Friday, May 23, 2014

Hold the back page! Newtonmore are even worse than the Glen at taking penalties

Look at this pic of the two keepers - are they laughing because they cannot believe the quality of the penalties they are facing ? Mebbies aye-mebbies naw but what was certainly true was the fact that the excitement engendered during Saturday’s epic MacTavish semi-final was so great that your correspondent decided to let the dust settle before committing his twisted version of the event to a semi-permanent existence in cyber space. Well no - actually he missed the game - not that that has ever stopped him before. This time it has. Why?
For a start the excitement was so great on the day that nobody took notes; all the Glen eye witnesses were looking at their feet, looking up at the sky or hiding behind their hands - then after the result they all piled into to the Loch Ness Inn and there they stayed until it was time to go to church next day. By that time nobody could even remember the score which was why, if Astie had not been informed of the result by one of the many Camanachd Assessors of Assessors present at the game, then would the win even have been counted?
Things looked a bit tight for the Glen on the morning of the match: Andrew Corrigan was unavailable, Ali Mackintosh was injured and Mike Brady suspended. That just happens to be three of the four first choice defence. However as fortune would have it the second team had been playing at home earlier that morning which meant that at least there were some other bodies available to fill in the gaps. But then you can’t win anything with kids can you? Apparently you can.
Drafted in to the squad were Calum Smith and Jack Hosie while two other youngsters in the persons of James Hurwood and Euan Lloyd have settled into first team berths over the last few matches. The first half passed without Newtonmore conceding a goal which was good for them because they did not have Norman Campbell at full back and if the Glen score it is usually early in the match.
“What were the first half stats like?” The Wing Centre asked Steve “Statto” Henderson at training on the Wednesday .
“Don’t know. I didn’t bother with any this week.”
The one time that hard facts and figures are important and Statto is too busy peering through his fingers to jot them down.
“I suppose we had a pile of shots on target in the second half then. How many?  9 or 10?”
Statto stopped for ten seconds to ponder.
“Probably, if you count the penalties.”
“They had a few chances right enough.”
“Must have been more than a few, Statto. Paul John said in the P&J they had the lion’s share”
“What do you expect him to say? And it also depends on how much you think a lion will eat.”

Reflecting on the fact that Statto of all people ought to know about putting feed to beasts since that is his day job, the Wing Centre left it at that and sought out other witnesses and in the course of that quest came to the conclusion that there is no such thing as truth, only the muddied and indeed muddled account of witnesses. Given the confusion revealed it’s a wonder that the justice system bothers with the testimony of eyewitnesses at all.
Two things occurred in the first half that delighted and depressed those Glenners who were present in the large crowd. First Danny Macrae went over his ankle and not that anyone wishes him ill, but his departure removed a huge threat from the Newtonmore front line. Indeed if Danny had been there to take a penalty …………. Best not to dwell on that.

Depressing was the fact that the only remaining regular defender, John Barr picked up a first half injury too and he had to leave the field. That caused a bit of juggling around in the Glen back line with Calum Smith having to move deeper. At the break, John clearly received a bionic implant at the hands of physio David MacFadyen and was fortunately able to return to the fray in the second half.
This makes it all the more mysterious that Calum Stewart was allowed to run through and fire home a first time volley direct from a corner to put Newtonmore ahead in 63 minutes.
For the next 17 minutes the Glen were gallant runners up but still they kept plugging away until in 80 minutes David Smart fired home the equaliser. Nobody can recall how it happened except it was rumoured to be after some neat interplay so one can assume that James Macpherson, Jack Hosie or Neale Reid was involved but unless the Camanachd come up with some TV pictures then who can say?
Glen were the stronger side latterly and Newtonmore keeper Michael Ritchie had to make a quality save or two to keep his side in the game. Then came a last minute penalty which Glen keeper Stuart “Smack” Mackintosh stepped up to strike. His drive hit keeper Ritchie and the rebound was knocked home by Neale Reid only to be judged off-side.
That meant extra time and penalties.
Glen’s Lewis MacLennan and ‘More’s Norman Campbell were the only two players to convert from the first ten spot-hits. Michael Ritchie denied James MacPherson, Stuart Mackintosh, John Barr and Neale Reid with three of his saves being outstanding. Glen keeper Stuart “Smack” Mackintosh saved from Glen Mackintosh, Michael Ritchie and Steven Macdonald while youngster Calum Stewart missed his attempt.
Norman Campbell who had come on as an extra-time sub took his sudden death effort and joined the ranks of Glen immortals by blazing it over the bar and hitting the shop. Not an easy task and he joins a select “able to hit the shop” company which includes big Ron Fraser, Andrew Iain Macdonald, and of course the unrivalled Donald Paul Mackintosh who holds the record for hitting the shop more than anyone. Mind you Norman’s punt would have gone into John Tom’s former field on the other side of the A82 if the shop hadn’t stopped it.
Then Stuart Mackintosh stepped up hammered the ball at goal; it hit Mike Ritchie on the shoulder and flew up into the roof of the net for the winner.
What sort of a game was it?
The old Glenner put it thus: “You had two teams which were short of their full squads but all teams need to get used to that for that seems to be the way it is. It wasn’t a great game but it was full of excitement and tension. It was a hard physical game and both sides were pretty even. Newtonmore were on top in the first half but the Glen came back into it and by the end of normal time they were on top and should have won it. Things even themselves out. Two years ago Newtonmore went through on penalties; last year the Glen lost on penalties; this year they won. Best for the Glen? Lewis Maclennan and Euan Lloyd-so what if they were both defenders.”

Earlier in the day the Glen seconds defeated Col Glen 6-0 in the Sutherland Cup. The Skye website (recommended reading for anyone who really wants to know what happened on a Saturday) tells the story in its weekly round-up: “Ruaraidh Cameron was back in the Glenurquhart side and he gave them an 8 minute lead. Jack Hosie made it 2-0 on 21 minutes and the same player added a third on 32 minutes. Ruaraidh Cameron also got a second a minutes before the break to make it 4-0. Late goals from Cairn Urquhart on 74 minutes and player / manager Iain MacLeod just 5 minutes from time rounded off a 6-0 win and gave Glenurquhart a place in the next round.”

The pictures are from Neil Paterson  (1,2 & 3) Tina Marshall (4,6 & 10) and Sheena Lloyd (5,7,8,9,11 & 12) Thanks to them all.

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