Thursday, May 30, 2013

Goal Harvest at the Croft.

Lovat 4 Glenurquhart 0 (Orion Premier League)
It’s time for Plan C. If Plan A and Plan B did not work it is certainly appropriate for some other strategy to be brought into play-literally. Saturday’s match against Lovat, especially a lame first half, did not make happy viewing. Ok , Glen were without Andrew Corrigan, Eddie Tembo, Paul Mackintosh and Neale Reid (Lovat lacked Kevin Bartlett) but in the end you have go with the team you’ve got- and the team Glen have got were not able to keep the team Lovat had got at bay. The result of that is Lovat have to be firm favourites going into the MacTavish Cup Final on the 15th of June.
If you are being honest Lovat have taken four goals off the Glen defence each time they have played this season - and at the other end, Glen, despite having territorial advantage for most of the second half were unable to seriously test Stuart Macdonald in the Lovat goals.
The first Lovat goal was a bit fortuitous in that the Glen defence and Greg Matheson got mixed up together but Matheson had the wit to poke the ball agonisingly over the line as he fell in the tangle. The next two were better worked: Lorne Mackay, whose pace had troubled the Glen defence all first half found himself out on the right on the end of a scrappy Glen clearance and he fired the ball low through a ruck of players into the net. A few minutes later he was left unmarked 15 yards out from goal and his accurate shot meant his side deservedly went in 3-0 up.
Glen supporters were left wondering if their team really wanted the game to take place at all while Lovat were clearly the hungrier team. Their forward line kept the Glen defence on the go for the whole first half and while the Glen midfield did not perform too badly but whatever ball they moved up front to the forwards was woefully handled in the first period. The front four were knocked out of the way by the Lovat defence and opportunities to shoot- and there were at least five -were squandered with over-elaborate lead up play- and the balls were cleared without the backs being put under serious pressure.
The second half was better in that the Glen managed greater territorial possession but unfortunately during the opening 15 minutes of the second half when they would have needed a goal to re-open the game as a contest they were unable to score. They had at least 12 opportunities in front of goal in the second period from the 46th minute when Liam Girvan forced Stuart Macdonald to make a save. David Smart drove over while a drive from Ewan Brady, who began to trouble the Lovat defence into hampering his forward runs, just went over. Lovat conceded a series of fouls and David Smart put one past while another was on target but dealt with by Macdonald safely.
Brady worked his way through and shot past and then fired another one on target which Macdonald dealt with again. Glen rang the changes by moving Lewis Maclennan up front to support Girvan and Billy Urquhart, with youngster Ewan Lloyd coming on in the defence but Lovat still managed to keep their clean sheet. Finally in the 81 minutes a Lovat attack saw Greg Matheson brought down and a penalty awarded which was converted efficiently by Calum Cruden to make the final score 4-0.
So what does one make of that?
Lovat at the back were quick and aggressive while the Glen seemed to play without serious passion. The Lovat forwards also appeared quick and the Glen defence did not appear happy to get tangled up physically with them. There is an issue perhaps about the young Lovat defence in that they appear to be given more leeway by referees to push in the back than would have been accorded to Glen full back John Barr but that is partly about how John is perceived and how some clubs target the ref to have him booked-not something Lovat needed to be guilty of this week. However refs invariably are about 30 yards away from the back pushes and unless the forward goes down these sorts of persistent pushes are never given. Alternatively you can harden up and not get pushed off the ball.
Anyway, all of that is academic now. Certainly Glenurquhart need to play with some more commitment-and a spot of training from all the players would not go amiss since it was clear Lovat were in some areas of the field-not all- fitter. That will certainly be more obvious in the large open spaces of the Bught. However, if Glen play for the full match like they did in the opening 75 minutes of the recent MacAulay Cup tie- and have a complete squad of players-then they can win on the 15th June though it will be tight.
If Glen don’t step up a gear and act as if they want it, then it looks like there’s going to be a good party over at Brockies.
Plan C ? Vitamin C more like!!
Aberdeen University 1 Glenurquhart 2 (North Div 2)
The seconds travelled to Aberdeen with a reduced squad and probably surprised everyone including themselves and Aberdeen by coming home with both points. Youngsters Liam Robertson and Calum Macphail started for the Glen this week in the absence of Calum Smith, Cairn Urquhart and James Hurwood.
Aberdeen had more or less the whole of the first half, playing what they considered their best shinty of the season so far and the only thing that appeared to stand between Glenurquhart and complete disaster was goalie David MacFadyen who kept everything out except a long strike on the 30 minute mark from ironically enough his fellow clansman, Aberdeen’s John MacFadyen. The Glen front men in the first period simply could not get past the Aberdeen defence- and the whole performance was very much below par.
However, the manager’s half time team talk worked wonders. A different team came onto the park for the second half. The defence tightened up, as did the centre line and the introduction of Ben Hosie up front plus one or two positional changes began to make a difference. Suddenly the Glen began to create chances and got several good shots on target. Eventually, the red and blacks scored two fantastic goals in a period of the game when they dominated against a good Aberdeen team. Ross Macaulay and Ross MacDiarmid were the goal scorers with excellent strikes and after a shaky start Glen were able come away from the Granite City with two valuable league points. However they will not get away with an insipid first half in Saturday’s visit to Newtonmore, any more than the first team will at Lochaber.
Thanks to Tina Marshall for the pictures this week. The Crofter’s other snapper Neil Paterson was forced to watch Inverness play Beauly. Imagine a Lovat man being sent to watch Beauly - if inflicted on a child it would rank as cruelty.
Tina’s pics are excellent but the poor girl had to work hard to get a Glenner in the frame they were missing so often on Saturday. As for     Greg, he kept moving so fast, she had to wait till he was lying on the ground to get a pic. Thanks Tina. Her stuff can be found at
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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

