Archive for May, 2009

Game Forty-Eight – Clydebank vs. Annbank United

May 30, 2009

Clydebank defend

Clydebank 1 vs. 0 Annbank United

Stagecoach West of Scotland League Division One
Saturday 23rd May 2009, Kick-off 2pm
Holm Park, Yoker

Clydebank’s last game before the Junior Cup final. It’s safe to say that there’s a fair bit of ‘Cup Final Fever’ on display here.

Other commitments mean that this is my first game for three weeks. I think that may be as long a lay-off as I’ll get in the close season.

Along with match programmes, on sale today are tickets to Clydebank Town Hall for next Sunday’s post Junior Cup final party. Win or lose there will be a reception for the players at the Town Hall with tickets going for £1.

The club shop also has on sale a range of cup final merchandise. This includes a T-shirt with all the cup run games listed on the back, a DVD of highlights from the run, pennants and badges.

The business of the day however, is another league game and the outside chance of Clydebank finishing in third position and a play-off place.

There’s only a couple of hundred in today, which seems a poor crowd considering there is sure to be thousands next Sunday.

The game itself is not much to write about. Clydebank look the better team, but not by much.

Annbank are hovering precariously above the relegation zone, but with a couple of games in hand on most of their rivals. They don’t seem to play like a club needing every last point though. They have a couple of chances, but never seriously threaten the Clydebank goal in the first half.

At the other end the Bankies go close a couple of times, but at the interval it’s goalless.

At the start of the second half Charlie Hobbs plays a ball into the Annbank penalty area where his strike partner Chris Mackie is waiting to knock the ball past the keeper.

Mackie scores the winner

Both Mackie and Hobbs then go on to blow a good few decent chances in front of goal.

Annbank create very little in the way of goalscoring opportunities in the remainder of the game.

Late on in the match goalscorer Mackie picks up a knock and limps off. There is a doubt now over his fitness for the final.

In the end Clydebank hold out for a 1-0 win in the last game before the cup final.

Chris Mackie limps out of the game

Clydebank: Tiropoulos, Rushford, Cunningham, Soutar, McInnes, Smith, Jack, Blair (Anderson 74), Hobbs (Selkirk 78), Hailstones, Mackie (Scobie 82)

Scorer: Mackie (47)

Referee: Des Roache

Assistants: Sean Carr and James Tedford Jnr

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Game Forty-Seven – Dumbarton vs. Elgin City

May 9, 2009

Dumbarton players at the final whistle

Dumbarton 6 vs. 0 Elgin City

Irn-Bru Scottish League Division Three
Saturday 2nd May 2009, Kick-Off 3pm
Strathclyde Homes Stadium, Dumbarton

I enjoyed my last visit to Strathclyde Homes Stadium in September and said to myself at the time that I would come back to hopefully see The Sons win the league. Well, today was that day.

Dumbarton need both Cowdenbeath and East Stirling to fail to record wins while they take maximum points in order to take the Division Three title.

When I arrive at the ground I go into the Community Suite which is packed. As I said on my last visit I enjoy looking around the old photographs, team shirts and match programmes on the walls.

One thing I seemed to have missed last time around is that when I go to take a seat I realise that around 90% of the home seating appears to be reserved for season ticket holders. I don’t know if fans’ tickets allocate them to a specific seat, but not wishing to be difficult I endeavour to sit in a seat that’s not reserved. I had intended to sit somewhere near the halfway line and high up, but I end up in a seat in line with the penalty spot in the front row. I shouldn’t complain really as that meant I was in prime position for all four of the first half goals.

There’s a good attendance today, so most seats around me fill up before kick-off and there’s a decent atmoshpere in the ground. A beach ball is bounced around until it lands pitchside and rolls around behind the stand from where the steward refuses to retreive it.

It’s a sunny afternoon, and although there’s a slight chill, it’s a pleasant enough temprature and a good day for football.

Dumbarton take the lead on 19 minutes when Derek Carcary races onto a through ball. His shot is blocked by McNulty in the Elgin goal, but the keeper can only send it up into the air. “That’s still going in,” the man next to me says, and indeed he’s right as the ball drops into the net.

