Friday, July 19, 2013

Home Truths.

What the Wing Centre likes about Drumnadrochit is that it does its own thing. Just at the point when everyone in Scotland thinks tennis is the new zumba- and that kids will be led to fitness through mass participation in it-the Glen gets rid of its tennis court by turning it into a play park and widening the shinty pitch. Not before time- and probably just in time. That thought- and a few more besides-occurred to the Wing Centre as he walked into Blairbeg for the start of the Glen v Newtonmore Premier match on Saturday.
It has been the practice in the last week or so for the Wing Centre to start his piece with a list of absentees without whom the result would have been so much better-but there are only so many times the pony can do his one trick without it becoming boring so no more whinging.
Glen are disappointingly out of all the cups while the Badenoch big boys are still in with a shout of a treble and by the end of the day you could see why.
Glen started well-this is written so often that by now the machine creates the words via predictive text- and in 14 minutes after a good deal of pressure Fraser Heath pounced on a rebound from a Neale Reid shot and the Glen were 1-0 up and reasonable value for that.
The Newtonmore front men are all good players and they kept plugging away but John Barr, Ally Mackintosh, the returning Andrew Corrigan and Ross MacAulay, making his first appearance for the top side this season, all looked alert- that is until the 34 minute when Fraser Mackintosh was allowed to bump a grounder through a ruck of players to square the match. Two minutes later alertness was still absent when youngster Chris Sellar got away on the right and all of a sudden from a side who were fighting to get back in the game ‘More had a 2-1 lead at half time out of maybe four attempts at goal.
The second half truthfully maintained the tempo of the first. It was a hard fought competitive match with a great deal of skill at all levels. Ewan Brady in particular showed superb stick touches though at times he lost out in the physical challenges with bigger heavier Newtonmore defenders. Glen’s attacking was probably helped by the absence of the injured Norman Campbell at full back – which meant that Steven Macdonald had to stay on the ‘dust and ‘More lacked his skills at buckshee, though the boy who played there did well enough.
Danny Macrae grabbed his customary strike ten minutes or so into the second half but the Glen came back with a goal from Neale Reid. Glen then tried to force the matter at the shop end to get back into the game but despite have a good spell of play were unable to penetrate. Then at the other end in 68 minutes they conceded a free hit and Fraser Mackintosh was somehow able to muscle his way inside his marker to nick number 4.
Glen continued to try to turn the game moving John Barr up to full-back and manager Drew MacNeill came on at full back for the last quarter but it proved to no avail- and it was more who finished strongly as the Glen centreline of Eddie Tembo, Arran Macdonald and Dixie Maclennan who had been splendid throughout finally began to tire.
A much better performance then than against Fort William with all the side really making an effort to compete and in the end beaten by a side that can finish. The Wing Centre has in the past been less than generous to Newtonmore sort of writing them off as a route 1 side though there is nothing wrong with whatever works. That was not true on Saturday when Danny Macrae, Fraser Mackintosh, Glen Mackintosh Chris Sellar and latterly John Mackenzie were all trying to work the angles and create good opportunities much more than they did the last time the teams played and certainly much more than they did against Lovat in the TV match. They really ought to have the season sewn up and if the Wing Centre was a betting man he would back them for the rest of the trophies.

On the same day at an earlier point Iain Macleod took his side off to Skye in North Division 3 and went down by 2 goals to 1 which is, as always, close but no cigar. The Skye website has a report on the match- and it seems the Glenners did all right at least in the first half. Multi-purpose player Jordan Murchison, coming back from injury, got the opening goal in the second half but only after Ben Hosie had to go off injured earlier in the match. Ben has being doing well and it is to be hoped he will recover quickly: Glen can certainly do without another lad crocked in this “Annus Horribilis”
In the second half Glen were under some pressure and Dunc Fraser picked up a yellow for some unorthodox defensive behaviour towards Ally MacCrimmon the Skye sub. In the end MacCrimmon doubled the Skye lead though Bradley Dixon had time to convert a cross ball from a corner into a Glen goal in the very last minute.
A disappointing day then – and one which both sides were looking to turn around with a double home fixture against Lochaber in the Premier and Aberdeen University in North 3. An important double homer at a pivotal point in the season for both sides.

Which is why when the advertising boards were being put away at Blairbeg, the Wing Centre and the Treasurer (who had a very good collection from the various tourists who had stopped in on the way from Monster Exhibition to Castle) were disconcerted to meet a number of the other Glenners approaching the pavilion store looking thunderous. It clearly had nothing to do with the game because ref Graham Cameron had done all right and Newtonmore were just about  worth their win.
“The Camanachd have only gone and changed the fixture for next week,” said the Chairman.
“B#*#*#*s! We’ve got Billy’s daughter’s wedding on-he fixed it based on the Camanachd’s own schedule and not only that the Club have arranged to run the bar. At least the second team boys will be here to set up the bar after their game with Aberdeen Uni.”
‘’’Fraid not. That game is changed as well”
“Because they can change anything they like-but it’s all down to getting Fort William a heap of home fixtures before An Aird is shut for a month to get ready for the Camanachd Final”
“So instead of getting two home games at a crucial stage in the season that we might reasonably hope to win-we’re given the more difficult task of going away at the last minute. Meanwhile Fort William who managed to not play Lochaber in the famous Sunday fixture are getting a run of home fixtures out of sequence. Not really a level playing field eh?”
“They could always have defaulted to the Black Parks for home games, couldn’t they?” said the Treasurer. “That’s near enough level but what really annoys me is that we are missing out on another potential big collection like we got last week, “he continued, .” The place was crammed with tourists-and we’ll miss out on a big take. That’s the bit I find particularly galling. There will be no one at Fort William. Last time we were there for a cup game they even had to ask us to chip in to pay the ref- and that was after the collection”
The Chairman looked sharply at the Treasurer but found no trace of irony in his features.
“The Camanachd don’t think of that. They just want An Aird polished up for the telly.”
“If An Aird needs six weeks to be polished up for the telly, then perhaps it should not be on the telly in the first place.”
“It’s Billy who worries me. He might take the hump with the club”
“Not Billy. But it’s unfair on him to have this dumped on him at the last minute just because An Aird is a mess.”
“We’ll cope like we always have done. Shinty will survive despite the Camanachd.”
“Should we ask Kingussie to change the second game?”
“We will not ask Kingussie for anything-and that’s all there is to it.”
The Wing Centre who quite likes Kingussie as an example of an old Scottish Burgh which serves no useful function, rather like the feather in a clan chief’s bonnet, looked as if he was about to say something to the Chairman, then thought the better of it.
“We’ll write a letter to the Camanachd Association.” said the Chairman. “That’ll put the wind up them.”
“Why don’t you copy it to Archie as well and Donald Stewart if you want wind to be put up someone.” said the Wing Centre.
“Don’t be stupid.  That will just annoy everyone- and the next time Jim goes into Alton Towers they will catch him and lock him up in the basement- and everyone will think he just hasn’t come back from the States. I think the best thing we can do is book a bus for Kingussie-that is if we can get one that hasn’t been reserved for cruise-line passengers from Invergordon.”
And that is where the Wing Centre left matters….

The pictures of the game are from Donald Cameron (1,2 & 5)and Tina Marshall (3 & 4). Thanks to them both.
Tina's stuff can be found at while Donald's pics are here

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