Change 3 – April-May 19

Watching neutral football opened a can of worms. There was obviously the collection of grounds, but I started to enjoy fitba a lot more when I didn’t give a shite about the outcome. The final change and the final nail in the season tickets coffin. This ending all doubts I had about not renewing. During an elongated leave from work I sometimes accompanied by the Wee Man went to fifteen games in thirty-one days home and it was bloody brilliant. I got more enjoyment in four and a half weeks than I have in a couple of seasons watching Aberdeen. Wee man was at six of them. I witnessed sixty-two goals in fourteen and a bit matches. The goals alone make it a bloody decent effort, but the experiences and entertainment made it the best trip home from work I have had in all of my days working offshore. As I travelled offshore after this time home, I knew I would be ditching the season ticket. The past month had been too much fun. Something that was lacking down Merkland Road. More importantly with Wee Mans declaration that he likes “little games” better then who am I to argue. Our groundhopping was to increase in 2019/20

LOCHEE UNITED 1-3 EAST CRAIGIE *

Thomson Park, East Region league Cup, 17/4

As far as junior football goes this was easily one of the biggest upsets of the season. Lochee were Champions elect (minus the human manatee and ex Scotland international Gary Kenneth who was benched)in the Superleague, East Craigie were mid table in the second tier. Lochee were 1/7 on at the bookies to win. East Craigies odds must have been huge. Big credit to East Craigie who attacked from the off and never stopped. The gulf in the teams was absent and “The Ship Builders” were by far the better team and deserved to win by more.

CARLISLE UNITED 1-0 LINCOLN CITY

Brunton Park, EFL League 2, 19/4

Due to its proximity to Scotland and its old school vibe I had wanted to take a trip to Cumbria to watch eh…… the” Cumbrians”. Easter weekend threw up the opportunity, holiday Friday meant a three o’clock kick off. Lincoln City were to win the league with a win, but Carlisle still had playoff ideas. It had the makings of a good match. Turned out it was shite with the goal coming five minutes from time. On the positive side of things, I had a lovely pint of Theakstons Best Bitter pre match in the bar inside the Main Stand. This was followed by one of the best pies I have shoveled into my gob. A Steak and Ale delight. Forres Mechanics steak pies still hold the Golden Graeme pie award but this effort from Carlisle was a lovely. Worth going to a game for if you are passing by. The third thing to add to the Brunton experience was terracing. Football is so much better when viewed from terracing, the scorching hot sun and the balmy twenty-three degrees C was also an added bonus. There were also the impressive Lincoln numbers having their smug looks knocked of their faces (they did however go on to claim the league). Bit of a damp squib of a game but a decent day out none the less.

AYR UNITED 1 – 3 ROSS COUNTY

Somerset Park, SPFL Championship, 19/4

With just over two hours to get up to Ayr from Carlisle inclusive of tackling the A70 which is possibly the windiest road in Scotland I was expecting to get to Somerset Park bang on kick off. Turns out I was to make better time than I thought and to make matters even better I managed to get a parking space just off Somerset Road. This allowing me to bump into Pandamonium, the fantastically named Ayr United mascot (who is a panda if you haven’t already worked it out) and got the obligatory photo. Somerset Park is on the endangered species list. It’s an old gem and the kind of place I love. Football is seriously lacking these types as clubs are replacing them with identikit usually out of town soulless glorified bike sheds which is a sad. I wasn’t totally neutral for this game. If Ross County were to win, they were all but league champions Leaving Dundee Untied staring at the playoffs. The longer they stay down there the funnier it is. In real terms Ross County will would be champions as their goal difference was plus twenty with two games to go on the Dundee side. This meaning effectively, it was the extra point needed to be crowned champions. The Staggies fans were happy come the final whistle as after a perfect hattrick from Brian Graham they were pretty much home and dry and heading back to the Premiership at the first attempt. A feat that only two teams before had accomplished. Tough league to get out of.

