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.”
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.”
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.
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.