Archive for February, 2009

Game Twenty-Five Third Lanark Athletic vs. Busby

February 24, 2009

Busby's keeper tips a shot over the bar.

Busby's keeper tips a shot over the bar.

Third Lanark Athletic 7 vs. 1 Busby

Greater Glasgow Premier League – Division 3
Saturday 21st February 2009, Kick-Off 2pm
Cathkin Park, Glasgow

Halfway through my intended fifty games this season. I’m at least 11 matches behind and I’ll need to get moving when the clocks go forward if I’m going to make it.

This is my first game in the Glasgow Amateur League. I’ve read a couple of interesting things about matches at this level. Recently Third Lanark’s game with Drumchapel Amateurs was abandoned after 80 minutes. The cause? Fog? Torrential rain? Snow? Lightning? No. someone at Drumchapel only booked the pitch for 90 minutes, forgetting that a match has a half-time interval and injury time, so their time was up and the teams were hauled off the pitch with Drumchapel leading 3-1.

Third Lanark Athletic play at Cathkin Park, the former home of the legendary Third Lanark who went out of business in 1967. The ground has a rich history, at one time regularly hosting over 20,000 spectators at The Hi-Hi’s home games. This link provides an extensive history of the famous ground.

Cathkin Park is not far from Glasgow city centre. Get the train from Glasgow Central to Crosshill and the ground is less than five minutes’ walk away. A sign stands outside it commemorating the many years the original Third Lanark played there.

For the first time in all the matches I’ve been to this season I’m not on my own. I’m joined today by my mate Ronnie, who had been promising to come along to a game for a while, but was waiting until the weather had picked up. Ronnie took all the photographs on this post.

The Third Lanark players put the nets up themselves before the two sides warm up. The two o’clock kick-off time is fast approaching, but there appears to be no sign of the referee. At a few minutes after two he appears, decked out in his kit, but wearing hiking boots. “Sorry I’m late. I had another game this morning and I’ve forgot my boots. I’ve phoned the wife. I’m going to have to go home to get another pair.”

Someone offers to lend him a pair of size 8s with moulded studs and this prevents the game from being held up any longer than it has been already.

Just before kick-off the Busby keeper goes to have a pish against the wall behind his goal.

As the ref makes his way onto the pitch I check my watch. As I mention to Ronnie, when I come along to matches that may not have reports in the media I take a note of the kick-off times so I can time any goals. “I’m not holding you up am I?” the referee shouts over to me, “Cos I can hang on if you like. You’ve not got anywhere you need to be?”

“No, no,” I tell him, “on you go.”

You don’t get this in senior football. The referee barracking the supporters?

At twelve minutes past two the match kicks-off.

The two teams are side-by-side in mid-table, but it’s Third Lanark who look the more dangerous team straight from the first few minutes.

In 13 minutes 3rds go one up when a scramble in the box results in Mark Robertson poking the ball home.

Spotting Ronnie behind the goal with his camera the referee pauses and mock poses for him. “The best referees are the ones you don’t notice eh?” Ronnie remarks to me.

Twenty-five minutes of the match gone and it’s two-nil when a corner played low into the penalty area sees Christopher Milligan bang it into the net. Two minutes after that Third Lanark at three up as Stephen Docherty knocks in another.

It’s looking like the game is all but over at this point as Busby have so far barely had a shot on goal the whole game.

The Third Lanark management team call for a corner after a shot clips a Busby defender’s boot and goes out of play. The referee gives a goal kick. He turns to the protesting 3rds men, “It never touched him. Ask the boys behind the goal with their cameras to show you.”

Third Lanark fire in a shot

Third Lanark fire in a shot

In the 40th minute Third Lanark make it 4-0 when Christopher Mitchell takes down a long ball and fires a low shot home. Surprisingly Busby go straight up the pitch and during a goalmouth scramble put the ball in the net.

4-1 now and you never know the comeback may be on.

Two minutes later the half-time whistle sounds. Ronnie and I look at each other slightly puzzled. Surely this is too early for half-time. Ronnie takes out his iPhone, which he had set as a stopwatch on kick-off. It now reads 43:08. The ref has cut short the half by two minutes.

After their team-talks on the pitch the sides get ready to kick off for the second half, but have to wait. Who’s the straggler? That’s right – the referee. “Aye awright guys, I’m coming.”

A Third Lanark player is on the receiving end of a crunching tackle.

A Third Lanark player is on the receiving end of a crunching tackle.

