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Conflicting loyalties for a shinty man

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Gary Innes | 14:13 UK time, Monday, 27 February 2012

It's lovely to be back again this year talking about the best game in the world, shinty.

One of the few remaining sports left that, even at the top level, is totally amateur - which no-one would want to change.

All across the country this Saturday, players and supporters will dig out their boots, gloves and woolly hats to welcome the start of the 2012 shinty season.

Last season seemed to have it all for shinty fans and, in particular, a special year for Newtonmore, who clinched the Premier title from Kyles Athletic in the 90th minute of the last game of the season, whilst also raising the Camanachd Cup for the first time in 25 years against their great rivals Kingussie.

Is it possible to think we could have a bigger climax to the end of this year?


The end of one season and the start of a new one always brings change.

This is usually the time of year when the older boys bow out, step aside, and let the new fresh-faced whippets loose on the field to try and make a name for themselves.

At Fort William this year we have lost four of our older stalwarts who helped, and often carried, the team through the past decade.

Adam Robertson, John MacLeod, John Macdonald, and Camanachd Cup hero on more than one occasion, James Clark, have all decided to hang up their boots.

All four players were previous Scottish internationals and would probably eat their granny to win a game on a Saturday, yet have the upmost respect for their opponents.

Four very influential role models for myself growing up, although I'm happy Adam's friendship with the referees didn't rub off on me too much.

Promotion to the Premier means we welcome back Bute from the South after a one year absence, while North's Kinlochshiel make their debut in the top flight.

Kinlochshiel have been knocking on the Premier door for years and I think stand a very good chance of staying there for the foreseeable future if their young boys travel well.

Kyles Athletic stormed the league from the start of last year and lost out on lifting the title on the last day of the season. Can they make history this time round?

Kingussie are missing their top man, Ronald Ross, for the start of their season due to an ankle injury, while last year's Newtonmore captain Scott Campbell, is rumoured to have finished for the champs.

Kilmallie welcome the opening of their new dressing rooms at the Canal Parks, while ex-Scotland manager Fraser Mackenzie, and current national team boss, Drew MacNeil, try and 'Drum' Glenurquhart into shape.

I'd also like to wish my local village club Lochaber every success this year in North Division 1.

With my little brother Hughie Innes donning the captain's armband for the red and white hoops, hopefully there will be a few big days out ahead for them all.

North Division 3 also welcomes two new clubs to the North, in the shape of Strathspey and Lewis Camanachd, who have been confirmed to continue after last year's probationary season.

This will also be a boost to other shinty clubs in the Western Isles who were unsure if Lewis could sustain itself.

As many of you may know I play traditional music for a living which, in turn, takes me all over the world playing my wee purple squeeze box.

It's a wonderful position to be in when you know your diary is filling up more and more with summer festivals.

However, this year more than most, it looks likely that I am going to be unavailable for a lot of Fort's fixtures as the season progresses.

This in turn will more than likely also knock me out of the Scotland squad, which I have been part of through the different age levels since 1999.

I am, however, still optimistic and trying to organise aeroplanes, helicopters, and boats around it to make the 2.30 throw up.

This weeks Orion Premiership fixtures are as follows:

Glenurquhart v Kilmallie, Inveraray v Kyles Athletic and Kinlochshiel v Kingussie.

While champions Newtonmore kick start their season at home to Lovat.

Fort William hope to get their season off to a flyer when they host Bute at home.

A home fixture for the first game of the season is usually a good tie, however Fort William still have not secured a home ground as of yet.

Fort's usual home field 'an Aird' is unavailable to the club until August this year as the council try and fix the drainage system under the park.

There are rumours that Morrison's car park is looking the likely venue to replace the GUR park.

Safe travels to all clubs and supporters this weekend.


  • Comment number 1.

    Have to say I am looking forward to the season - may even take a trip overseas this year to see Bute in the Premiership. Not too far from Ardrossan! I think the park is walking distance from the ferry - hopefully not the precipitous park fashioned in a field somewhere on the island I played on 24 years ago!


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