Drumchapel Amateurs v Campsie Minerva

2pm  31 May 2014

Central Scottish Amateur League, Premier Division
Drumchapel Amateurs 1 Campsie Minerva 0 (att 32) abandoned after 64 minutes

I've thoroughly enjoyed the football I've seen recently in the Scottish amateur leagues, and I enjoyed the first 64 minutes of this game, before a thin-skinned referee suddenly decided he'd had enough of being barracked for some questionable decisions and brought the encounter to a premature halt.

I've had the misfortune to see a few games abandoned over the years, but never before have I seen a referee simply decide he'd had enough, blow for time and head off to the changing rooms, leaving players and spectators stunned.

After a few moments the players shook hands, the goals were dismantled and everyone trooped off the pitch. I don't know whether the referee still got his match fee, and I'd be interested to know what, if any, discussions he had with the teams afterwards. I had an earlier-than-expected start to my 220-mile drive back home.

What action we did get was entertaining, if fairly low key. The sides, who'd met in the reverse league fixture at Campsie in midweek, were well-matched, with Drumchapel just about deserving their narrow lead courtesy of a first half goal. The home keeper was on good form, denying the visitors several times.

Things started to go wrong after around an hour. Campsie's complaints after a decision went against them resulted in a red card, and their bench was warned for shouting abuse at the referee. A few minutes later, and following another verbal volley after a contested decision, the referee blew for time, with 26 minutes left on my watch.

Drumchapel's Glenhead Park ground was a long-time junior venue, the main reason I chose to visit on a day with few options for new grounds. There's a large covered terrace running along half of one side, beyond which is open terracing, so overgrown it's effectively out of use. There's a similarly overgrown and steep terrace behind the far goal.

The car park, clubhouse and changing rooms are behind the near goal, while there's no access to the side opposite the terrace unless you stand in front of the boundary wall.

On a warm and sunny afternoon,and in a decent football ground, it would have been nice to see a full 90 minutes, although as the game reached half time I'll be counting it as a "tick" by my groundhopping rules.









Campsie Minerva v Colville Park

6.45pm  26 May 2014

Central Scottish Amateur League, Premier Division
Campsie Minerva 3 Colville Park 2 (att 37)

Following Saturday's game at Lochgilphead, and Sunday's cancellation at Tarbert, we broke the long journey home from Campbeltown with a detour to Lennoxtown, north of Glasgow in the shadow of the imposing Campsie Fells.

The fells also lend their name to the local football team, while providing a spectacular backdrop to their High Park ground. The ground itself is little more than a public park, with a couple of pitches, both on the small side, car parking and a modern changing block.

By all accounts the Central Scottish Amateur League is among the strongest amateur competitions in Scotland, and I was impressed by the standard of football, that was at least as good as many Scottish Junior games I've seen.

Campsie took an early lead, but Colville Park didn't take long to equalise. The visitors looked the better side, and it was no surprise when they went ahead in the second half. It was more of a surprise with Campsie made it 2-2.

The home side's stoppage time winner was even more unlikely, coming just seconds after a Colville narrowly failed to score in a goalmouth scramble. As the ball broke free Campsie broke forward and scored, despite vociferous claims from the visitors that the scorer had been offside.

The final whistle blew just after the restart, and while it may have ended the game it didn't end Colville Park's complaints about the goal. Thankfully though, it did allow me to return to my car and get respite from troublesome midges.








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Lochgilphead Red Star v Goldenhill

2pm  24 May 2014

Scottish Amateur League, Premier Two Division
Lochgilphead Red Star 4 Goldenhill 3 (att 36)

English football might be winding down for the summer but there's plenty left to watch in Scotland, although with new grounds in the Scottish Juniors few and far between at the moment I turned my attention to amateur football.

I think this was the first time I've spent a Saturday afternoon watching a "winter" amateur league game in Scotland, but if future games are half as enjoyable as this then I'll be seeing plenty more.

There wasn't a huge amount at stake, with Goldenhill already promoted, but Red Star needed a result to give themselves a chance of promotion should vacancies occur in the league's higher divisions.

