Cromdale Park, SBWFA McCook Cup 1/2 Final, 12/5/23
Me 274, Wee Man 146
Founded – Mid 1960s
Nickname – Dale
Honours – SBWFA League Winners– 2004. Dalvey Cup-2004, 2016. Cruickshank Cup-2004. Capaldi Cup -2007. McCook Cup-2008
Random Fact – There is a bit of a family affair. Current manager Stuart Dunbar’s grandfather Ronnie Smith was a member of the inaugural team in the 60’s
Looking for a bit of inspiration I decided we should head to a league that was brand new for the both of us. One that is not too far away and in a fantastic part of Scotland. That league? The Strathspey and Badenoch League to see Cromdale versus the wonderfully named Boat of Garten Ospreys. A one hour ten minutes drive faced us which included the aesthetically stunning and one of my favourite roads in the country, the A920 between Huntly and Dufftown. From there you follow arguably the most exported river on Earth, the Spey and its offshoots southbound passing distilleries such as Glenfiddich, Glenfarclas, Balvenie, Ballindalloch and the fantastic looking Tormore among others. But the journey is a constant reminder that Scotland is the most beautiful country on earth and it may just be me, but being these sorts of journeys make me proud to be Scottish. Then just prior to Grantown-on-Spey the wee town of Cromdale appears. One that I have driven through numerous times passing Cromdale Park. Somewhere that I never managed to visit when Junior club Spey Valley United were on the go(Will they be back next season?). Today was the day and although a basic set up, the surrounds are fantastic. The Cromdale Burn audibly rolls past on one wing, on the other whisky tankers roll down the A95. But most impressive is the sight of unspoilt land as far as the eye can see with the hills densely packed with forestry and the Spey just in view with a sheep bleating throughout the 90 minutes. It really is a great setting to watch fitba in. The sun and temperatures just added to the awesomeness.
On arrival we met Cromdale manager Stuart Dunbar for a brief blether. He gave me the lowdown of the league and how these teams would fair. As it turns out, Cromdale had shinty players and the Boat had guys with HFL and NCL experience. This made me go for a decent Boat win in my prediction, as did Wee Man. The way the game started it looked like my prediction would be well off as would Wee Man’s 0 v 5. The Ospreys had the ball in the net in two minutes. McInnes swung in a ball from the left which found the head of Cairn Giles (no relation) who stuck past Chris Muldoon in the Cromdale goal. With other chances spurned early and McInnes getting in behind Cromdale with little difficulty it really did look like a long night ahead for the hosts. A second came when Dale defender Morrison dallied instead of clearing his lines around 25 yards out. This allowing Stefan Ritchie to nip in and finish coolly from 18 yards. Then came a worrying moment for Boat of Garten when their best player so far McInnes stayed down under a firm but fair challenge. This ended his game which to be honest i think did change the game as it gave rest-bite for the Cromdale defence as McInnes had terrorized them so far. The Boat did create more chances but failed to take them, the closet being what seemed a slow motion rattle of the post from distance from Kalen Clark who got his foot round the ball well from twenty yards. A third did come before the half was out when Kyle Scott tapped in from close range after Martin Ross did all the hard work. This ending the game as a contest as the whistle went for the break.
HT 0 v 3
A wee on the pitch kick about was followed by meeting Keith, someone I had spoken to via Twitter in the past. We spent the second half in his company talking about the league, the stories of the teams and a bit of Highland League. Cromdale were lucky to not concede early in the second half in calamitous circumstances. Goalkeeper Chris Muldoon raced to the edge of his box to clear only to see his kick strike Boat man Scott and fly past him only to strike the post. A let off for the home side. But the three goal deficit did not last long and Boat of Garten grabbed a 4th when Fraser Greenlees stood on the Dale goal line totally unmarked to head home a corner. It looked as if there were to be more goals but to be fair to Cromdale they defended quite well from here. Too late maybe but they kept the Boat at bay. The predicted floodgates were kept shut. Which for my prediction was a good thing. But there were two scares for me. One when Harley MacFarlane found himself clean through at pace but Cromdale keeper Muldoon was as quick off his line to deny him. Then in the last minute it looked like Wee Man’s 0 v 5 was to come to fruition when Boat of Garten were awarded a penalty. A stone waller for sure. One which MacLeod was looking to take but it was handed to Scott. Scott ran up and sclaffed a twelve yard wormburner that gave Muldoon far to easy a job which he managed to carry out without hassle. But as easy for keepers goes, Benn Bremner in the Boat goal had nothing to do all game. He was immaculate at full time as we had a passing chat with him. The score stayed at 0 v 4 and I had another notch in my tally as Wee Man cursed Kyle Scott for missing the penalty and costing him.
A random selection of fitba but one that was well worth the 130 mile round trip. I was looking for inspiration and I found it. Will I be heading to see Boat of Garten Ospreys at home. You bloody bet I will. Will I try to complete the Strathspey and Badenoch League. Too right this will happen. An evening well spent in stunning Speyside. Roll on heading back.
Entrance – Both free
Attendance – 37 (highest count)
Pie – N/A
Pint – N/A
Score Prediction – Me 0 v 4, Wee Man 0 v 5
Season Score Prediction Total – Me 2 v 4 Wee Man