IAN CLARK, shinty coach of Lochside Rovers the second string of Oban

Camanachd, left for a five-month trip to Belize this week on a high note

when the club was selected as Marine Harvest club of the month.

Clark, who is also assistant manager of the Scotland squad for the

shinty-hurling internationals, will be supervising a project to develop

army camp stores in the former British colony in Central America.

His less exotic role with Lochside Rovers will be taken by Dunny

Niven, coach of the successful Park School team, and Clark is scheduled

to return in time for preparations for this season's international,

should it go ahead.

Rovers are currently leading South Division 3, while Camanachd were

unbeaten this season until last Saturday when they lost 3-1 away to

Kyles Athletic. The #100 award, which they also picked up last season,

comes in their centenary year which will climax a week on Saturday with

a challenge match and dinner dance. A limited edition of 100 mugs is one

of the novel ways the Oban club is marking the event.

Talking of mugs -- which the Oban outfit clearly are not -- another

unlikely artefact to enter the shinty arena in the last few days is an

electric shaver.

This was the unexpected item presented to Beauly midfielder Stephen

MacLean for being selected as man of the match in the Mod Cup challenge

game in Stornoway which opponents Skye won 4-2. In fact, MacLean has

already had a close shave in a pre-season friendly when he suffered a

broken cheekbone after having been hit in the face with a ball and the

injury is not yet fully healed.

''It will come in handy for shaving down my shinty stick,'' he joked

after a contest which entertained the smallest crowd of around one

hundred but which had some bizarre aspects.

It had been billed as a double header, counting also for league points

in Marine Harvest North Division 1, but after it became apparent that

the pitch, a rugby field, was less than the minimum dimensions for a

shinty field a decision was taken that it would be a challenge match


This decision, however, has yet to be endorsed by the Camanachd


MacLean added: ''The pitch was also very muddy which made clean

hitting difficult. Although spectators felt they saw an exciting game we

could have given a better exhibition had conditions and promotion of the

event been better.''

This is a view which has been heard before in previous Mod Cup

matches. There are obvious reasons for closer contact between the

Association and An Comunn Gaidhealach and perhaps improvements can be

made for next year in Glasgow.

On Saturday Oban Camanachd are at home to Tayforth while in the North

leaders Kingussie are hosts to Newtonmore, who have Willie Menzies

available after suspension but his return is unlikely to wrest the upper

hand from their near neighbours.