Tuesday, August 27, 2013

And now…the end is near…

It had to be the goal of the season: young Ryan Porter got possession out on the left and slipped the ball inside for Iain Macdonald, “Balbeg” himself, to slam the ball into the Aberdeen University net for the opening goal of a fine 3-0 win that was, it’s fair to say, unexpected. It was 35 minutes into a match that Glen had found themselves having to work hard to stay in- and then all of a sudden, out came shinty sunshine.
Maybe it wasn’t the goal of the season though –that might have been “Balbeg’s” second which came after a Liam Girvan strike which had made it 2-0 just after half-time.  Iain, playing his first game of the season to help out the squad got on a ball in the 70th minute and knocked it high up into the top corner of keeper Terry Stebbing’s net. So why was this unexpected?  Simply because of the fact that the Glen were really strapped for players: it was virtually a third team which was on the field. Even Davie Stewart, who is nearly retired in real life never mind shinty life, also had to play along with a number of youngsters from the under-14s and under -17s. Aberdeen
weren’t a bad side either-they just did not have a finisher like Balbeg while at the other end Cameron Maclennan marked his return with a number of good stops. In the end it was a heartening result and snapper Neil Paterson was kind enough to take a team pic of the lads after the match which will take its place on the “Wall of Honour”. It is a super pic and for the first time in his life Big Mike Cameron was allowed to kneel down in the front row. Doesn’t he look chuffed? Double -click on the picture to see it better.

Incidentally, the match also marked the final game for Aberdeen Uni of Steven Mackenzie who has been at the heart of the Aberdeen side for over 20 years. He has now moved back north and doubtless he will be reincarnated in the green of Beauly before you can say “Murph”.
But then again the best goal of the season could also have been any of the three the top squad scored against Lochaber bringing a halt to their recent unbeaten run. The first one was an excellent piece of interplay and is the equal of anything seen from the Glen top squad this season. Neale Reid dropped deep to pick up a ball pushed through from midfield; he played it further back to Lewis Maclennan. Maclennan first-touched it forward and wide to youngster  Euan Lloyd who held it just long enough to draw a tackle before slipping across in front of goal where David Smart  smashed it into the net with the Lochaber defence completed at sea. It was a work of art- and it took only 5 minutes to create. Neale Reid doubled the advantage a few minutes later when he broke through a series of challenges before making the final shot count.
Then it was back to sleep for the Glen, though they did have a number of
opportunities which they were unable to covert. Zands Ferguson got one back for Lochaber and the Wing Centre for one began to doubt the fortitude of the side. After all John Barr was not in the defence though to be fair Neil Macdonald was absent for Lochaber, and if truth be told his loss to Lochaber was greater than that of Barr to the Glen in this contest. Finally in the 70th minute Neale Reid himself clinched a Glen victory by picking up the ball and running right through the Lochaber defence and scoring all on his own. Probably the only senior team in the league that would allow this to happen was a Lochaber team without Neil Macdonald at buckshee. Everyone else would have tried a body check at best and risked a yellow - but then again what does the Wing Centre know? 

Glen got the points- and they were a must get, though nothing is certain yet especially since Kingussie contrived to allow Fort William another two points. Whether they can be described as “valuable points” will depend on whether Fort William can keep winning. Memo for Astie - don’t schedule the Glen v Kingussie until after August 12th when the hardy natives of the high chaparral go out hunting the heather-hens.

So that was it then- no more shinty at Blairbeg until March 2014 and it’s only August 2013. For the Glen the season has lasted almost six months - and there is a Saturday to go before the end of the month. Somehow it does not feel right.
Then the Co-manager resigned: it is a well-known fact that a crisis strikes Glen shinty on or about the 20th of August every year. Last season was “The Year of the Broken Cup”   as it will be remembered by the Gaelic-speaking inhabitants of the Braes. This year will be recalled as “The Year of the Resignation.” Anyway, on the Skye Website and then again P& J on Monday and yet again in the Tuesday Courier the story broke and there it was.
What’s to say?
The good thing about Glen shinty is that whenever there’s a crisis the Club pulls together and bounces back through engagement with the community.
The first step in that process was Zandra’s Sixes which took place on the Friday night before the Games. An excellent tournament with 6 teams each representing different sections of the community, the numbers only being depleted by the absence of the injured and some of the senior lads who were off to the Tough Mudder Challenge in Edinburgh.
The games were close – and in the end the side that came through to lift the cup was Druimlon captained by Lewis Maclennan. The player of the tournament was youngster Fergus Robertson who was in the Balmacaan squad.
On Games Day the big highlight was the Tractor Push. Organised by Iain Macleod, this involved the players getting together behind a tractor and pushing it down the Glen from Corrimony, through the village and round Blairbeg. A list of “thankyous” and a
pile of pictures are on the main Club website (http://glenurquhartshintyclub.com/). The picture here is taken by Francis Jones of Milton - it is an excellent pic and makes you realise once again, as if you did not know it anyway, just how green the Glen is in summer.

The money from the Tough Mudder and the Tractor Push will be shared by the club and by the Glenurquhart Care Centre.
Nothing now remains, but in accordance with the ancient custom of shinty , to wait for Kyles Athletic to eventually require us to step westwards and permit us to play our final fixture of 2013. When that great day dawns, as eventually it must, then let’s hope we do not need the points.
The quality pictures are by Neil Paterson with the exception of the one already referred to by Francis Jones. Any remaining pics must be by someone else!!

 PS-The Glenurquhart Bulletin 2013 is on sale now. It contains the usual out of date Shinty Report but everything else is up to the mark and it’s well worth a read. Get your copy from the Post Office, the Library or at either of the garages.

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