Archive for September, 2008

Game Eleven – Dumbarton vs. Cowdenbeath

September 22, 2008

Strathclyde Homes Stadium

Dumbarton 2 vs. 1 Cowdenbeath

Irn Bru Scottish League Division Three
Saturday 20th September 2008, Kick-Off 3pm
Strathclyde Homes Stadium, Dumbarton

As a Clydebank supporter Dumbarton should be the sworn enemy. However I could never really get into disliking them even when there was a footballing rivalry available to both sets of fans. Dumbarton, being just down the road always seemed quite homely and if it wasn’t against Clydebank I was always pleased to see them win.

This is my first visit to the appalingly named Strathclyde Homes Stadium, Dumbarton’s home ground for around 8 years. I’ve been to Boghead plenty over the years. Clydebank even had a period when they played their home games there.

Strathclyde Homes Stadium is only a short walk away from Dumbarton East train station and sits on the bank of the Firth of Clyde.

I get there in plenty of time for the kick-off so I wander 100 yards from the ground to Dumbarton Rock bowling club at the foot of Dumbarton Castle. Although the sign says ‘Members Only’ it’s populated mainly by Cowdenbeath fans. Aberdeen’s home game with Dundee United is on the telly and a 35ml Jack Daniels and Cola is £1.60. Can’t ask for much more from a Saturday afternoon boozer.

Dumbarton Supporters Club

Today is ‘Raise the Rock’ day where the Dumbarton Supporters Trust attempt to drum up more fans. For this reason admission to today’s game has been reduced to £5 for adults.

Once inside the ground the supporters club is open and I go inside for my second drink of the day. This time a 35ml Spiced Rum and cola costs £1.80. Before a Dumbarton match seems to be an economical time to get pished.

An Emcee is on the mic all throughout my visit to the supporters club, which looks pretty much like any bowling club or function hall. The walls are adorned with pictures, shirts, flags and other such memoribillia from throught the club’s 136-year history.

Photographs of their famous former players such as Ian Wallace and Graeme Sharp are up there as well as team groups from various seasons over the decades. There are also signed shirts and photos from the last game at Boghead and the first match at their current ground.

A group of gents are piling up Belhaven Best cans into a formidable pyramid while a local scout troupe are selling home baking in the corner. The new strip is also on sale at the back of the room, where I pick up a team sheet.

I get myself a pie. When I find myself stood over a bin in order to eat it I think something has gone far wrong. One bite is enough to know it’s quite disgusting. I drop it into the bin. Having had nothing to eat so far today though I have another go at the pie stall. This time I opt for a steak pie. Thankfully it’s everything you’d expect from a football match snack food.

The game itself begins as quite an open encounter. Cowdenbeath have a good chance early on that they put over the crossbar. Dumbarton go close themselves a moment or two later.

On the 36th minute Derek Carcary curls a peach of a shot into Cowdenbeath’s net from around 25 yards.

I missed the start of this conversation, but this was what I heard from the two old boys sat behind me in the first half.

Old Boy 1: He fair brings a lot of fanny though.

Old Boy 2: Even I was excited and I’m 66.

In addition to the memorabilia on the walls in the supporters club, the other leftover from the days at Boghead seems to be the announcer’s record collection. Or more accuratley his record. We are treated to Glenn Frey’s ‘The Heat is On’ at least twice over the course of the afternoon.

Dumbarton certainly seemed on top of things in the second half although they didn’t really threaten to increase their lead any.

As the game wore on however you could just feel that they were losing their grip on it a bit. Attacks ended up with the ball going backwards and defenders began to panic on the ball.

So it was no surprise when Cowdenbeath scrambled the ball home in the 90th minute. Two points dropped, thought much of the home crowd as they trotted out.

But this game wasn’t over. Dumbarton put pressure on the Blue Brazil’s defence winning a free-kick over on the left. Deep into injury time the ball was swung over for Ben Gordon to head past the keeper.

Amazingly The Sons had won it and the players and remaning fans went mental. Just enough time for Cowdenbeath to kick-off, but nothing more. Not the greatest game of football, but the thrilling ending was what we go to the game for.

Dumbarton Celebrate Their Last Minute Winner

I have some more photographs here.

