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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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)
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.