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Chris Robinson is a long standing Sheffield supporter from our Don Valley days, who has relocated to Scotland for work purposes. He makes the odd trip to watch Sheffield (mostly at holiday times) but the distances involved means he has to make do with the Scottish Non-League scene. In these reports he gives us an insight as to what it's like
'North Of The Border'.

Woodside Park, Steelend Victoria FC

Saturday 28th May 2005

 

WHITE & MACKAY FIFE LEAGUE

STEELEND VICTORIA vs. ST ANDREWS UNITED

 

At the start of the season I received a request to visit St Andrews United, and as it turned out at the end of the season they had managed to get themselves into a massive fixture pile up.  However unfortunately all their home games seemed to be being played midweek, so I went for the next best thing of seeing them on their travels.

 

Steelend was in itself a club I had wanted to visit for a long time, they are perennial strugglers in the Fife League, not helped by being one of the most remote teams in Scottish non league football. Steelend is a small hamlet of about 600 people on the Fife-Perthshire Border and going into this their last game of the season their football were bottom of the Fife League.  The visitors St Andrews were in third place with an outside chance of promotion to the Super League.

 

Not for the first time this season I made a cock up with the travel arrangements and I ended up 10 minutes late for the start of the game and as is becoming increasingly regular I was greeted by the news that I had missed a goal.  St Andrews having taken the lead.  I was also greeted by a very picturesque ground, in the shadow of Knockhill (home of the motor racing circuit), with countryside on three sides and the hamlet on the other.

 

Fortunately this time it wasn't to end up 1-0 and in the half an hour or so of the first half I saw, St Andrews made sure of this by adding another and they way they were playing and dominating the game it looked as if more would be on the cards after the break.

 

At half time I was resigned to just taking in the view as I couldn't see a snack bar and I didn't really think a club of this size would have one (many in Scotland don't) - even today with a large away travelling there were only around 40 people in the ground, but then near the changing room entrance I saw someone emerge with a cup of tea.  So I decided to go in as it was freezing (I know it was May, but it was the hills of Scotland), inside I was greeted by one of the friendliest and best stocked canteens I have encountered.  The heater was on which was welcomed and the walls were covered with non league pennants from across Scotland, but also with some teams from England too.

 

The second half did see St Andrews add more goals, but not before a consolation for Steelend, when GOUGH stabbed the ball into the goal from close range.  St Andrews however went on to score 3 more times to complete a 5-1 victory.  And if not for some woeful finishing (which I know sounds harsh when you've won 5-1, but they really were bad!) would have scored more.

 

 

Prestonfield, Linlithgow Rose FC

Tuesday 24th May 2005

 

PETER WALKER GROUP LOTHIAN LEAGUE CUP FINAL

BROXBURN ATHLETIC vs. HARTHILL ROYAL

 

The 2005 Lothian League Cup Final was contested between Lothian League 1st Division side Broxburn and 2nd division Harthill.  Broxburn had been relegated to the 2nd division, just two days earlier when they lost an amazing game 3-2 at Newtongrange Star (a game I was also at!).  Harthill had finished midtable in the 2nd Division.

 

Both teams were quite evenly matched, but Harthill were posing more threat in front of goal.  Harthill took the lead in the first half with a well Taken goal from CONNOLLY and wrapped up the victory ten minutes from time when YOUNG struck a thunderbolt of a shot into the top corner from 30 yards out.

 

 

Burngrange Park, West Calder United FC

Tuesday 17th May 2005

 

WHITE & MACKAY LOTHIAN LEAGUE DIVISION TWO

WEST CALDER UNITED vs. EDINBURGH UNITED

 

Edinburgh went into this, their final game of the season with an outside chance of lifting the Lothian League Second division title.  They needed to win and hope Penicuik failed to win their last game, which was taking place at the same time just a couple of miles don the road at Livingston United.

 

A large travelling contingent came to see if the capital side could pull off the victory needed, but it was West Calder who took the lead with a screaming 30 yard drive from McCAULEY.  Edinburgh were not playing well at all, and went in at the break 1-0 down.

