Talking Sport … with Jim Tait

The Shetland Times relies very much on contributed copy for a large part of this newspaper, whether it be letters to the editor, details of events or, especially on these pages, sports reports.

With that in mind it is very unfortunate that this season we have been unable to bring you consistent information from the senior football season.

Admittedly this has been a terrible year for cancellations because of weather, perhaps the worst ever. At the time of writing Seafield, which normally opens sometime in June, was still unplayable.

But there have still been many matches played and sadly not reported, while fixtures have at various times been omitted or misleading because of last-minute changes and pitch unavailability.

Shetland Football Association is one of the most established and longest-running sports bodies in the isles, and it seems a real pity that, following many seasons of excellent communication, things have taken a turn for the worse.

In the 1970s, 80s and further back, reporting was fairly sporadic, which did not make life easy for Jim Peterson when writing his The History of Shetland Football 1887-1987.

Things improved dramatically after that, not least due to the efforts of former association secretary Colin Lobban, a stalwart of the local football scene if ever there was one. Full reports were provided on almost every A team match, and also brief details of reserve league games.

Things were so good it was possible to run the “Shetland Times Dream League”, a fantasy football competition which attracted hundreds of entries and raised valuable funds for the local game and also for important charities.

The current season has been a complete shambles, with this being the first week for some time that we have been able to bring you a reasonable quantity of information.

Other football bodies appear well organised, with both the Injury Shetland Works League and the Parish Cup regularly keeping us updated on the progress in their respective competitions.

It is the same with other sports. Reports on hockey, bowls, angling, sailing and golf are supplied almost every week, while during the winter it is the same with darts, pool, volleyball, badminton, swimming, etc.

There is no doubt that the football association is struggling for office-bearers, a situation which rarely changes from year to year. Sadly all too few people appear willing to put something back into a game from which many of them gained so much pleasure during their playing days.

It seems strange that we now have a body set up called the Shetland Football Partnership, with council involvement, but at the same time the long-established association is barely keeping its head above water. An amalgamation perhaps?

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Congratulations to Lerwick Spurs FC on securing their latest silverware after Saturday’s Madrid Cup final against town rivals Celtic.

By all accounts it was a typical encounter between what are two evenly matched sides, with a little added spice provided by a penalty kick winner.

Spurs, having recently lost two important players to their town rivals, will be especially pleased with the victory.

Although there are no doubt a few other sides with designs on the 2015 title, it would be surprising if Celtic and Spurs were not filling the top two positions in two months’ time. In which order they will finish, however, is difficult to call.

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Indoor bowling has been very popular for several years now, with the excellent hall at Clickimin providing a valuable arena for the many enthusiasts in the isles.

Who can forget the island games of 2005, which saw medals of all colours claimed by Shetland competitors.

Although the game is played predominantly by older people, it should not be seen as a sport for just the elderly. Youngsters are regularly involved, with coaching sessions also provided at primary schools. And, importantly, the bowls hall has played its part in staging valuable competitions for Disability Shetland.

With that in mind, it is disappointing to hear that half of the hall could be lost in order to provide a gymnasium for the new Anderson High School.

The new AHS project has caused all manner of problems since the ill-judged decision to site it at Clickimin, with little thought going into what the repercussions might be.

Did no-one think the large games hall and gym facilities which exist on the current school site were worth factoring into the new building? And if so, why not?

We have already seen the desecration of the much-used and picturesque Clickimin campsite and the nonsensical construction of a ridiculous helipad to replace that lost at the back of the sports centre. But this latest suggestion takes some beating.

They say problems go in threes. This is proof of that if ever it was needed.

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It was mentioned on radio this week that cyclist Chris Froome, currently leading the way in the Tour de France, was in pole position “despite” having to answer media questions about whether he was drug-free or not.

In this particular sport the latest habit seems to be to query everyone who is successful, following the revelations about seven-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong’s use of performance-enhancing substances.

Froome, following in the wake of Bradley Wiggins, is thankfully still able to shrug off any allegations and concentrate on what he does best.

He is also one of the first to acknowledge the assistance he receives from fellow Brits Geraint Thomas and Mark Cavendish. Long may his pedals turn.


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