Dumbarton fans celebrate the first goal

The second goal comes in the 28th minute when Denis McLaughlin taps the ball in from close range after a cross from Pat Boyle.

News comes through that Cowdenbeath are two goals down and the fans have now decided that the title is as good as theirs.

In the 38th minute Carcary bags a lovely second goal, going round the goalkeeper then knocking the ball into the net.

Carcaray completes his hat-trick two minutes before half-time he runs at the Elgin defence, weaving his way through. It looks like he’s at too awkward an angle to find the shot, but he squeezes it in and the ball rolls over the line for 4-0 Dumbarton.

It’s great football and one of the best displays I’ve seen all season.

When the second half begins it’s obvious that Elgin have had a rollocking in the dressing room. They start much brighter than they ended the first 45. They have more shots in the first ten minutes of the second period than they did in the whole of the first.

It’s Dumbarton though who score again and Derek Carcaray becomes the first man in 36 years to score four goals in a single game for Dumbarton.

Stevie Miller has had a great game, showing some brilliant touches throughout the match. He gets on the scoresheet himself with six minutes remaining when he latches on to a loose ball in the penalty box.

At the final whistle the players gather to hear thow their title rivals have got on. They begin restrained celebrations.

After what seems like an age we hear that Cowdenbeath have drawn two-all and this means there is no way they can catch The Sons at the top of the league.

However, East Stirling have won. This means that mathematically Dumbarton can still be caught. The announcer reminds the players and fans that although it’s unlikely they’ll lose the league now, they can’t celebrate until next week.

The players reluctantly head for the dressing rooms and the fans put the party on hold until the following week in Annan.

It would now take a 19 goal turnaround on the last day to prevent Dumbarton winning the league.

“We’ve won the title, as simple as that,” the guy next to me in the toilet says.

A report from Dumbarton’s website is here. I have more photographs here.

Dumbarton players at the final whistle

Dumbarton: McEwan, Lennon, Dunlop, Gordon, Boyle, McStay (Geggan 77), Clark (Canning 74), Forbes, Murray, McLaughlin, Carcary (Brannan 73). Subs Not Used: Chisholm, McGeown.

Scorers: Carcary (19, 39, 43, 66) McLaughlin (28), Murray (84)

Elgin City: McNulty, Edwards (Niven 61), Kaczan, David W Craig, Nicolson, Cameron (Crooks 54), Gillespie (Stephen McKenzie 73), O’Donoghue, David A Craig, Campbell, MacKay. Subs Not Used: MacDonald, Robertson.

Attendance: 1,396

Referee: Eddie Smith

Assistants: Tom Murphy and Stuart McMillan

Game Forty-Six – Rangers U19s vs. Hibernian U19s

May 7, 2009

The two teams line up

Rangers U19s 1 vs. 2 Hibernian U19s (AET 90 mins 1-1)
Youth Cup Final
Wednesday 29th April 2009, Kick-Off 7.30pm
Hampden Park, Glasgow

The Youth Cup final’s been pencilled in my diary for a wee while now. I’m expecting a good match.

Rangers have won the cup for the past two years while Hibs just pipped the Ibrox club to the Youth league, so they’re going for the double.

This is Hibernian’s first Youth Cup final since they defeated Ayr United to win the trophy in 1992.

On the approach to Hampden there are several vendors punting Rangers flags, hats and scarves.

Getting there early I opt to hang around the main entrance for a while. Ibrox mascot Broxi Bear is patrolling the top of the stairs posing for pictures with anyone who asks.

While there I spot Gordon Marshall, Mixu Paatelainen, John Greig and Andy Cameron all making their way inside the stadium.

Whereas yesterday I was in the Celtic end today I opt to sit with the Rangers supporters.

When I get inside the ground I’m handed a free programme, which is a nice touch. In the concourse at Hampden Park there is free face painting for the fans. A lot of them seem to come away with what looks like a French flag painted on their faces.

There’s no John Fleck in the Rangers team, but that’s no surprise as he played a full 90 minutes against Celtic Reserves yesterday.