 

In the second half Edinburgh came out looking like a team who wanted the title, and quickly equalised when full back FORD hit a low shot across the keeper and into the bottom corner.  Edinburgh now launched a series of attacks to try and grab the lead, but West Calder had other ideas as they regained the lead through McNISH.  Edinburgh kept coming forward and with fifteen minutes remaining equalised again through Andy HOWAT.  Now Edinburgh threw everyone forward, but couldn't find a winner and with the last action of the game Campbell found a winner for the home side.

 

As it turned out Penicuik won 4-3 at Livingston United to clinch the title, whereas Edinburgh who had led for nearly the entire season finished second.

 

 

Ore Park, Ballingry Rovers FC

Sunday 15th May 2005

 

FIFE LEAGUE CUP FINAL

HILL OF BEATH HAWTHORN vs. KIRKCALDY YMCA

 

It is that time of the Junior Football season when the cup finals start coming thick and fast.  This the Fife League Cup Final was been staged by Ballingry Rovers who had only just moved up from the amateur ranks at the start of the season, they had initially struggled in the Fife League, but had picked up lately.  Hill of Beath led the Fife league (and would eventually go on to win it), and Kirkcaldy were mid table.

 

This is where it's going to get confusing so bear with me.  Ballingry is a small village north of Cowdenbeath, but Ballingry Rovers play at Ore Park a rural ground between the villages of Lochore and Lochgelly.  In fact they play very close to Lochgelly rail station, who in turn have their own team, Lochgelly Albert, who play the other side of the village.  That's not to say that no team plays in Ballingry, because that’s where Lochore Miners Welfare play. Confused. I am.

 

Despite it not being in Ballingry, the ground is probably the best I have been to in Fife with three covered areas and the pitch being in superb condition.  The snack bar also produced an absolutely fantastic home made soup which was so good I had to devour two of them.

 

The game itself started pretty evenly and Kirkcaldy were actually producing the better chances, but it wasn't long before Hawthorn got on top and once they did they dominated the game.  KENNY gave them the lead with a powerful header and DEMPSTER doubled the lead before half time.  A flying header from COURTS added a third just into the second half and SMITH completed the rout to give Hill of Beath their first (and it certainly wasn't their last) silverware of the season.

 

 

Beechwood Park, Stoneyburn Juniors FC

Saturday 14th May 2005

 

WHITE & MACKAY LOTHIAN LEAGUE DIVISION TWO

STONEYBURN JUNIORS vs. EDINBURGH UNITED

 

This was my first visit to Stoneyburn, a small village to the west of Livingston in West Lothian.  The ground was very nondescript, with just a rail around the ground and a small piece of terracing, although it had obviously once had a large covered area, but now just the frame remained.  It did however have one very strange feature, a five a side football pitch behind the goal, not that strange you may think, but it was inside the railed off area, so any attempt to go behind the goal found you watching the local kids playing five a side rather than the main match.

 

Edinburgh knew a victory would clinch them promotion back to the Lothian League first division at the first attempt.  And they started well Nick BROOKFIELD giving them a deserved lead after just five minutes.  Edinburgh controlled the first half but couldn't add any more goals.

 

Minutes into the second half Stoneyburn equalised with a bizarre goal.  The centre back took a free kick from midway inside his own half, the ball missed everyone and then bounced over the keepers head despite his desperate attempts to reach it.  Edinburgh hit back immediately with two goals in quick succession.  FORD heading home a corner and then he converted the rebound after Howats shot hit the crossbar.  Edinburgh went looking for more goals, but couldn't find them.  However, they had achieved promotion and left the pitch to a well deserved ovation.

 

 

Easter Road, Hibernian FC

Sunday 8th May 2005

 

SCOTTISH QUALIFYING CUP (SOUTH) FINAL

WHITEHILL WELFARE vs. EDINBURGH CITY

 

For the showpiece of East of Scotland Senior non-league football, this game was a massive disappointment, both in terms of the football and the atmosphere.  In the Junior non-league game even 'mickey mouse' cup finals can attract 600+ fans, but this game only attracted 398 people to Easter Road.