If it’s not caught on camera, did it ever happen?

A picture’s worth a thousand words! Maybe so but this week Glenners will have to do without a picture ‘cos there was no one at the Eilean to take it- so the thousand words will have to do on their own. Last time the Glen made it to the MacTavish final back in 2008, Phil Downie gave us the iconic image of the shinty season: this year with both Badenoch snappers Dave Fallows and Stevie Tunstall not on duty no one was there to record the moment when the Glen managed to beat Newtonmore 2-1 to set up a confrontation with Lovat at the Bught. Pity but there it is. What is worse, the Wing Centre didn’t even see the game: he was back at Blairbeg running the line and taking a collection at the Strathdearn game v Kingussie. Thankfully, this also turned out to have a happy ending in the shape of a 4-2 scoreline. Certainly, that was a little unexpected since the second team have been having a bumpy time of late. However, the news of a win on the Eilean did prompt the Wing Centre to a sharp intake of breath because Newtonmore had been winning quite convincingly up until that juncture.
Though there was no photographer there to record the great day, there were most certainly many pairs of Glen eyes there to note the action and carry back a report. The trouble is that every person you ask gives a slightly different take on the game: the only thing which is consistent is the fact that Glen won. This might alert us to the fact that is no such thing as truth only the moody accounts of witnesses.  The trick is to put these accounts together and weave from them a story that appears possible.
Glen fielded a fairly good side with the only absentee from the first game of the season being Ruaraidh Cameron: Newtonmore were without Paul MacArthur and Rory Kennedy and you would have to say these are players you cannot replace especially easily.
The Glen started the match with the south formation but soon found that they could not get close enough to the goals to worry Mike Ritchie and gradually Newtonmore began to come to the fore. Glen then switched their formation and pushed Fraser Heath up to full forward with Neale Reid and David Smart as wing forwards and this worked well enough except that both sides went in at half-time 0-0. Newtonmore had their chances and Stuart Mackintosh was on hand, and on foot, to make good saves when required but the real secret to beating Newtonmore is that there is no secret. You have to work hard and the most positive thing to come out of this first half was that thanks to hard work and tackling back from the forwards the Newtonmore defence were having to work to clear their lines.
Glen had a slight wind advantage in the second half and for whatever reason the players began both to grow in self-belief and simply realise that hard work will pay off in the end. With every players doing what they could to influence a positive outcome and the centreline of Arran Macdonald, Eddie Tembo and Dave “Dixon” Maclennan able to stand up to their Newtonmore counterparts the game began to turn in Glen’s favour. In 60 minutes Fraser Heath latched onto a ball that had stuck up in the ‘More back line and cut it back for David Smart to lash it into the net to open the scoring. Newtonmore fought back and having been awarded a free hit, fired a long ball forward which should have been cleared but eventually found the stick of Glen Mackintosh who scored from the edge of the box.
At this point Newtonmore attempted to raise their game physically but Glen have been here before, most memorably in last year’s semi at Blairbeg when the result was decided on penalties. The red and blacks stuck to the task and when Liam Girvan went on up front to replace Neale Reid, Glen picked up the winning goal. Girvan got to the ball ahead of Norman Campbell, played a nice pass to Ewan Brady and he dribbled past three defenders to score.
The Glen midfielders then had to pick up their game as Newtonmore tried to power through them to get back into the contest: they could not manage to do so, though the last ten minutes were reported by all to have been a difficult experience.
In the end Glen went deservedly through to the final but only just – and deservedly especially because all the players who were on the park put in the effort when asked to do so. Newtonmore certainly fired in more shots at goal, though many sailed past the post. Glenurquhart however hit the two that mattered- and so having  been put out of the MacAulay Cup as holders, Glen have now by way of revenge claimed the scalp of MacTavish holders Newtonmore.

