The Dons a Year On- 56 games, 55 grounds, 199 Goals and a Turd in a Urinal Later

I have mentioned elsewhere that I had become seriously disengaged with watching Aberdeen. The football was as poor as I had seen for many a year, we were struggling for wins at home and it just was not fun. The r*****s in the Scottish Cup, 3rd of March 2019. The final whistle blew and the one each draw was treated like a win by the majority of the fans around me. That was it. I was done for the season and I was pretty much sure I was not renewing my season ticket. The disappointment and realisation that we were a club in regression was too much. The period where in my eyes most potential of glory in my time watching was closing down rapidly. More significantly there was a more colossal factor in my decision……

Contrary to the opinions of the,” real fans won’t miss you” Top Red brigade who seemed to be desperate to have a go. “Real fans support through thick and thin”, “ The club don’t need folk like you” was the kind of shite I heard. I was even called a “glory hunter” however that conclusion was came to I am still baffled. What these people didn’t realise was there was more to it than just I had an issue with the managers shitebag tactics and the club questionable decisions. Although I will not deny they were factors in my decision but at the same time it was the least important factor. My son at the time was four, he was growing at an incredible rate. As I work offshore on a 28/28-day rota in Angola I was missing him grow up and missing him in general. We had started going to Pittodrie and we had also started attending random games when the Dons were away. These games were visits to teams from the Championship down to the Juniors. We had already visited the likes of Morton, Airdrie, Albion Rovers, Tayport, Whitburn, Buckie Thistle to name a few. These games were always preceded by a point of interest, lunch and then the fitba. It was a day out and it was magic. But more importantly Wee Man enjoyed it more and he told me “I like little games better”. So, there was no decision was to be made by me. The king had spoken. In reality, I was quite excited by the prospect as I was quite enjoying the randomness of visiting all these places, I was interested to see where we would end up.

Back to Pittodrie and the Scottish Cup tie. I was walking up Merkland Road in the aftermath of the draw and I had decided that was it, as I was going offshore on the Wednesday and from when I came home Wee Man and myself were going to see our awesome country and some of the “little games” it had to offer. On top of that I was going to cram in as much rand-a-games as I could when we weren’t together too. At the time I did not realise the monster it was going to become………..

Obviously, as previously stated, the Dons-less year started with a month between the Equator and the Tropic of Capricorn but in footballing terms it all started when I returned from my post sevco trip offshore, a wee trip midweek trip down to Dundee, to a ground we both wanted visit, Thomson Park. To explain, Wee Man always wants to go to see the teams he has seen as the away team. On this occasion it was Lochee United who we had previously seen away at Dundee Violet and Tayport. In my case I am just a geek a have a list of grounds to tick off. A far as Junior upsets went it was a big one. Champions elect in the Superleague and second tier also rans. Lochee were 1/7 at the bookies and this was a formality. The Shipmakers of East Craigie won and won comfortably 3-1 under the spring sun. Quite honestly, they should have won by more. A very decent and unexpected result

Ten months later the final game of the first year of my self-imposed Pittodrie banishment was overseas. The swansong game of a four match Dutch tour and it was a belter. I am an old romantic and love the relic grounds. The dying breeds with the fantastic old main stands as their focal point such as Somerset Park, Meadow Park (note to self, go see Irvine Meadow), Bellslea Park and such like. These are the places I would choose to go over anywhere. But I am not stubborn like some who just hate all new builds and I do frequent numerous more modern middens as I go along. The ground I found myself at was the ultra-modern Gelredome in Arnhem, home to Vitesse. This place was opened in 1998 and is still streets ahead of some of the rubbish and usually out of town things called stadiums these days. This like Thomson Park was another ground that was on my list. The whole Dutch trip was based around this place. A fantastic arena and had the extra added bonus of a closed roof as Storm Dennis was kicking about the city. The game lived up to the quality of the Stadium and ended up being the best game I have witnessed this season. Vitesse 2-0 up and cruising, Heerenveen back to 2-2, penalties denied, penalties given and Vitesse coming up trumps in a 4-2 win. Great viewing. But there have been another fifty-four in between………