Busby have changed their goalkeeper at half-time. The sub keeper is a lot more vocal in organising his defence.

There still looks to be only one team in it as Third Lanark press on. Milligan whips a free-kick into the box, but instead of finding one of his team-mates the ball slams hard into the back of the referee. “Aaaaw ya bastard!” the official shouts in pain.

With Busby desperately trying to defend, in the 56th minute their number four, hopelessly exposed by his team-mates, swings a boot at the ball from around 12 yards out in an attempt to clear. He succeeds only in sending the ball up into the air and over his goalkeeper’s head into the roof of the net.

A Terry Butcher style own goal if ever there was one.

In 64 minutes it was 6-1. Although he seemed to be fouled in the box Michael Devaney manages to pick his spot and prod the ball home.

Busby’s number four is screaming at his team-mates to pick up attackers as they defend a set-piece. “Who’s not got a man?” he shouts. His right back turns round to face him and meekly holds up his hand.

The visitors’ defending is probably the worst I’ve seen all season. Their defence is nowhere. Ronnie and I try to work out who is playing right back, but it’s difficult. The number 2 has wandered over onto the left and the number 10 seems to be the closest thing to it. Busby’s entire right flank is empty, allowing Third frequent attacks down that wing.

However, they also choose to play several longs balls down Busby’s left-hand side. Nearly every one of them bouncing over the defence and allowing attackers in behind.

“You shouldn’t be letting that bounce!” the keeper screams at his defence.

With eighteen minutes left to play Thirds completed the scoring. A long ball was played down Busby’s left-hand side for Robert Torley to chase and knock it past the onrushing keeper.

Busby’s sub goalkeeper doesn’t appear to have enjoyed his time between the sticks. He turns to Ronnie and I, stood behind his goal, “Is that no’ the worst display of football you’ve ever seen?” Their defending is certainly up there.

The final whistle arrives earlier than expected, when on checking our watches we discover that the ref has played only 41 minutes in the second half.

Many thanks to Third Lanark club secretary Peter Docherty for his assistance and for adding the link to this site onto Thirds’ own website.

Ronnie’s post on the game is here. The rest of his photographs are here. My photographs are here.

Third Lanark: Black, Gibbs (Carr), Robertson, McGuiness, McIntyre, Devaney, Milligan, Mitchell, Docherty, Torley, Ure (Stieranka) Subs not used: Birell, Wilson

Scorers:  Robertson (13), Milligan (23), Docherty (25), Mitchell (40), OG (56), Devaney (64), Torley (72)

Attendance: After a brief headcount, into double figures, but not by much.


Game Twenty Four – St Anthony’s vs. Yoker Athletic

February 22, 2009

St Anthony's vs. Yoker Athletic

St Anthony’s 0 vs. 0 Yoker Athletic

Central District First Division
Saturday 14th February 2009, Kick-Off 2pm
McKenna Park, Cardonald

This is the second time this season I’ve seen Yoker play, having gone along to their derby with Clydebank back in August.

St Anthony’s McKenna Park ground is only about five minutes walk away from Cardonald train station, which is in turn less than ten minutes away from Glasgow Central.

When I arrive at the the ground I’m one of the first there. There’s little to the ground itself. No real terracing to explore, but the pitch looks in good condition.

There is a nice little virtual tour of the pitch and the changing areas at this link.

This Wikipedia article suggests that Celtic actually began playing in green and white hoops after being inspired to do so by St Anthony’s in 1903.

I queue up at the pie stall just before kick-off. I’m quickly joined by three of the St Ant’s subs. To be fair to them they forgo the pies and only buy soup.

McKenna Park is parallel to the M8 motorway. The match is soundtracked by the constant ‘woosh’ of traffic flying past. The building where the Daily Record and Sunday Mail are printed also overlooks the pitch.

St Anthony's vs. Yoker Athletic

The first action of the match comes in fifteen minutes when Yoker look to have scored. A low shot from John-Paul Grant beats the keeper, hits the inside of the post and looks to (although I didn’t have the best angle) have crossed the line. The referee waves play on. The Yoker players go nuts, while the home side keep quiet.

“It’s over by a yard!” one of the Yoker players shouts.

“A fucking mile ref,” another exaggerates.

The ref is not having it. It’s no goal.

“Not one of them [St Ant’s players] said ‘Good decision’,” another Yoker man points out.

Yoker’s local paper, The Clydebank Post, later has the headline ‘Ref’s blunder costs Yoker’. Their article goes on to say “…with photos later proving the ball had crossed the line.” The photograph that accompanies that article is not of the ball crossing the line, but one of Grant, which wasn’t even taken at this match. So we’re no clearer.

