Friday, November 22, 2013

Dancing and Dining

 "Losing one manager in the course of a season might be regarded as unlucky,” said the Chairman last weekend.   "Losing both of them looks like carelessness. We also seem to have mislaid Jemma the physio . It is as bad as it could be:it’s got to be the nightmare scenario.”
It was difficult to know what to say to the Chairman since he clearly was feeling upset and was blaming himself for the fact that the Courier back page had the Glen in the headlines once again.
“Don’t blame yourself, sir” said Mr Reid. “Drew needs some more time with his family. I’m surprised his good lady has put up with his absence three nights of the week for as long as she has. And he’s done a power of work with the side - and it’s not like he’s going to be a stranger to the Club. He just hasn’t the time to do it properly- which is hardly news since Johnstone Gill has stepped down at Shiel and Norman MacArthur gave up ‘More the year before for similar reasons.”
“That’s as may be-but it might not have happened if only I had refused to let the Treasurer serve on that Camanachd Committee which ended up reducing the number of Premier sides. It’s made the managers life much harder and there will be no opportunity for him to bring in young players because each game will be too important in terms of League survival. The Treasurer was always going to try to reduce the fixtures to save money but I should have stopped him. I blame the Treasurer’s obsession with saving money for this whole business. He definitely thought there would be one or two fewer buses to pay.”
“It is what it is, “said Mr Reid. “Let’s go and have a party” 

And that’s what they did two days later going off to the Clansman Hotel for the clubs annual dinner where they spent a happy night eating top class grub, presenting prizes and dancing to the jazzy accordion of goalkeeper Stuart Mackintosh and his Newtonmore vocalist sidekick, Davy Holt.
The only hitch on the way was the fact that the bus to transport the troops to the Clansman did not turn up at the Loch Ness Inn –perhaps the Treasurer had cancelled the booking on the fly-and it was down to Di Fraser to drive the minibus. This she did with aplomb and good humour so the event got under way on time.
What a do! The tables were decked out in true Glen fashion with the individual table settings laid out in the form of shinty jerseys and black and red balloons were hanging from every fitting. 

Just look at this menu:
Lentil Soup, Pate or Prawn Cocktail
Roast Beef & Trimmings, Chicken with Smoked Bacon or Salmon with a white wine and leek sauce
Chocolate Truffle, Pavlova or Sticky Toffee Pudding
When the Wing Centre saw this menu, he was very clear in his own mind that Mr Reid had chosen it and that he, Mr Reid, had in mind at the time he chose it a desire for the menu to be nominated for the Marine Harvest Shinty Dance Menu of the Year. Indeed, he admitted as much to the Wing Centre in the downstairs foyer of the Clansman on the very night of the do.
“We got nothing off the Camanachd this season except a £100 fine, “he said,   “Things will be different next year.  I hope  to see them widening the categories to include prizes for “Best Dinner Dance Menu”, “Best View from a Pitch”  or even “Best Pitch-side Electronic Signboard” though I do admit we have a little work to do on that one and unless we get it working we cannot hope for a prize.”
As everyone knows Dinner Dance night is also the evening when all sorts of awards are given and thank-yous are offered made to all of those who deserve them and there were plenty of those including Club Secretary Hazel Stewart, Youth organiser/Minutes secretary/strip washer Helen Maclennan, coaches Laura Stoddart and Laura Quinn, Fund raising committee member Louisa Urquhart and Janet Emery who manages the pavilion on behalf of the club. One of the biggest cheers of the night went to Donald Fraser who received a special award for personally raising the largest amount of money collected by an individual as sponsorship for the successful tractor–push event organised by second team Boss Iain Macleod and his wife Julie. Well done to them and all the players who raised the cash.

Then came the players’ awards:
Players Player of the season for the first team was Ally Mackintosh and well deserved the award was too. Ally has had an excellent season, is always focused and gives everything in training and on the field.
Second team player of the season was Bradley Sneddon. Brad had a very good season and especially when he played at buckshee back showed good pace and sound hitting. He is a popular member of the squad and his award was well deserved.
Young player of the year was Euan Lloyd. Euan follows on from last year’s winner Fraser Heath and having started out in the second team at the start of the season by the end of the year’s action he found himself settling in to regular life in the top squad and there he acquitted himself admirably. With any luck Euan should go on to establish himself as a top player in the side over the next few seasons.

Presentations were also made to former managers Drew McNeil and Fraser Mackenzie

while Bobo Morrison, Ron Fraser and Mr. Reid also entertained the company with an amusing sketch which cemented the club’s growing reputation for amateur dramatics.