Considering I have been away for six of the last twelve months I am surprised I managed to fit in fifty-six games, that’s an average of 9.3 games per trip home, i.e. two and a bit games a week. I would never try and bore anyone with an in-depth review of them all, but I’ll pick and choose highlights and lowlights and since there were not many of the latter then I’ll get them out of the way first. Then concentrate on trying to ensure the enjoyment of this period of my life is highlighted enough because I have had a ball. So, here are the downs and ups of following fitba with no emotional attachment for a year.

Lows

The Netherlands is my favourite place to watch fitba out with the lower reaches of Scotland. Eighteen different stadia have graced my size twelve Sambas. The eighteenth brought me possibly the worst game of football I have seen. Fortuna Sittard 0 v 0 Emmen. To top the whole night off I made an arse of it, and started the evening in rubbish circumstances. When I got to my hotel the weather looked to be changing. I swapped my fleece for a jacket as a precaution. This meaning I left my phone in my fleece leaving me with no means to document my visit. Since I have started becoming a ground botherer when I began my Highland League quest, I have managed to get a photo outside the ground of choice. I now have a hole in the collection, but it adds to the story of being served up such grand scale dirge. One shot on target all game, there was a red card but that didn’t change the honking experience. Worst European away day in sixty-four attempts. Maybe it wasn’t worth documenting. Speaking of terrible 0-0s my first trip to see Tynecastle’s new Main Stand was almost as bad as the Sittard experience. Scotland U21s v Lithuania U21s. Another shocker played in awful monsoon like conditions. A dreich hour and a half of my life lost. The only reason it gets any points and was a better experience than Sittard was I got the pleasure of being in the best ground in Scotland. Shame it will be second tier next season, well not really. On stadiums, the odd architecture of Stade de Licorns, home of French plucky top-flight outfit Amiens threw up a first and quite possibly last for me. A game postponed at KO. As I walked toward the stadium, the supporters ten meters in front of me were barely visible. The fog really was “pea soup”. I got in the grounds outer area, grabbed a beer and got my usual scarf and even a shirt was thrown into the mix, which is a rarity these days. It was too smart to pass on. I was chatting to the guy in the club shop about Scotland as he had clocked my Dons tourie. While all of this was going on, I was oblivious of what was about to unfold in ten minutes time. When I walked out on to the terrace, I couldn’t see a thing. The fog was so thick I couldn’t see the halfway line let alone the other goal. I didn’t get to really take in this wonderfully wacky greenhouse like arena. The ultras chanted; the drum banged then the tannoy spoke. It could have only been saying one thing. The capo yelled through his megaphone and the crowd dispersed. I couldn’t have been on the terrace for more than five minutes. Only two scoofs were had of my Kronenburg. That was that, my Amiens experience was over before it started. I made my way to a restaurant on the way back to the centre and munched on escargot which I had promised myself I would do to try and numb my disdain. The calvados that followed certainly helped ease the pain. The worst low however was a bit closer to home than the other three but continues on the theme of weather. I am currently in the middle of a challenge I set my self where I am to visit every team to win the Scottish Junior Cup in my lifetime. Hill of Beath Hawthorn (winners in 1990) were becoming a hard nut to crack. Keirs Park had been pencilled in three times previously and aborted three times. On the first occasion Wee Mans mum was late picking him up and I missed my train, the second time I missed my flight home from work after delays offshore, the third time was a midweek fixture, five sets of road works between Meldrum and Stonehaven held me up to the extent where I turned back home at Fourdon as I was looking at missing a quarter of the game(pesky average speed cameras). Finally, Keirs Park awaited, but the journey there was not usual route, it was a three hundred- and seven-mile jaunt through three countries. This was due to a random ground bother in North Wales at Colwyn Bay the previous night. The further north we got the clouds got darker and darker, the rain fell harder and harder. My cousin in the passenger seat resorted to Twitter updates to see if we were wasting our time. Turns out the game was on which was to our amazement. After the usual pre match rituals (by ritual I mean pints) we made the short but showery walk from the Ex Servicemen’s club to the ground. We knew this game was in jeopardy. Once we got a glimpse of the park, we both turned to each other and like Nostradamus predicted this was to be abandoned. That is exactly what happened after half an hour. After the ball caught in the far corner for the umpteenth time the ref blew up and called time with the Haws winning 1-0 at the time against Tranent. In the grand scheme of things, four lows in 56 games is nothing to be too down about. I just know now never to organise to see Hill of Beath again as it is just not meant to be I do not think.

