Thursday, May 01, 2014

It’s never about the shinty: it’s always about the community.

All’s well that ends- eventually. Let’s put it no higher than that- and if the truth be told , it was just as well for the Glen to be out of the MacAulay at this stage rather than make it through to play in a final scheduled to be held on a date they could not fulfil. The MacAulay final will take place on Saturday August 23rd:  It is also incidentally the one Saturday which Glenurquhart have traditionally earmarked as their “free day”.
Why so? Simply put, that is the date on which the Glenurquhart Gathering & Games is due to be held and given that this occasion involves most Glenners specifically the Shinty Club in an orgy of …… let us say for the sake of decorum , fundraising  then it’s difficult to see how the club could have made it to Oban for the big day. Now though conspiracy theorists in the Glen have hinted that the MacAulay Association chose this date after having checked that it really was the day of the 2014 Glen Games (those of you puzzled about this should ‘google up’ the shinty news for August 2012) the Wing Centre does not subscribe to this view. Rather he is inclined to the view that the MacAulay Association had to find a date when Mossfield was free but, at the same time, also find a date that suited the ‘real’ BBC as incomers to the Glen call it. The lot fell on the 23rd of August and that left the Glen management with a problem.
“It’s not about the shinty, “said the management duo to the Glenners before they left to travel down the A82. “It’s about the greater good of the community as a whole. ”and they left it like that.

What this statement actually meant was that the managers or ‘Billyanddavie’ as they are universally known in the Glen, had to find a way of not progressing to the next round without making it too obvious that that was what they were doing. The MacAulay Association could have helped by letting us play Newtonmore or Lovat in the first round but what happened? The Glen got a skoosh of a game against Fort William. What was to be done in a fixture that must not be won at all costs?
The main plank of the plan was to leave out of the starting line up the two Glenners who are always liable to score even if you tell them not to: Neale Reid and Ewan Brady. As for the rest, the Managers philosophy was perfectly simple - go out, give them a game but not too much of a game and it worked a treat. It would have worked sooner if only the musical keeper had paid attention to the pre-match briefing. Doubtless he was making up an accordion tune in his head at the time but that’s an artist for you.

Fort as befits a team packed with youngsters who train all the time started like an express train albeit an old steam one which is losing heart with the thought of Mallaig as its destination. However youngster Arran Macphee shook off the attentions of Glen defender Stuart Reid inside four minutes and fired a rasper in on goal which keeper Stuart Mackintosh instinctively got a foot to and the chance for Fort to go ahead early was lost. Macphee had another chance a few minutes later but he put the ball over the bar. Fort then seemed to work a tactic to split the Glen defence and drag the Glen fullback off the ‘dust but because Eddie Tembo, Arran Macdonald and Euan Lloyd got a bit of a grip on the centreline at this point not so much ball went up to the Fort front men and they either lost concentration and defaulted to the traditional diamond - either that or Victor countermanded Addie’s orders. Who can say?
Glen mounted a few attacks at this point and were awarded three fouls in a row and from them managed to win corners. One of these yielded a shot on target from Fraser Heath but Fort keeper Paul Mackay was alert to the danger. Lewis Maclennan got in a shot in 38 minutes but that seemed about it and although the Glen did have the ball up in the danger area just as often as Fort did, Victorandaddie’s side certainly looked the better team.
A head knock to David Smart unintentionally inflicted by one of the Fort William youngsters added a few minutes on to the game before half time. But no matter the delays, it was still 0-0 when the whistle blew for the break. Things were not going to plan.
The half time break was pleasant enough as the Wing Centre  stood in the queue for teas with some seriously retro-pop coming from the funfair adjacent to the park. The Archies’ “Sugar Sugar” and the “Macarena” (by Los del Rio not Miss Piggy) seemed to be the most modern pieces being played, though perhaps funfairs are only allowed to play stuff which ought to be out of copyright. Anyway on the orders of Bill, the hungriest of the managerial duo, the Wing Centre picked up some coffees-two in authentic mugs because the nice ladies had run out of Styrofoam ones- and a tea plus 4 sausage rolls and set off to deliver them to the bosses. By the time he had been served and was on his way round behind the bottom goal with a tray Glen were on the attack and the outcome was that after some neat work first by Eddie Tembo and secondly by Andy Corrigan, Fraser Heath managed to get in two shots, one of which went narrowly by and the other of which forced Paul Mackay to make a stop.
The grub delivered and his seat in the stand resumed, the Wing Centre settled down to watch a game which had become somewhat dull. Both sides seemed to be very even. It was the sort of match that some would right off as a poor game but it really wasn’t: it simply was that defences and midfields were on top and both sets of forwards were more or less equally snuffed out.
On the 65 minute mark Glen put together a nice piece of play when Arran Macdonald, who had a fine game throughout, knocked a ball forward and wide to Lewis Maclennan: Maclennan beat his man and played it inside to Corrigan but his shot just went narrowly past.

At this point the Wing Centre decided it was time to return the authentic mugs and the tray to the Fort clubhouse. He had promised the nice ladies he would take the tray back and his experience of life is such that when you promise something to any lady, you had better do what you said you would do, otherwise bad things will happen. As he passed the goals on the way back Fraser Heath had another chance this time from an angle: thankfully, Mackay stopped it.
By the time your narrator emerged from the clubhouse Fort William had scored the goal that mattered. Piecing together the story from various Fort witnesses, it appears that Gordy Mackinnon had fired in an excellent shot which was saved for some reason by “Smack” Mackintosh but fortunately the ball fell to young Arran Macphee and he was able to poke it home.
Not before time : the managers were beginning to think the game would have to go to penalties and were writing out their list of takers starting with Tembo ,Corrigan and Barr in the hope of getting off to a bad start. Fortunately it was not to be though Lewis Maclennan and Corrigan made further late attempts to score for the Glen.
Then just as the game was approaching the last minute Fort’s Gordy Mackinnon grabbed Mike Brady round the neck for no obvious reason that was visible from the stand. For that he received a booking as did rather harshly Mike Brady. Niall Macphee who also got involved for reasons only known to himself received a straight red card.
It was a disappointing end to what had been a less than explosive match.
On a final disappointing note Fort’s Gary Innes broke his finger in the encounter and will be out for a week or four. Such an injury will obviously impact to some extent on his day job as a professional musician but credit to the big Fort forward ,he stayed on to the end of the match and played through the pain barrier because the game was so tight. Let’s hope he’s soon back on the field: he is one of shinty’s big characters and the sport needs the good guys like him.

This Saturday the Glen face up to Lovat and another moral dilemma. Do they go all out to beat Lovat, risking injury and thereby help Newtonmore win another League championship or do they take it easy to make sure everyone remains fit for the Newtonmore semi the week after?  Any other team than Lovat and it would be the latter. On the other hand………. maybe not.

The match pictures are courtesy of Sheena Lloyd.

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