Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Glen Superheroes keep MacTavish dreams alive

 It just shows you that you can never take sport for granted: things can happen that you would never think about. Last week Lovat defeated Oban Camanachd in a game they deserved fully to win while the Glen lost 5 goals against Lochaber, a side that were scraping to get a team together for the previous month. This week Glen defeat Lovat 3-2 in the MacTavish when even the most optimistic supporter of the red and blacks would not have voiced that hope out loud. So, what happened?

For one the defence were excellent. Stuart Mackintosh in goal had a fine game but more impressively the two wingbacks-Fergus Robertson and Chris Mack were fantastic.

They have always been good players but on Saturday against experienced Lovat forwards they turned in mature skilful performances which must have taken pressure of Lachie Smith at full back and based on this pundit’s observations he is a top class defender- which is only to be expected as he has played for Scotland under21s. 

Ali Mackintosh was solid at buckshee which allowed Mike Fraser at full centre to spray the ball about to the forwards  and that’s what created scoring chances.

It’s a real shame that over the last few games we don’t have any pictures from Neil P these days (though thankfully Tina Marshall came up trumps with one or two) but when he was anticipating their absence the Wing Centre has had to be creative with his pics- and a quick look through his toy-box allows him to set up some realistic scenarios.

 Particularly good is the Glen defensive line up with  Smack as Batman, Lachie as Superman, Chris Mack as the Samurai Red Power Ranger, Fergus as Cain, Keeper of the House of Mystery  and Ali Mac as the Yellow Power Ranger. Go Go Power Rangers!!

And go they did right from the start.

The first goal for instance- it came within 40 seconds of the start and doubtless for reasons that every Fort William fan knows ref Deke Cameron would have approved. A ball comes up the line, Jed Stoddart knocks it forward and Stuart Macdonald come wide off his line to clear. However, his attempt does not clear the Glen front men and John Barr’s shot forward bounces towards an empty goal and is seen safely into the net by Dixie Maclennan.

For Stuart the Lovat keeper the only figure in the toybox that suits is the guy who drives old Macdonald’s tractor-note the blue jersey.

That was all the scoring for the first half although there were chances for the Glen to have gone in three goals ahead. A second might have come when Stuart Macdonald stopped a drive from John Barr only for the rebound to be knocked past the post.  Another should have been posted on the score sheet just before the break when a long high dropping on-target ball from Eddie Tembo at right midfield was knocked back into play by Stuart Macdonald. John Barr reacted quickly to take the ball in the air but his shot went agonisingly past the post.

Whatever Lovat were doing at the other end remained a mystery because the sun was bright and the enjoyment of a conversation about shinty related matters with Russell Ross and Roy Mackenzie was a great distraction. When the ball went past the post into the Barleyfield, it had to be retrieved- not too fast but equally importantly not too slowly. Throwing it back on with the intention of allowing unproductive time to pass unobtrusively is also an art form. The ball has to be rolled on slowly so that it doesn’t quite reach the keeper and he has to come back for it. Either that or it has to be thrown past him so he has to scamper after it.

The conversation with the two Glasaich was most enjoyable- it’s the only way to pass a sunny Saturday-watching shinty and talking about shinty. The talk touched on excellent players of the past. George Fraser of Strathglass was picked out as a top-class player: other players came up too. We wondered if Beauly legend Gerry Maclennan would bother putting up with some of the fancy dan forward play in evidence nowadays. We agreed that he was a good enough player and could cope with anything that was thrown at him- and in fact would throw it right back.

The second half allowed us to see the Lovat forwards at close quarters and they certainly fared no better. Greg Matheson just didn’t seem at it somehow- and nor did Lorne Mackay and Fraser Heath.

Then Glen scored again- away down at the houses. The ball was played out nicely from the Glen defence to Mike Fraser and he played a neat 1-2  with Ruaraidh Ralston who passed in side to Conor Golabek. Gola neatly turned his marker and fired home a sweet strike past Stuart Macdonald to further cause consternation in the Lovat camp.

Lovat however kept on pressing away and eventually were rewarded with a penalty given against Glen keeper Stuart Mackintosh for smothering the ball when Lewis Tawse had a chance to score. Greg Matheson took the shot and just managed to beat Mackintosh at his right hand post though the keeper almost kept it out.