From early on you can see that the Hampden Park pitch is cutting up quite a bit, as it becomes laden with divots.

I’m sitting a bit away from it this time, but once again the police see fit to chip a few folk out. This appears to be for repeatedly standing up as a patch of the Rangers support can’t resist the urge to bounce up and down in defiance of the stewards.

There’s also a healf-hearted sing-song in the shape of ‘No surrender’ by what appears to be a number of teenage Rangers fans.

The first goal of the game comes from Hibernian. In the 33rd minute David Wotherspoon’s cross is met in the box by Kurtis Byrne who drives the ball home. The thing that’s quite frightening about Byrne for me is not his talent, on show in abundance tonight, but that his dad is younger than me.

Hibs take the lead

There are huge queues at the pie stall at half-time, so I settle for watching a bit of the Man U-Arsenal Champions League semi-final on the TV screens.

Three minutes into the second half Rangers get back into it. Archie Campbell runs at the Hibs defence, weaving his way through the penalty area and slotting a shot past Hibs keeper Thomas Flynn. A really nice goal.

Rangers suffer a blow when their goalkeeper Grant Adam, brother of Charlie, is injured in a collision with Fergus Bell. He has to be replaced by Arturs Vaiculis. The big Latvian does a decent job deputising.

The game goes into extra-time and just when it’s looking like we’re heading for penalty kicks the game gets its last minute decider.

The match is just going into injury time when Byrne breaks into the Rangers penalty area, he appears to have his shirt pulled but he carries on and gets a shot off. His shot is blocked and the rebound played back into the penalty area where Byrne gets his head onto it. Time seems to stand still for a moment as the looping header goes up and drops into the net.

The large Hibs support go mental, as the players race into the crowd to celebrate. There’s no time left for Rangers to get back into the match and the final whistle sounds seconds after the restart.

It was hard lines on a good Rangers team. Both sides served up a very entertaining final.

A surprising number of Rangers fans stick around to see Hibs lift the trophy.

Rangers players

There’s a match report in The Scotsman. Hibs have a write up of the game on their site. The report on Rangers site is here. I have more photographs here.

Rangers: Adam (Vaiculis 72), Cole, Perry, Wilson, Wylde, Hutton, Stirling, Ness, Naismith (Bagci 85), Campbell, Hemmings (Dick 65). Subs not used: McGeough, Durie.

Scorer: Campbell (48)

Hibernian: Flynn, Park, Moyes (Welch 111), Smith, Booth; Russell, Wotherspoon, Currie, Bell (Kelly 88), Byrne, Deane (Taggart 82). Subs not used: Graham, Murray.

Scorer: Byrne (33, 120)

Attendance: 4200

Referee: Euan Norris

Assistants: Alan Hogg and Rodney Marshall

Fourth Official: Kevin Clancy

Game Forty-Five – Rangers Reserves vs. Celtic Reserves

May 4, 2009

Celtic celebrate

Rangers Reserves 0 vs. 1 Celtic Reserves

Scottish Premier Reserve League
Tuesday 28th April 2009, Kick-Off 2pm
Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow

With Celtic only requiring a draw to land their eighth Reserve League title in a row there’s a decent turn out for this afternoon’s match at Ibrox.

I opt to go into the Celtic end as I presume they may have more to shout about than the home support.

This must be a unique occasion in that the Celtic fans at Ibrox easily outnumber the Rangers supporters. From where I’m sat it’s hard to see how many Rangers fans there are, Celtic’s website estimates that the Celtic support eclipse the home fans two to one, while the Daily Record writes it is 3 to 1. Fan forums suggest this just means that Rangers fans with jobs outnumber employed Celtic supporters by similar numbers.

I choose a spot down the front next to the dugout. Due to the retractable tunnel being in place for the players to walk in and out of, I don’t really think of the close proximation to the Rangers support this seat provides, as at this point I can’t really see them.

When I take my seat the song on the PA system is ‘Jump‘ by Van Halen. This makes me think that almost everyone responsible for pre-match music at football matches hasn’t got much of a record collection that extends beyond 1989.

