Archive for April, 2009

Game Forty-Four – Clydebank vs. Pollok

April 29, 2009

The queue to get in

Clydebank 0 vs. 1 Pollok
(Agg 3-3, Clydebank win 4-1 on penalties)

Scottish Junior Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg
Saturday 25th April 2009, Kick-Off 2.30pm
Millburn Park, Alexandria

I’m back for the second leg of this Scottish Junior Cup tie. It’s also the final match in a trilogy between the two clubs, all played at different venues. Last week’s game was a cracker so I’ve high hopes for today’s encounter.

With Holm Park being deemed unsuitable to host the crowds expected for this tie, Clydebank’s home leg of this semi-final is taking place some 8 miles or so down the road in Alexandria at Millburn Park, the home of Vale of Leven.

My mate Ronnie comes along with me for today’s game, having enjoyed his last match when we went to see Third Lanark Athletic. He took some of the photographs on this post.

Much like the first leg last week it’s a glorious spring day. We’ve opted to get down here early as I anticipated a decent sized crowd. Alexandria is about 40 minutes by train from Glasgow Queen Street. The journey is quite pleasant, once you have passed Dalmuir that is. There’s a fair few Bankies fans on the train. When we alight, about half of them opt to go to the pub before the match, we just head along to the ground.

The admission price here is again, the same as the first leg, seven pounds. This has apparently been governed by the SJFA and it’s the same cost at the other semi-final in Auchinleck.

We’re here about 50 minutes before kick off and there’s already a decent sized crowd in. The merchandise stall is set up and is doing brisk trade. The most eye catching item on sale is the new ‘Never Mind the Polloks’ Sex Pistols parody T-Shirt. There’s also face painting for the kids.

Face Painting

Ronnie notices that former referee Hugh Dallas is in the crowd. Dallas is currently the SFA Referee Development Officer.

Much like I would imagine the warning sign that you’re watching too much pornography is when you start to know the names of the actors, I think the clue that I’m watching too much football is that I recognise today’s fourth official by sight as Ross Haswell. Mr. Haswell refereed Tuesday’s reserve match between St. Mirren and Dundee United.

In addition to the three games between these sides all being played at different grounds, the teams have also worn three different strips each. Today Clydebank line up in white shirts with red shorts and red socks while Pollok wear red shirts with white shorts and white socks.

With ten minutes to go before kick-off there’s quite a queue building up outside the ground.

When the game kicks off Pollok go at Clydebank straight away. An early goal will get them right back into the tie.

Clydebank seem to be getting the breaks from the referee. There are a couple of tame free-kicks awarded in their favour early on. Even when the ref does award Pollok a free-kick it comes not without some admonishment or other for one of the away players.

There’s a Pollok fan sat next to me on the terracing who gives the referee pelters for every decision that goes against the away team.

Mark Hailstones tries to get a cross into the Pollok box.

Mark Hailstones tries to get a cross into the Pollok box.

Pollok get the goal they’re looking for with ten minutes gone. A throw-in into the Clydebank penalty area gets nodded on and Andy McClay runs onto it. He hits a right footed shot first time from the edge of the box. The shot finds the goal at the far post. “He scores once every five years,” the Pollok fan beside me remarks. The tie is now level at 3-3.

Clydebank aren’t really in it as an attacking force in the first half. It’s all Pollok and at this stage Clydebank are just fighting to keep in the tie.

Clydebank vs. Pollok

In the second half the Bankies look livelier. They mount several attacks on Kris Robertson’s goal. The Pollok keeper has a heart in mouth moment when he attempts to clear a backpass up the pitch, only to kick fresh air as the ball bobbles behind the goal for a corner kick.

Clydebank have a few chances from corners, but it’s Pollok who come closest to scoring with only minutes left when David McGeown has his shot saved by Stefan Gonet.

The game goes straight to penalty kicks if it’s a draw. With about five minutes left to play Ronnie and I take a gamble and head for the terraced end of the pitch with the thinking that this will be the end the kicks will be taken at. There’s no home or away end as such, so there’s no real advantage or disadvantage for either side in shooting at a particular set of supporters. In addition the other end has just flat ground behind the goal and a rope keeping fans from the pitch.

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We come a cropper however as a coin toss decides the kicks will be taken at the end of the ground where we were standing just five minutes previously. We make our way back round. As it is there’s not much movement towards that end as most people are happy with the view that they have.

Clydebank take the first kick. Gary Lynn, scorer of two penalties in the first leg, steps up and has no problems putting his kick away down Robertson’s left hand side.

Robert Downs is first for Pollok. Gonet dives to his right and saves it. A loud cheer goes up from the Bankies faithful.

Allan Jack is next for Clydebank and he makes it 2-0.

Davie Turnbull gets one back for Pollok, but Gavin Rushford’s successful attempt and another Gonet save from Carruth leave Clydebank 3-1 up and needing to score the next kick to reach the final.

As the ball comes back out following Gonet’s save, Chris Mackie eagerly scoops it up and places it on the spot for his kick. I tell Ronnie to prepare for the pitch invasion if this one goes in. No sooner had I said that than, “Get ready to run onto the pitch,” one of the wee boys in front of us says to his pal.

Mackie bounces up and down a couple of times before stepping forward and banging his kick to Robertson’s left. The Pollok keeper guesses right, but he can’t get there and Clydebank are in the final.

Mackie hits the winning penalty

Sure enough there’s a good natured pitch invasion and Ronnie and I join in.

There’s much jumping up and down for the Clydebank fans as the players look for their friends and loved ones in the crowd.

It’s really a tremendous achievement for Clydebank to reach the final. They weren’t fancied to progress much further than the quarter-finals. It’s nice to see the town and the fans have something to cheer in football terms once again. After the disgraceful way the senior side was allowed to go out of business it’s a real triumph that the side that rose from the ashes are into the final of the Scottish Junior Cup.

Clydebank celebrate

The players eventually escape the clutches of the over the moon supporters and disappear into the dressing room. It’s not long though until they are brought back out onto the pitch, as the fans aren’t for going anywhere in a hurry. Unfortunately they’re not quite sure what to do when they get out there, so kind of stand around as the fans shout, sing and generally jump around them.

“I want to kiss every one of you,” Ronnie overhears one of the fans telling the players as they line up for photographs.

Clydebank players after the final whistle.

Clydebank players after the final whistle.

When we realise that there’s nothing much more happening, Ronnie and I head over to The Laughing Fox for a couple of drinks alongside tens of Bankies fans.

The biggest day in the club’s history will be Sunday 31st May as they take on Auchinleck Talbot at Rugby Park in the final.

Stefan Gonet receives his man of the match award from Jim O'Donnell

Stefan Gonet receives his man of the match award from Jim O'Donnell

Ronnie has more photographs here. I have more photographs here.

The video highlights are below. It’s about a minute of the actual match. The rest is the penalty shoot out, celebrations and a post match interview.

