Archive for November, 2008

Game Seventeen – Airdrie United vs. Cove Rangers

November 30, 2008

Airdrie United vs. Cove Rangers

Airdrie United 3 vs. 0 Cove Rangers

Homecoming Scottish Cup, Third Round
Saturday 29th November 2008, Kick-Off 3pm
Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie

“We’re Blue! We’re White!
We’re Highland Dynamite!
Cove Rangers! Cove Rangers!”

With today being the Scottish Cup Third Round I had already made my mind up in midweek on which tie I was going to go to. Checking the fixtures I had plumped for Edinburgh City vs. Brechin City at Meadowbank Stadium. However when I woke on Saturday morning and checked the teams’ websites I was met with a message telling me that the game was postponed due to a frozen pitch.

The best alternative seems to be the Airdrie United – Cove Rangers game. As a Clydebank supporter, Airdrie United are far fom my favourite team. This is because the team only came into existence through buying up Clydebank and changing the name, strip and location of the then Second Divsion side. So nothing would give me greater pleasure today than to see them dumped out of the Cup by Highland League opposition.

Cove Rangers are based in Cove Bay, a suburb of Aberdeen. Winners of the Highland League last season, they currently sit in third place in the table.

This is a five minute film on Cove produced to support their bid for entry to the Scottish Football League at the start of this season. Cove made it into the third round by defeating Whitehill Welfare 1-0 in October.

I make the journey to Airdrie by train, alighting at Drumgelloch and walking the 15 minutes from there to the ground. Entry for today’s game is set at £10. Reasonable by current standards.

When inside I attempt to buy a programme from the shop. The lad in charge of selling the programmes is using them as a pillow as he tries to get a good bit of shut-eye in before the kick-off. He momentarily comes to and meets my request with “Two poun’.” I hand over a ten pound note. He looks at me like I’m crazy. “I’ve not got change for that!” So you can buy my football team, but not scare up a float for the programme seller? Underwhelmed by this I take my money back, let the young man get back to his rest and promise to return later. I don’t bother.

The pie stall, on the other hand, can handle my action. The Airdrie scotch pie is one of the best I’ve tasted so far this season. As I eat it two old boys next to me bicker over their sausage rolls and playfight with each other like they were schoolkids.

Generally when I’ve set out for a game this season I’ve intended to sit with the home support. However, practical, football or, on this occasion, personal reasons dictate I should give the away team my backing. So I head for the away end of the ground today. The steward who stops me to ask what end I’m looking for seems a bit surprised when I tell him “The away end.” I’m in the right place and as the Cove hardcore file in I go to join them.

Quite rightly these boys are out for a good time today, with little chance of achieving a shock result they’re enjoying the day out. The singing is in full swing from well before kick-off.

When the match begins Cove show Airdrie that the First Division side might not have it all their own way today. In 8 minutes full-back Neil Cruickshank forces a good save from Stephen Robertson in the Airdrie goal.

Barrie Stephen, who put in a great shift up front, was clean through a moment later, but sent his shot wide of the post.

Airdrie always looked likely to break down the Cove defence eventually and so it was on 20 minutes when Joe Cardle took the time to find space for himself at the edge of the penalty area and fire a low shot into the net.

It didn’t shut the Cove fans up though as they continued to sing and dance all day long.

Cove Rangers fans

Robertson was forced into another great save a few minutes later as Cove tried to force their way back into it. It never really looked like being the Highlanders’ day and two goals from former Celtic striker Simon Lynch put an end to Cove’s hopes of a shock. The first a nice shuffle round the keeper and the second a well placed header.

Did that shut up the Cove support? No it did not. So now let’s have a run down of their greatest hits.

7. “What a shitey home support!” A classic and in this instance accurate as this was Airdrie’s lowest crowd of the season.

6. “Are you Clydebank in disguise?” Perhaps the Cove fans have a point here.

5. “We’re gonnie win 4-3!” Just after Airdrie went 3-0 up.

4. “Come on fog! Come on fog!” As the weather gave the merest suggestion that an abandonment was possible.

3. “We’ll have chips at Auchterarder!” This brought back memories for me of similar stop offs on the way back from places like Forfar and Brechin.

2. “Have you sung a song all day?” The Airdrie fans’ best efforts at a sing-song was the gathering of pre-teenage girls down the front who provided their best high-pitched “Come on Airdrie”.

1. “We’re blue! We’re white! We’re Highland dynamite! Cove Rangers! Cove Rangers!”

Cove players applaud their fans

So no shock and in the second half not even much of an entertaining game, but the first 45 was a good contest and sitting with the Cove fans was fun.

