Stagecoach West of Scotland League Premier Division
Saturday 8th November 2008, Kick-Off 2pm
Other commitments have prevented me from attending a match for five weeks and if I’m honest I’m up against it now to make 50 matches by the end of the season. I’ll just have to cram them in over the winter months.
Today’s game looked like it might be a tasty encounter between two of junior football’s best sides. Before the match I went along to the Mitchell Library. Here there is an exhibition highlighting Pollok’s centenary. Although ‘exhibition’ makes it sound slightly grand, it was really a display case with a handful of items in.
These items included a club ledger from (I think) the 1948/49 season, 3 match programmes from Pollok’s 3 Scottish Junior Cup wins, 2 medals – the 2007/08 Junior Premier League and the 2007/08 Evening Times Cup Winners’ Cup winners medal. There was also a hat, scarf and T-shirt in addition to some photographs of the side through the years.
Newlandsfield is pretty easy to find. Get the train from Glasgow Central to Pollokshaws East and the ground is viewable from the station. It’s right around the corner from the exit. The doors don’t open until about half an hour before kick-off, and although there’s only a handful of people waiting around at that point there’s a decent attendance once kick-off arrives.
The game starts in quite an attacking style with Auchinleck going close after Pollok keeper Kris Robertson came for a long ball and missed it. His defender put in a terrific goal-line clearance to keep the score at 0-0.
Robertson might be the quietest goalkeeper I’ve seen so far this season. He contributed to a few defensive muddles due to his lack of communication with his defence. So much so that one of his team-mates berated him for his lack of vocals. His distribution was also quite poor, continually launching long balls up the field to no one. At one point both keepers kicked the ball to each other three times in sucession.
As I stood behind the Pollok goal for a period in that first half I could hear two old boys beside me, in the midst of a conversation. They were discussing Harry a chap who was absent from today’s match.
“You wurnae speaking to me at that match. You were too busy talking to Harry.”
“I was just wanting him to be happy so he’ll keep coming to the games.”
“He’ll only come if I give him a lift.”
“Aye, that’s good of you giving him a lift.”
“Did you get another prgramme for him the day?”
“Aye, I got another programme for him.”
“That’s four you must have for him by now.”
It was like some junior football based version of Waiting For Godot.
Auchinleck can’t capitalise on the home side’s defensive misgivings and Pollok take the lead in the 21st minute when Stevie Miller hits a low shot through a packed penalty area.
Some of the junior grounds have new toilets, some like here, have old school outside brick wallks. Peeing outside, you cannae beat it. While I was there two Auchinleck fans were having a heated discussion about the facilities. The elder of the two seemed outraged by having to pee out in the open, while his youngre counterpart was quite happy.
“At least they’ve got a pish-hoose! It’s better than that thing we’ve got.”
When the half-time whistle sounds scores of kids run onto the pitch to start their own games. There is at least 20 of them running about and a seven-a-side game is in progress. On the terracing a group of Pollok fans have a carry-out well on the go.
The second half starts off with Auchinleck trying hard to get an equaliser. Kris Robertson in the Pollok goal makes and outstanding save to stop a close range shot and turn it past the post. This turns out to be Talbot’s best chance of the match.
A few minutes later Pollok make it 2-0. After a corner on the right a shot looks to be missing everyone and going wide of the post. Until, that is, Andy Essler slides in a foot out from the back post and slides the ball in between woodwork and keeper.
You’d think that with over 20 years in the game, playing with sides such as Queen of the South, Stirling Albion and Dumbarton, 41 year old Stevie Mallan would have experience enough not to get up to some off-the-ball violence. You’d be wrong. He received a straight red card and Talbot kissed goodbye to any chance of getting back into the match.
After that incident a few more tasty challenges went in from both sides, but there were no further incidents as Pollok ran out deserved winners.
Pollok: Robertson, Carruth, Cruickshank, McClay, Wingate, Miller, Hardie, McGeown (Dillon 52), Dingwall, Turnbull (Downs 60), Essler (Newall 79)
Auchinleck Talbot: Strain, Latta, McVey, Pettigrew, Robb, Davidson, White (McIlroy 71), Slavin, Doolan (McKelvie 86), Mallan, Young (Phillip 79)
Sent Off: Mallan (63) for bammery
Scorers: Miller (21), Essler (52)
Referee: Derek Nicholls (Category 2)