Station Park, Scottish Junior Cup 3rd Round, 28/10/22
Me 256, Wee Man 130
Craigmark Burntonians Football Club
Founded – 1946
Nickname – The Mark
Honours – Ayrshire Second Division – 1982/83. Ayrshire League Cup – 1963/64, 1964/65 and 1980/81. Ayrshire District Cup– 1963/64. Cumnock & Doon Cup – 1989/90. Ayrshire Super Cup – 1989/90.
Random Fact – The club are named after two places just outside of Dalmellington.(Miners rows really). Craigmark and Burnton. The only piece of grass they could find to play on at the time was in Dalmellington. (One thing I do not know is whether either still stand to this day).
The Mark have been on my list for a while now, ever since I randomly mentioned them in an article I wrote for The Red Final 139 1/2. They have been offered to Wee Man a few times but he never picked them. This time he did.
Dalmellington , like Darvel midweek is somewhere I can’t see me ever heading back to or ever would have headed to in the first place if not for fitba. But let me tell you. In this wee Ayrshire town of just 1300 (smaller than my sleepy home town of Oldmeldrum which is not big) there is a friendly fitba club within. Committee and fans spoke to us and welcomed us, mostly after “your mad” type remarks after finding the distance we had travelled. We even yapped with the subs who were warming up and they were all sound too especially Ryan Banks who seemed to be permanently running past us. The ground is also right up my street. A good old Junior ground. A rough around the edges home with enclosure at one side that has seen better days. But I love these places. To add character to the place, I loved the randomly placed solitary crush barriers. I think there are four in total. They just seem so random .
Prior to arrival at Station Park I took Wee Man to Glenbuck. Obviously there are Liverpool connections and the only people we saw there were two different Liverpool supporting couples who were on pilgrimages to the Bill Shankly memorial. There is a lot more to it than that though. There is the mining history, ironworks, the Cherrypickers football team to name just a few things. Looking out at the destroyed viaduct hammers home the eerie feeling that this used to be a thriving community. Now its nothing. It’s worthwhile making the visit.
Once at the fitba we were greeted with a driech afternoon with the drizzle not letting off. The pitch was cutting up under the warm up which was a good sign to me. You canna beat a quagmire. We grabbed a pie and a coffee from the snackbar where being in such close proximity to the changing rooms we were subjected to some seriously fucking horrific dance music blasting out of it. (Very topical with A View From The Terrace talking about fitba playlists last night). But this was truly awful tunes. Noise pollution quite frankly. It was here I bumped into someone I knew. 220 miles from home in deepest darkest Ayrshire and there’s a dude I know behind me getting the pies. Granted Chris is from Glasgow and a lot closer but I would never have thought I would bump into someone in Dalmellington.
Prior to the game I knew this would be a decent showing. There is a division between the two with Burntonians sitting second in the third tier and Ladeside top of the second tier at kick off. I didn’t realise we were in for an absolute treat of a game. A proper cup tie. It started off in a bit of a turgid fashion in the opening ten minutes but once it got going it was a cracker. It seemed to open up and flow from end to end. There were some half chances and wasted free kicks but nothing overly dangerous, It took until the 25th minute for the first goal and it was for Kilbirnie. A ball across from the right found Ross McKenzie who struck the ball across a helpless Dylan Caddis in the Burntonian goal. Despite his best efforts, defender Callum Walsh couldn’t keep the ball out. The lead lasted a minute and things were tied up when a quick break saw player/manager Ryan Caddis clean through, Kilbirnie keeper Wilton came racing out only to see the ball knocked round him, this meaning he was to try and take Caddis out which he almost managed but the striker stayed upright and knocked the ball into the empty net. I am surprised the keeper was not booked in all honesty. Anyway, game on. Ryan Caddis was again involved soon after when he headed over the bar from close range. This leaving Wee Man to carry out his favourite job of ball boy for the first time in the afternoon. Caddis was again close moments later again when he tried a delightful chip from the edge of the box which left Wilton stranded but the effort hit the top of the bar and over for Wee Man to retrieve. Both teams continued to have a go at each other and you would not know who was in the higher league. It was an even matched affair going into the half and good viewing after the early lull.
HT 1 v 1
The second half was better and both teams seemed to have a bit more about them. That goes in an attacking sense but also in niggle too. The half was littered with hard tackles and fouls but didn’t lose its end to end nature of the first half despite there being more stops and starts. The first big chance fell to Ryan Caddis who again didn’t quite get things right when he had the chance to smash home a half volley from a few yards out, but the effort found the side netting. Kilbirnie were handed an even bigger chance when the referee, who in my eyes awarded a penalty that never was. Burntonian keeper was adjudged to have taken out the Kilbirnie striker but it looked to me like he pulled his hands away in time. But a penalty it was and it was keeper celebrating as Kilbirnie man Chris Dallas hit the kick too close the the number 1. This seemed to add a bit of ill feeling into the game and brought it further to life on the suffering Station Park pitch which was tearing to bits in what seemed a old fashioned throwback way. Chances were made at both ends but the biggest was when another Burntonian Caddis, this time Liam headed a guilt edge chance wide and going by the ex St Johnstone man’s reaction he knew it was a massive opportunity. Then in typical fashion. Ladeside went up the park and took the lead. A cross in flew over the defence and Dylan Caddis seemed to not get enough on it leaving the ball to drop like a stone and a yard from goal after hitting the post, the defence could not clear and McKenzie ran in to smash in his second from two yards initiating a pile on celebration in the corner. But like the opener in the first half this lead also lasted a minute and like McKenzie, Caddis grabbed his brace when he sent a looping header from a good distance across goal and over everyone nestling itself in the net. To be noted, the ball in from Boyle was brilliant. Incredibly, a minute later there was another goal and it was for the visitors. Defender Jack Wilson got air as if he was Michael Jordan rising way above anyone around him to thunder home a header from a corner putting Kilbirnie in the lead for the third time in this compelling cup tie. The goal caused what sounded like handbags in the enclosure with a clearly audible “wise up ya fucking dick” being one of the shouts emanating from the wing. I am not sure exactly what went on but there was plenty of effing, blinding and pointing . Time was against the home side from here but they threw everything at Ladeside. But in equal measure , the visiting side threw everything they had at blocking the ball and defended like trojans to keep The Mark out which they did, and just as the drizzle turned to full on rain for the first time in the match the ref sounded for full time sending Kilbirnie Ladeside off to an next round tie away to Bellshill Athletic
With 220 miles of driving staring me in the face and Aberdeen getting battered at Ibrox I really was not bothered at all. I was more chuffed we had came all this way for this game. It’s quite possibly the best contest we have seen this season. It ticked almost every box (barring a red card). An enticing encounter between two teams who clearly wanted to win the match. It’s seeing games like this that make me realise that what Wee Man and me do in football is well worth it. Spending time with my best pal, seeing the countries sights is good enough and the fitba is the least important thing. But when a game is as great as this it really is the cherry on the top. First rate stuff. A great way to sign off before heading back to work.
Entrance – Me £6, Wee Man £0
Attendance – 124 (Rough head count)
Pie – £3.50 – Pie and Coffee
Pint – £2.80, Tennents, Farrell Suit (In the ground)
Score Prediction – Me 2 v 2, Wee Man 1 v 2
Season Score Prediction Total – Me 1 v 1 Wee Man