Dumbarton: McEwan, Lennon, Wilson, O’Byrne, Gordon, Clark, Carcary (Gray 52), Geggan, McLeod (Canning 67), Keegan (Michael Moore 84), Murray

Scorers: Carcary (36), Gordon (90)

Cowdenbeath: Hay, Baxter, Ross (Adamson 64), McGregor, Mbu, Armstrong, Fairbairn (Ramsay 80), Fleming, Gemmell, Tomana (Stein 41), McQuade

Scorer: McQuade (90)

Attendance: 801

Game Ten – Civil Service Strollers vs. Burntisland Shipyard

September 14, 2008

Burntisland Hit Their Penalty Off the Bar

Civil Service Strollers 4 vs. 1 Burntisland Shipyard

SFA South Regional Cup, Second Round
Saturday 13th September 2008, Kick-Off 2.30pm
Edinburgh Area Civil Service Sports Association, Edinburgh

Ah the romance of the cup. Can there be a more glamorous sounding fixture than Civil Service Strollers vs. Burntisland Shipyard?

CSS play in Division One of the East of Scotland League where they currently sit seventh. Burntisland play in the Kingdom Caledonian Football League a league competition for amateur clubs in Fife.

I make sure that a pie isn’t the first thing I have to eat today by remembering to pack a Pepperami, which I eat on the Glasgow to Edinburgh bus. Just as well as of course there is no such thing as a pie stall at these municipal pitches.

On the bus through Edinburgh I can’t help but notice that the place is littered with branches of Scotmid. Leith Walk in particular seems to have one every 100 yards. Each one bigger than the last.

CSS are based in the Muirhouse area. Finding the ground proves to be easier than I thought it was going to be. I had the misfortune of working in this area of Edinburgh for a number of years and the ground is closer to my old office than I first thought. I realised that it’s actually just opposite the old Scottish Gas building just in time to catch the kick-off.

The game happens to be the first one I come to on the municipal pitches. One of the players shouting “Come on Strollers!” confirms that I’m in the right place as there are several other matches underway or about to kick-off.

There is also a touch rugby tournament on the two adjacent pitches. The teams seem to be made up of men and women and one of them seems to be heavily populated by New Zealanders. The most irritating aspect of all this is that the touch rugby folk have a gazebo that pumps out the worst, blandest pop music all afternoon.

This means that our match is soundtracked by New Kids on the Block, Take That and Alphabeat among other such crimes against music.

On the pitch the game starts brightly with Burntisland having a good shout for a penalty turned down within the first 20 seconds. About 30 seconds later there’s another tasty challenge in the box and this time the ref has pointed to the spot. The goalkeeper gets his name in the book thanks to his protests.

Willie Campbell promptly crashes the penalty kick against the bar. “Yeeeesssss!” screams the ‘keeper, “Fucking justice!” D’you think I’d have much support if I began a campaign to teach footballers a second adjective?

CSS Score With a Free-Kick

In the fifth minute CSS have a free kick, which the captain Russell Hogarth beautifully flights over the wall and into the net for the game’s first goal.

It would be remiss of me, after remarking in my last entry about the ladies’ poor ball skills not to mention that today’s game was similarly lacking in confident close control.

One CSS forward misses a glorious chance from 2 yards out as his right foot shot spins up off his forehead on its way back out of the penalty box.

Burntisland get an equaliser in the 27th minute. I was standing behind their goal at the time so didn’t see much detail from the goalmouth scramble which produced it.

It stays that way until half-time. For the half-time entertainment I have two touch rugby games and two other football matches to wander around. You don’t get this in the big leagues.

Right at the start of the second half Willie Campbell’s day gets worse as he heads a Alexander cross into his own net to take CSS into a 2-1 lead. Much “Aw fuckssake” style shouting abounds.

On the touchlines I hear that in another cup game Craigroyston have raced into a 9-0 lead against Creetown. Perhaps I plumped for the wrong match.

Civil Service Strollers vs. Burntisland Shipyard

Both teams have chances, but it’s more a match of errors than it is of any great play. In the 74th minute the Burntisland keeper comes out into the laft back position to clear his lines. He succeeds only in a weak clearance which falls to Craig Dickson who launches a long ball at the empty net. It falls some way short but is tapped in at the back post by CSS’s number 12, Sam Gait who is just on the pitch. At 3-1 this game is as good as over.

