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.


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