THE THIRTIETH anniversary of the senior inter-county netball was held last Friday at the Pickaquoy centre in Kirkwall.
On Saturday a veterans match was played for the first time to celebrate 30 years of netball along with the A and B matches.
Orkney 25 v Shetland 52
Shetland settled quickly getting the best possible start, racing to a six goal lead before the young Orkney side got out of the blocks. However once they did, Orkney managed to match the Shetland shooters as Laura Gilmuir GA and Hannah Nixon GS began to find form and after the first 15 minutes the score was 14-8 to the visitors.
A scrappy second quarter followed with no side dominating play. Karen MacKay WD was coping well against a nippy Rebecca Scott WA with defenders Louise Moar GK and Maisie Unsworth GD looking confident on the ball.
However too many unforced errors mid court meant Shetland were unable to increase their lead as the Orkney team battled hard to stay with them. The half-time score was 17-23 in Shetland’s favour.
After the half time team talk Shetland piled on the pressure in all areas of the court, dominating the third quarter and really running in the goals. The midcourt combination of Louise Fraser WA and Catherine Williamson C began to control the centre space, feeding shooters Marie Clark GA and Lisa Morrison GS who scored 19 goals to Orkneys three, increasing the lead to 20 – 39 going into the last quarter.
Fiona Dally came on at WD for the final 15 minutes and a comfortable looking Shetland side closed out the game 52 – 25.
The cup was presented by Shetlander Mrs Inga Tait to captain Marie Clark. Inga also picked her player of the match awarding the honour to Lisa Morrison.
Orkney 44 v Shetland 38
This turned out to be a disappointing game from a spectator’s point of view. The umpires failed to play advantage resulting in a very start/stop affair with no real flow to the game.
It was an even first quarter as both sides tried to find form. Defenders from both sides struggled to find the correct distance to pass muster, with most of the goals being scored from penalties awarded against them.
With five minutes to go Orkney pulled ahead by three goals. Shetland responded well and scored the next three to level, only to have a turn over against them at a centre, gifting Orkney the lead after 15 minutes play, making it 12-9 to the home side.
The second period saw even more infringements being penalised on court and the constant stopping seemed to affect the Shetland players’ concentration.
Several 50/50 decisions went against them in the mid court, and with the impressive shooting duo of Beverly Campbell GS and Michelle Clouston GA netting their shots, Orkney had the upper hand.
To add to the visitors’ problems, Sophie May Leyland WA fell heavily on her arm and had to leave court for treatment. Inga Woods moved to WA and Victoria Duthie received her first cap coming on at WD. Orkney moved to a 26 – 17 lead at half-time.
The third quarter saw a more composed Shetland side take to the court to begin their comeback. Inga Woods’ movement around the circle was having an impact and with Vicki Henderson C in support the goals began to be scored.
However there was no luck in defence as the defenders were being penalised at every turn with the majority of Orkney’s goals being scored from penalties. Disaster struck again as a collision on court resulted in Woods playing no more part in the game, badly damaging her ankle and a trip to the Balfour hospital followed.
Leyland returned to the court at WA and Shetland reduced the deficit to 35-28 going into the last quarter.
The final quarter was a hard fought affair with Duthie and Orkney’s Joanna Sinclair WA now locked in a territorial dispute. Umpires were quick to punish them both by advancing play up court against them. Goals were scored time about and as the final whistle was blown the score was 44-38 in favour of the home side.
Mr Ernie Donaldson presented the shield to captain Michelle Clouston. At the match, Orkney player Shona Sclater received her 25th cap, a remarkable achievement for one of Orkney’s sporting greats.
Shetland A team – Kirsti Leask, Sarah Grogan, Sophie May Leyland, Vicki Henderson (capt) Inga Woods, Victoria Duthie, Andrea Tait, Emma Leask. Subs Debbie Smith and Hazel Uren.
Orkney 28 v Shetland 43
A veteran Shetland team involving 13 players, six of whom played in 1981, took on a pool of 23 Orkney veterans, but ended up on top.
The stage was set on Saturday morning in Pickaquoy Centre the excitement mounting and an air of expectation as all the players walked on court, Shetland led by Vaila Kay, Orkney led by Linda Ross and Linda Reeve .
A fit and eager first seven stepped on the court for Shetland – Liz Haining, Stella Oldbury, Valerie Morrison, Anne Wood, Morag Fox, Vaila Kay and Kathleen Johnson.
The hour long game was played in six ten minute slots to accommodate the use of all the Orkney players. Fresh legs often confronted the Shetland players as substitutes ran on and off the court.
Shetland got away to a flying start with some slick up court passing and accurate shooting from Liz and Stella to give them a seven goal cushion before Orkney netted their first goal through Linda Reeve.
After ten minutes Mandy Philips and Janice Johnston came on court and ably assisted Liz Haining now in defence, working to thwart the persistent Orcadian attack. Jane Macaulay added some smart passes into the attack, many to Vaila Kay who was stirring not only memories but fear into the Orkney defence with her accurate shooting.
Next Audrey Thompson quietly made her way onto court as goal shooter and danced and dodged around the GK netting her first goal for many a year in a Shetland shirt, much to the delight of the Shetland supporters.
The recently injured Freda Leask was unable to play a large part in the game, but was determined to take to court. After a fabulous interception from Vaila Kay followed by quick thinking, an accurate pass allowed Freda, using her signature shooting style, to slot away another successful shot for Shetland, making the half time score 20-16 to Shetland 20.
The game continued to be played in a competitive but friendly, often nostalgic manner. The last of the Shetland subs to take to the court was Mandy Henderson who made her way into the last line of defence for a few minutes of the game. Immediately her accurate back line pass initiated yet another Shetland attack.
At the start of the final time-slot the Shetland players thought that fatigue had caused double vision as two Orcadians for each position took to the court – much laughter for a minute or so!
The still remarkably pacey game finished with the score line at 43-28 to Shetland The whistle blew and warm hand shakes and hugs were the order of the day. Thanks must go to Orkney Netball for their organisation of this event and to all who took part.