Showfield Park, Grill League Cup, 9/8/22
Me 238, Wee Man 115
Nairn Saint Ninian Junior Football Club
Founded – 1968
Nickname – Saints
Selected Honours – North Region Division 1 (West) – 2017/18. North Regional (North) League – 1975/76, 1977/78, 1978/79 and 1981/82. Morayshire Junior Cup – 1968/69, 1979/80 and 1997/98. Elginshire Cup – 2011/12 and 2017/18. Gordon Williamson Trophy – 1969/70, 1982/83, 1991/92 and 1999/00. Morayshire Junior Cup – 1968/69, 1979/80 and 1997/98
Random Fact – Despite early league successes after their formation. The titles dried up after the 1981/82 victory. This seeing the Saints having to wait until 2017/18 to celebrate a league championship again.
A ground I have been trying to visit for a long time. With postponements preventing in the past and even a late swapping of fixtures by the NRJFA due to incoming snow storms has stopped us heading up the A96. The latter happening last season when we were all set to watch the Saints v Banks o’ Dee but instead we ended up at Spain Park for a game v Ellon United. But tonight we were in the Showgrounds.
Speaking of things I have wanted to do for a long time, Fort George. I have driven past the sign for the place on so many occasions and have thought ” I must visit there”. With Ardersier being only six miles from Nairn today was also the day to tick that box and let me tell you. This is a box very much worth ticking. It is a fantastic piece of history. After a windswept picnic on Ardersier Common we entered the Fort and did not leave for over two and a half hours. Wee Man is just about 8 so for his attention to be so fixed on something tells you a lot about this place. Still a functioning garrison, this almost three hundred year old fortress doubles up as a brilliant lesson in the history of the army in the Highlands with the museum being the highlight with its chronological trip through the ages. I loved it, Wee Man read so much more than I have ever seen him do while asking relevant questions which suggests he did too. We saw a genuine Victoria Cross in amongst everything, something I have never seen before. We also read plenty on the Cameron Highlanders and Seaforth Highlanders (Highland League links there). I cant big the place up enough.
After a feed in Nairn town centre at the Classroom we were off for a kick about. On arrival I searched out a twitter acquaintance that I have spoken to on numerous occasions in regards to the club and before failed attempts at heading up. Finally I could put a name to the face. James Wallace, who in my eyes seems to be Mr Nairn St Ninian. He is one of those who does a bit of everything types that are invaluable to clubs. But to add to this he is a very affable guy and we blethered all things Saints and Junior fitba and he even gifted Wee Man a Saints tshirt, uncalled for but hugely appreciated.
The ground its self is unique. It is literally a fenced off pitch in the middle of the Farmers Showgrounds. But prior to every game, the ground has to be “built”. Sponsor boards attached to the fence, goals fitted, dug outs rolled out and more. I have never seen this before. If you walked past prior to all this you may not even realise this is a fitba ground barring the imagery on the clubhouse etc.
The game was a bit flat. More so in the second half. Forres are Nairn’s closest neighbours. However Burghead Thistle are nearer Forres than Nairn, so is it classed as a derby? I don’t actually know. Anyhow, if it is, any hope of a derby type feel was extinguished pretty fast. The first fifteen minutes had nothing to shout about. The first clear effort of the game fell to Saints man Cameron Hoeth who pulled a shot wide from inside the box. He should have at least worked McLeod in the Forres goal. Thistle went straight up the park from the goal kick and probably should have scored themselves when Brandon Hutcheson also saw an effort go wide when he should have been hitting the target. Nairn did call McLeod into action but nothing the keeper was to worried about. However the keeper was then called into proper action when Saints striker Charlie Fonweban thought his luck was in when he was found in space to head home, only for McLeod to pull off a great save to prevent the deadlock breaking. Fonweban made no mistake with his next effort. A humongous McDonald throw in was half cleared to Chambers on the left who crossed perfectly for the Nairn number 9 to prod home into the bottom corner. One should have been two soon after when that man Fonweban was again left in space , as the cross came in I noticed McLeod shielding his eyes from the sun but incredibly despite being blind instinctively threw up a hand to save, but the ball was still going in then the keeper scuttled across his goal and managed to claw the ball to safety. Quite the double save keeping his team in it. In it his team became even more so soon after when Hutcheson rose to head home a long ball that Hepburn in the Saints goal misjudged. Nairn were unlucky not to head in to the half in the lead when constant thorn in Thistle’s side, David Chambers somehow managed to get a first time volley away on the edge of the box from a long punt. Chambers looked to have no right to get it away but he did and the effort looped over McLeod only to hit the bar and go over.
HT 1 v 1
The inevitable half time kick about happened in a set of training goals and I was dripping after it. This due to the fact it was still 23 degrees at 8pm. When buying a juice for the second half I noticed the walls of the board room. A very cool design and a great idea. (see photos). The second half had a serious lack of action. David Chambers continued to be the man looking most likely create something for the hosts. The Saints were the better team too but none of it came to anything and the game petered out. As the final whistle sounded both teams exited the competition leaving New Elgin to progress to play our most local team Colony Park in the 1/4 final. Not the worst game ever but we have definitely seen better . All in all though, a very rewarding day on the whole and Wee Man was clearly buzzing in the car home. Two things I would say. I recommend a trip to the Showgrounds. A warm welcome awaits. I would also recommend Fort George where a windy but enthralling welcome awaits.
On another note. Tonight’s visit leaves me one shy of completing the current North Region Juniors. A milestone approaches
Entrance – £5 Me, £0 Wee Man
Attendance – 78
Pie – £2.50, Juice, Coffee, Twirl
Pint – £4.80 Sharps Atlantic, The Classroom
Pre Match Prediction – Me 2 v 0, Wee Man 0 v 1
Overall Season Predictions Score – Me 0 v 0 Wee Man