Archive for October, 2008

My First Football Match

October 9, 2008

Clydebank 1-2 Hamilton Academical

Scottish First Division
Saturday 28th February 1981, Kick-Off 3pm
New Kilbowie Park, Clydebank

“We’re going to see Big Gary the day.” These were the words that woke me up on the morning of Saturday the 28th of February 1981. This was my dad talking and ‘Big Gary’ was Gary McDowell the son of my parents’ friends.

Gary McDowell was also the captain of Hamilton Academicals who were today playing my hometown club Clydebank. What this meant was that I was about to go to my first football match.

I was nine-years old. I hadn’t shown much interest in football in my first few years of life. I have a handful of football memories before this point.

My very first football memory, I realise sounds apocryphal, as it coincides with one of the greatest moments in Scottish football history. It was 11th of June 1978. The night before our television blew up as my dad watched Italy play Argentina. Annoying at the best of times dad was frantic, as not 24 hours later Scotland were due to play Holland in their final group match. If Scotland could win by 3 goals they would qualify for the latter stages of a World Cup Finals for the first time in their history.

The day of the match dad called my Uncle Pat to ask him if, or more accurately tell him that he would be coming round to his house to watch Scotland play Holland. My Uncle Pat, to this day has very little interest in football. This is probably why my dad would use him as a patsy in the days when big match tickets were allocated in postal ballots to increase his chances of landing a pair.

So my six-year-old self was dragged along to my Uncle and Aunt’s house because I was obviously too young to be left alone. I was handed some toys and played in the corner of the room as the match progressed. As I vroom-vroomed my motor cars I was suddenly shocked to hear my dad roar like I had never done before. I had heard him shout at me before, but this was different, this was a roar of delight. More pressingly I was shocked as in leaping from his chair dad had sent it rocking backwards, bumping into the lamp stand, which was now tumbling towards me. I threw myself out of the way as it crashed onto the floor.

I was now intrigued as to what exactly had turned my dad mental. I came out from behind the chair to look at the television. What I saw was a replay of Archie Gemmill’s famous second goal that night.

That genuinely is my first footballing memory. Before my first match, the handful of other football memories I have are watching Nottingham Forest play Hamburg in the 1980 European Cup final. I remember it was 80 and not 79 as I recall dad cheering on Martin O’Neill, who was ruled out injured in Forest’s first European success.

I also remember Gordon Strachan scoring as Scotland beat Sweden 1-0 in a World Cup Qualifier in September of 1980. These were the days when live football matches on the television were few and far between.

But enough of my digression. Dad had been promising to take me to a game for some time now, and my recollection is that I was keen, but felt some trepidation. Why I’m not sure. Perhaps the crowds. Although there was no chance of that at New Kilbowie.

New Kilbowie Park no longer exists. Like several one-time Scottish football grounds there now stand some shops in its place. An Aldi, a shut down Poundstretchers and I think some sort of DIY shop.

There is video of the ground from 1980 at this link. Best to turn the sound down though. Tomoyasu Hotei’s “Battle Without Honor or Humanity” is a great tune, but probably better when Quentin Tarantino uses it to soundtrack an ultra-violent film rather than a tour of an 80s Scottish football ground.

It could never have been described as ‘impressive’, but it was always a smart wee ground. The second all-seater in Scotland after Pittodrie, although admittedly it was seated primarily with benches as opposed to one seat per visitor.

What I remember from the game is very little. I remember that Clydebank wore their all-yellow change strip. I also remember that Clydebank had a good goal disallowed for offside. I recall this mainly because on the way home my dad suggested that it was ‘never offside’ and I nodded along, even although I had no idea at the time what offside was, let alone how it worked.

What the report from the Clydebank Post tells me is that this defeat left Clydebank fourth bottom of the First Division having now gone seven games without a win.

A few weeks later my dad was to take me to Kilbowie again. This time for a Scottish Cup quarter-final replay against Morton. We lost 6-0. For some reason though I was now a committed Clydebank fan and when a school-friend came round for me a couple of weeks later I was off to a game for the first time without parental supervision. We lost 3-1 to St Johnstone.

Clydebank: Kenny, Treanor, McLaughlin, Fallon, Evans, Given, Ronald, Houston, Millar, Gervaise, McCabe (McIntyre). Sub Not Used: Sharkey

Clydebank Scorer: Millar (26)

Hamilton Scorer: Alexander (55, 74)

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Game Thirteen – Queen’s Park vs. Stirling Albion

October 8, 2008

Queen's Park vs. Stirling Albion

Queen’s Park 1 vs. 1 Stirling Albion

Irn-Bru League Division Two
Saturday 4th October 2008, Kick-Off 3pm
Hampden Park, Glasgow

Apart from the very first match of the season the weather has been quite kind to me so far. This morning however wind and rain beat my bedroom window. I’ve already decided not to travel too far today, but the consequences of this downpour is that Junior matches are bound to be off.

The few Junior teams who keep their websites frequently updated (Ashfield, Clydebank) indeed announce postponements. So I must look to the senior game to get my football fix today.

I consider what’s sure to be a tight match between Partick Thistle and Dundee, before looking at the undoubted goalfest at Parkhead as Celtic take on Hamilton. I dismiss these two however and head for Hampden Park to see Queen’s Park take on Stirling Albion.

At the turnstile I’m met by a less than friendly gruff “Eleven poun’” from the man in the booth.