They earned their three points the hard way. The visitors showed no ill effects from the long minibus journey to Lochgilphead, scoring twice in the opening minutes. Amazingly, Red Star then scored twice to make the score 2-2 after just nine minutes.

The game calmed down after that, but a error by the home goalkeeper allowed a shot to squirm through him to send Goldenhill into the half time break with a 3-2 lead. The second half was as entertaining as the first, with chances at both ends, but the home side scored twice to win the game. Their equaliser was a terrific long-range strike, while the late winner capped a great afternoon's entertainment.

Lochgilphead, in Argyll, is one of Scottish football's more remote outposts. It's a long and winding, but very scenic, drive from Glasgow. Red Star are based at Ropework Park, a basic venue surrounded by housing.

Behind one goal is a car park, with a grass bank leading down to the pitch. Players change in a rather ugly building behind the opposite goal. The pitch is enclosed, with most spectators choosing to watch from outside the low fence on the adjacent footpath. Had the game not been as exciting to watch, the views of the surrounding countryside would have more than made up for it.

This was to have been part one of a two game weekend in the Kintyre peninsula, but unfortunately Sunday's scheduled game at Tarbert didn't take place. Presumably bottom-of -the-league Rossvale Amateurs didn't fancy the long journey for what was likely to be a heavy defeat.








Plungington v Goosnargh

7pm  21 May 2014

Catforth and District Summer League, Division One
Plungington 5 Goosnargh 5 (att 13)

Not my first 5-5 draw but it's not a scoreline that happens often, and two sides sharing 10 goals can't fail to be entertaining.

Although it was decent enough, the first half didn't really hint at the excitement to come. Goosnargh, urged on by almost all the spectators, started well but failed to take their chances. Plungington came back into the game with some neat passing football, and scored twice to lead at half time.

The home side lost their keeper to a nasty injury, resulting in a trip to hospital for him and a lengthy stoppage for the game, before the break.

The stand-in keeper wasn't to blame, but it took just the first 15 minutes of the second half for Goosnargh to turn the game on its head, scoring three times to go in front. Their lead lasted just a minute or so, before Plungington equalised, and not long afterwards the home side were back in front at 4-3.

Goosnargh weren't to be denied though, and scored their own fourth to level the game again. They appeared to have won it in stoppage time, when a brilliant volley from the corner of the penalty area made it 5-4 to the visitors, but even deeper in stoppage time Plungington scored the game's 10th, and final, goal.

Plungington have used various venues for Summer League games in previous years, but for 2014 are at Fulwood Academy, to the north of Preston. The league website suggests they use a grass, with a 3G surface as back-up if required, but despite perfect conditions tonight's game was on the 3G.

It's a typical set up for an all-weather surface, although unusually without floodlights. The pitch is enclosed by a high fence, with a barriered area for spectators in the central third of the near side. Unfortunately, on a bright and sunny evening, the spectators' area faces the setting sun, which made viewing a bit tricky.





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Buchanhaven Hearts v Sunnybank at Ellon United FC

2pm  18 May 2014

SJFA North Region, Division One East Cup Final at Ellon United FC
Buchanhaven Hearts 1 Sunnybank 1, 3-4 on penalties (att 250)

The small Aberdeenshire town of Ellon is handily placed between Aberdeen, where Sunnybank are from, and Peterhead, home to Buchanhaven Hearts, so it was a logical venue for this cup final, and gave me a great opportunity to tick off an extra ground during a weekend in Scotland's north east.

Beyond its location, The Meadows doesn't offer much as a venue for a prestige cup final. It's basically just a railed off pitch inside a mesh fence, with one end, overlooked by the car park, out of bounds to spectators. The clubhouse, which looks as it if serves the whole sports ground, is outside the boundary of the football ground itself.

But what happens on the pitch is more important than what facilities surround the pitch, and after a slow start this cup final provided a very exciting afternoon. The sides had finished their league seasons tied on points, and at the lower end of the table, so a close encounter was likely.

The first half was even with few clear chances, until Sunnybank edged in front in stoppage time, a shot passing the Buchanhaven keeper almost in slow motion.

