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Lochcarron Camanachd

Our winner! receiving 10x Tanera Camans, 12x Play Shinty Balls and a Protec shinty stick bag goes to Maura P7 and Lochcarron Primary School, Maura’s work exemplified everything that we hoped would come from this competition. Well researched, well written and giving an insight both just into the history of the sport but the importance and reality of shinty in our fragile Highland communities. A truly exceptional piece of work at any age or stage, but at P7 little short of miraculous. We hope that with enthusiasm like that shinty in Lochcarron will flourish for many more years to come. We publish Maura’s essay below.

Lochcarron Primary School – Nan MacRae Cup Winners 2023

My name is Maura Mackenzie. I am in Primary 7 in Lochcarron Primary School. I am writing this essay on behalf of Lochcarron School /Lochcarron Camanachd. I have asked people in the village for information about the School/Club and have interviewed my Papa Tommy “Jeck” Mackenzie, my uncle Kenny “Jeck” Mackenzie, Roddy “Butcher” Maclennan, Simon Mackenzie, my Dad Ian “Jeck” Mackenzie, Kenny “Duffy” Murray, Kenny Ross, Peter Mackenzie and my brother Owen. Thank you to them for helping me. Thankyou also to Mrs Cathy Ross, ex Headteacher in Lochcarron Primary, for her help with some stories from her school shinty days.

Interviewing my Papa Tommy “Jeck” Mackenzie

Lochcarron Primary School was built in 1876. It had 170 pupils. This school was replaced in 1937 by the school that I go to today. Shinty was played in school a lot after the club was founded. Sport is a very important part of the school. Mrs Cathy Ross, who was Headteacher for many years, was a great encouragement to any child who wished to take part in sports. Shinty was one of these sports. Lochcarron Primary School has always been very proud of their sporting achievements. In 1992/1993 they did themselves proud winning no less than 7 sporting trophies – including shinty trophies. The Club and school continue to work together to make sure we always have shinty teams representing Lochcarron Primary School.

Peter Mackenzie with the 7 sports trophies won by Lochcarron Primary in 1992/93.
Peter continues to play and support Lochcarron Camanachd today.

Lochcarron Camanachd was established in 1883 and is one of the oldest clubs in the West Highlands. There is not much information to be found about the first teams and games that were played after Club was formed. However after the 1st World War a much more organised team was formed. One of the founding members was my Great Grandfather Alasdair”Jeck” Mackenzie who was only 19 years of age. His shinty career was interrupted by the 2nd World War but he continued to play and eventually hung up his boots in 1947.

When the club was formed they played their games at Kelso or Tullich, depending on what field was available for that season. The boys in the village would practice in school during the day. In the evening they would practice on the grass at the west end of the village opposite Meadowbank Cottage (there is now a house on the land). The team moved to the Battery Park as this area had been designated for the shinty pitch. When this area was being extended the club played over in Attadale.

All the players started playing shinty in Primary School and one of their favourite competitions was the Strathpeffer 6s which our school still plays in every year.

There have been a number of coaches over the years. Willie “Wad” Mackenzie, Donald Maclennan, Alick “Dash” Mackenzie, Duncan Maclennan, Charlie Stewart, Tilly, Kenny “Jeck” Mackenzie, Mrs Cathy Ross, David “Ham” Mackenzie, Alasdair “Gaitor” Mackenzie, Fraser Mackenzie, Bob Munro, Anne MacCuish, Laura Mackay, Ian “Jeck” Mackenzie, Peter Mackenzie, Lachlan Dean Morrice and Crisdean Finlayson to name but a few.

Kenny “Jeck” Mackenzie has many memories of his shinty days

In the early years there was not much organised training. Boys just practised on the grass and were told by a Wednesday if they were in the team for Saturday. Over the years this has changed to a more structured training session doing fitness and games.

The club has always played in blue and white strips. Blue top, white shorts and blue socks. Players used to take home their own strips to clean but over the years this has changed and we now send them to Lynda at the laundrette each week.

In the early years the players made their own sticks using birch, ash and holly. They had to make sure the stick had a a curve in it. In 1958 sticks were sold in MacPhersons Store in Inverness for 33 shillings which is about £3.30 and a shinty ball cost 15 shillings or £1.50. Many players used John Sloggie sticks over the years. Nowadays Tanera Camans are the main sticks used along with Mead Camans.

Over the years most of players, 90%/95% were from Lochcarron although some boys from Skye played for Lochcarron before they had a team of their own. Today around 70% players are from Lochcarron. Players have joined us from Lochbroom which disbanded and we have players playing for us from Strathpeffer and Skye. These players have helped us keep our team going through difficult times.