Glen continued to fight hard during the last quarter and were rewarded with a third goal because Lovat when pushing up were vulnerable to the long ball forward. Eventually one of those found John Barr one on one against his man. The big forward beat the defender and fired home a rasping shot into the bottom corner to make it 3-1 with barely 14 minutes left on the clock.

Here is a nice illustration of the Glen front men- Conor & JB-Robin and Big Bad Man

Lovat poured forward and Glen rejigged their backline to cover the gaps and this worked fine until the very last minute when Greg Matheson found himself free on the left just outside the box and made it 3-2 with a fine strike. Too little however and from a Lovat  point of view too late and the visitors who were worthy winners now go on to the next round.

For the moment it doesn’t matter what happens there but it’s as well to pause and reflect about how sport is never really predictable. The one other thing to say after this is how well the Lovat players took their loss. They were naturally disappointed but one and all they congratulated the winners- and you can't say fairer than that.

Thanks to Tina Marshall for the two real photos- and to Rossie Mason for his "guys".

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Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Hats off to the Glen – and to the Camanachd Association


Well not really- its more likely “Hats On” to them- because finally after some years of trying and some missed opportunities the principle of the compulsory wearing of helmets in shinty matches has been accepted by the member clubs. This happened on Friday 27th November at the AGM when an appropriate majority of the membership accepted the measure proposed by the Glen (and spoken for by Glen President Garry Mackintosh): the result is that for the first time in the history of the sport the principle of safety head gear has been enshrined in the by-laws.

It’s true that some of the commentators looking on from outside the game- and possibly a few actually inside the game - were somewhat underwhelmed by the fact that the proposal gives senior players i.e. those who have not been of the age group to have had to wear helmets at under-17 level – the opportunity of a waiver until 2030. However, everyone can guess that the issue will be revisited sooner rather than later- and it is pretty certain that some of these lads will change their minds. One thing that will probably help change their minds is when they have kids themselves-no parent will knowingly put his child in harm’s way. There do remain issues though: my conversations with players, mainly forwards, who now wear helmets and who did not used to do so is that they report a general lessening of all round awareness - they cannot quite sense where an opponent is behind them. Maybe - maybe not. Guess John can

The faceguard is another issue: does the CA’s helmet rule include the face guard? The answer is that it does. It is perfectly possible to wear a helmet without the faceguard but to do so you must sign the waiver. This will allow you to play the game and also be covered by the CA’s insurance safety net though it’s a moot point as to how long this situation of insurance waivers will be allowed to run on. Something tells the Wing Centre we shall be revisiting this topic at an AGM before too long.

As for the general issue of shinty injuries there has not been very much in the way of research since J G Maclean’s investigation back in the day (1987/88) at Raigmore Hospital- including of course injuries noted at Fort William’s Belford and in Oban. If one remembers correctly Dr Colin Fettes was involved and the results showed head injuries certainly plus hand and finger injuries were a feature.

The results were not at all surprising- one could have guessed their nature beforehand. Bear in mind also that the study did not cover the Isle of Skye (unless the injury required hospitalisation in Inverness) nor did it deal, unless I am mistaken, with those superficial cuts (facial) which were dealt with at local surgeries. Remember it took place in the Highlands when people like Doctor Sutherland and Doctor Wilkes used to turn out to deal with minor knocks on the day. As far as I have seen it’s only the Kilmallie guy who does that now.

Parking that thought where it is, it might be that the new Medical Dept at UHI would consider, at the behest of the CA, re-running this type of research and it might show whether with the introduction of protective gloves plus the helmet matters are improving.

It must be stressed however that the head injuries reported are superficial in many ways and do not in anyway compare with the deeper-seated concussive injuries which affect rugby and make it in this writer’s opinion a sport that, like boxing, should have no place in a school curriculum.  This concussive effect also sullies football with the dangers of dementia, as seen in the high-profile cases of WBAs Jeff Astle, Dundee United’s Ralph Milne and the Charlton brothers, a very real threat to its present form. It must also be noted that perhaps more youngsters in this Glen have broken bones falling off mountain bikes than have been hurt at the shinty.