 

Both sides created half chances in a first half which was largely a midfield battle, without really testing either goalkeeper.  The second half followed a similar pattern as both sides seemed scared of committing themselves and seemed willing to settle for a draw.  This was obviously the worst possible outcome as those of us left in the ground now had to suffer an extra half hour of this torment.  To be honest I was considering leaving - but knew that if I did there would probably be 5 goals in the last five minutes or something - as it turned out my continued presence condemned the game to a 0-0 finish.

 

So the game went to a penalty shoot-out, normally I'm not a big fan of this method of settling ties, particularly cup finals, but in this case I think it was the lesser of two evils.  It wasn't even that exciting a shoot-out, but at least we finally had a winner, Whitehill triumphing 5-4, and I could go home.

 

 

Newbattle Recreation Ground, Easthouses Lily WMCFC

Tuesday 3rd May 2005

 

KING CUP QUARTER FINAL

EASTHOUSES LILY WMC vs. WHITEHILL WELFARE

 

Another new ground, well if you can call it a ground, Newbattle is really a playing field with one railed off pitch, and whilst the ground has no discernable features the views across to the Pentland Hills are its one redeeming feature.  People watching semi-professional football in England, just wouldn't be able to imagine that its incarnation North of the Border is allowed to.  Regardless of their ground Easthouses, which is located south of Edinburgh in Midlothian, were running away with the East of Scotland first division, so would provide stiff competition for their Premier League visitors in this derby cup quarter final.

 

As always seems to happen at grounds with no cover it rains, but this time I was prepared with an umbrella. Now if you're getting wet at a match it usually ends up as a bore 0-0 draw just to compound the misery.  However on this occasion my preparedness was rewarded with an entertaining cup tie.

 

Both teams set out to attack and the first half was end to end stuff with both teams having a number of good chances.  However, it was the first division leaders who took theirs with both BEATTIE and BORTHWICK netting to give the home side a 2 goal advantage.  After the break Welfare looked much more threatening and with quarter of an hour to go they set up a frantic finish.  A deep cross from the right wing was met by a pinpoint header from FINDLAY who guided the ball into the far corner.  Despite their best efforts Welfare were unable to find an equaliser and it was their lower league hosts who progressed into the Semi-Finals

 

 

Riccarton, Heriot-Watt University FC

Tuesday 19th April 2005

 

EAST OF SCOTLAND LEAGUE DIVISION 1

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY vs. TOLLCROSS UNITED

 

During the close season Heriot-Watt teamed up with Hearts, who built there new Academy at Riccarton, whilst enhancing the playing facilities of their hosts at the same time.  They now are one of the few teams in the league with floodlights and the pitch is second to none - you would have thought they could put some cover up for spectators though!  It seems that they are enjoying their new facilities too as they were on the fringes of promotion to the Premier League for the first time in their history, and tonight were meeting second bottom Tollcross United.

 

The first half was pretty even with both teams creating a number of chances.  However the students got on top and the leagues leading scorer STODDART headed them into the lead after 16 minutes.  Tollcross then had to suffer a number of close calls before half time with the University having another shot cleared off the line.

 

In the second half it was clear the United players were tiring on the big pitch and Watt took full advantage of this fact.  The students increased their lead early in the half, when after a shot was superbly saved onto the crossbar, STODDART was on hand to head in.  Then just after the hour a superb ball found CAMPBELL whose left foot shot easily beat the keeper.  The home side were now running the visitors ragged and were launching wave after wave of attack.  STODDART completed his hat trick stabbing home at close range, and then LEASK latched onto a poor throw out by the keeper to make it five.  In the last ten minutes two more goals were added to give the scoreline a possibly flattering look, first STODDART with a low shot form just inside the area and then WATSON from 20 yards out.

