Nae paper, pal!
So my hopping season finally reached its conclusion today with another trip north of the border to Scotland, where the season began way back in July.

Today's visit north was again thanks to the kind offer of a lift. Long journey's seem so much better when it's not you behind the wheel. Anyhow, Keirs Park was the destination today for Hill of Beath's East Region Super League clash with Musselburgh Athletic.

Hill of Beath Hawthorn are a club based in Fife, just a mile down the road from Cowdenbeath. They were founded in 1975 and have enjoyed plenty of success since, their finest hour being in 1990 when they lifted the Scottish Junior Cup for the first (and so far only) time.

At the start of play The Haws were in second place behind Bonnyrigg Rose and had an outside chance of winning the Championship, provided The Rose lost at lowly Carnoustie Panmure and The Haws took care of business their end.

Having been runners-up in 2011 it was a case of "always the bridesmaid" once again as the title eluded them. With Bonnyrigg winning 1-0 at Laing Park, it was academic what The Haws did here today but they did themselves no favours whatsoever. With three points also vital to Musselburgh in order to avoid relegation (and send Bathgate down) the visitors were effectively handed the points within the opening 12 minutes.

After 3 minutes Hill of Beath were awarded a penalty but Alisdair Adams in the Musselburgh goal saved Darren Wright's effort (pictured right). After 5 minutes The Haws were down to 10 men when Barry Smith was red carded for violent conduct.

After 10 minutes Musselburgh's Michael McKenna made a darting run into the box where he was tripped by Stewart Haddow just as he was about to shoot and, as Haddow was the last man, he was shown a straight red card. Matt King scored the resultant penalty (pictured left) so after 12 minutes Hill of Beath were 1 goal and 2 men down.

A well known Scottish hopper, who I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with, did say just before kick off that this game would not finish with all 22 men on the pitch but to see 2 red cards so early in a game was, frankly, ridiculous.

The game settled down after this early burst of incidents and despite their numerical disadvantage, The Haws actually played the better football. However, as you would expect Athletic were always threatening on the break. Despite outnumbering their opponents whenever they broke at no stage did you ever feel convinced Musselburgh were going to add to their one goal, largely due to some woeful finishing and the absolutely inspired performance of Stuart Hall in the Haws' goal. You could say his display was knockout! Sorry.

It was only as Hill of Beath Hawthorn began to tire in the heat, as they became more desperate in their search for an equaliser, that Musselburgh were able to finally kill them off.

After 79 minutes Matt King scored his second of the game when he ran through to slot home and then on 83 minutes Chris Gordon finally poked the ball home after two initial shots were saved.

Musselburgh were then able to celebrate their successful fight to stave off relegation whilst Hill of Beath Hawthorn would probably be once again ruing another missed opportunity.

Keirs Park is a tidy set up with terracing all around the ground. There are covered enclosures on each side of the pitch. There is no social club at the ground but you were allowed out to the nearby miners welfare club should you require a pint.

Having visited the GBG listed Four Mary's in Linlithgow pre-match, where as luck would have there was a beer festival on the go, my real ale needs were already satisfied!!

Another Scottish ground that was worth the long journey to visit.

I only started this blog in earnest this season and I've been taken aback by how many 'hits' it has had, and in how many countries. May I take this opportunity to thank everyone who has taken the time to have a look. I really do hope you enjoyed what you seen. Have a great summer and I will see you all soon when we can start the ball rolling once again!




Saturday 26th May 2012
East Region Super League
Hill of Beath Hawthorn 0
Musselburgh Athletic 3
Attendance: 250 (est)


Nae programme, pal.
The very kind offer of a lift to Scotland was too tempting to refuse because, with most of the competitive action South of the Border now concluded, the only games with things riding on them were North of the Border.

Destination today was Meadow Park, the home of Irvine Meadow XI, and their West Super League Premier Division clash with struggling Largs Thistle. A big day was in prospect as a point or three would see 'Medda' retain the championship flag.

Formed in 1897, Irvine Meadow are one of the oldest Junior clubs still playing. They have won the Scottish Junior cup on 3 occasions and have enjoyed plenty of success in the last few years, winning the League title in 2009 and 2011.

At one stage they were asked to turn senior and join the Scottish League, but they decided to remain a Junior club. On 28 November 2009 Irvine Meadow became the first junior club to defeat a senior club in a competitive fixture when they beat Arbroath 1-0 in the third round of the Scottish Cup.