Peter Keenan another sub from CSS’s Under-19 side curls in a beauty from 25 yards on the final whistle for a convincing Strollers victory.

A decent game of football and since it’s another match with no admission fee I couldn’t really grumble anyway.

Since I’ve missed out on a pie at the game I get the bus to Piemaker on South Bridge for one of their class steak and ale numbers.

Civil Service Strollers: Walker, Alexander, Russell, Hogarth, Wheelan (Keenan 70), Dickson, Newall, Buckley (Gait 72), Burgess, Calder (Antoni 63), Somerville Subs Not Used: White, Hanson

Scorers: Hogarth (5), Campell o.g. (46), Gait (74), Keenan (90)

Burntisland Shipyard: Hutt, Brown, MacDougall, Campbell, Pryde (McMahon 65), Dair, Johnston (Scott 70), Tillier, Sinclair, Stenhouse (Brown 55) Subs Not Used: McLuskie, Robertson

Scorer: Tillier (27)

Attendance: After a rough headcount about 20.

I have some photographs here.

Game Nine – Rangers Ladies vs. Inverness Ladies

September 9, 2008

Rangers Ladies vs. Inverness Ladies

Rangers Ladies 3 vs. 2 Inverness Ladies

Scottish Women’s’ Football League – Division 1
Sunday 7th September 2008, Kick-Off 2pm
Petershill Park, Glasgow

Ladies football, derided in some quarters, championed in others. It’s a growing part of the game in general. Apparently football is now the fastest growing and largest team sport for girls in the UK.

The Rangers ladies team was established thanks to a partnership with Paisley City Ladies. They play their home games at the impressive Petershill Park complex in the Springburn region of Glasgow.

While not as skillful as the men’s game ladies football still offers up its fair share of entertainment as well as a refreshingly enthusiastic attitude. I may as well say here that in the ladies game I’m quite happy to support England whenever they’re on the telly. The English Ladies football team is more or less the same standing in their game as the men’s team. The crucial difference being that the women and the media who cover them are well aware that they’re only a decent side and treat progression to the quarter-finals of a major tournament as the good performance it is. Whereas in the men’s game each England team is expected to bring the trophy home. The attitude the English women have is more conducive to lending them my support.

The match gets underway and some poor control by an Inverness defender leads to a desperate back-pass which the keeper forgets she can’t pick up and Rangers have an indirect free-kick inside the box after 30 seconds. This leads to them hitting the underside of the bar, not once but twice. At this point I’m thinking I might be in for a goals avalanche.

It takes until the 31st minute to get the first goal as Rangers’ number 9 is sent clean through. Just as I’m thinking that she doesn’t have the ball control to keep the run going she hits a lovely shot from 25 yards out which sails over the keeper into the top left hand corner to make it 1-0 Rangers.

The game is littered with poor passing as well as wildly off target crossing. Players routinely need three or four touches to get the ball under control. Defenders play the ball closer to their goal in attempting to clear and attackers seem to pass the ball back as much as forward.

Petershill Park

A small girl, presumably the sister or daughter of one of the Rangers players runs up and down the side of the pitch, bouncing a ball and encouragingly shouting ‘Score a goal.’ One of the more intelligent things I’ve heard shouted form the sidelines so far this season. Some young boys playing in the corner of the ground frequently let their football run onto the field of play and the players take turns booting it clean over their heads.

At half-time the two teams receive their team-talk out on the pitch whereas I go inside to the impressive cafe/bar. You can have a few cheap drinks or a full meal for your half-time snack here, while watching Sky Sports. I settle though just for a Lucozade and a packet of crisps, which turns out to be a month out of date.

The second goal comes a minute into the second-half as a low shot from the edge of the box makes it 2-0 Rangers.

The crowd is about 50 strong and is mainly, if not exclusively, made up of the players’ friends and family. The HABs (that’s Husbands and Boyfriends) are out in force. During a break in play Rangers’ number nine gets called over to the touchline where her boyfriend provides her with a bottle of Lucozade and some encouraging words, sending her back into the fray with a warm pat on the back.

