Beechwood Park, East of Scotland Premier Division, 8/2/20
Sauchie Juniors Football Club
Founded – 1960
Nicknames– The Reds
Honours – East Region Premier League – 2011–12, 2016–17
Random Fact – Ex Dundee United and St Johnstone and multiple Trinidad and Tobago cap Colin Samuel spent a season at the club prior to getting into coaching back in his homeland.
April 2018 Wee Man spontaneously got out of bed on a Friday night and came down the stairs to find me watching Hannover v Werder Bremen. As Hannover were in red he assumed it was Aberdeen. After explaining it was just another red team he asked if he could come and watch football with me. I thought he meant the game I was sitting enjoying a beer over. I was wrong. The next day he was to witness Stonehaven Juniors smash his most local Junior team Colony Park 5-0. It had started, he was hooked
February 2020 we are walking up the gravel towards Beechwood Park, home of Sauchie Juniors Football Club. Alot of people wouldn’t bat an eyelid at Sauchie Juniors. In Wee Man and my world its one of, if not the most significant ground we have visited. The reason being…..Wee Man was to become a half centurian. Quite the effort considering he is five years and five months old. Also to add to the achievement is the fact I work abroad for twenty eight days at a time. He has bothered fifty grounds in pretty much thirteen months. It’s all he wants to do. Some would say it was forced on him. I say my ground bothering has increased due to his want for fitba.
So after abandoning the car on a grass verge we were faced with the quality graffiti welcome at the top of the hill. Theres something about this corrugated fence I find really cool. The fiftieth gate was to be entered by the young one. Not without obligiatory photos first. As we got to the gate we obviously stuck out like sore thumbs with our teuchter north eastern accents as we were immediatley asked if we were Wee Man and Dad. This stemming from a twitter exchange prior to the visit. As I had informed the club that this was a milestone the chairmans and the club had decided to give Wee Man a scarf as a momento of the occasion. A truly fantastic gesture and beyond appreciated. This was the start of one of my favourite Scottish fitba experiences in one hundred and seventeen attempts. I would never grudge 9 pound for this.
Everything just seemed to keep the wee dude happy. Obviously the scarf started his day on a high that was followed by when in the bar pre game looking at all the pennants on the wall picking out the teams we had visited like Lochee United, Largs Thistle, Kirrie Thistle, Linlithgow Rose, Downfield , Banks o’ Dee to name a few. He loved the ground, so did I, easily one of my favourite “junior” homes. His hotdog during the first half went down a treat. Everything kept a smile on his little face today.
Game time came and we were treated to a very dominant Sauchie performance. Dominant and essential as both sides went into this in a relegation dogfight. A win for Sauchie would pull them a bit more comfortably away from the visitors. A win for Newtongrange would see them leapfrog Sauchie. The game though was only to have one winner and the full time score could infact have been greater.
It was however Newtongrange who threatened first and had the ball in the net early only for it to be chopped of for a foul in the build up. Not really sure how much of a foul it was but if I was the referee I would have given it. But footballs a changed game and physical contact is not far from being completely outlawed these days. (unless your name is Leigh Griffiths) This was to be one of the visitors only real chaces in the game and Sauchie were to take the game to them for large periods of time. They should have been in the lead on ten minutes when number nine Dolan refused to use his left foot and mad a mess of the more awkward right footed effort. Sauchie however did take the lead in the first period when a pin point freekick was sent into the box for Cross to flick past the Nitten keeper McCathie. The visitors did create another chance from a corner shortly after but the header had a bit too much on it. Worryingly though the home side seemed to be a sixes and sevens defensively. Another great chance was spurned by Sauchie towards the end of the first half when Crawford pulled a decent save out of the keeper and with only the defender to beat on the line Dolan fluffed it and allowed the defender to clear off the line. Harder to miss than score for the big man. HT 1-0
After getting the Fruit Pastilles in for Wee Man I heard the half time 50/50 draw being made. As always I had indulged but for a change I bloody won it.Fifty pounds in the pocket meaning on Wee Mans fiftieth ground, I won fifty pounds from the 50/50 raffle. You cant write that sort of stories.
With a heavier wallet the second half started and it was to continue like the first half did. Sauchie heavy. Their lead should have been doubled with a free header at the back post but the effort was tame. Then the defecit was almost doubled in hillarious circumstances when the Nitten defence was tied in knots by their own poor defending resulting in a sclaffed clearance cannoning off the Sauchie front man and millimetres past the post. So close to a calamitous error which when you are at the foot of the table ans lucks not in your favour usually go in. Sauchie could smell blood and got into numerous threatening positions but seemed to dither or pick the wrong option but as I said to Wee Man there was another goal at least in it. As it happened I was correct and the hosts grabbed a second through a tidy move. A break up the right resulted in a cross finding Dolan(i think) with his back to goal who calmly layed off to Crawford who easily finished. A great team effort. Two didnt take long before it was three as Crawford bagged a brace. He found himself running on to a ball at the apex of the box on the left where he nonchalantly skinned the Star defender and cool as you like slipped the ball past the helpless McCathie. If the game wasnt dead an buried Bryson made sure of it with a fourth ensuring a vital full points were going to be added to Sauchies tally. But there was a slight blot on the home sides copy book when Newtongrange grabbed a consolation. Albeit via a minging deflection. One of those trouble free shots the keeper would save untill a defender sticks a foot out sending the ball up in a mortaresque trajectory up and over the keeper. 4-1 was how it was to finish. The final whistle blew as incoming Storm Ciara was making her presence felt. If this game was a three o’clock kick off it would have had a miserable finale to the game as the wind picked up and the heavens opened towards the final whistle.
On the whole a great day. But great days are made by what you are faced with, whether it is Matt and Karl at the turnstile, the free scarf, winning the half time draw, the welcoming committee members we spoke to, the fans who had a blether, its places like Sauchie, Cumnock, Arbroath Vics, Forfar West End where the little gestures go a long way. But also make me not regret packing in the pro game to concentrate on the so called “lesser” football. It may have less people and less money but it has an almighty appeal to Wee Man and myself.
Me 177, Wee Man 50