Clydebank: Gonet, Lynn, McInnes, Rushford, Soutar, J. Jack, Smith (Allum 80), Anderson (Blair 67), Hobbs, Mackie, Hailstones (A. Jack 89). Subs not used: Cunningham, Scobie

Pollok: Robertson, Carruth, Aitchison, McClay, Wingate, Miller (Downs 57), Hardie, McGeown, Dingwall, Turnbull, Essler (McKay 75). Subs not used: Waddell, Cruickshank, Newall

Scorer: McClay (10)

Attendance: 1659

Referee: Stevie O’Brien

Assistants: Stephen Mitchell and Colin Steven

Fourth Official: Ross Haswell

In a postscript, Pollok gaffer Jim Sinnett quit his post days later.

Game Forty-Three – Rutherglen Glencairn vs. Cambuslang Rangers

April 27, 2009

Mural outside the social club

Rutherglen Glencairn 3 vs. 1 Cambuslang Rangers

Stagecoach Central District League Division One
Wednesday 22nd April 2009, Kick-Off 7.00pm
New Southcroft Park, Rutherglen

Rutherglen Glencairn have been leading the Central League First Division for some time, so I’ve been meaning to go see them for a while. Tonight they welcome their local rivals Cambuslang Rangers to their new ground for the first time.

New Southcroft Park was opened in July of 2008 after their old ground was demolished to make way for a motorway extension.

I made my way to the game tonight by train. There are three exits from Rutherglen train station. Two are well signposted, the third is a sneaky one off to the side. That’s the one you want to go through.

Don’t do what I did and take the exit onto Main Street. Don’t also do what I did and go back and take the exit that leads onto Dalmarnock Road. Do what I finally did and take the exit that leads you down onto a wee fenced in path, then up the stairs, take a right onto the bridge and follow the path round onto Quarry Road on your left bringing you out to Glasgow Road.

When I get onto Glasgow Road I spot the social club with its distinctive mural right away. I stop to take some photographs, before realising this is not actually where the ground is. I go up the street towards the Sportsman pub and on hearing shouts and the sound of a football being kicked around I spot the ground about 200 yards away through a housing scheme.

The number 20 bus stops just at The Sportsman and that’s probably the easiest way to get there if you’re using public transport. It’s a couple of stops after Shawfield Stadium if you’re coming from the town centre.

It’s a nice, tidy little ground. The first thing that strikes me is the turnstyles that lead into the ground. Someone remarks that this makes it look like a prison. The sign above the entrance advertising the next game hasn’t been amended since January.

The ground also has proper toilets, which is always nice to see since so many of the junior grounds still have troughs or brick walls instead of any indoor facilities.

There’s no denying that the club are making right good use of their loudspeaker system. The guy on it barely shuts up all match.

Rutherglen Glencairn vs. Cambuslang Rangers

Rutherglen have put together a great programme. There’s plenty of good reading in it and for a pound it’s decent value.

This is a clash between first and second in the table. At kick-off Cambuslang sit 14 points behind their hosts with two games in hand.

Cambuslang start the game off looking the stronger side. They have a couple of attacks on the Glencairn goal early on.

It appeared that in addition to keeping an eye on the action on the
pitch the Cambuslang coaching staff also had to look out for their kids playing on the terracing behind them. “Put him down,” one of the coaches demands of a child lifting another child into the air. “Not on that concrete! You could drop him.”

The first goal comes for the home side when a lapse in the Cambuslang defence allowed Tony Fraser to knock the ball in to the back post where Ryan McArdle hammered it home.

Glencairn went close a few minutes later as Davie Dickson shoots just past the post and Cambuslang threaten to cave in.

But it’s 1-1 a few moments later when Rutherglen fail to clear their
lines and a shot comes in from the edge of the box. Hoey’s drive is
blocked by the Glens keeper, but the rebound falls to Kevin Ogilvie who thumps it in.

The referee takes a pounding from the home support as he leaves the field at half-time. This is due to him turning down a decent claim for a penalty kick. “You got a pair of specs ref?” shouts one inquisitive fan.

There’s a decent attendance here tonight and among them you have your typical cross section of junior football goers. As well as the die-hards and committee men there’s a guy with a dog, who goes down well with the animal lovers in the crowd, some children running around and a team of jakeys.

I presume that there’s a gap in the fence somewhere where you can get in for nothing as there was a group of older guys who seemed more interested in their fortified wine than in any football match. Three of them leave before the first half is out.

The second half sees Rutherglen wrestle control of the match. Not
before a scare however, when a speculative lob from Mark Bishop at the edge of the box threatens to dip over the head of Mark Wilson in the Rutherglen goal. The keeper does brilliantly though, getting a hand to the ball and keeping it out.

Glens go ahead ten minutes into the half when a long ball into the
Cambuslang box from Willie Galloway is headed on by Richie Burke. ‘Keeper Jon Connolly rushes from his goal, but instead of reaching for the ball he attempts to hurdle Glens Stephen O’Keane, only succeeding in flattening the pair of them. The loose ball falls to Colin Boylan who hammers it across the goal. McArdle manages to bundle it over the line for his second of the evening.

New Southcroft Park, Rutherglen

‘Lang attacker Ross Donaldson was singled out in the match programme as being one of the handful of Glens old boys it would be ‘Nice to welcome back.’ It certainly wasn’t nice to be back for him. First of all he picks up a booking for persistant back chat to the referee. A couple of minutes later a needless challenge as the ball runs out of play leaves the ref with little option. It’s a second yellow, followed by a red and the long walk down the touchline into the dressing room.

Despite the fact that the ground seems to have working floodlights they are not switched on. The light is clearly fading in the last fifteen minutes or so.

The win is wrapped up with five minutes to go as a move started by the goalkeeper is wrapped up when McDougall knocks in the rebound after Connolly blocks a shot from McArdle with his legs.

The Rutherglen side and their supporters are delighted with this goal and begin an animated celebration on the sidelines. When the final whistle sounds their is much punching of the air and cries of “Yeees!”

The win leaves Glencairn one victory away from confirming promotion to the West Region Super League Division One.

I have more photographs here.

There are some highlights below.

First Half

Second Half

Rutherglen Glencairn: Wilson, Galloway, Fraser, Prunty, Paul, Dickson (Boylan), McArdle, Gentile (McShane), Carr (McDougall), O’Keane, Burke. Subs not used: Hughes and Imrie.

Scorers: McArdle (22, 55), McDougall (85)

Cambuslang Rangers: Connolly, Ferguson, Rea, Doak, Bishop, Hoey, Irvine (Marshall), Kenna (Renwick), Ogilvie, Donaldson, Queen (Docherty). Subs not used: Weir and Templeton.

Scorer: Ogilvie (28)

Sent Off:
Donaldson (70)

Referee: Frank Connor

Game Forty-Two – St. Mirren Reserves vs. Dundee United Reserves

April 21, 2009

New St Mirren Park, Paisley

St. Mirren Reserves 1 vs. 0 Dundee United Reserves

Scottish Premier Reserve League
Tuesday 21st April 2009, Kick-Off 1.30pm
New St. Mirren Park, Paisley

This was my first visit to New St. Mirren Park. Opened in January of this year, it replaced the old St. Mirren Park (more commonly known as Love Street and soon to be a Tesco) and cost £8M to build. There’s a decent guide to the ground on the Scottish Grounds website.

