Stair Park, SPFL League 2, 26/2/22
Entrance – Me £15, Wee Man £0
Attendance – 276 (Rough Head Count)
Pie – £4.50, Coffee, Twirl, Giant Unicorn Lolly
Pint – £3.30 Tennents, Stranraer Fitba’ Bar
Stranraer Football Club
Founded – 1870
Nickname – The Blues
Honours – Second Division – 1993/94 and 1997/98. Third Division – 2003/04. Scottish Challenge Cup – 1996
Random Fact – The club won the Challenge Cup in 1996 with arguably the biggest upset in a final the tournament has ever seen when they defeated second tier high flying St Johnstone
On the 17th of August 1991 I walked into Pittodrie for the first time ever, this was the start of completing the 42. Granted I did not know it at the time but it was. Today, thirty and a half years later, I did just that. Fittingly with number one being the closest, number forty two was the furthest. Two hundred and fifty four miles from my door in a howling gale I had completed the League set up. Unfortunately, it was also a two hundred and fifty four mile drive home after a terrible game of football ruined by gusts. But the game was irrelevant really.
The pre game shenanigans were simple. Singing along to all Wee Mans favourites for many a mile on the way down, UFO, AC/DC, WASP, Blue Oyster Cult. This used to be a regular thing but this was the first time for a while and gave us a good laugh. The first point of interest seen was a quick stop at the Varyag Cruiser monument outside Lendalfoot . What a stunning monument this is. (The ship ran aground and sunk there but it had an incredible history prior). Then on to Stranraer. After a very fine lunch in the Coffee Bean Cafe we headed to the Castle of St George across the road which was closed. We had a wee wander around the town and I asked Wee Man if he fancied the Stranraer Museum. His reply was simple “no , can we throw stones in the sea”. This meant we pretty much built a dam in the bay with the amount of stones we chucked in. If a boat runs aground in the marina any time soon, it was probably our fault. But its great to see the simple pleasures make him happy, such an easy life. Oh to be seven again. Before this I noticed the Stranraer Fitba’ Bar in the town and I thought I had to nip in pre game, and that’s what we did. Tidy wee place but……it seemed to be false advertising. Yes it was full of Blues fans and sold the clubs shirts, but the place was decked out top to bottom in Six Nations stuff and the Scotland v France game was away to start. There was a serious lack of Fitba’ on the go. We headed to Stair Park from here and the day continued to be great. First off we got chatting to an Albion fan as we walked up the road, it turned out that we had in fact met before at Cliftonhill. This was the PA announcer who welcomed Wee Man and I during a match v Peterhead three seasons ago and got Wee man an ovation for being the youngest there. He was also the guy who warned me, also over the mic “and oi Jakes Dad, remember you are in Coatbridge, I hope you have locked your car”. His name is Peter McClure and he sometimes takes the role of MC at Cliftonhill. But then it dawned he was on A View From The Terrace. This keeping our chat going for a bit longer. After Peter made his way in we had a kick about in the park right outside the ground to burn a quarter of an hour.
On entering Stair Park I was immediately a fan of it. It’s a quality ground. It’s compact yet the more modern Main Stand seems to loom high over it. Across there is what looks to be the old Main Stand which has came in handy in these covid times as the away team and officials use it for changing rooms. Behind one goal there is a sheltered terrace where we were to stand to avoid being battered by the wind. In here there is a time line of the clubs history on the back wall. It is a great idea and interesting to have a squint at. I noticed an old work acquaintance and all round good guy Ian McAuley has his picture there after the Challenge Cup win.At 14.55 I was thinking how great a day we had, by 15.01 it was turning. First off Wee Man deliberately booted his ball at my coffee spilling it, to which he was firmly bollocked. This was a sign of how the ninety minutes were to go. This game was rotten but I will say I will not pin this on Stranraer or Albion as the wind ruined this game and it was clear this was to be the case from the off. It was just a shitey day for a game. The first half saw little action. The first chance fell to Albion’s David Wilson who shanked an effort wide from a few yards out leaving extremely youthful looking Luke Scullion in the Blues goal untroubled. The game really was a damp squib until the later stages of the half when a bit of niggle started to creep in,with a few fouls and a bit of handbags. The only other decent chance of the half was a speculative chipped shot from Stranraer’s Duffy which just missed the target. Barring that it was a poor game of fitba.
HT 0 v 0
The second half was pretty much identical with very little action and just a poor watch. But again I can’t say this was down to the teams, the weather continued to play its part in the ruining of this match. Wee Man had clearly got bored as he was playing with his ball as I was worrying about the impending frustrations of driving the two hundred and fifty four miles up the road after a terrible 0 v 0. As the seconds ticked the more the drive seemed as if it was going to be awful. Scorelines do affect things and the furthest drive in the country for me seemed a daunting prospect. The most entertainment came from the Stranraer young team who credit to them were on the go for the ninety minutes. And their sporadic “Wanker , Wanker , Wanker” chant with perfectly executed in unison pointing when an Rovers player was in their vicinity gave me a good laugh. The game came to life with eleven minutes to go when the first chance of the half fell to Sean McIntosh of Stranraer who pulled a save out of Harry Stone. The fact the chance came so late summed up proceeding. The Blues Grant Gallacher missed a sitter from eight yards when man mountain Robertson got the ball across to him but he miss hit and didn’t even trouble Stone. A big miss. From here Rovers broke and if it was not down to some superb defending from Craig Ross his opposite number Max Wright would have secured the points for the Coatbridge side. Stranraer had a flurry of shots from here to the final whistle but Albion managed to get everything behind the and keep the hosts at bay. The final whistle went and my first thought was how typical it was of me to witness a nil nil on a special occasion as I have seen blanks drawn in arguably the three most iconic grounds in Europe in the past. It seems to be what happens in my life.
Not one to write home about and I will most likely have forgotten about the game by the time I wake up in the morning, but on Stranraer FC, they have a cracking wee ground, they have some really affable folk involved with the club, whether the stewards we spoke to, or the catering van guy, the girl behind the in the bar in the town, or the fans we chatted with. It seems to be a great club.Yes it’s a shame the game was rank, but I would head back to Stair Park in a flash. An excellent ground right up my street and a club to match.
But on the day as a whole, it was fun, it was bonding and it was us doing what we do best. It really sank in today how much my life has changed in recent times. If you told me a few years back that Alex Ferguson would be at Pittodrie for the unveiling of a statue and at a game while I spent a weekend watching Hamilton and Stranraer I would have told you you were full of shite…….but that’s exactly what happened and this is down to Wee Man. If his “little game” attitude never happened we would have lost out on so many memories and Stranraer (despite the terrible game) is a great one as the day on a whole was just simple and brilliant. Chucking stones into the bay means alot more than seeing the greatest manager that ever lived.
Me 224, Wee Man 98