2009/10- Game 7 – Clydebank vs. Maryhill

July 31, 2009

The teams hold a minute's silence

Clydebank 1 vs. 0 Maryhill

Central Sectional League Cup Section 6
Wednesday 29th July 2009, Kick-Off 7.15pm
Holm Park, Yoker

My first trip along to see last season’s Scottish Junior Cup runners-up Clydebank. It’s a pleasant evening and I choose to walk the half hour or so from my Mum’s house. I’m anticipating a decent game tonight. It’s a local clash and the two teams have had some decent encounters in the past. The Maryhill team is also littered with former Clydebank players, including their captain tonight John Cunningham who joined from the Bankies in the summer.

More soon…

2009/10 – Game 6 – Girvan vs. Petershill

July 31, 2009

Girvan vs. Petershill

Girvan 2 vs. 2 Petershill

Pre-season Friendly
Saturday 25th July 2009, Kick-Off 2.45pm
Hamilton Park, Girvan

It’s a lovely summer’s day, just the one in amongst the almost constant rain that we’ve been having on the west coast of Scotland. Girvan’s about an hour and a half away on the train from Glasgow, changing at Ayr.

Hamilton Park couldn’t be much closer to the train station. It’s right around the corner and less than two minutes walk.

The kick-off time as advertised on Petershill’s website is 2.30pm, so I’m there in plenty of time. However, as the teams are still out kicking the ball around at that time it’s obvious the advertised time is wrong. Some of the punters around me think it’s a 3 o’clock kick off, but the game actually gets under way just before ten to three.

It’s quite a competitive match with both sides committed in their tackling.

The pie stall has ran out of pies so someone makes a run to Asda to get some more.

Girvan take the lead in 33 minutes when their number 10 rolls the ball in after one of his team-mates has cracked a shot off the crossbar. The Petershill goalkeeper sums up the run of play, “Wan chance the cunts have had and they’ve scored!”

The scores are levelled on 40 minutes when Petershill’s number 10 slots the ball into the far corner.

At half-time the social club bar has run out of vodka and someone has to go out to Asda to get more. “You guys can come back anytime,” he says to a group of elderly Petershill fans.

Girvan vs. Petershill

In 65 minutes Petershill get in front when John McGonnigle gets his head to an inswinging corner.

The referee spends much of the last twenty minutes pulling up a succession of Petershill players. With the match being a friendly there’s an obvious reluctance to get the yellow card out, but the game is stopping every couple of minutes so that another Petershill player can get on the receiving end of a talking to.

Girvan equalise in 76 minutes when their number 6 fires in a beautiful free-kick that goes in off the post.

The home team get the chance to win it with two minutes left when the Petershill keeper pulls down the Girvan no 16 as he goes round him. The Girvan player/manager who has just come on as a sub steps up to take the kick. It’s poor and the keeper makes the save.

Petershill supporters

That’s the last action from an entertaining game. A warm day and four goals makes the trip worthwhile.

2009/10 – Game 5 – Rutherglen Glencairn vs. Cumbernauld United

July 31, 2009

Rutherglen Glencairn vs. Cumbernauld United

Rutherglen Glencairn 3 vs 2. Cumbernauld United

Pre-season Friendly
Tuesday 21st July 2009, Kick-Off 6.30pm
Toryglen Regional Sports Centre, Glasgow

The second match in my double header. When I arrive at Toryglen Sports centre the rain is teeming down. I’m already soaked on my walk from Mount Florida train station. I had just about dried off from earlier in the day and now I’m really wondering what possessed me to come along to this one.

I’ve already sat on a packed 5.28 train from Glasgow Central, heaving with commuters heading home from work, so I’m not really feeling the love for football at this moment in time. The rain stops just in time for kick-off however and it turns out to be not too bad an evening at the end up.

The pitch at Rutherglen’s New Southcroft Park is being relaid so they’ve opted to play this friendly at the new multi-million pound sports centre in the shadow of Hampden Park.

I notice that more than one Rutherglen player takes time out to relieve themselves at the side of the pitch before the kick-off.

The game begins at a decent pace and much like the game at lunchtime it’s obvious that the two sides are going at each other.

The first goal comes in 5 minutes when Paul McLaughlin pounces on a blocked shot and fires the ball in to put Rutherglen 1-0 up. The equaliser comes but 8 minutes later when a ball comes over the top of Rutherglen’s defence. The keeper has it all in hand though as he shouts to his trialist defender “It’s comin’, it’s comin’, it’s comin’…” before realising “It’s no’!” Martin O’Neill nips in between them and touches the ball in from the edge of the area.

After 22 minutes Rutherglen go back in front as new signing McLaughlin bags his second goal with a beautiful free-kick fired from 20 yards out into the postage stamp corner. It stays that wait at the interval.

