Oban Camanachd award winners

Daniel Sloss, pictured with Kenny Wotherspoon, left, and his dad Stephen, was voted Oban Camanachd Player of the Year, Under-17 Player of the Year and Under-17 Players’ Player of the Year. Photographs: Oban Camanachd

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Oban Camanachd’s end of season prize-giving took place when the club hosted their 130th year dinner dance at the Royal Hotel, Oban, on Friday November 29.

This was a successful evening with music from Gunna Sound and a new awards category was introduced with the players all voting for their player of the year at all levels.

Nonny MacInnes Oban Camanachd First Team Player of the Year – Daniel Sloss

The Oban Camanachd first team player of the year award, named in memory of Oban Camanachd stalwart Nonny MacInnes, was presented to Daniel Sloss by Oban Camanachd assistant manager Kenny Wotherspoon. Daniel Sloss has been key in the Oban Camanachd defence this season and he not only represented Scotland U17 in Ireland this year but the 17-year-old-was also given a second cap at Scotland U21 level.

Kenny Wotherspoon said: ‘My first involvement with Daniel came a couple of years ago with the South U21 squad and you could tell then that he was a terrific talent.

‘He’s had a hugely positive season for Oban Camanachd and the biggest compliment we can pay him is that he is usually given a marking job on the opposition’s most dangerous forward each Saturday and that’s a big responsibility.

‘He’s an old head on young shoulders and when he’s given a job to do, he does it.

‘He’s a really down to earth lad, he’s good natured with a very good attitude and I’m sure we’ll see lots more from him next season.’

Oban Camanachd First Team Players’ Player of the Year – Garry Lord

Garry Lord had another excellent year for Oban Camanachd and was close to making the Scotland senior squad for the international against Ireland. His performances throughout a season, where he even chipped in with a goal at Kinlochshiel, were recognised by his team-mates. Garry Lord was presented with the award by Oban Camanachd first team manager Stephen Sloss.

Jamie Kerr Lochside Rovers Player of the Year – Lewis Buchanan

After rattling in the goals this season, Lewis Buchanan received the Jamie Kerr Lochside Rovers player of the year award. His performances in 2019 earned a call-up to the Oban Camanachd squad towards the end of the season.

This award remembers Jamie Kerr, whose father John Kerr made the presentation with Jamie’s brother, Lochside captain Jordan Kerr, also in attendance.

Lochside Rovers Players’ Player of the Year – Scott Robertson

The Lochside Rovers players’ player of the year went to Scott Robertson. Having broken into the side as a 15-year-old, Scott Robertson has already been a great servant to Lochside, representing the side on a weekly basis for the last eight seasons and he was a top performer in 2019.

Oban Camanachd U17 Player of the Year – Daniel Sloss

Given he was named Mowi National U17 player of the year at shinty’s annual awards, there were no surprise as Daniel Sloss was the recipient of the Oban Camanachd U17 player of the year. This is the second successive season that Daniel Sloss has won this award.

Oban Camanachd U17 Players’ Player of the Year – Daniel Sloss

Daniel Sloss made it a hat-trick of awards on the night as he also took the Oban Camanachd U17 players’ player of the year prize following a year which he was again selected for the Scotland U17 squad.

Oban Camanachd U14 Player of the Year – Louie MacFarlane

Another one of the club’s bright youngsters, Louie MacFarlane was named Oban Camanachd U14 player of the year. As well as playing for Lochside Rovers, Louie MacFarlane’s performances last season were also recognised with a place the South U14 squad.

Oban Camanachd U14 Players’ Player of the Year – Calum MacMillan

Calum MacMillan is another of the club’s promising youngsters who has forced his way into the reckoning for Lochside Rovers this season and he was a deserved winner.

Oban Camanachd Special Award – Aidan MacIntyre

There was also a special award for club stalwart Aidan MacIntyre.

After representing Oban Camanachd for many seasons, Aidan has indicated that he will be stepping back from first team shinty next season but will no doubt step in to help the club should the situation arise.

Unfortunately, work commitments meant Aidan couldn’t attend the event but he will be presented with a silver salver at the next opportunity.

Artemis Macaulay Cup draw

The 2020 Artemis Macaulay Cup draw was made following the Camanachd Association AGM in Fort William on Friday November 29.

The much anticipated draw was set to take place on Oban FM as usual but a mast issue took the radio station off-air so the Macaulay Association quickly put alternative arrangements in place.

The Macaulay Cup, first presented in 1947 by then Oban Times editor Flora Macaulay, is the only cup format in senior shinty to be played on a regional basis so guaranteeing a final between a South and North side.

Eligibility is mainly based on the previous year’s league placing and there was just one change from the South teams who competed last season as Ballachulish returned to the competition after a year out instead of Col Glen.

