Friday, August 01, 2014

Is the season over already?

Glenurquhart 2 Strathglass 0 (Marine Harvest North Division 1)
Inveraray 0 Glenurquhart 2 (Orion Premier League)

The Queen, who is well informed about all matters in her realm, must have wondered if the little hiccup with the Commonwealth Baton had its origins in the Glen.

The ceremonial piece of hardware had after all been in the Glen not much more than a fortnight before – and given the enduring reputation of the Glen with regard to its handling of trophies, Her Majesty must have wondered whether the baton had received a wee knock on the napper during its sojourn at Blairbeg. In Glasgow it would not unscrew to reveal the message she had hidden in it months earlier. Had it been dropped or bashed in any way whilst in the custody of the Glenurquhart shinty team?

Whether it had or not, the said baton was eventually opened up and the nation and the Glen breathed a collective sigh of relief and was then permitted to carry on with its number one non Commonwealth sport - the ancient game of Caledonia.

In Drum that meant facing up to ancient rivals Strathglass in a Marine Harvest North Division League fixture. Glen had a stronger team than they had put out the week before – though the Hosie brothers were still sadly absent - but the return of the previous week’s draftees for the Kingussie game, Raymond Robertson and Ross MacAulay, boosted the side considerable. The calm presence of Drew MacNeil at full back also helped and the fact that referee John Macgregor of Oban was in charge was also a plus. Macgregor who is in the early stages of his career as a ref, was a superb senior shinty player in his day and this writer for one judged that his presence on the field would ensure that the Glen youngsters – and the Strath ones for that matter- would receive competent oversight for the whole 90 minutes.

Strathglass opened up in lively fashion and for a good part of the early play seemed to be the dominant force. They took up a fair few good positions but the Glen defence held firm with Ewan Menzies in particular providing top class cover. Youngster Lachie Smith on one side and not so youngster Paul Mackintosh on the other played well against lively opposition with Lewis Douglas and youngster Jono Price showing lively skills. Gary Reid however was unable to get past MacNeill with any conviction and when shots went through, -there were a fair number- Glen keeper David MacFadyen was in excellent form though his tendency to come off his line, while comparable to German soccer keeper Manuel Neuer, was a bit scary to the faithful though perhaps explicable because of his origins.  David was you see, brought up in south shinty and with a role model locally in Inveraray’s flying keeper Graham Macpherson, a man who thinks a line is never for toeing, it’s no wonder the lad takes off after balls that are only vaguely in the same postcode as he is.
Gradually the Glen began to mount more sustained attacks and Cairn Urquhart and Robertson began to trouble the Strath defence who were missing one or two of their more experienced defenders as well as the most ancient of their front men, Robert Geddes. Finally just before half time, Glen took a lead which they more or less deserved : Ross MacAulay drove the ball forward, Cameron Maclennan dummied it and player/manager Iain Macleod was on hand to ram it into the net from close range.
The second half saw the Glen dominate the game more – and captain Bradley Dickson sealed the win when he picked up a cross field ball, dribbled it into the “D” and tapped it home from a couple of feet. Strath tried hard to come back but were unable to do so while Glen rang the changes bringing on youngster Rory Maclean who almost snatched a third goal in the dying moments. Other youngsters like Jamie Maclennan and finally Finlay Robertson were given a run out and all performed well against what has been a side which has posted some decent results this season, boasts good players like Josh Fraser and the Reid brothers but somehow seems to have lost its way.

The other result at the Winterton was equally welcome. After what seemed like an age with no-one daring to phone down to find out how the game was going the text came through that Glen were leading thanks to a David Smart goal. By Glen accounts on a crackly line - the raindrops were louder than gunshots on Herd’s Hill - the guys played well especially in the first 25 minutes when they were on top though the conditions, as the papers would have said if they could have been bothered reporting it, were very difficult for both sides. Inveraray then dug in with their well-practised techniques of last ditch defending and the score remained unchanged until Lewis Maclennan bagged a second 8 minutes from time.

Before that of course Glen had balls in the net ruled off and Inveraray also had one chalked off and as usually happens everyone became irate. But they all made up and they were fine about it because let’s face it, it did not matter. What mattered for the Glen was that no one was injured or booked and ref Lachie Wood kept a handle on the game well -  a difficult thing to do when the park was as the west coasters would say “dampish”.  
Possibly the Campbell weather gods might look down favourably from the clouds if the Canaries renamed their pitch “The Summerton” rather than stuck with the old estate name “The Winterton”. Even a Gaelic name might help - but then the hospitality afterwards was good and the lads even reported that in “The George” they keep the vodka in the fridge which was more sophisticated than was necessary for the Glenners present but they appreciated it just the same.

Of more interest than the actual game was the fact that Mr Reid puts his money where his mouth is. This was obvious from his appearance. Clearly the Drum dental practice had supplied Mr Reid with shiny new teeth - and apparently Dr Dodo had fixed up the mouths of a number of other Glen residents with gleaming gnashers too as these snaps will testify.

The last Premier League game is now upon us - and we face a gameless wait until the Camanachd semi. The full English tourist season has not even started properly in the Glen yet we have no games left at home for the top team - not a happy situation for club income reports the Treasurer.
The photos of the Inveraray match are from Sheena Lloyd: the teeth ones are from Meg Mackintosh. The ones of the baton are from the Wing Centre’s phone - where else?

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