Central Park, East of Scotland First Division Conference B, 27/7/21
Entrance – £6 for me, £0 for Wee Man
Attendance – 98 (rough count)
Pie – £2.50 for a sausage roll, pie and coffee
Pint – £2 Tennents (Lochore Welfare FC Social Club)
Lochore Welfare Football Club
Founded – 1934 (Various mergers and name changes since resorting back to the original name in the 90’s )
Nickname – The ‘fare
Honours – Fife Junior League-1938–39, 1947–48, 1953–54, 1955–56, 1961–62, 1962–63 and 1963–64, Fife Junior Cup – 1937–38, 1950–51, 1960–61, 1963–64 and 1979–80
Random Fact – The man who had the most unenviable job in Aberdeen Football Club’s history Ian Porterfield was once on the books at Central Park.
Season 2021/22 is finally go. In fact it is go earlier than expected with changes to my life outwith my control leading me to home quicker than expected and also with extra time on my hands. This also sees me home for three weeks of the summer holidays, leaving the opportunity for longer range midweek fixtures with Wee Man in tow.
With the weather forecast looking grim and also erratic to say the least we set off prepared for rain which looked to be a certainty. As it turned out the further from the North East we got, the more tropical the weather seemed to get, this setting us up nicely for the pre-game plan of a wander around the Lochore Meadows which used to be the local colliery. A stroll around the pit head road was followed by an ice cream to cool us down as we were feeling the effects of the Crosshill del Sol weather. A stunning summers day to totally understate it, a shame we didn’t pack our Speedos as a dip in Loch Ore would have been a delight. Interestingly during our stroll we bumped into the headframe from the Mary Pit 2, which is what the badge of the nights hosts is based on.
Lochore Welfare’s Central Park is situated at the top of the road that leads to the the former colliery site and well hidden in behind some flats and only given away by the sign on the social club and it was the social club where would kick of our first game of the 2021/22 season. Some clubs just strike you as quality from the off and the ‘fare fit firmly in that category. One thing I have learned on my travels are that people can make your experience a whole lot better. To start we were warmly welcomed by the three committee members awaiting the the nights shenanigans to kick off. Wee Man was given a free drink before the bar was opened due to the weather outside and his red cheeks and we were made to feel very welcome at the club from the first minute. This was followed by the arrival of secretary Tam (who I had spoken to on twitter throughout the last couple of days). He gifted us a club pennant which has already been hung in my fitba room and gave us a lot of his time speaking about fitba, the EOSFL and Wee Mans ground visiting of the past and given he is a busy man it was appreciated to afforded so much of a blether. We also got a chat with the chairman, John who handed over two pin badges for us. Another top gesture from a club I have gained a lot of respect for since first stepping into Central Park. This is a club run with the bare minimum of committee with Tam living in Aberfeldy yet continuing his duties. The barmaid(her name escapes me) has been on the bar for sixteen years and has to finish her day job and head straight to pull pints for midweek matches. They are a small team of volunteers but get stuck in and get the jobs done. People like that are priceless at fitba clubs at this level.
Going on form this would be a wee bit of a struggle for the hosts with Oakley pretty deadly in front of goal in their first three matches where they netted twelve times. Lochore were currently being hampered by a combination of holidays and also Coronavirus. The bookies would surely have had the visitors as favourites to take the three points home with them. Going by the opening stages Oakley were by far the better team and will be ruing there inability to hit the back of the net. Three almost identical chances went begging. Three times pinpoint perfect balls were fired in from the left with the headers from number 9 (twice) and 7 both missing the target from pointblank range. Three proper sitters to be totally truthful. United were to be denied by stand in keeper Ingils who saved a one on one by getting down quick sharp at the strikers feet. This he followed up with a fantastic save from a deflected effort where he rapidly managed to change his diving direction to put the ball past the post for a corner. It could have been three or it could have been five and to use a cliche, the ‘fare “rode the storm” and went on to take the lead completely against the run of play. The ball broke out wide right where number 11(I think) who looped a ball toward the back post where Thomson rushed in to slide home Wee Man and my first goal of the season and obviously Welfare’s first goal of the night. This changed the trajectory of the game as confidence was clearly up and the hosts went for a second while Oakley’s earlier dominance dried up. United seemed to struggle with Lochore’s out ball in number 11 and fouled him numerous times before the first forty five minutes were up.
Welfare came flying out the traps and and within two minutes of the re-start they had doubled their lead through Leslie. The move started on the left wing, the original effort seemed to come off the post in slow motion yet evaded all defenders who were all guilty of being flat footed, it was as if they were surprised the original effort didn’t go in and with three potential scorers lined up to take advantage it was big number 10 Leslie who took advantage by striking through a cluster of players with precision. However the comfort of the two goal lead was very short lived and halved by a bloody fantastic strike from Oakley’s number 9. The ball came over from the left, high and looping and the striker unleashed a howitzer from a very tight angle which flew past Ingils. The shot was so hard the noise of the connection reverberated around the ground and the surrounding trees. A truly superb finish which anyone in the ground was lucky to see. Goal of the season contender in game one of the season for sure. The ‘fare had stand in goalkeeper Gary Ingils to thank once again when he was cat like with his reactions to thwart the Oakley striker from close range. Point blank and more yet the big keeper somehow got down and kept it out. For a guy who I had been informed pre-match was a stand in for holidays and had not played a match since March 2021 he was in top form and was easily my man of the match with his continual frustration of the visitors. Oakley once again almost grabbed an equalizer not long after when after a defensive mix up the ball was a fag papers width away from crossing the line but Lochore cleared at the last second. Welfare had a couple of good chances and should really have sewed up the result. Substitute 9 found himself on the end of a great through ball, he bared down, did everything well but his effort was touched ever so slightly by the Oakley custodian and it diverted on to the post, more a good save than a missed chance. This was quickly followed by the troublesome home 11 with a bad miss. In the build up he moved past three Oakley players with ease and was left with just the keeper to beat, but as he is very left footed he hit the ball with his good foot but the angle was too much for a southpaw finish and was more for his swinger foot. At this point I went for a pre-drive toilet stop and missed Oakley go down to ten men. Answers on a postcard to what happened. The game was sealed with another cracking goal when Welfare’s 11, Crawford made up for his earlier miss when he smashed a banger of a 25 yarder past a helpless Oakley keeper. The three points stayed at Central Park but Oakley could have and should have been out of site by half time. Fitba can be a frustrating game sometimes.
Life has thrown me a couple of lemons the last two weeks but at least fitba hasn’t let me down. Good start to the season and Wee Man was chuffed with his day. A worth while trip to Fife, that’s a fact. Also another great wee club found, that also being a fact.
Me 196, Wee Man 62