HISTORY OF SHINTY

From its earliest organized days in the late 1800s Shinty matches were often connected with celebrations, particularly on New Year's Day, and generally involved the male populations of one parish, village or district playing another. In this sense it has long held an important role in Scottish communities and continued to be played by Highland Immigrants in the Eastern United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Of course "the sport of the Scottish Gaels" also suffered from the same repression that plagued Scottish culture after the 1745 Rebellion, with attempts to legislate against it (along with golf) led both by the Kirk and English authorities. Despite these efforts Shinty has endured to the present day.

The sport has had many regional variants over the years. Beginning in 1869 Shinty clubs began to form and soon District Organizations sprung to life as interest in the sport continued to grow. In 1880 the first set of universal rules was adopted and the foundations of the modern game laid. A leading figure in this renaissance was Capt. Archibald Chisholm, the founder of the Strathglass Club and, in 1893, the first Chief of the Camanachd Association.

Shinty has continued to exist both as a formalized sport, under the auspices of the Camanachd Association, and as a traditional pastime of the Scots at more casual and/or social events. The game was played by Highland Regiments during both World Wars, and WWII POWs from the famous 51st Highland Division even formed teams while being held in Stalag IX. Shinty is currently played in Scotland by many organized teams, and the Camanachd Association oversees a number of leagues for different age groups of both men and women.

(from the Camanachd Association in Scotland)

The game of shinty goes back to the roots of Gaelic Scotland and the even earlier heritage of the Celtic race. Its demands of skill, speed, stamina and courage make camanachd, the sport of the curved stick, the perfect exercise of a warrior people. The qualities of body and mind it developed, clearly contributed to the just fame of the Highlander in battle, not only those long ago but up until the last two World Wars. During the period of these two universal conflicts, organised shinty was discontinued and many of the playing generations then were lost to campaigns far distant from the pitches where they had followed this deeply-loved recreation of their ancestors.

Within the rivalries of the game, clan against clan, parish against parish and brae against strath, there developed a social comradeship in the world of camanachd and this continues to the present day.

In common with other sports, shinty moved out of a long previous history of unwritten rules and widely differing local variations in the last quarter of the nineteenth century.

In 1879 the Glasgow Celtic Society instituted a cup competition and established rules of play. About the same time the celebrated Captain Chisholm of Glassburn drew up 'The Constitution, Rules and Regulations of the Strathglass Shinty Club" which were published in 1880.

On February 13, 1887, a famous game was played at Inverness between Strathglass and Glenurquhart when the field measured over 300 yards long by 200 yards wide, with twenty two players a side. Even with two adjoining glens, in this case, the variations in their codes of play needed discussion to get common rules agreed. By 1888, when the return match took place, revised Strathglass rules were produced and these came to be the accepted one among clubs in the north while those in the south playing area of Scotland followed the Celtic Society rules.

In April 1893, another memorable game was played at the Dell in Kingussie between the home club and Glasgow Cowal, the latter winning by one hail to nil. The teams were fourteen a side and the occasion clearly showed the need for one authority to control the playing of shinty.

On October 10th of the same year, there was a great meeting of enthusiasts in Kingussie and the Camanachd Association was formed with the then Lord Lovat as President and, for a long period, he remained a very influential leader in the game.

In 1922 the Sir William Sutherland Cup competition was instituted as the Scottish Junior Championship. The Glasgow Celtic Society has continued to operate the oldest competition of all in the South Clubs with the MacTavish Cup, established in 1898, as the equivalent for North clubs. The MacAulay Association, since 1947, has organised an open senior competition centered on Oban. From 1985 the Balliemore Cup has been competed for as the Scottish Intermediate Championship. At lesser grades, other trophy competitions have bee developed including those run by the Schools Camanachd Association. There has been league competitions, initially administered by separate North and South Associations. After major reorganisation in 1981 all individual bodies agreed to work under the central administration. The league system remained in the North and South areas with a National League Final between respective Division 1 Champions. In the 1995/96 Season a new overall eight team Premier League was introduced. Also introduced was a representative district team competition integrated with Under-21 and Senior selection for the Shinty Hurling Internationals against Ireland.

The initial object of the Association is "to foster and develop the national game of shinty" and it works to carry on a game which has been handed down to us by our forebears and of which, in turn, hand on, a game which knows no social distinctions, with, on the field of play, all men equal and the greatest of all, the most expert and finest wielder of the caman.

For more information on the official leagues of Shinty in Scotland, please visit their site at www.Shinty.com