It’s as close to Paisley St James train station as you could wish for. There doesn’t seem to be anything else nearby, shops, people etc. There is a burger van right enough, directly opposite the ground.

The ticket office at the front of the stadium is open and doing a brisk trade in tickets for this coming Saturday’s Scottish Cup semi-final with Rangers.

The club shop is also open today, although the guy behind the counter doesn’t seem happy about it. It’s quite small, comprable to a corner shop. They’re selling a book on the history of Love Street, as well as a DVD of same. There’s retro replica shirts in the same style the team wore when they lifted the 1987 Scottish Cup. Billy Abercromby’s autobiography ‘Aber’s Gonnae Get Ye!’ is also on prominent display. The book is officially launched tomorrow.

Another item given pride of place is a shirt emblazoned with the details of Saturday’s semi-final. When did that start happening? It used to be that clubs would only garnish their shirts in this fashion on reaching a final. The punting of replica shirts with text adorning the club crest would usually be after a cup win. Doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

I walk round to the open turnstiles. We’re sat in the 2,516 capacity West Stand. The attendance for this afternoon is a reasonable 80 or so. It costs £4 to get in. The pie shop is open and I opt for a £1.60 pie, but baulk at paying £1.80 for a draught cola.

There are no team sheets when we come in as apparently, “The lassie in the office is at her dinner.”

When I sit down an old guy asks me where I got my pie from and rushes off to get himself one. I discover shortly afterwards that he’s Davie Provan, the former Rangers defender. Capped 5 times for Scotland, Provan also had a brief spell playing with St. Mirren as well as a short time working with them as a coach.

Dundee United are playing today in their all white away strip, meaning that St. Mirren are also in their change kit, an all red number. I can’t really see any need for a change in strips, but there you are anyway.

The game begins at quite a decent pace with both teams going at it from the off.

At the heart of St. Mirren’s defence this afternoon is Andy Millen. The oldest player to have played in the Scottish Premier League, Millen is currently two months short of his 44th birthday. He seems as fit as anyone on the pitch and strolls through the game.

The home side have most of the chances in the first 45 minutes, the best of those being a cross along the ground that fell in front of Paul Quinn in the six yard box, but he just couldn’t get to it in time.

At the interval there’s a good conversation between a few of the older supporters as they discuss the strengths of various St. Mirren teams through the years. Strong cases are made for the 1959 and 1962 teams, but the consensus is that the best St. Mirren side in memory was that of the late 70s and early 80s. Among the players St. Mirren had on their books in those days were Peter Weir, Frank McDougall, Frank McAvennie, Frank McGarvey, Billy Stark, Billy Thomson and Tony Fitzpatrick.

The girl in the office is obviously back from her lunch as team sheets are handed out during half-time.

The second half gives us a goal when Gary Mason bursts into the penalty area to get hold of a pass from Jon McShane and knocks the ball over the United keeper.

The Buddies have a few more chances to extend their lead, but it finishes 1-0. I believe this is the first 1-0 game I’ve attended all season.

Not a great game, but a reasonable afternoon’s entertainment.

St Mirren Res vs. Dundee United Res

St Mirren: Mathers (Semple 53), Barron, Devlin, Millen, McAusland, Mason, Bradley, Brady, McShane (McLean 86), Quinn, Burns Subs Not Used: Gray, Faulds, Carson

Scorer: Mason (56)

Dundee United: Grant, Lee, Irvine, Howie, Shaw, Stokes, Swanson (Scott 76), Allan, Murray, McCord, Hilson (Burns 81) Subs Not Used: Traynor, Hindley

Referee: Ross Haswell

Assistants: Andy Tait and Gary Kirkwood

Attendance: 80 based on a headcount

Game Forty-One – Pollok vs. Clydebank

April 21, 2009

Pollok vs. Clydebank

Pollok 2 vs. 3 Clydebank

Citylink Scottish Junior Cup Semi-Final First Leg
Saturday 18th April 2009, Kick-Off 2.30pm
Newlandsfield Park, Glasgow

One of the best games of the season for my money. A gorgeous day, a healthy crowd and a match played in proper cup-tie spirit.

On the approach to the ground after I leave Pollokshaws East train station there’s a vendor selling Pollok and Clydebank scarves and flags. There’s one at the corner of the ground too. I say ‘Pollok and Clydebank’ really they’re just black and white, and red and white flags and scarves. Talk about opportunism.

The prices are jacked up today also. It’s seven quid admission. Still, it’s decent compared to some of the mad prices in the SFL.

There’s a definite sense of occasion in the ground. It really does feel like it’s a big game.

The SJFA have made a change to the format for this year’s semi-finals. This is the first time they have opted for a two legged tie. The thinking behind this is to boost crowds and therefore takings. Traditionally the semis were played in a senior ground on a Friday night. This obviously allowed the games to avoid clashing with senior matches, the thinking being that it would boost attendances. The police have vocally opposed Friday night games, although the crowds haven’t been great in recent years in any case.

There are no away goals and if the tie is drawn it goes straight to penalty kicks.

I’ve been to Newlandsfield Park once already this season, to see Pollok take on Auchinleck Talbot, who are playing Kirkintilloch Rob Roy in the other semi.

On that occasion I’m pretty sure that the match announcer played ‘Jocelyn Square’ by Love and Money, which he also does today. If James Grant is wondering where those steady PRS cheques for 12p are coming from then look no further.

I notice that the referee (or if this were the Daily Record, ‘Whistler’), Des Roache, I’ve seen in action already this week. He took charge of the Rangers-Aberdeen Reserve game on Tuesday.

There is a really good crowd in today. It’s not a sell out, but everywhere on the terraces seems quite full. The Clydebank fans are in good voice and start the singing from before the kick-off. They regularly taunt the home support to sing and every so often they stop singing with a ‘Ssshhhh’ to give Pollok’s fans a turn. There’s certainly enough of the home support to make a roar for a couple of penalty claims, but there’s not a song all day.

The game opens at a quick pace, with Pollok having most of the early attacks. Clydebank defend well. In particular Mark Hailstones who twice clears from on the goal line.

Against the run of play Clydebank take the lead. A Hailstones corner from the left comes into the box. Kris Robertson in the Pollok goal goes for it but misses. John Jack leaps and heads the ball into the net to make it 1-0 to the visitors.

There’s not the same sense of excitement that there was when Clydebank shocked Petershill to go a goal up in the Quarter-Final. This obviously stems from the fact that in this two-legged tie there’s a long way to go and little chance that this 1-0 lead will be intact at the end of 180 minutes.

In fact it lasts only 2 minutes as a diving header from Stevie Miller levels the score.

With twenty-five minutes gone Mr. Roache awards Bankies a penalty kick. I don’t have the best of views but there’s a strong shout from the Clydebank fans. Gary Lynn sticks the ball down Robertson’s left hand side and the underdogs are back in the lead.

