Friday, August 31, 2012

Raising Cash instead of Cain

Last week at the Glenurquhart Highland Games - a Saturday when Glen Shinty teams traditionally have no match scheduled - the Club focussed on its community face and in the course of a busy afternoon raised the sum of £681 for the Highland Hospice, an amount which will be considerably added to over the coming weeks when circa 30 players will head to Killiecrankie to undertake individual bungee jumps in aid of the same cause.Indeed if you would like to pledge something you can do so here
The Highland Hospice has of course a special place in the hearts of local people and it is particularly dear to Glen co-manager Fraser Mackenzie in that it was the death of his mum at the start of the year and his gratitude to those that cared for her in the Hospice that confirmed his intention to initiate a fund–raising campaign.
The recent adverse publicity over the MacAulay Cup has if anything raised sympathy for the Club and certainly helped to boost takings on the day since the said Cup – and the Olympic Torch generously provided by Rodger Watt- were both on display and paraded round the field at the Games.

The Shinty Club of course over recent years in particular has had a track record of contributing to certain local organisations, the most recent being the Glenurquhart Care Centre in its attempt to fund the purchase of a new minibus for the old folks – and the Club has long been aware that anything which helps to make the young guys in the village more aware of their community responsibilities can only be a good thing.
It is easier to be more outward looking these days when the Club is for the moment relatively secure in its own sources of funding, not that one can of course ever be complacent about anything in the world of shinty. Sponsorship, the Lotto, the Annual Sale of Work and regular fund raising events have removed the need for the moment of sponsored events so much so that the proceeds of any such undertaken by the club can be devoted entirely to worthwhile charities.
In the old days of course sponsored events were one of the main methods of funding the club and many and varied were the activities by which the locals were persuaded to part with a pound or two to help the shinty.
The earliest occasion that came to mind was in September of 1983 when the late Russell Cameron, player-manager of the reserve team at the time, pushed a pram via bog and deer fence 2,284 feet up to the top of Meallfuarvonie. In the pram was a ½ cwt. of sand. Russ -  uncle of two goal MacAulay hero Ruaraidh and dad of second teamer big Ross left Blairbeg at 7.15 am in the morning accompanied by Billy Macleod and Kenny Carmichael and reached the summit after 5 gruelling hours. The descent took an hour and a half- and Russ arrived back in Drum in time to watch the second half of Glen’s preseason friendly with Inverness.
The very next year Russ, accompanied by Donald Paul Mackintosh, rowed a traditional clinker built boat the 28 miles length of Loch Ness from the beach at Lochend to the shore at Fort Augustus. 

 The boat was the property of Mr Billy Ross of Strone, former Deputy Head of Glenurquhart High School and dad of Iain Ross who played for the Glen in the 1988 Camanachd Cup final.
The two worthies had originally planned to row from Fort to Lochend as this would usually accord with the prevailing wind from the west, but as luck would have it on the chosen day the wind was from the east causing a change of plan.
Donald and Russ shared the oars and having set off from Lochend at 6.30 made it to Fort Augustus by 1.30 pm – and were having their first dram on the shore before the official reception party even realised they had landed-though to be fair to the committee, it is very hard to see anything on the loch from the bar of the Inchnacardoch Hotel.
There were a number of other attempts to raise cash by sponsored events-one recalls a sponsored cycle round the Loch, the successful attempt to play six a side shinty on all the grounds in the north, starting at Aberdeen and finishing in Drum , a mighty feat indeed though admittedly that was before the advent of pitches in Ardnamurchan, Lochbroom and Lewis. The interesting bit is that the journey to Boleskine was completed by boat from Drum. The guys also took part in a sponsored swim up and down the length of the old Glebe Street Baths in Inverness - one can hardly believe that not only were they demolished but that the site has remained undeveloped for a decade or more.
One event which stood out in particular however was Whytie’s crazy hill run.
Graham Whytie aka ”Whytie” is still involved with the Glen as a member of the backroom staff: he was present the other week in Oban kneading muscles and unlocking backs- and doubtless he would do the acupuncture too if the guys would only stand still. Whytie was a player himself with the juniors and although a spell at sea as an engineer on oil tankers kept him away from the game for a time he never lost his enthusiasm. Back 25 years ago he was also the trainer and as a real athlete with the Harriers he was pretty aware that shinty players –with the honourable exception forever of Jamie Bell - are never really fit. Fit to the extent that Whytie who was a veteran of both the London and Glasgow marathons would ever acknowledge. Given that he had galloped through Glasgow in 2.55, Whytie was of the opinion that the hill track from Invermoriston to the Glen would pose him no problems.

