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16 October 2014

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Shinty

Camanachd Cup

Camanachd Cup 1988

© SCRAN

The match was the culmination of a competition seen as the means of raising the flagging interest in “the fine old Highland pastime of shinty”. The contestants were brilliant exponents of the game, the North versus South dimension an added attraction. Cowal were reported to be travelling with “a terrorising name”. The Badenoch warriors “would grimly fight for the honour that was at stake.”

The match was played at a venue no longer in sporting use in Inverness, a park at Needlefield, a piece of ground situated between Longman Road and Cromwell's Fort, near the current harbour area. The day was practically observed as a holiday in Kingussie. A special train that conveyed the team to Inverness brought over 400 people to see the contest. From the whole Highland area, they gathered in droves, “an unwonted number of wearers of kilt and knickerbocker.” The Glasgow team arrived on Friday night to be in trim for the contest.

On a murky Saturday, drizzling rain rendered the playing pitch slippery. Notwithstanding the charge of a shilling, crowds had flocked to the match, and there were around 1000 in attendance, producing gate receipts of £41.

Teams:
Kingussie: Goal, John Campbell; backs, J. Campbell and A. Macpherson; half-backs, A. Gibson, J. Dallas, and J. Pullar; forwards, I. Grant, A. Cumming, A. Robertson, A. Campbell, and W. Ross (captain). Umpires: Sergeant-Major Macdonald and John Mackenzie.
Cowal: W. Robinson; backs, P. Campbell and D. Martin; half-backs, Dunn, Morrison and John Macinnes; centres, D. Robinson, A. Campbell, and A.B. Ferguson; forwards, Peter Macinnes, Thomas Scott (captain), J. McCorquodale, and A. Crawford. Umpires: D. McCorquodale, and Henderson.
Referee D. P. MacGillivray, Gorbals, Strathdearn

Cowal started well and the Kingussie team looked unsettled. Cowal's striking was sharp and sure. Again and again Dallas of Kingussie, by most determined and really brilliant play, averted danger, frustrating his opponents.

The Badenoch men however began to play to some purpose and with more method. Encouraged by the slogans of their enthusiastic supporters, and with a defence seemingly impregnable, and the Kingussie forwards, no doubt inspired by the brilliant play of their own defence, re-awaken to a sense of their responsibility and opportunity. Ultimately, with a dash and impetuosity that was well nigh irresistible, the men from Badenoch press their opponents, and William Ross has the satisfaction of scoring the first goal for Kingussie, after seventeen minutes' play.
A second followed later when Alex Campbell by way of a scorching shot scored amid the “loud and prolonged demonstrations of the spectators”. The pace never slackened. It was wonderful how the players maintained the high rate of speed and energy required. The ball was carried from one end to the other with the Kingussie defence the outstanding element of their play.
Amidst intense excitement, Kingussie carried away victory, and won the first ever championship by two hails to nil.

News of the victory was received with much satisfaction in Kingussie and district, and the players were accorded an ovation on their return, pipers playing lively airs, and others carrying lighted torches, assembling at the train station, and marching through the town, while bonfires were lighted above the burgh and two on the farm of Dunachton.
Thus shinty's premier trophy, designed by the famous silversmiths of Edinburgh, Hamilton and Inches and sponsored since 1976 by the Glenmorangie Distillery company eventually found its way to Badenoch for the first time where it has been won by Newtonmore and Kingussie on nearly fifty of the occasions the championship has been played. The cup was not ready for the day of the final but that did not diminish the celebrations and it was finally presented to Kingussie in November by their own club Chieftain, Cluny Mcpherson at one of the biggest ever celebrations seen in the village.
The 100th final will be played in Inverness in 2007, taking into account the years during World Wars when no finals were played.

Written by: Hugh Dan MacLennan

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