The evening drew to a close with the traditional last dance before the company joined hands in a rousing rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” before making their way sadly down the front steps of the Clansman into their preferred mode of transport and back to Drum.

“Did the dance take place on Friday 15th November 1913?” asked Mrs. Wing Centre when she read the last part of this intended post before ‘Yours Truly’ hit the up-load button. “At least that is what I deduce from the tone of the last few paragraphs. It sounds so old fashioned.”
“And what is more. You are beginning to sound like the Camanachd Association’s very own Director of Communications. You are only interested in good news apparently. The people don’t want to read that. They want to know the real story. Who is going to be the new manager? Why did Drew actually leave? What did Fraser do that was so bad? People don’t want to be told about guys winning prizes or the fact that everyone sung ‘Auld Lang Syne’ at the end of the dance. That is boring”
“Why is it that the truth sounds boring to some people and they look for fiction to explain the world and how it works. But then again If only Lovat’s Stuart Macdonald had not made these wonder saves back in June, none of this might have happened,” said the Wing Centre to himself in his head and pressed the upload button anyway.
The pictures were taken on the night and tell a happy story. Great to see former club secretary Mary Macdonald at the dance to present the player of the year trophy to All Mac. Then there is the snap of the two Fraser Mackenzies-unique though why the original did not wear his club tie is a mystery even to him. Bobo and Fraser (Official) are also featured as are Euan Lloyd and Brad Sneddon and the three Amigos. Second team Boss Iain Macleod is also pictured. Thanks to those who took the pictures-you know who you are!. tumblr hit counter
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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Moans and Groans

Sometimes the Wing Centre wonders –to himself and quietly- whether the Glen would be better giving up the shinty altogether and concentrate on the things that they are really good at like amateur dramatics, dressing up,building bonfires , putting up shelves or cutting trees. The shinty has finally become a distraction from the core purposes of the club- at any rate that is what it seems like. For all that anyone else is bothered anyway.
This past while the Wing Centre has been more than a little disappointed. First the Marine Harvest awards featured not a single Glenner. Not the merest mention of the Glen even for possessing the most expensive non-functioning pitch side electronic sign in the whole of Scottish shinty.
“Not true” said the Chairman.
“How so?”
“I read on the Skye website that Hazel Hunter shared the Women’s Camanachd Association Marine Harvest North Div. 2 Player of the Year 2013 trophy along with a lassie from Skye.”
It turned out to be correct- and when Tina Marshall sent through the photo everybody was cheered up because Hazel, even though she plays for Strathglass, did not forget the Glen she comes from. She chose to receive her award wearing the Glenurquhart colours – red and black –so well done to Hazel on every count.

That cheerful thought could not however displace the realisation that Scotland had actually lost to Ireland in the end at the Bught, though fair play to the Glen’s Stuart Reid and his team since they were the only Scotland side to win defeating Dublin’s ladies. The under 21s also lost despite the presence of two Glenners-first teamer Fraser Heath and former Glen under-17 player Graham Macmillan.

“It might have been better in the long run if the Glen boys had stuck to doing the shelves and the bonfires and left the girls to the shinty. At least they seem to have some success at it, though to be fair to Smack he has had two shut-outs in a row against Ireland.”
And that was the Chairman’s final word on the matter as he went off to put up shelves in the pavilion leaving the Wing Centre to ponder over the fact that Smack had indeed had two shutouts in a row against Ireland though that was hardly the point because Ireland had still won.
One of the papers would have carried the following if it had not been edited down to a readable form.
Scotland (0-14) 14   Ireland  (1-15) 18
A superb display of accurate point scoring by Ireland’s captain Neil McManus saw his side retain the Marine Harvest Quaich for the fifth time in a row yesterday though a determined performance from Scotland gave the home crowd plenty to shout about in a match in which their chances of success were to some extent spoiled by the conditions. For Scotland to succeed a dry fast pitch on which they could work the ball forward on the ground would have been ideal. However Inverness’s Bught Park ,after a week of rain presented Drew McNeil’s side  with a heavy surface and grass just a little too long to let the ball run freely in their favour. The result was that by the end of the second half of a match which was never less than entertaining Scotland just did not have enough creativity in front of goals to get on top of an Irish side which had the ability to fire over enough points from distance to see them safely over the line.
Scotland started well as they had to, given they were chasing down an Irish  6 point lead from last week’s encounter at Croke Park, and they went ahead in the first minute when Lovat’s Kevin Bartlett popped over a two pointer from a free hit awarded after a foul on Fraser Mackintosh. MacManus brought Ireland level by the 9 minute mark with two single point strikes and Kilkenny’s all-star forward Ritchie Hogan put them briefly ahead before Bartlett restored Scotland to pole position with another two pointer.