I barely have time to go inside to get a drink out of the vending machine at half-time. By the time I’ve walked round about a quarter length of the pitch, got my drink and came back out the second half has kicked off. There can only have been around 5 minutes of a break. With a large number of substitutions by both sides however, there’s no real need for the players to have any kind of long rest. Rutherglen’s side is now made up mainly of trialists and fringe players. Six trialists are among their eleven substitutes used in the second half.

Rutherglen Glencairn vs. Cumbernauld United

Cumbernauld come back into the game in the early periods of the second half, but a clumsy challenge in the box gives Glencairn the chance to increase their lead. Paul McDougall banged the spot-kick home to make it 3-1.

With five minutes to go Cumbernauld’s number 6 fires home a cracking free-kick into the top corner to make the final score 3-2.

It appears that the pitch was only booked for 90 minutes as the ref calls time with about 40 minutes played in the second half. Two other teams immediately rush onto the pitch and for a split second I’m tempted to ask one of the players who they are and stay to watch a third match of the day, but then I mind I have a life away from football matches, they’re starting the fourth season of The Wire tonight on BBC2 and I’ve got another disc of Rescue Me to watch and so I head for home.

Nomadic Fitba also has a report of this game.

Rutherglen Glencairn vs. Cumbernauld United

Rutherglen Glencairn: Turner (McNeil), Kerr (Trialist), Paul (Barr), Trialist (Kane), Palmer (Trialist), Thomson (Trialist), O’Keane (Gentile), Hopkins (McShane), McArdle (Trialist), McLaughlin (McDougall), Carr (Trialist). Sub not used: Fraser

Scorers: McLaughlin (5, 22), McDougall (68 pen)

Cumbernauld United scorers: O’Neill (13) No. 6 (85)

Referee: Alasdair Ross

2009/10 – Game 4 – Rangers Reserves vs. Oxford United

July 22, 2009

Rangers Reserves vs. Oxford United

Rangers Reserves 2 vs. 0 Oxford United

Pre-season Friendly
Tuesday 21st July 2009, Kick-Off 12pm
Murray Park, Milngavie

I’ve went for a double header today and this one is the earliest kick-off I’ve attended either this season or last season. I’m out in Milngavie in plenty of time due to my train arriving about 20 minutes earlier than the Scotrail website suggested.

Murray Park is about a 20 minute walk from Milngavie train station, so with plenty of time to spare I wander round to Sandra’s Snacks van beside West of Scotland rugby club for a pre-match roll and sausage.

When I get to Murray Park I’m greeted by a club official. He directs me round to the far away astro turf pitch where today’s game is being played. Spectators are welcomed at Rangers’ £14M training facility for reserve matches but it still feels somehow like you’re sneaking in somewhere you shouldn’t be.

There’s about two dozen spectators dotted along the touchline. Among them is Scotland Under-21s manager Billy Stark.

I remember the Oxford United of the mid 1980s with players like Ray Houghton, John Aldridge and Billy Hamilton. Milk Cup winners in 1986, this was also the era that saw famed nutcase and pension stealer Robert Maxwell at the helm. It’s a very different story for the Oxford of today who now find themselves a non-league club playing in the Conference National.

This isn’t their first game in Scotland this summer as they defeated Morton 3-0 at Cappielow on Saturday.

The rain comes down just as the game kicks off and it doesn’t let up for the rest of the match. Unfortunately there’s no shelter either.

The game begins at pace and it’s clear to see it’s no stroll in the park friendly. Both teams are totally committed to getting a result and this turns it into a decent encounter.

The most notable name, for me, in the Oxford line-up is 20 year-old Alfie Potter, on loan from Peterborough. Potter was part of the Havant & Waterlooville side that lost 5-2 to Liverpool in the FA Cup in 2008. Joining Oxford on a season long loan last month, Potter has now played for 6 different clubs on loan while at Peterborough. He doesn’t see that much of the ball today. When he does he sets off on mazy dribbles. Almost every time he tries one turn too many and ends up beating himself.

Rangers Reserves vs. Oxford United

Although Oxford initially look more of an attacking force it’s Rangers who take the lead in practically their first foray over the half-way line. On seven minutes Andy Little bangs home a lovely half-volley into the top corner from the edge of the box.

There’s plenty of tasty challenges going in from players on both sides. It being a friendly of course the ref isn’t showing any cards, but he’s frequently having to pull a few players aside to have some words with them.

The U’s almost get back into it when Ross Perry, believing the ball to have crossed the line for a throw-in decides to stop playing. Oxford’s winger takes the ball into the penalty area and fires a shot just over the bar. The defender is soundly chastised by his team-mates. “Don’t stop playing! Play the whistle”. In response he has a half-hearted moan to the referee about the ball being out. It wasn’t. Lesson learned though I would imagine.

