Kenny Wotherspoon back with the red and blacks

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New Oban Camanachd manager Stephen Sloss has named Kenny Wotherspoon as his assistant ahead of the 2019 shinty season.

Wotherspoon comes into the post with three years’ experience managing Oban Celtic, the last two of which were in the Marine Harvest National Division.

Stephen said: ‘Kenny will be my number two. He’s been a manager in his own right which is a huge help but he’ll also find that everything is amplified in the Premiership whether it is the speed the game or the skill on show; the whole set up is amplified. Kenny will be an asset to the squad as we look to turn all the undoubted potential into something positive.’

Kenny, who also managed the South U21 squad last year, said: ‘I’m really looking forward to this. The club has made me feel very welcome. I spoke to the players, Stephen and the Oban Camanachd committee prior to getting started. I know I’m taken a step back to be an assistant manager when I was previously a boss in my own right before but it will also be a massive step up with everything that’s involved in Premiership shinty.’

So how will the synergy between Sloss and Wotherspoon work? ‘Stephen has had a glittering playing career,’ said Wotherspoon. ‘He is very knowledgeable where shinty is concerned and he’s done very well previously coaching the Oban Camanachd U14s and U17s. He’s even stood in with the first team any time Haybo [Ian Hay] was unavailable. He told me what he was looking for and I described what I’d be able to offer from my experience in management. I’ll get the chance to put forward my thoughts and bring something to the table whether it’s training, tactics or on the match day itself but Stephen is the key man and the final decisions rest with him.’

Kenny played youth shinty for Oban Camanachd before turning out for a successful Lochside team, winning South 1 and 2 as well as six Bullough Cups. He even played around half a dozen times for the Oban Camanachd first team. ‘There was great competition for places back then,’ he recalls. ‘I was trying to get into a forward line that had the likes of Fraser Inglis and Dougie MacIntyre.’

Wotherspoon left for Oban Celtic in 2007 but now makes his return 12 years later.

‘I know many of the boys already. Some were involved with the South U21s last season while I know others socially or through work.

‘I’d like to thank Gareth (Evans) and Stephen (Sloss) for the chance to work with the Oban Camanachd squad and I just hope the parks hold up well through February so the boys can get their match sharpness for the start of the new season.’

Sloss looks to give Oban Camanachd every advantage

He’s just a couple of months into the job and new Oban Camanachd manager Stephen Sloss is working hard to ensure Oban Camanachd have every advantage going into the new shinty season.

‘The preparations for both Oban Camanachd and Lochside Rovers are going well,’ said an upbeat Sloss. ‘We’ve no injuries in either squad and, so far, it’s all been very positive. Our fitness training has been very good, we are using sports psychology and providing the players with information on nutrition, and we are also looking at how we do warm-ups and carrying out all the analysis we can to avoid injuries. So we will look to build up every advantage we can get and if we can mix all that in with additional commitment from the players, we’ll be ready to take on anybody.’

Sloss stored a great deal of knowledge about the current squad before taking over the manager’s position from Ian Hay. ‘I was lucky enough to be at nearly every Oban Camanachd game last season so I know the potential is there. No team ever overran Oban Camanachd last season. However, Haybo [Ian Hay] wasn’t able to get the same team on the park two Saturdays in a row and that needs to change.’

Defender Scott McKillop has provided his manager with an early boost, returning to training after suffering a foot injury when abroad.

There is also the appointment of assistant manager Kenny Wotherspoon to help on the sidelines.

‘While Kenny and I are obviously involved on a regular basis,’ added Sloss, ‘we will also be able call on folk like David MacCuish to come in and assist with training and that helps mix things up and it also keep things fresh. Brian (MacCallum) and George (Easton) at Lochside are also involved. Oban Camanachd, along with the likes of Skye and Fort William, have had the best young players around in recent years so it is important that these players can see that there’s a pathway through to the first team.’

Sloss expects to be working with much the same group of players that took the side to a fifth place finish in the Marine Harvest Premiership and Scottish Sea Farms Glasgow Celtic Society Cup success last season. ‘While there have been additions to the squad from Lochside ahead of the past few seasons, there is likely to be more continuity this time around,’ he noted. ‘We have a really strong squad and there’s a settled first team pool of around 19 players. Oban Camanachd have had success in a lot of competitions in the past, including the Camanachd Cup but Haybo has arguably built the club’s best-ever league team.’

Oban Camanachd have been looking into the possibility of arranging a fixture for Saturday January 26. What is confirmed though is a full training match on Saturday February 2, the visit of Glasgow Mid Argyll to Mossfield a week later, followed by a meeting with Ballachulish and a testing encounter with Newtonmore at the Eilan ahead of the start of the competitive season.

Madej Oban switch confirmed

Oban Camanachd manager Stephen Sloss confirmed that Daniel Madej has joined the side from local rivals Oban Celtic.

While a number of shinty’s top flight clubs have lost some regulars ahead of the new season, Oban Camanachd have been able to add to their pool.

Sloss said: ‘Daniel (Madej) looks to be enjoying his training with us and he’s a good addition to the squad considering he previously played for the Scotland U21s.’

Madej will be a familiar face to new Oban Camanachd assistant manager Kenny Wotherspoon, who knows the player well from their time together at Oban Celtic. ‘Daniel had an on-off season last year with injuries,’ he said. ‘He now has a fresh start and the chance to test himself in the Premiership season. He’ll hopefully get a good pre-season under his belt and be able to enjoy an injury-free spell which should see him find his form again.’

Oban Celtic friendly throw-up times

Oban Celtic have confirmed the throw up times for their pre-season friendlies.

New manager Dougie MacIntyre’s first match in charge will be a friendly meeting with Glengarry at Mossfield on Saturday February 2, throw up is at 1pm.