However, hats off to President Garry Mac, the Glen committee (and GMA) for bringing up this issue at the AGM and getting the principle and end date accepted. Of course, there was a bit of whingeing on Twitter, understandably from medical men, that the new rules did not come in immediately but that is what Twitter is for.

That is the shinty year nearly done - and what has been hardest of all has been the disappearance of so many good shinty people without the opportunity to say a proper goodbye. The deaths of Invergarry’s Catherine Cameron, Lovat’s Mary Ann Henton and closer at hand of Janet Emery and Catriona (Kate) Mackintosh ( Strathglass / Glen ) have been very hard for their families and their clubs. Janet in particular ran our pavilion and tea counter for many years and is simply irreplaceable. Also no longer with us is referee and stick-maker John Sloggie. Indeed a  whole year has been wiped off the shinty map – and what we will come back to could get you down if you thought about it.


The Glen have kept busy though the club was for some reason unable to access the Astroturf after the clock change and with the latest lockdown we have sent our COVID-19 compliant paperwork to the CA so that when the Astro is eventually allowed to open, we get an opportunity to get on it - unlike what had happened before where we had to look on while Astros in Inverness were allowed to open but ours was not.

Other steps forward are that the club has become a registered charity with a SCIO number which should help with funding as we go forward (indeed it already has) and the Club has also embraced the new Chaplaincy Scheme as championed by the Camanachd Association with the Rev Sean Ankers of the Free Church taking on the role for the men’s side with his wife Virginia (Gin) doing likewise for the girls.

We have also managed with a great deal of effort to run our annual Swinndle Lottery and credit has to go to Andy Lloyd , Billy Maclean and Laura Quinn for getting it moving – and also to the players for selling the tickets in such restricted times. The proceeds are to be shared as always with the Glenurquhart Care Centre.

In fact, it is with the girls that we finish this piece. They have

continued to train despite having had only one game in the restart after the lockdown. Well done to them and let’s hope we can actually get back to shinty next year.


Some are relevant but others are just pics that make me happy. Thanks to Neil Paterson for his pictures and to whoever took the rest.



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Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Holding the Fort…. or, on the other hand, not holding them.

A final week of shinty saw Victor and Addie take Felix, Arran and a pile of youngsters up to Drum to play an equally young Glen side which, honestly would not have been as young as it was if all hands had been on deck. Should it have gone ahead in the conditions? Probably not given the gutter it made of the park though the drier weather this week should help its recovery.

In the end it was a good win for Fort -by 4 goals to 0- but the trouble with Covid games is that no-one actually sees them so if the Fort win in Drum and no-body actually sees them, did the game ever happen? 

The Wing Centre was walking through the rain contemplating this idea when he met Bodach a’Ghlinne.

“How did the Glen get on last Saturday?” said the Bodach.

“They lost 4-0”

“Who got the goals?”

“Victor got three and a young fellow got the fourth”

“Is Victor still playing for the Fort. He’s hardy. He must be away up in his 60s by now.”

Now there is not much point in saying anything to the Bodach when he gets an idea in his head – and you could see he was enthusiastic about the idea of Victor playing at an advanced age- and went on to say that he saw him here and there in finals and he saw him in an international jersey and he was so quick and could turn on a sixpence….. etcetera..... etcetera.

Then came the clincher.

“You know I think he was even better than Deke.”

Well most of us would disagree with that but the Bodach is the Bodach and the statement was allowed to stand unchallenged.

However it was good of the “Fellow who was better than Deke” and his mate Addie - who was better than Ronald Ross at least once - to come up to Blairbeg with his a team to play a mixed squad of Glenners. To be fair the pitch probably was on the edge of being playable and if it wasn’t for the fact the match was taking place early in the day when it was dry and bright then it might not have gone ahead. It must be remembered too that our opponents were from Fort William and guys there are used to playing water-shinty on An Aird so the conditions would always suit them.

However, before the game got under way referee Tina Marshall called a minute’s silence for the late Neil Clark a former Fort player of the Wing Centre’s generation. Neil was a lovely guy and a gentleman and the Wing Centre played against him back in the day when the Pulp Mill was in full flow, Claggan was the venue and fellows like Hughie, Sunny, Towser, Staffy and Copper were wearing the yellow jerseys. I think even Astie was playing back then.