Rangers Ladies vs. Inverness Ladies

Rangers can’t seem to turn their obvious superiority into a more comfortable lead and in the 68th minute Inverness begin their fightback. The Bears keeper is caught in what I guess is ‘No Woman’s Land’ and the ball is punted from about 30 yards clean into an empty net. “Shite,” is all the keeper can muster as she vainly attempts to run back into her goal.

From this point Inverness recognise that all is not lost and they take more control of the game. With six minutes remaining the Rangers keeper is all at sea once again and this time the ball is smacked from 40 yards over her head and into the net for 2-2.

The tackling from both sides is excellent and there are a few crucial penalty box challenges that are as good as anything you’ll see in the men’s game.

Rangers push forward in the last few minutes and in injury time force a corner. Their number 14 rises to head it home and take them back into the lead at 3-2.

There’s only time left for Inverness to shoot straight from kick-off. It’s on target but this time the Rangers keeper can’t be caught out and it finishes with Rangers nicking a win with the odd goal in five.

It’s an entertaining 90 minutes and although I can’t genuinely say I’ve seen a lot of brilliant football, for £0.00 it’s as good an afternoon’s football as you’re likely to get on a Sunday afternoon.

I have some more photographs here.

As for the teams, who knows? I contacted the SFA and the lady there who deals with the ladies’ leagues to get the teams and scorers. They hadn’t been received three days after the game and checking back two months later I discovered that they were never handed in.

An Audience With Tommy Docherty

September 5, 2008

The Citizens Theatre

Tommy Docherty

Thursday 4th September 2008, Kick-Off 7.30pm
The Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

Ex-Chelsea, Scotland and Manchester United manager Tommy Docherty comes back to the Gorbals, where he was born, as part of the Citizens’ ‘An Audience With…’ series. Political elder statesman Tony Benn last night, former World Snooker champion Dennis Taylor tomorrow. Tonight it’s the turn of one of British football’s most colourful characters.

Now 80 years old Docherty has been on the after dinner speaking circuit since he gave up football in 1988. Manager of “Fourteen great clubs. Well, they were all great when I got there,” Docherty’s rubbed shoulders with anyone who’s anyone in British football, from Tom Finney to Matt Busby and Denis Law to David Beckham.

The evening is, so the display in the foyer tells us, spilt into two halves. A 45-minute talk comprises the first half with a Q & A of the same length after the interval.

At 7.30 Docherty strides on and begins his routine. A few quips about his career lead us into some gags about Posh and Becks, Jimmy Greaves and dodgy chairmen.

There’s no doubt he’s done this script plenty and knows it all back to front. He skims over his chequered career, giving us as much on his 11 games with Celtic as his 300 plus appearances for Preston North End.

He only covers his managerial career up until his first spell at Queens Park Rangers, when we hit the interval. He’s barely been on stage 20 minutes.

The question and answer session after the break sparks things into life a little bit, although after briefly answering each of the first few questions The Doc moves on to an unrelated piece of obviously rehearsed material.

He has warm things to say about Bill Shankly, Sir Matt Busby and Brian Clough and can even do a passable impression of the latter. He seems most proud of his 25 appearances for Scotland, claiming that he would have played for his country for nothing. “At fifteen quid a game it almost was nothing.”

I found his lines about Jimmy Hill amusing. “He could trap a ball further than I could kick it. When he hit a pass he shouted ‘To whom it may concern’.”

Having said that it would not shock me if three or four of the former pros on the after dinner circuit are doing the same lines about different players.

Things are a bit more interesting when Docherty is asked about a couple of people he has no time for. Although all he will offer on Paddy Crerand is a simple, “I don’t like him,” he takes the time to elaborate on his dislike for Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

“People say,” he begins a typical Doc zinger, “was it a clash of personalities?’ No. He doesn’t have a personality.” He goes on, “I don’t like him. I’ve told him to his face I don’t like him. I’ll tell you why I don’t like him. He’s never once said ‘I was wrong.’” Docherty will admit however that Ferguson is placed in his list of the game’s greatest ever managers along with Clough, Stein, Shankly and Paisley.