Starting from the side of the A887 at Blaraidh, he set off up the side of the hill via Loch Liath and Stac where he was checked in by Russ Cameron and Graham Young. From there he ran down the water course of the River Enrick and along the side of Loch Comhnard to Corriemony. On this part of the route his progress was monitored by team boss Don Cumming and Donald Paul Mackintosh.
From Corriemony, Whytie continued via the Forestry track along the shore of Loch Meiklie to Lochletter to the finish at Balnain Hall. All this he managed in 2 hours 10 minutes, no mean feat when one considers that for a fair section of the route he was running on paths which were unmarked.
The pic shows Graham being presented with a shield to commemorate his effort by Club President the late Mr Danny Fraser, Shewglie.
Was Whytie finished?  Not likely. Later years were to see him involved in the six-a side shinty marathon, a cycle tour of the Loch and of course the Swimathon at Glebe St.

But these are perhaps stories worth saving for other blog- as is perhaps mention of the years when Davie MacVicar organised the duck races. Suffice to say they did well enough until the year when the ducks, despite being inanimate and plastic, escaped in big numbers down the river and were to be found in trees and bushes down the cover. Even the Wing Centre could see the water was too high. The real humiliation came when over the next few weeks the coastguard guys returned a series of recaptured ducks some from as far away as Dores. Honestly it would have been easier to get them back if they had been real ducks.
Shinty? Glen are supposedly playing Inveraray tomorrow. Verdict? It’s a match that means little to the Glen though Inveraray will treat it as a Camanachd warm-up. One should imagine the Glen boys are sick of shinty just now after what happened over the past week or so, though they will be up for Newtonmore when they play them. Why wasn’t that game this week? It would have made more sense than what turned out-now Glen play them back to back. Pity.

The pictures speak for themselves-especially the one of Whytie doing a real marathon somewhere back in the day when cars ran on petrol laced with lead.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Oh, What a Perfect Day !

Glenurquhart 6 Oban Camanachd 0   (MacAulay Cup Final)

And it was. The Wing Centre has never had a more beautiful day at the shinty-even when he was playing -though the Strathdearn of ’77 and its aftermath came close. Glorious weather; the team playing fabulously, unbelievably; the first three stunning goals;  the next three happening in some sort of parallel universe- and then young Heathie being made man of the match- and the party afterwards. Rory Mor and all the Macleods in Dunvegan could not ever have had a Cuirm that was any better-it reached  way beyond a ceilidh and hovered just on the edge of orgy.

At one point the Wing Centre was speaking to Mr Mackintosh (senior) one of the genuine folk heroes of Glen shinty when Bobo the referee came and put his arms round them both.

“Oh what a perfect day,” he sang in the tones of Gnarls himself- and off he went.
“He’s probably right” said Mr Mackintosh
And then Bobo came back.
“I never finished that song” he said.
“OK then” said the Wing Centre, wondering what was coming next.

Bobo put both his arms around them again, closed his eyes and got back into character.
“I’m glad I spent it with you”, he sang- and as he did so, you knew that he meant it from the bottom of his heart and at that moment the Wing Centre thought to himself that he had never seen so many Glenners –up and down- so united in sheer joy ever before. It was a whole Olympic effect all on its own.
But what goes up…............
Ma thogair!

Just before the game started, the Wing Centre was pretty nervous about the whole thing but then the Oban High School Pipe Band came out with the teams- and he settled down, thinking to himself he would just enjoy it whatever might happen. Oban were playing at home; they had put out two good teams to get to the final; the Glen might just put up a show since they were not too bad themselves.
Glen started off into the wind and things were looking reasonably even when Oban conceded a free hit just into the Glen half. Arran Macdonald blasted the ball forward deep into the Oban defence but a mishit clearance from the Oban backline fell to Ruaraidh Cameron and he steadied himself for a split second , then fired an unstoppable shot into the top corner of Oban keeper Robert Dunnings’ net. Unbelievable! – and when Arran Macdonald hit a long high ball which just dropped on to the top of the stanchion  then Glen disbelief began a slow process of suspension.

