Shinty stalwart decides to hang up his caman after 20 years
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.