At this stage the competition between the sides was intense and physical particularly because it was clear that Ireland had switched their tactics from the previous encounter where they had allowed Scotland more space to play their passing game. This time, to negate the advantage given by the length of the shinty stick the Irish defenders stuck closely to their opponents giving them no time to move the ball and in the process conceding fouls and hit -ins which Bartlett, Scotland’s top scorer on the day was able to convert regularly. Ireland also added singles from open play from MacManus, Hogan and Laois’s Cahir Healy but with 25 minutes on the clock and leading 10-7, Scotland were just on top and had they taken their chances in the next phase of the game the trophy could have been theirs.
The first disappointment for the home crowd came when Finlay Macrae burst through the Irish defence and laid the ball across but Glen Mackintosh’s shot was superbly saved by keeper Eoin Reilly and the follow up went wide. Next  a foul on Scotland half forward Shaun Nicholson by Kilkenny’s Jackie Tyrell set up another chance but the ball again went wide. A flare up between Scotland’s John Macrae and David English was defused by ref Deke Cameron but when the tempo dropped Ireland took the opportunity to equalise with further singles from Gareth “Magic” Johnston, Hogan and Kerry’s Darragh O’Connell and it took a single from Glen Mackintosh just before the interval send Scotland in at half time with an 11-10 lead that really ought to have been larger.
That however was as good as it got.
The Irish half time team talk began to show immediate results when Patrick Maher broke free on the right to fire the ball past Scotland keeper Stuart Macdonald and though Bartlett got Scotland back equal with a two pointer the balance of the game had swung. Ireland began to work little triangles and for the first time run at pace with the ball balanced on their hurleys and gradually they pulled away from Scotland with three further points from McManus, and further strikes from Johnson and Hogan.

Scotland pushed defender John Barr forward in an attempt to rectify matters but a solitary point from new cap Connor Cormack was the best they could muster by way of late consolation.
If you want to be judgemental but still remain positive you could say Scotland played well enough to let Shintyland’s spectators feel proud of their performance. And that was despite the fact that the grass was too long ; the leaves were too thick ; the Irish were too quick -especially as the game went on-and so it was no surprise that out of a vast number of hurley players they could  find 14 or so that can run really fast. Of course there might have been other players that Scotland could have picked if they made themselves available for the commando course which selection is claimed to be. Would it have made any difference? Doubtful. The guys who turn out to play Ireland have to be properly athletic-the days of turning up overweight in sandshoes have got to be past. Perhaps there is a place for a debate about how intensive that preparation has to be but there is no hidden pool of players available who did not want to commit to the preparation who would have made much difference to the result last Saturday. Whatever girns come from the sidelines one thing not in doubt is the fact that the guys who actually played gave everything they could.
Does the fixture add anything to shinty? It gives a boost to those who play and to their teams; the guys who are officials (and the Glen had two on duty at the Bught-Bobo Morrison and Billy Macleod) also get a bit of recognition; it also gives an international dimension to shinty which is otherwise missing and thereby generates media input which without it would not exist. The mixed code is certainly not ideal but without it the profile of the sport out with the heartland is diminished.
Hurling also has problems though perhaps the Irish don’t see it. As it is played now it tends to attract at top level anyway guys who are taller than the average though it has not as yet gone freakish like basketball or rugby. Likewise any sport where you can biff the ball over the bar from 50 meters out without creating a clearly defined chance has to be suspect.
More cheery was the photo which came over from Shirley and Sandy Macdonald in New Zealand which shows Sandy displaying his bowling trophy.

He is wearing his Glen top which doubtless will remind him for ever of the happy summer of 2013 which he spent in his native Glen.

Haste ye back, Sandy. See if you can pick out the young Sandy in this picture of a Glen side of 1975 –pic taken at the old Ferry Park in Beauly.
Look at the young Mr Reid too-what a dude!

Finally, the £2,000 Lotto prize has been won- and never a man to miss out on a publicity pic - Mr Reid allowed the D to print a snap of himself and winner Anne Cameron at last Friday’s annual Sale in Blairbeg Hall.

Here’s Anne’s dad and her Uncle Dodo in a Glen pic from the late 40s- can you spot them?

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