At half-time Rangers put on Israeli trialist and Pedro Mendes lookalike Gil Bluhmennstein, who was recently released by Villarreal. Rejected as an 11 year old at Tottenham Hotspur, Bluhmennstein also played with Gent in Belgium. He showed a couple of nice touches today, although nothing that really made him stand out. From what I’ve read about him he’s determined to make a name for himself in Europe so hopefully he’ll impress enough at Rangers to be offered a contract.

Rangers get their second with five minutes left. Stephen Stirling sends a lovely chip over the heads of the Oxford defence for Lennon to get on the end of it and lift the ball over Ryan Clarke in goal and into the top right hand corner. A well worked move to seal a deserved win for Rangers.

Pictured below is Bluhmennstein (14), some of his colleagues and the referee all cleaning off their boots before going into the dressing room after the match.

Rangers players wash their boots off

Rangers: Adam, Lowing (Wylde 60), Perry, McMillan, Kinniburgh (Loy 75), Lennon, Ness, Emslie (Cole 60), Stirling, Loy (Bagci 60), Little (Bluhmennstein 45)

Scorers: Little (7), Lennon (85)

2009/10 – Game 3 – Albion Rovers vs. Celtic XI

July 21, 2009

Albion Rovers vs. Celtic XI

Albion Rovers 0 vs. 0 Celtic XI
Celtic win 5-4 on penalties

Jock Stein Friendship Cup
Monday 20th July 2009, Kick-Off 3pm
Cliftonhill, Coatbridge

It’s a bank holiday today. Not being a 9 to 5 worker I’m not sure what bank holiday it is exactly. Anyway I presume that’s the reason that this game is kicking off on a Monday afternoon.

I attended this fixture last season. It’s an annual match between two of the late Jock Stein’s clubs. Last year the side featured Thomas Gravesen and Derek Riordan, but since there’s no desperate fire sale of unwanted players at Celtic Park this close season there are no big names on show.

It’s pouring down when I leave the house, but the weather has cleared up by the time I alight the train at Coatdyke. There’s a few Celtic fans getting tucked into some bottles of Buckfast on the train.

To honour Jock Stein it looks like Rovers have dug out a bar of soap he washed himself with as a player, and put it on the sink in the toilet.

There’s only one side of the ground open. I presume that’s probably the case for all of Rovers’ home games. There’s a decent crowd filing in.

I buy a pie and a burn-the-moth-aff-ye style Bovril for two quid. I decide to take a seat in the stand. It’s pull down wooden seats and after a while it becomes pretty uncomfortable. I’m sat at the far end beside the area reserved for the big-shots. From here I can see the trophy sat on top of the DJ’s decks.

The cup is to be presented today by the actor David Hayman who is taken out onto the pitch beforehand to plug his charity, for which there’s a collection being taken. Former Rovers manager John McCormack is also introduced to the crowd.

There’s a wee young squad of Celtic fans that position themselves just underneath the DJ box. They’ve come decked out for the day with plenty of flags, balloons and scarves. They’ve also got a green flare. They set that off much to the consternation of the stewards who scramble around for a bit not quite sure what to do in order to deal with it. One of them grabs a fire extinguisher, but doesn’t use it. Another lifts the flare and puts it down in the wee nook in front of them. All this really does is swirl the smoke around closer to them. An official asks who threw the offending item, but as no one has any clue there’s little that can be done about it.

A green flare goes off

The lads give it plenty of singsonging all day, even although occasionally, like when they ‘all do the huddle’ they’re facing away from the actual match. They sing a few songs in support of John Hartson and even unfurl a ‘Get Well Soon Big Bad John’ banner which was a nice touch.

Dance Dymanic are Albion Rovers very own cheerleaders and they take to the field before kick-off to dance around to some awful thumping techno music. Frankly they seemed a bit young for some of the wolf-whistles they were getting from some sections of the crowd.

The fixture was a one-sided affair last year, but the two teams are quite well matched today. Rovers have the odd half-chance but it’s all Celtic with Rovers’ keeper pulling off one great save in the first half.

Tony Mowbray, Peter Grant and Mark Venus turn up midway through the first half and take their seats behind the DJ box. They get a warm reception from the fans and Mowbray returns with a wave or two.

During the half-time interval the small child sat in front of me is left on his own by his Granddad, who goes off to the pie stall. He wasn’t on his own exactly as his grandad did have a couple of pals with him, but they completely ignored the wee boy. Obviously bored out of his nut he spent the whole interval jumping on seats and at one point trying to pull one from off its hinges. His Granddad didn’t really bother much with his antics for the second-half.

There’s not much entertainment to speak of in the second-half. Celtic have two headers cleared off the line and their keeper smothers a one-on-one attack all in the last five or six minutes.

