Newtonmore celebrate first Premier Division title
All eyes were on An Aird on Saturday, where Fort William met Newtonmore to decide, once and for all, the 2010 Premier League Champions.
Thirteen hundred supporters young and old flooded around the field, showing their support for both clubs, in a match that didn't disapoint.
With John MacDonald and Adam Robertson suspended for Fort William, manager Peter MacIntyre had to make a couple of big changes that surprised Newtonmore and Fort players alike.
Full forward James Clark found himself in the unlikely role of full-back, while defender John MacLeod was pushed up onto the sawdust at the opposite end, taking a full forward role.
This tactic was adopted to try and bulk up the Fort defence, and keep the strong physical Newtonmore forwards at bay.
The Newtonmore players celebrate winning their first Premier Division title. Photo: Neil Paterson
The game raced from end to end, and only outstanding goalkeeping from both keepers saw a nervy first half come to an end.
Fort's Paul (Felix) Mackay would have won any man of the match award with his first-half display between the Fort sticks. Michael Ritchie in the Newtonmore goal also looked very composed, and brushed off some terrific strikes to keep the score level.
As we left the field at half-time I heard someone say "it could easily be 5-5", and they were not wrong!
Newtonmore saw more of the ball in the second half, and continued to run at the Fort defence, time and time again being met with a brick wall between the four defenders, and Felix the cat in goals.
With every minute that raced by, it felt like Fort may sneak a wee goal to nab the title. However, on the 80th minute Danny MacRae shattered that illusion, when he found himself one-on-one with the keeper, and slipped the ball into the corner of the net to send the An Aird crowd wild.
Fort William now had to score two goals to win the league, and as the game raced on, no such winners were found.
As the final whistle rang round An Aird, the Newtonmore supporters ran on and embraced their new champs.
Danny MacRae lifted the Premier title for the first time in the club's history and the relief was etched in the players' faces after a long season.
This was a great game and another great advert for shinty.
Well done to Newtonmore. I think the party will still be going on this time next week.
Bute's relegation battle continued on Saturday when they lost 2-1 away to Inveraray. Goals from Grant Griffin and Ewan Macmurdo put Inveraray two up, before Robert Walker pulled one back for Bute to finish the tie 2-1.
Thomas Bothwick (2), James Hutchison, and Fraser Munro were all on form for Kingussie when they met Kyles Athletic at the Dell. Mathew MacColl's hat-trick for the Tighnabruaich men was not enough to beat Kings, who won the match 4-3 and leapfrogged Kyles into third place.
As an amazing season draws to a close, there is still one more crucial decider to be fought. Oban Camanachd and Bute meet this weekend in a battle to avoid the last relegation spot. Bute only need a draw to secure their Premier survival. However, Oban have found themselves in this position before and managed to survive.
How do you see this one going?
Glasgow Mid Argyll play their last Premier league fixture, as they host Kyles Athletic. GMA will have gained plenty of experience from this season, and I hope it's not long before we see them again back in the top flight.
Inveraray finish their league campaign with an away trip to Kingussie. They have secured fifth spot in the league, and will enjoy an extended bus journey home to wrap things up.
Congratulations also to Kilmallie shinty club who won North Division 1 after a 6-0 thrashing of Caberfeidh. They now join South champs Glenorchy, as the two teams promoted to next year's Premier league.
It's been an incredible year again for shinty from start to finish - who would have thought that every competition would be taken to the wire?
After nine months of shinty from training, friendlies, and the season, I think a few will be relishing the prospect of waking up on a Saturday morning with nothing to do, but just remember, lads, all the wee jobs your wives and girlfriends have been stacking up for you.
By the time January comes, we will all be raring to go again, just to get out of shopping trips to Inverness.