The last shinty cup final in North Uist.
The contributor will be ninety three next month [i.e. in 1974] and is the last person left in Uist who played in the 'Iomain Mhòr' [shinty cup final]. One other player is still living, in Canada. They made their own caman with sticks from Balranald wood, and he describes how they were made. The ball, which they also made themselves, could only be hit with one side of the stick.
Each side consisted of eleven players, including a goalkeeper. There was a referee and a game would last two hours or more. They played on Hosta machair day and night and there were teams in Paible, Hogharry, Tigharry, Balmartin and Hosta. Teams were chosen by drawing lots. After a game they would spend the evening together, telling stories and having a dram. They had no sports clothes or shoes. They played in Sollas as well as Hosta, walking there and back. There was a lot of rivalry between the districts. They also played in winter in the moonlight. Sometimes up to one hundred people gathered for a game. They played shinty at school and not football, but there is no shinty in Uist now.
Manufactured camans were much better than home-made ones, which broke easily. The last cup final in Uist [An Iomain Mhòr] was between Sollas and West Side, on Sollas machair. The field had to be 200yds x 200yds. Balranald was the referee. They had a few rules: there were penalties, and the ball couldn't be kicked or handled. The Sollas people were reluctant to play at first. The contributor names the players: the oldest was nearly fifty. The Sollas folk had pipes hidden, ready to play when they won the game, but they lost, so there was no piping. They couldn't score for Malaclete and Middlequarter people standing in the goal. No one could shift them, but they scored three or four goals nevertheless, and the game became very rough by the end.
West Side won the cup, but the Sollas people wouldn't part with the cup until Balranald took it. Malaclete and Middlequarter people were terrible: they called members of his family names whenever they met afterwards. West side folk didn't have a piper with them. The contributor names the route they took to Sollas and back. The cup was played for annually at the beginning of autumn.