Market Inn v Ship Inn

1pm  29 June 2014

Stewartry Sunday Amateur League
Market Inn 4 Ship Inn 2 (att 25)

A season which began, for me anyway, on 29 June 2013 in Orlando, finally ended exactly a year to the day later, in Castle Douglas, south west Scotland.

Occasionally, when attempting to explain the idiosyncrasies of my hobby, I point out that I don't watch Sunday league football and I don't watch pub football. But sometimes the lines are blurred, and as I do watch summer leagues the Stewartry Sunday Amateur League is certainly "do-able", despite its title and the number of teams in it that are named after pubs.

This was actually the first Stewartry League game I've seen, and the two sides provided a very enjoyable game to round off the season. It lived up the cliche about a game of two halves. The Ship Inn looked the more accomplished side, scoring twice in quick succession to lead to 2-0 by about the 20th minute, a lead they held to half time.

Perhaps the Market Inn manager inspired his side with an interval team talk, because they turned the game around completely in the second half. Their four goals included a penalty, and a fantastic volley from distance, that will go down as my final goal of 2013/14.

Market Inn use a pitch found off Birkland Road in Castle Douglas. Comments on the league's Facebook pages were uncomplimentary about the condition of the council-maintained pitch, and I'd sympathise with anyone having to play on it. It's hard, bumpy and has little grass, so the Market and Ship Inns deserve credit for an entertaining afternoon.








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Rosyth Civil Service v Bowhill Rovers

2pm 21 June 2014

Kingdom Caledonian League, Scottish Brewers Cup, Semi Final
Rosyth Civil Service 2 Bowhill Rovers 3 (att 62)

Once again I was impressed by the quality of the football in one of Scotland's top amateur leagues, as Bowhill booked their place in the early July cup final against Leven United, who I'd seen win their semi final just over a week ago.

Bowhill and Civil Service are among the league's front-runners, and meet in a league game later this week which will probably decide the title. One the evidence of this tie they're closely-matched, with Bowhill just about deserving their win.

The visitors went ahead early on, but a penalty meant Civil Service were soon level. Bowhill stepped up a gear, and two very well-taken goals gave them a commanding, if slightly flattering, 3-1 lead at half time.

Into the second half and another good goal, this time for the home side, cut Bowhill's lead. Both sides picked up a red card following a melee involving just about every player on the pitch, with Bowhill's keeper very lucky to escape with only a booking for his part. Despite more chances a both ends it finished 3-2 to Bowhill.

Not surprisingly, Rosyth Civil Service play at the Civil Service Sports Ground in Rosyth. The pitch was in perfect condition, but is neither railed nor roped off and is a bit of walk from the changing rooms, which seemed to be housed somewhere near, or in, the large social club building.









Hopeman v Tomintoul

2pm  15 June 2014

Moray Welfare League, Division One
Hopeman 3 Tomintoul 1 (att 16)

The last time I tried to see a game at Hopeman I arrived for a 2pm kick off only to discover the kick had been brought forward by an hour, and what I thought was the start of the match was actually the second half getting underway.

After that experience it was a relief to see players warming up when I arrived at Cameron Park, and since my last visit a new pavilion has been built at the corner of the pitch making it it a very pleasant venue.

The pavilion provides a bit of cover, as well as some park bench-style seating, but the setting is wonderful which the pitch just yards from the sea and a harbour. Having been to plenty of grounds where the noise of a nearby motorway dominates, it's nice to visit somewhere where instead it's the sound of breaking waves.

There was plenty to enjoy on the pitch as well. These two sides are battling for promotion to the Moray Welfare League's top division. Tomintoul went ahead, but Hopeman equalised before half time. It was a close encounter, but the home side deserved their victory, earned thanks to a pair of second half goals, the first a penalty.








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New Pitsligo v Bellslea

2pm  14 June 2014

North East Scotland League, Division One
New Pitsligo 2 Bellslea 0 (att 40)

A goal in each half was enough for table-topping New Pitsligo to see off Bellslea's challenge, in an entertaining and hard-fought game in the Aberdeenshire village.

I'd been told that New Pitsligo's home ground was one the North East Scotland League's better venues, and it lived up to expectations.

It's close to the centre of the village, and from the car park the pitch runs lengthways with a grass bank along the right hand side giving a good view of the action. A pavilion in the corner houses the changing rooms, as well as a refreshment bar serving snacks and hot drinks, something I didn't expect at this level.