“I heard he was even playing on Saturday as well,” said the Bodach. “You’ve got to hand it to him at his age.”

Of course, the Wing Centre had never seen the game and to clear matters up he gave Neil Paterson a call- and he provided a list of players


Paul Mackay / Stuart Disher (Keepers - one half each)

Hamish Shaw

Craig Macdonald

Astie Cameron

Jack Fraser

Rhys Kennedy

Johnny Foss

Gordon Stevenson

Arran Macphee

Victor Smith

Grant Disher

Cameron Stephen

So there it was - as clear as clear could be - both Victor and Astie were playing.

Despite turning out against such top opposition the Glen used some of their youngsters (qv)

Iain MacLeod (Keeper)

John Barr

Billy Urquhart

Josh Macdonald Haig

Thomas Stebbings

Jed Stoddart

Cameron Bremner

Frosty Macpherson

David Dixie MacLennan

Chris Mack

Jamie MacLennan

Finlay Robertson

Michael Fraser

Angus MacCallum

The game started evenly enough though it was clear from the outset that Fort William had the slight edge and though they had one or two chances- as was true at the other end where Dixie Maclennan and Frosty Macpherson got close to putting pressure on the Fort backline of Jack Fraser and Astie Cameron

However, in 25 minutes it was Victor Smith who struck the first telling blow when he gathered a ball some 20 yards out from goal and fired his shot home. There was now neat interpassing coming from the Fort front men with youngster Rhys Kennedy catching the eye and it was from his good work that goal number two came when a deflection off Glen keeper Iain Macleod fell kindly for Smith inside the box and his close-range finish put the Fort two up.

Glen then passed up a great chance to get back into the game when keeper Paul “Felix” Mackay was judged to have clearly kicked the ball inside the box as he scampered out to clear. Fort William goal-judge Willie Macdonald - now there was a man who actually was better then Deke - had no hesitation in raising his flag and Tina awarded a penalty. You would usually bet on Frosty Macpherson to fire a penalty home but though the Glen forward got the strike on target Felix  was good enough to stop Frosty’s low shot however and from that blow  the Glen were unable to recover

Glen came out after the break looking to rectify matters but weren’t able to make much headway though one contest that did enthral was the centreline duel between Glen’s Mike Fraser and Fort’s Arran Macphee. Honours were even but Macphee’s balls forward were made more effective use of by the Fort front men though they found Glen keeper Macleod in excellent form. He pulled off a number of excellent stops including one from Smith who attempted to glance a ball first time into the top corner only to find the Glen man pulling off a tremendous reflex save.

Fort had changed their keeper at the break with youngster Stuart Disher taking over between the sticks from Felix Mackay who found himself fired up to wing-forward. Young Disher looks a good prospect and he had to look lively on a couple of occasions as Glen tried to force their way back into the contest. It was not to be however and though the Glen back line of John Barr, Billy Urquhart , Cameron Bremner and Finlay Robertson had put in a good shift Smith proved that after all these years he still had it when in the 77th minute he turned quickly away from his man and fired the ball low into the bottom corner to make it 3-0 . It was an excellent hat-trick and if the Covid Officer had not known the club was so strapped for cash, he would have let Victor take the match ball home.

At this point, the heavens opened and the pitch began to deteriorate rapidly especially in the goalmouth at the shop end. With the game so close to its conclusion ,Tina let the struggle continue and by the end, Fort had added another. This time Felix Mackay who was proving he could play a bit, had played the ball wide and 15-year-old Cameron Stephen following up the initial phase of play was on hand to finish the match off with an excellent shot to make it Fort 4 Glen 0.

Despite the weather then a good experience for all the players and another game completed in the time of Covid. Disappointing for the Glen who could have done with Lachie Smith, Conor Golabek and Liam Robertson to make the contest tighter - but let’s face it these days it’s the taking part that actually counts.

Many thanks to Tina Marshall for officiating- she did an excellent job- and thanks to Fort for travelling. Above all thanks to photographer Neil Paterson for providing some excellent illustrations of the afternoons sporting activity.