In the Strathdearn Cup-tie at Blairbeg, the Wing Centre was a little wary of Kings given the fact that they had no first team game on Saturday and could have filled up the side with players from the top squad. They did not do this however though it is true that there were probably a couple of youngsters on show who would otherwise have been in the top squad. Despite the presence of Kevin Thain and John Gibson, Kingussie had at least eight youngsters on display and in the opening exchanges they certainly looked sharp with Thain bringing out an excellent save from Glen keeper David MacFadyen inside 10 minutes. Glen’s James Macpherson quickly forced a corner –and his ball across was moved on by Jack Hosie and Calum Miller to Euan Lloyd but the ball went by. The Glen now appeared to be in charge thanks to the midfield in particular Ross MacAulay and Calum Smith who got a firm grip on their opponents and this dominance was amply demonstrated when a nice move saw Jack Hosie with space free on the left and his shot from a narrow angle somehow squeezed past the Kingussie keeper into the net for the opener.
As Glen pressed on to add to their advantage, Euan Lloyd was next to try his luck when he burst through the defence only to fire his shot over the bar. However the same player doubled the Glen’s advantage just before half-time when he finished off a fine move which started from the Glen centreline as Iain Macleod touched the ball forward. James Macpherson juggled it up and flicked it on to Calum Miller who played it into the path of Lloyd who made no mistake from the edge of the “D”
In the second period Glen continued to press and were awarded a penalty when a careless Kingussie swing brought down Lloyd in the box as he was about to score. Penalties have long been a bugbear for Glenners but this time James Macpherson stepped up to be counted and drilled the ball home with precision to make it 3-0. Macpherson who has not played much this season for either team was showing a relish for the competition which was heartening. His tackling and movement gave the side a dimension it lacked in previous encounters and if he had not been so rusty his tally of goals in the game could have been as high as four. As it was apart from his devastatingly accurate penalty, his shots were either slightly mishit or just flew wide of the target by a narrow margin.
The final Glen goal was an excellent one-a worked corner out on the right hand side was first timed home by Duncan Fraser to make the scoreline a convincing 4-0 at the 80 minute mark.
Unfortunately after playing what could have been their best shinty of the season, the Glen then went to sleep, switched off the defendometer and allowed Kingussie back into the game where they lost two late goals to Chris Holley-Song both strikes that could have been avoided with more focused defending. These took a little of the gloss off  yet another overall fine team performance with good individual performances from Stuart Reid, Calum Smith, Bradley Dickson, James Hurwood, Ross Macaulay, Euan Lloyd, Jack Hosie and James Macpherson.

Preparations are therefore under way for the MacTavish final against Lovat. It must be the biggest shinty match in the Aird District since -quite frankly-ever because no two teams from the area have ever got through to face each other in a senior final before. Even guys from Beauly will want to see that.
What is more-as a reward for getting through against Kingussie, the Glen second team were privileged to be drawn against ……?  Yep you’ve guessed it-Lovat away. Who said you make your own luck? The next game for the top team, a Premier match, is also against Lovat. The Wing Centre predicts the two teams will be sick of the sight of each other before much longer. Never mind-we’ll see some good shinty played before then. Some of it might even be photographed.
The pictures ? Phil Downie's classic from 2008 ; a snap from the Sutherland final v Kyles in 1987 ; Kenny Maclennan (dad of Dixon) holds up a cup-and from the early pages of the album a team that beat Lovat 3-1 in 1978. You can see Mr Reid enjoyed the win.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Glen slip up in the Cup-but youngsters earn valuable home point.