There’s a let off for the vistors on 37 minutes when ‘keeper Stefan Gonet goes up for a high ball around about the penalty spot. He misses it completely. A Pollok forward heads it onto the crossbar from where it bounces back into Gonet’s arms.

A few moments later Clydebank have a chance to increase their lead as Hailstones takes a quick throw-in that sends Charlie Hobbs off down the left wing. He cuts inside and cracks a shot that flashes past the left hand post.

The Pollok players run onto the pitch for the second half shouting and encouraging each other. This seems to have done the job as they start with all guns blazing and get the equaliser within the first minute. Gonet spills a shot straight into the path of top scorer Bryan Dingwall who slots it into the net.

Hobbs goes off

It’s a fine spring day and some of the fans in attendance have taken the opportunity to have a cargo in the sun. There are groups of lads with cases of beer, bottles of Buckfast and MD 20/20. There are also several children running around chasing each other.

In 69 minutes there’s a scramble in the Pollok box. Clydebank have a shot blocked. Then as Ryan Scobie hits a shot with Robertson in goal nowhere Derek Wingate appears to stop the shot with his hand. I’m not as vocal a Clydebank fan as I used to be several years ago, but even I, stood behind the goal, shout “Penalty!” The referee has no hesitation in awarding it and follows that up by showing Wingate a straight red.

Lynn steps up to take it again. This time he changes sides and skelps it high to Robertson’s right hand. The 6-1 outsiders are back in the lead again at 3-2.

Eight minutes later there’s an incident just outside the Clydebank penalty area. From where I am I don’t get a good look at it, but a guy behind me claims that Turnbull has put a knee into a Clydebank player’s face. Sure enough the ref whips out the red card again and Pollok are down to nine men. He follows that up very quickly with a red for Bankies’ subsitute Steven Blair. It’s now 9 men versus 10 men.

Pollok have a couple of chances to get the equaliser, but with a further 90 minutes coming up next week, there’s no need for them to commit too many men forward.

Bankies’ Mark Maxwell appears to take a heavy knock, but plays on as there are no more substitutes left. Apparently he incurred a broken collar bone.

Clydebank hang on to take a shock lead to Millburn Park for the second leg. They also maintain their record of never having lost an away Scottish Cup tie since their return to the Juniors.

The main aim for Bankies today was to keep the tie alive for the second leg and they’ve certainly done that. It should be an interesting match down in Alexandria next Saturday.

Pollok manager and ex-Clydebank (when they were a senior team) striker Jimmy Sinnet said afterwards to the Daily Record, “At the end of the game they were acting as if they’d won it already but the tie isn’t over yet.”

There’s a preview of the game from the Evening Times here, with an interview with Bankies’ Charlie Hobbs, as well as a good discussion about the tie in the comments section.

A selection of photographs from the Pollok website are here.
I have more photographs here.

Pollok vs. Clydebank

There are about 18 minutes of highlights from YouTube below. First half then second half.

Pollok: Robertson, Carruth, Cruickshank, Aitchison, Wingate, Miller, Hardie, McGeown, Dingwall (Downs 81), Turnbull, Essler (MacKay 81)

Scorers: Miller (16), Dingwall (46)

Sent Off: Wingate (68), Turnbull (76)

Clydebank: Gonet, Lynn, McInnes, Rushford (Blair 52), Soutar, Anderson, J. Jack, Smith (Maxwell 71), Hobbs (Scobie 63), Mackie, Hailstones

Scorers: J. Jack (14), Lynn (25 pen, 69 pen)

Sent Off: Blair (76)

Attendance: 1480

Referee: Des Roache

Assistants: Andy Tait, Euan Anderson

Fourth Official: Neil McLennan

Game Forty – Rangers Ladies vs. Spartans

April 21, 2009

Rangers vs. Spartans

Rangers Ladies 6 vs. 5 Spartans (AET 90 mins 4-4)

Unite Scottish Cup Semi-Final
Thursday 16th April 2009, Kick-Off 7.30pm
Toryglen Regional Football Centre, Glasgow

The second Women’s Scottish Cup semi-final. First Division Rangers take on the Premier League’s only unbeaten side, Spartans.

It’s played on the same pitch as the first semi-final at Toryglen. The turnout tonight is probably a little better than last night’s. I would roughly estimate there’s maybe around 90 spectators gathered along the touchline tonight.

Spartans take the lead after 4 minutes when a long ball to the back post is tapped in by Debbie McWhinnie.

Just like last night one of the neighbouring pitches loses their ball to this game. A guy in a Celtic strip from 1985 has to mingle with the Rangers dugout to get it back.

Against the run of play in the 32nd minute Rangers make it 1-1. A long ball plays Natasha Anderson in and she takes her finish well by slotting it past the Spartans keeper.

The Rangers keeper finds herself rooted to the spot as Spartans regain the lead five minutes later, as Claire Crosbie rund on to a pass from the right hand side.

Rangers vs. Spartans

That’s the score at half-time as I go off inside to use the facilities. As I’m coming out of the toilets I’m almost bumped into by a guy on his way in. As I bodyswerve him I realise it’s Alan Rough. If he couldn’t see this free-kick from Zico coming at him all those years ago what chance has he with me?

Fourteen minutes into the second half Spartans have extended their lead. Diana Barry meets a corner at the back post with her head, it comes off the underside of the bar and goes in.

Spartans have looked the better team and at this point seem to have the beating of this Rangers side in their first season in the Women’s game.

Rangers get back into it though just three minutes later when a Ruadh Houston free-kick flies into the top corner. There’s a bit of a mini pitch invasion when one excitable Rangers fan runs on to the playing field.

It may well have been the same spectator who a few minutes later kicks the ball before it has ran out of play for a throw-in. The referee quite rightly points out to the Rangers players that it’s not a throw-in now but a bounce up as the ball didn’t actually go out before being interfered with.

The scores are levelled in the 75th minute when Claire Rae beats the offside trap and with a composed finish knocks the ball home. The linesman explains to the crowd behind him that the defender on the far side had played her on.

With ten minutes to go Spartans go back in front when a free-kick is pushed out by the Rangers keeper, but only as far as Crosbie who knocks it in for her second goal of the game.

The Blue Belles draw level once again in the 82nd minute when confusion at the back leads to Anderson nipping in and slotting the ball past the Spartans keeper. It’s 4-4 and we’re onto extra-time.

Seven minutes into the extra period Rangers are ahead, with Anderson the scorer once again. She gets on the end of a long ball and calmly finishes from just inside the box.

We’re not finished yet. With a minute to go before the break Spartans catch the Rangers keeper unsure whether to come out or stay on her line and Diana Barry’s cool chip over her head levels the match with the game’s tenth goal.

Rangers beat the offside trap once again in 113 minutes and Anderson knocks the ball home for her fourth of the match. It’s 6-5 Rangers and there’s no way back for Spartans.

