Once again, the shinty world finds itself mourning the loss of one of its major personalities and most influential contributors in recent years. Duncan Cameron, of Ballachulish and Glasgow, will be remembered as one of the greatest servants in the history of the game, having played with distinction for Glasgow Mid Argyll for many years before moving into the administration side of the game and ultimately attaining the position of President of the Camanachd Association.
Duncan was born in Ballachulish, and, along with his brother Iain, developed his stick skills in that shinty stronghold. The brothers moved to Glasgow for work in their late teens and joined Glasgow Mid Argyll where they played with distinction over a successful period for the club. Duncan himself holds the record for the most Celtic Cup medals won by a GMA player having collected seven in total. However, his proudest moment in shinty, as he described in an article in the Yearbook of 1974-75, was when Glasgow Mid Argyll won the Camanachd Cup in 1973, even although he himself did not play in the game.
Duncan retired from playing shortly after that famous win, but returned some time later to support the club in its administration and coaching. In due course he moved into the role of President, and his association with the club continued well beyond his term of office, as he continued to attend as many home matches as his health would allow. His strong desire to see shinty develop and flourish in the Glasgow and surrounding area, led also to his involvement over many years with the Glasgow Celtic Society, and once again, almost inevitably, to his becoming President of that society.
Given his dedication to the game, it was only a matter of time before he became involved in the wider administration of shinty. His vision, innovative thinking and communication skills were seen as attributes which would bring benefits to the Camanachd Association and he was appointed first of all as Development Convenor before commencing his first term of office as President in 1994. It was in this role that he made the most significant contribution to the game, where he had the unique distinction of being the only president in modern times to twice serve in the post, for a total of three terms.
The challenges of the role of president will be well-known to all those who have been involved in administering the game, and in particular to those who have succeeded him in the role. Change is a continuum in sport and shinty is no exception.
Surviving and Thriving, the book detailing the history of the Camanachd Association between 1993 and 2018, credited Duncan, his predecessor Ken Thomson, and Alastair MacIntyre, the Association's first paid administrator, as the triumvirate responsible for a national shinty league proposal being adopted. Duncan said at the time that “It is a major decision in the game’s development and one which gives it fresh impetus”. Twenty-five years on, few would dispute the significance of this comment.
Further innovations brought forward during Duncan’s terms of office included the introduction of paid development officers, a membership scheme and a new disciplinary system.
Paying tribute to Duncan’s huge contribution to the sport, Keith Loades, President of the Camanachd Association said, "Duncan Cameron had a huge influence on the sport of Shinty and news of his passing will be received with great sadness in Shinty playing communities. Duncan will be fondly remembered as a player and for his contribution to his Club and to the Glasgow Celtic Society but mostly for his administration of the sport during his two terms and nine years as President of the Association. During that time Duncan's skills and innovative thinking were put to good use and lead to many of the changes which improved and enhanced the game. The Shinty world has sadly lost a man who contributed much to the sport he so greatly enjoyed."
The kind thoughts and sympathy of the Camanachd Association and the shinty community at large go out to Duncan’s wife Liz, his daughter Fiona and his close family.
Under the current circumstances the funeral service will be held in private.