Highs

Where to start here is the hard part because there have been countless. I suppose to categorize it is the best way. So here goes, games first. The best game by a long way was Forfar West End 4 v 4 Tayport in the East of Scotland Consolation Cup. Hard tackling, penalties, high quality finishes, almost fisticuffs in the crowd, 3-2 on ninety minutes and easily the greatest save I have seen in the flesh (Tayport keeper). Quite possibly the best game I have been to. Who needs two hundred grand a week mercenaries? Special mentions also go to Twente 2 v 2 Cambuur which was 2-0 at 90 mins and Cambuur came back and got one chopped of for an offside that was not even close to being offside, all in injury time. Could have been the greatest comeback in all my days. Blairgowrie 3 v 4 Forfar West End, them again. They clearly adopt the “score more than we concede approach”. Played in the pissing rain but the entertainment wasn’t dampened. Brora R*****s 3 v 2 Inverness Caley in the North of Scotland Cup final was a David versus goliath fixture with Goliath trying to kick lumps out of the free football playing David. Football and the underdog prevailed much to my delight as ICT were just thugs and hammer throwers. I have already mentioned the Vitesse v Heerenveen game which was also quality viewing and made me realise in person the VAR is shite.

Ground wise there was obviously the Gelredome and Tynecastle which are mentioned above but my favourite out of the lot is probably Hannah Park in Shotts. Huge place area wise and I was not surprised it’s the largest playing surface in Scotland. But I loved the old school bowl of terracing with main stand on the wing. A great example of the Junior game in our country. We were served up a cracker in the scorching Lanarkshire sun with Blantyre Victoria beating Shotts Bon Accord 4-3. Goals galore but more convincing than the score suggests. I finally ticked off Somerset Park with my first visit to watch Ross County all but win the Championship. It is a sin that these types of footballing palaces are a dying breed. An outstanding place to watch a game. Two more marvellous examples of the Juniors I was lucky enough to visit were the acceptable face of Glasgow fitba Polloks Newlandsfield and Beechwood Park in Sauchie. The former was part of my Junior Cup winners’ quest and totally off the cuff as I ducked out of an all-day punk festival to attend the demolition of Clydebank. I couldn’t help but admire this old beauty on Glasgows South Side. I will have to revisit as Wee Man is desperate to go. The latter is a more modern ground with the new build main stand. Picturesque to look at with the Ochil Hills looming behind it. The opposite side has a standing enclosure and the whole park is surrounded by trees. A very tidy set up fit for a great club (more on that after).

I have mentioned the best save at FWE. Ill try and do it justice with a describe it but I have a feeling I will come up short. Basically Tayport scored and from center , 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. It’s easily the best thing I have seen throughout the year. But, a close second is the best goal which is not open to debate. Easy. Lanark Uniteds Paul O’Donnells goal against Auchinleck Talbot in the Sectional Cup final at the eh………neutral Beechwood Park, home of Auchinleck Talbot. The first thing I thought when I saw it scud the back of the net, “Eoin Jess v R*****s. He picked the ball up in his own half, left a couple ‘Bot players for dead and from a full thirty-five yards unleashed a howitzer into the top corner leaving the helpless Andrew Leishman reaching for raindrops only. Not to beaten for me this season and I will guarantee that.

