Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ancient Rivals meet again

The papers called it a double celebration for the Glen. Maybe it was but these were two games which, given the clear application of common sense, should not both have gone ahead on the same pitch. The Wing Centre for one is happy that Blairbeg was not the venue of choice for the two games though it could have coped with one. Still as the Chairman would say, it was what it was.

Strathglass 1 Glenurquhart 4 (The Ali Ban Cup)
The first game was the for Ali Ban and the result was a comfortable 4-1 win which came about through first half goals at the top end of the field, the surface of which was at the start of the match in much better  condition. Once again, the key to Glen success in this period was the fast and mobile forward line comprising Cairn Urquhart, Jack Hosie, Daniel Mackintosh and holding the complete  unit  together  Raymond Robertson. The Strathglass defence were older and stronger and, to be fair to them, they obviously had to call some lads out of retirement to get a team together at all. However, in that first period the Glen front men supplied well by a centreline in which James Hurwood was outstanding, created a series of chances and within half an hour  Glen were three up courtesy of two fine strikes from Raymond Robertson and a single from Daniel Mackintosh. While all the forwards played well in this period Robertson was the pick of the bunch ; he works hard, hits the ball well and most importantly keeps the tempo of the game turned up which is always required if a team is going to overcome its opponents.
Strathglass worked hard in the second half to get themselves back in the game and were immediately rewarded when youngster Lawrence Jones scored a nice goal. For the next period of the game, the Glen defence had to weather some heavy pressure  and although they stood up to it manfully there were times when they  found it difficult to clear their lines quickly Glen were fortunate to have Paul Mackintosh at the back as the last line of defence along with keeper David Macfadyen. Eventually matters turned round and when the manager Iain Macleod brought on youngsters Lachie Smith and Liam Robertson things took a turn for the better and a late goal from Liam Robertson put the icing on the cake. Credit has to go to the Strathglass defenders though both Raymond Fraser and keeper Ivor Macleod because they both held back the swing at times when a Glen youngster was caught on the wrong side. Well done to them both and to the other Strath players who kept the contest sporting when the underfoot conditions could have easily caused possible injuries with youngsters slipping and sliding in front of swinging camans.
Certainly there were many positives to come out of the game but replicating this result against the standard of side the Glen seconds will face this season will not be easy. However that’s for time to tell-in the meantime James Hurwood was awarded the Russell Cameron Memorial trophy for man of the match.

Strathglass 0 Glenurquhart 6 (The Macdonald Cup)
Winning a Macdonald Cup is always an achievement but this result will not tell the Glen a great deal about how fitted they are for Premier competition for the simple fact is that Strath are two divisions below the Glenners in shinty’s pecking order. However it was important that Glen won well and although the condition of the pitch could have been a leveller in the end it did nothing except prevent both sides from playing fluent shinty.
From the outset Glen were on top and with Strathglass full back Donald Fraser clearly short of full fitness due to the recurrence of a long term groin injury, it was only a matter of time before the visitors made the breakthrough. That came in the 16th minute when James “Frosty” Macpherson fired home at the second attempt after David Smart had set him up from a free hit.
Next a neat interchange of passes between Macpherson and Lewis Maclennan left Neale Reid with a clean strike from distance to double the Glen’s advantage. Just before half time team captain Eddie Tembo was taken off with a cut above the eye, which although producing a lot of blood turned out to be quite minor. He was replaced in the centre line by Ewan Brady and Glen continued to press hard but resolute Strathglass defending from Scott Douglas and George Phimister in particular, kept Glenurquhart at bay until the break.
Shortly after the restart however Lewis Maclennan made it 3-0 when he outrageously first-timed the ball home from an acute angle. Glen then had a further period of pressure but it was another 20 minutes before the 4th goal via an excellent finish by Neale Reid.
Lewis Maclennan was then pulled back to defence with Fraser Heath moving up front and he grabbed the 5th in 76 minutes. Glen managers Billy Maclean and Davie Menzies then used the last 15 minutes to try out a few other positional changes and the final goal came from Ewan Brady in 89 minutes meaning that Glass hearts were well and truly broken on the day.
The Glen management were pleased enough with the result and the performance on a difficult surface.  In general the forwards played well. David Smart  had an excellent first half and both Neale Reid and Lewis Maclennan  looked very sharp.  The centreline was strong throughout and the defence though rarely really threatened, did what they had to do.  Particularly pleasing was another solid performance from Mike Brady, and Euan Lloyd also did well though he needs to execute his tackles with more precision. What this result means in wider terms though is unclear though the return of John Barr at full back gave a solidity to the side that was not apparent last week.
Glen full centre Arran Macdonald was awarded the Shewglie trophy for man of the match: his quick hands and clean hitting on a tricky pitch caught the eye of former Lochcarron full back Alan Mackenzie who was charged with picking the man of the match. That no easy task on a day when there was a number of contenders for the prize. Still Arran was well worth the trophy which he last won back in 2007.
Strathglass? They will come back. Josh Fraser is an excellent young talent and if only he had been one of the Glen Frasers he would have been in the Glen top team. Michael Stokes played well as did his brother Robbie until he took an unfortunate knock in the mouth. Darren Reid is a player too as is Donald Fraser even though he was at half pace. George Phimister is always hard to beat and Robert Geddes is still defying old father time. Good on him.
Most of the pictures are from Neil Paterson ( ) to whom the D is always grateful. The rest-Brad and Dunc, James and both team pics -are from the Treasurer who has his Canon digital Ixus in his pocket.
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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Hopeful Signs

