“WHAT football team do you support?” has to be the most frequently asked question in Scotland. When you reply that you’ve never really watched football, you get a weird, disbelieving look. But that’s just how it was for me growing up in Spean Bridge in the Highlands. For me sport meant shinty, and it always has.

I was introduced to shinty at a very young age and where I come from, if you didn’t play shinty your entire sporting career could be over before you’d reached secondary school. Retirement, aged nine!

For the same reason other youngsters were picking up a rugby ball or a cricket bat, it was all about what I was introduced to as a kid and for me it was all about shinty and getting your hands on a caman, I learnt to play first at Kilmonivaig Primary School and then carried on when I went to Lochaber High School. Outside of school I was addicted pretty early on too, begging my dad to take me up the old hill to Spean shinty field on a Saturday afternoon to watch the seniors play.

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However, bizarrely, for someone who never played football, I was daft on watching Italian, Series A. Saturday mornings meant Gazzetta Italia and I was always glued to the telly watching James Richardson sitting drinking his cappuccino on the street, followed by all the highlights of the previous week's fixtures. While I would have struggled to tell you who was top of the Scottish league, or who the top goal scorers were, when it came to Italian football I was fairly clued up back then.

In terms of my own playing career, by the time I was eight I was getting quite handy with a stick, and then my Mum and Dad got me my first accordion. And until fairly recently, the two lived happily side by side, however by its very nature, shinty isn’t a very forgiving sport regarding injuries and of course there was always a real risk that I could get my fingers broken, which to be honest isn't ideal for a squeeze box player.

Fortunately, I never had any really big dramas to contend with, a few broken bones here and there and the odd finger, but returning each week the threat of injury never really crossed my mind. It was almost like my two hobbies and loves were entirely unrelated.

I was very fortunate as a player with Fort William Shinty Club to enjoy success with both the team and individually. The 2005 Camanachd Cup final will always be a highlight in my shinty career though as I got to lift the Camanachd Cup as captain, scored a goal and was awarded the Albert Smith Memorial medal for Man of the Match.

We went on to lift the Camanachd Cup a further four more times in 2007, 2008, 2009, and in 2010 after I scored the winning goal against Kingussie with 15 seconds remaining. I was also awarded the Man of the Match award for a second time and then to cap off 2010, I was captain of the Scotland team against Ireland in Croke Park, which we won and I was awarded both the Marine Harvest Premiership and overall Player of the Season for shinty.

It was an incredible period and time in my life with Fort William, but all good things must come to an end.

When I hung my boots up at the end of the 2014 season, I was also writing a weekly shinty blog for the BBC which was a great outlet for the sport and also gave me the opportunity to learn how to spell, well to use autocorrect at least.

I have been a full-time musician since 2003 and have been very fortunate to get to travel the world playing the accordion with various groups, bands and people, but when our main band Mànran started in 2010 I don’t think any of us thought for a second it would keep us so busy.

One of those moments when I realised it was probably time to call it a day was during the 2014 season while watching Fort William play Kingussie in the Camanachd Cup semi-final live on BBC ALBA from a sound check in Milwaukee. I, of course, wanted to be at home playing in that game but the reality was that shinty couldn’t be my main priority anymore.

The last two seasons especially, 2013/14, I had made a handful of games each season for the club, but as we were going through a transitional period it felt right to try and hang on as long as possible. You’re a long time finished as they say!

I was up until then an auxiliary Firefighter with the Scottish Fire and Rescue service in Spean Bridge too, but with training schedules being more frequent and being away on tour more often, after 15 and a half years I had to bid farewell to Alpha 29 at the beginning of 2015.

I was 33 and felt it was time to take stock of everything and of course there was another distraction, my lovely now-wife Hannah. Over the years I sacrificed a lot to commit to shinty, music and the Fire Service and a lot of things played second fiddle, pardon the pun, but I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve been happier than I am now.

And just when I had cleared my plate of those commitments, along came another! This time in the form of presenting. The legendary voice of Scottish Dance Music, Robbie Shepherd MBE, after 35 years of presenting at BBC Radio Scotland, was stepping down and I was asked if I would like to take over. Incredible! Something that I never saw coming in a million years.

I record the show every Wednesday morning which goes out every Saturday and Sunday night which doesn’t interfere with me still playing music as my main career. And with living in Glasgow it’s just perfect as I am only a mile away from the BBC and once a month get to head up to Aberdeen to record the show with all the team, so the commitment doesn’t take me north for days on end.

Mànran is still going from strength to strength and having just returned from our Danish tour we had the lovely news that our new album, An Dà Là - The Two Days, has been shortlisted for ‘Album of the Year’ at this year's Trad Awards and I also have made the final 5 for ‘Instrumentalist of the Year’ which I am delighted about.

Our new single “When you go” will be released in December and then we bring in Hogmanay live on BBC ALBA, plus a string of other dates next month. So, fingers crossed life continues to flourish, and who knows, I might even start to watch football yet!