It was a glorious sunny day in Irvine and the pitch, reputed to be one of the best in Scotland, looked in immaculate condition.

The game though was a tight affair. After they hit the crossbar early on, Frank Gibson gave 'medda' the lead after 15 minutes. However from then on Largs looked quite capable of bagging an equaliser. You would never have guessed it was top v bottom.

A Richie Barr goal in stoppage time finally sealed the victory, and the championship, for the homesters whilst Largs, who probably felt they should have got something out of the game, will have to regroup in the First Division.

The ground was another Scottish gem and well worth the trek North.


Champions Again!

Saturday 19th May 2012
West Super League Premier Division
Irvine Meadow XI 2-0 Largs Thistle
Attendance: 439 (h/c)

FC CEFN (The Muga)

I was fortunate today, as we enter the dying embers of the season, that there was a 'local' game for me to head to that had something riding on it. Cefn Mawr based FC Cefn were taking on Corwen, in the Welsh National (Wrexham Area),  and a point was all they needed to secure the championship.
This is the fourth ground i've visited to watch teams with Cefn in their name, which is amazing for such a small geographical area. Both Cefn Druids grounds (Plaskynyston Lane & The Rock) are two and Cefn United, who existed from 1999-2008, and played at The Dell, being the other. FC Cefn's ground, The Muga, is in the shadow of a supermarket that was built on the site of Druids old ground, Plaskynyston Lane.

FC Cefn were founded in 2006 and the following extract is taken from their website

"F.C.Cefn were founded in 2006 by Mr Billy Evans, Mr Bill Kempster,Steven Davies and Mark 'Jusso' Jones. The team joined the Welsh National League division 3 for the 2007/2008 season playing home fixtures at Ty-Mawr Park.That season F.C.Cefn won the div 3 title by one point from Gwersyllt. They were promoted straight to div 1, once again winning the title from Gwersyllt, this time by nine points, also winning the Div 1 league cup making it a splendid league and cup double. F.C. Cefn were promoted to the premier division.During this season they also changed their home ground and moved to The Muga Plaskynaston Lane. In their first season in the premier they finished a respectable 11th place and lost to venture 3-2 in the league cup final. F.C.Cefn's next ambition is to compete in the Cymru Alliance League"

That ambition may be a while off yet as, despite being certainties to clinch the title, promotion has already been declined. This could have something to do with ground as it is very basic to say the least. The ground is just a railed of pitch with no stands, cover or facillties...not good if you need to go to the toilet, or as today, take cover from the burning sunshine! Also, for all you paperchasers out there, no programme was issued either. However, I would say the elevated standing offered a great view of the match and no admission was charged.

As mentioned, at the start of play FC Cefn only needed a point to secure the Welsh National (Wrexham Area) championship, but managed to claim all three despite a very sluggish performance. Visitors Corwen clearly came with the intention of spoling the party and were the better side for large periods of the game.

It was no surprise when they took the lead after 30 minutes, a loose ball allowed Andy Roberts to race through on goal before slotting past in the Cefn goal. The homesters were very fortunate to go in at the break level when, after 39 minutes, Oli Davies sidefooted home Darren Williams' knock down.

Cefn seemed to drift back into their slumber at the beginning of the second period as Corwen had 5 great chances in an opening 4 minute blitz. The first four went begging but on 49 minutes a glorious lob from Dave Roberts restored Corwen's lead.

Prompted by ex-Welsh Premier League player Paul Mazzarella (left), FC Cefn worked themselves back into the game. Oli Davies thought he'd levelled for a second time but his effort was ruled offside. However minutes later they did level, Nick Williams latching onto a long clearance to fire home (63).

Nick Williams scores from the penalty spot

The momentum at this point swung towards Cefn and with 10 minutes remaining they took the lead for the first time, Nick Williams scoring his second goal from the penalty spot. The game was finally put to bed after 83 minutes when Lee Jones scored a fourth for Cefn. The mark of true Champions - when you don't play well, but can still grind out the result.

The party could well and truly start. Corwens misery was completed when Will Roberts was sent off for what I could only assume to be foul and abusive language.

The trophy was presented at the end of the game as another chapter in Cefn's short history came to a very happy conclusion.




Saturday 12th May 2012
Welsh National League (Wrexham Area)
FC Cefn 4-2 Corwen
Attendance: 140 (h/c)