Kyles travelled to Mossfield to face Inveraray, the 3rd time we have played them in cup competitions this season.
Inveraray were looking to end Kyles recent cup dominance.
On a very hot day both sides started well with lots of strong play and good hitting on show. The first half saw chances at both ends with a combination of the woodwork and ‘Toad’ in the Inveraray goal denying Kyles an opener.
The second half was a different affair altogether. With 50 minutes on the clock Peter Macintyre beat Kenny with a fine strike and Kyles found themselves behind. Stung into action kyles were level within 4 minutes with Robbie MacLeod finally beating Toad to level the scores. Inveraray showed spirit of their own and within a Russell Mackinlay had put them back in front. Kyles now faced a buoyant Inveraray, a quick equaliser was needed and Dunkie Kerr duly obliged, slamming the ball home to regain parity.
There was to be no more goals in the 90 minutes and with Inveraray finishing the game strongly there were a few worried faces among the Kyles supporters.
With 10 minutes of extra time gone Kyles took the lead for the first time Roddy Macdonald ( who Inveraray must be sick of the of ) popped up to fire the ball home and lower the decibels of the noisy Inveraray support.
With 110 minutes of the game now played Thomas Whyte topped of a fine performance with a deserved goal that was greeted with silence from the Inveraray support who were now resigned to seeing their team defeated in all three of this seasons cup competitions by their big rivals.

A good day for Kyles who go onto face Newtonmore in the final. Credit must go to both teams for providing such a good spectacle on a blistering hot day.

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Kyles Athletic win AJG Parcels Celtic Society Cup

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

Kyles Athletic have won this year’s AJG Parcels Celtic Society Cup in a final at Strachur against Inveraray that was decided on penalties.

Neither side could break the deadlock in over 120 minutes of play; a stark contrast to their Scottish Hydro Camanachd Cup Final in 2012 where there was goals galore and a final score of 6-5 to Kyles.

After each teams initial five penalties the match was still tied at 2-2.

After Inveraray missed the first of their sudden death penalties, It was Donald Irvine who steeped up to drive the ball home and send the Celtic Cup back home to Tighnabruaich.

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The Taynuilt Six-a-side Tournament

The Taynuilt Six-a-side Tournament

Monday, June 24th, 2013 at 1:47PM

The South of Scotland Primary School Championships took place last Sunday , 23rd June at Taynuilt Playing Fields with 19 teams entering the competition hoping to be crowned Champions for their age group.

The group stages got under way just shortly after 11am with a strong Kyles contingent stating their intent from the off, winning both their games in the respective P7 and P5 sections.    The Primary 7 sections were closely fought with Kyles and Strachur  progressing from League 1 and Taynuilt and Inveraray having to play-off to decide the winners of League 2.  Again Kyles progressed from the P5 section along with Taynuilt and Park Sparks and Ballachulish went through on the same points from the other league in the P5 section.

In the P5 semi-finals Kyles narrowly beat Ballachulish by one goal to nil and Park Sparks beat a well-organised Taynuilt team by 2 goals to nil.  The P7 semi-finals saw Strachur beat Inveraray two nil and Kyles beat Taynuilt but only after extra time was played.

The P5 final started off with Park Sparks playing some well thought out Shinty.  Kyles dug deep though and managed to snatch a goal against the run of play.  With injuries hampering the Park team Oban went on to get another and deservedly win by two goals to nil.

Strachur were the only team to have taken any points off Kyles in the P7 group section and must have fancied their chances against Kyles in the final however Kyles realised this and upped their game to win by two goals to nil.

There were two awards for Player of the Tournament which went to Ross Campbell , Park Sparks in the P5 section and Cally McNaughton Kyles.  There was also the first presentation of the Sheena Cameron Memorial Shield whichis awarded to the player who shows the most endeavour and plays in the best spirit of the game which went to Finnon Kennedy of Kyles.

Euan McMurdo would like to thanks all those who helped make the day such a success.

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Tina Marshall is a Shinty Photographer, player and avid fan, her blogging and pictures do a lot to help promote our game.
Here she gives her insight into the 2012 Camanachd final from a neutral point of view.

