Irn-Bru Scottish League Second Division
Saturday 21st March 2009, Kick-Off 3pm
Somerset Park, Ayr
This week I decided to plan my game out days in advance. I also thought I would do a wee bit of travelling. Take in a game a good few miles away from the West of Scotland. I had initially thought about going to Newcastle for their Saturday evening encounter with Arsenal. The cost at £34-£59 a match ticket and £56.50 rail fare Glasgow to Newcastle put me off a bit. As well as the (admittedly minor) hassles of having to buy both tickets in advance.
Then I thought about Gretna 2008. Staying out until 2.30am on the Friday night put paid to that one. Even although I didn’t have to get up that early to catch the train, it was early enough.
A quick scan of the Junior fixtures when I got in on Friday night drew me to Saltcoats Victoria vs. Ardeer Thistle. ‘That’ll do,’ I thought. ‘Nice trip down to the seaside on a sunny Saturday afternoon.’
I’ve done a quick check of where the ground is in relation to Saltcoats train station and I manage to follow the right path straight out of the station. You cut across a golf course to find Campbell Park which is tucked away beside a caravan park.
As I approach the ground I realise that there doesn’t seem to be much activity. The next thing I notice is that the goals have no nets in them. At 1.15pm it’s 45 minutes before kick-off. I sense that something is amiss. On sticking my head through the railings I can see that there are no pitch markings on the grass. There’s no game on here today I quickly realise.
I notice now that Ardeer Thistle’s website has the game down as an away fixture but being played at their home ground. Presumably Campbell Park is no longer in use.
So there has to be a quick change of plan. It’s too late to get to another Junior match. Largs are at home and not too far away, but I have no clue how to find their ground from the train station. I remember noticing that Ayr United are at home and a quick check of my paper confirms this. The seniors kick-off at 3pm as opposed to the Juniors’ kick-off time of 2pm so that gives me more time.
I go back to Saltcoats station and get a train to Kilwinning. From there it’s only a short train ride to Newton-on-Ayr and Somerset Park. No one comes to take my train fare either down there or on the way back, so it doesn’t cost me any extra. This is the second time I’ve been down to Ayr this season and therefore the first time this season I’ve been to see a team at home in the same venue twice. (If that makes sense.)
Last time I was here there was 6 goals when East Fife were the visitors and Ayr were one of the best footballing teams I’ve seen all season.
Ayr are currently top of the Second Division with Raith Rovers close on their heels. Peterhead, some ten points behind United still harbour slim hopes of taking the league title, but more realistically will have to settle for a play-off spot.
The home team hit the post early on, but for the most part it’s pretty turgid stuff.
It’s all Ayr United in the second half. Peterhead barely have the ball in the opposition’s half. Although The Blue Toon defended well, Ayr’s strikers were in poor form and many of their shots were well off target.
The fans behind the goal are not very forgiving and grow increasingly impatient as the game wears on.
It appears that a lot of the Ayr fans hate Chris Aitken. Really hate him. There is as much abuse aimed at him from the home fans as there is encouragement for their own team. They call for manager Brian Reid to substitute him, and in the 63rd minute when the gaffer replaces Kenneth Connolly, one fan shouts out “Naw! Take Aitken aff!”
One Ayr fan grows tired of the constant abuse being levelled at the former Hamilton and Stirling Albion man. “Get behind the team,” he shouts at his fellow fans, “we”re not just one man.”
Michal Kula, Peterhead’s Polish goalkeeper also comes in for some barracking from the fans behind his goal. Frustrated by the perceived length of time he takes at a goal-kick one Ayr fan shouts out “Bet yer no’ this slow when you’re taking in the fishing nets.”
Peterhead go down to ten men when Graeme Sharp picks up a straight red card after a late, lunging tackle. In the last minute they are reduced to nine men as Stuart McKay picks up a second booking.
Ayr throw everything they have at Peterhead’s goal, but they can’t find a goal and although I witnessed a goalfest the first time I was down here this season, a no-score draw on the second.
Ayr United: Grindlay, Keenan, James, Walker, McGowan, Borris, Aitken, Stevenson, Kenneth Connolly (Easton 63), Prunty (Williams 75), Roberts (Gormley 75). Subs Not Used: Mitchell, Woodburn.
Peterhead: Kula, Donald, Smith, MacDonald, Moore, Sharp, Anderson, McVitie (Cowie 62), McKay, Gunn, Bavidge. Subs Not Used: Jarvie, Ross, Bagshaw, Skinner.
Sent Off: Sharp (77), McKay (89).
Referee: C Charleston