Princess Royal Park, Highland League, 11/12/21
Entrance – £10 Me, Free Wee Man
Attendance – 96 (rough head count)
Pie – £2.50 Coffee and crisps
Pint – £3.50, Supporters Bar
Deveronvale Football Club
Founded – 1938
Nickname – Vale
Honours – Highland Football League – 2002/03, 2005/06, Aberdeenshire Cup –1947/48, 1950/51, 1951/52, 1961/62, 1965/66, 2000/01, 2006/07, 2011/12. Aberdeenshire Shield– 1994/95, 2002/03. Scottish Qualifying Cup (North)– 1951/52, 2001/02
Random Fact – Aberdeen legend Jim Leighton is in the clubs Hall of Fame despite only playing one season on loan. He was ever present over 40 games in 1977/78
Wee Man asked midweek if we could go to a close game so we could have a film night at night. A fair shout indeed, I gave him a choice of the Vale, Rothes (which was off), Inverurie Locos (On), Banchory St Ternan(also off) and New Elgin (off too). To Banff he sent us which coincidentally landed on a year since I was last at PRP. Well I say I was “at” PRP, I was really as good as in a bush on the A98 as the dentist on a power trip was still not allowing fans in to non-league fitba. Something which I am not ruling out happening again shortly.
With the weather turning from brick hard to soaking wet in Oldmeldrum I was wondering how we could spend some time being pre match without being miserable.I had a couple of ideas en route. The first being being the Bridge of Alva just south west of Banff. However on attempting to get down the road toward the bridge the plan was abandoned as the road was in serious disrepair and looked to be heavily washed away. I would have needed wheels like Bigfoot or Grave Digger to get there, 0.4 miles from it too. This gave us more time at the other plan which is one of my favourite places on earth. But as we made our way back toward Banff we were faced with a crowd of around 50 deer stalker hat and Barbour jacket clad arseholes carrying shotguns looking proud as punch clearly on the way to hunt. I will not voice my feelings here on those people as ill be banned from Twitter and WordPress. Anyway to the magnificent Crovie. An empire biscuit and coffee followed by a million stones thrown in the sea in the peace and tranquility of this stunning wee days gone by fishing village was great but my old man back may disagree with that as it took a beating with all the over extension of throwing. Lunch at the Market Arms in Banff followed prior to heading to Princess Royal Park for Wee Man’s game of choice.
What a choice too. This was a stunner. A fantastic advert for the HFL. I doubt there was a better game in the country today and I would go as far as saying its in the upper echelons of my favourite seen in the flesh fitba viewings. It also came at a really good time as Wee Man is a bit down with my imminent departure for work. The excitement and action in this took his mind of Angola and put it firmly in Banff. There was no time to think of anything else in this end to end epic encounter.
Luckily the rain that had been falling all day had decided to go for a rest just prior to kick off, the sky may have been dark and the bitter breeze blew but the ninety minutes stayed dry. In all honesty a soaking wouldnt have taken the shine of it. The first chance fell to Nairn and as Wee Man put it, was a “sitter”, a shot was drilled goal ward from Young which McIntosh saved with his legs with the rebound falling to Main who seemed to be taken by surprise and scooped his effort up and over the bar from twelve yards. Soon after Nairn stuck another effort over the bar from close range when McLean was the next offender. The visitors will have been baffled at how they were still on level terms. This was a team who were without thirteen players including captain Adam Porritt and goal scorer Conor Gethins and they were looking good. The Vale were not without their chances either with the best falling to Innes McKay who headed wide from a corner. Should he have scored, junior thought so and from the distance from goal the centre half found himself I would have to agree. A bad miss.The first net bulge took its time in coming, eleven minutes which in the grand scheme of things doesnt seem long but given all the action crammed in prior it seemed to take an age. County’s Angus Day made no mistake when he ran around the Vale back line on to a great defence splitting through ball. A couple of touches on the left of the box, he then arrowed an effort into the bottom left corner. A quality finish and a deserved lead for the Wee County. From out of nowhere Deveronvale upped the tempo and started to look like a very decent side and turned the game on its head with two quick fire goals. Their number 9 Andy Hunter grabbed a brace in a minute. The first came from a long ball which the striker beat the Nairn keeper to with a deft dink over his head, but the task was not finished as the defence retreated toward the goal line but another delicate dink lobbed the visiting back line and found its way into the net. If the first was delicate then I am not sure what the finish for the second could be described as. Hunter made an angled run from the right on to a through a ball, with McLean rushing out to close the angles, the trialist put his foot under the ball and lifted it up and over the man in pink. A superbly taken effort. This delighting the local bawler. Dressed in hi-viz and carrying a random polly bag this guy was a bit special. Ranting and raving despite being pretty much indecipherable barring the swearing which in all honestly was around four out of every five of his words. The keeper came into some harsh criticism after the first which I felt was beyond what was needed “every fucking week, every fucking week you make a massive fuck up, every fucking week you do it”. Surely if its every week then management need to do something about it. Just a thought. This end to end game continued in the to and fro manner and before the half was out Nairn equalized. A through ball set all the Deveronvale hands in the air claiming offside but from where I was I am sure the ball deflected off a red shirt meaning their shouts were in vain, Young did not care and after beating a man he tried to get a shot off but was taken out. The same man got up and dusted himself down and powered home the spot kick into the top of the net taking the teams in to the half time break level.