The team played in the Junior League until the early 70s when they then entered the Senior League. Over the years there have been highs and lows. From 1927 the team went undefeated for 5 years. The teams played for the Harrow, Conchra, Skeabost and Strathdearn Cups. The Strathdearn is still played for today. Lochcarron won this Cup in 2016 beating Glenurquhart 4-1 in the final. After years of playing in the top leagues the team has dropped down to the lower leagues to try and regroup and keep our Club running. We live in a small village and we depend on people from the village to keep playing or those who leave to travel home every week to play. Its not always easy to get a team out every week. But we will keep going.

Roddy “Butcher” Malennan had lots of stories to tell

During my interviews I asked about the highs and lows in their shinty careers. The highs for Tommy/Kenny were drawing 6-6 with Newtonmore at the Battery Park, Lochcarron in the Camanachd Cup. Newtonmore were the top team in shinty at the time and were winning leagues and all cups! Simon Mackenzie recalls scoring a goal in the Strathdearn Cup Final which Lochcarron won.

Ian Jecks highs were playing for Scotland, selected as Scottish Player of the Year and captaining the team when they won league and cup double. Peter Mackenzie highs were playing for Scotland and promotion to the Premier League. Both Ian and Peter have special memories of playing for Scotland in Croke Park, Ian remembers the atmosphere playing in front of 80,000 fans.

Kenny Ross felt privileged to captain a winning Balliemore Cup team. He also took great pride in the team coming up from Division 3 all the way up to the Premier League. Roddy “Butcher” Maclennan was playing for Scotland. Kenny Murray loved representing his village by playing the best sport about. Roddy, Kenny (Duffy) and Ian all have special memories of watching their sons play and playing on the pitch with them. Owen’s special moment is playing for Lochcarron seniors alongside his Dad.

The lows mentioned were any game that they lost, playing in North Dvision 3 and the injuries over the years. For Kenny and Tommy their low point was the injury sustained by Hughie Matheson during a match.

Winning Caman from 1939 – Sutherland Cup – won by John “Butcher Maclennan” – father to Roddy.

Everyone thought the changes over the years have been good. Substitutions are a good thing, shinguards and helmets and attitudes to training are all for the better. The introduction of girls/ladies shinty has been the biggest change and one of the best. Lochcarron would love to have their own ladies team one day. We run an all girls competition every year involving all the primary schools in the area and we play for the Dewar Shield. It is a very popular competition.

Lochcarron has had many families involved since shinty began here. We have the Mackay “Burrens” – Daniel Mackay plays in our present team, the Mackenzies “Jecks” – Ian, Owen, Maura and Connie all playing today, the Stewarts – Matthew Young playing for GMA today. We also have Sam Stubbs and Laura Mackay (Burrens) and Lexie & Poppy Mackenzie (Jecks) playing for other clubs.

Two of Roddy “Butchers” stories!

In 1970, in the Dewar Cup Final , Lochcarron v Lovat, the score was 3-3 with 1 minute to go. Sandy Ham broke through for a certain goal. He was brought down in a heap and a penalty was duly awarded. I can still see Jerry Maclennan, the Lovat fullback, pleading his innocence, stick in one hand and 6″ strip of Sandy’s jersey in the other. Justice was done, Sandy scored and the game was won!

My Dad, Ian “Jeck” Mackenzie won his black caman for captaining the Balliemore Cup winning Lochcarron team in 2002

My last question was who they thought was the best player ever in Lochcarron. Lots of names – Murdo “Burren” Mackay, Willie “Dula” Mackenzie, Ronnie Ross, Alan “Ham” Mackenzie, Kenny Ross, Ian “Jeck” Mackenzie, Chris “Russell” Mackenzie, Andew Slaughter, Gordy Mackay, David “Ham” Mackenzie, Darren Coyle and for his years of playing and is still playing now Gregor Cushnie. But the name that kept coming up was Calum “Jacky” Mackenzie possibly Lochcarron’s best ever player.

Calum “Jacky” Mackenzie

I have included some photos of our past and present teams and photos I have taken of medals and camans belonging to my Papa Tommy and Roddy “Butcher”. Also two funny stories from Roddy “Butcher”. Thank you to everyone who helped me get information to write this essay.

Collection of medals from Tommy “Jeck” Mackenzie (my Papa)

Ian Mackenzie’s Scotland top 1999

Lochcarron Shinty Team 1971

Back L-R: Jimmy Cushnie, Willie Mackenzie (Dula), Roddy Maclennan (Butcher), Calum Mackenzie (Jacky), Keny Mackenzie (Jeck), Hughie Matheson, Alasdair Mackenzie (Ham)
Front Row L-R: Monty Maclean (Livet), Kennack Cameron, Tommy Mackenzie (Jeck), Kenny MacAskill, Iain Matheson, Ronnie Ross

The present Lochcarron Team

Lochcarron Camanachd – North Division Winners 2023

I have enjoyed finding out about my Club and hearing lots of stories. Hope you enjoy reading it.

Maura P7

Reports on one of Tommy & Kenny’s best days in shinty


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