Shinty fever will sweep through a Highland glen today as the local side competes in the final of the game’s blue ribbon competition, the Camanachd Cup Final, for only the second time in its 129-year history.
If Glenurquhart lift the coveted silver trophy, it will be the first time since the club was founded in 1885.
Hundreds of supporters bedecked in red and black will head up the A82 today to Inverness in the hope of seeing their team overcome the favourites, Kingussie.
However, the challenge facing the underdogs is immense. While their opponents are chasing their 23rd Camanachd Cup triumph, Glenurquhart’s closest brush with history was a 4-2 defeat to the Badenoch boys in the 1988 final.
Glenurquhart chairman Russell Fraser said the sense of optimism around this year’s side was spreading through the whole community.
“It is just fantastic for the area and everyone is getting behind the team,” he said.
“The team shop has been doing a roaring trade in team favours.
“There’s no bigger game than the Camanachd Cup final – it doesn’t get any bigger than this.
“It hasn’t just happened because of the team’s hard work this year. There has been a huge amount of work in the past 10 years to increase membership and improve facilities. Now young lads are coming through from the youth system and we are getting anywhere between 60 and 70 at training from the school feeder teams.
“If the kids see the team doing well, then it encourages them.”
Roz Bullard of Fres’ Hair in Drumnadrochit and Fort Augustus, has her salon bedecked in the team colours, as well as posters and a banner made by children at Balnain and Glenurquhart primary schools.
Her husband, Martin, keyboard player in the pop rock band Smokie, will be among the supporters cheering on the Glen today.
Mrs Bullard, who moved to the area 22 years ago from Melbourne in Australia, said: “This is the biggest event in the village’s history. We are getting right behind the team and they had better win.
“The women have been getting their hair done for the big day, and we have many more coming in on Saturday morning.”
Glen co-manager Billy Maclean said: “The fact we are up there now with a chance to win is just fantastic.
“All the shops are festooned in red and black and the big cup final is the only thing people are talking about.”
He added: “The boys have been putting 100% into training and that has certainly helped to build a lot of momentum. I told them at the start that if they didn’t put the work in they couldn’t win the Camanachd Cup but if they did, then they could.”
Willie Cameron, managing director at Cobbs bakery in Drumnadrochit said: “It’s a tremendous, historical occasion for Glenurquhart and particularly because it’s in the year of Homecoming, which will generate a lot of interest for shinty players and other people dotted all over the world.
“The cup is theirs for the taking but the players have to convince themselves in their minds that they will do it.”
Kingussie may be hoping for their 23rd Camanachd Cup win – but it would be their first for eight years.
The team will be wearing shirts bearing poppies and the names of their players who won the 1914 final, before six of them went off to war ,never to return.
Councillor Gregor Rimell, Badenoch and Strathspey, said: “If the Camanachd cup comes back to Badenoch to keep the premiership trophy company, that would be fantastic.
“Everybody’s very excited and it’s obviously a focal point of Kingussie’s year.”
The 108th final of the Scottish Hydro Camanachd Cup is at Bught Park, with throw-up 2.30pm.