Mackessack Park, Highland Football League, 2/4/22
Entrance – £10 Me, £0 Wee Man
Attendance – 475 (Rough Head Count)
Pie – £3.00 Coffee, 2 x Juice
Pint – £ 4.70 Windswept Lighthouse, Station Hotel
Rothes Football Club
Founded – 1938
Nickname – The Speysiders
Honours – Highland League – 1958/59. Highland League Cup – 2019/20. North of Scotland Cup 1958/59, 1978/79 and 2021/22
Random Fact – Mackessack Park is named after Douglas Mackessack who pumped money into the club in the early years of the club. Mackessack was a whisky magnate, of course he was, and I would have been disappointed if he was anything else other than whisky related to be honest, given where the team is situated.
Revisits for both of us together only happen in certain places and anywhere in the Highland League is one(Pittodrie and Spain Park being the others). This was a huge and un-missable in my eyes, so much so I did not give Wee Man the choice this week, he was told “Rothes on Saturday” and that was that. He was actually chuffed as he wanted to see the Rothes Ultras again. With five fixtures left a week or so ago for both Fraserburgh and Buckie this was the only potential banana skin in the list. It could have been the turning point in the season. Today with three games to go and both sides still winning every game this game had the making of a cracker. The Broch came to Moray and were professional and did what they needed to do.
Our pre-game antics saw us raking about somewhere around the river Don near Kemnay as everything near Rothes was either temporally closed or partially closed,(and mostly distillery related). This meant we were searching out Fetternear House, a ruined medieval palace from the 1300’s. What a fantastic place and surely a truly stunning gaff when intact. It was a shame you cant get in to appreciate how big it would be inside. Maybe if I was on my own I would have snuck in but not with Wee man kicking about. Just an appreciation, walk around and a reading of the history was to suffice. From here we headed to Rothes for lunch and after dumping the motor at the ground we wandered into town. A few seasons ago myself an nine others did corporate there and the feeding part came in the Seafield Hotel which we walked past today and sadly it looks to be permanently closed. A few yards up the road was the Station Hotel and we ended up having a lovely feed in there. (Rustic pizza for Wee Man and broccoli and stilton soup for me) The hotel seemed to be really smart and tidy inside. In the bistro bar where we ate the walls were plastered with old photos. It doesn’t matter if its fitba or like what was found in here, old cooperage, distillery or cow photos I am a sucker for this kind of content.
To Mackessack and there was a decent crowd building already on arrival and we were early as we were to have our usual kick about. As we were knocking about next to the car park wall we could see the Broch Bus, I have never seen it decked out with the decals, inclusive of “come awa the Broch” on the back. A smart looking thing for this level of fitba. Also interestingly was the arrival of ex Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass who obviously has realised that watching the best league in the world is highly appealing. Kick off came and I guessed there were around 500 punters in attendance and I wasn’t far off. A decent crowd made up mostly of Brochers . The teams were read out with a couple of minutes to go and it was by the unmistakeble voice of local Highland League reporting legend Dave Edwards and it was honestly the friendliest most upbeat and clear reading of team lines I have ever heard and was inclusive of congratulating Scott Barbour on reaching 200 career goals.
The game started on the the rutted pitch in the welcome sunshine and signature grain mash aroma but would it live up to its billing? Not really in all honesty. It wasn’t bad by any means but was just a tad scrappy at times. The first threat at goal was when Butcher stung the finger tips of MacKenzie who had to collect on the second attempt. The next effort on goal went in but I don’t think it can strictly be classed as an effort . Rothes defender McLeod thumped a clearance from the middle of the box which had no lift and flew straight at the oncoming Campbell who couldnt believe his luck as the rebounded of him and into MacKenzie’s bottom right corner. A minging goal in truth. But they all count and when you are chasing the title, who cares.The Broch could have doubled their lead when Barbour(I think) unleashed an effort but a Rothes defender managed to get in the way and deflect the ball over the bar. Top scorer Barbour came close again when he rifled an effort from the left across the goal which just missed the top right corner. The effort must have taken a slight nick on the way through as a corner was given. Barbour took the kick himself and perfectly placed it on Sean Butcher’s head who redirected the ball into the bottom corner from close range. 0-2 and heading for a massive three points. The referee Lee Robertson wasn’t shy of showing a card throughout, some of which were soft but his first was for Rothes man Gregg Main who’s assault on Lewis Duncan was lucky to only to be yellow. It was right infront of us and it was a bad one, the stud marks on the inside of Duncan’s upper inner leg were testament to it. The Rothes man did not see out the half and was sent packing for mouthing off at the referee moment later. I hope he was bollocked by ( the incredibly subdued)Ross Jack for his stupidity. As the old cliche goes, losing a man galvanized Rothes and the should have halved the deficit when Morrison made Joe Barbour’s job easy with a poor header which was palmed to safety. However he made amends from the resulting corner and gave Barbour no chance with his head this time sending the teams in at half time one goal apart.
HT 1 v 2
The Broch seemed to lose concentration towards the end of the first half and it seemed to continue in the second half too. They started with a bang and Butcher pulled out a superb save from MacKenzie. But they looked ropey at the back throughout the half and could win the battles in the air and Rothes got in behind with ease at times. You wouldn’t have known Rothes had ten men. But when you have a man like Scott Barbour in your side it only takes a split second at the other end and that what happened. Number 201 of his career was scored when he was laid on a plate by Paul Campbell who found him lurking five yards out to tap in. After his usual celebration he grabbed the trusty black and white Broch flag from the crowd and waved it only to be booked by the jobsworth Robertson. A tad harsh and common sense should have prevailed. Action was limited from here as both teams seemed to know it was a done deal. Interestingly though we were in earshot of the bench and the Broch’s back line. Lets say there were some curious conversations between players and manager Mark Cowie. To start the boss was having a go about letting their concentration slip along with standards. This went on and after dalying on the ball Hay was told in no uncertain terms he needed to up his game. This was replied to with a “fuck off you fucking idiot”. If I was the gaffer I would have hooked him in the quickest fashion. A complete lack of respect there. Cowie then had a go at his keeper Barbour who had come for balls that were in the centre half territory on a couple of occasions. I felt this was brought on by the previously mentioned lost battles in the air and Barbour was trying to do something about it. But he was balled at to quit it. Nothing to sinister really but interesting to see what the pressures of this epic title race brings.
The Broch held on and took a huge step towards the title. With Nairn County and Forres Mechanics still to play at home can they hold out?
But the real question is, where were the Rothes Ultras? Wee Man was gutted.
Me still 227, Wee Man still 103