There was also just one alteration to the North half of the draw as Mowi National Division champions Fort William replaced Skye Camanachd.

The Macaulay Association were well represented as Davie Thomson drew the home sides with Les Kinvig picking the away sides and Davie Hamilton was also in attendance.

Oban Camanachd and Oban Celtic were both given home draws against lower league opposition. Oban Camanachd will be confident of progressing against Bute whilst Oban Celtic start as favourites against Ballachulish. If both Oban sides progress, they will meet in the quarter-finals.

There is also an eye-catching first round meeting between newly promoted Fort William and Kinlochshiel, who have lifted the trophy twice in the past four years, at An Aird.

There is also the prospect of a Badenoch derby between Newtonmore and Kingussie in the quarter-finals although first round opponents Lochaber, who welcome ’More, and Kilmallie, who host holders Kingussie, will have other ideas.

First Round
Saturday 2 May
Kyles Athletic v Aberdour
Oban Celtic v Ballachulish
Oban Camanachd v Bute
Inveraray v Glasgow Mid Argyll
Lochaber v Newtonmore
Fort William v Kinlochshiel
Kilmallie v Kingussie
Caberfeidh v Lovat
Quarter Finals
Saturday 13 June
Oban Celtic / Ballachulish v Oban
Camanachd / Bute.
Kyles Athletic / Aberdour v
Inveraray / Glasgow Mid Argyll.
Saturday 27 June
Lochaber / Newtonmore v
Kilmallie / Kingussie
Fort William / Kinlochshiel v
Caberfeidh / Lovat
Semi Finals
Saturday 25 July 2020
Oban Celtic / Ballachulish v Oban
Camanachd / Bute v Kyles Athletic
/ Aberdour v Inveraray / Glasgow
Mid Argyll Lochaber /
Newtonmore v Kilmallie /
Kingussie v Fort William /
Kinlochshiel v Caberfeidh / Lovat.

The Artemis Macaulay Cup final takes place at Mossfield, Oban, on Saturday August 22. Kingussie are the current holders having beaten Oban Camanachd 3-2 in last season’s final.

Camanachd Association AGM report

The much respected John MacKenzie from Newtonmore was elected Camanachd Association Chieftain at a well-attended annual general meeting in the Muthu West End Hotel, Fort William, on Friday November 29.

John MacKenzie is a past-president of the Camanachd Association and has served the game, man and boy, in many capacities. Richard Gall from Fort William is the new Camanachd Association Vice-Chieftain, edging out David MacMaster from Caberfeidh in a vote to take over from Alex Macnaughton.

Roddie MacCuish from Oban was amongst three additions to the Camanachd Association Board, with Ross Brown and Burton Morrison also installed, whilst Youth Director Willie MacDonald from Fort William was re-elected for a second term.

There were 25 members present with 8 proxies making a voting strength of 33.

President’s report

In his second annual report as president, Keith Loades said 2019 will be remembered as the first time in history that the Camanachd Cup final had to be abandoned as torrential rain led to the pitch becoming waterlogged, leaving referee Robert Baxter with no option than to call the game off.

Loades said this was one of several matches affected by adverse weather but acknowledged that there were other factors which caused difficulty for the competition committee and changes may have to be considered if we are to avoid some clubs experiencing lengthy periods without a match next season.

Loades thanked the chief executive Derek Keir and the association’s staff and directors for their contribution to the sport of shinty, not forgetting the large number of people who give freely their time to serve on various sub committees.

There were thanks for Jock Turner, an ever-present at board meetings, who stood down after 12 years as Chieftain. Departing Vice-Chieftain Alex Macnaughton was also praised for his contribution.

Finance director Daniel Palombo and fellow board member Wendy Chamberlain both stood down with Loades again paying tribute. He said: ‘The fact that the finances of the CA are in a good place is due, in part, to the expert guidance we have had from Daniel Palombo our Finance Director.

‘Daniel, unfortunately, has to stand down after six years as a board member. However, we are pleased that he will remain on the finance committee. Similarly, we are greatly disappointed to be losing Wendy Chamberlain. Wendy has made a valuable contribution but regrettably, due to other demanding interests, has advised us that she cannot continue. We will not lose touch with Wendy and thank her for her offer of continued support when needed.’

Sportscotland, shinty’s sponsors and all clubs and the volunteers were recognised and there was special mention for the work undertaken by the Shinty Memories committee of David MacMaster, John MacKenzie, Donnie Grant and Hugh Dan MacLennan, which Keith Loades has now joined, as well as the other volunteers who organise groups across the shinty playing areas to raise the spirits of those suffering from dementia.

