Skye Camanachd

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Skye
Skye-camanachd-logo.png
Full name Skye Camanachd
Gaelic name Comann Camanachd an Eilein
Nickname Na Sgitheanaich
Founded 1892
Ground Pairc nan Laoch
Manager John 'Spod' MacLeod
League North Division One
2013 4th
Reserve Manager John Angus MacInnes & Angie Macdonald
League North Division Two
2013 3rd
Home colours
Away colours
Skye Ladies
Full name Skye Camanachd Ladies
Gaelic name Comann Camanachd an Eilein
Nickname Na Ban-Sgitheanaich
Founded 2010
Ground Pairc nan Laoch
Manager Sarah Corrigal
League National Division One
2011
Home colours
Away colours

Skye Camanachd is a shinty team from the Isle of Skye, Highland, Scotland. It plays in North Division One and has a reserve team in North Division Two, as well as a Ladies team. The club is based at Pairc nan Laoch, Portree.

Early history[edit]

Skye had a strong tradition of playing shinty on the Old Celtic New Year and there was a Portree Club and a Bernisdale Club in existence in the 1880s. However, Skye Camanachd in its present form, came into being in 1892, winning the first ever MacTavish Cup. The club was a founding member of the Camanachd Association and entered the Camanachd Cup despite mainland clubs trying to force them to play on the mainland. The club had to wait almost 100 years to get its hands on the Camanachd Cup. The club endured a turbulent 1960s and after a few years without entering competition was reformed in 1969. [1]

Re-establishment[edit]

On 2 September 1969 the club was reconstituted with Colonel Jock MacDonald as president and Duncan MacIntyre, a shinty enthusiast and local police inspector at the time, as chairman, and immediately set about fund-raising for the forthcoming season. [2]

Instrumental in the re-establishment of the club was Donald R. MacDonald aka "DR", who was a Scottish Gaelic teacher at Portree High School. The coaching of shinty which he started in the High School would sow the seeds of Skye's greatest success, the Camanachd Cup win of 1990.[3] DR would eventually manage the first team in the early 2000s and his sons, Somhairle, Aonghas and Gilleasbuig, would all go on to play for the club. Aonghas would also manage the club between 2009 and 2010. DR died in March 2010 on the first day of that year's shinty season, and Skye's matches were cancelled that day. [4]

Throughout the late 70s and early 80s, Skye Camanachd were victorious in several Sutherland Cup finals and this was to build up to the hour of their greatest triumph, the Camanachd Cup in 1990.

Camanachd Cup 1990[edit]

Skye famously won the Camanachd Cup for the first time in their history in 1990 against Newtonmore in Fort William. Inspirational in this victory was player, Willie Cowie and his brother, manager Ross Cowie. Their exploits were recorded for posterity by the BBC program "Home", directed by Douglas Mackinnon, which filmed behind the scenes on the day as well as the triumphant homecoming to Portree where they were met by a crowd of 5000 people, almost half the island's population. The celebrations are famous for the expensive trophy being lost and then found in the street at 6 in the morning the next day, the local legend being that everybody else thought that someone else was looking after it.[5] In addition to winning the Cup, the Albert Smith Medal, an award presented to the Man of the Match in the final of the Camanachd Cup every year since 1972, was presented to Willie Macrae from Skye Camanachd in 1990. Skye remains the only team from an island to have won the Cup.[6] The club toured Nova Scotia in 1991 in the afterglow of the success alongside Kingussie.

Recent times[edit]

Portree Camanachd Ground and Clubhouse - geograph.org.uk - 266456

Skye have never again achieved the high of winning the Camanachd Cup, but they did achieve Premier division status in the early 2000s under the management of Angus Murchison before being relegated. The club has shown a flair for another sort of promotion however, securing lucrative sponsorship deals with Danish firms Carlsberg and Hummel. The club also benefited in early 2008 from an anonymous loan of £50,000 sterling from a local individual, with repayments based on future success.[7] Much of this went to pay off some of the loan which had been invested in the development of the Pairc nan Laoch stadium after the move from the council owned King George V Park.

In July 2008, the first team won the Balliemore Cup for the first time, defeating Kilmallie 3-1 at Braeview Park, Beauly. Gilleasbuig Macdonald was the captain.[8] The club re-appointed Angus Murchison to succeed Alasdair Morrison as manager in 2009. Aonghas MacDonald became manager halfway through the season and steered Skye to a 3rd place position, impressing enough to be given the full-time position in 2010. Ross Cowie, now Chairman of the club demanded an improvement from the club's reserve side in 2010, after a poor couple of seasons which had seen the reserve team, which historically has brought Skye a great deal of success, finish in the bottom half the North Division Two and suffer humiliating defeats to lower league opposition.[9]

In June 2009, Skye won the Plate competition of the Marine Harvest Clash of the Camans at An Aird, defeating Lochside Rovers and Fort William 2nds.[10] The club also undertook the first ever tour by a Scottish shinty club of the United States, visiting California in September 2009.

The club had an underwhelming 2010 season. Aonghas MacDonald stepped down at the end of the season.[11] However, MacDonald was re-appointed to the role for the 2011 season before stepping down again at the end of the year. Davie MacVicar also stepped down as reserve manager at the end of the season to be replaced by Murdo Morrison. Willie MacRae was appointed as the eleventh manager of Skye Camanachd in early 2012.[12] He had a successful season at the wheel, with the club's young squad reaching second in the league. MacRae was at the helm for a disappointing season in 2013 which saw Skye miss out on the new National Division One. John 'Spod' MacLeod was appointed to the manager's role in 2014.

The club started a ladies' shinty team in 2011. Previously, players such as Sarah Corrigall would play for Glengarry, but now the opporutnity for players in Skye and Lochalash would be available. The club entered North Division Two in 2012 and finished 3rd. They also were successful in securing the right to play home games on a Saturday. (Sunday play deemed to not be possible due to local religious sensibilities.)

The club provides the bulk of the Alba, the Scottish Gaelic representative team.

Pride of the Summer[edit]

Skye Camanachd are referenced in the song "Pride of the Summer" by Runrig, with a mention of the distinctive White strips that the club wears.

I still see the blood on the knees
The camans swing without warning
The lads in white
At the speed of light
It's good to be young and daring

External links[edit]