The final whistle goes and there’s something of a pitch invasion led by the guy who kicked the ball before it went out earlier on. He discards his jacket to reveal a Rangers number 9 shirt before running the length of the pitch to congtratulate one of the players. Presumably his lady friend.

How could this be anything other than a first class advertisment for the women’s game? They may not swap shirts at the end like that sketch from Not The Nine O’Clock News (I looked for it on YouTube. It’s not there) but tonight has proved there’s lots of reasons to take in a women’s game. It’s been great entertainment and a proper end-to-end match.

A report from the Spartans website is here. A report from the Rangers website is here.

Rangers Scorers: Anderson (32, 82, 97, 113) Houston (62) Rae (75)

Spartans Scorers: WcWhinnie (4), Crosbie (37, 80), Barry (59, 104)

Referee: James Carberry

Attendance: 90 based on a rough headcount.

Game Thirty-Nine – Glasgow City vs. Hamilton Accies

April 19, 2009

Glasgow City vs. Hamilton Accies

Glasgow City 8 vs. 1 Hamilton Accies

Unite Scottish Cup Semi-Final
Wednesday 15th April 2009, Kick-Off 7pm
Toryglen Regional Football Centre, Glasgow

The first semi-final of the Womens Scottish Cup. I’ve seen Glasgow City twice already this season. The first time when they trounced Boroughmuir Thistle 12-0 in November, then again in February for their epic extra time win over Celtic by 4 goals to 3 in the third round of this competition.

The match is played at the new £15.7M Toryglen Regional Football Centre. The facility is adjacent to the East Stand of Hampden Park and therefore easily accesible by public transport. The numbers 12 & 90 buses stop right outside it, and it’s only 10 minutes walk from Mount Florida train station.

I had hoped it would take place on the indoor pitch. At 105m x 68m it’s apparently as big as Hampden and has seating for 700 spectators. So a seat as well as being in from the cold would have been welcome. However, we’re out on one of the three FIFA approved synthetic pitches.

Before the kick-off I go inside and watch a seven-a-side kids match that’s taking place in one corner of the pitch. The indoor pitch has dividers that separate the surface into four. The kids game is quite entertaining. They’re at the age where they’re not afraid to dribble round each other and try flicks and scissor kicks that might well be discouraged at an older age. There’s also plenty of room for them to pass the ball around and it all made for an interesting pre-match diversion.

For the second game in a row I spot a film crew complete with commentator. So I go over to stand near them to get the commentary to go with the live game. Unfortunately I can’t hear him very well, so I strain to listen. When I do finally make out what he’s saying I realise that he’s commentating in Gaelic. So no commentary for me. The final is being shown live on BBC Alba, so presumably they are also covering the semis.

Glasgow City are strong favourites for this tie so it’s no surprise when they take the lead inside 5 minutes, when Jane Ross runs on to a through ball and slides it in.

In 20 minutes Kat Lindner puts over a cracking cross for Ross to head in her second.

After a handball decision goes against her, City forward Ruesha Littlejohn gives the linesman a few choice words. “That’s terrible language from a young lassie,” a spectator shouts to the linesman.

“I don’t even take that aff the ones in the hoose,” the official quips back.

It’s 3-0 when Rachel Corsie finds the ball defelected into her path after a corner and she slams it home from just inside the box.

The fourth comes with 38 minutes gone when Lindner’s shot-cum-cross is deflected by an Accies defender. It’s hooked out from the goal-line, but the referee deems it to have crossed the line.

Accies are having no luck at all when Sue Lappin’s header crashes off the underside of the bar and comes out, only for the referee to award the goal. I don’t have any kind of angle to say otherwise, but there are a few shouts from the Hamilton players towards the referee and the linesman.

That makes it 5-0 at half-time, and it’s safe to assume that this tie is over.

City can afford to take off Littlejohn and Lindner at the interval, replacing them with Kirsty McNicol and Jane Brown.

The sixth comes in 55 minutes as Jane Ross takes the ball for a walk down the left wing. She runs in on goal and fires it over the Accies keeper to complete her hat-trick.

Glasgow City vs. Hamilton Accies

A ball from one of the adjacent pitches being used for seven-a-side games comes flying over onto the pitch. It’s simply kicked to one side by one of the players. This leads to the guys on the other pitch shouting “Geez our baw back.” When they discover that no one will the find another ball and play on, retrieving the original when their game ends.

Hamilton get a consolation when a 25 yard free-kick cracks off the underside of the bar and crosses the line.

But it’s back to bad news for the Accies on 70 minutes when their number 5 is sent off, receiving a second booking for a bodycheck. She takes it in good spirits, patting the ref on the back and telling him, “I’m not having the best of games tonight ref,” before taking the long walk.

A free-kick from inside Glasgow’s own half is knocked in by Jane Brown on 72 minutes for 7-1.

Leanne Ross completes the rout with 16 minutes remaining when she gets on the end of a headed on throw-in.

Another decent 90 minutes of entertainment served up by Women’s Football. In the five games I’ve so far been to this season the goal average is 7.6 per game.

A report from the Glasgow City website is here.

Glasgow City vs. Hamilton Accies

Glasgow City Scorers: J. Ross (5, 20, 55), Corsie (26), Lindner (38), Lappin (42), Brown (72), L. Ross (74)

Hamilton Accies Scorer: Docherty (63)

Referee: Howard Wilkin

Attendance: 70 based on a headcount.

Game Thirty-Eight – Rangers Reserves vs. Aberdeen Reserves

April 17, 2009

Rangers Res vs. Aberdeen Res

Rangers Reserves 2 vs. 1 Aberdeen Reserves

Scottish Premier Reserve League
Tuesday 14th April 2009, Kick-Off 2pm
Murray Park, Milngavie

Murray Park was opened in June of 2001. The brainchild of Rangers’ former boss Dick Advocaat it’s a £14M state-of-the-art training facility designed to develop the Rangers players of tomorrow.

It can be found about a ten minute walk away from Milngavie train station. It may actually be nearer Hillfoot, but I worked out how to get there from Milngavie so that’s the way I went.

When I arrive at the gates there is a small crowd already gathered there. At first I assumed that they were waiting to get in for the game, but I quickly realise they are seasoned autograph hunters waiting on the first team stars to leave from training. They have numerous match programmes opened at double page spreads of the relevant Rangers players, some of them carry footballs that already have a few autoraphs on, and many of them have large folders and scrapbooks.

I hang around for a bit myself to see who comes out. Steven Naismith and Pedro Mendes drive out while I’m there and happily sign autographs and pose for photographs.

With about ten minutes before kick-off I wander through for the match. A teamsheet is available in the Youth Reception area and I go through to pick one up. There are also snack machines and toilets available in here, so everything you would really require for an afternoon match.

The reception area also has a few interesting things up on the wall. A painting of a team of Rangers greats, where Greig, Jardine and Cooper line up with Goram, Hateley and Gough. There is also a framed speech by Bill Struth that he made shortly before he died.

I walk round to the pitch area where Sandy Jardine, who still looks like he could fill in beside Davie Weir during an injury crisis, is chatting to folk at the office door.

