I’m just back from a couple of great days in Newtonmore in the Scottish Highlands. It was meant to be a break from from all of this, but no such luck. Our ground floor hotel room looked out onto the pretty main street in Newtonmore, and at about six o’clock on the Saturday evening, we heard shouting and police sirens. They were coming our way, and, sure enough, moments later, a Police land rover, blue lights flashing, pulled up outside. Behind it was a Strathspey and Badenoch co. minibus – for which it was providing an escort. The bus was full of young women in what looked like Scotland tops, all celebrating wildly. From one window, a hand brandished a silver cup. After a minute’s pause, Police and Cupwinners roared off, no doubt to do the same thing in Kingussie.
That’s Newtonmore’s shinty ground. There can’t be a more beautifully situated sports club anywhere in the United Kingdom, what with the Spey running down one side and Cairngorms where lesser sports put stands. We weren’t there to see them maintain their lead at the top of the Scottish Hydro Premier Division – we were good for nothing after an early morning and 10K across the hills – but they beat Oban Camanachd 4-0.
It might give you some idea of how Newtonmore’s season is progressing to reflect that local rivals and second-placed side Kingussie won 13-0 against Glenorchy but still have an inferior goal difference..
Oh, and the Camanachd Cup final is being played in Oban this coming Saturday. It’s between Fort William and Kyles Athletic. You might want to compare Shinty attendances with the lower Scottish football divisions whose results are broadcast right across the UK, because 5,000 people are expected to turn up. That’s the average gate enjoyed by six of the twelve clubs in football’s Scottish Premier Division.
Here are Newtonmore in action: