The Meadows, Aberdeenshire AFA Division 2 East, 8/10/22
Me still 251, Wee Man still 123
Ellon Thistle Football Club
Founded – 1968
Nickname – The Jags
Random Fact – My old boy is the secretary/treasurer of the club.
The “Thistle Pitch” at the Meadows, somewhere I have had a lifelong connection too. My home ground at juveniles where I once skelped a halfway line free kick into the top corner at U13s v Culter. This followed by a few red cards over the years. This eventulally then saw a 6 season stint with Thistle before succumbing to injury and offshore commitments. Some amazing memories were made here and many mates to boot. To continue the link, my old man is still club secretary/treasurer to this day after seventeen years or there abouts. This making today a tri-generational affair with Old Man, Middle Man and Wee Man present. Then we turned up and the game was to be played on the “United” pitch (Junior). This due to the more enclosed environment of the park looking better on film. Change of plan and no new ground for Wee Man as he ticked it of at the tail end of last season for Ellon United v Dyce. No issue though, it was about Tichie today and nothing else.
Forgetting about the pizazz of the cameras etc, what better way to start this hitch home with a local derby. An all day thing for the two of us with scrounging lunch off my ma before heading down to the fitba and following up with a few drinks in the (child friendly) New Inn. Who to be noted sponsor the club very well. This also so Wee Man could watch the scores come in an analyse the league tables and boooooo rangers goals. This was nothing to do with me needing a pint with my Dad and ex team mates though. Honest.
As the day unfolded I realised that a just boring match report would not do the man justice . This is also tribute to Tichie and to explain how this club are the only team I support out with Aberdeen. Heading back was great but also made me think that it had been far too long in seeing this great club. It is like a family with the long serving players, Stephen “Menace” Cruikshanks, David ” Stabber” Anderson , Daniel ” Jock” Adamson, Neil “Nelly” Henderson, Richard “Titch” Longmuir. But also Manager Les Forbes, Tichie obviously and Allan Giles, my fantastic dad (and hero)who has 17 years behind him at the club.
On arrival at the Meadows we were the first there, this giving Wee Man and me a chance for a kick about on the park for a good amount of time then the man of the moment appeared. This allowed Wee Man and me access all areas pre game(would have happened anyway as my Dad is the secretary). I was interested to see how the club was after relegation last season. As it turns out it seems to be reborn. By this I mean there is a sprinkling of new player and youth. There also seems to be a real sense of camaraderie in the dressing room despite the shite musical tastes. The fucking Shamen? You would have been getting Slayer , Sepultura and Megadeth in my day. The team talk from manager Les was very good, simple, direct and to the point. He knows what he wants and the players clearly know it too. Win every game and get promoted. Simple. Football is easy, ha. But on a serious note, this is a club revamped with Tichie looking over proceedings. In my view, with Les front and centre and a backline of Dad and the coaches Jim Robertson and Dave Manson, the club is clearly in great hands.
The game as important as it was was the least important thing on the day. But to be honest it was one way from the start. Thistle were the better team for a huge portion of the match. Most of the play throughout was played in the visitors half but the end product seemed to lack. A fit team but maybe lacking in experience going forward would be a good way to describe it. The ease Thistle were getting in behind the Amateurs defence was constant but the hosts were not sharp enough to finish off some great play. The away side were nowhere to be seen and the most notable act in the opening stages was when striker Jack Hendry was instructed to leave the pitch and remove his earrings. Seriously, what the fuck? There were plenty more opportunities to put the game to bed before half time, but incredibly the Jags found themselves down 1 v 0 mid half when Jay Walbrin was wiped out in the box by Ethan Walker. A stonewall penalty for sure, despite the Thistle protests. Walbrin got up and sent the spot kick past Adamson with little bother. Thistle continued to push and it was not long before the they equalised. A ball in from the right eluded all men in red leaving Thistle captain Cruikshanks to run in and scrappily finish from a couple of yards.
HT 1 v 1
The second half was even more one side and the bulk of the play was in the clubhouse end where we were parked (with ex Thistle team mate Mark Cockburn, long time no see). Thistle were as good as walking in behind the Amateurs defence at will with Conor McLeod finding his inner Cafu and terrorising the Amateurs left back at will. Midfielder Thomas Blakey and goal machine Michael Moffat were also constant thorns in the Amateurs side and a goal was clearly coming for Thistle but all the good play seemed to result in the same outcome. Great play out wide followed by perfect balls into the box but without the finish. Thistle were denied a stonewall penalty which the referee was at least forty yards away when he made his decision. A coin toss if I have ever seen one. But it was not to matter as again another one of the old guard got his name on score sheet when left back David Anderson hit what can be only described as a worm burner which crept past Thompson in the visitors goal. 2 v 1 and deservedly so. This killed the Amateurs spirit and eventually Thistle grabbed a third when after a series of calamitous defensive errors left Ross Fraser to strike home from close range. This making the scoreline more respectable. But to be honest it should have been more. But a wins a win and that is the objective for the Ellon Jags. Another three points and still near the summit of the league. For the visitors, good luck to them as they have suffered arguably worse issues than Thistle recently and I genuinely wish them all the best, barring when they are playing Thistle. This coming from a guy who was once sent off in this fixture for throwing a punch in the heat of the moment of the derby.
After the game and the carryout in the changing room to celebrate the game it was the New Inn for a few beers. In terms of after match scran they spoil the Jags and it is good to see the numbers of players who turn up. Also good to see the players engaging in a kick about with Wee Man and his yellow ball in the beer garden. But again the banter and team spirit was clearly there too. The things you notice as a bystander. It’s a club that seem reborn in my eyes. A team Wee Man and I will need to watch more(next time we will scrounge our lunch AND our tea from my Mum) This is a club with a lot of good going for them and mark my words they will gain promotion and get up the amateur pyramid under the man, the legend and the fantastic guy that is Ian “Tichie” Birnie. The real “55” in Scottish fitba. Legend is a word that is banded about far too much these days. But a guy who has dedicated 55 years of his life to a fitba club is A LEGEND
Entrance – Free
Attendance – 57 + 4 film crew
Pie – N/A
Pint – Carryout supplied by me for the boys after the game. £22