There’s a three step terracing area that runs the length of one side of the pitch from where you can watch the match. There’s room to stand behind one of the goals too.

I stand around about the halfway line, just where the Rangers TV team have set up. This leads to me being able to hear the the commentator provide his live commentary for the match. This is a nice little extra, being able to get TV commentary while at a game. From his summary I am treated to little tidbits of information such as the fact that today’s match referee is also a school teacher and the date for the Under 19s Cup Final is April 29th.

Rangers hit the crossbar a couple of times in the first half. The second occasion it’s a Steven Lennon shot from 6 yards out. Andy Webster marshalls the Gers defence well, but the obvious stand out is John Fleck. He’s just got that extra bit of class than anyone else on the pitch. He takes control of the ball well and isn’t afraid to take on defenders.

Andy Little brings out a great save from Bertrand Bossu in the Aberdeen goal. Bossu is the only player on the pitch wearing a name and first team squad number on the back of his jersey.

It is goaless at half-time. There is still a huddle of autograph hunters at the front gates as a few more first team players leave the training ground.

When the teams enter and exit the pitch they have to step over the little chain link fence that surrounds it. The Aberdeen players go over it with the neccessary cuation. Several of the Rangers side however, presumably because they’re used to it, leap over it. Brahim Hemdani is one of those who does so, catching his foot on the chain and going flying. He can do little but turn and laugh along with those of us behind the goal chuckling at him.

Rangers are awarded a penalty kick when Stewart pulls down Andrius Velicka. It looked a fair award to me, but Aberdeen captain Stuart Duff is not so sure. Suggesting a dive he points to Velicka while shouting to the referee, “He’s pishing himself ref.”

Steven Smith bangs the penalty home sending Busso the wrong way.

Steven Smith scores a penalty

A through ball from Velicka in the 67th minute sends Fleck away. The 17 year old takes it well and slots the ball in from just inside the penalty box for 2-0 Rangers.

Aberdeen get back in it with 4 minutes left when the Gers keeper Scott Gallacher pulls down Michael Paton out on the byeline. Again looked like a decent award to me, but it was met by some criticism from the Rangers men. Paton takes it himself to make it 2-1.

It’s a decent afternoon’s entertainment given that additional wee polish with the match commentary. Rangers Reserves are still in with a chance of preventing Celtic from lifting the league title for the 8th sucessive season. They meet at Ibrox for a potential title decider on Tuesday 28th April.

A report from the Rangers website is here. A report from Aberdeen’s website is here. I have some more photographs here.

The Rangers team leave the pitch

Rangers: Gallacher, Lowing (Durie 10), Webster, Wilson, Wylde, Lennon, Hemdani, Little, S.Smith (Stirling 60), Velicka (Miller 72), Fleck Subs Not Used: Vaiculis

Scorers: Smith (50 pen), Fleck (67)

Aberdeen: Bossu, Crawford, Vidal, Stewart, Duff, Pawlett, Clark, Wright, Paton, Ross. Megginson, Subs: Bain, McRobbie, Low, Megginson, Jarvis

Scorer: Paton (86 pen)

Referee: Des Roache

Assistant Referees: Alan Newlands, Paul Robertson

Game Thirty-Seven – Gretna FC 2008 vs. Craigroyston

April 15, 2009

Everholm Stadium, Annan

Gretna FC 2008 1 vs. 2 Craigroyston

East of Scotland League First Division
Saturday 11th April 2009, Kick-Off 2.30pm
Everholm Stadium, Annan

I expect by now most people know the rags to riches to rags again story of Gretna FC. Their BBC Sport page will give you the full story if you don’t know or if you fancy a refresher.

Gretna FC 2008 are not a continuation of the old club, but a new team set up by fans during the last days of the old Gretna football club.

The side don’t actually play in the town of Gretna but 8 miles away in Annan. Somewhat ironic since Annan Atheltic took the place of the old Gretna team in the Scottish Football League.

I get the train from Glasgow to Kilmarnock where I have to change for a connecting service to Annan. If you’re a regular traveller on trains you won’t be surprised to learn that the train was held up on its way to Kilmarnock. Therefored by the time I get in to the station I’ve missed my connection. Luckily I had taken the earlier train so I should still make it okay. I spend an hour hanging around Kilmarnock. The station has a small cafe which happily does a nice line in rolls and a good cup of tea.

From Annan train station Everholm Stadium is only about 10 minutes walk away and I find it quite easily. Admission and a programme is £4. The programme seems the standard kind you’d pay a pound for elsewhere, but inside the cover the price displayed is £2.00, so I assume entrance alone is also two quid.

The only toilet on the premises is in the changing area, so I have to walk back towards the pavilion which is around two minutes away. When I come out I discover that one of the linesmen is waiting to get in. I won’t miss kick-off then.

There’s a nice atmosphere in the ground. ‘Stadium’ perhaps lends an inaccurate grandois sound to the facilities. There is no stand or seating area other than the park benches around the sports ground.

I’m surprised but pleased to see that there is a pie stall. This being what appears to be homemade goodies sold out of the back of a car by two ladies. This brings a nice village fete feel to the occasion.

A decent crowd has turned up today. It’s a nice, sunny day even if there is a cool breeze. Many of the Gretna fans wear the club colours. Plenty of them have the current team jerseys on, while some wear the tops of the old side.

Craigroyston are based in Edinburgh. The club were formed in 1976, when Eyemouth United manager Rab Melrose tired of travelling from the capital to the Borders. So along with some of his Edinburgh based players they formed their own local team.

Before kick-off Gretna sat third in the East of Scotland First Division, 4 points behind and two games in hand on leaders Tynecastle.

Craigroyston are in fifth place two points adrift of their hosts today, having played six games more.

The match kicks off around 5 minutes late. Possibly because that linesman had to wait for me to come out of the toilet.

Gretna get off to a great start when a Dan Carmichael cross to the back post is headed in by Sean Bannon after only two minutes.

The match is played at a fast pace, with both sides really going for it. Craigroyston are the only team to have beaten Gretna in the league when they won their home fixture in December.

With the sun shining Craig Weir, Craigroyston’s keeper wears a peaked cap. The first such instance I can recall seeing all season.

The Edinburgh side are fighting to get back into the game and mount several attacks on the Gretna goal. A number of seemingly respectable gents in Craigroyston ties aim some verbal abuse at the linesman after a handball decision. Their coach joins in until the ref walks over to have a word.

The Craigroyston gaffer gets a talking to

The pace doesn’t let up in the second half as both sides try to get forward and bring more goals to the game.

Craigie’s keeper, who is also their captain, rallies his side and demands that they all put in 110%.

From the running track around the Gretna side of the ground comes some instructions being delivered by an obviously intoxicated fan. “Get the baw on the deck Gretna!” to be fair to him his advice isn’t unhelpful. He then compares the goalkeeper to “The boay fae Gregory’s Girl.”

