Games Day Report 2017

Abernethy Highland Games – Saturday 12th August 2017

A dull, but promising start to the day certainly didn’t dull the enthusiasm of the 3000 plus crowd that attended, or competed in the friendly games on Saturday. Perhaps the clouds did have an impact on numbers, down slightly on last year, but spectators were treated to an outstanding day of sport and entertainment. No less than 9 pipe bands marched around the field in a spectacular display, and junior heavy athlete George Evans smashed Kyle Randall’s 2011 record in 44lb weight over the bar, throwing a mighty 18’!

Rain did stop play at around 2.40, a short but heavy cloudburst, sending spectators into the tents for shelter, but the sport continued after 10 minutes, and no doubt the athletes enjoyed the lowered temperature.

As usual there was plenty to see and do around the field with Cadona’s funfair, trade and charity stalls, displaying a vast array of tempting items crafted in wood, leather, tweed, and much more.

Visitors enjoyed the improved seating arrangements, with benches manufactured of timber generously donated by BSW Sawmill.

Joint Chieftains this year, Neill and Elspeth Allan, have been involved in Athletics judging for over 30 years and have reached the top of their field, culminating in their appointment as 2 of the 6 Chief Field Judges at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. They have judged at 2 World Master Highland Games Championships and are now passing on their skills as tutors for field judges.

Their son Graeme a successful past competitor in heavy events was a very able and enthusiastic announcer, wielding a microphone rather than a caber.

In the main arena, bounded by smart new posts and railings, the athletics events, the start and finish of the road race, and the heavy competitions, cornerstone of the Games, delighted spectators.

Eleven heavies competed in four events. Six competitors fought it out in the local heavy events with Conan Quinn (Nethy Bridge) taking overall first, J. D. Macleod (Newtonmore) came second and Scott Simon (Aviemore) third.

Sarah Cavill was the only lady to take part in the girls junior heavy 17-19 age class event. George Evans (Inverness) won the junior heavy 17-19 age category and Daniel Wilby (Inverness) was second. George broke two games records, the first was putting the shot where he broke the record he set at last year’s games. The second record which George broke was a massive throw of 18’6” for the 44lb weight over the bar. The previous record was set in 2011 by another outstanding junior heavy (Kyle Randals) with a throw of 17’3”.

The open heavy competition was won by Jamie Gunn (Halkirk) with Jason Young (Ross-shire) and Craig Sinclair (Banchory) coming in equal second place and James Dawkins (Aboyne) in fourth.

There was a good field in the athletics competition with fifty seven entrants. The younger age categories continue to be popular but there were fewer middle and senior entrants this year.

Always entertaining, the Pipe Band Tug o’ War attracted 6 teams: Buckie & District, City of Inverness Youth, Dufftown, Portsoy, Forres A & Forres B. The final was a close one with Dufftown and Inverness Youth both with 1 win each. Inverness had more team members to make up for their lack of weight and strength and aquitted themselves very well.

The results were: 1. Dufftown, winning the Walter Grant Memorial Trophy 2. Inverness Youth 3. Forres Team A 4. Portsoy

Judged by Sir Patrick Grant of Dalvey, five bands competed for the Pipe Band Challenge Shield, which Chieftain Elspeth Allan presented to Forres and District Pipe Band. Forres were thrilled with their win – last time was in 1950!

Senior Solo Piping Judges Norman Matheson and Duncan Watson of Aberdeen, whose first appearance at the Games as competitors was in 1948 and 1974 respectively, congratulated Abernethy Highland Games Committee on providing one of the most welcoming and hospitable piping competitions anywhere in Scotland and praised the competitors on maintaining their high standard of play. Duncan Watson commented on the small number of pipers in attendance (5) but the playing was good and all acquitted themselves well. The weather was reasonable but did break down mid-afternoon with a heavy downpour and poor Gordon Barclay was caught in it, doing jigs!

Junior Piping Judge Ronald McLean of Inverness commended the young competitors for achieving such a promising standard of play, also giving good advice on how they could improve for next year.

This years Solo Drumming Competition was a popular spectacle of entertainment for those who enjoyed a keenly fought competition. It attracted the highest number of entrants in both categories in its ten years existence, as well as a much greater than normal crowd of spectators.

The Junior Solo Drumming was won by Jamie Wallis (City of Inverness Youth Pipe Band), 2nd was Ryan McConnachie (Dufftown Pipe Band), 3rd was Liam McIntosh (Huntly & District Pipe Band) and 4th was Zara Milne (Buckie & District Pipe Band).

The Open Solo Drumming was also won by Jamie Wallis (City of Inverness Youth Pipe Band), 2nd was Scott Dingwall (Portsoy Pipe Band), 3rd was Jake Tomkin (City of Inverness Youth Pipe Band), and 4th was Liam McIntosh (Huntly and District Pipe Band.

On the Highland Dancing boards, 106 dancers participated in a closely fought competition, with competitors from all over Scotland and further afield including a very talented young dancer from France.

This years Abernethy 10 mile road race was held is good conditions, despite the heavy shower following the start, the field of 63 runners took the wet and muddy tracks through the forest in their stride and the first 2 finishers Chris Peak and Alex Chepelin both travelled north from Edinburgh and came in with great times of 56.43 and 57.23 respectively.  Local “Nethy” mountain biker Chris Godlington won the men’s resident trophy in 9th place in a time of 66:58.  1st female local was won by Aviemore’s Penny Lawson in 23rd overall in a time of 72.55.

Bernd Meyer a visitor from Germany ran “Barefooted” and finished just behind Penny, Bernd has been barefooted now for 5 years and recently completed the Berlin marathon’ not content with this great effort, he then ran the 1500 metre track race.  Chris’s peak time is still 6 minutes outside the course record, so let’s hope that next year we have some of our good locals challenging in the race.  Inverness Harriers won the team award.

The morning programme of kiddies events was well subscribed, with many under 5’s taking part, all thrilled with their medals. The tattie and spoon races were very popular, and many heats were held, including a parents race – fiercely contested! Parents also participated in wheelbarrow and running races, much to the amusement of the crowd.

Altogether a very successful and entertaining day!