Yoker go close another couple of times before the interval, but the first half finishes without any further incident.

In the juniors it doesn’t seem to be uncommon for some of the guys standing in the crowd to be among the backroom staff, or at least such regular supporters that the players and management don’t mind them hanging about with them. This seems to be the case with the Yoker fan next to me who returns from the clubhouse after the interval to comment to his pal, “The ref asked, ‘Was the ball over the line?’ He didnae see it!”

The first excitement of the second period is when Yoker’s keeper Kenny Meechan is caught on the knee by a St Ant’s forward as he goes up to catch the ball. “Whit did you dae that fur?” he shouts as he falls to the ground. “Naewhere near it ya cunt.”

Neither side makes many chances in the second half as the match becomes rather turgid.

A Yoker fan frequently berates the ref for giving free-kicks and throw-ins to St Ant’s. “Ho ref!” he shouts, “Which side are you on?”

“Green and white,” St Ant’s number 2 quips as he runs past.

With an hour gone the home side hit the crossbar, but it’s looking very much like a no score draw. Fifteen minutes remaining and Yoker get a free-kick just outside the box. O’Hara lines it up and curls it nicely into the keeper’s top right hand corner. It’s disallowed as the referee indicates that he hadn’t blown his whistle for the kick to be taken.

St Ant’s have a little bit of pressure in the last few minutes, but there’s no way through to goal and the match finishes a nil-nil draw.

Yoker attack

Yoker: Meechan, Dempsey, Bissland (Vickers), Cameron (O’Hara), Schoneville, Jordan, Carson, Grant, Gallagher, Marshall, Malone (Williams) Subs not used: Quigley, Lalli

After a rough headcount about 60.

Game Twenty-Three – Shettleston vs. Forth Wanderers

February 20, 2009

Shettleston take a corner

Shettleston 2 vs. 1 Forth Wanderers

Stagecoach West of Scotland League Central District – Second Division
Saturday 31st January 2009, Kick-Off 1.45pm
Greenfield Park, Shettleston

Shettleston’s ground is another that’s pretty easy to get to from Glasgow. Carntyne railway station is only a couple of stops away from Glasgow Queen Street. Greenfield Park, Shettleston’s ground on Old Shettleston Road, is just five minutes around the corner from the station. Turn right when you get out the train station, don’t go straight ahead like I did and realise about 10 minutes later that you’ve come the wrong way.

When I arrived at the ground the old guy on the door looked barely interested in taking my £4 admission from me. But take it he eventually did.

I think it’s fair to call the ground dilapidated. It’s certainly the least spectacular of all the Junior grounds I’ve visited this season. There are no programmes on sale and it takes me a while to locate the pie stall. Mainly because they had their shutter down.

It’s fair also to say that Forth Wanderers’ goalkeeper must be the stockiest I’ve seen all season. Five minutes in and his reluctance to take a goal kick is met with a shout of “Stop playing for time keeper,” from the Shettleston support. He does, however, make two quite athletic saves early on.

The game’s first goal comes when there’s confusion in Shettleston’s penalty area and the ball falls to Forth’s number nine who bangs it home from six yards for 1-0.

Shettleston make it 1-0

On 27 minutes Shettleston get a free-kick about 22 or 23 yards out. The Forth keeper attempts to organise his defensive wall. “Go right,” he tells his five defenders who make the wall. They pay no attention to him. “Go right!” he shouts again. “Go right! Fuckin’ go right!” The Forth management have to join in before the defenders finally take the hint and move to their right.

When the shot comes in the keeper pushes it out, but only as far as the inrushing forward who slots it into the right hand corner for the equaliser.

A few minutes later an odd thing happens. I missed exactly what went on but Forth’s number five, apparently a new signing, is involved in an incident off the ball. His team-mates are outraged. “Take him aff!” one of them shouts to his bench. “Get him subbed. He’s a nutcase,” another Forth player concurs. The bench seem to be in agreement and a substitute begins to get stripped. It’s too late however as the referee produces the red card and Forth are reduced to ten men.

As he makes his way to the dressing room a Forth supporter, a wee woman in perhaps her 70s, shouts out at him, “Away and get dressed and go hame ya numpty!” the number five doesn’t even look up as he trudges into the changing rooms.

The internal bickering doesn’t start and end with Forth as Shettleston’s skipper gives his number three a roasting for thinking one of his team-mates had indicated a dead ball was a throw-in when in fact it was a free-kick.