Another major factor in enjoying the year so much is the folk. I have met some brilliant people at some brilliant clubs. There have been the Motherwell supporting NEC fans in Nijmegen who had a beer and a good chat about Scottish fitba with me. The security guard at De Graafschap who let me walk about De Vijverberg pre game when it was empty. There were the jovial older Auchinleck fans in the social club and President Morton Wright who gave me a warm welcome before the Carluke game.  Forfar West End threw up a first when I was searching out a badge for my brothers’ extensive collection. A committee member sold me the one of his blazers lapel. A great but unnecessary gesture. The Rothes Ultras at MacKessack Park were great and Wee Man was amazed by them. He still talks about them to this day. He was more than excited to hear that we will be heading to Formatine United v Rothes in April. A decent addition to the Highland League and a credit to their team. A random meeting with Tranmere Rovers manager Mickey Mellon in the lift of our Sunderland hotel was a nice chance occurrence. To be honest I did not know it was him, but he was wearing a full TR tracksuit, it was not until I looked him up after I realised who we spoke to. He chatted away with Wee Man and wished us well. A very down to earth guy. The Colwyn Bay visit had a random fan give us a lift back into the town centre after the game. Again, unneeded but welcome gesture from a sound bloke. This followed the next day by Hill of Beath committee members offering hospitality at half time on the house. Obviously, the game would have to reach half time for this to happen but a fantastic act from the club all the same. As much as these actions and acts of kindness were more than appreciated and there a lot more people I have met. But there are stand outs. One for completely different reasons and the others for just being pleasant to speak to and for helping me realise that fitba is more than just twenty-two people chasing a bag of wind first up. My twenty-four hour trip to Belfast for Cliftonville v Barry Town was magic. The pints bought for me pre-game by fans from both sides because they thought I was a “bit mad” for heading over for a day. This was followed up by the free scarf I received from a fan as the club shop had ran out. Or hadn’t stocked up for the season ahead should I say. It was July after all. Then to top it off a lovely couple of ladies connected to the club (supporter liaisons maybe?) got speaking to me. Once they heard my story and I explained I was coming back and taking Wee Man with me in a few weeks later, to try and entice me to come to the derby v Crusaders they gave me a Cliftonville trackie top for Wee Man to wear. Quality stuff. I didn’t head to the derby, but I will be back as I think Belfast is a fantastic city. Staying in Northern Ireland, down to County Tyrone and Dungannon Swifts, Niall McGinns first club. After an email conversation with secretary Simon Graham a few weeks in advance he stuck to his word and met us before the game. He instructed me and Wee Man to come into hospitality in the board room at HT. Here were spoke to club members and met the head of the NIFL David Martin and he was intrigued on why a father and son from Aberdeen would find themselves in Dungannon. We also tucked into the Jammy Dodgers and Prawn Sandwiches. Back on home soil Cumnock were very good to us. Three of us headed to the derby with Glenafton Athletic, Wee Man, a pal and me. At the ground I met the lovely cheery and chatty Christine while searching out a badge, this followed by various club members including Alan which led to us up in hospitality at half time where were told great stories of the two Scottish Cup wins. I can safely say that was the best welcome I had had at football to date. We were even invited to hospitality post-match so we could fill our bellies before the two hundred, mile drive home. A magic club that. Even though I get funny looks wearing a Cumnock JFC hat in Aberdeenshire I know why I wear it. Similar, to Cumnock Wee Man and I were welcomed with open arms at Sauchie in Clackmananshire. I had contacted the club prior to ask a few questions. I had mentioned it was Wee Mans fiftieth game too. When we turned up there was a present waiting for the wee guy. A Sauchie scarf to commemorate his impressive achievement. (impressive as he is only five) There we met chairman Karl, Committee member Matt both who seemed to be top dudes and very happy to have us. Other club members and supporters approached us for a chat throughout too. A really enjoyable experience at Beechwood Park and winning the half time draw was the icing on the cake. Over to Germany. Where they were not so nice. Bad at the time but a highlight now and some story. Caught up in running riots brutalised by police after the match and detained at the train station, missing my train to Schiphol meaning I missed my flight. All for while trying to mind my own business away for the trouble but having a skinhead and an Aberdeen track top on. Scary at the time but funny now. Absolutely falls under highlight Ill never forget my trip to Rot Weiss Oberhausen v Rot Weiss Essen. Rot Weiss Barmy Army