When asked if he still goes along to Old Trafford, Docherty tells us that he’s done with them now after asking for two tickets to a match with Everton that his daughter requested for a birthday present. The Doc says that the United secretary sent him the requested briefs, along with an invoice for £88. I was just amused that Docherty is still one of the few people who refers to tickets as ‘briefs’. Still you can’t be surprised that he was asked for the cash when he’s going round slagging off Fergie eh?

A man in the corner of the stalls puts The Doc on the spot by asking him why, if the Scotland job was the greatest thing in the world, Docherty left it to manage Manchester United. He’s honest enough to say it was for the money, his yearly salary rose from £7,000 to £16,000, however he doesn’t go back on his claim that playing for or managing your country was ‘the greatest thing in the world.’

Docherty himself brings up the prickly subject of his dismissal from Manchester United due to his stealing the physio’s wife. He revels in the infamy the incident claimed for him. “They were all at it. I was just one of the club,” he explains.

The man ‘with more clubs than Jack Nicklaus’ has opinions on everyone and everything football related. “It’s only my opinion,” he’s fond of saying. Lou Macari – too fond of horses and dogs to be a successful manager. The current Scotland team – “Never heard of half of them. The centre-half, Weir? He’s older than me.” Modern players’ wages – “Disgraceful.” Foreigners in British football – The Doc suggests limiting the starting eleven to 3 overseas players.

He’s asked a couple of times if he has any regrets – over losing the United job and over never being manager of Celtic, but it’s obvious that if he had any regrets he keeps them well under wraps. He seems to have enjoyed his career as both a player and a manager even if it never hit the heights it could have done.

Docherty sits with a glass of wine happily signing autographs, selling copies of his book and posing for pictures as we file out into the early autumn night.

Game Eight – Troon FC vs. Ardrossan Winton Rovers

September 1, 2008

Troon FC
Troon 3 vs. 4 Ardrossan W.R.

Stagecoach Ayrshire District League
Saturday 30th August 2008, Kick-Off 2pm
Portland Park, Troon

A local derby. But then again most games in the Ayrshire District League are. Troon is about 40 minutes on the train from Glasgow, and Portland Park is only a five-minute walk away from the train station. The train passes straight past the ground. Although my eighth game of the season, this is the first ground I hadn’t previously visited.

Some things you see at the Juniors that you don’t see in the senior game part two.

1.) A couple of Jakeys sitting necking cans of Stella Artois.
2.) A dead bird behind the goal.

Most junior games have a half-time draw and attempt to sell you a ticket as you come in the door. I decided today to plump for two 50p tickets, quickly working out that my odds of winning were about 40 to 1.

Ardrossan Winton Rovers arrived here on the back of a 7-2 win last week, while Troon’s new team are still finding their feet. So their manager says in the match programme anyway.

For the second Saturday in a row I find that a scotch pie is my first meal of the day. I really need to get out of bed a bit earlier.

Troon’s ground has to be the tidiest I have visited so far in the junior ranks. Most of the terracing is grass and it’s very well kept, without a spot of litter. Until, that is, I left my empty polystyrene teacup behind the goal.

We get an early goal when a tap-in from close range by Jon Gallagher puts Ardrossan one-up in the third minute. That’s followed up three minutes later when a looping header from Graeme Hamilton doubles their lead.

A junior match is no place to be if you have young children with you. Unless of course your intention is to introduce them to the joys of swearing. Swearing in all its forms.

Swearing as aggression: “Ya fucking prick.”
Swearing as ridicule: “You’re fucking blind referee.”
Swearing as admonishment: “Don’t fucking do that again.”
Swearing as praise: “That’s fucking brilliant.”

“Fucking brilliant”, seems to be a phrase that gets bandied around quite often at today’s game. A lot of things seemed to be ‘fucking brilliant’ for the Ardrossan players.

As well as telling each other off players in junior teams do like to praise one another for near enough anything. The Ardrossan keeper even got praise shouted at him from his defence for his shouting, “That’s good fucking talking Stevie.”

Shame that didn’t turn into some sort of Russian doll scenario.

“Good fucking praising of Stevie for his talking Wullie.”

“Good fucking praising of Wullie for his good fucking praising of Stevie for his good fucking talking Archie.”