Oban Celtic are off to the Taynuilt Sports Field a week later to play Taynuilt with the Robert Wylie Memorial Cup at stake. Throw up is again at 1pm.

The final pre-season friendly is against Inveraray at Ganavan on Saturday February 23 with a 1pm start. The Oban Celtic second team also have a warm-up game as they welcome St Andrews University to the Oban High School all-weather pitch on Saturday February 16. Throw-up is at the earlier time of 10.30am.

Lochside friendly switch

Lochside Rovers have a change of fixture for their final pre-season friendly on Saturday February 23.

The Oban side were to face Taynuilt for the JC Trophy as the clubs remember John Cameron but that will now be contested when the teams meet in Marine Harvest South Division 1 in the new season.

Ballachulish will now visit Mossfield to face Lochside instead on the final Saturday before the new season starts.

Kilmallie coaching team

Recently appointed Kilmallie first team manager John Stewart has announced his coaching team for the 2019 season.

Stewart took over from Mark MacPherson, who stood down at the end of last season after four years in charge.

However, Mark MacPherson has agreed to come back into the fold as Stewart’s assistant manager which is a major boost to the club. He will be a popular choice among the players and he comes with considerable experience and a great knowledge of the newly promoted squad.

Ryan Stewart has been leading the pre-season fitness training and he will be the team trainer. Stewart is passionate about fitness and training and the players are already feeling the benefits from his sessions.

Kilmallie will also hold their annual general meeting Caol Community Centre on Saturday January 26.

This is an important date for the club as they reflect on the last year and plan for the season ahead. The AGM is also an opportunity for the board of directors to hear the views of players, members, helpers and supporters. The directors for the new season will be elected at the AGM, which starts at 11am.

Fort William bosses continue

Victor Smith and Adam Robertson continue in charge at Fort William next season.

The Fort only missed out on promotion by a point last season but they will start this term without influential defender James Tangney who suffered an accident when spending time abroad.

Kinlochshiel pre-season

Kinlochshiel have confirmed their pre-season schedule.

’Shiel start at home to Inverness on Saturday February 2 before playing Inveraray at the Winterton a week later.

Kinlochshiel host neighbours Skye Camanachd in their final pre-season friendly on Saturday February 23.

Kinlochshiel hope to be finally playing their home games on their new pitch in Balmacara but this will be weather dependent.

Aberdeen University stay up

Aberdeen University have opted to continue playing in Marine Harvest North Division 1 this coming season.

The students finished bottom of the league last season and were expected to be relegated.

However, they successfully put forward the case that they will be able to better progress as a club by maintaining their North 1 status.

2019 ‘Garry tournament

The countdown is on ahead of Glengarry’s popular annual indoor tournament to contest the Johnstone Rose Bowl at the Nevis Centre, Fort William on Saturday January 26.
The tournament starts at noon.

Lewis youth festival

The annual First Shinty Festival at the Lewis Sports Centre attracted 63 youngsters who were given the chance to develop their skills and play a number of games.

Several Camanachd Leòdhais were on hand to provide coaching and the event is another sign of shinty’s increased popularity in the western isles.

UHI recruitment call

The University of the Highlands and Islands are looking to recruit shinty players to compete in this season’s prestigious Littlejohn Vase competition, which takes place at St Andrews on Wednesday February 20.

Anyone interested in playing university shinty for UHI, and who has a student card and are a full- or part-time student at UHI (any campus), should contact Kingussie and Scotland U21 defender Rory MacKeachan by email at; rory_mack@hotmail.com

Benefits of sport

Sportscotland and the Camanachd Association want to understand the wider benefits experienced from taking part in sport. They are asking club members aged over 13 to tell about their sport and the physical activities involved both with their club and in everyday life.

They are also keen to understand how individuals first became involved with their clubs, what they feel the benefits of taking part are and how sporting participation helps them achieve their goals.

As a thank you, every survey completed by February 11 will be entered into a prize draw for £1,000 worth of sports equipment for the club concerned.

The prize draw will be run by sportscotland and the winning club will be notified by February 28.

The survey can be found at the following link: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/FTBDMJ9

Duncan Clark, Fort William

Fort William lost one of their most fervent supporters when Duncan Clark passed away peacefully, aged 85 years.

Shinty was in Duncan’s blood and he passed that on to sons Ali, Duncan Jnr, and Jimmy, who inherited his love of the game.

Grandsons Struan, Cameron, Arran and Ruaraidh play for the club and for Inverlochy while another grandson, Lewis, has represented Scotland at U17 level and plays for the current Fort William senior team.

Duncan’s twin brother, Donald from Newtonmore, passed away recently and his funeral was the same day as Duncan’s passing.

Duncan M MacDonald, Caberfeidh

The shinty community in general and Caberfeidh Shinty Club in particular were saddened to learn of the passing of Duncan MacLennan MacDonald at his home in Inverness on Tuesday January 15.

Duncan was formerly headmaster at both Contin and Fodderty primary schools where he took great interest in the promotion of shinty and became involved with the Ross-shire Camanachd Association.

After moving from Contin to Fodderty, he took up residence with his wife and family in Strathpeffer.

Duncan’s interest in shinty continued and he was very soon involved with Caberfeidh Shinty Club where he served for 11 years as Secretary from 1988 to 1999.

During his time with the club, Duncan took a huge interest in the youth teams and managed the U14 team when they were the first winners of the North Area U14 League in 1986 and again in 1987.

Duncan and his wife Jean moved to Inverness a few years ago to continue his retirement but kept up his interest in the Strathpeffer community.

Despite his failing health he was able to attend the Strathpeffer Highland Gathering last August.

Duncan is survived by his wife Jean, four daughters, two sons and his grandchildren.