9/3/13 Glenurquhart 0 Kyles 1 ( Roddy macdonald 28 )

Drumnadrochit was the destination for Kyles this weekend as they looked to make it two wins out of two in the Orion Group Premier League.
On a bitterly cold day, Glenurquhart stood between Kyles and the two points they were after. Kyles started very well and their strong running and good hitting saw them completely dominate the first twenty minutes. Glenurquhart however were slowly getting into the game but great work from Zac, Sandy ‘full metal jacket’ Macvicar, Callum ‘Candy’ Miller and The Doctor saw Kennys participation kept to a minimum.
The frozen spectators were looking for a goal to warm them up and on Twenty eight minutes Kyles duly obliged, again it was that man Roddy Macdonald who after some fine work by his fellow forwards, was on hand to flick the ball past the on rushing Glen keeper.
Roddy was in the thick of the action again minutes later, as Roddy tried to play the ball the advancing Glen player rushed in unprotected on the wrong side, the inevitable happened and he had to leave the field with blood pouring from a head wound. Roddy himself had to leave the field only minutes later when a high swing saw him take a sore one to the face. His replacement was last years Camanachd Cup winning captain Andrew King, himself making a welcome return from injury.

Half time: Glenurquhart 0 Kyles Athletic 1

The second half was’nt long underway when Sandy Macvicar, himself coming back from injury had to leave the field to be replaced by young Cammy Keith. Cammy did his future prospects no harm at all with some good solid play and strong hitting.
In truth the Shinty in the second half was nowhere near as good as the first, with the game becoming a little scrappy, but with Kyles having to shift the team about quite a lot that was to be expected.
Kyles continued to battle for every ball and matched The Glens physical play man for man.
With fifteen minutes to go Roddy Macdonald came back into the fray, this gave the Glen defence something extra to consider as they went all out for an equaliser. That equaliser didn’t really look like coming and Kyles saw the game out comfortably to record a good away victory against a strong skilful Glenurquhart team.There was even time for a guest appearance from second team player manager ‘Dunder ‘ who was unfortunate not to find the net and seal the win.

As a final note it was good to see the referee remain strong despite people who should maybe know better encroaching onto the pitch to remonstrate with him.

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Thomas Rae Nicolson.

Thanks again to Mr Hugh Dan MacLennan for this piece on Kyles man and Olympian TR Nicolson.

Thomas Rae Nicolson is one of a small number of people whose contribuition to life is marked in the National Dicitonary of Biography This is his official entry. We will be telling much more of TRN’s remarkable history in due course.

[65180] Thomas Rae Nicolson
Nicolson, Thomas Rae (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, Scotland, one of the eleven children (ten boys and one girl) of Neil and Anne Nicolson. “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 camanachd (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, 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. 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.
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 greatest world class athletes.

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P5s and P7s National First Shinty Festival 2/3/13

Fresh from their respective successes in the Robert MacArthur Memorial Trophy and the Bute Primary Shinty Trophy, the P5s and P7s of Kyles headed for the ‘National First Shinty Festival in Fort William in high spirits.

The P5s seemed to enjoy the fact that their playing area was enclosed behind a glass wall, this allowed them to concentrate on their Shinty without distractions. Their teamwork was excellent as they cruised to qualification winning all of their first four games, a draw against South Skye in the last game saw them clinch a semi final place against Beauly having scored sixteen goals in their five games.
The semi final was disappointing for the youngsters, having two goals disallowed before finally going down one goal to nil to the eventual winners Beauly. To their immense credit they picked themselves up to beat Lochaber three goals to nil in the third and fourth place play off.

The P7s also performed admirably, winning three and losing two of their five games and narrowly missing out on qualification, finishing in a very creditable third place. They were maybe not helped by the fact that their games were in the Nevis Centre, the extra exposure to the noisy crowd, led to a few more big swings and a little less of the Shinty they are taught.

Both teams can be proud of their skill and endeavour, as can the players of all the teams competing.

Big thanks must go to all the organisers and volunteers that make such days possible.


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Saturday 2nd March Results.

Kyles got off to a solid, if little rusty start against old foes Oban Camanachd.
Kyles started brightly and after only eight minutes Dunkie Kerr ran on to a through ball to drive a fine strike into the back of the net, the Oban keeper had no chance, this was just the start Kyles were looking for.
Anyone expecting a glut of goals after the early breakthrough, was to be disappointed as play went from end to end, with few chances being created.
In truth the hitting from both teams looked a little rusty, but it’s to be expected so early into the season.
The game sprang into life on thirty nine minutes, when a fine through ball from Euan Campbell, saw Roddy Macdonald beat the keeper to the ball and flick it into the net to open his account.
Not content with setting one up, only two minutes later Euan Campbell found himself in a bit of space and cracked an unstoppable shot high past the Oban keeper.

