Bute Shinty Club’s first team chalked up another landslide home win on Saturday with a 12-1 thrashing of Oban Celtic - although their smiles were muted after news that title rivals Glasgow Mid Argyll had all but sealed the South Division One championship.
Robert Walker added six more goals to his season’s haul, while Gordon McMillan scored four and John MacCallum and Iain MacDonald notched one apiece, with John Turnbull hitting the visitors’ solitary strike.
But to have a realistic chance of winning the league, Bute had to hope that GMA, who went into Saturday’s fixtures two points ahead in the league standings, would slip up at home to Aberdour.
However, the Yoker men’s 4-0 win leaves the islanders needing a mathematical miracle to wrest the title from the city side.
The two teams meet in their last game of the season in Rothesay on September 7, and while Bute will go into the match with a goal difference of +47, that is dwarfed by Mid Argyll’s tally of +63 - meaning Bute would have to win by nine clear goals, against a GMA side who have conceded only five in the league all season, to snatch the crown.
Still, there were plenty of positives for Bute to take from Saturday; as with the previous week’s 12-0 rout of Strachur, the men in red played lots of good, flowing shinty, with plenty of crisp, clear passing, some excellent movement off the ball and, most importantly, an ability to take their chances.
Bute’s tally might have been even greater, too, but for some stout defending from the visitors, several good saves by keeper Jack Hill and a David Whitelaw penalty miss in the final minute.
As it was, McMillan got things going with a sixth-minute penalty, and doubled his tally less than 60 seconds later; Walker showed good reactions to snap up rebounds for the third and fourth goals before a sweet strike from MacCallum left Bute 5-0 up at the break.
Walker completed his hat-trick on 56 minutes, and McMillan did likewise on the hour before going on to add his fourth with a simple tap-in after dribbling past the Oban keeper.
A second penalty, this time from Walker, on 69 minutes made it 9-0 - though if there was one Bute player not smiling, it was keeper Kevin Queen, who was summoned forward to take the penalty only for Walker to steal his thunder when he was two-thirds of the way up the park - and a spectacular lob from halfway by MacDonald took Bute’s tally into double figures.
The hosts’ hopes of a clean sheet were dashed when Turnbull replied in similar fashion to MacDonald only seconds after the restart, but Bute kept pressing forward and Walker was set up by substitute Neil McKirdy for the 11th, before netting his sixth in the final minute.