** It turned out that after this was sent to the President for approval, a phone call was received shortly afterwards.

“Were you at the game?”

“No sir. We cannot go because of the pandemic”

“Well for a start you were too kind to Fort William- and for another it was young Victor who got the goals not the old fellow”

“You mean Old Vic wasn’t playing.”

“Of course he wasn’t playing. What’s more Astie wasn't playing either; it was his wee fellow, young Astie who was there. That was a shame for us certainly. if Old Astie had been playing, we’d definitely have scored at least five. Young Alexander's a good player-he can read the game; old Astie is better at reading the tea leaves.”

“What do I do now?”

“Change the report.”

In the end and after the Wing Centre found out that the girls squad had lost to Inverness he didn’t feel he could be bothered -so here is the original.

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Saturday, October 24, 2020

On Saturday the Neighbours came round to play in our Shinty Bubble

This week we had yet another two Covid-secure games of shinty- both of them against our near neighbours Beauly. To Drum people of this generation, Beauly always seems a little posh: they have a square, an upmarket tweed shop, a Deli, an Italian café (the Wing Centre’s special favourite) , a classy antique shop, Munro the Butchers and of course should they need it-and many of them do-Calum Fraser from Glenurquhart is there to test their eyes. Those of us of an older generation remember that it wasn’t always quite so posh however- and back in the day when the antecedents of the Wing Centre’s good lady were denizens of Ferry Road there used to be a regular column in the press called “The Chirpings of a Beauly Gutter-sparrow.” This column used to lay out the gossip and dirty laundry of the villagers for all to see and no doubt caused mirth and annoyance in equal measure.

What would the sparrow have said this week after the two games in Drum? We don’t actually know but there is a report about Saturday’s two games against the Glen on the Beauly Shinty Club Face book page. While the report was kind to the Glen in some ways it was also sketchy on Drum details and so it falls upon the Wing Centre to set the record straight.

Glen 2nds 1     Beauly 2nds 5

This was an interesting fixture for the Glen in that in order to accommodate Beauly’s young team- it was more or less their under 17s- the Glen felt obliged to stand down a number of their more experienced players and fill out the side with youngsters. The result was the Glen lined up as follows with the inclusion of a number of schoolboys who were making their debuts. Also included in the line up were ladies’ players Ishbel Barr and Hazel Hunter.

The game was quite evenly matched from the outset with  nothing much between the sides in the early exchanges. The Glen’s young midfield performed well with full centre Chris Mack putting in an excellent shift. Despite an  early knock to Ishbel Barr which meant that she had to leave the field, the Glen kept their focus and  Hazel Hunter who had taken up position at full-forward played a leading part in the match and although physically tested by Beauly full-back Ewan MacCormick,  her pace , her  skill and her constant switching of positions meant she was always a threat.

However it was at the other end that the opener came when after some neat forward play Finlay MacLennan found enough space away from his marker to knock the ball past Glen’s keeper  youngster Craig Fraser to put the visitors ahead with a fine finish.

For the rest of the half Beauly continued to have the greater possession but strong defending from and a couplie of good saves from Fraser meant Beauly were unable to extend their lead before half-time.

After the break, Beauly continued to push forward and were able to double their advantage through youngster Callum MacIver who profited from a slip by Glen full-back Callum Miller. This was a good little contest all afternoon. 15 year old MacIver is a pacy and wholehearted player who competes well but credit must also go to Miller who played him fairly and stuck to the spirit of the game all afternoon.

The Glen then came back into the game for a period, but the Beauly defence played well limited any shooting chances. Eventually in the 71st minute a quick ball up the left-hand side from Chris Mack was knocked across by Ewan Carroll and fell invitingly for Hazel Hunter who outpaced her defender and first-timed the ball home past Beauly keeper Lennox Stewart from just outside of the “D”.

Though Hazel is no stranger to goal scoring in the ladies’ game, this was her first goal at senior level and delighted the committee members present who have seen her progress through the ranks at the club from the Primary teams upwards.

Beauly still had the edge though and as the Glen youngsters ran out of steam two examples of excellent finishing by Rory Tuach and a late strike from Finlay Maclennan saw referee John Matheson blow the final whistle on a final score of 5-1.