HT Kyles 3 Oban Camanachd 0

The second half saw Kyles have a lot of the play and create plenty of shooting chances, however the forwards failed to test the keeper often enough despite getting into good positions.
Euan Campbell who can be very happy with the impact he had on the game, was replaced by debutant Roberto Zavaroni. Roberto looked strong and powerful and should be a good addition to the squad.
Zac Coley who had a solid game at half back made way for the returning Sandy Macvicar who will be glad for a little game time after missing the whole of last season through injury. Sandy adds steel to the backline and was missed last year.
The only goal of the second half went to the visitors with Scott Macmillan beating Kenny with a fiercly struck shot after eighty three minutes. It was however to little to late for the side from Oban and Kyles saw out the game for a deserved victory.

All in all a good day at the office, a few players looked a little rusty but everyone showed the correct attitude, which bodes well for the rest of the season.

Kyles 2nd Team v Tayforth

Kyles took a mixture of youth and expierance on the journey to Musselbrugh to face Tayforth.
It turned out an easy win for the Kyles second team, with the expierianced Dave Martin netting a hatrick despite having no pre season. Chris Moss and player manager Dunder also found the net, but special mentions must go to Max Carr and Scott Macdonald who despite their tender years grabbed a goal each.

A good seven nil win sees the boys head the division, also the manager got the chance to give a good few of the youngsters game time, which bodes well for the future.
Well done all.



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Tighnabruaich Shinty for visitors.

A short piece I wrote the day after last years Camanachd cup semi for the blog page of argyllsecretcoast.co.uk, attempting to explain a little to our visitors about Shinty in Tighnabruaich.

Shinty, the fast-paced and skillful game played predominantly in the north of Scotland, has for many years held a place in the hearts of the Tighnabruaich community. Indeed, I write this piece after a day of elation in on Saturday (11 August) as our local team Kyles Athletic defeated old rivals Newtonmore to claim their place in this year’s Camanachd Cup final – the pinnacle of the sport.

Home games take place on The Kyles of Bute playing field in Tighnabruaich. Any summer visitor to the area who is lucky enough to be around could spend a happy afternoon watching the teams do battle. There’s always a good local crowd – knowledgeable and appreciative – and other spectators are very welcome. The scenic waterfront setting is second to none. The blue waters of ’The Kyles’ seem to almost reach the playing field and you might even see the world’s last ocean-going paddle steamer, The Waverley, cruise by – truly a sight to behold.

The ancient game of shinty is played by two teams of twelve, using wooden sticks or ’camans’ to strike a leather ball. The aim is to strike the ball into the opposing team’s goal. The camans used by the Kyles players are hand made from laminated hickory by Neil Blair and Sons, a local firm of ex and present-day shinty players.

The modern game is played by dedicated, fit young men. Training is held twice a week (Mondays and Wednesdays) with everyone welcome to come and give it a try and find out what the game is all about. Shinty is still a truly amateur sport, with clubs run from top to bottom by people who are not looking for any reward, but do it simply for the love of their clubs and of the game.

As I mentioned earlier, Kyles Athletic eliminated the league and cup holders Newtonmore at the semi-final stage of the Camanachd Cup. This will undoubtedly lead to a very quiet village on 15th September, when all roads will lead to Oban as Kyles take on Inveraray in an all-Argyll final. Can the magnificent old trophy be brought home to Tighnabruaich for the first time in seventeen years? We certainly won’t fail due to lack of effort.

So many people from our community put a huge effort into making our club a success at all levels, from primary school right through to the first team. Days like the up-coming final are our ultimate objective. No Tighnabruaich teenager can remember the ’Big Cup’ residing in our village, and it’s high-time this was rectified.

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James Perlich on coaching Kyles

James has taken the time to tell us a little about himself and what drives him in his coaching.

It’s 2:30 on a Saturday, ref blows his whistle and the Kyles boys gather round the centre circle. My stomach is in knots, hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention and my mouth goes dry. All I can think is “Do your best boys and win”, I’d be lying if I said I was a coach who said taking part is what counts. Nope, it’s all about winning, being the best and making Kyles the best shinty team ever. I don’t phone the result in if we get beat, I find it too hard to say we got beat.