The first thing that showed it was going to be a reasonable day was the fact that the sign “was going” again as we say in the Glen. Having been unlit and increasingly unloved over the last few months, all of a sudden the sign was cheery once again, providing information about games and times and generally making all Glenners, young and old, feel that an important corner had been turned. Soon no doubt it will be conveying Birthday Wishes to all and sundry-especially sundry-thanking our sponsors and even wishing the tug-o war team well, such is the feeling of generosity and general bonhomie that a working sign brings in its wake.  

Naturally enough it pointed out the times for the two friendlies: the away game against Boleskine and then the other home tie with the Isle of Skye.

Boleskine 0 Glenurquhart 6
Historically, the Glen have struggled a little against the lads from the far side of the Loch. This time it was different though the state of the pitch made it difficult for the Glen forwards to play the kind of simple give and go shinty that suits the mobile Glen front men. Despite the tricky underfoot conditions the forwards started well and were quickly into a rhythm which was sufficient to keep Boleskine under more or less permanent pressure.
With James Hurwood attacking from wing centre the front four of Jack Hosie, Cairn Urquhart, Daniel Mackintosh and Raymond Robertson overran the opposition and inside half an hour were 3-0 up The first two goals came from the excellent Raymond Robertson with the second being a particularly well worked attempt thanks to neat interplay between James Hurwood, Jack Hosie and Daniel Mackintosh. This set up Robertson to finish from about 14 yards. Jack Hosie soon added number three.
At this point manager Iain Macleod rang the changes to bring on the Glen’s young subs Liam Robertson, Lachie Smith, Ryan Porter, Jamie Maclennan and Cameron Maclennan and they started the first period of the second half as well. An injury to Ewan “Boo-boo” Fraser was a disappointment and when the youngsters also started to tire a little on the heavy pitch the manager reinstated the original line-up in time to add further goals with Daniel Mackintosh netting one and Cairn Urquhart two.
In summing up the performance a special mention must be made of half-back  Paul Mackintosh .He had a solid game, and while the side will be up against it this season on many occasions,  his experience , determination and motivation will set the tone for the season.