With two minutes to go before half-time a mis-hit Shettleston shot creeps across the line off the post and the home side take a 2-1 lead into half-time with them. Forth’s keeper berates the referee from the pitch until they both disappear into the dressing room.

There generally seems to be a group of lads at any junior ground that you go to and in Shettleston this particular group are all drinking from half bottles of Buckfast.

A guy who I presumed was a Forth fan, as he was about the most vocal, leaves the terracing and goes down onto the touchline alongside the management for the second half.

Ten minutes into the second half Forth’s keeper receives his long due yellow card thanks to some more moaning at the referee.

Forth keep pushing on to try to find an equaliser, but it just won’t come. A long ball into the box with fifteen minutes left results in a shot from the edge of the box, but it squeezes past the post.

The Forth management become incensed that Shettleston’s players appear to go to ground rather easily, although their left-back looks to have taken a pretty bad injury that holds up the game for a few minutes. As for their number eleven, well he takes a pretty sore one when the ball ricochets off him. He crawls around on the ground for a moment, as a Forth player runs past him he shouts out to the referee, “He’s looking for his baws.”

The two benches have an angry exchange as frustrations grow in the last few minutes. As another decision goes against the visitors their number three calls out in frustration, “Aw fuck me gently.”


A disappointing second half when we could reasonably have expected a few goals takes away a little from an entertaining encounter, but overall I enjoyed this one.

There are more photographs at this link.

Game Twenty-Two – Arthurlie vs. Neilston

February 20, 2009

Arthurlie vs. Neilston

Arthurlie 2 vs. 1 Neilston

Stagecoach West Premier League
Saturday 10th January 2009, Kick-Off 1.45pm
Dunterlie Park, Barrhead

An East Renfrewshire derby this one. Played in atrocious conditions. The wind was so hard early on that the advertising hoardings banged back and forth against the fittings.

The ground is easy to find. It’s only 12 to 20 minutes (depending on which train you get) from Glasgow Central and it’s right next to Barrhead train station.

The game begins at a frantic pace with both sides getting in about each other from the first whistle.

The Neilston dug-out

Arthurlie have the better of the play and deservedly take the lead after 6 minutes when defender Lee Sharp belted a low shot from twenty yards put into the net.

The wind howled and the rain battered down throughout the first 45 minutes. Foolishly I stod out in it.

In the second half I had to admit defeat. Standing out in the open was just crazy. The wind and rain drove me and nearly everyone else at the match into the only sheltered area in the ground.

This does mean that I’m in close proximity of people smoking, which of course is now an extremely rare site at football matches. Even rarer is the guy smoking a pipe. I haven’t seen anyone smoke a pipe at a football match since…well, I haven’t ever seen anyone smoke a pipe at a football match. It’s not just the smokers, at least one guy has a few cans of Strongbow on the go, sheltering the tins in his inside jacket pocket.

Arthurlie extended their lead in 69 minutes with a nicely worked free-kick lashed into the net by Frank McKeown.

After this goal however Arthurlie appeared to be losing their way slightly. So it was no surprise when Neilston clawed one back five minutes later.

There was surprise at the scorer being Arthurlie centre-back Craig Higgins who headed a free-kick into his own net.

In the 80th minute Neilston substitute Alan McIntyre was booked for a late challenge. This he followed up by stupidly berating the referee for his decision. A second yellow card immediately appeared, followed by a red. Neilston’s hopes of getting something out of this match went along with McIntyre.

The sides were evened up three minutes later when John McLay received a straight red for a stray elbow.

The match drew to its conclusion with no further incident.

At the train station as I sit and wait for the Glasgow train a handful of inebriated St. Mirren fans are chased from the station by the guy on the counter as they attempt to lift his ‘Wet Floor’ sign.

More of my photographs are here.

Arthurlie attack

Arthurlie: Shaw, Lundie, Gallacher, McKeown, Higgins, Sharp, Johnston (Aitken), McLay Anderson (Wallace), Winter, Malcom (Andrew)

Sharp (6), McKeown (69)

Sent Off: McLay (83)

Neilston: McCafferty, Wozencroft, Gabel, Byers, Wardle, Blair, Fleming, Ferris, Gilliand, Quinn, Fulton. Subs: Seenan, McIntyre, Young, McMahon, Hewitt.

Scorer: Higgins O.G. (74)

Sent Off: McIntyre (80)

Referee: John Beaton

Assistants: Derek Crothers, Peter Hefford