Dalmore Daytime

Dalmore Daytime
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Monday, 28 July 2008

The Stornoway Cup Final (Around 1956)

In the months of July and August each year,football on the island of Lewis was trasformeed by the arrival of scores of young proto Leodhaisich who were "home" on their fortnight's fair holiday. They came from all parts of mainland Scotland and there were even some from England and the USA. Foreign holidays were almost unknown to us in the 1950s, and the arrival of so many young men and women to the island in the space of a few weeks, recalled the days when these islands were rightly known as "Tir nan Oig" (The Land of the Young ). The Glasgow Fair fortnight was by far the busiest time,when the island was "jumping" with dances,"cattle shows",busy bothans,something called "ruith nan oidhche"(which never was explained to me!)and of course a packed programme of football fixtures. Young men who regularly played football on the mainland,at amateur,secondary juvenile and junior levels,converged on Lewis to pull on the strips of their host villages,albeit for a couple of weeks. The game was thus transformed the length and breadth of the island during these summer weeks. In some small way,it is similar to the influx of foreign players to the Scottish League nowadays. When my brother,Donald, arrived in Stornoway at the beginning of the Glasgow Fair(second fortnight in July),"officials" of Carloway F.C. were standing at the bottom of the ship's gangway to sign Donald as a Carloway player for the duration. At least once,they paid his fare from Glasgow for an important game, a day or two outwith the Fair holiday. Of course every team would sign up 2 or 3 "visitors",and no game would play out as one might have expected, in the days before the arrival of this windfall of football talent.
And so it was that Domhnull Glass and a couple of fellow professionals turned out for Carloway against Stornoway United in the final of the Stornoway Cup at Goathill Park (1956?). United were the top team in these days,and were loath to surrender "their town's cup" to a bunch of Siarachs.They were so determined to win this game that they flew two of their top players from Inverness to Stornoway,at the club's expense.Few ordinary people could afford the high cost of a plane journey. The two United stars were "Raleigh" and "Blake"( nicknames,of course ),and these lads were working on the mainland. No expense would be spared in bringing these men over for this cup final. I can not think of the names "Raleigh" and "Blake", without picturing two Royal Naval destroyers viz. "HMS Raleigh" and "HMS Blake" coming to wreak havoc on this wee boat from Carloway. The result was United 1, Carloway 5 and to say that this was unbelievable is close to the truth. Donald's performance was outstanding, and this galvanised his fellow team mates to secure one of the biggest upsets in Lewis football history. There was a large dance later that evening in the Stornoway Town Hall, at which the cup was presented to a euphoric Carloway team and its 3 supporters.

We often say that it's a small world,and sometimes we can't believe just how small!
Last Sunday,while in the middle of writing this post ,I and three friends went on a fast boat trip from Seil Island to Iona. The young lady assisting,after some discussion about seals,found out that I had Lewis connections in Dalmore. "My mother is a Maciver from North Shawbost" exclaimed Liz,and she then mentioned that her uncle was known as "Larry". "Is that the same Larry who played football for Carloway when my brother was there? I am right in saying that he was a handsome cove,with beautiful Brylcreemed hair,and a good player to boot?" Liz said that this was the same Larry, and to him I extend my very best wishes(Iain Alasdair Shoudie).
And to the beautiful little ecologist,Liz I thank you for making my trip to Iona so interesting. By the way,Liz,when you laugh your face lights up,just like Larry's.

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