Glen 3 Beauly 1

Glen made a superb start in this match going 2-0 ahead inside the first three minutes-not the start that Beauly would have expected. This was in fact a good Beauly team with David Maclean back in their ranks after his spell at Newtonmore. Not that it made much difference to the Glen who were far from at full strength with their students Cameron McIntosh, Finlay Ralston and Fergus Robertson missing as well as Oliver Black who looks to be a long-term absentee after damaging ligaments in training.

The opening goal was an excellent one with the ball fired up from the hit off by Conor Golabek to David Maclennan. He laid it off quickly to Josh Macdonald-Haig and his excellent strike from a tight angle gave Beauly keeper Lee Dunbar no chance.

The second followed almost immediately when directly from the hit off Glen forced a corner. The strike was taken by Jamie Maclennan who profited from a piece of good fortune when the ball took a deflection of a divot on the pitch and flew past a helpless Dunbar to put the Glen two up with Beauly wondering what hit them.

To be fair to them, Beauly then began to play a bit and their physical centre-line began to win more of the bar but despite this they were unable to create any real chances – and with John Barr, Lachie Smith, Finlay Robertson and Cameron Bremner solid at the back, Glen keeper Stuart Mackintosh had only one save to make. Half time score 2-0 for Glenurquhart.

The second half saw Beauly continue in positive mode and their front men were able to link up well and from time to time create chances. Glen keeper Mackintosh kept out a good attempt from Calum Flynn and they finally got their goal when Jack Macdonald was able to find the same divot on the pitch to wrong foot Mackintosh and bring the Greens back into the game.

Beauly were unable to profit from this fillip however and though they continued to play well the Glen defence remained secure-and the centre line of Mike Fraser, Liam Robertson and Conor Golabek proved hard to get past. Finally,  with the clock ticking down to the end of the game Glen’s Conor Golabek pounced on a loose ball at the edge of the box and fired it past Dunbar to make the final score 3-1 in favour of the Glen.

An entertaining game certainly- and we saw enough from Beauly to understand that with their wanderers back they are a side with potential. For the Glen the message is that their defence-most of whom have had recent Premier League experience- are a match for anyone. Elsewhere the players are a fair match for any other side and with the prospect of Saturday’s absentees being in the picture when the sport returns the future looks good.

Many thanks as always to Neil Patterson for the photographs.


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Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Second week of Covid-secure shinty in the Glen.


Glenurquhart 6 Inverness 0

“OK Peloton, let’s go” said the President to the team- and quite right too because after having had one genuine match after the restart of the indigenous sport the players were keen to have more-and even more hopefully- as was the whole committee. And so, it came to pass this past weekend that Inverness S.C. were good enough to come out to Blairbeg to give us a game.

Not that anyone was allowed to see it because of the Co-vid regulations and so unless someone had a defined role as either a match official or a team official there was no way the game could be viewed. 

It was not advertised on social media and naturally there was no income of any sort to be derived from it. Indeed, Glenurquhart Shinty Club has taken in no income from the pavilion teas or at the gate since the Macdonald Cup game in March- and because of a quirk of the rating system which left us without a number we did not receive any Co-vid fund money from the Highland Council. Other luckier Clubs have received sums up to £10,000 and good on them. The Glen however, have bad lucked out.

 What income we do have has come thanks to our sponsors and the generosity of our players and supporters who have supported for four months an online lottery which has helped us keep going.

Bearing this in mind the Wing Centre sat waiting for text updates from the park and while he felt happy that he was not out in the pouring rain, he was definitely most unhappy to listen in on Sportsound to some specialised whingeing from Scottish football’s representatives about not being allowed spectators at matches.

That the spokesman who was doing most of the whingeing was Aberdeen’s Willie Miller only made things worse. Everyone of a certain age will recall Willie Miller with distaste remembering how he and Liverpool’s Alan Hansen, managed to get Scotland ejected from the 1982 World Cup finals with a catastrophic failure of judgement that could only have been scripted by MI5 to undermine the national psyche.

One could go on- but if you are sitting in the house unable to watch a shinty match because you feel that the Co-vid rules have to be obeyed for the good of your family, friends and neighbours and you hear the sort of entitled nonsense coming from the world of football you are allowed to be angry. What is it they don’t get?