Lovat 4 Glenurquhart 2  (MacAulay Cup)
Two questions have puzzled the Wing Centre this past week. Here they  are in order of importance:- what does weather girl Judith Ralston do with her 101 wee Dalmatians when she is on air and how come the Glen can lead Lovat for 74 minutes and then lose three goals and a hard –won cup  in only six minutes?
The answer to both of these questions remains a mystery but in the case of Glen’s shinty flop at Balgate things are not as they might seem. By all accounts Glen played well and at the point when they were 2-1 up they had a chance to go to 3-1 when the ball came across from a corner and the resulting shot struck Lovat keeper Stuart Macdonald on the body thus avoiding the net. The ball went immediately up to the other end; Lovat scored and eventually went on to win by what looked like a comfortable margin.
Glen had of course taken an early lead when Neale Reid managed to turn Lovat defender Drew Howie- and fire the visitors ahead with a nice finish which found the corner of Stuart Macdonald’s net. Glen were playing well at this stage, moving the ball nicely with Ruaraidh Cameron, Ewan Brady David Smart and Reid linking well. Lovat were tenacious however and kept things together and eventually equalised with a long speculative shot from Martin Mainland just before half time. David Smart restored the Glen lead in the 60th minute with an instinctively accurate finish and with the game moving into the 75th minute it looked like all the visitors had to do was hang tough and the match was in the bag.

Except, it wasn’t. By that stage Glen had lost two of their midfielders to injury-Eddie Tembo and Dave Maclennan had to come off the field with knocks-but then so had Lovat’s front man Lorne Mackay. However, the Lovat bench had a joker in the pack however in the person of ex-Glen player Calum MacAulay. He came on up front for the Crofters and basically changed the game. Calum is a quick skilful player with a fine first touch: he is not the sort of player whom the more old-fashioned of the touchline pundits actually rate- but that is their weakness. Against a tiring Glen defence, with a quick running Kevin Bartlett to support him and  allied to Greg Matheson’s  striking ability,  on the day he gave Lovat  the sort of dimension  they needed   to win a game they might otherwise have lost.

About the goals, two from Matheson and one from Bartlett, there is no point in saying anything except that they came very close together and Glen should have done better particularly after the equaliser. The Lovat boys will know that themselves and good luck to them in the next round. However, one would not expect to lose three goals like that in such quick succession again, though with Newtonmore to play next one should perhaps err on the side of caution and say nothing.

Advice for Lovat? The Wing Centre is a generous soul and actually likes Lovat. It doesn’t necessarily endear him to his fellow Monster-watchers but then other matters in the wider world of shinty have conspired to keep his stock low anyway, so he is now at the point of not really being bothered too much either way. So Mr Macrae, don’t play young Master MacAulay on Saturday from the start against Kilmallie in the MacTavish: hain him until the final. Why? The Canal pitch in the wet west requires a different style-keep him for the final in the Bught where the wide open spaces will play to his strengths. What about the other cup, the one in which they won last Saturday? Why, that should be a skoosh for Lovat -after all the main boy has got his name on the cup already.

Lovat 0 Glenurquhart 0  (North Division 2)
There was of course another important game on earlier in the day between the Glen and Lovat second teams. It happened over in Drum at Balbeg and by all events Glen were happy to come away with a draw courtesy of some extra-ordinarily fine goal keeping by David MacFadyen.

The first twenty minutes or so were quite competitive –too competitive by some accounts-but then it all settled down with the Glen having to work hard to stay in the match. Glen were certainly  fortunate in having Stuart Reid and Calum Smith at the back to bolster Donald Fraser-it’s a moot point whether the first two should have been involved as back up over the hill at Balgate-but the star of the show was undoubtedly David MacFadyen. Having recently relocated to Inverness for work reasons the former Kilmory and Aberdeen University custodian has fitted in well in the Glen colours both outfield and between the sticks as Lovat found out to their cost.

