Published: 13/11/2016 12:00 - Updated: 13/11/2016 06:17

Ross-shire's rugby 'role model' bows out on a high with a try

Alan McLean notched a try during a 67-0 demolition of Lochaber - days after his 60th birthday.
Alan McLean notched a try during a 67-0 demolition of Lochaber - days after his 60th birthday.

HARRY Mackay may have scored four tries in Ross Sutherland’s 67-0 win over Lochaber last Saturday but the biggest cheer was for Alan McLean who, days after his 60th birthday, led the Stags out in his final competitive game for the club, scoring a try into the bargain.

“I was really touched that they wanted me to lead out the team, that meant a lot to me” said McLean afterwards. “I enjoyed the game and to come away with a try as well makes it that bit more special.”

Team captain Stuart McPherson added: “We’re all delighted that Alan scored. Overall that was a good win. I was really pleased with the way we worked hard to keep the ball alive going through the phases, and our support play was probably the best it’s been all season.”

Lochaber fielded a young team and it was a case of men versus boys as the Ross side stamped their authority on the game from the outset.

With barely a minute on the clock Andrew Cook went over the whitewash in a move which saw the ball move out left then swiftly through the hands out to Cook on the right wing who scored easily. Five minutes later and it was McLean’s turn to score.

Murray Kennedy added a third before Mackay, who has been in good form in recent weeks, took control of the scoring, bagging the last two tries of the half as the Stags went into the break 35-0 ahead, and then the first two tries of the second half.

John Gordon went on one of his trademark rampaging runs and although caught five metres out he managed to offload to John Mann who scored in the corner. Chris Watt added the next two – including one which rounded off a pitch-length move – before Shaun McGowan added try number 11 with the last play of the game.

Mann added six conversions from nine attempts while McLean, eager for that last piece of glory, was unable to succeed with his two attempts.

So is it all over for Ross Sutherland’s oldest player?

“We’ve heard Alan say he is retiring so many times we’ve just stopped listening to him,” laughed club president John Scott. “It’s not as if he’s just going through the motions on the pitch, he’s really fit and he doesn’t half get stuck in. So we’ll believe it when we see it. People talk about role models and Alan is one of the finest. I doubt you’d find anyone else of his age playing this standard of rugby.”

Supporters will only have to wait two weeks to see him back in action when Highland bring a select team to Invergordon on the 19th for a game to celebrate his retiral from competitive rugby. After that, who knows?

With the break for the Autumn International tests and a fixtures backlog, Ross Sutherland’s last game before the league splits is Saturday, December 10 against Highland in Invergordon.

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