Perhaps inspired by this some Gretna fans get in on the shouting action by letting the Craigie players know they are “Just a bunch of junkies fae Muirhoose.” Ah, the good old Edinburgh junkie insult. When I lived in Edinburgh folk from home were never by asking me if I was a junkie yet.

Craigroyston get a free-kick out on the left-wing. It’s launched high into the Gretna penalty area and Kevin Morrison rises to head it into the goal. Seventeen minutes to go it’s now 1-1.

Our drunk fan is not finished yet. Wandering up and down the running track he checks himself for swearing. “Musn’t swear.” He then tells off one of the players, “Ho! Nae swearing. I heard somebody swearing there. Nae swearing.” He gets back to encouraging Gretna. “Come on he’s got the fucking baw…oh, oh, don’t swear.” And so on.

Five minutes after their equaliser Craigie make it 2-1. A speculative cross-cum-shot from Stevie Manson out on the right wing catches John Jamieson in the Gretna goal wrong footed. He can only push the ball out from under his crossbar and that leaves Kris O’Neil with a simple tap in.

Gretna try hard to recover the match but they just don’t have enough in them and Craigie nick it by two goals to one.

As the visitors and the officials make their way to the dressing rooms on the final whistle the Gretna team sit on the pitch to listen to their gaffer Stuart Rome’s post match team-talk.

An enjoyable game of football, good weather and a nice ground to visit made this a decent day out. The first train to Glasow however, is not until 6.30 and I find myself hanging around in Dumfries for over an hour.

I have more photographs at this link.

From the Football Grounds in Focus website comes this report of Gretna’s home match from the 4th of April.

Gretna vs. Craigroyston

Gretna: Jamieson, Rea, Gullen, Ruddick, White, Jardine, Errington, Seggie, Bannon, Rayson, Carmichael Subs: Trestianu, Milligan, McMath, Murphy, Renyard

Scorer: Bannon (2)

Craigroyston: Weir, Jeffrey, Morrison, Paterson, Robertson, Binnie, Manson, Hay, O’Neil, Martin, McKenzie Subs: Scott, Wilkinson

Scorers: Morrison (73), O’Neil (78)

Attendance: 145

Referee: Martin McGuinness

Game Thirty-Six – Fort William vs. Deveronvale

April 5, 2009

Fort William vs. Deveronvale

Fort William 1 vs. 6 Deveronvale

Scot-Ads Highland Football League
Saturday 4th April 2009, Kick-Off 3pm
Claggan Park, Fort William, Lochaber

A trip up north today to see ‘Britain’s worst football team’. Fort William have not won a match all season and last season they only won once.

Fort William is only 3 hours on the bus from Glasgow and the ground is about a 15 minute walk from both the bus station and the adjacent train station.

Claggan Park is tucked away at the end of an industrial estate at the foothills of Ben Nevis. I’m there in plenty of time for kick-off. In fact I’m there to see the Deveronvale team bus arrive.

I’m the first paying customer into the ground. It’s only £6 admission, which is decent value. I go into Ninnie’s Bar, inside the ground. I notice that there are crisps and nuts laid out on the tables in little glass bowls, which I haven’t seen since I was wee. A nice touch.

The walls are decorated with pennants, team photographs, shirts and newspaper clippings.

Inside the ground there is a garden with a couple of greenhouses and many potted plants.

It’s a nice, very well cared for ground. My only complaint really is that the terracing is some distance from the pitch. I would estimate that all the way around you’re about 25 yards away from the touchline. There is only one portion of the ground that is raised, that being the seated enclosure, so this is the best spot in the ground for a decent overall view of the pitch.

The Deveronvale dugout.

In November of 2008 Deveronvale hammered Fort by 10 goals to nil, so the home side know they have their work cut out.

Fort appear to be a very young side. There doesn’t seem to be many players over 25 in the team.

The attendance today is far from impressive. I would estimate that there’s only around 40 people here, which is a shame. I’m led to believe that Fort William is a town more interested in shinty than in football.

Of the handful of Deveronvale fans here are a couple of guys who have obviously come along together. Over their ‘Vale shirts and scarves one of them wears a Rangers jacket, while the other sports a Celtic jacket.

The talk on the terraces is all about Ferguson and McGregor’s midweek indiscrections and the scoreline from Celtic Park.

The home side start very well attacking Deveronvale from down the right wing with Sean Ellis getting plenty of the ball.

Ellis creates the opening goal in the twelfth minute as he takes the ball down the wing and fires in a cross that Scott Shields knocks in from inside the six-yard box.

It’s a shock lead for Fort William, but can they hang on? Deveronvale push hard for an equaliser but find Fort defending well. It’s obvious though that if Fort are going to land their first win of the season today then there will be plenty of heart-in-mouth moments for the next 75 minutes.

Fort go close in 24 minutes when James Blanchard in the Vale goal makes a great save from a Robert MacGillivary shot.

But inevitably it goes wrong for the home side. In the 26th minute Deveronvale get the ball in the box as Mark Chisolm goes on a run. He’s clearly cut down by Martin Godwin’s lunging challenge. It’s a stonewall penalty kick and it’s easily converted by Sam MacKay.

It’s all Deveronvale from now on. The get their second in the 37th minute as Robbie Duncanson beats the offside trap and makes a run into the penalty area, tucking the ball past Masteron on his left hand side.

Fort are now giving possession away very cheaply, although they continue to defend in numbers.

It’s 3-1 to the visitors four minutes before half-time when Darren McAllister fires home.

The heads go down a bit as the half-time whistle sounds.

The Fort William team come out for the second half.

The second half starts in the same vein with Deveronvale on the attack and Fort William fighting hard in defence.

It takes ‘Vale 20 minutes into the second half to get their fourth as a header to the back post is tapped in by Duncanson.

After that, it only takes a minute to add the fifth as Sam MacKay, ten yards out, meets an inswinging cross with his head to send the ball past the Fort keeper.

With five minutes left the long suffering Fort fans see their side lose a sixth goal as Cowie taps the ball over the line from two yards out.

Fort haven’t played badly this afternoon, but they’ve been unable to hold on to the ball and have struggled to get it cleared out of the penalty area.

After the match I go into the social club again to watch a replay of the Grand National, before walking in to the town centre to have fish and chips in a pub as I wait for my bus.

In addition to their poor form, the one thing Fort William are probably best known for is their sponsorship deal and the unusual television project for which they’ve been unwittingly chosen.

Fort William signed a sponsorship deal with America’s Team last summer. Currently they wear the website’s logo on their shirts. The idea however is that from summer 2009 Fort William will become part of an American reality TV show with America’s Team sending over up to 10 American players in order to turn Fort William from ‘worst to first’.

The website offers annual $69 subscriptions for people to take part. Billed as a real-life Fantasy Football game the plan is for the mooted thousands of subscribers to pick the team, the formation, ‘strategies’ and even substitutions. There are also incentives for subscribers to get other people to sign up. Let’s draw three triangular shaped lines around that diagram and see what it looks like. There is a lengthy video on their site explaining the ins and outs of the service.