Still the news from the field when it came through was good. The Glen with a sprinkling of older players but with some excellent youngsters put on a solid performance against a young Inverness side who were in no way disgraced.

Let’s face it-the Glen defence was pretty much premier standard with Stuart Mackintosh in goals, John Barr at full-back and Lachie Smith at buckshee. You can see the top sides in the Premiership and one or two in the National League giving them a game but not many others. However, with Conor Golabek in the middle and James “Frostie” Macpherson in pole position the youngsters on the side-lines were well supported. The only real disappointment for the home side was that forward Oliver Black who had damaged an ankle in training was unable to complete the warm up and could not take the field.

The team pool was as follows: Stuart Mackintosh, John Barr. Lachie Smith, Rory Maclean, Finlay Robertson, Jamie Maclennan, Liam Robertson, Conor Golabek, Ej Tembo, Josh Macdonald-Haig, James Macpherson, Oliver Black, Charlie Macleod, Ryan Porter and Thomas Stebbings.

It took the Glen about 12 minutes to open their account. This came when a long ball up from mid-field was pulled out of the air on the left-hand side by youngster Jed Stoddart and he dispatched a powerful back hand shot over the shoulder of Inverness keeper Kenny Loades and into the net for the opener.

Inverness, prompted by the experienced MacMaster brothers, picked up a little at this point but though they did manage to get some ball forward Mackintosh in the Glen goal had very little to do but tidying up.

Glen’s second goal came in 27 minutes when Frostie Macpherson found himself in possession about 25 yards out. As he always would, he fired in a shot from distance which somehow managed to find its way through keeper Kenny Loades’ legs. An unlucky break perhaps for a keeper who otherwise showed-particularly in his ability to thwart Conor Golabek- that he is no mean figure between the sticks.

The last quarter of the first half saw the Glen strike a third goal to basically seal the tie. Once again Jed Stoddart picked a ball fired up from the midfield-this time by Jamie Maclennan. Stoddart gathered in the ball and fired from a tight angle with his low shot just finding the net inside the far post.

The same player was unlucky not to add a fourth goal just before the break but the Inverness keeper redeemed himself for his earlier mishap to make a fine save and keep the differential to 3-0 as referee John Matheson blew the whistle for half-time.

The next Glenurquhart strike was not long in coming with Josh Macdonald-Haig playing the ball down the line for youngster Charlie Macleod to fire home from a tight angle.

The game settled for a brief spell as Glenurquhart seemed to take their foot off the throttle but that pause in momentum only lasted as long as the 70th minute when the Glen notched up their fifth strike of the afternoon. This time the ball forward was a long crossfield effort from Liam Robertson. This took a deflection off an Inverness defender and landed kindly for Jed Stoddard who completed his hat-trick with a powerful drive from about the penalty spot which found the net despite the best efforts of Loades to keep it out.

The Inverness keeper did better a few minutes later when he once again thwarted Golabek but, not to be denied, the Glen completed their afternoon with a sixth goal, this time from Josh Macdonald-Haig who took the ball past his marker and slid it home from just outside the “D” to finally clinch the 6-0 victory.

A good performance then with special performances from Jed Stoddart and Charlie Macleod and despite his lack of luck in front of goals Conor Golabek who as usual put in a power of work. Jamie Maclennan and Liam Robertson also performed well on what was, as the pics will testify, a difficult pitch in appalling conditions.

Credit too to inverness who were happy to participate and of course to the officials on both sides who applied the Co-vid rules effectively and ensured that for the second week in a row, the Glen could get back to shinty.

Thanks to Garry and his phone for the pics - the guess is that the phone is owed the bigger congratulation.

Football? Who cares?


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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Dixie Breaks 'Glass Hearts in the Ali Ban

Glenurquhart 6     Strathglass 0

So the headline is rubbish. Maybe it should have been “Hurrah! Hurrah for Dixie!” if that concept didn’t come with its own baggage. However, despite the rubbishness or otherwise of the headline the contest itself was anything but. 