CEO report

Chief executive officer Derek Keir’s highlights for the year included: the launch of Steven MacKenzie’s Surviving & Thriving; 125 Years of the Camanachd Association, 36 clubs becoming accredited, 25 club action plans put in place, two Schools of Shinty established and talks of a further two coming on board, Shinty Ambassadors and the National Disability Festival, Club Culture Workshops whilst membership increased to 3,448 from 2,750 in 2014.

Finance

There was positive news on the financial front as the meeting reflected on the 2018 accounts which showed a £15,687 increase in turnover and a surplus for the year of £21,456, increasing the association’s reserves to £129,502 at 31 December 2018.

Grant funding decreased by £9,598 and sportscotland continued to be the largest contributor, committing to a further four-year funding package through to 2022. However, local authority-based grants were again reduced due to the continued general squeeze on budgets. Sponsorship income increased by £18,660, largely attributable to the income from new sponsors and increased membership of the Business Club.

Mowi were again shinty’s principal sponsors in 2018, as they have been since 1988. This 30-year sponsorship is one of the longest recorded in Scottish sport.

Total expenditure in 2018 was £576,145, an increase of £22,178 on the previous year. Key areas of expenditure remain: competitions, development, wages and office expenses.

Competition costs increased by £12,655 in 2018 and this was mainly due to hosting the international in Inverness.

Membership numbers increased slightly from 3,354 in 2017 to 3,448 in 2018, with a small increase in associated income.

The association confirmed they expect to break-even in 2019 which will maintain current reserves.

Competitions

There were 639 senior fixtures scheduled in 2019 compared to 655 the previous year and 689 in 2017. However, 21 fixtures were unfulfilled due to team raising difficulties, down from 29 in 2018 and 39 a year earlier, with 99 fixtures postponed and rescheduled compared to 92 in 2018.

Of the 99 postponed fixtures, 63 were due to unplayable fields, 13 were due to bereavement whilst a further 13 were walk-overs.

Participation in the senior leagues dropped to 52 teams from 53 in 2018, a result of Lochaber not fielding a second team and Strachur not entering a team whilst Ardnamurchan rejoined the leagues after a few seasons in abeyance.

There were a total 1,267 shinty fixtures over all competitions.

Match officials

The recruitment, retention and development of match officials at senior level remains a critical issue for shinty and is identified as a priority concern in the Strategic Plans for Shinty.

Although some progress has been made, the association recognised that the situation remains highly fragile and requires the proactive support of all member clubs to help increase and develop the number of officials regularly active within the game.

A total 36 referees were allocated to senior games during 2019, down from 39 in 2018. Only 25 referees were available on a regular basis throughout the season, down by two from 2018.

There were three referees who previously officiated in 2018 but did not participate in 2019 due to injury for work or family commitments. Two new referees were introduced at senior level during 2019.

The grading of referees in 2019 was as follows: 15 Grade One, 12 Grade Two and six Grade Three.

The Youth/University/WCA Referee course, which was introduced by the Development Team in 2016 to encourage people to become involved in refereeing, continues to engaging participants. So far, 74 people have completed the course in 2019 to add to the 161 who took part during the previous three years.

This is a key focus in the strategic plan for shinty and something the association aim to encourage for all new officials, starting their journey as a referee or goal judge. One official progressed from youth games to senior games this year and four others are considering completing the Senior Foundation Course in 2020.

Four area workshops for match officials and assessors were delivered during 2019.

Facilities

The improvements witnessed at Kinlochshiel (new senior pitch), Fort William (new youth pitch) and Newtonmore (new second pitch) in 2019 continue to be encouraging.

The Camanachd Association was instrumental in the formation of a Bught Park user group in 2019 to encourage the improvement and development of the Bught Park facilities. The group secured funding support from Highland Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise for a feasibility study which is now underway.

The Camanachd Association has also been represented by Euan McMurdo at meetings to discuss Mossfield Stadium in Oban. The association said that at the latest meeting in October, it was decided to form a steering group to form short, medium and long term aspirations and actions.

Communications

It was recognised that positive media coverage gives shinty a key platform for promotion and marketing of the sport, reaching large audiences and engaging both current and new supporters.

The Camanachd Association has, this year, hired a marketing and communications graduate to work with this specific remit. Positive media coverage provides shinty with a fantastic platform for promoting the sport to a wider audience.

BBC Scotland and BBC Alba extended their excellent television coverage whilst the association also acknowledged that shinty benefits from excellent national and local printed media reporting from newspapers including The Oban Times which is a reflection of the important role shinty plays in the life of communities across Scotland.

Norman Strachan’s team also helped raise the game’s profile, filming a number of matches throughout the year for the association’s YouTube channel.

The power of social media gives the Camanachd Association the ability to instantly provide news and updates to its members. It has become the main source of information for younger generations, providing the association with an opportunity to interact with its members in real-time.

