Friday, May 27, 2016

Rounding up…and then sounding off

If there has been a reason for holding back with the pen and ink it’s probably been the form of the Glen this season in the various competitions-though some recent matches have given cause for hope. However, there are many more things to write about in the shinty world without reporting on games that cause personal and community distress - and as herself says “winning isn’t everything” though actually she is wrong there.
New York has been and gone - the experience left two or three memorable pics. One of these was of the team and the other was of Dixie Maclennan at what might in another century have been the sack of Rome. 

The favourite in this household however is the snap of Smudger with Officer Dibble. Officer D is a big lad but he’s standing on the pavement and Smudger is on the street. I think S is telling him that he is under arrest.

Apart from that the most important action of recent times has been the 2-0 home win against Lochaber. It was a tight game. The Glen - strengthened by the return of international forward Fraser Heath - made their usual whirlwind start but were unable to find their way past the stuffy Lochaber defence thanks largely to goalkeeper Callum Macdonald and full-back Lachlan Campbell. Lochaber gradually grew into the game and by half time had a slight edge in midfield though their forwards were unable to get much change out of a Glen defence where John Barr and Lewis Maclennan were dominant.
 It has to be said also that both Lachie Smith and James Hurwood put in excellent performances in the backline for the second week in a row.
However, with defences on top it was always going to take something fortuitous or special to break the deadlock and David Smart’s first-time strike following a long David Maclennan shy could be placed in both categories. Suffice to say it came slightly against the balance of play at the time. With Lochaber pressing hard for the equaliser, there was always space to be found in their defence and when Conor Golabek produced an opportunist finish in 86 minutes the vital points were finally secured for the Glen.

Lochaber were disappointed no doubt but they have a MacTavish Cup final to look forward to in June - and if their forwards can do something and believe in themselves a bit they have a chance. The formbook doesn’t give them much support but then again in a cup game anything can happen provided you make it happen.

For the Glen, the absence of the team from the MacTavish final for the first time in four years is a disappointment but injuries and absences haven’t helped with a settled side-though to be fair the same is true of other sides.
The loss in the MacAulay against Skye was another daft Saturday. Looking back at the game and bearing in mind the natural tendency of the supporter to see the match through the eyes of his own team it is still difficult to take in that the guys were unable to at least take the match to extra time given the amount of pressure they had in the second half. Gannon did what he was supposed to do one supposes - and if any consolation can be taken from the result it is that it at least cheered up former Glenner Davie MacVicar.

Sometimes we console ourselves that we are not bothered about the MacAulay because the final is on Games Day and we cannot play in it- but every few years Games Saturday does not coincide with the MacAulay’s big day and this was one of them. Now we will have to wait another four years for it to come round again.
For the seconds – goodness knows how Chrissie, Paul Mac and Hendo have managed it but wins against Lochside then Lochcarron in the Sutherland and against Glengarry in the Strathdearn are excellent though League form needs it all. 
The Wing Centre has seen all the matches and the thing that has made all the difference is the ability to take chances. Conor Golabek was on form in the first Sutherland match - how that boy worked against Lochside - but if 'Side's Keith MacMillan had not done in his knee and left the field then perhaps …..but then again ,who knows?

Against the Garry, James Macpherson got a hat-trick and Drew Maclennan also had a superb game. If they are both available for the Beauly match then who knows?

The Glengirls have had a mixed time in the big league as was expected - but they will get better. The last match against Strathspey was a close contest - and would have been closer if Hazel had not been taking lessons from the guys in how to miss a penalty. Still Ms H is the top scorer but Ishbel Barr, Hayley Hunter, Debbie Surtees and Abbie Stoddart have also scored. Provided they get a full squad together they can win their cup match v Fort William this weekend but like the men’s teams they will be missing some youngsters who will be off on the High School trip.

And all the above brought to you courtesy of the willing and hardworking  volunteers at the club who work hard to fund it all. Their latest actions resulted in a Gala Day and Disco in Blairbeg Hall.

The wider matters?
Here is one for a start- in all the fuss going on at the Bught over sports facilities with the rugby club being massively subsidised with new pitches and the nonsense of a proposed velodrome for the newly “sexy” cycling (mountain biking one can understand) is there any consideration being given to a refurb of the 1920s Bught Park Shinty stadium. No? Thought not. Unlike rugby players and cyclists, shinty players are ignorant lower class ‘oiks’ who can be safely ignored in official circles unless there is a call for anything quaintly highland to be on display. Time the Common Good Fund was raided.
And another?
There is no sponsor as yet for the Camanachd Cup. Not for the Wing Centre to wonder why RBS decided that iconic trophy was not for sponsoring. Perhaps they had been watching “Outlander” and decided the sport was too dangerous to back.  So where now?  With the Scottish Cup supported by the socially responsible William Hill betting chain and the Scottish League Cup funded by “Betfred” (what was the SFA thinking about? Money perhaps?), the Wing-Centre certainly hopes that Torquil will not be going down the Bookies to seek money. The message that Scottish football is sending out is appalling and shinty should certainly set a higher tone.
If nothing respectable turns up soon, Torquil should just give it to Marine Harvest who have been steadfast in their support for the game over numerous seasons. It’s time they got a little more bang for their bucks.
And while we are at it, what about a letter from the Camanachd President to that nice Mr Swinney now that he’s in charge of education to ask him what he intends to do to raise standards in shinty in all those schools in the shinty areas who ignore it and refuse to include it as part of their regular PE curriculum?
The fact that this sounds outrageous actually says it all.

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