There is a report of the game at the Herald’s website.

Airdrie United: Robertson, McKenna, Hazley, McDonald (Brown 60), Bobby Donnelly (Watt 78), Smyth, McDougall, McLaughlin, Di Giacomo (Noble 60), Lynch, Cardle. Subs Not Used: McGuire, Hollis.

Scorers: Cardle 20, Lynch 38, 41.

Cove Rangers: Stuart McKenzie, Cruickshank, Lawrie, McCulloch (Smith 80), Eric Watson, Tindal, Stephen, Bain (Henderson 66), Watt, Johnston, Livingstone (McKibben 78). Subs Not Used: O’Driscoll, Windrum.

Attendance: 821

Referee: G Salmond


Game Sixteen – Ayr United vs. East Fife

November 26, 2008

Next Home Game

Ayr United 4 vs. 2 East Fife

Irn-Bru Scottish Football League, Second Division
Saturday 22nd November 2008, Kick-Off 3pm
Somerset Park, Ayr

For a reason I’m unaware of Clydebank had some sort of intense rivalry with Ayr United. I seem to recall a particular song concerning the imagined slaughter of Ayr United fans on Ayr beach. Perhaps it was the generations of Bankies who holidayed in the town who bore some resentment.

But nonetheless I’ve made the trip down to Ayr to see The Honest Men for my sixteenth game. It’s only a 50 minute train journey from Glasgow. Newton-on-Ayr train station is just a 5 minute walk from Somerset Park.

There is talk that Ayr may not be playing at the ground much longer as the board are actively looking for a buyer so that the side can move to a purpose built state-of-the-art ground.

Somerset Park really does retain the feeling of football grounds pre-1990s. First of all there are the tall floodlights of the kind immortalised in Subbuteo. There is also a sizeable uncovered terracing area, which reminds me of games I went to when I was wee. Terracing and this type of floodlighting was commonplace some years ago, but now when nearly every ground is all seated it seems notable, like relics of a bygone era.

The record attendance at Somerset Park is 25,225 for a 1969 game with Rangers. Currently the ground’s capacity is 10,185.

The teams come out onto the pitch to ‘Battle Without Honor or Humanity‘ by Tomoyasu Hotei. Presumably the song’s title isn’t supposed to be an indicator of how the teams will play.

East Fife are wearing a Real Betis style green and white strip. Odd, considering that this actually clashes more with Ayr’s all-white strip than East Fife’s usual black and gold home kit.

Lining up at number 8 for East Fife today is 34 year old Stevie Crawford, holder of 25 Scotland caps. Crawford stepped down into the third tier of Scottish football in the summer after being freed by First Division Dunfermline Athletic.

Ayr’s website stated before the match ‘The Honest Men are yet to conceded a league goal in the first 15 minutes and have scored 8 in the same period.’ That proves to be prophetic today as in the 14th minute Ayr make it 1-0. David Gormley swung over a cross on the left and former Chelsea trainee Ryan Stevenson leapt to head the ball home.

Ayr showed no signs that they were happy with that and hit East Fife with attack after attack, bagging their second goal three minutes later when Gormley slammed home from what looked like a difficult angle out on the right.

At this point Ayr were playing the best competitive football I’ve seen so far this season. They played some great stuff around the box, playing passes, taking their time to find space.

Another cross into the penalty box and a header from Willie Easton made it 3-0. Ayr were crusing at this point and looked like they were going to score each time they moved up the park.

Ayr United vs. East Fife

No more goals though by half-time. A big cheer goes up from the Ayr fans during the interval as the announcer tells us that local rivals Kilmarnock are 2-0 down in their match. It doesn’t get much better than this for your average Ayr fan.

In the second half predictably East Fife come at the home side and look to be making a bit more of a game of it. The Fifers get a goal back in the 62nd minute as they put the pressure on Ayr.

Two old guys behind me are screaming and raging every time a decision goes against Ayr. One takes off his glasses and proffers them to the referee, “Take these, ya blind bastard.” Another shouts “Just give them four penalties. You’ve given them everything else.” Personally I couldn’t see the alleged bias that these guys clearly believed was being perpetrated.

The oddest chant though is the old chap who persists in crying out “Come on Ayr-gentina!”

Dean Keenan slams in Ayr’s fourth from 25 yards to make the score 4-1 with 9 minutes to go and cheers up the old boys in the process.

East Fife aren’t finished though and a goalmouth scramble in the 86th minute sees Kevin Fotheringham thump in their second for 4-2. The old guys kick off again, “Cheating bastard referee.”