For aficionados of Glen shinty this was an interesting match not least in the unusual manner in which manager Iain Macleod laid out his troops. The most interesting switch was to pull Calum Miller back from the forward line into the centre line for the first part of the match- and he had an excellent match in that area. Defensively the line held well against tough pressure for Lovat had Ewan Ferguson in the front line but he was unable to penetrate the Drum defence which was physically a match for the men in black and white. Bradley Dixon too was able to sweep up a lot of stuff at buckshee back where his speed also stood him in good stead.

Up front, Paul Mackintosh back from injury performed well as did the front three of Jack Hosie, James Hurwood and Euan Lloyd. Given however that they were up against a vastly experienced Lovat back row which included Jimmy Mackenzie and Martin Bell they were never going to find it easy to find the net. Special mention must also be given to youngster Liam Robertson who came on at wing centre later in the match and impressed the spectators with his work rate and commitment. Given the injuries and upheavals that this Glen side have had to face over recent weeks and the fact that Lovat are an experienced side then a point was a definite result. Magic!!

The verdict overall? Lovat got out of jail at Balgate and Glen got out of jail in Drum. The Wing Centre missed both games of course because he had been sent into to exile for the weekend to do penance for having got involved in the league restructuring boorach.

On Saturday the Glen play Newtonmore up in the foothills in what one can only assume from the weather forecast will be heavy rain. Or on the other hand one could stay in Drum and watch the seconds play Kingussie : the rain will be doubtless equally heavy on the loch-side. Summer shinty-dontcha  just love it!! Only sometimes.
The questions in the intro?  Here are the answers in order of importance: “Who cares?” and “Don’t know.”       
The pictures are from Crofter snapper Neil Paterson and his stuff can be seen at   Thanks Neil and this ought to be the year when your young agriculturalists get their hands on a trophy. tumblr hit counter
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Wednesday, May 08, 2013

News of Battle

Glenurquhart 2 Kingussie 1 (Orion Premier Division)
To the surprise of the Wing Centre, and doubtless to the surprise of everyone in Kingussie, Blairbeg dried out in time for the scheduled Orion Premier League match to go ahead, though the corresponding fixture for the two second teams fell victim to the weather. The Dell along with about 12 other pitches, was unable to cope with the heavy rain which inundated the north and west on Thursday and Friday: Blairbeg was wet but it dried up quickly overnight and by the time the Wing Centre went down Balmacaan Road to pick up a paper on the Saturday morning, the ground staff were putting up the advertising boards and checking the nets. The game was on-which was more than the sign was – but that, according to the Chairman, is in hand.
Kingussie were well in hand too- for the whole match- as they no doubt will be happy to acknowledge though the score, a mere 2-1, gives them the illusion that they actually competed in the game.
The Glen opened strongly in the match and more or less kept the ball up in the Kingussie half for the first 7 minutes continuously though their attempts to finish were disappointing. The Kingussie defence were tenacious however and when they did get the ball up front and had an attack of their own there was always a feeling in the Glen support that they would not pass up a clear shooting opportunity. Fortunately they did not get one.
Fraser Heath drew a good save from Dawson in the 15th minute and when Neale Reid managed to wriggle out of the clutches of full-back James Hutchison, he had an opportunity to open the scoring but instead he bumped his shot over the bar from just outside the D.
Glen were now in totally dominating the game – and the Kingussie defence conceded a number of fouls in a desperate attempt to stem the tide of attacks. They were undone however in the 36th minute when a ball across field by Andrew Corrigan was played across by Reid for David Smart to open the scoring from close range. Glen kept on the offensive and though they came close on a number of occasions the Kingussie defence managed to keep them at bay until just before half time when they conceded a foul on the left. From here the ball was played across to Ewan Brady and he fired the ball precisely past goalkeeper Craig Dawson to send the Glen in at half time with a 2-0 lead which should at the very least have been one goal bigger.
What’s to say about the second half?
Glen kept control of the game with less conviction than they showed in the first period- though Neale Reid was cheated of a goal when he fired in a drive which smashed off the post. Youngster Euan Lloyd came on and performed well- and then right at the death Kingussie were awarded a penalty. It was a penalty certainly courtesy of a kick- and Thomas Borthwick kept his nerve to mishit the ball well enough to confuse Glen keeper Stuart Mackintosh and give the rest of shinty a false impression of how close the match was. Still Glen’s
grabbing of two late goals against Newtonmore in the first game of the season had the same effect.
Maybe Thomas didn’t mishit it after all but whatever he did, it gave the Glen supporters cause to wake up and remind themselves that the side need to convert pressure into goals-simple as. Ref Innes Wood had a busy afternoon: he booked three Kingussie defenders James Hutchison, Louis Munro and James Maclean as a consequence of their desperate rear-guard actions while Andrew Corrigan and John Barr were carded for Glen.
A win then and necessary for the sake of the points won but ultimately an unsatisfying game - probably for both sides.