Inside the concourse I take the time to have a look round the photographs from the national team’s history that hang on the walls. There are lots of pictures from Scotland-England clashes including one of Scotland’s present boss George Burley in action in a goalmouth melee.

The Queen’s Park shop has an impressive selection of goods on display. As well as QP replica shirts, scarfs and fridge magnets there are pin badges of many clubs from all over the world. There is also a decent selection of programmes from international matches and books about Hampden and the game across Scotland in general.

Stirling Fire a Free-Kick Over the Bar

The game itself had little worth writing about. It was a pretty dour encounter. Stirling looked by far the better side in the first half. They get their dues in the 23rd minute when a wayward shot fell to Harty who banged the ball in from just outside the six-yard box.

While I was sat in the home end, mere feet away in the Stirling Albion support one of their fans felt obliged to bash a small drum (or Bodhrán I think it actually was) all game long.

In the second half the rain went away and the sun came out. The football didn’t improve much however.

In the 64th minute Queens brought on substitute Robert Dunn. This is only notable as several years ago he was shit-hot in the fantasy world of Championship Manager. He was a real lynchpin of my Clydebank side that made two European Cup semi-finals, while still playing at 5,000 capacity Boghead. In real life he’s less thrilling.

In the 72nd minute Queens make two further substitutions and it’s the number 15 Ian Watt who makes his mark on the game. Thirteen minutes after his arrival he meets a long ball over to the back post and heads the ball between goalpost and keeper to make it 1-1.

My photographs are here.

This link will take you to four minutes of commentary-free highlights.

Queens Celebrate Their Late Equaliser

Queen’s Park: Crawford, Little, Douglas, Agostini, Brough, Harkins, Dunlop (Dunn 64), Cairney, Quinn (Ronald 72), Neill, Murray (Watt 72). Subs Not Used: Boslem, Cowie.

Scorer: Watt 85.

Stirling: Hogarth, Graham, Lowing, Lawrie, Forsyth, Docherty, Hamilton (Murphy 80), Molloy (Corr 72), Harty, Grehan (Waddell 58), Taggart. Subs Not Used: McKenna, Christie.

Scorer: Harty 23.

Attendance: 713

Game Twelve – Celtic Reserves vs. Rangers Reserves

October 8, 2008

The Rangers keeper gathers a cross

Celtic Reserves 3 vs. 1 Rangers Reserves

Scottish Reserve League
Tuesday, September 23 2008, Kick-off 2pm
Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie

A Tuesday afternoon in Airdrie and it’s the Old Firm. Or the Reserves at least. This is the first time I’ve been to the Excelsior Stadium. Or The Shyberry Excelsior Stadium. Or New Broomfield. Or whatever it’s called. I’ve been to Broomfield a few times though.

The ground is not that difficult to find. It’s a fifteen minute walk from Drumgelloch train station and the stadium sits on its own on what appears to be a big chunk of wasteground.

I take a walk around it and come to the main entertance where I find several folk in Rangers and Celtic tops all milling about waiting for the gates to open.

Once inside there seems to be a good couple of hundred fans there to cheer along their favourite half of the Old Firm. I overhear one guy on the phone telling someone that he was just out for a walk when he heard the noise from the ground and was pleasantly surprised to find an Old Firm reserve match underway. This meant that he just happened to have been out for a walk decked out head to toe in Celtic gear.

Chris Burke of Rangers

Seggregation is provided by a typed sign telling us which entrance is for the Celtic fans and which for the Rangers. I opt to sit with the Celtic support.

Neil Lennon is in the Celtic dugout and spends most of the game shouting instructions, mainly to Paddy McCourt on the left wing. Reserve team manager Willie McStay is comparatively quiet.

It’s a decent game of football with both teams having chances Rangers having the best of them as Aaron Niguez skelped the crossbar with a free-kick. It’s Rangers who take the lead as we approach half-time as Ross Harvey comes in at the back post to meet a crossed ball and head home.

In the 66th minute Celtic get the equaliser with a McGowan header. It looks to be all the green half of the Old Firm from now on.

Charlie Adam, on as a half time substitute doesn’t have the best 45 minutes and takes it tight from the Celtic support, being the closest thing to a first-team player in the side.

McGowan got his second as he finished off a nice bit of team play to take Celtic into the lead. Late on Ben Hutchinson got his reward for his 90 minutes of hard work. Picking up a long ball out on the right he had a look before lofting the ball over the on-rushing Graeme Smith in the Rangers goal.

3-1 to Celtic and a decent Tuesday afternoon’s football.

A report from the Celtic website is here. A report from the Rangers site is here.

The confirmation that I was at this game is in the photograph below from the Celtic website. That’s me on the far right.

Me at the Celtic vs. Rangers Reserves Game

My photographs are here.

Celtic: Fox, Doumbe (Towell 28), O’Dea, Lafferty, Conroy, Cawley, Millar, McGlinchey (Mizuno 5), McCourt, McGowan, Hutchinson.
Subs Not Used: Marshall, Tidser, Monti, Graham.

Scorers: McGowan (66, 78), Hutchinson (84)

Rangers: Smith, Little, Harvey, McMillan, McLachlan, Burke, Shinnie (Bagci 85), Edu (Adam 46), Niguez (Stirling 75), Fleck, Loy.
Subs Not Used: Perry.

Scorer: Harvey (45)

Attendance: Not sure exactly, but a good couple of hundred at least.