After not having had a competitive game of shinty since March, both these sides put in a fine performance and the general verdict was that it was good to get back to the ancient game. The sad thing about it that this excellent fare was served up to precisely no spectators: Covid rules meant that apart from the players and various appointed officials and members of the press-viz Norman Strachan and Neil Paterson-nobody was allowed to watch the match.

That included the Wing Centre himself, who although he could have wangled an invite to attend on the pretext that this intermittent blog is a bona fide output from the press, he declined to do so. Actually, his good lady declined on his behalf, making it clear he did not need to go and that were he to go there was a good chance that he would be receiving no dinner for the foreseeable. If his grandchildren were not able to come round then ……the script writes itself

Given that it was beef olives from Munro’s of Beauly that were on the menu then there was, as one might say, no contest. Of course, the Wing centre can make his own dinner: he has done it at least twice but he is rubbish at it and to lift another food metaphor, he knows on which side his bread is buttered.

The game went ahead without his presence- but regular WhatsApps from goal judge Billy Macleod and President & Covid Officer Garry Mackintosh kept him apprised of the situation on the ground.

For afficionados of Glen sides of yore it is nice to present the team lines and Glen Boss Paul Mackintosh

It has to be said that the opening 25 minutes showed the Glen’s superiority up front. With eventual Man of the Match Dixie Maclennan leading a youthful front line in which youngster Charlie Macleod, who appears to developing into a potent striker, was outstanding.

Indeed, it was Charlie Macleod who got the game off to a flying start when after a corner on the right conceded after the Glen’s opening attack, the ball was allowed to roll  across the face of goal before the youngster pounced from the left and first timed a sharp low shot past Strath player/manager Allan Macleod who just happens to be his uncle. It just so happened that Allan's brother Iain was in the other goals.

With ‘Glass still slightly shell-shocked from the opener they were to fall further behind when again a Jamie Maclennan corner saw the cross-ball fall to Jed Stoddart whose strike inside fell to Dixie Maclennan and he smashed his shot past Macleod to double the home sides advantage.

A third goal followed swiftly when a long ball up from the centreline from Cameron Bremner found Dixie Maclennan out on the right. He tested away from his marker and fired the ball into the danger zone where two Glen front men were ready to dispatch it- and in the end it was Charlie Macleod who managed to nip his shot in ahead of Jed Stoddart who was equally ready to finish.

The fourth goal saw Dixie Maclennan in a test of strength with veteran  Strath full back Iain MacCallum after Glen switched the ball forward at speed this time following a shy from wing centre Jamie Maclennan  . The ball was then won in midfield by Donnie Maclennan before being swept forward to his brother Dixie thanks to a long hit forward. The Glen full forward gathered the ball and powered his way forward to knock the ball home from close range despite the efforts of visiting keeper Macleod.


The next one followed a similar pattern though the ball was fired long up the left from Lewis Macdonald to Maclennan who controlled the ball and drove in on goal past MacCallum before knocking the ball past the advancing Macleod who was bowled over in his attempts to keep the ball out of the net.

The final goal of the day, which came just before half time was again down to Maclennan again picking up the ball on the left and running through this time unchallenged to finish off the Glen’s scoring with his fourth goal of the afternoon. With three  Maclennan brothers in the squad , Dixie was always going to go one better.

Halftime saw the Glen stand down their ace striker Maclennan  and in his absence the Strathglass defence who had up till that time a torrid afternoon began to get more of a grip on the match and the second half was a much more balanced affair. Despite that however ‘Glass goalie Macleod still had to be on his toes to keep out a number of excellent attempts especially from Conor Golabek who tried in vain to get himself on the score sheet from half back.

In the end it was not to be but truthfully any extra goals on the score sheet from Glen would have possibly taken the edge of a game which though competitive was played in an excellent spirit. Matters were also helped by the fact that  referee Bobo Morrison, looking after his first competitive match for some time, kept a firm grip on proceedings , though in truth the players were aware enough of the gravity of the situation and, having had six months without a game,  were keen to be co-operative with all the officials

All in all, the match was a worthwhile exercise and all the effort from both sides to have a Covid-secure match was well rewarded.

Thanks to Neil Paterson for his kindness in allowing us to use his photographs. The socially distanced team shots appear to be a first- but then these two teams were firsts back in 1887. An historic day in deed.


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