So, Mick has asked me to do a wee blog for your website, to try and sum up the 2012 Camanachd Final from a Neutral Shinty Fan point of view.
I will be honest, the thought of an all south final filled me with dread… yes I am one of those god awful Northerners who think that South shinty is of a lower standard, though I will admit that over the years there have been a couple of exceptions, and in this case the final was being contested by the exceptions. But even so the thought of the Camanachd Cup Final without a North team?! Eugh… too horrible for words! It was going to have to be something epic to change my mind.

From before the Semi final draw was done, I suspected an all south final, once the draw was done, I knew it would be. From there the debate in my shinty orientated house was who would win. Number 1 son, who faced Kyles twice in the season playing for Lovat, said Kyles wouldn’t be beaten, they would have an easy victory, no messing. I threw the form book out the window and went on my belief that Inveraray are a team that for the big stage and always produce something special in big finals… they would score early, go in at half time leading and put up the shutters. There was a wee wager out on this one…

So along came September 15th. I was still humming and hawing as to whether I would head to Mossfield for South shinty, but in the end something inside me told me, this one was going to be worth the trip.

There was a cracking buzz about the park from early on, Kyles always bring a great support for finals, and part of me remembered 1994 when I was still a Fort William WAG… a lot of the Kyles faces in the crowd were the same, but with a few more wrinkles. Inveraray in turn brought a great support, bolstered by the presence of their kids being in action before the main final. I was sitting just inside the barriers down the golf course end in front of the hill taking photos as the teams came onto the field and there was an instant charge of excitement, similar to the Newtonmore v Kingussie final the year before, a massive derby atmosphere, the faces of some fans obviously strained with nerves and excitement.

After 30 minutes I was considering a career change and becoming Mystic Meg the second… the game was going as I predicted it would…

What I didn’t count on?? The Inveraray defense not turning up for the second half!! I have to be honest actually, defensively, both sides were shocking on the day, but lordy me, going in 4-2 up at halftime it had to be all over, didn’t it?… Even the folk behind me, and oh wow I had some banter behind me, were convinced. Those in Yellow were happily goading the Blue clad fans 20 yards down the line about their wasted journey, and comparing their season to that of Arsenal.. So what the heck happened?! Surely at 4-2 common sense tactics says you man mark and close shop, instead ‘Raray just kept on pushing forward and left massive holes at the back, that were going to be exposed by one of the finest young players in the country today.

If there is one bit of hype I had heard over the year, it was about a lad called Roddy MacDonald, son of the legend that is Kenny. The great and the good across the North from the Eilean to Pairc Nan Laoch, had told me how this young lad could run forever, ‘he doesn’t tire’ they said, ‘he scores for fun’ they said, ‘he is Kyles main man’ they said… and wasn’t he just on 15th September. The Inveraray defense were sliced like a hot knife through butter in the second half, time and again and the pressure was telling. Kyles 2nd half breakthrough came from the penalty spot, I personally ain’t sure it was a penalty, wee bit of a dive from my angle, but I wasn’t the ref. After that, although Inveraray restored their 2 goal advantage 3 minutes later, it was clear the worm had turned. The banter behind me was shifting too. The Yellow fans were getting nervous. Muttering among themselves had replaced their taunts of the Blue fans… while in Contrast the Kyles faithful had obviously picked up on the turn on the shinty field… their volumes were raised and the tails were up, the hill at Mossfield was a rippling sea of Blue as the Tighnabruaich crowd jumped and ducked and played every ball with their team in the ascendancy… within the next 5 minutes, Kyles had were level, within 15 minutes ahead, and although the game was still end to end, somehow I knew it was over. The fitter team were now dominating, the veteran Kenny MacDonald in the Kyles goals was doing what he does best, being a frustrating old bugger that leaves you on the sideline thinking, ‘how the hell does he bust moves like that to make saves like that at his age?!’ The Yellow fans behind me were now sniping at the officials… the yellow team were out on their feet.. and I was wrong and owed number one son a fiver!!! OH how that hurt!