Oh and there was a turd in the urinal at Falkirk

Thoughts

That’s only really scratching the surface of it all. But ill maybe save that for a book. There is a lot more to it. Saturdays at the fitba with Wee Man include a lot more than just the match. We have visited some fantastic places en route to fitba. Off the top of my head, Bamburgh Castle, The Scottish Owl Sanctuary, Hadrians Wall, Wallace Monument, Lindesfarne, Carrickfergus Castle, Linlithgow Palace, Deep Sea World, Five Sisters Zoo. The list is massive. That is really why I ditched Pittodrie. To spend time with the wee man. While doing what he wanted and going to “little games”. If could change one thing about the year, I wish he was at every game with me. (Except maybe Oberhausen due to the trouble) but circumstances out with my control prevent this from happening. But there is one thing I could change but I know for certain I will not be. I could end my Pittodrie interdiction, but here we are a year later and what have we missed seven wins in twenty-five games. Really poor and when at the same time Wee Man and myself, sometimes accompanied by others have be having a ball it’s a no brainer really. Wee Man is working his way to becoming a ground bothering centurion anyway. So what if im not a top red. I really dont care. I know where I would rather be. What I do care about is where I am in life. Its a great place to be. This year has really been the best period of my life, bring on the next one…….. 

Plenty more on most of these games elsewhere in my blog

See the sights……….
And see the fitba. It doesnt get better

The Full List of Games

*indicates Wee Mans Presence

Lochee United 1 v 3 East Craigie – Thomson Park, East Region League Cup, 17/4/19 *

Carlisle United 1 v 0 Lincoln City – Brunton Park, EFL League 2, 19/4/19

Ayr United 1 v 3 Ross County – Somerset Park, SPFL Championship, 19/4/19

Auchinleck Talbot 6 v 0 Carluke Rovers -Beechwood Park, West of Scotland Cup, 20/4/19

NEC 2 v 1 RKC Waalwijk, Goffert Stadion Eerste Divisie, 22/4/19

Heerenveen 2 v 2 VVV, Abe Lenstra Stadion, Eredivisie, 23/4/19

Zwolle 1 A v A 2 Groningen, Ijsseldelta Stadion, Eredivisie, 25/4/19

Pollok 4 v 0 Clydebank, Newlandsfield, West Region Premiership, 27/4/19

Forfar West End 4 v 4 Tayport, Strathmore Park, East Region Consolation Cup, 1/5/19

Twente 2 v 2 Cambuur, De Grolsch Veste, Ereste Divisie, 3/5/19

Rot Weiss Oberhausen 1 v 1 Rot Weiss Essen, Niederrheinstadion, Regionaliliga West,4/5/19

Downfield 0 v 4 Broughty Athletic, Downfield Park, East Region League Cup, 6/5/19*

Blairgowrie 3 v 4 Forfar West End, Davie Park, East Region Consolation Cup, 8/5/19*

Shotts Bon Accord 3 v 4 Blantyre Victoria, Hannah Park, West Region League One, 11/5/19*

Coupar Angus 0 v 1 Forfar Albion, Foxhall Park, East Region North Division, 13/5*

Dunipace 0 v 1 Edinburgh United, Westfield Park, Friendly, 22/6/19*

Blyth Spartans 3 v 1 Stranraer, Croft Park, Friendly, 29/6/19*

Peterhead 0 v 2 Aberdeen, Balmoor, Friendly, 3/7/19*

Cliftonville 4 v 0 Barry Town United, Solitude, Europa League Preliminary Qualifier 2nd Leg, 4/7/19

Beith 4 v 2 Largs Thistle, Bellsdale Park, West Region Sectional Cup, 12/8/19*

Dundalk 5 v 0 Finn Harps, Oriel Park, League of Ireland Premier Division,16/8/19*

