The dubious weather forecast (completely wrong as it turned out) did little to deter the thousands of visitors who made the long trek up to the highest point in Tobermory to witness the 2009 Mull Highland Games. Perched well above the town on the local golf course with a magnificent view southwards down the Sound of Mull, the games have a unique atmosphere. They are held on a fairway of the golf course and must have the tightest turns on any track used in the SHGA calendar, even more than Ceres or Burntisland! Running the right way round – and I do mean the right way!! – the competition was fast and furious!
Proceedings got under way at 10.30 – to tie in with Cal Mac’s first boat from Oban and the 21 miles thereafter, half of which on single track road! – and first up were the sprinters. 2 heats of the 100 yards – no creeping metrication here! – and the final went to Oban runner Fraser Bryden holding off veteran Borderer, Bruce Scott, returning to Mull after a gap of, well, too many years.
Local interest was to be found in Campbeltown athlete Matthew Turner who went through the card in 2008. Not so this year as quality Borders’ athletes Colin Welsh and Wayne McIntosh took the spoils in the middle distance events. Sean Fontana made the trip from Glasgow worth his while in the Mile. He did get his share though in the other races. An amazing 14 heavy weight athletes took to the field in the throwing events and the prizes were being shared around the globe with entrants from home, Europe, the USA. The visitors’ fun lap race produced its annual pile up on the first bend but a very happy winner from Switzerland who took away his half bottle!
Light field events are a very important part of the games at Mull. David Clunie of Oban broke Stuart MacCallum’s local Argyllshire high jump record by clearing 5’ 11” but Stuart, who was officiating with his father Billy, was first to offer well deserved congratulations to David. The crowd was by now on its feet. Dancers from all over Scotland performed throughout the day and the prizes were presented by Mrs Kain, the widow of the founder of the games, Hugh Kain and the mother of current secretary, Florence Kirsop.
Mull is what highland games are all about. Real competition but not forgetting that it really is the taking part that is so important, whether competitor or spectator. Long may it continue.