We go straight to penalty kicks. Celtic eventually take it 5-4 after both sides had taken 8 kicks each. Hard luck on Rovers’ keeper who saved two of Celtic’s penalties. Nomadic Fitba has got the penalty shoot-out up on his YouTube page. Or you can watch it down below.

The winning Celtic team

The DJ is straight down onto the pitch to interview the two team managers, Neil Lennon and Paul Martin. After the presentation to the two teams the DJ turns his attention to the match officials. “I know we sometimes don’t like them but we couldn’t have a game without them, please show your appreciation for the match officials.” There then followed a chorus of boos and jeers that drowned out the handful of folk applauding.

I have a couple more photographs here.

There’s another report of the game at Nomadic Fitba.

This is what I think the Celtic starting elven was. If and when the teams are provided on any websites I’ll update accordingly.

Celtic: Fox, Kurakins, Lafferty, Marr, Gallacher, Conroy, Ferry, Millar, McGinn, McGowan, Sheridan

2009/10 – Game 2 – Dumbarton vs. Partick Thistle

July 16, 2009

Dumbarton vs. Partick Thistle

Dumbarton 0 vs. 2 Partick Thistle

Pre-season Friendly
Tuesday 14th July 2009, Kick-Off 7.30pm
Strathclyde Homes Stadium, Dumbarton

Down to Dumbarton this evening for my first pre-season friendly this year. This is the first time Dumbarton have played since the tragic death of their captain Gordon Lennon last month.

Coincidentially the opposition, Partick Thistle, are one of Lennon’s former clubs. There’s a collection received by the Sons Supporters Trust on behalf of the Gordon Lennon Memorial Fund in aid of his dependents. The admission price has been set at an affordable £5 and this should have contributed to a decent amount of money going to the collection.

I enjoyed my two trips to Dumbarton last season, so much so that I’m sure I’ll be back a few times this season to see how they fare in the Second Division. I only saw Thistle once last year, in their 2-0 post Christmas defeat to Ross County. I have to say that it was possibly the worst match I saw all season. Freezing cold too, but then that was hardly Thistle’s fault.

This looks as if it will be an entertaining match. Thistle have already got their pre-season underway beating Cowdenbeath 4-1, then on Saturday drawing one-all with Stirling Albion.

The Community Suite at Strathclyde Homes Stadium has become my favourite pre-match venue. To be fair I didn’t go to that many social clubs or pubs pre or post match last season. I’ll endeavour to get into more this season. With cheap drink and lively banter at all the tables the Community Suite should really be a must visit for all groundhoppers coming along. The jerseys, programmes and photographs of the club’s history are also of interest for anyone wanting their money’s worth from the day.

I notice that the club have installed a very nice framed photographic montage of Gordon Lennon. His portrait being surrounded by numerous photos of him playing and celebrating with last season’s third division trophy.

There is a minute’s applause before kick-off and all the Dumbarton players wear black armbands. The Sons Supporters Trust are planning a benefit match for later in the season.

Partick Thistle are turning out this evening in their famous pink and grey kit.

Up front for Thistle tonight is Jim Hamilton, who appears to be continuing his campaign to play for every club in Scotland, with the Jags the 10th senior side he’s turned out for.

At left-back for the visitors is the former Dumbarton man Patrick Boyle. Signed from The Sons only last week Boyle has a decent game, solid in defence while creating the odd chance with the occasional long ball.

Dumbarton start the game well and create a few half-chances.

It’s Thistle who get the goal though as a free-kick from outside the box drops to John Robertson who tucks it away.

Former Thistle man Stevie Murray is the stand-out for Dumbarton. Every time he got the ball he looked to beat a man, even if there was none near him. I first saw him turn a cup replay for Thistle against Dunfermline in January of last year. I always enjoy a winger happy to take opposition defenders on rather than look for the easy option. He creates a few chances and his efforts seem to be appreciated by Sons and Jags supporters alike.

Seven minutes into the second half Hamilton comes off injured as he takes a nasty high foot to the head.

Jim Hamilton leaves the field injured

As it’s a pre-season friendly, there are a few trialists on the pitch and we have a few curios in the numbered shirts division. With substitutions Thistle have two players wearing number 15 shirts and two in number 16 jerseys. Dumbarton have a sub with no shirt number at all.

With a few minutes remaining a ball beats the whole Dumbarton defence. Substitute Doolan turns and slots the ball low into the corner of the net.

It’s a typical pre-season friendly all said and done. Played in a friendly spirit, but by no means an exciting game or any real indicator as to how the sides will perform in their respective leagues next season.

Should you wish to contribute to the memorial fund for Gordon Lennon there are details for how you can do so on The Sons Supporters Trust website.

Here’s the match report from Partick Thistle’s website.