As you know I was not a shinty player myself, although I did score 12 goals in 5 games back in 2008 for the juniors. Occasionally I play at training too, just to show the boys I can actually hold a stick. It’s was only last week I scored a hat trick for Millhouse against Kames in the cage. Stormin Norman also took me for hitting practice when I was a boy up a Auchgoyle Farm.

Your probably wondering how I got into shinty and Kyles. My Gran (BettySmith) stayed in Millhouse (Auchgoyle Cottage, white one up on the hill).
I came for holiday since I was born. Worked away with Norman and Dra on the farm every holiday I could. I went to games with Norman and hit about with Douglas Nicolson when I could. I really enjoyed it, just wished my school did shinty and could of played more often.

After finishing University in 2005 I moved to Tighnabruaich. Started going along to games with Norman who was in his first year of management of the 1st team along with John Blair. Before 2005 I’d coached a few sports teams but was blown away by the amount of passion, athleticism and skill the Kyles players suddenly produced. I only saw them during the week, in the pub, on a farm or building a house. Suddenly at 2:30 they turned into sportsman with one mission in mind. To play Kyles shinty and to beat the opposition. I’d coached professional athletes who did not have half the commitment, passion, skill and raw determination that these men had. I wanted involved. I wanted to get these boys fit and I wanted to coach them one day!

My first training session was a nervous affair. I wasn’t just training any old sports person. These were kyles men highly respected in the village. Men with high expectations and men that would be quick to say if my training techniques were crap. Respect had to be earned so I had to be at the top of my coaching game.

I take my coaching very seriously and professionally. I believe in getting 100% out of every individual which should eventually mean you’ll get 100% out of the whole team. I spend a lot of time understanding how each player ticks and what will get the best out of them individually.

Being a coach means you lead by example, therefore less than your best at every training session and game is not acceptable.

Numbers started to pick up and the guys were responding to my training. I was loving it.

Training was going from strength to strength. The guys were getting fitter. There fitness during games was able to match their desire and determination. They could tackle for longer, hit more consistently over 90mind, get to balls first, read the game quicker, track back faster, run with the ball faster and last the full 90mins. I still wanted more out of them though.

I was invited to start taking the warm ups and first aid on a Sat. I was delighted and took this invitation very seriously, I still do. I was becoming part of the squad and starting to feel I was making a difference.

The summer season was introduced. We just finished the winter season and I decided to hit the boys with a pre season and a two night a week training schedule.

It was time to up it gear. I knew the summer season would require the same smart shinty player with great stick work but also required a faster, fitter and mobile athlete. I watched north teams and thought they were slower but stronger on the ball. With a summer shinty parks were going to be fast. we were going to be fast and fit. Along with being skilful players this combination was going to be the key to our success. The squad was young with a couple of experienced players thrown in too. I believed this was the moment to start training hard. Pushing them harder. Recognising the importance of training and preparing them the best I can for the game on Sat. That was my aim. Give the boys the best possible chance to win on Saturday. I knew it would take a while for all the squad to buy into this. But I also knew as the training got better the squad would get fitter and once the results started showing I would start building a squad to dominate shinty in future years.

I like to plan. I think years ahead when possible. I don’t like change and I don’t like surprises.

I believe preparation is everything. I don’t do late! I don’t do half hearted and I don’t do what’s the point! I’m hard on myself. Forgetting the warm up cones would send me into a panic. Daft I know, but it’s all about the preparation. I expect the boys to put 100% on the field. Therefore it’s only fair I put in the same off the field. That’s the deal.

Progression is the key. I don’t like the saying “sometimes you’ve got to take a step back to take two forward”. Going forward is the only was for me.

This is my eighth year coaching the Kyles squad. Since then the current squad has never gone back the way. That brings pressure which is a good thing for me, I love pressure. Thrive on it really and love a challenge.

My only concern is whether the Kyles boys can fulfil my expectations in years to come. Is there a limit to success for me and for the squad? Winning the quadruple can be beat by winning it two years in a row and so on and on. Basically I can’t see me stopping until this squad takes a step back the way, and if they do ill cross that bridge when it comes to it. It’s that fear and determination that makes you afraid of having to phone in a poor result, of getting beat, believe in what your doing and make sure you give 100%. It’s my passion and eight years ago found a team that felt the same. The Kyles way!

Some of the players thought I looked down during celebrations after winning the Scottish. I wasn’t!!!! Simply planning the next season and thinking……I want more of this. Anything less would not be good enough.

I hear “come on the Kyles” from the top line then feel a rush of honour and pride to be stood along these Kyles boys. It’s time boys, now lets rip this team apart.

Come on the Kyles!!!

James Iain PERLICH
Kyles coach 2005 – Present

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