125 Years of the Camanachd Association - How it all Began

First Minute of the CA in 1893

This Wednesday 10th October 2018 marks 125 years of the Camanachd Association.

This week we will be taking some time to look back on where it all started and how the sport has grown as well as regocgnising some exciting developments that we have planned. 

How it all began - a look back to the day - October 10, 1893 - 125 years ago when the foundations of the Camanachd Association, shinty's Governing body were laid. 

This brought to a conclusion decades of argument and debate about the way shinty should be played and offered the first set of standardised rules which set the game on the path which has brought it to its current form.

In his famous book Shinty. A Short History of the Ancient Highland Game, Rev. Fr. J. Ninian Macdonald, O.S.B., tells of the great hold which the game had taken in the various parts of the Highlands by 1893:

"A match played between the Kingussie and Glasgow Cowal Clubs on April 3rd of the same year was described as one of the finest exhibitions of the game ever seen. It formed a culminating point in the renaissance. It aroused such intense and widespread interest that a general meeting of all supporters of the game was convoked at Kingussie in the following October."

This game between the leading north and south clubs was described as a memorable one and was attended by many from all over Badenoch and further afield. Business in Kingussie was suspended on that Monday afternoon which, being a Glasgow holiday, enabled many of the Glasgow Cowal supporters to attend. Play began at 1.15pm. The ball used was smaller than the one to which Kingussie was accustomed and Cowal had lighter camans. Each club had different rules and the teams were of fourteen players each with an umpire. The only hail scored was by Glasgow Cowal five minutes before the end. Kingussie wore scarlet jerseys and white knickerbockers while Glasgow Cowal, whose photograph appears in the Celtic Monthly of 1893, wore grey striped jerseys and black knee breeches. Later in the same year the Celtic Monthly tells of a six a side tournament arranged within Glasgow Cowal and that in 1897 a match was arranged with Dublin Hurling Club.

The various statements expressing the desirability of having a governing body came to fruition in the autumn of 1893.

The Inverness Courier of Friday 29th September 1893 has the following notice:


Proposed Central Shinty Association.

Some time ago Mr L.A. Macpherson of Corrimony, Mr John Macdonald of Keppoch (Captain of the Lochaber Club), and other influential gentlemen interested in the game, entered into communication with the officials of the Kingussie Shinty Club regarding the desirability of forming a central organisation to draw up rules for the guidance of the various clubs in Scotland, and asking the Kingussie Club to call a conference at Kingussie, as a central place, of delegates from these clubs, so far as they were known. In compliance with the request a meeting of members of the Kingussie Club was held on Tuesday evening - the Chieftain (Provost Macpherson) presiding - to consider the suggestion. After a full discussion it was resolved to call such a conference at Kingussie on Tuesday, 10th October next, at one o'clock, and Mr John Campbell, the Secretary, was instructed to prepare a circular to be sent to the several clubs inviting them each to send two delegates to Kingussie on the day fixed.

The meeting took place as arranged and the minute reads as follows:-

At Kingussie and within the Victoria Hall there on Tuesday, 10th October 1893 at a Meeting of Representatives of various shinty clubs throughout the country, held for the purpose of forming a Camanachd Association.

On the motion of Mr John MacDonald, Keppoch, captain of the Brae Lochaber Club, C.J.B. Macpherson, Esq., of Balavil was called to the chair and Mr John Campbell, Hon. Secretary of the Kingussie Club, Clerk of the Meeting.

There were also present from Aberdeen University - Kenneth MacLennan and Malcolm MacBean: Alvie Club - Macpherson of Balavil and Peter Stewart: Brae Lochaber - John Macdonald and A.H. MacDonald: Glenurquhart - L.A. Macpherson and Mr Macdonald: Grantown - A. Grant and J. Grant: Insh - Malcolm Smith and Murdoch MacGregor; Invergarry - John Macdonald and John Campbell; Inverness -Kingussie - James D. Pullar and John Campbell; Laggan - Dr Campbell and D. MacKillop; London Northern Counties - James Campbell; Newtonmore - John Cameron and Maj. Cattanach; Strathglass - J.B. Grant; Strathpeffer - H.F. Gunn; Kinlochewe - H.F. Gunn.

A letter from Captain Chisholm, Strathglass was read regretting his inability to attend the conference and wishing it every success.

The Clerk stated that as secretary to the Kingussie Club he had been requested by the members to call this conference in terms of letters which they had received from several influential gentlemen throughout the country desirous of having a Central Association formed to regulate the Game of Shinty. The circular calling the meeting was then read, together with a list of thirty-five Clubs to which it was sent. Letters favourable to the formation of an Association were also submitted from the following clubs, viz:- Glasgow Cowal; Inverary; Ballachulish; Edinburgh University; Edinburgh Northern Counties; Edinburgh Camanachd Club; Fort William; Spean Bridge; Furnace; Inverness; Oban; Strachur.

On the motion of Mr Macdonald, Keppoch, seconded by Mr Macdonald, Glen Urquhart, it was unanimously resolved to form a Shinty Association.   Print of Rules drafted for the guidance of the meeting were then submitted, and these having been taken up seriatim were, with several alterations and amendments, adopted as the playing rules of the Association.

It was resolved that each club joining the Association pay an Annual Subscription of 10/-.  It was further resolved that the Office Bearers consist of a Chief, a President and three Vice Presidents with a Secretary and Treasurer: and the following were appointed to these offices, viz: -

Chief - Captain Chisholm of Glassburn. President - Lord Lovat. Vice Presidents - Cluny Macpherson. C.J.B. Macpherson of Balavil. L.A. Macpherson of Corrimony. Secretary and Treasurer - Mr John Campbell, Kingussie.

It was resolved the first Annual Meeting of the Association be held in Inverness on one of the Northern Meeting days and one member from each of the Badenoch Clubs was appointed along with the Secretary to carry on the business of the Association until then.

On the motion of Mr H.F. Gunn, Strathpeffer, Mr C.J.B. Macpherson of Balavil was thanked for presiding and a similar compliment having been paid to the Clerk the meeting after a sitting of five hours ended.

(signed) C.J.B. Macpherson Chairman of meeting.

The Inverness Courier report of the above stated that among others present were Mr James Macdonald, builder, Kingussie; Mr John Cattanach, slater, Newtonmore; Mr D. MacBean, Inspector of Poor, Alvie; Mr Mackintosh, bootmaker, Kingussie; Mr James Crerar, printer, do; Mr Thomas Warren, do; Mr John Campbell, High Street, do.

This shows the very beginning of the CA, tomorrow we will take a look at the first ever set of shinty rules put into place by this committee. 

Our thanks, as every to Dr Hugh Dan Maclennan for bringing this information together. 

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