In the melee Neil McGowan picked up a yellow cards before and after the goal and was sent off. I’ll be honest, from where I was standing, behind the East Fife goal, I didn’t even notice that and it was after the game had finished before I realised. Apparently the police had to usher him from the field of play. I should pay a bit more attention to what’s going on up the far end of the pitch and not so much to the old guys round about me in future.

With no more goals in the remaining four minutes it finishes 4-2 to Ayr and I have to say it was one of the best games I’ve been to all season. I will be back to see Ayr again at some point before the season is out.

There is a report of the game on Ayr’s website here. East Fife’s match report is at this link.

There are some photographs from the match at East Fife’s website. They include the one below where you can see me, circled, looking none too impressed. I have got some photographs as well, which you can find here.

Me at Ayr United vs. East Fife

Ayr United: Grindlay, Dempsie, Walker, Martin Campbell, McGowan, Borris, Stevenson, Keenan, Easton, Prunty, Gormley (Williams 82). Subs Not Used: Stewart, Henderson, Agnew, Weaver.

Scorers: Stevenson 14, Gormley 17, Easton 23, Keenan 81.

Sent Off: McGowan (86).

East Fife: Brown, Stewart, Cameron, McDonald, Fotheringham, Fagan (Blackadder 85), Young, Crawford, Templeman, Linn, Campbell (Shields 85). Subs Not Used: McCulloch, O’Reilly, Muir.

Scorers: Linn 62, Fotheringham 86.

Attendance: 1,254

Referee: Anthony Law (Assistants: Barry Cook and John McCrossan).

Game Fifteen – Clyde LFC vs. Team Strathclyde

November 20, 2008

Clyde LFC vs. Team Strathclyde
Clyde LFC 4 vs. 1 Team Strathclyde

Scottish Women’s Football League 2nd Division South West & West
Sunday 15th November 2008, Kick-Off 2pm
Petershill Park, Glasgow

Back into the world of women’s football and back to what appears to be its premier venue – Petershill Park. It’s certainly a decent place to watch football on a Sunday afternoon with a fully stocked cafe and bar.

It’s also a nice day as the sun shines on the all-weather surface. Clyde LFC a newly formed ladies team attached to Clyde FC take on the ladies football team from Strathclyde University. The crowd is made up mainly of people who know the players.

With only three minutes on the clock Clyde’s number 7 Natalie McCormick spots the Strathclyde keeper off her line and chips the ball over her head from thirty yards out. It’s one-nil Clyde.

The one strongpoint of the ladies game seems to be the tackling. there are a couple of late challenges but on the whole tackling seems to be what the ladies do best. Clearances are a different matter and it’s anyone’s guess in which direction the ball will spin off in when a defender attempts to clear her lines.

All throughout the first half the boyfriend of one of the Clyde players patrols the touchline, repeatedly calling her over to him. You certainly don’t see this kind of thing in the men’s game. Be amusing if you did though.

Half an hour gone and Clyde beat an offside trap. Their number 18 spots the Strathclyde keeper off her line and lifts the ball over her head from the edge of the box. It’s 2-0 Clyde and stays that way until the interval.

The half-time break is only about five minutes. There’s still a queue at the cafe as the teams kick-off.

Strathclyde Take a Throw-in

Within three minutes of the second half Clyde get a tame penalty kick, which the number 18 confidently puts away. This is added to in the 57th minute where a nice pass across the face of the goal leaves Clyde’s number 3 with an easy tap in to make it 4-0.

Strathclyde get a goal back with 16 minutes remaining, but they were never really in it. Clyde should perhaps be kicking themselves that they didn’t win by more.

The referee dished out 7 yellows in a game which was far from dirty. I think most of them came for backchat. As I come out of the toilet on my way from the building I overhear the ref talking to one of his colleagues about to go out onto the pitch. “They didn’t make it easy for me,” he says of the match.

Attendance: 15. Not counting the collection of ladies around the dug out who presumably were members of the squads. There was also a constantly changing number of kids, old folk and sports complex visitors who wandered in for a look throughout the 90 minutes.

Game Fourteen – Pollok vs. Auchinleck Talbot

November 12, 2008

Pollok Clear an Auchinleck Attack

Pollok 2 vs. 0 Auchinleck Talbot

Stagecoach West of Scotland League Premier Division
Saturday 8th November 2008, Kick-Off 2pm
Newlandsfield, Glasgow

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.

Kids on the Pitch at Half-Time

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.

Andy Essler Celebrates

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.

The Pollok website has several very good pictures from the game here. The Auchinleck Talbot website similarly omits a report of the game but again has some good photographs on the main page.

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)

Attendance: 702