Oban came back into the match though and they had their own kind of pressure but apart from a flashing drive from Aiden Macintyre that flew past the post they did not create much in the way of danger.
Glen struck with another wonder goal in 24 minutes when Eddie Tembo took a hand. Ed, who was having a frustrating game up until that point as ref David Mitchell pulled him up a number of times for challenges that in a run of the mill Premier fixture would have gone unpunished, hit a long ball through from the centreline. David Smart latched on it, slipped it to Neale Reid and he smashed it from distance into the postage stamp above the keeper’s left shoulder.
Glen’s third came in 37 minutes- and if anything was even more spectacular. A wayward Oban shy fell to Ruaraidh Cameron in the midfield and was punished much more severely than the lad at fault could ever have imagined in his wildest dreams.  Cameron steadied himself and bulleted the ball high into the net – and as he did so the Wing Centre put himself into the boots of Oban Camanachd.
He remembers the situation well : how often in the old days did the Glen play well matching Newtonmore stride for stride and yet unaccountably finding themselves two or three behind to fantastic strikes from George and John Fraser or Kenny Mackintosh. At least if Ian Bain scored you knew you had made a mistake.

Oban must have felt the sky had fallen in- what had they done to deserve this?  You know that if it had been Ronald Ross they would have man-marked him tightly-but no one knew about Ruaraidh Cameron though his fabulous strike against the Fort in the semi was a clue.
Just before the break Scott Macmillan got a shot and fired it over-the god that looks after goal scorers had clearly turned his back on Oban for the day.
The second period saw Oban suffer a disastrous collapse in morale while the Glen grew in confidence and if the truth be told Oban keeper Robert Dunnings turned in a display which saved his team from disaster and fair play to him.  First he saved from Liam Girvan, then he made a superb save from a Fraser Heath drive after the Glen youngster had picked up a pass from Reid. Next he made a save from Reid himself but when a long shy by Arran Macdonald was touched across goal by Liam Girvan,  Reid turned on it, hammered it into the net and metamor-posed as Usain Bolt.

With the game well and truly won Glen brought on Dixie Maclennan and James Macpherson and Macpherson almost made it number five when he had the chance to punish a poor hit out from Dunnings. A last gasp tackle by James Macmillan prevented Lewis Maclennan from bagging another when he fired the ball high over the bar-and Dunnings was then on hand to save from David Smart and Maclennan yet again, the save from Maclennan right on the line was a real piece of good fortune for the beleaguered keeper who knew little about it.
James Macpherson then picked up a ball from Reid but his drive just flew wide.
Oban’s Andrew MacCuish  was then booked for tripping up Fraser Heath as he burst though on the wing : the old Glenners though he was hard done by for a non-malicious trip but perhaps in the modern shinty context a booking was given.
James Macmillan then lost it and bounced the ball off ref Mitchell’s head, which was a shame because you could see Oban desperately trying to be good for the whole match. Mitchell to be fair to him let the player stay on the park because as a shintyman himself he knows what it means to a player to play in a final. As for young Macmillan, he would be well advised not to put the videocap on his Facebook page.
Fraser Heath then rapped home number 5 having burst through in the left to fire his shot in off keeper Dunnings. David Smart then went in the book for a wild lash as things began to get a little tetchy but the big Glen support were rewarded with a goal in the 87th minute from Lewis Maclennan who sprinted on to a through ball from Tembo as the Oban defence began to disintegrate completely.
Oban looked thoroughly demoralised by this stage a fact underlined by the booking for Scott Macmillan when he lashed out at Dixie Maclennan.
Then the whistle blew and the Glen went up to receive their first senior cup- and those who merely watch felt so proud that kids you saw growing up had won a trophy in front of the nation on television – and won it in such a superb fashion.
The only pity was the Ikey Fraser could not be with his mates in Oban as he undoubtedly would have been in any other Glen generation. But then he had to work on Saturday playing in goals for County against Celtic in the Premier League. Pity.
Then came the next day as it has to and things began to look different. Ah such is hubris!  It has turned out a true Greek tragedy- and now the Shinty Club is to blame for everything that has gone wrong in the Glen from hens going off the lay to the council not keeping the grass short. Why -there was even trouble in Milton at the weekend, a place where they wouldn’t know a caman from a kindler and the shinty club got the blame. The next thing you know the club will be blamed for supporting wind farms.
The Wing Centre was walking glumly down the road mulling over the wreckage in his mind when he met the pensioners.
“These young ones. What are they like? You’ll never be up to them. But they’ll learn”
The remark was true enough but what will they learn?
That there are no Facebook friends only Facebook enemies.
That the phrase “Don’t shoot the messenger” is nonsense- some messengers require to be shot. 

