Westburn Park, Scottish Junior Cup 1st Round, 27/8/22
Me still 242, Wee Man 122
Dufftown Football Club
Founded – 1890
Nickname – The Toonsers
Honours (since becoming Junior)– Elginshire Cup – 2021/22
Random Fact – The club were managed by Ex Aberdeen manager Steve Patterson. Pele took charge from December 2015 until the end of the 2016/17 season
When Wee Man came up with his NRJFA challenge a couple of weeks ago I was delighted as I knew we would have to head back to a couple of the best grounds in the country at this level. Given that he had not been to Dufftown and Burghead Thistle it means that I would have to return to these particular two to aid his quest. This being a magic thing in my book. Today we found ourselves deep in whisky country ticking off two items on Wee Man’s to do list. Obviously its another NRJFA team visited but Dufftown are also on his list of must see teams (Motherwell, Hermes, Nairn County and Annan Athletic being the others. Eclectic). For pre game points of interest we headed out the back of the town to follow the River Dullan on the Giants Chair walk culminating in a picnic next to the dam just down from the Dufftown distillery. With the sun surprisingly scorching down after the Met Office predicted overcast this was a cracking way to burn a bit of time even though recent storm damage seemed to still be evident all around the Chair itself. But there was peace and tranquillity and nobody but us two. Perfect. To add a bit of a curve ball on to proceedings Wee Man suggested getting a sticky toffee pudding somewhere as he was still hungry. The Commercial being the first place to pass on the way back to town threw up the sweet delicacy he craved and it was bloody lovely.
Full of pudding and stuffed we headed to wasp infested Westburn Park in time for a decent length kick about pre game. Even longer than we imagined as the kick off had been put back fifteen minutes. For what I can only imagine is Maryhill getting there late. This thinking due to when we turned up at five past two they were standing about on the pitch while Dufftown were well on their way warm up wise. No matter as there was no hurry for us as post game was just a chipper and Juventus v Roma. It gave us more time at the truly fantastic ground. People often ask where the best non-league ground I have been is. I don’t really have an out and out favourite but Westburn Park is right up there. It is aesthetically pleasing set in amongst the Moray hills and fields with tractors constantly passing. But also, as a ground it is a very tidy set up too with a decent pitch. It’s definitely the best in the North Region Juniors. Finally the teams emerged for this Scottish Cup tie and within a minute the woodwork had been struck when the Hill forward Bridges hit an effort from twelve yards out. Was this a sign of things to come for the Toonsers of Dufftown? On the back foot. It looked that way in the first quarter of an hour with Maryhill dictating the game, but not creating much in terms of clear cut chances. The next big chance fell to Dufftown when Clark was found by Simpson who had steamrolled his way forward past a few Maryhill boys, the striker did well with his shot but it was met equally well by Hill keeper Fyfe. A cracking stop and aspiring keeper Wee Man let out a “wow” in appreciation. Anything Fyfe could do Stewart Black in the Dufftown goal could do better. Maryhill man MacLaren was slipped clean through with the whole goal facing him, he chose bottom right but the keeper did fantastically well to get down and see the ball off for a corner. It didn’t receive the “wow” treatment from junior but it deserved to . The Dufftown man was to repeat his heroics not long after when a sclaffed clearance from defender Dunn had no length and all height it fell to Bridges who did everything right but Black pulled off another stunning save. As half time approached I was told “this is a good game” and Wee Man was right. A competitive affair with both teams with a fighting spirit. It was just missing a goal.
HT 0 v 0
Maryhill had a half chance immediately after the break but the shot lacked venom and was comfortably cleared from the goal mouth. Just after this we watched a rescue mission for a cow in the nearby field which had managed to find itself on the wrong side of the fence from its mates. I did say this place is plonked right in the middle of the country. Back on the pitch Maryhill should have taken the lead if it was not for Toonser centre half Dunn who dived to block a goal bound effort. On Dunn I was impressed by him throughout. Brave, vocal and brilliant in the air. Unfortunatley for the centre half the block led to a corner which was swung in finding Hill defender Fraser Lee who rose considerably higher than anyone else to place a header in the top corner. 1 v 0 the Glasgow side. It was surely two when Imrie found himself within decent range but he completely miss hit his effort to the relief of the Dufftown defence who had let him in far too easily. Dufftown were quickly let off the hook again when Hood tried a fancy flicked effort which headed wide despite MacKinnon’s best efforts to slide in a connect at the back post. The second Maryhill goal did come on the hour when some slack defending let Hood dance past a couple of defenders and round Black to place the ball into the bottom corner. If Dufftown’s struggle was looking as steep as some of the surrounding hills, it was made a lot worse on seventy minutes. James Stables had his clock cleaned by Robert Manley on the touchline. A bad tackle yes, but the Dufftown man’s reaction was idiotic as he stuck the head in his assailant. This sparking a rammy between players and management with shoving and a couple of sneaky digs.(The incident was in front of the dugouts hence management involvement). Once peace was restored, which took a good amount of time, the referee booked Manley for the challenge and sent off Stables clearly saying it was for a headbutt. A big ban incoming one would think. This was surely game over, but in all honesty you didn’t notice the man advantage initially. But eventually Dufftown ran out of steam and with five minutes to go Fraser Lee finished of the job for the visitors as he grabbed his brace from inside the box. Going by the comments from the Maryhill players and spectators this must have been a rare occurrence for the defender to get on the score sheet and here he was on it twice, killing the game stone dead. Maryhill should have scored a couple more via Wright, Gibbons and Wright again who spurned good chances. By this time it was looking far to easy for the Hill as Dufftown were out on their feet and AWOL at times. It finished 0 v 3 and sets up two time winners of this great trophy with a home tie against Newmains United and interestingly, Wee Man asked if we could watch Maryhill in the next round. Watch this space……….
Entrance – £6 Me and £0 Wee Man
Attendance – 69 (rough head count)
Pie – £7 – 2 x pie, 2 x juice and coffee
Pint – £3.40 Tennents, Commercial Hotel
Score Predictions – Me 1 v 1, Wee Man 1 v 2
Overall Score Predictions – Me 0 v 1 Wee Man