Talking Sport

THE SECOND annual Shetland Sports Awards ceremony last Friday was an excellent occasion, with representatives from a variety of sports being recognised for their achievements over the past year.

Cyclist Christine McLean was a worthy winner of the main Sportsperson of the Year award, having accumulated numerous medals at different events in the country during 2008, and being recently listed as the top veteran all-rounder for the whole of the UK.

McLean’s achievement is magnified by the fact that three years ago she suffered from chronic hip trouble and was facing up the prospect of a possible transplant. A former smoker, she only took up serious cycling after watching the island games events in Shetland, testing herself out around the course and judging she could maybe make a bit of an impact.

Some impact! She looked every inch the athlete as she walked on stage to receive her award. Long may she remain in the saddle and continue to put Shetland on the map.

The Young Sportsperson of the Year, sprinter Faye Richardson from Unst, is another who is doing her utmost to gain recognition for her adopted homeland.

Richardson was recently named in an elite training squad with the 2012 Olympic Games in mind, and at next year’s island games in Åland will be all out to at least repeat her silver medal success of the 2005 event in Shetland.

Many outstanding performances were recorded by local athletics teams over the past months, such as the junior inter-county triumph over Orkney and wins in the HIPPO challenge and Sportshall events. A common denominator in all of that success was Elaine Park, and she was deservedly selected as Coach of the Year.

The Young Team of the Year award, not surprisingly, went to the Anderson High School netball team, who fought off all opposition in February to lift the Scottish Schools Championship, a great feat by a bunch of very talented girls indeed.

That just leaves one award to mention, that of Team of the Year, and making their mark on an otherwise female-dominated evening were the senior players from Delting Football Club.

To win Shetland’s premier football competition requires a lot of skill and ability, but to do it seven years in a row needs more in terms of commitment and durability, which Delting have in spades. It was suggested in some quarters that the claiming of a seventh title may have been a hurdle too far, but the critics – which thankfully did not include this columnist – were made to eat their words.

ON the subject of Delting, it was suggested here a few weeks ago that Shetland Football Association would be wise to rule out the possibility of new Shetland manager John Jamieson combining the county job with his existing club post.

That did not happen, and the SFA has now given the green light for Jamieson to take on the dual role. There was probably little option, as no-one else threw their hat into the ring for the representative job.

While it is perhaps not the ideal solution, Jamieson has stated in a lengthy interview in these pages what his hopes are for the future of the Shetland team. He has done so in an honest and open manner, and now deserves the support of all involved with football in the isles.

Jamieson has named Delting stalwart and recently-retired Shetland player Peter Peterson as his assistant, and also brought physio Ian Manning back on board. As a man with more comebacks than Frank Sinatra, Manning’s experience will be vital to the task in hand.

AND talking of managers, it appears that Derrick Bradley and Neil Moncrieff have lodged an appeal following the upholding of an appeal made against a vote in favour of them continuing in the roles of under-18 county coaches.

If you understand all that you’re either involved in junior football circles or pretty quick on the uptake.

This latest appeal is centred on the voting procedure the second time around, when a previous 8-6 vote in favour of Bradley and Moncrieff was overturned by a 6-5 majority.

The new plea, it seems, is about whether club representatives, after being pro­moted to office bearers, should have been allowed a separate vote from their replacement club reps.

A spokesman for the Junior Football Association confirmed yesterday that they had received Bradley’s appeal and were in the process checking whether it waslegitimate.

Whatever now happens, the sooner this matter is finally cleared up to some degree of satisfaction the better. Otherwise a couple of months down the line we’ll be hearing about somebody appealing against the appeal over the decision on the previous appeal which was made because the earlier appeal was not to the liking of those who lodged an appeal over the outcome of the original appeal.

THE SCOTTISH rugby team may have only been in the third band of seeds, but this week’s draw for the 2011 World Cup is about as favourable as it could have been.

To land Argentina from the number one pot (missing New Zealand, Australia and South Africa) and England from the second pot means the Scots will be up against two teams they have beaten in the past year, so the chance of progressing to the quarter-finals remains a reasonable one.

Meanwhile, there are those in rugby circles who are already punting their choices for next year’s British Lions first XV for the test series against South Africa.

Eddie Butler, writing in The Observer on Sunday, reckons that Wales are in a good position to kick on and provide “most players” for the Lions.

Butler has, unfortunately, fallen into the same trap as former Lions coach Clive Woodward four years ago, i.e. adopting the view that whichever British side dominates the Six Nations championship should also dominate the touring party.

The British Lions, traditionally, have been a bringing together of the best of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. That combination, rather than a squad top heavy with players from one country, has paid dividends when most success has been achieved, the last tour to South Africa being a case in point.

Thankfully next year’s tour will be led by the canny Ian McGeechan, who has been through it all before both as a player and a coach. I doubt if he will share Butler’s view.


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