Shinty stal­wart de­cides to hang up his ca­man af­ter 20 years

The Oban Times - - Sport -

A LO­CAL shinty stal­wart has hung his stick up af­ter more than two decades in the game.

John Ste­wart, 36, played with Caol side Kil­mallie for the last 21 years, both as a wing for­ward and then a full for­ward. He an­nounced his re­tire­ment on Mon­day, with a long-term in­jury bring­ing his ca­reer to a close.

John has been suf­fer­ing from rheuma­toid arthri­tis since 2012, caus­ing him ‘al­most un­bear­able’ pain at times, es­pe­cially in his feet.

John, who played for Scot­land for more than 12 years, said: ‘With pre-sea­son due to start to­mor­row night it’s with a heavy heart I’ve to fi­nally ad­mit de­feat to the in­juries and hang up the stick and boots on my shinty ca­reer.

‘Most of last sea­son I have been at the stage where I can’t train dur­ing the week and only just man­age to play at full for­ward.

‘I can re­mem­ber say­ing when I was younger I didn’t want to ever be that type of player who stands up there and can hardly move. I can hear peo­ple say­ing, ‘he’s been do­ing that for years’.

‘It’s just the way a lot of shinty play­ers are - you’ll al­most do any­thing to try and play.

‘I still man­aged to con­trib­ute 19 goals in my last sea­son but it was over­all a dis­ap­point­ment that we didn’t get pro­moted to the Premier League.

‘I’d like to wish the first team all the suc­cess in 2016 and I think they will be play­ing Premier league shinty in 2017.’

John said he would now be fo­cus­ing on his fam­ily more, and found break­ing the news to shinty-mad son Harry, three, par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult.

He also thanked a num­ber of peo­ple who have helped him along the way in his ca­reer, in­clud­ing his wife Amy and mum Jill, and dozens of play­ers and coaches. High­lights of his ca­reer in­clude win­ning the North Divi­sion One in 1998, 2010 and 2013 as well as the bit­ter-sweet feel­ing of get­ting to the Ca­manachd Cup Fi­nal in 2005, only to lose to lo­cal ri­vals Fort Wil­liam.

He also en­joyed his ex­pe­ri­ence as an in­ter­na­tional in the shinty/ hurl­ing matches against Ire­land, in­clud­ing scor­ing the only goal of the game for Scot­land v Ire­land at Nowlan Park, Kilkenny in 2008.

Kil­mallie man­ager Mark MacPher­son paid trib­ute to John, who had cap­tained the club in re­cent years.

The pair played to­gether for around 12 years un­til Mark took the reins as first team coach last sea­son. Ev­ery­one at the club holds John in the very high­est re­gard,’ said Mark.

‘He’s been an ab­so­lutely bril­liant ser­vant to Kil­mallie Shinty Club, all the play­ers looked up to him. I know I can speak for all the boys when I say that he gave ev­ery­thing to the cause. He had trou­ble with his feet for a few years and had been play­ing through the pain bar­rier.

‘I had a good con­ver­sa­tion with him at the start of the week and the door is open for him to come back in some ca­pac­ity if he ever wants to, but af­ter all th­ese years he’s due a break.’

Davie Cor­ri­gan, right, from league spon­sors Marine Har­vest, presents Kil­mallie cap­tain John Ste­wart with the North Divi­sion 1 cham­pion

ship tro­phy in 2013.

John Ste­wart’s num­ber one fans, son Harry and daugh­ter Ruby,

in their Kil­mallie tops.

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