 Donald Paul came round the corner in his plumber’s van.
“What do you think about the whole thing, Dan?” asked the    Wing Centre.
“I wish it never happened,” said Donald. “But just imagine the hassle if we’d gone and damaged the Ally Ban! Still it was a perfect day though-it’s just the rest of the week we could have done without.
Not to worry. 5,000,000 people know all about Glen Shinty Club now. Hopefully the sponsors won’t ask why Billy wasn’t wearing a club jersey when he posed for ‘that ‘picture.”

The Wing Centre went on up the road with a slow step and a heavy heart- and there he learned all about Prince Harry being naked and playing billiards with a woman in Las Vegas.
He was pleased because that meant that after Thursday’s local papers the Glen would finally be out of the headlines. It made him fully appreciate the virtues of monarchy.

The D pictures?  If they look decent they are by Neil Paterson. Otherwise someone else took them.  The red fez? A Glen tradition. Yep it’s that sort of Glen.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

One more Saturday!

After a fine victory in the Spey Valley, Team GU recorded another win on Saturday against more local rivals Lovat, and in as much as it left the side with a success in the run up to the Macaulay Cup Final, it was a useful run-out.
All this Team GU nonsense of course has been brought about by the Olympics as has the reference to the Spey Valley. How so?  Well the Wing Centre thought it appropriate to give the North British version of the name for the area rather than Strathspey in the context of the apparently prevailing mood in the land (however you might want to define land)

 Certainly, the subject of this place name has been in the past a matter of some controversy as the photos included here show and some local folk felt strongly enough to doctor the road signs.  Strathspey has probably won out for now but the other name hangs on attached to a golf course.

A request the Wing Centre failed to make strongly enough was that for lottery funding for a minority sport such as “Jumping into the herring barrel in working boots.” From this peculiarly Highland perspective it seems no less worthy of lottery support than handball or riding a BMX bike or knocking a beach ball over the net while wearing your speedos. Anyway a most enjoyable Olympics has come and gone and so what if the legacy amounts to a pile of weird sports being punted as medal worthy by politicians, the Glenners and the Crofters will stick to their shinty - and as proof of that both sides, served up an excellent game on Saturday in glorious conditions at Blairbeg.
Glen went into the match without Andrew Corrigan, Neale Reid and James Macpherson and Lovat were shorthanded likewise. Glen played neatly early on but Lovat were always dangerous and they opened the scoring when the ball was played to the back post. Stuart Reid shepherded Greg Matheson into a very poor position wide to the left of the shop goal and left him with what seemed to everybody a geometrically impossible angle. Matheson however is a superb goalscorer and somehow or other he battered the ball home to put Lovat one up.
Glen were not to be fazed however and a few minutes later Fraser Heath wriggled through on the right and unleashed a power drive which the excellent Lovat keeper Stuart Macdonald tipped by. Glen’s Stuart Mackintosh provided the same service for his side shortly afterwards – and then thanks to midfielder Arran Macdonald’s superb hitting the Glen came right back with not one but three bangs. A long ball up by Macdonald was finished off by Ruaraidh Cameron in 25 minutes, another long one by Macdonald found Liam Girvan in 32 and his cross ball was again finished off by Cameron and finally Macdonald, Girvan and Fraser Heath combined to set up David Smart who nabbed number 3  in the 35th minute. Lovat were at this point on the ropes and they were saved from further damage by the half-time whistle, though truthfully there were a few occasions when the desperate attempts of their defenders to prevent Glen progress ought to have led to disciplinary consequences.
The second half secured the victory with the defence playing comfortably. Arran Macdonald came off at half time and was replaced by Andrew Macdonald who fitted in well. Chances continued to fall to the Glen but Macdonald in the Lovat goal was in determined mood and kept the attempts out though at least two were missed from inside the D.
Eddie Tembo and Dave Maclennan both came off at various times and youngster Ewan Menzies also had a successful run out.
A solid performance then from the Glen. It was not the strongest Lovat team nor was it the strongest Glen side - but then you don’t fire out all your players, especially those who might pick up cards the week before a big game.
Lovat? An excellent side – good hitters and uncompromising. If only they were Glenners!!
But they should really have done better this season in the Camanachd, though after the Glen’s performance in Skye who is the Wing Centre to talk?

