North End Park, East Region SJFA Midland League, 28/8/21
Entrance – £6 me, £0 Wee Man
Attendance – 120 (approx. headcount taken once Dundee United fans left)
Pie – £2.00 Coffee, Crisps, Ice Pole
Pint – £2.60 Tennents, Social Club
Dundee North End Football Club
Nickname – The Dokens
Honours – SJFA North Region North Division – 2017/18, East Reegion Tayside Premier – 2004/05 Tayside Premier Division 1997/98, Dundee Junior League – 1895/96, 1905/06, 1908/09, 1914/15, 1956/57 and 1959/60 .Tayside and North Cup – 2000/01 and 2010/11. League Cup – 1998/99 and 2004/05
Random Fact – Before spending twenty years and becoming a legend at nearby Dundee United, goalkeeper Hamish McAlpine played for the Dokens.
Sometimes things just don’t go to plan. Today was one of those days. However, sometimes when things don’t go to plan they turn out bloody awesome and that’s pretty much how Wee Man and me thought our trip day went. As we were away to leave for Brechin Victoria v Blairgowrie I found out the game was off. Fortunate as I only checked to make sure the kick off was half two. Lucky this was the case. This left us one and a half hours to get to Dundee. For a first visit to North End Park. Could we make it? With the two sets of roadworks on the A90 to contend with plus our Meldrum abode being approximately one and a half hours from Dundee North End’s ground it was going to be tight. Also to be factored in was Dundee United were hosting Hearts just the other side of Cleppington Road I may have faced parking issues. Surely nothing else could go wrong with my third choice of game. Yes third. Brechin Vics was plan B. Plan A was actually being dangerously close to Ibrox at Benburb v Cumnock. This was ruled out due to Wee Man being busy in the morning leaving too little time to get to Glasgow.(As it happened this was also postponed anyway). I need not have worried as the football gods were looking upon us. As we approached the North End’s home a bus full of Tannadice bound supporters pulled away leaving a space about twenty yards from the gate which we entered with ten minutes to spare.
North End Park is a brilliant ground. I don’t know what it is but it just seems like what a Junior ground should look like in my eyes. Enclosure on the wing, social club adjacent, standing room around the rest of the ground, well maybe not behind the goal as its over grown and in need of a wee bit of tlc. I am a big fan of this historic old ground which used to host Scottish Cup second replays way back in the day. It is definitely my favourite in Dundee(Only East Craigie and today’s visitors left to visit).
As we were there so close to kick off we grabbed a decent vantage point. This lasted around ten minutes due to a swarm of wasps taking a fancy to us. But we did witness the opening goal from here as it came in at around five minutes in and it was the visitors. A devastating cross in from the right (7) found the bull like run of (6) who walloped a header home from 12 yards. St James were unlucky to not double their lead soon after when number 25 made a mockery of two North End defenders when his sublime back heeled touch went over and past them leaving the big St James man a shot which he powered inches over the bar. Wee Man and I were in the best position in the whole ground to see how good the touch was as it was right in front of us. Brilliant stuff and unlucky with the shot. Before we did move from our black and gold invaded position we managed to catch the equalizer. North End’ s 11 Frankie Devine was to stamp his influence on the game, unknown at the time how much influence. He received the ball on the left hand side of the box and took a couple of steps inside curving an effort at pace into the bottom right corner. A decent finish and game on. North End continued to push from here and had the bigger share of the ball. If there was a team to get the next goal it was most likely to be the hosts. An injury to the home 17 held up proceedings and ruined the Dokens momentum of the game some what and let St James regroup. They were unlucky not to take the lead when a free kick from the edge of the box was very well dealt with by Stewart who re-diverted the powerful effort over his bar. It was a freekick that led to the games next goal when a daft foul in the centre circle gave North End a chance to get the ball in the box. Devine hit long and his ball evaded the St James defence and found Lunan who drove the ball first time across the box where Gary Sutherland was waiting to first time his effort into the back of the net. A favourable team goal sending the Dokens in to half time in the lead.
HT 2 v 1
Due to the sweltering heat we headed into the huge social club for some respite from the elements. It was in here I realised the fitba gods were well on our side. Sitting on the stage was the Scottish Junior Cup. I have a decent history with this particular trophy. Played in it a few times but more recently I challenged myself to head to every club to win it in my life. Corona scuppered the plan which I would bet my house I would have completed by now if it was not for the pandemic. Arthurlie, Glenafton Athletic and Renfrew are outstanding from my 37 years on the planet(18 teams have won it in total). My inner fitba geek was well on show and the obligatory thumbs up photo was taken. The closest I had been to it in the past was when I saw it in Auchinleck Talbot’s trophy cabinet. Half time also gave me a first. I have never seen ice poles sold at the fitba before. Not that it affects me but Wee Man was delighted with this news and got wired in.
No sooner were the teams out and St James had an equalizer when the 9 was left with a tap in from a great cross from the right hand side. West End could have had the lead again if not for the offside being called as they buried the ball. No comment from me on this as I was at the opposite end. The freekick for the infringement was belted up the park and after an initial effort was blocked , the St James 11 did brilliantly when he awkwardly swung his right foot at the ball and managed to direct it through a cluster of bodies and into the net. What a start this was to the second half . The blistering start wasn’t finished either as in the fifty second minute North End equalised when that man Devine again scored an a similar goal to his first when he cut across from the left to fire into the keepers left hand corner. This got North Ends tails up and the effort after effort came in the immediate aftermath of the goal. This inclusive of one off the line plus an delightful lob from Sutherland being ruled out for offside.A fourth for NE did come when Lunan got in on the goal action when he hammered home an un-saveable effort off the underside of the bar and in from inside the area. Then came a fifth soon after when that man Devine tapped home from close range. The North End Man was the best player on the park and deserved his treble glory. This was turning into a fantastic game of football for a neutral. There were clearly more goals in the game. But to which team was up in the air. The hosts had the lead but St James stuck to their task and attacked at every given opportunity. Disappointingly the referee steeped up and ruined the match when he reached for a straight red for a St James man(not sure of number). From where we were watching this was a terrible decision. The ball was won in a sliding tackle, no malice and really what you would call a “honest challenge”. The referee made a pigs ear and killed the game dead. The ear shattering call of “that is absolutely fucking pathetic” from just up the touchline from is was just and fair. From here the young St James heads went down and let North End dictate the remaining minutes, inclusive of the thorn in the visitors side Devine grabbing his fourth of the game and the Dokens sixth of the afternoon. Would North End have went on to win the match from the position before the sending off. I would imagine so, but the card did ruin the spectacle of the match which was a shame as it was exceptional viewing up until that point.
Things to take from this third choice day out. The Dokens Frankie Devine is a bloody good player. But also Dundee St James are in their first season at this level with a team of youngsters and they have a cracking attitude towards it. A learning curve it is for them but they go for it and also play some decent fitba and good luck to them. We will be down to watch them at their “hoos” soon enough. But most importantly, you shouldn’t get too down when life gives you lemons. Our day was a bit of a hashed shambles due to reasons outwith our control but nine goals and a Scottish Junior Cup later we have just been to one of the best non league games we have been to to date. Plan C may just be better the B or A. This advice I will always remember.
Me 205, Wee Man 72