The promotional video (sorry, ‘Sizzle Reel’) for America’s Team FC is below. (You’ll notice that there’s no need for subtitles when the American guy is talking, they’re only required when Scottish folk speak.) It starts off as a reasonably amusing American take on ‘Skattish Socker’, but it quickly takes a quite offensive turn using nonsense quotes from people who’ve clearly never seen the team play. It then goes on to portray Fort William as nothing more than a team of drunks managed by a gormless idiot. This all leads in nicely to the solution the video offers which is sending over a bunch of American frat boys fresh from macking some chicks to sort it all out. Just as well, because according to the video the current crop of Fort William players are nothing more than ‘Nancy boys’.

Now I can understand that the board of Fort William may be eager for this project to be a success. It’s already raised their public profile, which is good. I’m sure they’ve made a little bit of money out of it and with the promise of more money to come, the board may well look on it as a welcome business proposition. There is also the unequivical promise of a turnaround in their fortunes. Again, the staff at Fort William have to look on that as a good thing.

However, the America’s Team video is completely demeaning. It’s nothing more than an insult to the players, management, fans and people of Fort William. To be honest, it’s difficult to take it seriously what with the over the top comments and American Gladiator style voiceover.

Surely no self respecting film-maker would put together a piece so ill-informed and littered with bought and paid for hyperbole.

The fact that the people who made the video actually sponsor the team is staggering. Who’s ever heard of a team sponsor going out their way to insult the team?

Of course it’s all good promotion for the America’s Team show. Turning around this bunch of layabouts, alkies and poofs? What a triumph that would be. Not to mention winning over the people of the town, what with their well known anti-US sentiments and all. However, it makes me fearful for the Fort William team, as they embrace the plans while their benefactors publicy ridicule the side.

But it’s all just a daft laugh eh? It’s the telly and that’s more important than a wee football club nobody cares about. And that’s just the thing who would care? Maybe about 50 folk would be concerned, and by the sounds of things most of them have been convinced it’s a good idea.

Personally, I think it sounds absolutely appalling. Exactly the kind of thing that should be discouraged from making its way into football. Fort William FC should, in my opinion, run a mile from it. What Team America and PMAC Entertainment Tonight look to be attempting first and foremost is what so many fly-by-nights do and that is finding a way to make money from the internet.

I’m sorry I didn’t research this before I made my trip, as McDonald was at the match yesterday and was sitting only feet away from me in the social club afterwards.

There are a selection of articles on Paul McDonald and his America’s Team project at this link.

Gordon Parks in the Daily Record has written a couple of articles on the club and the American project. This one in February and this one from March.

Hopefully Fort can pick up a win or two before the season ends. I’ll watch with interest to see what transpires with the America’s Team project. Perhaps it’ll be the best thing for the side, but I doubt it.

I had an enjoyable day, despite the weather not being very nice and I found the people friendly and the town very pleasant. I’ll certainly visit again next season.

You can see more of my photographs here.
Deveronvale attack

Fort William: Masteron, Hendry, Godwin, Shields (Laing 47), Ferguson, Kerr, Martin, Ellis, Gillespie, MacGillivary (Foggo 87), Ellis

Scorer: Shields (12)

Deveronvale: Blanchard, Gilbert, Stephen, Chisolm, David MacKay, Clark (Rodger 68), Cowie, Sam Mackay, Coutts (Noble 58), Duncanson (Meldrum 82), McAllister

Scorers: Sam MacKay (26 pen, 66), Duncanson (37, 65), McAllister (41), Cowie (85)

Referee: Billy Baxter

Assistants: Willie Turner, Ryan Johnstone

Attendance: From a rough headcount perhaps 40.

Game Thirty-Five – JML Accies vs. Rutherglen Vultures

April 3, 2009

JML Accies vs. Rutherglen Vultures

JML Accies 2 vs. 4 Rutherglen Vultures

Consolation Scoreboard Sports Trophy Semi-Final
Friday 3rd April 2009, Kick-Off 7pm
Petershill Park, Springburn

Another trip to Springburn and Petershill Park for this cup tie. The ground hosts several amateur matches throughout April, so no doubt I’ll be back again soon.

When I arrive there is an Under 15 training session taking place on one half of the pitch, while what appears to be an Over 50s 11-a-side match is under way on the other.

By the time the old guys clear the pitch the match kicks off 6 minutes late.

JML Accies are based in the Cardonald area of Glasgow and were founded just over a year ago.

There is a crowd of only about 20, despite it being quite a pleasant evening.

I can’t help but notice that one of the Accies fans is quite well inebriated. He spends much of the first half shouting and playing with several children in the crowd. Mainly spinning them round and dropping them into some of the large bins in the ground. Soundtracking this with “I’m sick of you ya wee cunt, you’re going in the bin.” To be fair the kids seemed to be quite enjoying it.

Rutherglen take the lead after 8 minutes. Eleven minutes later they are awarded a mysterious penalty kick. I’m not sure exactly what the award was for and few people on the pitch do either. Accies number 4 picks up a booking for shouting at the linesman.

Our inebriated fan stops throwing the kids around in order to shout at the linesman too. “You’re on DLA ya cunt. Ye cannae run properly.”

The penalty is saved by the Accies keeper, but the rebound is knocked in for 2-0.

Rutherglen make it 2-0

Accies heads noticably go down and Rutherglen clearly look the better side, holding their shape well and seeming a far better organised outfit.

On the half hour mark what looks like a poor ball is launched high from the right wing into the Accies penalty area. It drops onto the head of Rutherglen’s number 14 who heads it over the goalkeeper and into the net. It’s 3-0 and there doesn’t look much way back into the tie for JML.

Our drunken fan has now gone round to the opposite side of the pitch and seems to be berating the linesman over at that end.

At half-time I discover that inebriated fan is actually one of the JML players. He’s out of the side this evening as he had downed a bottle of Buckfast earlier on. To be fair he probably wasn’t in contention for a place anyway.

The game threatens to turn a bit nasty in the 52nd minute when Rutherglen’s number 10 picks up a booking for a late challenge. Accies number 6, who wasn’t involved in the original tackle, can’t let it lie and needles the Vultures man repeatedly before play can restart. Several other players get involved and there’s a little bit of a pushing match. It comes to not very much however.

Accies are looking a bit better organised in this half, but it’s Rutherglen who grab another goal as their number 14 rushes through on goal in 66 minutes, slotting the ball past the keeper.

JML Accies vs. Rutherglen Vultures

Accies get back into the game when a long ball is played through for Accies number 9 to clip the ball into the goal from the edge of the box.

The Southside team go close a few moments later with a shot that whizzes over the crossbar.

They’ve started to play some football now late in the game.

In the 87th minute a nice run into the box is halted by a Rutherglen boot and the ref awards the second penalty of the night.

Accies big number 11 thumps it home. However, there’s not enough time for Accies to get the two goals needed to take the match into extra time and Rutherglen make it into the final.

A pretty entertaining Friday evening with 6 goals and a hotly contested cup-tie.