The reserve boys -a.k.a. MacLeod’s Marauders – went off to Newtonmore and lost out 3-1 to the home side although the report was a positive one. Glen were the usual few down with Ben Hosie, Drew Maclennan, Ewan Fraser, Ewan Menzies and Calum Smith unavailable for a variety of reasons but took the lead thanks to a stunning strike from Calum Fraser. Calum had a chance to fire home another shortly afterwards. It was an excellent first half performance with Glenners getting to the ball first and winning the centre line battle. The red and black forwards too were enjoying good service and moved the ball around well on the beautiful surface. Newtonmore had chances too but defensively we were good and strong and Cameron Maclennan in goals was on top form to keep them out.
Glen handled the second half well but Newtonmore put on a couple of stronger more experienced players up front in particular Cameron Binnie and his ability and strength won them the game. He scored an excellent equaliser but though Glen held on for a bit and created some chances Newtonmore took control in the middle of the park and began to exert strong pressure. This resulted in a goal which the Glen management strongly held to be off-side but it stood and then Newtonmore scored again to win the game 3-1.
Cameron Maclennan in goals was outstanding. He had several brilliant saves and dealt with everything off his feet well too. Donald Fraser and Bradley Dixon both played well in defence with good tackling and good hitting. The centre line of James Hurwood, Euan Lloyd and Ross Macaulay all played very well against a strong Newtonmore centre line while up front Jack Hosie was the pick of the forwards with another very good display.
With an unfortunate happening elsewhere, there is every possibility that this side will find itself in the Sutherland final (Mark II) but, whatever the Camanachd Association’s decision on the matter there is much to be debated before anything like that happens. There may be Glen players who would have been eligible had we got past the original semi but who have now played too many senior matches. What has to be done about that?  There are certainly guys who would have been available for the original final had we made it and had juggled work dates accordingly- and their concerns need to be addressed before a new date is fixed. The same in all fairness must also apply to Kingussie.
 So all roads now lead to Oban. The Glen ought to be deserted on Saturday though former Beauly coalman Davie Mackay managed a good wind up on Saturday. He was over in Drum to see the Lovat game-he will travel miles to see Lovat lose- and as the Treasurer was going round with collection he hailed him.
“A big day for you in two weeks, eh?” says he.
“No, no Davie. The Macaulay is this Saturday,” replies the innocent Treasurer.
“No,” says Davie, “I was meaning the Drum Games!”
For all that Davie is a Beauly fan, he has a good sense of humour. Perhaps he needs it over there.
But seriously, Glen have played in this final twice before losing on both occasions to legendary Kyles sides. Glen were a pretty fair side in those days –especially in 1977-though the blow of losing wing back Dougie Macdonald to a broken leg just before the final was a mighty one indeed.

Oban? They will be a good side, playing on their own park. Last season when they were in Drum-before the nonsense started and guys got put off on both sides- they were a lively side and put some excellent moves together which foundered on the rock that was Smack.
That day they were without Aiden Macintyre and though Glen eventually won 4—1 the goal margin was just a little flattering. Any team that can beat Inveraray must be pretty hot!
This time however Glen ought to be at full strength and have been playing well. They need to keep it going for just one more Saturday.