 Better news on the Home Front came yesterday with the announcement that Stuart Reid has been appointed by the Women’s Camanachd Association as coach of the Women’s International squad. The announcement was made yesterday and the Wing Centre had a few hours’ notice of that momentous event when the organisation asked him to dig up a snap of the bold boy himself. Since the only one he had showed Stuart in the Strathglass change strip he had to hand the gig on to Neil Paterson. However in the interests of inter-glen harmony the readers of the “D” can have a swatch at that snap, first used in February 2008.
According to the press release from the WCA, Stuart will take the reins from 2012 coaching team, Sarah Corrigall and Laura MacKay, and train a squad of 20 selected players to take on the Irish opposition this autumn.
The WCA know that Stuart brings a wealth of both playing and coaching experience to the post having played Premiership shinty with Glenurquhart for many years; representing Scotland from u/16 through to u/21 level and coaching the very successful Robert Gordon University women’s team.
As an Active Schools Coordinator in Aberdeen, current strength & conditioning support for Aberdeen Ladies Football Club and qualified sportscotland tutor, the WCA are confident that Stuart has the capacity to apply his very broad knowledge of sports, fitness and coaching to the post coupled with specific shinty experience.
As the man himself says “I’m very proud and excited to be offered the role of Women’s International Coach.  I’ve been very impressed with the quality of players I’ve observed over the past few years, and I would hope to be able to use my skills and experience to help develop both the players and women’s shinty in general. Last year’s squad performed superbly to win over in Ireland, and the challenge now is for the women to raise the standard even higher this year, in order for us to have the best possible chance of success.”
Well done to Stuart –and isn’t it good to reflect on the fact that both the Women’s International side and the Men’s International side have Glen supremos.
Neil Paterson provided photos of the Kingussie game. The photo of Stuart is from the archive.
Nice pic too of Ross County’s Premier League Keeper Michael “Ikey” Fraser in the crowd: he is getting some tips from Smack on how to put off the forward when he’s taking a penalty. Not surprised he looks a little puzzled at Smack's antics!
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Friday, May 03, 2013

Glen return to Oban

Oban Camanachd 0 Glenurquhart 2 (Orion Premier Division)

The last time the Wing Centre was in Oban he got a row; the last time his team were there they won a cup-for people who know shinty it will be clear those two events are not unconnected. This time all was harmonious - and truth to tell the result (2-0 for the Glen v Oban Camanachd) was closer to what it should probably have been on that MacAulay day back in August. On that occasion Oban simply found themselves playing a dud hand at shinty cards while Glen seemed to hold nothing but aces and trumps. The result was Glen scored 6 goals, at least four of which were astounding strikes. Sadly, some of the red and black players have never had another ball on target since.
This time interestingly Glen were kitted out in their change strip – a purple number which makes you glad they don’t have to wear it every week.

By the time the Wing Centre had arrived at Mossfield Glen were apparently leading 1-0 thanks to an early strike from Neale Reid, though no-body he asked at the time seemed to remember it clearly enough to be able to describe it in any detail. By that time too Glen were down a couple of players- Billy Urquhart strained his back in the warm-up while Ruaraidh Cameron tweaked a ham-string in the first ten minutes and was replaced by Liam Girvan , himself back in the community only one day after Raigmore Hospital had attempted to straighten his broken nose.

