Friday, August 09, 2013

Making a Point on the Night Shift

Okay. The Wing Centre didn’t believe it either. In fact, such was his lack of faith in the squad that went off to Fort that he did not bother to accompany them. Nor did he look at Twitter or Facebook or even the Glen Website- until 10.30 pm by which time the game had just finished – and mirabile dictu, the Glen had won a point they never should have come close to.
You can have some pity for the Fort William squad- whatever else you might think about them, you know how they feel. How many times in a sporting life have you been all over a team, yet can’t put the ball in the net and because of that you lose something precious-like a point? Usually the Glen are in that position. If it’s any consolation to Fort, at least they did not lose which can sometimes happen in a game like that- and they still have games to play to retrieve their situation.

What is more they also have a chance to retrieve the situation tomorrow in a Camanachd semi-final against Newtonmore, a chance of glory which should have belonged to the Glen, if  only they had not gone and mucked it up.
Moreover the Glen, despite the point, are not safe- though they will have chances for more points in games to come though no one would put too much money on them to beat Lovat. You don’t  tend to win matches if you don’t score, and the Glen can’t score enough and indeed they have not done so since the MacAulay Cup Final last year.  Contrast that with the front three of Newtonmore - Fraser Mackintosh, Glen Mackintosh and Danny Macrae who are all on 20 + goals each. When Newtonmore complete the season they will have won the Premier League, The MacAulay and the Camanachd – and they will have deserved it. The Glen put them out of the MacTavish, which shows the level the Glen can aspire to at their best  but then they blew the final - it still hurts to think on it - and the rest of the season has been an anti-climax marred by serious injuries and suspensions.

So much for the bright side.

What about the Fort game? It was down to goalie Smack. He played a blinder. If you thought he was good in the MacTavish, then on a wet Fort William Saturday evening he was outstanding. He pulled off a number of saves from rocket shots from outside the D, commanded his area, scared the goal judges, gave away one penalty and saved two, got booked and presumably drove home to play the box in a town pub just before closing. Maybe not the last part - he might even have had a Belladrum ticket too and got back just in time to see the fireworks.
The Skye website carries a report of the game which means that they probably had a Sgiathanach or two at the match-you can find a Sgiathanach in every village in Scotland and probably England too – and they are very proud of Smack because his Mam is from the Island herself so they feel he is really one of them. Probably because of that connection and the fact that since the Bodach retired they haven’t had a real goalie of their own, they carried a report of the game. Seemingly Drew MacNeill and Fraser Mackenzie were on the team lines - as was second team boss Iain Macleod and a rake of others though when one considers  the forwardline of Lewis Maclennan, Fraser Heath and James Macpherson then if they had got the ball up the other end then they might have scored.
Anyway the Skye website said the following:
"Fort William had to settle for a share of the points following their 0-0 draw with Glenurquhart at An Aird. Throw up had been scheduled for 4.30pm but it was delayed for almost an hour as the Scottish Hydro Camanachd Cup tie between Kingussie and Kyles Athletic went into extra time. Fort William’s Cameron Grant was free of suspension and Niall MacPhee returned from a working trip abroad. Bryan Simpson made a welcome appearance following injury and Chris Bamber and Duncan Rodger were also back. However Gary Innes was missing and Liam McIntyre remains a longer term injury absentee. Glenurquhart duo Eddie Tembo and Ewan Brady were still banned. The Glen were also without the services of Andrew Corrigan, David Smart, Neale Reid, Liam Girvan, Andrew MacDonald, Stuart Reid and Billy Urquhart. Reserve players were also hard to come by as many had already committed to attend the near-by Belladrum Music Festival. Co-manager Drew MacNeil started at wing back and second team manager Iain MacLeod and a not fully fit Paul Mackintosh joined co-manager Fraser Mackenzie on the substitutes’ bench. An entertaining first half ended goalless. Fort William had a great chance to go in front when referee Colin MacDonald awarded them a penalty. However Glen keeper Stuart Mackintosh made a fantastic save from Steven Stewart’s spot-hit. Fort William were awarded a second penalty in the second half and this time Bryan Simpson stepped up but again, Stuart Mackintosh saved brilliantly. Indeed Scotland keeper Mackintosh made at least another three outstanding stops in the game. It was a backs against the walls job for Glenurquhart and keeper Mackintosh was ably assisted by the make-shift defence of John Barr, Drew MacNeil, Ally Mackintosh and Ross MacAulay who were all outstanding. John Barr picked up a hamstring injury around the hour mark but carried on because of the lack of options on the bench. Ian MacLeod went on for Ewan Menzies and had a very good game and Paul Mackintosh replaced James Macpherson for the last 10 minutes.”

The Wing Centre knew nothing of any of this and indeed seeing the list of names of the missing got scared all over again when he read it. The guys said nothing about it at all when they came back,  probably in the way war veterans used not to talk about their battle experiences, so traumatised were they by what they had gone through. At least two of them expressed sympathy for Fort William and said “The Fort William boys must have been sitting in that dressing room at the end of the game wondering what on earth happened.”

The only bit of info to add is that John Barr was booked as well as Smack: it will doubtless have consequences.
That “valuable” point is of course no use unless some others are also “picked up” smartly, starting with one against Lovat. At least that game won’t be starting at 5.30 pm. There is no doubt a whole debate to be had about matches being stacked up one after another on the same pitch, not least the question of dressing rooms but that conversation with the "powers that are" might be better having at another time.
The pictures are from Neil Paterson at Many thanks to him for his generosity to the D. Lets hope the same can be said about his Crofting colleagues tomorrow. Yep,  you can never tell-that's the point of sport.
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