For the Neutral shinty fan it was a great game to watch, 11 goals, 2 teams going end to end of the battle field, no quarter asked nor given, the fairy tale of the Father and Son playing and winning the Camanachd Cup together in the famous Kyles shirts… yeah, I guess an all South final wasn’t so bad after all, but not sure I could handle one every season 😉

I will finish by wishing Kyles all the best for the 2013 season, sure our paths will cross at some point throughout the year 🙂

PS.. I will be photographing throughout the season and blogging, to keep up with my photos and views of the game throughout the year, look in at Ta Much 🙂

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Kyles keep up good start.

Kyles took to the pitch against the visitors from Fort William with some very important players missing from the starting line up. With Euan Campbell in the process of returning to Fort William, Calum Miller (knee), Andrew King (knee), Gordon Whyte (knee) out and Grant Irvine still not up to full fitness, fit players were a little thin on the ground.
Despite being short on numbers it didn’t take the boys on the pitch long to hit the front, only a minute had passed when after ‘The Goat’ pushed the ball forward, a great take saw that man Roddy Macdonald send the ball by the Fort Keeper to the delight of the Tighnabruaich crowd. Kyles were playing some nice stuff with young Cammy Keith in particular justifying his selection at half forward. The missing King and Miller will be glad to see the defence coping so well in their absence, Sandy, Zac, Rupert and the good Doctor were limiting the Fort to very few chances. With Zava, Robbie and Dunkie also controlling the centre of the park Fort were finding it hard to make many clear cut chances, when they did get a strike on target after 25 minutes, it brought out a fine stop from Kenny. Despite having most of the ball Kyles couldn’t find the target again and halftime arrived with only one goal in it. Indeed only another good save by Kenny on 44 minutes denied Fort an equaliser.

The second half started in the same vain as the first, within two minutes the forwards brought a fantastic double save from the Fort William keeper. Then in only three minutes it was Roddy again that found the net with one of his trademark flicks to double the lead.
Fort were giving a good account of themselves in the second half with the game far more even, Kyles maybe lost a little fluency when the team had to be rearranged after the influential Sandy Macvicar took a knock. In seventy one minutes Thomas Whyte effectively put the game beyond Fort, his strike beating the keeper low to his right to make it 3-0. Ten minutes later it was the turn of Dunkie Kerr to find the net, rounding off a good individual performance with a deserved goal.
There was still time for Kenny to pull off one more fine save before the final whistle, denying Fort a consolation goal.
A good performance a two precious points which sets us up well for the sterner test to be faced next week.
A wee mention for Zac who was solid, quick and aggressive, he can be very pleased with his days work.

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West Highland Free Press Report from the 2012 Camanachd cup final.

Thanks again to Hugh Dan for sending this in.

Kyles triumph in Classic Scottish Hydro Camanachd Cup Final

Inveraray….5 Kyles Athletic….6
(H.T. 4-2)

(match report courtesy Keith Mackenzie (trying to hide the fact he’s a Kyles man) and the West Highland Free Press)

