Friday, August 02, 2013

The Cares of High Office

The Chairman was looking glum the other morning when the Wing Centre popped over to see him. There was no point in asking him why because everyone in the Glen knew he was mad because the boys had been sent to Kingussie when they should have been playing at home. Everyone in the Glen also knew that both Glen sides had lost–and everyone in the Glen knew that EJ and Brady had been sent off and while everyone knew why EJ had been sent off no-one really knew why Brady had been sent off-at least sent off on his own.
“Cheer up, Boss” said the Wing Centre. “Don’t be moping about that Kingussie thing. It’ll soon be forgotten about. Shinty is always like this. We’ll be back challenging for 6th in the League in no time”
The Chairman said nothing: he sat slumped in his chair the cares of office burned deep into his furrowed brow. The Wing Centre felt uncomfortable and so filled the silence with words.
“Macleod’s crowd had a good win against Beauly the other night, didn’t they?”
“We were very lucky- and let’s hear it for Beauly. The most upright, fairest team in all the Leagues. They were prepared to help us out by playing on the Friday night- and they did Bute a good turn by letting them play the Balliemore final a week after it was due so they could have their best player available. You wouldn’t catch many teams doing that. In fact I almost wish I was a Beauly man myself.”
The Wing Centre was not prepared to go as far as that. Having a wife whose ancestors hailed from Ferry Road he knew first-hand what Beauly people were really like-and sometimes it frightened him. Still the Boss had a point.
The Beauly game had been a good watch. A pleasant sunny evening, a good crowd and a very close game which if there had been any justice Beauly might have won. As if there was ever any justice in shinty! At the heart of their trouble was the fact that Glen keeper David MacFadyen had a superb game and kept the little green men at bay particularly in the second half.
By that time he had to since manager Iain Macleod had given the Glen a first half lead with a long ball forward which eluded everybody including Glen front man Paul Mackintosh who tried in vain to get a touch on it. That goal was mightily valuable and so the whole Glen game plan revolved round maintaining the slender lead it gave- and to that end Drew MacNeill, first team co-manager instilled the right kind of grit into the defenders. Equally though there was some very nice play up front from Dan Mackintosh and Ben and Jack Hosie and if Rodger Cormack had not been such a cantankerous, competitive old stager then there is no doubt that there were more Glen goals to be had.

Most spectacular shinty of the night however was a forward run from Beauly’s Jack Macdonald when he ran 30/40 yards at full pace playing keepie up. It would have been worth the admission price alone-that is if there had been an admission because Beauly did not seem to do a collection and it is only through physical force that the Wing Centre prevented the Glen Treasurer from doing his own collection on the night.

The next day the depleted Glenners welcomed, with some trepidation it has to be said, Inveraray to Blairbeg. Inveraray is a team which is not really suited to National League shinty because , having such a small squad, they are not always able to muster a full squad to travel away to boring run of the mill league games which this one was. Give them a cup tie and matters are different but they arrived in Drum with just the bare minimum, having dispatched Russell Mackinlay to lead the line in Aberdour apparently. Just as well they were short because Glen were even shorter.
Glen opened in fine style and dominated the opening exchanges. An early ball just past the post from Liam Girvan was the first sign that Glen were in an attacking mood and a minute or so later from a free hit the ball was pushed wide where Neale Reid was able to break through the tackle of his marker and fire an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net. Girvan had another shot smothered then a long ball from Lewis Maclennan was blocked by the stretched Inveraray defence as was a drive from James Macpherson. Liam Girvan, who was just given off-side, volleyed the rebound back net-wards but keeper Graham Macpherson made an instinctive palm save and the danger was past.
Just before half time Inveraray’s Ruaraidh Graham was allowed to run through on the left hand side of the field and slip the ball inside to Peter Macintyre who made the score 1-1 with a nice finish.
The second half was a long, hot contest with at times Inveraray coming heart stoppingly close to a winner. However it was the Glen who prevailed in the end. Lewis Maclennan was pushed up forward up forward to grab the winner and he forced a bizarre goal out of ‘Rary full back Alan Macdonald when he pressurised the defender into hitting the ball down on to the rock hard Blairbeg surface where it spun up over the head of goalie Graham Macpherson into the roof of the net for the winner. Just as well too.

Glen brought on second team defenders Brad Dickson and Iain Macleod to seal the win- and these two lads put in as fine a performance as was necessary in the circumstances.
Glen held on to win two extremely valuable points and then the next day Drew, clearly miffed because Fraser had not given him a game as sub, took the guys into the Inverness 6s where they stormed into the final and, because they were unable to score a goal, they ended up losing 1-0 to of all people Lovat.
The consolation was that John Barr was the Player of the Tournament just like Lewis Maclennan was the player of the MacTavish final. That game however summed up Glen’s season- all over teams yet unable to score.

The Wing Centre recapped all this to the Chairman. It made no difference The Boss was still silent and clearly troubled.
“Is it because you can’t remember where we hid the three bits of the MacAulay Cup?”
The Chairman looked up sharply. “I don’t want to hear the word bits used” he said.
“No, no,   I mean the lid, the base and the main part- we split them up and hid them in different parts of the Glen for safe keeping. Glenners have always done that to keep stuff safe from Lochabermen.”
“Lochabermen. I’m sick of Lochabermen. In fact everyone is sick of Lochabermen. Most of the guys have decided they would rather go to Belladrum rather than Fort William and I can’t say I blame them. I don’t know who we are going to get to play there at that late hour- in fact you will probably have to play yourself. Geordie, Jim Barr, Iain Balbeg and Mr Reid are all signed up. Indeed if I could find Alec Shaw’s number he’d be in the squad too”
The Chairman looked grim.
“What are you wanting here anyway?” he asked.
“I just popped in to tell you that the wife says I have to go to Belladrum too……”
Outside the door through which he had quickly exited the Wing Centre could hear stuff being thrown about. Out on the gravel as he scuttled back to his car he came across a badly dented silver trophy which had been hurled after him. He picked it up and shot off. It was only when he got home that he realised to his great relief that it was the Macdonald Cup.

 The pictures belong to Tina Marshall except the ones which are obviously rubbish which the Wing Centre took on his phone.
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