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Carrbridge v Grantown

7.15pm  13 June 2014

Strathspey and Badenoch Welfare League, Caldwell Cup, Semi Final
Carrbridge 0 Grantown 3 (att 23)

Judging by the summer season's results so far, these two are head and shoulders above the rest in the eight-team Strathspey and Badenoch League, and Grantown cemented their status as the top side with a comfortable win at Carrbridge.

A goalkeeping error gave the visitors an early lead, and the tie was effectively over not long later following an incident which lead to the second Grantown goal. A deliberate handball meant a red card for Carrbridge, and a penalty, duly converted, for the away side.

Grantown have provisionally been accepted into the Scottish Junior FA for next season, and looked a cut above welfare football as they threatened more goals.

But the lead remained 2-0 into the second as Carrbridge, themselves likely to be playing junior football next season, under the guise of Spey Valley FC and at a different ground, steadied themselves. Although the home side rarely threatened to score, they did restrict Grantown to just one more goal.

Carrbridge (or CarrBridge or Carr-bridge depending what version of the name you choose) is a pleasant small village a few miles north of Aviemore. Not surprisingly it's main draw for tourists is a bridge, made of stone and dating from the early 1700s.

For football tourists the village pitch is beyond a car park, with a pavilion in the corner, some playground equipment to keep children occupied and a small shelter, not designed for football spectators but useful on a wet evening.









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Leven United v Kinross

6.45pm  12 June 2014

Kingdom Caledonian League, Scottish Brewers Cup, Semi Final
Leven United 4 Kinross 0 (att 60)

It may be the middle of June but amateur football in Fife still has plenty of action left, with the second semi final of this cup scheduled for next weekend and the final not to be played until early July.

Leven booked their place in the final with a deserved and ultimately comfortable win. Kinross matched the hosts for what was a largely even first half, although the home side did edge in front before half time.

The outcome of the tie was decided by a series of of incidents early in the second half. First Leven doubled their lead, and then we had three red cards. A bad tackle by a Leven player earned him a sending off, and he was joined by a Kinross player red carded for his retaliation to the foul.

It wasn't 10-a-side for long though, as a second Kinross players was dismissed soon after for picking up a second booking. With a man advantage, and with Kinross tiring having only won their quarter final on Tuesday night, Leven scored twice more for a convincing victory.

As the game fizzled out towards the end, and with no likelihood of a Kinross comeback, the referee decided we'd all had enough and blew for full time about seven minutes early.

Leven United play on a ground that once hosted Scottish Junior football, although Premier Park, an enclosed ground within Leven's King George V Park, would have been a basic junior ground. The pitch is railed off, with changing rooms and a small clubroom in a building just inside the entrance, but there's no cover or even hard standing for spectators. The pitch, however, was immaculate.









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Broughton Amateurs v AFC Treales

7pm  10 June 2014

Catforth and District Summer League, Division Two
Broughton Amateurs 3 AFC Treales 6 (att 8)

The Catforth Summer League is rarely short on goals, and nine tonight made it 31 goals in just four games that I've seen in the last few weeks to recomplete the league.

AFC Treales should have win this more convincingly than a three goal margin. They scored early and wasted plenty of chances on their way to a 3-0 half time lead. They'd added two more second half goals before the home side got some reward for their efforts.

Both sides did well to manage an attractive and enjoyable game on a pitch than may referees might have declared waterlogged. The surface was sodden when I arrived, but a heavy thunderstorm just as the game kicked off made it even worse.

During the winter, Broughton Amateurs play first and reserve team games, in the Mid Lancashire League, a few miles away at Myerscough College. Their summer league team uses a pitch in the heart of the small village, that's usually home to the third XI and youth team.

It's about as basic as a football venue can get, with players changing in their cars before and after the game.








Kirriemuir Thistle v Arniston Rangers

2.30pm  7 June 2014

SJFA East Region, Premier League
Kirriemuir Thistle 0 Arniston Rangers 0 (att 130)

A 590-mile round trip is a long way to go for a goalless draw, but despite the scoreline this was an entertaining game with plenty of chances for both sides.

The visitors came closest to scoring, denied by the woodwork and by Kirriemuir's goalkeeper, who had an inspired afternoon.

Neither teams' league position was going to change whatever the outcome of this, their final game of the season. Kirriemuir were promoted last season, but their stay at this level has been shortlived as they've finished bottom-but-one and have been relegated.

Their home, Westview Park, is neat, tidy and very pleasant, particularly on such a bright and sunny afternoon. The changing rooms, refreshment bar and committee rooms are on one side the pitch, while opposite is a stand, with standing areas and a single row of seats covered by a high-angled roof.