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Photos courtesy of Susan Worland Bentley, Denise Francis, Scott & Ruth MIkusko, & Michelle Pualuan
The four clubs gather in front of the goal after the Levenhall Sixes: Edinburgh East Lothian (light blue); Forth Camanachd Women (red); Aberdour (black & white); and the two NCCC teams (in various blue, white, gold, grey). A complete photo gallery will be forthcoming once the photos have been collected!
September saw the Northern California Camanachd Club arriving in Scotland en masse. It was a long planned trip and with 2007 being designated the Year of Highland Culture it seemed a fitting time to visit the shinty homeland, to both enjoy and join in on the celebration.
During our first weekend in Scotland we participated in two six-a-side tournaments, the Levenhall Sixes in Musselburgh and the PBFSCO Cup at the Blairgowrie Highland Games in Perthshire. Small contingents of the NCCC had been part of these events in 2005 and 2006, but with 20 players we were able to field two sixes teams this year!
The 3RD Annual Levenhall Sixes included hosts Edinburgh East Lothian, a young Aberdour side, and a side from the Forth Camanachd Womenıs team. The pitch at Levenhall Links was a pleasure to play on and the weather was fine, though periodically confusing with short bouts of rain and high wind. Afterward we shared a snack with the other teams and enjoyed their local pub, the Levenhall Arms.
Bayside teammates Max McKay, Julius Talyansky and Tim Christopher move downfield against Aberdour.
At the Blairgowrie Highland Games the Forth Ladies returned to action and were joined by the local South First Division side Tayforth. The matches went well and soon enough we were all enjoying the hospitality of the Blair Oliphants and Inveralmond Breweryıs Ken Duncan in the pitchside pavilion. Donnie MacKenzie, from the Camanachd Association, chose Sue Pelmulder as Player of the Match and after that we enjoyed piping from one of the local youth competitors as the clubs mingled with one another.
Both NCCC teams (Benside [the San Mateo sixes] and Bayside) acquitted themselves well, scoring goals against all teams. In fact Benside tied the Levenhall Sixes winners Aberdour, and Bayside scored first against the Tayforth sixes. Both teams even registered a few wins along the way. Best of all we were able to share a few laughs and fun with our Scottish comrades. And one last interesting note: the Forth Women won the Womenıs Camanachd Cup the following weekend!
After our matches at Blairgowrie the three clubs gather by the Inveralmond Brewery sign: Tayforth (yellow w/blue); Forth Camanachd Women (red); and the two NCCC teams (in various blue, white, gold, grey).
On Tuesday night we made a stop in Glasgow to see our friend Alastair Andrew and a handful of his Glasgow Mid Argyll teammates. We had a few six-a-side scrimmages on the Hughenden Rugby pitch, mixing in the GMA players with the NCCC sides. Afterward we enjoyed dinner at a nearby restaurant. It was great to see Alistair again and show him that we had made a some improvement since his 2002 workshop here in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Here the NCCC, with six Glasgow Mid Argyll players, line up after a three team scrimmage at Hughenden pitch in Glasgow. THe team in black will not be named!
The next day we headed up to the Isle of Skye. The drive, while long, provided an amazing array of beautiful scenery. For many of us it was the first trip across the not-so-new Skye Bridge, a bit different than the days of the ferry crossing from Kyle of Lochalsh.
There were two shinty events while we were in Portree. The first included both a youth match between local primary sides and a match between the NCCC and the Skye second team. With a few Skye first team players on loan (they played the middle positions) the 14 Californian players rotated in during the course of the match. It was an amazing experience to play 12-aside on Skye, and while we did not manage any goals this time out, we did hold the opposition to an handful of goals. It was a very enjoyable match and we learned a lot in the process. Max McKay was named Player of the Match and Elheran Francis received an award for special accomplishment.
Our second Skye event was centered around the Ewen Morrison Trophy match between the North and South ends of Skye. NCCC members Max McKay and Julius Talyansky were invited to play with the Skye sides and even made honourary captains. The match was hard fought, and both Julius and Max did well, making some quality touches. The South Skye team ended up 3-0 winners and the trophy was promptly filled with whisky and shared amongst the teams and supporters.
After the match and trophy presentation we all enjoyed a ceilidh which included music from several Skye Camanachd players as well as several of the NCCC, who also supplied three Highland dancers. The night provided a great closing to our Skye visit as we danced and shared the craic with new friends.
Clark Lawson attempts a cleek while Joshua Haiman looks cut off the passing lane. NCCC subs look on from the sideline.
From 18 on Skye we shrank to 12 for our visit to the Macaulay Cup day in Oban. The group watched Kingussie triumph over Inveraray in a fast paced and exciting game. It was great to see Ronald Ross in top form (scoring a hat trick) and both teams exhibited fantastic speed and skills.
Ronald Ross picks up the ball near midfield.
The last club event took place in Fort William and involved NCCC friend Gary Innes. The evening began with the six remaining NCCC players joining into a pick-up game involving members of Fort Williamıs first, second and youth teams. There is no telling how many players ended up on the field, but it was great fun to see everyone playing together. Afterward the action moved into the An Aird clubhouse and the music began. Gary brought out the accordion and was joined by his girlfriend Stephanie Bridge on fiddle, as well as Lochaber legend Angus Grant (fiddle), Angusı young student Ashleidh Fraser (fiddle) and Susan (fiddle) and Michael (bodhran) Bentley. A fitting finale to our tour, enjoying shinty and music late into the evening.
The Fort William Ceilidh provided a chance for music (Angus Grant, Gary Innes, Michael Bentley) and meeting up with friends (Elheran, Vicky, Julius)... and a few beers as well.
A short report can hardly do justice to the wonderful hospitality and great adventures that were had in Scotland, but at least it conveys some of the high points. Many thanks are due to all those who helped make this adventure possible, both here in California and in Scotland.