AUCHINLECK TALBOT 6-0 CARLUKE ROVERS

Beechwood Park, West of Scotland Cup, 20/4

My ‘Bot experience actually started on the Friday night. After Somerset Park I was to stay in the Railway Hotel in Auchinleck. The plan was to have a couple of pints in the hotel bar due to my late check in. Turns out the locals of Auchinleck are very friendly and brimming with local pride. They all seem to follow the ‘bot. After I ordered my second pint an old geezer enquired about my accent. Once I explained I was from the ‘shire and was there to see the Talbot it opened the floodgates to people speaking. I ended up having a more beer than the quota I intended, but it was worth it due to the cracking company I was in. The highlight of the night being the old geezer who initiated the conversation at the start again wiping his memory and trying to initiate conversation by asking where my accent was from and why I found myself in Auchinleck. He must have pushed reset in his brain as I had already spoke to him for around forty minutes. That’s what double whiskies will do to you. Bed came calling at two am. In the morning I had a wander around the town then made myself comfy in the social club with a pint and a paper. I was immediately accosted by a long in the tooth gentleman. The old small-town mentality of “I haven’t seen you in here before?” was immediately on show and as soon as I opened my Aberdeenshire trap I outed myself. After explaining I was on a quest to see every junior team to win the Scottish Cup during my lifetime, I was bought another pint. As the bar got busier, more and more people were at me “you the big un from Aberdeen?”, “good luck in your quest, I hope Cumnock haven’t won it, you don’t want to go there” and my favourite “I heard about your challenge, does that mean you will be here twelve times”. I had a conversation with the club secretary who handed me a free pint, free programme and told me tell the gate I was to be let in for free. These sorts of gestures may sound insignificant but to a football fan like myself they are huge. Unnecessary but welcome, but more importantly they tell you a lot about the club and Auchinleck Talbot have are a fantastic club from top to bottom. I had entered Beechwood half an hour early as I had spoken to the guy from the “nostalgia shop” in the bar and he asked me round for a cup of tea. This shop is full of old programmes, books, trinkets, pin badges and such like. All the proceeds go toward the floodlight fund at Beechwood. A quality wee shop where I parted with twelve quid to purchase some Scottish Premier Reviews I did not have in my collection. Half an hour of yapping and meeting numerous ex-players an ‘bot diehards” the match kicked off. Turned out it was to be an exhibition match for Talbot who dominated proceeding and should have put more past Rovers (three divisions below Auchinleck) as the final whistle went, I was wished all the best and told to come back for a “bigger” game. I have never revisited a ground from my travel. One day ill head back down to Beechwood Park and Auchinleck in general. One of my favourite away days

NEC NIJMEGEN 2 v 1 RKC WAALWIJK

Goffert Stadion, Eerste Divisie, 22/4

I had been to a concert in the shadow of the Goffert Stadion many moons ago. Pearl Jam played in 2008 in the adjacent Goffert Park. A cracking few days Holland on the beers ensued. Eleven years later I was back in Nijmegen. This time to quench my Dutch fitba thirst (outside Scotland it’s my favourite place to go). After taking in the sights and a few beers I jumped on a train to the out of city stadium. On arrival at the ground I noticed a few “Nijmegen:Motherwell” t-shirts in the supporters bar, these guys in turn noticed my Aberdeen polo shirt. Eventually we ended up talking and it turns out it was a long-standing relationship pre dating the Michael Higdon Link that many people I told assumed it was. Some of the guys had been over to Fir Park a few times. But I never did find out what the link was. I did however enjoy the banter with these guys covered up my Dons badge with a Nijmegen sticker. The game was played in glorious sunshine for the full 90. Shame the football was not up to the standards of the weather. It wasn’t rubbish. It just wasnt great. It was a game of two halves with RKC dominating the first half and going in 1-0 at the break and deservedly so. Then Nijmegen were transformed in the second and dominated proceedings which culminated in a 2-1 victory. At the time I would have thought both teams were dead certs for staying in the division. RKC ended up promoted via the playoffs and will this season be playing the big boys

HEERENVEEN 2 v 2 VVV

Abe Lenstra Stadion, Eeredivisie, 23/4

Decent game between two mid table also rans. End to end with both teams clearly wanting to take the points. Thoroughly enjoyable game. Michael Vlaap (now moved on to Belgian giants Anderlecht) the star man bagging a double for the home side. The game was free flowing and a good watch, made all the better by a defensive cock up gifting VVV a last-minute equalizer. Good weather, good beer, good ground, good game. Glad I went