Glenurquhart 5 Skye 0
It was a friendly certainly and the Glen can take some heart from the fact that in the end they racked up a reasonable tally of goals. Greater conclusions than those are impossible to draw given that Skye were missing an important player or two particularly Stevie Morrison who tweaked a muscle a few days before the match and had to pull out. Glen too were without John Barr, Andrew Corrigan, Ally Mackintosh and Dixie Maclennan which is basically the whole first choice defence but Skye though they looked smart enough at times and moved the ball well were unable to make  any headway though Jordan Murchison had a couple of opportunities to do better than he did. Glen opened with a goal in the first minute when Neale Reid got free on the left and fired a low rocket in on Skye keeper Jamie Gannon. He saved it well with his feet but in doing so allowed the ball to rebound out high enough for Lewis Maclennan to take it in the air above his head and smash it home for the opening goal.
The rest of the first half was a disappointment to the Glen because though they forced keeper Gannon into making at least three worthwhile saves the forwards were unable to add to their tally and beyond that the whole atmosphere of the game began to flag.
The second half picked up though and the Glen doubled their lead more or less right away when Neale Reid slipped an early ball through to Lewis Maclennan who played it back for James Macpherson and his drive took a deflection into the net off a Skye defender. Reid then burst through the Skye defence to fire home number three. Lewis Maclennan was then tripped in the box for a penalty which he converted himself to make it four and finally nice play from David Smart and Maclennan set up Reid free on the right with enough space and time to smash home the fifth and final goal.
Overall it was a good performance from the Glen with David Smart and Neil Reid looking especially sharp. Michael Brady debuted well and youngster Euan Lloyd had a good run out in defence. Arran Macdonald also put in a solid performance as did Eddie Tembo and Ewan Brady though sterner tests lie ahead. For Skye Allan Mackinnon  did well as did Gilleasbuig MacDonald though his travel arrangements on the day were complicated enough to warrant a whole Burt Bacharach number to himself as well as a special page on the Skye website. Whatever else it’s good to see Gilleasbuig back with a full set of fingers again and able to swing a club freely. Long may he continue to do so.

 Afterwards it was time to watch Geordie take the nets down and then head off home to see how the rest of the weekend’s friendlies went. The only worry was the fact that the men from Strathglass put four goals past Oban Celtic. It may be ominous – and then again it may not. According to the sign if we are to believe it, it’s the Macdonald Cup/Ali Ban double header on Saturday at Cannich and as always the Glasaich are sure to be up for it. Let’s hope the weather is not too bad.
The pictures are obviously one of the sign and of course of the lads during the game. It’s a new camera phone and it does what it wants. Be patient- Neil Paterson is bound to turn up one day!

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The past is another country; shinty was different then.

The fixtures are out , the  cup draws have been made and before we know it shinty’s phoney war will be over and the Glen will be back at the business end of their camans once more-provided, that is, that the weather holds. You have to say that the whole Glen has been lucky so far-the pitch looks in fine condition after Mr Reid has rolled it twice and cut the top corner near the bowling green.

It is quite hard to remember that a few years ago just after the trees had been taken off Herd’s Hill and with a collapsed drain on Balmacaan Farm, the pitch at Blairbeg was completely out of commission and the Glen had to play for a full season on the outside pitch at the Bught. Long may the Jetstream park itself somewhere else!!