A travelling fairground had pitched up outside Oban’s Mossfield Park, but the rollercoaster was to be found in the adjacent field where Kyles Athletic edged an epic Camanachd Cup final with a 6-5 victory against Argyllshire rivals Inveraray.
Roddy MacDonald struck four goals in a man-of-the-match winning display as Kyles recovered from 4-2, and then 5-3 down to complete a memorable comeback in front of some 3,000 spectators. It’s the 21st time the famous old trophy will be adorned with blue, white and red ribbons [that’s enough Keith – ED], although Saturday’s triumph ended the Tighnabruaich side’s 18 year wait to lift the sport’s most sought-after prize. And as with last year’s final, when Newtonmore shattered a 25 year hoodoo, the manner of victory could hardly have been more dramatic.
You would have to go back to 1980, when Kyles were victors against Newtonmore — to find a final decided by a similarly high-scoring margin. The pace of Saturday’s first all South final since 1983 was simply relentless, as the two sides lived up to their pre-match billing as teams committed to open and attacking shinty.
Kyles had the first sight of goal when wing centre Robbie MacLeod fired wide after exchanging passes with David Zavaroni. But it was Inveraray who settled quicker, forcing two corners in quick succession before making the breakthrough in the seventh minute. A slip from Kyles defender Rupert Williamson after a Stuart Robertson hit-in allowed Chris Crawford to scamper clear on the right and from his cut back Russell MacKinlay was alert to stab home on the volley.
It was a clear signal of Inveraray’s attacking intent, but Kyles responded and Roddy MacDonald flicked inches wide after a raking Duncan Kerr pass. The same pair would combine to better effect in the 12th minute, as Kyles levelled from a goal Inveraray’s veteran keeper Graham MacPherson will want to forget. His fresh air swipe after another looping effort from Kerr presented MacDonald with the chance and from five yards he stretched his long limbs to turn the ball home.
If he struggled with the opener there was little MacPherson could do seven minutes later as Kyles took the lead following a devastating breakaway move. John Whyte flicked on Donald Irvine’s thumping clearance and MacDonald did the rest, riding two challenges before sliding in another composed finish.
That calmness wasn’t being replicated in the Kyles defence and Inveraray would take full advantage as they struck three goals in nine minutes. Inveraray’s mobile forwards Crawford, Garry MacPherson and MacKinlay were clearly in the mood and a ponderous Kyles rearguard was breached in the 20th minute. MacPherson took advantage of the space afforded to him to bullet home from 20 yards. Two minutes later the lively Crawford nipped in after a David MacPherson hit-in to fire Inveraray ahead
And the goal-glut continued in the 29th minute when MacKinlay outmanoeuvred Calum Millar with two deft touches to push the Royal Burgh side further in front.
With the wind at their backs Inveraray poured forward in search of more goals, but Kyles keeper Kenny MacDonald, 50 years young, swatted away a MacKinlay volley to deny the striker his hat-trick. Just before half time the veteran custodian made another vital save, this time to get his stick behind a rasper from Euan McMurdo. Not to be outdone Graham MacPherson, at 40 a relative youngster when compared to his opposite number, denied Thomas Whyte a third for Kyles just before half time.
Odd as it sounds after hitting four first half goals but Inveraray might have felt a slight tinge of regret at failing to score more by the interval. They could, and perhaps should, have been further in front and given the open nature of the game a two goal deficit never looked insurmountable.
So it proved as Kyles, turning with the wind at their backs, gained a foothold in the match when MacPherson unceremoniously up ended Kerr inside the area. The resultant penalty from MacLeod wasn’t the cleanest, but a wicked kick off the surface was enough to carry the ball beyond the Inveraray keeper. Kyles looked to have the bit between their teeth but Inveraray regrouped, and another piece of brilliance from the outstanding Garry MacPherson restored the two-goal lead after 54 minutes. Crawford’s clever reserve pass sent MacPherson clear and from the right wing he swept a searing drive into the far corner of MacDonald’s net.
Kyles needed a quick response, and once more they got it when Fraser MacDonald, the oldest outfield player at 42, blasted home a beauty from wide on the left.
The goal was to signal a Kyles onslaught which would last until virtually the closing moments of the match. Within five minutes the teams were level, as the increasingly influential Fraser MacDonald teed up namesake Roddy to lash into the roof of the net to complete his hat-trick.
Incredibly, there was still close to half an hour to play but the tide had swung the way of Kyles, and their vocal travelling support sensed it as the decibel levels on Mossfield’s hill grew ever louder.
In a bid to stem the flow of pressure Inveraray replaced wing centres Stuart Robertson and David MacPherson with Andrew McMurdo and Ruairidh Graham. But Graham would last barely two minutes before pulling a muscle, and MacPherson would return for the closing 20 minutes. In the meantime Kyles brought on Ewan Campbell for John Whyte in their search for a winner.
The outcome would be settled 12 minutes from time and it was no surprise to see Roddy MacDonald, who had driven on his team’s attack superbly, grab the all-important goal. His near post finish was typically unerring, and with that the Kyles supporters were sent into raptures.
The blue and white hordes were nearly silenced as in a final twist Crawford saw his deflected shot cannon back off the post before being hacked to safety.
The fulfilment of a boyhood dream was how man-of-the-match Mac Donald would sum it up after the final whistle, as he collected his first winner’s medal alongside his goal keeping father, who was claiming his third. They are now the first father and son to have won the Albert Smith medal — another footnote in a historic day for the entire Kyles Athletic club.
For Inveraray, there was only crushing disappointment. What could be a last hurrah for a fine generation of players ended in cruel defeat. But the fact a game as compelling and as competitive as this one produced only one yellow card tells it own story. Both sets of players can take huge pride from their contribution to a 90 minutes which showcased everything good about the sport.

