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International fields at sun-kissed Tobermory


CRAIG DUNBAR reports fron the Isle of Mull

The Commonwealth Games may have begun in Glasgow the previous evening but there is no doubt where the smart crowds were headed on Thursday morning – Erray Park, Tobermory, for the annual Mull Highland Games. The embankment which converts the fairway of the local Golf Course into an amphitheatre of Ben Hur style proportions was filling with enthusiastic spectators from before nine o’clock and the biggest crowd in years had chosen wisely as the action was non stop all the way through until the close of play.

Locals, youths, Scottish and international competitors graced the park with first win of the day going to Buckinghamshire based Karl Goodman in the 100 yards scratch race in a time of 10.59 seconds. Photo fionish equipment was being used at Tobermory for the first time and it was not long before it was being called into play in the handicap 100 yards. After some deliberations, the judges awarded the first two places to Australian runners, Sonia Pollard and John Hilditch with Denny’s Liam Halliday, in his first visit to Mull Games, in third. He went one better in the 220 yards, coping well with the tight right hand bend at the top of the course, one of the few places where races are run in the old direction! His time of 25 seconds dead was a credit in blistering conditions and with no breeze for respite.

Colin Welsh of Kelso, a regular at Mull, had come over on the first ferry to take part in the distance races but was edged out of first place by well know local Matthew Turner of Campbeltown in the scratch half mile which was won in 2m 20.30s.. The handicap race went to veteran Donald Bradley from Inverness whose son Ewan was also taking part with some distinction in the local jumps and races. Second to Donald was Kenny Short of Hawick who had been running all week since Rosneath. Matthew Turner ran a blinder from the back mark to grab third place on the line. He timed his race to perfection in the longest race on the card, the mile, moving through the field at a sensible pace in the temperatures which had by then reached 27 degrees and moving into first place with 180 yards to go.

The light field events have always been an integral part of the Mull programme. Antony Daffurn of Coatbridge took the long and triple jump events although the ground records eluded him. He did not participate in the high jump which was won by Angus Sinclair of Colintraive whose attempt to break the 59 year old local record – and to take the £100 additional purse for so doing - just failed by the narrowest of margins, clipping the bar with his heels, his torso having cleared the bar. Perhaps next year!

Lorne Colthart had a great day at the heavy events, winning 6 events outright and sharing the spoils in the weight over the bar. A newcomer to Mull was German Torson Huelsemann who took third in the light stone with Scots Bruce Robb and Neil Elliott sharing the majority of the remainder of the places between them. With World Caber Champion Scott Rider of Kent at the Commonwealth Games, it was Colthart who took the caber contest at Mull.

While all of these events are taking place, Lochgilphead’s Commonwealth Games Baton Bearer, Billy MacCallum is organising, with son Stuart, the locals’ and youths’ light field events and Craig Tomison of Ulva Ferry was out on the golf course wining the Chieftain’s Race. The children’s races just get bigger and bigger every year but the largest fields of the day were reserved for the Visitors’ Races which saw bumper entries with over 40 men heading down the hill from the start to Mull’s equivalent of Aintree’s Canal Turn after thirty yards. Fortunately this year, no fallers!

Mull’s Highland Games and the Commonwealth Games are of similar vintage. On a day like yesterday though, with all that Erray Park had to offer, there is no doubt where the well informed sportsman was to be found.



Published: 2014-07-25 08:04:20