Dumbarton: David McEwan, Andy Geggan, A Trialist (Martin McNiff, 45), Mick Dunlop, Ben Gordon, Ryan McStay (Ross O’Donoghue, 60), Ross Clark (Roddy Hunter, 60), Scott Chaplain, Darren Gribben (Ian Chisholm, 71) Derek Carcary (A Trialist, 60 mins) Stevie Murray. Unused Sub: Michael White.

Partick Thistle: Jonny Tuffey, Paul Paton (Martyn Corrigan, 51 mins), Patrick Boyle (Stephen McKeown, 45),
Ricky Little, John Robertson (Alan Archibald, 45), Ian Maxwell, Paul Cairney, David Rowson, Liam Buchanan, Jim Hamilton (Kris Doolan, 52), Chris Erskine (Bryan Hodge, 67 mins). Unused Sub: Ryan Scully.

Scorers: Robertson (40), Doolan (86)

Referee: Gary Hilland

Assistant Referees: John Gilmour and Jim Burns

2009/10 – Game 1 – Motherwell vs. Llanelli

July 5, 2009

Motherwell vs. Llanelli

Motherwell 0 vs. 1 Llanelli

UEFA Europa League First Qualifying Round, First Leg
Thursday 2nd July 2009, Kick-Off 8.05pm
Shyberry Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie

Season 2009/10 gets underway only 14 days after season 2008/09 ended, and before I’ve even bothered to write the last two games of that season up.

It’s an even earlier start to the season than last year, with Motherwell playing in the qualifying round of the new Europa League. The Europa League is of course just the UEFA Cup under a new name, and this stage takes the place of the Inter-Toto Cup.

In the third season of The Wire, Stringer Bell asked, “What are the options when you got an inferior product in an aggressive marketplace?” He got the answer, ‘Change the name.’ UEFA were obviously listening, as The-not-quite-as-good-as-The-Champions League-UEFA Cup now becomes The-not-quite-as-good-as-The-Champions-League-Europa League.

Of course the UEFA Cup only looks like the poor relation to the Champions League because UEFA changed the rules and moved the big teams who would have qualified for the UEFA Cup under the old rules into the Champions League.

But I digress. This season Scotland has 6 representatives in European competition. The first time this has happened since 1970/71 and only the third time ever.

Just for the record:

2009/10 – Celtic, Rangers (ECL), Motherwell, Aberdeen, Falkirk, Hearts (EL)

1970/71 – Celtic (EC), Aberdeeen (ECWC), Hibernian, Rangers, Kilmarnock, Dundee United (ICFC)

1968/69 – Celtic (EC), Dunfermline Ath (ECWC), Morton, Rangers, Aberdeen, Hibernian (ICFC)

I digress again. Tonight’s match is being played at Airdrie United’s Excelsior Stadium, as Motherwell’s Fir Park pitch is undergoing ‘extensive remedial work’.

Motherwell are strong favourites for this tie. McBookie.com have them at 1-14 to progress into the next round. They also have Llanelli at 14-1 to win on the night.

A trip through to Airdrie (I made three last season) didn’t really thrill me, but I made the journey anyway, along with thousands of Motherwell supporters and a relative handful of Lllanelli fans.

The day is warm and sticky and the evening isn’t much better. I bump into a friend of a friend on the train. He’s a Motherwell season ticket holder and we negotiate the roadworks outside the train station together. He’s already bought his ticket, so goes off to meet his dad outside the west stand. I, on the other hand, have opted to pay at the gate, I now realise however, I didn’t check before I came out to make sure you could do such a thing.

Although the gates have this evening’s prices above them, £15 for adults, £20 family tickets, you can’t actually pay at the turnstiles. You have to go round to the west stand, to buy a ticket at the ‘Pre-paid and complimentary tickets’ gate. This causes some confusion, as many fans walk past it presuming this gate is for ‘Pre-paid and complimentary tickets’.

It becomes obvious pretty quickly, that although I’m here fifteen minutes before kick-off, I’m not going to get into the ground in time.

I miss about 8 minutes of the match by the time I get into the ground in the east stand. There is still a queue of about 50 or so Motherwell fans waiting for tickets by the time I get mine.

I take my seat up at the back of the stand, not my seat exactly, because of course some people are sitting in the worng seats, but I sit next to the one my ticket allocated me.

The Motherwell fans are giving a bit of stick to Llanelli’s player/manager Andy Legg, 43 at the end of July. Playing at left-back, he’s mainly taking it tight for his bleached-blonde hair. He takes it in good humour, giving the home fans plenty back. Legg, a six times capped Welsh international, quit playing football in 2005 while he was with Peterborough, after a tumor on his neck was found to be cancerous. He went back to playing a couple of years ago once he had the all-clear.

