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Inverness shinty legend celebrates his 95th birthday with cards from city primary school players


By Alasdair Fraser

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Denis Swanson celebrates his 95th birthday with his wife Maureen. Picture: Callum Mackay.
Denis Swanson celebrates his 95th birthday with his wife Maureen. Picture: Callum Mackay.

A SHINTY legend’s postie was kept busy this week as Inverness Shinty Club honoured his 95th birthday.

Denis Swanson, of Montague Row, received 95 birthday cards from city primary school players in tribute to the incredible part he played in the National Division One side’s history.

Club officials also decided to name a new trophy after a man dubbed the Laird of the Bught Park by broadcaster and shinty historian Hugh Dan MacLennan.

Denis and Maureen with Charlie Maclennan, who played Happy Birthday on the bagpipes, accompanied by Isla McNeil on the accordion. Picture: Callum Mackay.
Denis and Maureen with Charlie Maclennan, who played Happy Birthday on the bagpipes, accompanied by Isla McNeil on the accordion. Picture: Callum Mackay.

The Denis Swanson Cup will now be contested annually between P7 and S1 pupils to help the former to move up the youth ranks.

Mr Swanson, born in the coach house of the old Bught Hotel, near where the ice rink now stands, first graced those beloved Bught pitches with caman in hand as an Inverness High School pupil before World War II.

Denis Swanson (second from left) at an Inverness sale of work in aid of club funds in the 1980s. Picture: The Shinty Archive (Hugh Dan MacLennan)
Denis Swanson (second from left) at an Inverness sale of work in aid of club funds in the 1980s. Picture: The Shinty Archive (Hugh Dan MacLennan)

In peacetime, he quickly became a first team mainstay and helped Inverness achieve their one and only moment of Camanachd Cup final glory in 1952.

Prominent in the earlier rounds, he was unlucky enough to be injured in the semi final and missed the famous 3-2 victory over Oban Camanachd in Glasgow, but received a winners’ medal.

He finally hung up his playing boots at the age of 45 in 1975, but continued for many years as steward, supporter, committee member and referee.

Denis Swanson (behind trophy) was Torlundy Cup winning captain in 1951 and scored the winning goal against Oban Celtic. Picture: The Shinty Archive (Hugh Dan MacLennan)
Denis Swanson (behind trophy) was Torlundy Cup winning captain in 1951 and scored the winning goal against Oban Celtic. Picture: The Shinty Archive (Hugh Dan MacLennan)

Celebrating with wife Maureen this week, Mr Swanson said: “I feel very lucky to be honoured in this way. The club has been the love of my life.

“It is just a fantastic gesture from them and all these young folk who have sent me cards.

“I just hope they enjoy their shinty as much as I did. I’d be out there playing today, in a second, if I could!”

Denis Swanson (far left front) with Inverness shinty team in the 1970s. Picture: The Shinty Archive (Hugh Dan MacLennan)
Denis Swanson (far left front) with Inverness shinty team in the 1970s. Picture: The Shinty Archive (Hugh Dan MacLennan)

Inverness Shinty Club coach and former player Drew McNeil said: “Denis’s connection with our shinty club stretches back deep into our history and he was very unfortunate to miss out on the Camanachd Cup final.

“He was injured the week before after playing his part in the earlier rounds and semi final.

“We lost Louis Stewart, a famous player and club servant, back in December and these moments serve as a reminder of how much we should appreciate our old players and characters who have given the club so much.”

Camanachd Association president Keith Loades said: “Few have given as much to the sport of shinty as Denis.”

Click here to read more Inverness Courier news.


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