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Thomas Rae Nicolson – incomparable

With thanks to Hugh Dan MacLennan and The Oban Times which carried this article originally in August 2012.

Thomas Rae Nicolson – incomparable

In the days and weeks which have passed during and after the London Olympics, much has been said and written, quite rightly, about sporting heroes of this era and beyond.
However, not one word has been generated about the only shinty player I know of ever to grace not one but two Games – in London in 1908 and Antwerp in 1920.
Thomas Rae Nicolson (1879-1951), shinty player, farmer, and heavy-weight athlete par excellence was born on 3 Oct 1879 at Auchgoyle Farm, at Tighnabruaich on the Kyles of Bute, one of the eleven children (ten boys and one girl) of Neil and Anne Nicolson.
Tom, commonly referred to as “T.R”, was arguably the most outstanding personality of a family which produced eight superb shinty players and four supreme athletes. Married to Isabella (nee Hutton), they had three sons and one daughter.
T.R. Nicolson became captain of the famous Kyles Athletic shinty team winning many honours with six of the brothers playing together. Nicolson was arguably the finest Scottish athlete of his generation. An outstanding thrower in all the heavy events, he was by all accounts a great shinty player, an accomplished wrestler, a gifted golfer and a skilful footballer who had trials with the Queens Park Football Club in Glasgow. He excelled at the shot and hammer to the extent of being one of few who could challenge the pre-eminence of the Irish-American throwers of his day.
Six feet tall and weighing 175lb, Tom Nicolson began competing in 1901 at the SAAA Championships. A modest beginning led to a series of awesome performances based on natural strength and diligent practise at the family farm in Argyll. As a 23 year old he won his first Scottish hammer throwing title and achieved an unsurpassed 19 consecutive titles up until 1924; won again in 1926 and 1927 and was placed second in 1929, aged 50.
He won 14 SAAA shot titles and the AAA shot and hammer championships at Northampton Cricket ground in 1903. In 1904, at the Rangers Highland Sports at Ibrox, he proved himself to be one of the top three in the world, throwing the American style 16lb hammer 51.72m from a nine foot circle. In the hammer, he was virtually unbeatable in Scottish terms. He eventually set a record of 50.84 at a Scotland versus America contest in Edinburgh. As a native record it stood for 39 years and as a British mark for fifteen. In the 28 years he competed in the Scottish SAAA Championships, he won the shot 14 times; the wire hammer 21 times; Scots hammer 3 times; 56lb weight 4 times, a grand total of 42 Championship wins. His record would surely have been even more formidable but for the intervention of the First World War.
Tom Nicolson made two appearances at the Olympic Games, in 1908 in London when he was placed fourth, and in 1920 in Antwerp where he was sixth, his performance diminished by late arrival due to farm commitments. The lambing came first. Such was his fame, however, that his qualification entry was waived.
Nicolson was a great amateur athlete with an incomparable record. Known for his geniality, modesty, durability and awesome strength, he never followed his brothers into the professional ranks on the Highland Games circuit. Great grandsons still represent the Kyles at camanachd. How happy he would surely have been to see his descendants running out in another final in September.
Tom Nicolson died in the Western Infirmary, Glasgow on 18 April 1951, aged 71. He is buried in the Kilbride Churchyard, Ardlamont. No obituaries appeared in the Scottish national press, surely a grand omission given the truly colossal achievements of one of Scotland’s (if not Britain’s) greatest amateur athletes.
His fame is noted in the National Dictionary of Biography, but where else? This is a man whose reputation was world-wide, his sporting and athletic prowess “world class”. We should do better in terms of acknowledging our heroes in the shinty world and in Argyll. That’s a baton, in this Olympic year, that I will happily pass on to others who have influence in these matters.

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