Dungannon Swifts 3 v 1 Glentoran, Stangmore Park, Irish Premiership, 17/8/19*

Islavale 7 v 0 Whitehills, Simpson Park, North Region Second Division, 25/8/19*

Kelty Hearts 5 v 0 Spartans, New Central Park, Lowland League, 27/8/19*

Bathgate Thistle 1 v 7 Armadale Thistle, East Region Cup,31/8/19*

Deveronside 0 v 0 Benburb, Macduff Sports Complex, Scottish Junior Cup 2nd Round,5/10/19*

Brora Rangers 3 v 2 Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Mosset Park, North of Scotland Cup Final, 6/10/19

Huntly 0 v 0 Formartine United, Christie Park, Highland League, 9/10/19*

Scotland U21s 0 v 0 Lithuania U21s, Tynecastle, European Championship Qualifier, 10/10/19

Newmachar United 3 v 2 Glentanar, North Region Second Division, 12/10/19

Lanark United 1 v 6 Auchinleck Talbot, Beechwood Park, West Region Sectional Cup Final, 13/10/19

Hurlford 1 v 0 Pollok, Blair Park, West Region Premiership,19/10/19*

Sunderland 5 v 0 Tranmere Rovers, The Stadium of Light, EFL League 1, 22/10/19*

St Cuthbert Wanderers 3 v 3 Heston Rovers, St Marys Park, South of Scotland League,23/10/19*

Spartans 1 v 3 East Stirlingshire, Ainslie Park, Lowland League,26/10/19*

Linlithgow Rose CFC 0 v 2 Pollok, Prestonfield, Scottish Junior Cup 3rd Round, 26/10/19*

Largs Thistle 1 v 2 Kilwinning R*****s, West Region Premiership,31/11/19*

Le Harve 2 v 0 Le Mans, Stade Oceane, Ligue 2, 3/12/19

Amiens P v P Stade Reims, Stade de Licorns, Ligue 1, 4/12/19

Colwyn Bay 1 AET 0 Airbus UK, Welsh Cup, 6/12/19

Hill of Beath Hawthorn 1 A v A 0 Tranent, Keirs Park, 7/12/19

Wolverhampton Wanders 4 v 0 Besiktas, Molineux, Europa League Group K,12/12/19

Arbroath Victoria 3 v 0 Dundee Violet, East Region, Premier League North, 14/12/19*

Banks o’ Dee 2 v 0 East End, Spain Park,North Region Superleague,18/12/19*

Cumnock 1 v 2 Glenafton, Townhead Park, West Region Premiership, 21/12/19*

Kirrie Thistle 0 v 2 Lochee United, Westview Park, East Region Superleague, 25/1/20*

Mid Annandale 0 v 7 Musselburgh Athletic, New Murrayfield Park, South & East Shield, 26/1/20*

Falkirk 2 v 0 Arbroath, The Falkirk Stadium, Scottish Cup 4th Round Replay, 28/1/20*

Rothes 3 v 1 Keith, MacKessack Park, Highland League Cup, 5/2/19*

Cumbernauld Colts 0 v 1 Spartans, Broadwood, Lowland League, 7/2/20*

Sauchie 4 v 1 Newtongrange Star, Beechwood Park, East of Scotland Premier League, 8/2/20*

BSC Glasgow 1 v 4 Hibernian, Recreation Park, Scottish Cup 5th Round, 9/2/20*

De Graafschaap 2 v 0 Roda JC, De Vijverberg, Ereste Divisie,14/2/20

DHSC 1 v 2 Rijnvogels, Sportpark Wesley Sneijder, Hoofdeklasse, 15/2/20

Fortuna Sittard 0 v 0 Emmen, Fortuna Sittard Stadion Eredivisie, 15/2/20

Vitesse 4 v 2 Heerenveen, Gelredome, Eredivisie, 16/2/20

Published by pacman1903

Once a football fan. Now a football nerd

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