The Celtic fans are certainly in good voice this afternoon. The most vocal of the support sets up farthest away from the Rangers support, at the bottom end of the pitch. There are plenty of flags and banners at this end too.

John Fleck seems to enjoy the boos and heckles he receives from the Celtic fans, sticking his tongue out at them as he runs down the tunnel after the pre-match warm up.

After a few weeks of watching Junior games on pitches that aren’t the country’s best, it’s nice to see the ball rolling as smoothly as it does on the Ibrox grass today.

The game starts off at a decent pace, with Celtic knocking the ball around a little better than their opponents.

About fifteen minutes into proceedings a small group of Celtic fans arrive to join their pals already there. They seem to immediately start on shouting abuse at the Rangers support.

You could call it ‘Good natured banter,’ but it really wasn’t. It could more accurately be described as ‘Goading’.

Initially no more than a handful of Rangers fans are interested in responding, but after about five minutes of it a large portion of the home support rise to it and a prolonged period of verbal jousting begins.

Celtic and Rangers fans

The stewards come into both ends and attempt to get people to settle down. They have very little joy in this regard.

There’s then a faint murmer of ‘Up the ‘Ra’ singing from no more than a handful of folk in the Celtic end. This is then matched by a similarly tame rendition of ‘The Sash’ from the other end.

I think to myself that I haven’t seen a policeman all day. Not at the subway station, not on the approach to the ground and not inside the stadium itself. Just as I think that, I see a police hat peak out from through the tunnel. The police have now arrived in a sizeable number. The Rangers stewards lead them into either end where they begin to pick folk out for ejection.

Really there was never any chance of the commotion turning into anything physical, but it was an ugly enough distraction from the game.

The first half comes to a close at 0-0 with Celtic still looking the better team.

At half-time some Celtic fans with flags, no doubt having seen the argy-bargy from a distance further down the seating plan, decide it would be a good idea to wave their banners at the Rangers support in the second half. The police immediately clamp down on this idea and there’s a prolonged period of debate before again folk are removed.

Out on the pitch the sprinklers are turned on forcing the Celtic substitutes to scuttle away from the penalty area and find somewhere drier to kick the ball around.

In the second half Allan McGregor takes a constant pounding from the Celtic support with “Let’s all do the V-Sign” and “Scotland’s Shame,” being directed at him.

Celtic are looking the much better team and in particular Paddy McCourt is the man tearing through the Rangers defence. The Northern Irishman is at the heart of every Celtic attack.

One guy is still determined to make something of the earlier blustering, going on about how “That lot [Rangers fans] won’t give us a square go in the toilets.”

With 20 minutes to go Celtic get the goal they’ve been threatening for some time. Ryan Conroy put over a cross to the back post from the left wing. It dropped perfectly for Simon Ferry who rifled a vollley past McGregor for the winner.

Ferry picks up a caution for taking his shirt off to celebrate his goal. Always a needless booking I think. Although I’m sure he won’t care.

At full-time the Celtic players do a brief lap of honour for the fans.

On Celtic’s website Ferry jokingly compares his strike to Marco Van Basten’s goal for the Netherlands in the 1988 European Championship final.

The report of the match is on Celtic’s site here. Rangers have a report on their site.

The Evening Times has a write-up of the game here. A feature on the game and Paddy McCourt is in The Scotsman. The same from The Herald, and again, in a slightly more tongue in cheek fashion, from the Daily Record, along with some odd remarks in the comments section about the singing.

I have more photographs here.

The Celtic team

Rangers: McGregor, Durie, Scott, Webster, Forbes, Naismith (Craig 54), Fleck, Little, Lennon, Bagci (Wright 66), Niguez (McCabe 79). Subs not used: Smith, McGeough.

Celtic: Brown, Marr, Lafferty, Misun, Kurakins, McGinn (Towell 88), Ferry, McCourt, Donati (Millar 75), Conroy, Cawley (McGlinchey 69). Subs not used: Kennedy, Gallagher, Hughes, Tidser

Scorer: Ferry (70)

Attendance: 2400