Motherwell’s goalkeeper Michael Fraser, making his debut, appears to have lost some kind of cruel bet as he’s decked out all in pink. His socks in particular look like the kind of thing 14-year-old girls wear to the Cathouse on an under-18s night.

Motherwell are the better side early on, playing the ball around well and building some chances. They just can’t find a goal.

In defence Motherwell have no answer to Legg’s long throws. They seem to cause a bit of panic at the back every time. They really should have come as no surprise. In 1992, while at Swansea City, Legg entered the Guinness Book of Records thanks to his 44.6 metres (164ft) throw-in. The record was only beaten 8 years later by Tranmere’s Dave Challinor when he threw 1.4 metres further.

Twenty-six minutes into the first half fans are still arriving inside the ground. Just in time to catch Llanelli taking the lead. It’s a cracking goal as a corner to the back post finds Stuart Jones who powers a diving header in between ‘keeper and goalpost.

Lllanelli forward Rhys Griffiths causes the ‘Well fans to jump up from their seats when he goes in with his studs up on Keith Lasley. He’s shown a yellow card, but a lot of refs would have sent him off.

Andrew Mumford, Llanelli’s number 4, at 16 stones plus, takes some ribbing from the ‘Well fans. At one point, a young boy behind me shouts out “Take the ball off that fat boy.” I’m sure he’s used to it and walked through the game without any trouble.

At the half-time whistle Motherwell leave the field to a chorus of boos.

There’s not much more to cheer about in the second-half. The Welshmen defend well and Ashley Morris in goal does well with the little Motherwell give him to do.

The fans aren’t enjoying this display and after a while the home support barracking their team and the referee gets a wee bit tiring.

With around seven minutes of normal time remaining some of the crowd begin making for the exits. Motherwell have a couple of shots from long range late on, but nothing Morris can’t cope with.

The boos ring round the ground at the full-time whistle.

The Llanelli players take the time to come over and applaud the home support, and their appreciation is recipricated by the departing Motherwell fans.

This is the first time a Scottish club has lost to a Welsh one in Europe. It might be possible for Motherwell to turn it round in the second leg on 9th July, but they’ll have to play a lot better than this.

On the walk back to the train station, through Airdrie’s streets, a young local on a scooter stops to shout at the Motherwell fans. “Ha, ha, you came all the way up here and youse got beat. Come on the Wel-sh!”

There is a match report on the BBC website. There is also a slideshow of photographs. Here’s the report from the Llanelli website.

I’m not the only football blogger getting his season underway at this
ridiculously early time. Nomadic Fitba has a report of the game up here and Dave’s Football Travels has a brief report here. I’m sure Dave will have much more to say once he catches up with about a dozen games from last season.

Motherwell fans after the game

Motherwell: Fraser, Saunders, Craigan, Reynolds, Hammell, O’Brien (McHugh 74), Lasley (Slane 46), Forbes, McGarry, Sutton, Murphy. Subs Not Used: Kosiorowski, Darren Smith, Fitzpatrick, Hutchinson, Page.

Llanelli: Ashley Morris, Legg (Warlow 51), Howard, Stuart Jones, Jarman (Thomas 16), Phillips, Mumford, Corbisiero, Venables, Griffiths, Craig Jones (Follows 65). Subs Not Used: Craig Morris, Jenkins, Moses, John.

Scorer: Stuart Jones (28)

Attendance: 4,307

Tero Nieminen (Finland)

Review of 2008/09

July 5, 2009

I set out to attend 50 football matches over the course of the 2008/09 season. I finally managed to see 52 games from 6th July 2008 to 18th June 2009. I had intended to make my footballing odyssey last just that one season. However, I didn’t quite achieve everything I set out to this past season, and my Saturday affternoons would still be pretty boring without a game to go along to, so I’ll be back at it in 2009/2010.

For the most part I’ve enjoyed the games I’ve seen and the grounsd I’ve visited. I don’t think I travelled enough. The majority of the games I saw were in Scotland’s central belt. So, I’d like to spread my visits across Scotland a bit more. I’d also like to get to a game in England and one somewhere in Europe.

At the beginning of the season I did begin to collate some statistics for the purpose of an end of season round up. This being goal average, ticket prices, programme prices etc. I didn’t manage to keep up with it and frankly no one will be worse off for that. What I can tell you is that the most I paid for a match ticket was £40 to see Celtic take on Villareal. The least I paid was £2 for JML Accies vs. Rutherglen Vultures. Several games had no admission fee. These being the amateur and ladies matches I attended.

My highlights of the season include my two visits to Dumbarton, Ayr United’s 4-2 win over East Fife, Ardrossan WR’s 4-3 win over Troon and Clydebank’s Junior Cup run.

