After a successful trip to Spain last year in which our U17s finished runners up in the Costa Brava Cup U19 Tournament, Uist and Barra Football Club decided it was time for a visit to Glasgow and Ayrshire. Here is a diary of their trip written by head coach, Iain MacDonald.
Thursday 8th October
We departed from Lochmaddy, North Uist at 07:30 and all 28 of us packed onto 2 minibuses, courtesy of TAGSA Charity, and reached Uig, Isle of Skye at 09:15. A further 3 hour drive took us to Fort William for a half hour stop to stretch our legs. We then carried on until we finally reached Glasgow Airport and more notably, the Travel Lodge that we would be staying that night, around 4:30pm. After some brief unpacking, all 28 of us (courtesy of the SFA) enjoyed (well, I'm not sure it can be called enjoyment) the Scotland v Poland European Championship game that night at Hampden Park. The kids especially thoroughly enjoyed the whole occasion, regardless of the late Polish equaliser. Being mixed in with the Polish fans in the east stand was an definitely an 'experience' to remember. Next stop was back to the Travel Lodge for a well earned nights sleep.
Friday 9th October
A nice relaxing day after all that excitement on thursday, as we left for Craig Tara Holiday Park where we based ourselves all weekend. Despite haveing to wait 3 hours before we could check in we enjoyed the comforts of the Holiday Park and entertainment before settling down for the night.
Saturday 10th October
An early start for everybody for our first match at 11am against KSC Garnock at Kilwinning Sports Club. The KSC side were excellent hosts, along with being tough opposition in the match itself but we eventually ran out 6-3 winners with Luke MacKay the star of the show scoring a hat-trick.
We were straight back up the road to Renfrew to play Renfrew Victoria that afternoon, and they were an excellent team with some very good individual players. In the end, we suffered a 6-2 defeat, but it was a brilliant spectacle for anybody watching. We hit the woodwork twice through Luke , Renfrew also had a number of good chances to further the score. Two games in a row was tough but no excuses as the better side won. Once again, everybody from Renfrew were welcoming and were fantastic hosts.
Sunday 11th October
The lads were refreshed after a good night's rest and desperate to put on a good show, and put the 2nd game from yesterday behind them. Our talisman Dominic MacAulay was back in the team after missing the second game, and we ran out comfortable winners against Muirton AFC by 6 goals to 1, and we could have scored more. The game was held at the Steppford Football Centre in Easterhouse, and once again the hosts were superb. All 3 teams during the weekend made us feel very welcome and it would be great to see some of the Glasgow/Ayrshire teams visit the islands in the near future so we can repay the hospitality. A good night's sleep was on the cards with a long day of travelling ahead.
Monday 12th October
We left Craig Tara at 9am and eventually got home around 10pm that same night. The travel side is long but we are so used to it now after having done this for 23 years. It's now second nature to most of us. It's all worth it though, as it's about the kids and getting them competitive football, which we don't get on the islands and as always they were great ambassadors and representatives for island football.
Next year we have already had invitations to Holland, Sweden and Norway and it all depends what suits the school holidays and outwith exam time and of course if the adults can make it.
Huge thanks to Willie MacAulay (my sidekick), Martin Matheson, Martin (Cherry) MacAulay, Buddy MacKay (Lewis), Martin MacPhee and Scott MacDonald and of course to the lovely Karen MacAulay of the Lochboisdale Hotel for stepping in late in the day to sponsor fantastic new strips.