Whatever else may be said about the game one thing is clear. Mossfield is a wonderful shinty arena: everything about it- the size of the pitch, its position in the town, the hill with the flag and above all the hitting surface -make it to the Wing Centre’s mind a stadium which shinty cannot do without. Because it is enclosed  on three sides-the top side has a fence but it seems more substantial -it gives the impression that it is a real stadium in a built-up area , an impression which is simply not given by An Aird or the Bught , whatever their merits. If the airport was handier the argument for playing the Irish in Oban would be unanswerable.
More’s the pity then that there were so few spectators present: they cannot all have been away watching Oban Celtic. The team is a good enough one –they have not been scoring much though they did beat Kingussie at the start of the season- but the people of Oban don’t seem to follow the shinty the way they should.
The Wing Centre as always rarely focuses on the game-he walks round and watches in a semi- attentive manner except when he is required to write a report- and since this Saturday he had left notebook and pencil in the car and, let’s face it, couldn’t be bothered to go back for it, he walked round the pitch blethering with anybody who would entertain him. That left the Glen folk out of the equation-they’ve been somewhat distant since they realised it was him and not the other fellow who became embroiled in some Camanachd manoeuvrings. He did have a word or two with some of the Oban chaps on the sidelines about the state of shinty-not the structure.
Oban High, it would appear, is now a school of excellence for rugby. One might naively expect such a school to be in the Borders or in one of the major cities: its existence in Oban is presumably due to excellent lobbying by local enthusiasts supported no doubt by the SRU. What this means is that while good work will go ahead in Oban primaries with regard to shinty, when the kids come to Oban High there will be no drive or focus and more than likely little serious interest in the sport. A school of excellence for shinty?  Portree High School perhaps? Plockton High school perhaps? This is something which is not remotely on the cards given that shinty by virtue of its local nature is unable to access elite sports funding, but why don’t council departments with responsibility for education in the shinty playing areas not insist that secondary schools include shinty in the curriculum.
Oban’s shinty situation is of course something for the people of Oban to do something about, if they have a mind to: the Shinty guys probably know that already and if they do want to do something about it and get political, good luck to them.
One excellent sign however was that on the touchline in the Oban camp was Fraser Inglis, the new President of the MacAulay Association. The club must be glad to have him back on the touchline after a wee break. He is one of shinty’s good guys, prepared to coach and to take responsibility. His return can only be a positive step for the club and for sport in the town.
On the day however it was the Glen who, after putting their faithful followers through many moments of despair, finally came away with a second goal. By the time David Smart knocked it over the line - at the second attempt no less - Oban had pressure of their own though they too found it hard to penetrate the Glen backline and Stuart Mackintosh had little to do but nippy tidying up. There was however a penalty scare late in the first half when an Oban forward came down in the box but it was not given. Glen upped the game a little in the second period and Liam Girvan continued to hold on to the ball well up front against an Oban defence who were keen not to concede fouls by pushing in the back. This allowed both David Smart and Neale Reid to get more of the ball in the danger areas and  Reid began to show up more like the player he was last year before he received a horrible arm injury in the under -21 international. He came close with a drive in 55 minutes that shaved Robert Dunnings’ right hand post but it was the refocusing of Fraser Heath who moved into the hole in front of the centreline that made the difference. Heath began to win more of the ball and fire it up to Reid and Smart – and suddenly Oban who were desperate to score themselves at the other end of the massive Mossfield pitch were beginning to become stretched at the back. Ewan Brady who had had a quiet game up to that point began to place accurate balls out to Reid and from one of his passes Smart found himself with only Dunnings to beat- and he did so.
The 2-0 score line in retrospect looked comfortable enough but had Oban knocked in a chance earlier in the match when they had the opportunity, then….. but it didn’t happen.

The result made up for the disappointment of our Sutherland Cup exit in Fort William earlier in the day where an understrength side just let Fort have too much space and they won through 3-1 courtesy of three stunning strikes, two from Josh McGhee and one from Alexander Macmillan. Calum Miller took a nice goal for Glen and had the Glen forwards- admittedly short of Jack Hosie and Cairn Urquhart –kept their composure they would have surely won because they had enough chances. No-one was more missed however than defenders Donald Fraser and Calum Smith the presence of either one of which would have shut out McGhee.
No Sutherland adventure this year sadly: perhaps the side will do better in the Strathdearn.

After the match the Wing Centre walked back to where he parked his car on the waterfront.

There he could watch the boats heading away out of bonnie Oban bay. All of a sudden he found he found himself looking at a bench at the Drum end of the harbour. On the seat there was a plaque which gave him a bit of a start because he knew about two of the lads who were mentioned. Vincent Carnie and Jamie Pearson were Oban Celtic players and Celtic had played up in Drum just a matter of months before the tragic accident noted in the inscription.

 It was nice to think they and the other lad, David MacDougall,  are still remembered in their home town.
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