Lucky2Bhere Sixes provides both great shinty and successful fundraising!

Northern California Camanachd's Lucky2Bhere Sixes shinty match was a success, providing an action packed shinty match and a successful fundraising auction. Details follow below.

Lucky2BHere Sixes - match report

It was a perfect Bay Area day, sunny and clear, temperatures in the 70s and a cool breeze blowing. Northern California Camanachd (NCC) had put the call out to its members, Lucky2BHere needs your support, and there is shinty to be played... and the call was answered.

Lucky2Bhere is a Skye-based registered charity established in 2007 to raise funds to provide emergency lifesaving equipment such as defibrillators in rural areas of Scotland. The aim is to reduce response times, thereby saving lives, by making equipment and training more widely available. Founder Ross Cowie's longtime involvement with Skye Camanachd, and Skye Camanachd's connection to Northern California Camanachd, led to the staging of a benefit shinty match in Burlingame this past Sunday.

Two teams took the field for the Lucky2BHere Sixes, one in the bright orange NCC Decade shirts, the other in white Lucky2BHere (L2BH) shirts. The format was six-a-side with each team having two rolling subs. The Californians made a few tweaks to the normal format, though the rules of play were those endorsed by the Camanachd Association, so in a sideways nod to ice hockey the match was divided into three 15-minute periods, rather than two halves.

Spectators included friends and former players, as well as dozens of families waiting for competitions at the swim meet being held at the pool adjacent to the shinty pitch. There was a festive atmosphere with colourful shade tents along the fence line, and as the match begin you could see lawn chairs being turned to face the pitch.

The first period found the teams settling in and feeling each other out. The L2BH Lucky Sods produced more chances, but could not manage the finishing touch. The Decadians (so called because they were wearing the Decade shirt) only managed one real threat but made it count - a penetrating run from midfield by Max McKay Taylor which resulted in a rocket shot past the keeper's head, and the Decadians were one up at the first break.

In the second period the Lucky Sods reversed their fortunes, putting pressure on the orange goal and creating quality opportunities. Scores came from Jim Buatti, a dramatic off-balance shot, and Morgan Jones, who lasered a ball in from an impossible angle. The Decadians could not manage an equalizer, but did put a couple of sizzling shots over the top of the bar and past the posts. A 2-1 score set up the dramatic final period.

The "third half" provided real fireworks with five goals scored between the two sides, and referee Michael Bentley fulfilled his weekly quota of running as the action raged from end to end. The scoring opened with Decadian Seth Ford bouncing the ball off keeper Walt Worthge's stick after a harried drive into the D. Jim Buatti put the Sods back in front with his second goal of the match just before Max McKay Taylor equalized with his own second tally. The race for the finish line was on as time wound down, and when Colleen McAvoy flipped the ball past the keeper it looked like the Lucky Sods would go home winners. But the victory was snatched away, at least temporarily, when Bob Moynihan hit the back of the net from 15 yards out, scoring the fifth goal of the period and sending the match to extra time.

The ten minutes of extra time also saw plenty of drama. The Lucky Sods struck first, putting relentless pressure on the orange goal and forcing keeper Elheran Francis, who had performed some third period heroics by racing out along the end line to snuff out a Sods attack, into an unlucky own goal. But within a few moments the Decadians had pulled even again, this time off of Seth Ford's second score. With a draw at the close of extra time, there was nothing left but penalty shots.

In a second California twist on the match structure, all seven players on each team were to take a penalty, instead of the usual five. This was partially to give everyone the experience of taking a penalty shot, but also to reward the players for coming out to support this special event. In the end few shots tested the keepers ability, although the converted penalties for each side were well struck. At the end of seven rounds the Lucky Sods had pulled out a hard fought victory, winning on penalties 3 - 1.

After taking down the goals and hauling all the equipment off the field, the Californians must recreate their field for every match, often at different locations, club members adjourned to the nearby Harry's Hofbrau for much needed food and adult beverages.

With toasts made, NCC co-founder Michael Bentley explained a little about L2BH and why NCC had staged the shinty match. The ties between Skye Camanachd, with whom Ross Cowie has been associated for years, and the Californian club have led to NCC visits to Skye in 2007 and 2011, and a Skye visit to the Bay Area in 2009. During a solo trip in early 2012 Michael learned from Ross, L2BH's founder, of the charity's desire to sponsor or co-sponsor an event in every country around the world, and so NCC involvement in this project seemed natural. And what better than a shinty match?

Then NCC stalwart and Treasurer Bruce Norris stepped up for the fundraising auction, and before long he had the bids flying fast and furious. When the dust settled a few folks realized that they might have been bidding against themselves, but with the funds going to the Skye charity no one was bothered with such details.

At the end of the afternoon a great time was had by all and $1000 was raised for Lucky2BHere. Is there a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon in Northern California? This correspondent, for one, thinks not!


Decadians: Elheran Francis (GK), Max McKay Taylor, Bob Moynihan, Ruth Mikusko, Iain Green, Mark Lawson, Seth Ford, Lester Carter

Lucky Sods: Walt Worthge (GK), Colleen McAvoy, Jim Buatti, Morgan Jones, Scott Mikusko, Kent Bell, Iain MacDonald, Clark Lawson

Referee: Michael Bentley

At extra time: Decadians 5 (Max McKay Taylor 2, Bob Moynihan, Seth Ford 2, Elheran Francis OG) - Lucky Sods 5 (Jim Buatti 2, Morgan Jones, Colleen McAvoy). Lucky Sods win in penalty shoot out 3-1.