Wealth of shinty pictures uncovered in Furnace

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A treasure trove of old shinty photos has been unearthed in Furnace after lying in a suitcase for decades.

The photograph collection belonged to former Furnace and Lochfyneside player, the late Niven ‘Bunty’ Crawford, and turned up earlier this month when his daughter Christine Crawford was having a lockdown clearout.

Christine’s nephew and Bunty Crawford’s grandson Scott Robertson told the Advertiser his grandfather’s story.

Bunty Crawford was born and raised in Minard.

Just before the Second World War he was taking a course at Glasgow University School of Art – and was in demand as a shinty player. While in the city he played for the university, and in fact played in the 1938/39 Littlejohn Vase final.

He joined the Royal Naval Reserve and on the outbreak of war was posted to the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Icarus. Aboard the Icarus, he saw action in the Norwegian campaign, including the the Battle of Narvik, during 1940 and was involved in the Dunkirk evacuation.

After the war Bunty returned to finish his university qualification, and married Christina (Crissie) MacCallum from Furnace in 1946.

Bunty and his young wife settled in Furnace where they had three children, John, Moira and Christine. He turned out in goals for Lochfyneside shinty team, playing in the 1947 and 1950 Camanachd Cup finals – losing out to Newtonmore on both occasions.

Lochfyneside disbanded in the 1950s and reverted to the old Furnace club. It was at that point Bunty, a painter and decorator, stepped back from playing. He continued to follow shinty over the years often accompanied his friend, neighbour, fellow war veteran and Lochfyneside team-mate Jimmy Sinclair.

Bunty was a keen photographer and recorded many matches and occasions which would otherwise have been left to the memories of the people who were there. He also captured priceless images of shinty characters now long gone but fondly remembered.

He died in 1987 at the age of 70.

Scott himself has been a stalwart of Inveraray Shinty Club for three decades and a member of the team, along with his brother David, which lifted the Camanachd Cup in 2004.

Hid grandfather would have been proud of the boys – but maybe less so about the team they were playing for. ‘My grandpa and Jimmy were staunch Furnace men, and there was always this Furnace/Inveraray rivalry,’ Scott explained.

‘He always said to me never to join Inveraray, and after he died, my gran carried it on.

‘When I was 17 or 18 I ended up playing for Inveraray, but he was dyed-in-the-wool Furnace through and through. He would be turning in his grave..!’

He added: ‘It’s great to have these photos, and I have sent a lot of them to the Shinty Memories Facebook page, which uses memories to help folk living with issues such as dementia and isolation.

‘Hopefully people will enjoy seeing them.’