Shiel, he got stuck at Kirkton and so the “D” missed out on both info and snaps.
“They say these Cuillin guys are pretty rubbish,” said Astie “from what I’ve heard about them but at least you’ll get the score”
Which was a definite  advance on what one could get on Alba the previous week- but actually the guys commentating were pretty OK-they were clued up Skye supporters which is rare even in Bernisdale- and they told it like it actually appeared –to them. That was the bit that was rubbish-not the commentary.
By the time the Wing Centre got tuned in- or rather rowed out into mid-stream-Skye were leading 2-1 seemingly with only 4 real players. The rest were either injured or gathering whelks presumably. Neale Reid finally got Glen in the lead in 33 minutes after the usual Glen turbo-start which failed at the final ball. Seemingly Neale was pulled down as he nipped the ball home for the opener- and the Skyemen thought it was a penalty because ref Deek Cameron had a wee puff on the fideag a little before the ball crossed the line. The goal stood which was perhaps a shame as the Glen were deprived of a chance to break their penalty duck- but as a former forward Deek has an instinctual sympathy with frontmen who are unfairly brought down and thus deprived of legitimate goals.

Skye got back in via Alan Palmer who put home a rebound off the keeper and then took the lead through what the Free Press called a “wonder” goal- and what the guys back home on Monday called a “fair enough shot” Pretty much a wonder goal then. Jordan Murchison –who seems like he is turning into the Greg Matheson of Skye – was the striker of said shot, and well done to him.
The second half- and this is the bit heard on the radio- was all Glen but sadly there was to be no wonder goal despite constant pressure which was desperately defended by Skye. Alas it was a Barcelona afternoon for Glen and when Skye keeper Macleod tipped a late drive by David Smart over the bar in the last few seconds to deny the Glen an equaliser, this distant listener knew the game was up.
But then- the darkest hour is just before the dawn. The Kids went to Lochaber and pipped the home team 2-1 just when you would have thought the Spean boys would have been at their strongest what with them having just beaten Bute in the Camanachd-and with some top-teamers available for selection. You just never know do you.
Glen were without Ewan Menzies and Euan Lloyd who were with the first team. James Hurwood was injured and Calum Smith – a standout against Lovat-was away off shore. Glen started strongly and dominated for about half an hour but unfortunately did not get goals out of all the pressure. Lochaber then stepped things up and had the best of play for the remainder of the half.

With the score 0-0 at half time Glen manager Iain Macleod made a couple of changes to freshen up the forward line and mid-field. Chances began to happen. First Daniel Mackintosh scored his own version of a “wonder “goal to make it 1-0. The strike came at the end of an intricate passage of shinty with each of the forwards linking together to complete the move. Calum Fraser then made it 2-0 with a long range strike. Lochaber got a goal back with 20 minutes remaining but Glen though they should have scored more goals were comfortable and held out for the victory.
Cameron Maclennan in goals had a really good game, very tidy and quick to clear away the ball. The whole defence was excellent. Donald Fraser at full back was commanding at the back which is why he merits a picture.
Duncan Fraser, Bradley Dixon and Ross MacDiarmid all played well but Drew Maclennan had his best game of the season so far first at full centre then at half back where his perfectly timed tackling and consistent hitting were a delight to the eye. Ross Macaulay also put in a fine shift at wing centre.
 Daniel Mackintosh and Ben Hosie up front both made the Lochaber defence work hard at all times while  Calum Fraser and Calum Miller both played well working hard for the whole game. Disappointingly a knock to Jack Hosie early on meant he had to come off to be rested at half time but by then he had certainly played his part.
And then…and then… the kids only went and beat league leaders Newtonmore 2-1 at Blairbeg. How did that happen?
Well if you were born up on the high chaparral you would be saying to yourself “how come we lost that game?”  The answer is that Glen worked hard, took two fine goals and had an outstanding defence at the back of which keeper Cameron Maclennan played soundly.  Newtonmore with Evan Menzies up front –and that was the least of it- are a strong and skilful side and ref John Angus Gillies made sure the emphasis was kept on the skilful as the match went ahead – and frustration was beginning to come in to it.
Glen took the lead in 25 minutes when after a shy the ball was slipped in to James Macpherson and he slid it home on the right from just outside the D. The strike rattled Newtonmore and they mounted a series of attacks all of which foundered on the rock of full back Donald Fraser though timely interventions from the nippy Bradley Dickson were also very necessary on a number of occasions.
Glen continued to foray forward and three minutes before the break they went two ahead when Ben Hosie improvised an overhead flick which caught Newtonmore keeper Sean MacQuarrie just too far off his line.

The second half saw Newtonmore try to get back into it-though they had to rearrange things at the back after losing Brett Munro to a muscle injury.
Glen suffered a little too and in the course of the match Dunc Fraser who has been having an excellent season had to take a break as did Calum Fraser who took a knock on the knee.
For the Glen, it was backs to the wall time with Ross MacDiarmid, Drew Maclennan and Bradley Dickson all having to dig deep while for Donald Fraser and Cameron Maclennan it was business as usual.
Manager Iain Macleod came on in the middle to help fill the gap left by an injury to Calum Fraser while James Macpherson was also called on to cover back. In the end Glen held out until the 70th minute when Drew Macdonald scored for Newtonmore but despite the visitors pouring forward for the last period Glen were just able to hang on to the win.
So that’s shinty for you-you just never know what will happen. You might think things are in the bag when the cat is let out of it so to speak. What is not in doubt is the friendly atmosphere at Blairbeg. Present on the night were Rod and Stevie Munro great servants over the years to the sport: Stevie has just stepped down from being in the hot-seat with Inverness but hopefully he  and his family will keep up his connection with shinty in the town. Rod lives down the road in Badenoch now but his passion for the sport is as strong as ever and it was good to see him on the night. Also present were a nice puckle of Newtonmore folk and others from the West and Strathglass. Mary Ann Henton from Lovat had also hopped over the hill: a true supporter,she will back the sport in other Glens if there is nothing doing in Balgate.

It makes for a homely experience-which is more than could be said for last nights “Question Time” from Inverness. The Wing Centre who has passed near enough 40 years in the environs of the town looked in vain for a familiar face – and he only heard one local accent. Where were Donnie Kerr, Councillor Alex Graham, Provost Jimmy Gray, Ken Macleod, George Fraser, David Sutherland, John Watt, Kenny Thompson, Brian Macgregor, Colin Campbell even Charlie Bannerman?  Without them, how could the BBC pretend the show was actually from Inverness? Why- even Charles Kennedy’s tartan tie lacked conviction and it’s a rare Lochaberman that lacks a conviction.
The Wing Centre’s suspicion is that the BBC never went near the town at all but if they actually did – and that really is the town now- then it’s a pity that great-great grandpa was too resourceful to be cleared off the land in the olden days. If that had happened then perhaps yours truly would be living in Inverness, Nova Scotia and involved in the majority sport –ice hockey- instead of shinty.
Oh dear-never mind.
The pictures are big Donald , goal-grabber Ben and a lovely snap of Jim and Mary Ann.
The other one is of the Camanachd Cup itself-though we have never seen it in real life.
Colin Cameron of seen it though and thanks go to Colin for the photo.

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