“Good fucking praising of Archie for his good fucking praising of Wullie for his good fucking praising of Stevie for his good fucking talking Jimmy.”

“Good fucking praising of Jimmy for his good fu…”

Troon don’t look much like they’re going to get back into this game. Until that is they get the ball into their opponents half and a clumsy tackle on centre-forward Cowan as he was moving away from goal gifts them a penalty kick.

The penalty duly dispatched it’s back to 2-1.

The penalty makes it 2-1

Troon frequently try to create chances by going down the right wing, but their attacks prove fruitless.

“Let’s try to find a winner,” a Troon player shouts out.
“We’re winning 2-1 ya fucking madman,” Ardrossan’s keeper shouts back in reply.

It remains 2-1 to the visitors at half-time.

The man selling the half-time draw waits patiently as the players come off the pitch through the crowd and into the dressing rooms. When the referee comes by he snatches his moment.
“Draw the half-time draw, Ref.”
The referee duly reaches into the Tupperware tub and plucks out a number. Not mine I hasten to add. With no loud speaker the guy has to walk round the terracing shouting the number out “Three-Nine-Three. Number Three-Nine-Three.”

There’s a small social club inside the ground and I briefly consider going inside for a drink, but it’s already pretty busy, so I give it a miss. The toilets have no sink or running water, which is less of a plus.

So to the second half. Troon’s team talk must have been a good one as they come out all guns blazing. Ardrossan are hardly in it.

Ardrossan go down to ten men as their number five, Wilson, picks up a second booking, having earned his first conceding the penalty. A fact lost on the Troon manager.
“Aye about fucking time you booked him. You’re about an hour too late.”

The offending player offered only a feeble, ‘Aw naw,’ before turning around and heading meekly for the dressing room, with no further protests.

Ardrossan defend a corner

In the 65th minute Troon get the reward for their possession when a curling cross ball by Bryan Mitchell is headed home for the equaliser.

It only takes another two minutes for a hammer shot from the edge of the box to take the score to 3-2 for Troon. Minutes later the Ardrossan keeper is caught in two minds and Troon’s number 17 has an empty net to shoot into. He takes too long and succeeds only in shooting tamely into the keeper’s arms.

A cry that the Troon players and staff seemed to shout repeatedly was “Don’t foul!” you might think that players didn’t need constant reminders of this, but this, after all, is the junior leagues.

The two jakeys making their way through their cans of Stella shout their abuse at Troon players and the referee as Ardrossan hit the post.

“Are you fucking from Troon ref? Is your hoose just roon the corner?”

One of them even encourages his son to join in, targeting Mitchell, who goes by the nickname, Homer.

“You’re Bart wee man. Kick Homer’s baws. That’s what Bart does. Kicks Homer’s baws.”

As a committed fan of The Simpsons, I’m not sure I’ve seen that episode.

With about ten minutes left Rovers get a penalty after a handball in the box. They bang the ball home and it’s level at 3-3. Only one team in it now and two minutes later a header from McAvoy creeps in under the crossbar and amazingly Ardrossan have turned it around and now lead 4 goals to 3.

This is the third junior game I’ve been to so far this season and it’s the third time a goalkeeper has picked up a booking for repeated back-chat, as the Ardrossan ‘keeper goes in the book.

That’s the end of the action for what’s become the game of the season so far. Quality entertainment for the princely sum of £4.

I finish the day by having a stroll down onto the beach to get myself a single nougat.

I have a collection of photographs on my Flickr page.

Troon FC: Johnson, McColgan, Friel, Conroy, Burns, Hanvey, Bell, Muir, Cowan, Miller, Main. Subs: Crichton, Mitchell, Clark, Walker, McDonald

Scorers: Hanvey (22 pen), Cowan (65), Muir (67)

Ardrossan Winton Rovers: O’Neill, Paton, Houston, Milliken, Wilson, Gallagher, Gilmour, Frye, Hamilton, McAvoy, Muir. Subs: Adam, Patterson, Monan, Cook

Scorers: Gallagher (3), Hamilton (6), Frye (80 pen), McAvoy (87)

Referee: M. McLean

Attendance: I did a head count and reached 60.