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!!

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