Hillhead(Keith Park), NRJFA North Regional Cup Second Round, 3/12/22
Me still 260, Wee Man 132
Founded – 1872
Nickname – Uni
Honours – Queens Park Shield -1921/22, 1922/23, 1927/28, 1929/30, 1932/33, 1936/37, 1937/38, 1940/41, 1945/46, 1946/47, 1987/88, 1948/49, 1949/50, 1950/51, 1954/55, 1956/57, 1962/63, 1965/66, 1968/69, 1969/70, 1987/88
Random Fact – Uni have entered the senior Scottish Cup on three occasions facing Raith Rovers(1907), Peebles Rovers(1913) and Dundee United (1925) losing 5v1, 3v0 and 5v1 respectively.
After a huge week for me personally it was to culminate with another notch in the “getting Wee Man to the NRJFA 30” challenge, finding ourselves on the banks of the Don for the second week running. This time Keith Park, or Hillhead as it is also known.
Speaking of banks of rivers, here we were watching a colts in Banks o’ Dee. Yes I have a hatred of colt teams but only if they are shoehorned into leagues without starting at the bottom rung. For example, the Lowlife League allowed the celtic and rangers colts bypass the WOSFL Premier, First, Second, Third and Fourth divisions to enter, while real teams like Auchinleck Talbot, Clydebank or Darvel sat and looked on. As for Hearts, they jumped the EOSFL Premier, First, Second and Third in the summer with teams such as Linlithgow Rose, Penicuik and Jeanfield Swifts were over looked for league expansion. However, in the case of Banks o’ Dee Juniors(who when I heard the idea first was well against it) are different. The HAVE entered at the bottom rung and have not prevented any team from going up. There were two spaces in the NRJFA set up available in the summer and they were one of two who were were eligible along with Lossie United. It’s a very different story.
Anyway, I digress. We found ourselves at Keith Park. A ground that used to be a gem of the Aberdeen fitba scene. A ground I used to love playing, with many friendlies v Aberdeen FC youth teams and in the Juniors v Wilsons XI. Nowadays is sad to see it run down to the extent it is. The broken seats, the boarded windows and general dirtiness of the place. It’s really a poor show. Then to top it off as soon as we entered we were face with a pitch that resembled something from West Flanders in the 1910s. It was clearly heavy and seriously rutted across every inch. It looked if this was to be a question of how good the players touches were.
On arrival at the ground we were met with a familiar face of Ian Bailey, an ex teammate of mine at Ellon Thistle. This not much of a surprise as he is involved with the refereeing side of the game these days. Then another face known to me and also an ex Ellon Thistle player appeared in Andy MacLean. Then strangely another Ellon Thistle alumni appeared in Mo,(Steven Morris) who was the best keeper I played with. A strange one given this was a random neutral game and 4 ex team mates were there watching, none of whom were there together. The 4 of us and the other 44 were treated to 5 goals, a bit of niggle, a penalty that hit orbit and a what seemed a lot of handbags.
Uni started the game with a bang and were in the lead after a minute when forward Kenny lost his marker to rise to meet a fantastic Forsyth cross with his head leaving Neish in the Dee goal no chance. What a start, leaving both Wee man and I’s score predictions down the chunty within 60 seconds. This was quickly followed by the visitors opposite number, Rothnie missing a sitter from close range when he somehow managed to strike the ball wide which seemed harder to do than hit the target. The next big chance fell to Uni’s Smith who turned beautifully on the edge of the box only to see his effort crash off the Dee bar. The condition of the pitch was showing with the roll of the ball being lets say, completely untrue. I couldn’t believe defenders of both sides were playing roulette and passing back to their keepers at pace. The match seemed to have a bit of niggle to it. It was littered with fouls and also mouthing between players. This seemed to escalate mid half with a few mini rammies and irate touchlines becoming more and more prominent. In amongst this the Uni were the better team and looked the more hungry and looking the more dangerous. They had a couple of half chances but the big striker Onwa could have double the lead at the back post with a very decent chance but he got it wrong and missed the target from a couple of yards. A let off for the Dee. Next talking point came when Uni man Forsyth was wiped out by Robertson who despite going in with no malice hit the Uni defender with a high boot in the kidney area. Looking at it I think Robertson was lucky circumstantially as the incident came from a cleared corner and the ref was at the other side of the park , if he was closer I am sure this could have had a different outcome. A lucky escape for the visitors. This incident sparked the touchlines into action with some verbal sparring between dugouts which continued throughout the game. The controversy was not over for the half with two more incidents still to come. The first being when Uni keeper Bjerregaard came out to collect on the ground. With his defender and Dee man Milne in the vicinity the defender nudged Milne who stuck out a foot and trod on the the keeper. Deliberate or trying to keep his balance? I am not sure but I could have seen other refs binning him for it. The next one was a lot more clear. As the referee blew for half time, Uni left back Robb cleared once the whistle had gone, only to be sacked by Milne who quickly got to his feet and headed to the changing room unpunished. As clear a foul as we will see this season. A strange one from the ref.
HT 1 v 0
After a wee boot about of the yellow ball and a catch up with the aforementioned Andy the second half started with the Dee on the front foot. The looked to have had a rocket up them in the changing room. The seemed to want it more than they did in the first half. The first big chance despite the pressure from the Dee fell to the Uni when Onwa took the ball down with great skill, turned on a sixpence then let fly, unfortunately the effort didn’t match the control and turn and flew across goal and out for a throw. Uni again found themselves in a great position when Kenny managed to get round his flat footed marker leaving only the keeper to beat but he hit it straight at Neish. Another let off for Banks o’ Dee. The Dee continued to dominate possession and push and they were rewarded when Bjerregaard misjudged a cross leaving Davidson to tap in from a couple of yards. Game on. But despite being the better team in the second half, the Dee shot themselves in the foot and found themselves down again. A cross from Forsyth on the left was inexplicably sent goal bound from Dee man Bennett who could only watch as he beat his own keeper with his effort kissing the bar on the way in despite Neish trying his hardest to claw it out. A kick in the balls for the colts. But even bigger than imagined as the Dee lost the plot a bit. University tails were well up and they maybe should have added to their tally but spurned a couple of chances. This was until Onwa(my man of the match) out ran and out fought his marker, then created a huge amount of space letting off a shot which found its way in via Niesh’s hands. The keeper would surely have been disappointed with it. But the big striker wasnt giving much of a shit as his team were heading through. At this point I looked at Mo in a “you would have saved that min” type way. But Uni were not to win without a scare first. The Dee were awarded a dubious pen. Kettles was adjudged to to have fouled Rothnie. In all honesty it looked like a slip. It didn’t matter as Rothnie dusted himself down and fired the kick in a Baggio-esque (keeping it World Cup themed)fashion well over the bar. This killed the Dee Colts and introduced more niggle and more handbags. But the game was not done and the Uni added a fourth before the end when Kettles picked out Cain with a superb ball and the defender headed home confirming the Uni were heading through to the next round.
Decent enough watch but, a sad and disappointing sight which really annoyed me. Probablly more than it should have. Heading to Keith Park didnt ruin what was an amazing week,(hello River) but it was a huge disappointment as a fitba man. A great ground ruined . Long gone are the days of the Dons reserves and great surface.
Entrance – Me £5, Wee Man £0
Attendance – 48
Pint – N/A
Score Predictions – Me 0 v 2, Wee Man 0 v 2
Season Score Predictions Total – Me 1 v 1 Wee Man