PEC ZWOLLE 1 AvA 2 GRONINGEN

Ijsseldelta Stadion, Eeredivise, 25/4

Abandoned at the hour mark due to lightning. A first and probably a last for me. Incredible goings on. You could see the forks which seemed like they were only meteres above the pitch. The cracks sounded so close it was as if someone was whipping the stairs next to me. Surreal night that one. The replayed match was a week later and finished 3-2 to Zwolle

POLLOK 4 – 0 CLYDEBANK

Newlandsfield, West Region Superleague, 27/4

As I was in Glasgow at an all-day punk festival featuring the Macc Lads, UK Subs and the Exploited I managed to coax my pal into leaving for a couple of hours when the lesser known bands were on. Glad I did. Newlandsfield is ace. A stadium hidden away just off Pollokshaws road. A stadium where the pies are excellent, the fans (around 500) were boisterous and the joints and half bottles flowed free. Quite the atmosphere. The game was very one sided but that didnt make it unenjoyable. In fact it was very enjoyable due to the gung ho approach by the Lok. The played in a 4-3-3 with an unorthodox three whippets up top with a whippet in behind. The Bankies defence didn’t know what to do.It didn’t help they were cumbersome and slow. 4-0 going on 8 . We made it back to the Academy in plenty of time for the excellent UK Subs and the foul mouthed Lads from Macc. Cracking day

FORFAR WEST END 4 v 4 TAYPORT*

Strathmore Park, East Region Consolation Cup,1/5

People asked why I would bother going to watch Forfar West End v Tayport in the consolation cup on a Wednesday night. I think I even questioned myself. Turned out it was the best game I saw in 2018/19 season by a country mile. Started off in a good way as I was on the hunt for a pin badge for my brothers extensive fitba pin badge collection and I literally managed to buy one off the lapel of a committee members blazer. I would have paid twenty quid to watch this it was that good. A fiver and a turnstile lift for Wee Man was all this epic cost. To start it was rough throughout with tackles flying in everywhere, some better timed than others. West End missed an early penalty which quickly after Tayport took the lead. But that didn’t last long and West End equalized on the half. I would guess there were at least twenty-five fouls in the first half. After the break I counted the fouls and got to thirteen which in fact led to a Tayport penalty. Not bad for eleven minutes. 2-1 Tayport. From centre I saw the greatest save I ever seen in the flesh. Seeing the keeper at the edge of his box West End shot from kick off, the shot was not a lobbed effort but more arrowed at pace, this sending the keeper scrambling and with maybe two yards to spare the ball was over the Tayport number one but miraculously he dived towards goal, body fully horizontal and threw a haymaker at the ball almost under the bar and managed to divert it over the bar and out of the ground. Truly stunning stuff. If that was in the Champions League or the World cup the media would have been gushing for weeks. To make the save better, the resulting corner was cleared and Tayport countered and made it 3-1. Wee man and I started to shuffle toward the exit as the clock was running down but West End who were clearly down but not out grabbed a second through a quality header across the goal. At this point we stopped to see if an equalizer would come and it did via a ninetieth minute penalty. Surely the game over now with a draw being a fair result. But no on ninety-three minutes Tayport won it with a fourth. Or so you would have thought. The piley on celebration suggested the Tayport players thought so too. But again, there was another twist to this classic battle and West End went straight up the park and smashed home an unlikely fourth. Fantastic viewing and just goes to show you don’t need multi-million-pound players or over inflated egos to create top class entertainment. Superlative generating action.

TWENTE 2 v 2 CAMBUUR

De Grolsch Veste, Eerste Divisie, 3/5

After heading to the Grolsch brewery for the tour only to find that the days early English tour wasn’t happening and the next one would interfere with the football the day started off on a downer. Not to worry as I went for a wander around Enschede where you will never struggle for a beer or food. Nice city. The game was billed as the title party with Twente already being champions and heading to the Eredivisie. There was to be the trophy presentation and the celebrations post-match. Everything was going to plan too. 90 minutes on the clock and two nil. Then in the blink of an eye it was 2-2 and should have been 3-2 Cambuur after they had a third goal chopped off for offside. From the other end of the pitch I knew it was on. After seeing a replay, it was truly an astonishing decision. Preventing me from seeing one of the greatest and unexpected comebacks I was likely to ever see. The Grolsch Veste (very tidy stadium) emptied at the final whistle inclusive of me and I can only guess the party would have only been half full if that.

