Balmoral Stadium, AFC Trophy Final , 24/6/22
Entrance – £3 Me, £1 Wee man
Attendance – 150 (rough head count)
Pie – £6, Sausage roll, coffee, crisps
Pint – N/A
Season 2021/22 finally comes to an end for us two, just 332 days after our first game of the campaign. (That looks more ridiculous written down than it does when saying it). From Lochore Welfare in the EOSFL to the AFC Trophy final at Cove rangers. We have had some amazing games throughout with Deveronvale 4 v 5 Nairn County and Longside 3 v 2 Sunnybank being two absolute standouts. Tonight’s offering is up there and arguably better given the way it panned out. To finish up on a cup final is good enough but what a fucking cup final.
Going into this, my teuchter solidarity came out and I fancied Tarves to win it. To be noted geographically they our most local team. But I really didn’t know which way it would go.With the season being so long and into summer you have know idea about team strength with holidays etc. Wee man was adamant of a Woodside win. Fifteen minutes in he looked to be bang on the money. In an incredible opening period, Woodside looked to be home and dry after what can only be described as horrific yet equally amusing defending. It had to be seen to be believed. Woodside’s opening goal was a thing of beauty to be fair. Jason Coyle received the ball out on the left, threw a couple of step overs and unleashed a perfectly placed curler across the goal and into the postage stamp. Boddie in the Tarves goal had absolutely no chance. Manuel Neuer would have no chance to be fair. However, the critic in me says the Tarves back line backed off far too much and allowed it to happen. If this quick goal didn’t leave Tarves shell shocked then the immediate second must have. Again, the defending was poor and much more obvious. Centre half Lawson dropped and dropped and just seemed to let the ball and man past him. It was strange decision making and far too easy, Coyle ran in one on one with Boddie out to make the save, but Lawson was again caught flat footed and Coyle retrieved his own rebound at the edge of the box and drove in putting a ball across the face of the goal where Paul Main was waiting to tap in. If it wasn’t him it was someone else as Woodside were queuing up. Boddie quite rightly berated Lawson as it was completely avoidable but the lack of Lawson’s awareness cost them dearly. Woodside continued to press and the Tarves back line could not cope with through balls. Unforced errors especially poor clearing headers from defenders straight to white shirts or just short in general kept them under serious pressure and it was only a matter of time before the Aberdeen side scored again and within the quarter of an hour the third came. Again a through ball caught them out , the defence once again opened like the Red Sea with Greg Donald clean through to to slot past Boddie. Surely game over. I think the whole of the Balmoral Stadium thought so too. I felt deflated as it was turning into a massacre and not the good game I had been imaging prior. Tarves were a calamity of errors in all honesty and deserved to be on the end of the hiding they were. But to be fair to them the heads did not go down and a lot of the play was in the Woodside half and there were a couple of half chances were created but nothing solid. Then the errors continued and Woodside walked through the Tarves back line with a quick move up the right with another through ball leaving Boddie exposed leaving him to take the Woodside man down in the box. Penalty. Coyle stepped up and Boddie redeemed himself and saved to his right. The game continued to be played mostly in the Woodside half but Noble in the Woodside goal was left untested. So much so when one attempt went wide he was making donkey noises, probably out of boredom as he had not touched the ball with his hands thus far. (To be noted he had already started his time wasting injured antics).Then came a massively contentious point. Woodside were denied a stonewall penalty when Boddie took out the striker with his feet as a cross ball was fired in from the right. Was this a sympathy vote for the plight of the Aberdeenshire team as it was a terrible decision. Would it have been given at 0 v 0? It really was clear as day and we were at the half way line. To quote Wee Man, “how was that not a penalty”. I still don’t know to be honest. Tarves still continued to chip away creating chances, with Massie putting a header over from a couple of yards and Johnstone putting a good chance wide being two of note.
HT 0 v 3
As Wee Man had his gloves with him we needed to create a makeshift goal at half time. “Oor Wullie is my goal” I was told as he spied a sponsor with the spiky haired Auchenshoogle native on it. Fifteen minutes of banging shots at him and I can say we definitely got plenty fun roond Balmoral. Retiring back to our perch in the enclosure with a coffee and a sausage roll(for the record it was Wee Man’s but I had a bit and it was ace) wondering what Tarves could do here. On our way to our seat as we were passing Noble in the Woodside goal he went down injured yet again. I have talked about him in the semi final report. He is a pantomime villain for sure but in all honest its funny when he pulls these antics. I was worried the game would just fizzle out as a non event. Early in the half Tarves forward Colin Cruikshank was replaced by Neil Fantom. Unknown at the time this was to be a bloody master stroke. Tarves were clearly not going down without a fight and they had a glorious early chance when Johnstone put a ball in which incredibly Bryce Davidson put wide with his head. A sitter for sure. Tarves again like the first half kept going and had the bulk of the possession. But after seeing the defending in the first half you could not rule out anything going wrong at the back and they were lucky not to be four down when some criminal pissing about at the back between centre half and full back. This led to Coyle stealing the ball bearing down on goal. Luckily for Tarves he went himself when options were available allowing a last gasp challenge from McComish. Coyle again fluffed his lines soon after when he struck wide not testing Boddie. The Woodside man had to do better. As did the Tarves defence who were all over the shop. Then the unthinkable began. With around thirty five minutes left to go Tarves grabbed one back when Johnstone was on hand to smash home a cross ball into the roof of the net from close range. I would imagine the whole of the Balmoral though this was only a consolation. However, people may have started to change there views a couple of minutes later when substitute Fantom rose and hung in the air in a very Eric Black like manner to head home. Could they……….? They kept at the task and myself and everyone around me were starting to think there was a twist in this tale. Then Tarves were given a free kick around thirty five yards out with twelve minutes to go but the game was held up when Woodside keeper Noble for some reason had his shirt and gloves off. Then again went down “injured”. The referee went to speak and going by his gesturing he was tell the keeper enough was enough. The free kick was played in and half cleared and incredibly Tarves were given a penalty for an infringement on the edge of the box. I use infringement lightly as I cannot fathom what it was for. There was a white hand on the Tarves man but a penalty. Bloody hell. But it was given and Fantom stepped up and made no mistake. This game had gone from a formality for Woodside to the greatest comeback being on. I turned to Wee Man and and at exactly the same time we said, “Tarves will win this”. More chances came for Tarves with Davidson pulling a decent save out of Noble, Fantom again testing Noble who once again did his job well. Then Davidson sent one agonisingly wide. Was a full comeback asking too much? It was starting to look that way. No sooner had I said “this is going to pens” to Wee Man, the unthinkable happened a ball into the box seemed to deceive the Woodside defence and keeper and even some Tarves men but not Bryce Davidson who was aware to tap home in the last minute. The awesome and most unlikely of comebacks had happened against all odds. Incredible goings on which saw a huge celebrations on the touchline while Woodside players confronted the ref about I don’t know what. Also celebrating was my wee sidekick who never shows bias and is always reserved. A first for me seeing this. He has clapped in the past but jumping with arms aloft, never. The referee blew to end this brilliant game and Tarves had won their first ever AFC Trophy. The action was not over as instead of hand shakes after there was a rammy in the centre circle. This included the Tarves manager being headbutted and a few punches thrown. Nae need boys. Nae need at all. I’m sure the Tarves man will not be feeling the effects of the nut in the Aberdeen Arms which must be rocking as I write.
332 days later our season ended and all I can do to describe the finish we got is to quote a great man………..FOOTBALL, BLOODY HELL
Me still 236, Wee Man still 112