OVER the years the Camanachd Cup has been bruised and battered by victorious teams celebrating their triumph in the blue riband event of Scotland’s oldest native sport.
And 23 years ago, the trophy even hit the national headlines when the victorious Skye Camanachd players left the lager-spattered trophy at a bus stop in Portree.
But it was revealed today that officials of the sport’s ruling body have rejected calls for the priceless cup to be replaced by an official replica to ensure its survival.
And the winner of today’s Scottish Hydro Camanachd Cup clash between Newtonmore and Kyles Athletic will be allowed to keep the original trophy when they compete in the 106th final at An Aird, Fort William.
A spokesman for the Camanachd Association said: “The winners of Saturday’s Scottish Hydro Camanachd Cup final will keep the original prize. Shinty officials have rejected the commissioning of an official replica.”
He explained that the sport’s ruling body had considered proposals to allow the victorious team to collect the original trophy for photographs after the final, but to present them with replica Camanachd Cup which they could then take back home to their village.
The original cup would be placed in safe-keeping until its next public appearance a year later.
The spokesman said: “Following careful consideration, however, officials have decided not to push ahead with the plan to retain the original trophy – a move that has been welcomed by the clubs. Instead, a newly refitted original will be held aloft by the winning Newtonmore or Kyles Athletic captain on Saturday in front of the live BBC cameras at An Aird stadium.”
Torquil MacLeod, chief operating officer of the Camanachd Association, said: “We looked into the idea of having a replica made. The original trophy is extremely valuable and beautifully decorative. Naturally, it is a trophy everyone wants to be in possession of. Being the age that it is, it is susceptible to wear and tear, though, and we had to examine the options to ensure it was kept in prime condition.”
He continued: “After exploring costs and taking into consideration that clubs want the real thing, we have decided not to go ahead with a replica.
“Instead, the clubs have signed an agreement that repair work while the cup is in their care must be met by them. We have also had the original refitted.”
Ian Gibson, Newtonmore secretary, said it would “mean everything” for the winning players to be able to see the original in their team’s trophy cabinet. “Only a few players are lucky enough in their careers to win the Camanachd Cup. It is the holy grail of Shinty,” he said.
Glasgow-based silver repair specialists Morrison-Ignatieff Silversmiths have already been called in to repair a split in the rim of the trophy, costing several hundred pounds, and have given it a makeover in time for this afternoon’s final.
The trophy, which will be presented by Lord Smith of Kelvin, has been involved in its fair share of controversy over the years. In 1990, after confusion as to who was looking after the trophy, the winning Skye players left the trophy at a bus stop outside Portree Police station.
In 1996, Oban Camanachd player Gordon MacIntyre scored the winning goal against Kingussie, months after losing an eye during an earlier match against the same club. And in 2005 it was alleged that a rival player tried to repatriate the trophy from a Fort William player’s car in a garage forecourt.