Pictures- the guys doing their stretches and the 1977 side. Also included is an action shot from the 1972 final plus , courtesy of Brian Denoon, some snaps from the 1980s of signs in Badenoch!!

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Smackeroonie! It’s a Gold Medal Performance from Team GU in the Spey Valley

Kingussie 0 Glenurquhart 1 (Premier League)

“Oh ye of little faith.” This was a phrase much uttered during the Wing Centre’s youth before some older Highlander would try something on the face of it quite impossible, like breaking string with his bare hands, starting the engine of an ancient tractor or making a standing  jump into an empty herring  barrel, while wearing his working boots. Of course, the impossible was always achieved and the phrase immediately used in triumph thereafter.
 Such was the case last Saturday when the words of the “D” came back to haunt this writer who suggested that sports scribes all over Scotland should not bother to  hold the back page anticipating thereby a less than favourable trip for the Glen to the High Moors.
 “Oh D of little faith!” 
The result turned out to be a 1-0 away win which remained unseen by the Wing Centre who wasted a lovely afternoon by sitting indoors watching Gary Macpherson and Douglas Dando of Inveraray destroy Kinlochshiel’s hopes of Camanachd glory. His phone was on charge in another room – and so it was not until after half time in the Camanachd semi that he noticed a text had come through.” Glen 1-0. Smack 45” which is code for “The Glen have won by a single goal and the scorer was Stuart Mackintosh”.

Given that Stuart Mackintosh, aka “Smack” ,is a goalie then the chances of this happening in open play are quite remote, though it is fair to say that Smack is pretty much up to fitness in the training sessions- no “goalie wee jogs round the D” for him this session. Yet not even he can overlap at the pace required in modern shinty to get a shot away in open play.

So what happened?
Picture it if you will.  It is a warm sunny day at the Dell and the wind rather unusually is blowing up towards the Kingussie goal. What is usual though is the fact that the pitch is absolutely immaculate; it is a superb surface and something that visiting teams should look forward to every season. It suits the present Glen squad’s passing, running game. It is truly a privilege to play on and the hope before the match is that Glen will use the surface fully and test their fitness to the limit bearing in mind that it is very similar to Mossfield where there is apparently an important fixture quite soon.

For the first half hour both teams are pretty even: the Glen defence hold Kingussie at bay and the same is true at the other end. Some formational reshuffles up front see Glen achieve a more fluid pattern and this leads to Glen being awarded a penalty when Neale Reid is stopped by a one-handed swing from Iain Borthwick. Kingussie think that this is a soft decision and dispute matters somewhat vigorously and Andrew Borthwick in goal is booked for arguing with the ref over the decision. Kingussie Manager Russell Jones comes on to calm the lads down – and up steps Smack to take the penalty.

Now Smack is under pressure-not least because Russ reminds the spectators that the Glen have not scored a penalty (including in a shoot-out) in two years. True or not?  It’s certainly been a while but Smack places the ball on the spot and fires it past Borthwick into the net. Calm under pressure? Who better?
 People forget Smack has been at the top of shinty for much longer than the Glen have been missing penalties. He was only Scotland under-21 keeper for 6 years in a row from the age of 15 - a record without parallel in the modern game. For three out of the last four years he was also part of Scotland’s international squad and picked up the number 1 slot between the sticks for the last season’s senior fixture. Oh – and he was Glenurquhart’s Player of the Year for last season.
Anyway we like him – and as a result this blog will contain as many snaps of Smack as we can get a hold of. Smack with his accordion: Smack in his sunglasses: Smack as a wee lad with the Strathdearn.

The rest of the match?
Remember the wind? Against the Glen at the start, now it is for the red and blacks and with it ,clearing the ball from defence is always going to become an attacking option and Arran Macdonald’s long diagonal balls deep into the Kingussie half become a threat.
Smack as one would have expected is always on hand to serve and he pulls off a few nice saves but it is a match that the Glen should have taken by the scruff of the neck and the opportunity is certainly there to win handsomely. Kingussie are not looking for a physical match as they have given a number of their youthful fringe players a chance and the match emphasis for them is to rely on skill.

