Friday Fictioneers – Watcher On The Shore

ff221014‘Back again, Mr McDonald?’ said the Laird of Glen Vorlich Estate.

‘I am that, Hughie,’ said Mr McDonald.

The Laird stroked his rambling, red beard. The dawn breeze buffeted his kilt. A piercing whistle saw a black and white Collie spring suddenly to his side. He nodded and smiled a gentle smile before man and dog turned and disappeared once more into the lochside mists.

Mr McDonald focused his eyes back upon the waters of Loch Corran. The heavy grey clouds rolling down from Ben Machar looked ominous. Droplets of heather-scented rain began to run down his cheeks.

He wasn’t leaving though – not until he had a photo. Only then would they believe him.

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These words form my entry into this week’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt challenge.

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The Stigma Politics of British Nationalism

Originally posted on :

6509716627_f54de3642c_b_67271On the day that Farage does a deal with a far-right, racist Holocaust-denier to save UKIP’s EU funding, Stewart McDonaldlooks at what’s behind his latest statements.

“KEEP HIV POSITIVE MIGRANTS OUT OF BRITAIN, SAYS FARAGE”. That is the headline that screeched across Friday’s edition of The Guardian. Mr Farage made his remarks in an interview with Newsweek Europe when asked what sort of people should be allowed to migrate to the UK. He said: “People who do not have HIV, to be frank. That’s a good start. And people with a skill.”

Many people have rightly condemned these remarks. As well as branding the remarks outrageous, medieval and barrel scraping, Mr Farage has also been branded ignorant on the issue of HIV in the modern world. Whilst at best this may be the case I, for one, am not wholly convinced. Nigel Farage is a dangerous man and those of…

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Sunday Photo Fiction – A Fisherman’s Life

82-10-october-19th-2014We’d watch from the top of Miller’s Rise as the village fleet headed for home. Through the choppy waves west of St Madigan’s Point they’d race the trailing gulls, and each other, back to the safe embrace of the harbour.

From each vessel colourful flags would flutter. On board tired, but happy, crews would share a joke and a song as their catch was iced and readied for market. Father won the race more days than not: the Mary Jane was the leader of the fleet – her engines would whine as my father and uncle steered her clear of the rest.

One day I hoped I’d be the one leading the fleet home.

These summers the harbour in Dunavan lies almost empty. Giggling children search for tiny harbour crabs as father takes the Mary Jane, and it’s crew of holiday fishermen, out beyond St Madigan’s Point. On their return, boisterous tales of ‘the ones that got away‘ echo long into the night within the warming snug of the Red Anchor.

From the top of Miller’s Rise today I watch with my own boy, as calm seas shimmer in the orange evening haze. The race for home nothing but a memory of childhood; a memory of a time lost for the fisherman and families of Dunavan.

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These words form my entry into this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction challenge. 

The End is Nigh

Greig McDonaldReaders of this blog will appreciate my current passion for creative fiction laced with a generous splash of Scottish politics. However, my first love (even before ‘she who must be obeyed‘) was the gallant footballing entity that is Stirling Albion FC. Since 1980 they were a huge part of my life – games were rarely missed, and when the internet was invented I became their one and only unofficial site. For 13 years reports were filed after every game and the burning of midnight oil became a common occupation in the name of SAFC. For a variety of reasons that passion quelled in the last couple of years. I’m still not sure why. However, I think it was a combination of reasons – poor football, lack of connection with the club/team, other things to do and really just exhausted mentally after so long writing about our travails.

So where is this leading I hear you ask?

Well this short blog entry is just to mark an important moment for Stirling Albion. We don’t change managers very often, but today saw our latest incumbent fall on his sword. Greig McDonald and his assistant Marc McCulloch resigned after our 4-0 home defeat to local rivals Stenhousemuir. Bottom of the League One table, with one win in our ten matches to date, our goal difference is a horrific -16 (13 worse than anybody else). A statistic of one first-half goal in our 13 competitive matches in 2014/15 tells the story of a problem which was never solved. It was one we had last season too, until a late burst of form saw us gain promotion via the play-offs.

So you were promoted last season and are still getting rid of your manager?

greig-mcdonaldYes. That may surprise some, but in reality promotion appears to have been the exception in what was in the main a poor tenure under Greig McDonald. The truth is that one or two results were the difference between 3rd and 5th (missing the play-offs) and we were on the right side of those results. However, fairs fair. We won promotion and we owe Greig thanks for that. Yet, the feeling persisted that something just wasn’t right. There were too many poor games. Too many scoreless first-halfs. Too many times the same mistakes were made in what was a weak division. Sadly for Greig those mistakes continued this term. A step up perhaps, but we simply had to do better than we’ve done. Four and five goal defeats at home just isn’t acceptable. The team seems to be playing with no plan, no goal, no real strategy. We don’t build on good performances, good moments. Lesson’s are never learnt.

Confession time – I never really took to Greig McDonald. Seemed a decent enough bloke, but one who was rushed into management on the back of an injury ravaged playing career. In my view he struggled to get the best out of his players and he struggled to get the best of opposing managers tactically. Just think he wasn’t ready. A lack of contacts, being too close in age to his players, a relatively blank CV – none of this helped him. Don’t think it’s the worse thing for him to move  on and get some experience at a lower lever, or perhaps as  coach. He needs be able to get the best from players and to be able to influence games more. Not writing him off, but it was definitely best for both parties to move on before our position became hopeless.

Now it is crunch time for the club. We can’t afford to slip meekly back into the basement division. We must get a manager who can inspire, organise and lead the team up the table. Hopefully we will do just that soon.

Thanks for reading.