This 12 goal thriller provided a fitting climax to another successful Clan Cameron Gathering weekend.
The last time the two clans clashed on the shinty field, the 1995 match was acclaimed for its entertainment and skill level. On that occasion the sides shared eight goals but last Sunday's fixture even surpassed that epic encounter. This match had the 500 plus crowd absorbed for the full 90 minutes as the skill and pace of the game provided a spectacle and an atmosphere better than many a shinty cup final.
As fortunes swayed with both sides pegging back the other with some spectacular goals the overseas visitors may have suspected that the match organisers employ consultants from the WWF wrestling to stage manage such occasions. However, it appears that the secret formula is simply players responding to a large enthusiastic crowd made up of tourists and shinty supporters drawn from a wide geographic area.
Excellent conditions underfoot allowed both sides to display their skills and a popular view at the post match celebrations was that playing shinty in the summer months would move shinty on to a higher plain.
Unfortunately due to a bereavement the Fraser troops were depleted but the players provided by the host club, Fort William, showed plenty of commitment to the cause. Too much perhaps for the Camerons who within six minutes found themselves two goals down as Gordie MacKinnon's pace tore holes in the Cameron rear guard. The Fort mercenary with two cool finished looked to have put a dampener on the Cameron celebrations. But as the song says "A Cameron never can yield" and the home troops drew inspiration from their midfield general Iain Cameron Smith and Captain Deek Cameron. Play raced from end to end and on numerous occasions Gary Wells in the Fraser goal denied Mike Cameron and Deek Cameron from reducing the deficit. Steven Cameron fared no better with a stinging shot whilst his brother Martin in the Cameron goal kept the Frasers at bay. After 21 minutes the Camerons were back in the hunt when Deek Cameron scored from close range. Roared on by a vociferous support the Camerons were further frustrated by a string of Wells' saves but in 35 minutes they were back on level terms when referee Graham Cameron pointed to the penalty spot. A second goal from Deek Cameron inspired his clan and just on half time Mike Cameron's scrambled effort put the Camerons ahead for the first time.
Unbelievably the second half was even more entertaining with the match resembling a tennis final at Wimbledon as play swung from goal to goal. Within 10 minutes the Frasers were level with MacKinnon completing his hat trick and eight minutes later the thorn in the Camerons side grabbed his fourth. The Frasers threatened to pull away from the boys with the crooked noses, but a spectacular goal in 75 minutes from John MacKenzie maintained the deadlock. The game looked set for a repeat of the 1995 scoreline, but in the closing 10 minutes the crowd were royally entertained as the drama unfolded. MacKinnon's fifth goal looked to have sealed matters, but the Camerons showed their fighting qualities. An Iain Kennedy strike rebounded to Deek Cameron and the captain cooly struck the equaliser. Both camps would have settled for that score but in a pulsating finish the Camerons, incredibly looked to have scored the winner with John MacKenzie's second goal of the game. The roar that greeted the Oban lad's goal resounded around the Gearasdan and the Cameron celebrations started in earnest. But more drama was to come when in the dying seconds, referee Cameron awarded a penalty to the Frasers. Perhaps justice was done and the perfect result achieved when Gary Innes converted his hit. Certainly Innes deserved a goal for the way he and Astie Cameron (Jnr) entertained the crowd at the after match barbecue and ceilidh. Combining with accordian and bagpipes they summed up what the day had been about and gave the overseas visitors a real taste of Highland culture.
Emphasising the harmony of the day the respective captains Deek Cameron and Iain Fraser stepped forward to receive the cup from Donald Cameron, Younger of Lochiel, James Cameron (Lochaber) and Donald Fraser (Strathglass) were recipients of Tanera Caman presentation sticks for best players on either side although they were run close by every player on the field.
What a game. What a day and night. What an advertisement for summer shinty. What about it?