With an eye on trying to give Glen players who started on the bench as much time as possible on the pitch Dave Maclennan and Ruaraidh Cameron make way for Andrew Macdonald and Liam Girvan. With the defence on a clean sheet it makes sense not to tinker with it- and so things continue to the final whistle with the Glen in command though unable to add to their lead.

 A tight margin of victory then and one which Kingussie might feel unhappy about, yet Glen who played much better against both Inveraray and Kinlochshiel –and lost- earlier in the season, should have no qualms about picking up both points and moving on to face Lovat despite the fact that this particular derby is now a game of little consequence for both clubs.
Oh there’s one other pic – Smack hands over a commemorative shinty club to Jack the 1st, King of Scotland in November of 2002 at the opening of the new Glen Urquhart High School.

 Smack lasted longer at the top: he’s still there.
That’s one pic that that should be in the new Museum of Shinty that the Camanachd are sure to demand as part of Scotland’s Olympic Legacy.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Summer Nights

Lovat 5 Glenurquhart 3 (North Division 2)
Summer shinty! You can’t beat it on a warm evening when the midgies decide to stay away and you are on first name terms with the entire crowd. In fact the only thing that took the shine off the night was that Lovat managed to win: it was certainly a most entertaining game, and the presence on the side-lines of a group of Newtonmore guys had the Glenners wondering to themselves “What are these guys doing here? Could they be planning a party up at Norman Campbell’s caravan at Corriemony? Could Brett be showing the lads round the old Munro croft? “
Seemingly not. It turned out, as the Glenners were to learn after the event that if the Glen dropped a point then Newtonmore would win the league. If only we had realised that at the start we might have bothered to take a full team over the hill.
 As it was Glen started without Calum Fraser, Donald Fraser, Jack Hosie, Ben Hosie, Drew Maclennan and Ross MacDiarmid while Brad Dickson was working and could only make it for half time. Despite that Glen had a bit of early pressure and it was clear that big Calum Smith at full centre made a huge difference to the hitting in the middle.  Unfortunately nothing the Glen hit goal ward could get past Jamie Matheson in the Lovat goal and in 18 minutes that old warhorse Fraser Gallagher fired one home at the other end. Now Fraser isn’t really a war-horse and he isn’t really old, it’s just that he looks old when you see him alongside the bairns in the Lovat team– and if he had been lucky he might have scored a couple more in that spell but Glen keeper Cameron Maclennan first came off the line and pulled off a great stop, then made himself big and a further shot at goal was blocked.
Glen did make forays up field but found Matheson as good at keeping the ball out of the net as he had been at scoring in previous seasons- and then just before the break a ball came into the Glen box – and everyone but everyone had a chance to hack it away, failed to do so and it was left to Rory Campbell to poke home the simplest of chances.
Brad Dixon came on at half time and a little shoogling about with the formation saw the Glen with an opportunity to work their way back into the game but Fraser Gallagher had other ideas and he made it 3-0 just after the restart thanks to good work by Lewis Tawse.
What is it about being 3-0 down that makes Glen play better?

 Suddenly the guys came to life. Good determined work from Iain Macleod forced the ball forward on to Matheson and Liam Girvan was on hand to open for the Glen by knocking in the rebound.
Immediately afterwards Ewan Lloyd scored after an excellent bit of Glen interplay. James Hurwood moved the ball forward where it was picked up by Liam Girvan out on the left :he laid it inside to Lloyd who provided an impressive finish to a move which had class written all over it.
Glen keeper Cameron Maclennan then pulled off a superb stop to deny Gallagher and then suddenly Glen were level.  Ewan Menzies picked up the ball out on the left from the inspirational Iain Macleod and turning inside fired home a strike from all of 25 yards to make it 3-3.
Trust Gallagher though – he poached his third of the night a few minutes later to make it 4-3 for the home side and set up a grandstand finish. Glen poured forward in waves. Liam Girvan was first denied by a fine save from Matheson then the cracked one just over the bar. Calum Miller came up full forward and he too fired a rasper on goal which made Matheson look lively. Lovat pulled Gallagher back to full back and held on desperately conceding a series of corners which the Glen were unable to convert.

