BBC BLOGS - Gary Innes
« Previous | Main | Next »

Players should use their heads - wear a helmet

Post categories:

Gary Innes | 14:39 UK time, Monday, 28 March 2011

I am well aware that accidents happen in shinty but in the game I was playing at the weekend I was reminded just how serious they can be.

What follows is not for the squeamish...

My team, Fort William, travelled to Cannich on Saturday to try progress past Strathglass, one of six ties in the Co-operative MacTavish Cup.

I am pleased to say we returned home with a 6-2 win, with two goals apiece by Gordie MacKinnon and me, followed by strikes from Brian Simpson and 17-year-old Ewan Campbell proving too much for the home side.

Strath's Gordie Fraser and Les Fraser got their names on the score sheet.

Gary Innes - wearing a helmet - in full flight against Strathglass in the MacTavish Cup. Photo: Neil Paterson

Gary Innes - wearing a helmet - in full flight against Strathglass in the MacTavish Cup. Photo: Neil Paterson

However, the result barely mattered because the sting was taken out of the game halfway through the first half with two very serious head injuries.

I have to say, they were two of the worst facial injuries I have witnessed in a long time and they happened within five minutes of one another. Neither team really recovered from them.

The first was when Strath's Andrew Fraser caught the end of the caman square on the forehead leaving a hole in his face.

The second was an identical incident minutes later when Fort's Steven Monk swung through, and Strath's Alistair McAdams caught the end of his stick on the forehead, leaving the skull clearly visible through his open wound.

Now, I am not trying to be graphic, or put anyone off their dinner, but I would like to reiterate that I think more players should consider wearing helmets.

Had both these players been wearing one on Saturday, they would most likely have been enjoying a pint with their team-mates after the game, instead of spending hours being treated in Raigmore Hospital.

I must add that neither of these players did anything wrong. Both incidents were accidents, and extremely unlucky, but it just goes to that accidents will happen time and time again in our sport.

I can understand why some players don't even bother to try to wear a helmet. Some feel it restricts their vision, or that because they never wore one growing up it will affect their game.

I can honestly say that after wearing a helmet this season, I don't think my game has been affected in the slightest.

On a lighter note, our game started later on Saturday as the Strathglass second team took on Lewis Camanachd.

I only caught the second half, but was delighted to witness the islanders making history and picking up the club's first ever point with a 2-2 draw.

The lads got the first Calmac ferry out at 7am on Saturday, rumour has it they didn't make it home before the same time the next day.

Well done, Lewis, I'm sure it won't be the last point you earn.

Only two Premier League fixtures were scheduled on Saturday due to the first round of the MacTavish Cup in the North and the South's Celtic Society Cup being contested.

Kyles Athletic made no mistake when they visited Glenorchy, thrashing them 7-1.

On the score sheet for Kyles were Roddie MacDonald, Grant Irvine (3) Thomas Whyte, Fraser MacDonald and Robby MacLeod, with Kenny MacDougall scoring the Mart side's only goal.

Oban Camanachd will be extremely happy after taking both points at Kingussie. Ryan Bothwick opened the scoring for the home side, before Kings goalkeeper Andrew Bothwick netted an own goal, levelling two minutes later.

Camanachd's Aidan MacIntyre gave Oban the lead on 30 minutes and they managed to hold off Kingussie for another 60 minutes to win 2-1.

In the South's Celtic Society Cup, Glasgow Mid Argyll beat Oban Celtic 4-3 after being 3-1 down.

Inveraray also progressed after beating Bute 4-2 at home helped by a Garry MacPherson hat-trick.

In the MacTavish Cup, Caberfeidh beat Lochcarron 4-2, Beauly took five off Inverness, while Newtonmore thumped a whopping 11 on Skye Camanachd.

In the only Premier cup draw, Glenurquhart travelled to the Canal Parks to face Kilmallie. The game finished 1-1 after 90 minutes, before Kilmallie went on to beat "Glen" 4-2 in extra time.

First Division's Kinlochshiel fought their way through to the second round beating Premier League outfit Lovat. The only goal came through Scottish international Finlay MacRae, to win the fixture 1-0 for the underdogs.

In this weekend's action Inveraray take on Kyles Athletic, while Kilmallie travel to Glenorchy. Newtonmore face Glenurquhart at the Eilean, while Oban Camanachd host Kingussie in what is sure to be a cracker after last weekend's result.

Fort William travel to Kiltarlity to challenge Lovat, who will be disappointed at losing to Kinlochshiel at the weekend, and Fort will be hoping this isn't the game the home side bounce back from with a win.

Safe travels to all clubs and players this weekend. Ach, go on, lads, give the helmet a try. You never know - you might even like it.


  • Comment number 1.

    Alright there Gary. I must admit, I've heard of serious injuries before in shinty, but never anything like that, and for it to happen twice! Sounds pretty nasty, hope Andrew and Alistair will be alright soon. I'm a follower of GAA (especially gaelic football) and recently the governing body made it compulsary for all hurlers to be wearing helmets, for much the same reason, even when play stops and players are taking frees.

    It think it would be a good idea, although, I had heard that a few of the hurling lads were complaining that helmets affected their vision also. Perhaps an agreement could be made with an equipment manufacturer to come up with a new helmet that players would feel more comfortable with. Some other people would say also that it makes the game more "soft". I don't think so though, it'd be good to see shinty grow and become more popular and anything that makes the game safer should be something that would make new players feel more comfortable, and these kinds of head injuries can be largely avoided.

  • Comment number 2.

    I think players should give it a go! I was a first-aider for a shinty team for a couple of seasons and in the beginning was amazed with the range of injuries that i had to deal with. However the most common was head wounds, either by accident or sadly on purpose in certain matches. My worst ever match was a local derby/grudge match between two teams, but it was my luck that i was the only first aider, so ended up taking care of both teams!! That day, other than dealing with the usual strains and sprains and the odd bruise and cut leg, i dealt with 6 split heads. Of these 6, one was that bad that you could see bone through. And the last one of the days head injuries was one lad where a rebounded caman caught him literally millimetres above his left eye - he was extremely lucky as any lower then he would probably have either suffered severe damage to his eye or in the worst case, he could've lost his eye. Of the 6 head injuries that day, 3 ended up going to Raigmore to get stitches (after the game).

    I think its good that kids are made to wear the gear these days, and that they get the choice to keep it or ditch it when they get old enough. However we can only encourage the "grown-ups" to take a chance and protect themselves against probably what could be some of the worst injuries that can happen in this fantastic sport!!

  • Comment number 3.

    I wear a light hurling helmet, after getting fed up with the bulk of the old schl shinty ones... but i dont think a helmet is needed for a lot of players. I wouldn't be able to play without it to the same standard, but boys that have grown up without one play differently to protect their head. yes, freak accidents can occur, but equally you can get hit in the ear,neck or jaw line with a helmet.

    I dont think helmets should be enforced after primary and infact would argue it is pretty debatable even in primary 7. Enforcing helmets would change the game...


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.