At a time of the year when there is little shinty related to do except draw the lotto numbers and watch the training, the Wing Centre was alerted to a programme on BBC Alba which touched on the indigenous sport. Filmed back in 1978 at a time when the Highland Constabulary still thought they could catch the killer of Renee Macrae the programme featured Newtonmore just as it lost a filling station and gained a by-pass with the creation of the new A9. It must have been very interesting for folks in the village to see all those who are gone- the Wing Centre did not recognise many of them with the exception of the late Jock Paul Mackintosh and Sandy Russell- but what did strike him was just how great the change has been in the portrayal of shinty on the media. That change has certainly been for the better. The Newtonmore side of the 1970s were the best side of their day and their Kingussie opponents were on the cusp of becoming the most successful shinty side in history yet from the tiny snippet of the game that was shown the impression was given of a sport dominated by violence and absence of skill. A game of shinty between two of the best sides in the sport was patronisingly edited down to conform to a stereotype which probably persists in some uneducated parts of the Highlands and beyond still. What was especially sad was that the legendary Findlay J who was doing the voiceover- doubtless he had no control of the script-using that distinctive antique Hebridean accent, allowed himself to characterise shinty as a “form of warfare” and Mr Cameraman lingered on some dubious swinging by Davie Thompson, a punch from Ian Bain while Rab Muir and Kenny Mackintosh were filmed doing a Keystone Cops routine over a stick. Meanwhile ref Brian Watts was involved in an argument with a spectator while the boss of Tulloch Homes, big George Fraser battered the Kingussie keeper over the line into the net. The rest of the game was left on the cutting room floor-in those days literally: shinty-and the Highlands- was ill served by such coverage.  Has it improved? Massively but then again it could hardly have been worse.
Of interest too was the Newtonmore Shinty Club Committee meeting. Again the TV Agenda was skewed to focus on compensation to a player for losing his front teeth in a match. Of course that did occasionally happen as it still in the modern game –though gum shields and face guards have made the sport much safer-but the Wing Centre has been involved in shinty committees over many years and they have always dealt with much more complex issues such the provision of team development opportunities, sourcing equipment, transport, pitch maintenance and improvement. Admittedly the film did look at the new pitch that was being created on the Eilean though why that was not filmed being discussed in the Committee meeting only the producer knows. Newtonmore Shinty Club was at the forefront of shinty’s facilities revolution and the club was stuffed with able articulate guys like John Mackenzie, John and George Fraser yet they were never asked for an opinion. Pity. Even more’s the pity that the programme was called “Shinty Town” when the subject was so poorly dealt with.
Afterwards, one was left with the sense that one had been watching a programme as remote from our present day experience as it would have been had it focused on the lives of a tribe of Indians living in the Amazon jungle. Perhaps not, but one hopes things worked out well for the lad Kirk who like so many small time  filling station owners in the Highlands was summarily shafted by a big oil company.

 Back in the Glen where the Loch Ness Monster builds the quaintness factor into village life, the Shinty Committee is much exercised with enlarging their sponsor base – and a quick look at the new website will reveal that much has been done - Nodram, Cobbs, The Loch Ness Inn and HIS all appear as main funders and that fact will no doubt be celebrated on the new club jerseys which will be unveiled before too long.  The Committee are also greatly exercised with the creation of a “rebound wall” for player development and with any luck it will be ready in the near future. It is for those who are not well versed in these things the equivalent of the old gable end of the stone cottage against which the young player of yore used to hone his skills. The only difference will be that the surface of the newly created wall will be too smooth for authenticity in comparison with that of the old rubble built cottage. Personally the Wing Centre would also like to see the inclusion right at the top of the wall off a wee window to encourage accuracy of shooting though sadly that did not meet with the agreement of the rest of the committee.
Also approved by the Committee was the removal of the “solar panel” which worked the sign so well for a year or two. Now the sign will run off a cable which has been run underground to the pavilion and is powered by an exercise bicycle in the wee fitness suite which is to be found in the said pavilion. The Pavilion too has had its lighting restored and the photo included here has already been featured on the Club website, as has of course the congratulations to the P7 and under youngsters for  winning the Inverness Area C C  tournament at the start of February and as a result they have progressed to the national final in Fort William.
That takes us neatly on to the cup draws which everyone knows by now. Glen have a trip to Skye in the MacTavish while in the Sutherland Iain Macleod’s lads face GMA at Drum and in the Strathdearn they face Lochaber also in Drum. Well done to the WAGs and also to the Camanachd Association for getting City Provost Alex Graham into the picture for the draw.
Next up – a home friendly with Skye while the seconds seek out Boleskine on the Farr side of the loch. These games will both be testers. So far, from what the Wing Centre has seen the guys have been doing well in training-last Saturday saw a successful full sided work out between two full Glen sides at Blairbeg – but only time will tell how that will transfer to the actual game on the day.
Chi sinn.
Photographs ? The Pavilion at night all lit up ;
: the guys in the practice  then doing stretches and of course the Primary 7s.  Enjoy.

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