Byelaw proposals

There was approval for a proposal put before members that all players in the adult game must be aged 16 years, although clubs can field a player under this age on completion of a parent / guardian form. However the minimum age for participation in the adult game was set at 13 years.

A proposal moving towards the mandatory introduction of the wearing of helmets didn’t receive the required support although several clubs are expected to introduce their own measures.

It was confirmed a free-hit for a ‘kick’ should not be awarded where the ball plays the player.

It had been proposed that each member club must provide the name of a registered and qualified goal judge each season but this matter will be referred to the Camanachd Association board.

The wording on some other bye-laws was tidied up.

MacLeod is new Strathglass boss

Allan MacLeod is the new Strathglass first team manager.

MacLeod takes over from Bruce Douglas and Roy MacKenzie at the Mowi National Division side.

He brings managerial experience to the role having had two stints totalling six seasons leading the Inverness second team, either side of a two-year period in charge of the Inverness first team.

Allan MacLeod previously played for Strathglass between 1997 and 2008 when he was part of a first team which won two North Division 1 titles, a National League and a Balliemore Cup, beating Skye Camanachd in the final.

MacLeod was then at Inverness for 10 years in total but returned to Strathglass at the end of February 2019 to run the Cannich club’s second team.

Oban Lorn prize-giving night

Oban Lorn Ladies’ prize-giving family night was preceded with a game between Oban Lorn Blue and Oban Lorn Green which finished 3-3. Ellie MacInnes grabbed a hat-trick but her goals were cancelled out by efforts from Izzy Crawford, Kirsty Gray and Alison Noble in a match refereed by Les Kinvig.

The main event of the night was the ladies’ prize-giving and the senior player of the season accolade went to the captain Shelley MacCuish.

The U18 player of the year was Izzy Crawford whilst Pamela MacNab was the season’s most improved player.

The U14 player of the year award went to Nicola Duncan who also collected the top goal scorer for the season prize.

There referee’s player of the year was Karen MacKinnon, chosen by Des McNulty.

As well as having an enjoyable ceilidh, the raffle and bingo raised £575.

Beauly clinch U14 North Division 1

Beauly U14 4
Kinlochshiel U14 1

Beauly U14 were 4-1 victors in their Mowi U14 North Division 1 play-off clash with Kinlochshiel U14 at the Bught Park.

Both sides competed with their Fort William and Kingussie counterparts in North 1, losing only one match each; away defeats against each other thus forcing a play-off.

Beauly struck first with Scott Cameron scoring on six minutes but Kinlochshiel’s Bailey Dacker was on hand to level on 17 minutes.

Two goals in four minutes put Beauly in control. Finlay MacLennan restored Beauly’s lead on 45 minutes and Marcus MacRae added a third on 49 minutes.

Scott Cameron scored again on 63 minutes and Beauly ran out 4-1 winners.

Medals, sticks and trophies to welcome New Year in Lochaber

One of the oldest medals in competitive shinty is to be handed over to the West Highland Museum in Fort William for safe-keeping and display. The medal, awarded to a Brae Lochaber player after the 1897 Camanachd Cup final, which they lost to Beauly, has recently been discovered by a local family.

The medal, and a trophy which is being re-introduced to play amongst young children in the Fort William and Lochaber area, the St Mary’s Primary School Challenge trophy will be on display as part of a fund-raising illustrated talk to be held in January.

The illustrated talk – ‘The Caman and the Calluinn’ – shinty’s place in the games and diversions of New Year and thoughts on the history of the shinty stick – will be delivered by Dr Hugh Dan MacLennan, recalling many of the fascinating incidents related to shinty matches at New Year in Lochaber and beyond.  The talk will focus on the historical background to these gatherings and recount details of some of the spectacular events which  have ensured that New Year shinty matches are one of the most enduring traditions associated with the game. Dr MacLennan will also discuss shinty artefacts held in the West Highland Museum and also the history of the production and manufacture of shinty sticks.

He said: ‘The West Highland Museum has a number of interesting and important historical artefacts and remarkably, I discovered that it also holds an image of the 1897 Camanachd Cup final, the second ever match for the trophy, before the medal appeared. That match was attended by a remarkable crowd of 3,000 – about two-thirds of them were not Inverness townspeople – which is very different from local attendances at new year matches – whatever day they were played. New Year, or Old New Year’s Day shinty matches have always been a great part of the shinty community’s traditions, and this talk will provide an ideal forum to draw all these strands together.’

Dr MacLennan is also keen that people in the Fort William and Lochaber areas will bring old camans and any made locally over the years to show at the evening, when the remarkable history of the making of the caman will be detailed.

The talk, which is being held in the Moorings Hotel, Banavie, on Wednesday January 8 at 7.30pm, will be a fund-raising event for the West Highland Museum and Lochaber District Shinty Memories Group.

Tickets are £5 and available from the West Highland Museum, Fort William.