ROT WEISS OBERHAUSEN 1-1 ROT WEISS ESSEN Niederrheinstadion, Regionalliga West, 4/5

Got caught up in running street battles and a hail of bottles at train station, wrongfully detained by police for two hours. More on this one to follow. Worthy of its own post

DOWNFIELD 0-4 BROUGHTY ATHLETIC *

Downfield Park, East Region League Cup ,6/5

This had quite easily the biggest capitulation I have ever seen in a game. All four goals coming in three minutes. People say you are most vulnerable to conceding after you have just scored. Or in Downfields case, you are most vulnerable to conceding after you have just conceded. As Wee Man said, “there’s another one”…..”oh there’s another one”……..”wow there’s another one”

BLAIRGOWRIE 3-4 FORFAR WEST END *

Davie Park, East Region Consolation Cup, 8/5

High scoring and conceding West End again in the Perth and Kinross drizzle. Davie Park has a charm to it. With the stand on the wing just being the shell of what it used to be before new legislation made the club rip out all the seating. Now you stand in what can only be described as a sandpit. The drizzle drizzled all night, Wee Mans ball was in tow for a kick about as always, so the weather didn’t put him down in anyway. The night started on a great note as I was gifted a pin badge for my brother when I asked at the pie hut. Always a sign of a good night. The game was a great watch too. Goals flying in from all angles. I did fear the worst when the Blairgowrie keeper was sent off for wiping out the striker and denying a goal scoring opportunity. After FWEs goal scoring qualities the previous week I expected a massacre due to an outfielder taking over the gloves. It did not materialize, and Blairgowrie gave as good as they got leaving a tense last few minutes when they pegged West End back to 3-4 and were clearly on top but it wasn’t to be. Good viewing

SHOTTS BON ACCORD 3-4 BLANTYRE VICTORIA *

Hannah Park, West Region League One. 11/5

Another high scoring affair in the Juniors at the biggest playing surface in Scottish fitba. Shotts trailed Gartcairn in the league by five points with two games to play, Gartcairn were finished. Its was all or bust. And Blantyre were there to make sure it was bust as they had their own promotion hopes to deal with. The teams emerged out of the clubhouse to a plume of blue flare smoke from the Blantyre fans. Nice work, pyro at the Juniors. This game was also a cracker. Blantyre were all over the hosts and deservedly went up one nil, cue more smoke. They were then awarded a pen that wasn’t a pen which was missed but ordered to be retaken for a reason I am still trying to figure out to this day. Same taker did his best to miss this one too and rocketed it off the bar but it just crept in. Flare number three was cracked. Shotts pulled one back but then found themselves there then four one down. Wee man and I started to make our way to the other end of the ground so we could make a cool sharp harp before the sizable crowd when The BAs grabbed a second and quickly followed up with a third with four minutes to go. The old saying of” everything but the kitchen sink” sprang to mind as Shotts did everything in their power but it wasn’t to be. Another game up there with the most entertaining I have ever seen. Without a multimillion-pound player in sight. Both teams end up promoted in second and third and joined Gartcairn up a division

COUPAR ANGUS 0-1 FORFAR ALBION *

Foxhall Park, East Region North Division, 13/5

Terrible viewing but in a quirky wee ground complete with grass cuttings still left on the park, a hedge to put Brechin City to shame, multiple silos looming over the pitch and the perimeter fence being wired up with chicken wire to keep foxes off the pitch. Great place, terrible game. Two things of note, Forfar scored in the last minute and Coupar Angus had clearly pulled guys off the street/pub (delete as applicable). Again, ill state this was a terrible game but what did I expect given this was two of Scotlands three worst junior teams doing battle (Cruden Bay in the North being the other). Credit to both teams though. Keeping at it when times are tough

Pandamonium on the right
As far as upsets go,this was a big one
Great club with great people
Cracking entertainment with pyro to boot
Clash of the titans
Cambuur pissed on Twentes title party chips
Oblivious to what was coming post game
Abandoned due to lightning
Highly entertaining dead rubber

Published by pacman1903

Once a football fan. Now a football nerd

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