I also enjoyed Glasgow City’s 4-3 extra-time win over Celtic in the Ladies Scottish Cup. I’ve noticed that my fellow ground/match hoppers don’t really take in the ladies game. I’ll be continuing to go see matches at this level as they’ve all been entertaining, always serving up at least five goals. Rangers 6-5 extra-time win over Spartans in the Scottish Cup semi-final was another highly entertaining game.

The brief I gave myself was to attend games at as many different levels of football that I could, and for 2009/10 I will try to take in a wider variety. I hope that this season will see me having to explain to fewer people that ‘Junior football’ is not ‘juvenille football’.

Some other commitments got in the way of me getting to games every week and there wee a few times thoughout the season when I had 3 weeks or so of a break between matches.

I saw one 14-0 win (in the amateurs) and one 12-0 win (in the ladies game).

In total I saw 212 goals in 52 matches, giving me an average of 4.07 per game. A pretty decent return.

Two penalty shoot-outs (both straight to penalties no extra-time)
Three nil-nil draws.
Three matches went to extra-time

The 2009/10 season, has already started as I write, and my first match will be up very soon.

Game Fifty-Two – Pollok vs. Irvine Meadow XI

July 5, 2009

Pollok vs. Irvine Meadow XI

Pollok 0 vs. 1 Irvine Meadow XI

Evening Times Cup Winners Cup Final
Thursday 18th June 2009, Kick-Off 7.30pm
Newlandsfield Park, Shawlands

This is my final game of the season, the final game in the Scottish football season and probably the final game of the 2008/09 season anywhere.

The final of the Evening Times Cup Winners Cup, where cup and divisional winners are pitied against each other in the dying embers of the junior season.

I get the bus out to Pollok’s Newlandsfield Park, the ‘neutral’ venue for tonight’s tie. Meadow are apparently okay with it as their main concern was to play on a decent playing surface.

Baners for the Evening Times are dotted about outside the ground. I notice also that the local Oddbins, in anticipation of a win for Pollok, has Bolinger on at £31.99 a bottle, if you buy six.

I head into the Pollok FC Social Club as I’ve arranged to meet up with Dave from Dave’s Football Travels. This is also Dave’s final match of the season. However, where this is my 52nd game of the season, this will be Dave’s 105th.

When we come out of the club, about five minutes before kick-off, we find that there is quite a big queue (for junior football) waiting to get in. The queues are so big that the kick-off is delayed by ten minutes until 7.40pm.

The game starts off quite well with both teams going at each other. It soon becomes obvious however that Pollok cannot, for the life of them, get a shot on target.

In the 26th minute McGinty cuts a ball back across Pollok’s penalty box, it’s headed on for Chris Robertson to a shot that beats his namesake Kris in the Pollok goal. It’s a shock for Pollok, as they had much of the play up until now.

There’s very little of note to report after that. The rain comes donw heavily at half-time forcing the majority of fans on the opening terracing to join us under the roof.

Andy McLaren, the one-time Scottish international comes on as a sub for Meadow late on. McLaren hasn’t had his troubles to seek throughout his career and his drug abuse problems have been widely documented. So it was no great surprise to hear some Pollok fans loudly suggesting that he snort the white lines on the pitch as he came on.

Pollok’s Derek Wingate has a great chance to level late on, but when he shoots over the bar the fans know that their chance has gone.

There’s a good natured pitch invasion as Irvine Meadow are presented with the impressive trophy. As we make our way outside we notice that through the dressing room window the Meadow players are dousing each other in champagne. A group of Meadow fans are quickly hanging in the window joining in the celebrations.

And with that the 2008/09 season is over. Never mind only three weeks until the new season starts.

You can read other reports of the game at Dave’s Football Travels, The Mighty Meadow blog and Nomadic Fitba.

Irvine Meadow fans

Pollok: K. Robertson, Carruth, Dillon (Halliday 81), Wingate, Walker, McLay, MacKay (Harrison 73), Turnbull, Dingwall, Essler, Cruickshank. Subs not used: Newall, Morgan, MacKillop

Irvine Meadow: Wardrope, Ryan, Swift, McGowan, C. Robertson, Crilly, Strain (Docherty 10 (McLaren 76)), Turner, Barr, McGinty (Hyslop 72), Hamilton. Subs not used: McBride, McLaughlin

Scorer: C. Robertson (26)

Attendance: 1,153

Referee: Des Roache

Game Fifty-One – Arthurlie vs. Irvine Meadow XI

July 5, 2009

Arthurlie vs. Irvine Meadow

Arthurlie 2 vs. 5 Irvine Meadow XI

Evening Times Cup Winners’ Cup
Tuesday 9th June 2009, Kick-Off 7.30pm
Dunterlie Park, Barrhead

The junior season is still ongoing for a week or two yet, so just enough time to cram a couple more games in.

This is my second trip to Dunterlie Park this season. I saw the local derby against Neilston back in January.