The Aberdonians held their lead until the 86th minute, when their keeper somehow let a softly struck shot squirm through his hands, arms and legs and just about creep across the line. No extra time in this tie, so it was straight to penalties once the 90 minutes were up.

Sunnybank failed with their first kick, but as so often seems to happen the first side to miss went on to to win. The Sunnybank keeper made amends for his earlier error by scoring once of his side's four remaining successful spot kicks. Buchanhaven's crucial missed penalty came back off the underside of the crossbar, without crossing the line.









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Parkvale v Fraserburgh United

2pm  17 May 2014

SJFA North Region, Division One East
Parkvale 3 Fraserburgh United 1 (att 55)

The only thing at stake here was who would finish 6th and 7th in the 10-team division, but as always in the Scottish Juniors the game had a proper competitive edge despite its end-of-season tag.

The visitors started well, and thought they'd scored an early goal, only for a a linesman's flag to declare it offside. They did take the lead though, with a fantastic volley that was the first half's only goal.

The game turned completely in the second half, as Parkvale exploited the visitors' fragile defence to run out, in the end, comfortable winners of a very entertaining game.

Parkvale are an Aberdeen club, with their social club in the city centre, but they play a few miles out of town at Findon Park, itself on the outskirts of the village of Portlethen. The ground is surrounded by fields, and it must be a struggle to attract crowds in such a location.

Like many North Region Junior venues, facilities at Findon Park are limited. There's a small covered standing enclosure, sandwiched by the dugouts, but the rest of the ground is just open standing areas. Those standing areas are limited to one side and behind one goal, with the small pitch so tightly hemmed in on the other two sides that spectators access isn't possible.










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FC Clayton Brook v Goosnargh reserves

7pm  13 May 2014

Catforth and District Summer League, Division Two
FC Clayton Brook 3 Goosnargh reserves 2 (att 30)

I usually wait a little longer before dipping into the local summer leagues, but with at least four new venues in this year's Catforth League line up, and each team having only five home league fixtures, I decided to make an early start.

The Catforth League used to be an unofficial competition, so long-established that the Lancashire FA agreed not to notice that games were being played during a period when FA rules meant they should have been outlawed.

But these days it's become official, in some ways a shame as the village sides who used to compete have been replaced by winter teams using it to keep players fit during the close season.

During the winter Clayton Brook are in division four of the Mid Lancashire League, while Goosnargh runs sides in the higher divisions of the same league. There wasn't much quality in this fixture, but it was entertaining enough in front of a good-sized crowd.

The home side scored early on, then doubled their lead before half time. A second half penalty put Clayton Brook on the road to a comfortable win, but they came close to throwing it away in the closing minutes.

Goosnargh scored the game's best goal after 72 minutes, then reduced the arrears further with just two minutes to play. They thought they'd equalised in stoppage time, but a linesman's flag ruled the goal out for offside.

Clayton Brook's home, in both summer and winter, is the local recreation ground. The grass could have done with a cut, and the pitch markings could have been clearer, but in the summer league such details don't matter that much.








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Coupar Angus v Kennoway Star Hearts

2.30pm  10 May 2014

SJFA East Region, North Division
Coupar Angus 0 Kennoway Star Hearts 5 (att 37)

Kennoway Star Hearts have just missed out on promotion in their first season as the junior club, while Coupar Angus remain on track to complete their league season without picking up a single point.

An easy away win was always likely, Kennoway scored 17 in their home game against Coupar Angus, but the visitors had to wait 30 minutes before taking the lead at Foxhall Park, and that was first half's only goal.

The visitors were better in the second half, adding more goals including a stoppage time penalty that was literally the game's final kick. But Coupar Angus competed well, and helped make it an entertaining 90 minutes.

I liked Foxhall Park, although it's probably seen better days. From the entrance and car park all the facilities are on the near side, where a collection of ageing buildings house changing rooms, toilets, committee room and snack bar.

I guess there was once a proper stand on this side, but these days cover for fans is provided by four small shelters that, judging by their appearance, previously sheltered people waiting for buses. The rest of the ground is open grass standing.









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