 The moment had passed and Lovat moved onto the offensive for the last few moments  when former Glen under-17 Graham MacMillan, who had put in an excellent shift in the Lovat front line, brought two good saves out of his one-time colleague Glen keeper Cameron Maclennan. Cammy the Keeper could do nothing about Lovat’s final goal though which was tapped home by Lewis Tawse after some neat work out on the right by Rory Campbell. A disappointing score line for the Glen in the end because a two goal margin was somewhat harsh, though Lovat could have been forgiven for believing that they should have scored more in the latter part of the first half when the Glen were a bit unfocused in defence.
All in all Glen put in an excellent performance with Calum Smith, James Hurwood and in the second half, Bradley Dickson the pick of the bunch. Lovat have a host of young players who are pretty special but the impressive Fraser Gallagher won them the match. He has excellent stick work, a good eye for goal and if he were fit, he would be a Premier Division shoe- in to any side.

Since the Wing Centre was not present for the previous game in Fort William where a fine 3-1 result was earned he has to rely on the explanation of Manager Iain Macleod which gives a very fair indication of what happened on the day.

 Fort William 1 Glenurquhart 3 (North Division 2)
The first half was very even with both teams playing some nice shinty and creating good chances. Fort William were experienced in defence with John MacLeod and Adie Robertson playing well together. The wet pitch suited them as the ball held up in the mud and they were strong in the tackle. We lost a bad goal mid-way through the first half when our defence had chances to clear but did not and we got punished for it.
 It seemed to wake us up a bit however and we finished the first half well.
We changed our full forward from Calum Miller to Calum Fraser and with the far better hitting surface we really started to stretch and open up the Fort William defence and it was not long before we equalised through a great volley from a corner by Calum Fraser. We had a very good spell in this period of the game and Jack Hosie put us 2-1 up with a lovely little run in with the ball and beat the keeper, again showing great composure. Mid-field and defence played really well and handled any attacks that Fort William threw at us. Iain MacLeod scored 15 minutes from the end to make it 3-1 and the two points were ours.
Donald Fraser had a very good game at full back but had to come off injured. We replaced him with Calum Miller and he did extremely well. Bradley Dixon again had a good game, running and working hard for the whole game. James Hurwood was excellent. He was against a good, experienced player but really showed maturity with good tackling and hitting. Ross Macaulay played well and Calum Smith was outstanding at full centre. He has not played for a few weeks but you would not tell. His was an excellent performance. Jack Hosie too was just great. He scored another super  goal which keeps him one goal ahead of Calum Fraser as our top goal scorer. Ewan Fraser and Rory MacLean both came on to wing back for us and did really well too.
Overall a great two points for us. Why we did not play like that two weeks ago in the semi final I don't know. Another good positive game for the whole squad and we have taken four points from four off Fort William this season which pleases me. There were also some good individual performances, especially from the younger players and a very good team performance too.

Kyles Athletic 6 Glenurquhart 3 (Orion Premiership)
 Of the senior game at Kyles there is little to say. Three –nil down inside 11 minutes. At the 20 minute mark Glen woke up and got back into contention with three well taken goals from James Macpherson. At this stage Glen should have got in front having had a few opportunities to take the lead- and Kyles had at least one big let off when a drive from Fraser Heath hit Kyles keeper Kenny Macdonald in the face.
Kyles showed their concern by pulling Roddy Macdonald back to the centreline and  Glen had further chances to ease ahead in the match thanks to hard  work up front especially by Neale Reid. Kyles however slowly but surely began to get a grip in midfield thanks to a superb display of commitment, pace and effort by Robbie Macleod and it was fitting that he should get what should have been the winning goal in 71 minutes with a long drive though more pressure on him as he struck the ball might have led to a different outcome.
What about the two late Kyles goals? Scored in 85 and 89 minutes by Fraser Macdonald after long balls dropped over an unfocused defence, they put a flattering spin on a game that should have ended much closer.
OK Kyles are up there at the top but Glen need to forget about the MacAulay, obtain more focus and  serve it all up with a little more determination.
Kingussie next. Don’t hold the back page.
Thanks to Tina Marshall who took the pics at the Lovat game, Naturally the pic of Graham “Gee” Macmillan who put on a bit of a game for Lovat just has to be an old one of him in a Glen strip.
It looks so much better.

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