HT – 2 v 2
Toward the end of the half I had noticed the view toward Macduff. Something I had never really taken note of before as every time I had been in PRP I have stood behind the goal at the Spotty Bag shop end barring the bush episode last season which was dark and rainy so I never noticed. Its quite the view and if you were in the stand it must be even better. The Macduff Parish Church with its missing clock face being the highlight of the hill view(google the reasoning for the clock face, this is a fitba blog not a history lesson, but it is amusing reasoning worth knowing). Princess Royal Park became a new candidate for Wee Man’s favourite ground at half time as the adjacent 4g pitches were open, this meaning fifteen minutes of a kick about which is always right up his street. An added bonus to his day on top of what was unfolding on the nearby grass.
I wouldn’t have thought the game could carry on in the same style as the first but what do I know about fitba. It did and was a better half. Nairn had the ball in the net early when Williamson lobbed the ball over McIntosh. Another very good goal in this game. The quick feet to set himself up was good as was the finish. Then what seemed immediately the Vale made it 3 v 3. A great corner was swung in and McKay was on hand to thump home on the volley from six yards out leaving McLean no hope in hell of saving it. Wee Man appreciated it as he let out a big “boooooom” as the ball tried to take the net off its pegs. What a superb game this was becoming and to guess which way it was to swing was no easy feat. My 2 v 2 original guess was out the window as was Wee Man’s 2 v 1 the Vale. I was in the mood for this lollapolooza of a game to carry on giving us the goods. I need not have worried as another quality volleyed goal came, this time for the visitors when Sam Gordon skelped the ball past McIntosh from inside the box after a great ball in from the left. 3 v 4, would this be the end of the scoring? Of course not and you could see there were more goals in it. Both teams were pushing, both teams were hungry but it was the Nairn who scored next, albeit it into the wrong net. No offence to County defender Ramsay but I will be hard pushed to see a better executed own goal in my life. What looked to be an easy clearance at the back post under no pressure ended up being sliced with incredible power into the top corner. Funnily as the ball was travelling toward the defender you could see this coming as his body position was all wrong and looked to try to clear with his wrong foot. Unfortunate and incredible at the same time. All square again going into the the final few minutes. Both teams pushed for the winner and you could still sense this game was not over. Low and behold it wasn’t and beyond the ninety minutes substitute Kyle MacDonald made a space and sent his effort up and into McIntosh’s net leading to the number 14 being swarmed by his jubilant teammates. This was the first time in this crazy match that I finally felt it was over and it was with the referee blowing up for full time soon after. I hadn’t even realised it was so late in the game as I hadnt looked at my watch in ages, nor had Wee Man(one of his wee traits at the fitba). Sign of a good game. The goal was clocked at 92 minutes.
I always say the Highland League is greatest league on earth and I stick to it. But this match is why we all watch fitba. We watch it to be entertained and if anyone in Pricess Royal Park was not entertained today and not blown away by what was a spectacular game of fitba then they need to have a think about their life. This is why I watch fitba and it is why I love the Highland League. What a magic choice from Wee Man to sign off this trip home
Me still 219, Wee Man 89