The first thing that hits me when I alight at Barrhead train station is the smell. There’s a really strong, horrible smell wafting over the place. I didn’t notice it last time I was here, but it’s certainly prevelant today. I believe it may be farmland nearby, but I’ve had a search online to see what it is exactly, but to no avail. If anyone knows, please enlighten me in the comments.

There’s a small crowd queing up to get in when I arrive at the ground. The first place I head for when I get in is the toilet. Dunterlie Park still has the kind of toilet that all grounds had decades ago. It’s not so much a toilet as a wee wall hidden away behind a slightly bigger wall. The elderly gentleman who stands next to me obviously had a long trip on the bus from Irvine. He provides me with a commentary to his bodily functions. “Oooh, aaah, oh good arse. Oooh, ooh, what a relief, aaaaaahhhh….”

This weather this evening is quite pleasant. The last time I was here it was howling wind and pouring rain.

I notice that many people are coming awy from the pie stall with plates of pie and peas. I don’t try it myself, but I’ll give it a go next time I’m here.

A rare thing happens before kick-off. The linesman actually finds a fault with the goal-net. A portion is loose and leaves a big gap. It’s repaired with very little fuss however and the start of the match isn’t held up for long.
The linesman checks the net

In the starting line-up for Arthurlie tonight, wearing number 15, is the Iranian Pedram Ardalany. Signed in February this year after being released by Partick Thistle, Ardalany came to Britain as a 15-year old asylum seeker in 2004, without being able to speak a word of English.

He began his footballing career with Saipa Karaj FC, working his way through various youth teams, until the political situation in Iran forced him and his father to flee the country.

After a journey through Turkey, Greece, Italy and Holland he finally ended up in Sighthill.

He was spotted playing for Greenview in the Strathclyde Evangelical Churches Football League. Apparently Celtic wanted to sign him, but his lack of a work permit at the time precluded him joining them. When the Home Office gave him leave to remain he was by that time training with Thistle and chose to sign for them.

After being released by Thistle in January Arthurlie gave him a contract until the end of the season.

Irivne Meadow take the lead in 13 minutes when confusion in the Arthurlie defence allows Zander Ryan to get a shot in that keeper Peter Shaw only blocks with his foot. Richie Barr follows up to sidefoot the ball into the net.

It’s two-nil on the half-hour when a foul down the right hand side of the pitch results in a free-kick being fired into the box for David Hamilton to neatly head home.

The Arthurlie fans behind me are outraged at the refereeing decisions and give the linesman nearest them absolute pelters.

Five minutes later Emilio Jaconelli bags a goal when he knocks the ball in from close range after the keeper has blocked a shot.

At this point it was looking like it was all over for Arthurlie, but with six minutes remaining in the half Stephen Anderson shot home through a ruck of players to make the score 3-1.

He’s played through just two minutes later when John McLay hits a defence splitting pass. He keeps his cool and drills the ball in to bring Arthurlie back in it at 3-2. It’s now looking like it might be one of the best games of the season.

Arthurlie pile forward in search of an equaliser and Ardalany had a great chance, but fired the ball over the bar.

At half-time though the home support are quite happy with the scoreline.

I have a wander around the ground during the interval and can’t help but notice that there’s several big drinking sessions on the go. A group of youngsters and another group of older lads have full cargoes on the go. There’s MD 20/20, Buckfast, Miller and Scrumpy Jack all being put away.

At the start of the second-half Arthurlie’s chance of a come back is pretty much extinguished when centre-forward George Wallace receives a staright red card for a studs up challenge on Mark Crilly. There’s no complaints from the ‘Lie fans behind me, and had it being even slightly dubious I’d have heard them.

That smell still hangs over the ground.

Some old guys return, having nipped to the pub at half-time. Some other old guys wind them up that they’ve missed a couple of goals. Hilarity ensuses when they discover that they haven’t in fact missed any second-half goals, just a red card.

It’s 4-2 Meadda when a 20 yard screamer from Barr flies into the net with 12 minutes remaining. Thre minutes later he nabs his hat-trick, when he meets a long diagonal ball into the penalty box on the volley and crashes an unstoppable shot into the goal.

The Arthurlie fans finish the game off by giving the linesman a bit more abuse.

Arthurlie: Shaw, Lundie, Sharp, McKeown, Higgins, McLay, Ardalany, Johnston, Wallace, Malcolm, Anderson

Scorer: Anderson (39, 41)

Irvine Meadow: Wardrope, Ryan, Swift, McGowan, Robertson, Crilly (Docherty), Strain, Turner, Barr (McLaren), Jaconelli (Boyle), Hamilton. Subs Not Used: McGinty, Hislop

Scorers: Barr (13, 78, 81), Hamilton (30), Jaconelli (35)