 

In the end Heriot-Watt gained promotion finishing second behind Easthouses Lily and edging out Ormiston on goal difference, for which this 7-0 result must have been very helpful.  Tollcross ended up second bottom to Eyemouth United (who ended the season on -1 points!) and have subsequently changed their name to Tynecastle FC even though they play nowhere near Tynecastle!

 

 

Murrayfield Park, Blackburn United FC

Saturday 26th April 2005

 

WHITE & MACKAY LOTHIAN LEAGUE DIVISION TWO

BLACKBURN UNITED vs. EDINBURGH UNITED

 

In October 2003 I went to Murrayfield Park to see a Scottish Cup game between Blackburn and the newly reformed Clydebank and I commented on how good their programme was supposed to be, but that I hadn't been able to get one as they had all sold out.  Well since then I have come by a programme from the match in question after the man responsible contacted Deano to let him know there were some lying in his garage - and very good it is too - certainly the best I have come across in Scotland (and that goes for league sides too!) - so if you're ever in the area on a Saturday afternoon this ground may be worth a visit (don't know whether it's a good idea to tell Bill though!).  More can be found out about Blackburn and their programme at their excellent website (htt p://www.blackburnunited.homestead.com). 

 

All the above, however, took place after this game...for which once again there wasn't a programme and I was cursing my luck for having missed out again, but to be fair there was a good reason for one not being produced (I just can't remember what it was!!)

 

This game itself was vital for both clubs promotion aspirations.  Blackburn started well and had the majority of the possession.  Edinburgh's defence was looking solid however and the visitors were looking dangerous on the break.  Whilst the game wasn't overly frequented by goalmouth opportunities, it was still entertaining with both teams playing good football.  It was Edinburgh who managed to score the goals and maintain their place at the top of the league.  Firstly HALL broke through and clipped the ball over the out rushing keeper, and then in the second half a superb low drive from the right side of the penalty area by FORD found its way into the bottom corner to wrap up a valuable 2-0 win .

================================================

Forthbank, Stirling Albion FC

Wednesday January 26th  2005

 

SCOTTISH LEAGUE DIVISION TWO

STIRLING ALBION vs. GREENOCK MORTON

 

If there is one thing that really annoys me about no longer having a car, it is Public Transport.  Not that I have to use it, that I don't mind, it's the fact I have to rely on it to get me to football matches on time.  This time the train pulled into Stirling station 25 minutes late and I got to Forthbank stadium 12 minutes late, to be told Greenock Morton were 1-0 infront - This was the third time this season I had been told these dreaded words at a turnstile.

 

As I was later to find out it was GREACEN who had put Morton ahead, infront of Forthbanks biggest league crowd of the season of 1,076.  Morton are the only professional club in the Scottish second Division and have a formidable home support.  However, for what I saw of this game they were by far the second best team on the pitch.  Goalmouth incident was few and far between, but was mainly caused by Stirling.  It looked as if it was going to end with no further scoring (or goalless as far as I cared!), but Stirling got their equaliser five minutes from time.  A well worked five man moved ended in the ball being squared across goal for DI GIACOMO to score.  The Morton fans booed their team off the park as they slipped further from the promotion places and Stirling closed the gap on them to 3 points.

 

To cap my night off superbly - The train back was bang on time in Stirling and EARLY into Edinburgh

 

 

 

Riccarton, Heriot-Watt University FC

Sunday January 30th 2005

 

IMAGE PRINTERS EAST OF SCOTLAND QUALIFYING CUP FINAL

SPARTANS vs. EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY

 

Spartans and Edinburgh University contested this East of Scotland Qualifying cup final for a chance to meet Berwick Rangers in the East of Scotland cup.  The game was played at Heriot-Watt University's Riccarton Campus ground, which has recently been redeveloped as part of Hearts training facilities.  Whilst the new ground is much better than their old and the playing surface is excellent there is still no cover or refreshments to be found anywhere.

 

Spartans currently sit atop the East of Scotland Premier League and were odds on favourites for this game.  Edinburgh University sat third in the same division and brought with them a large following of Students in the 300 strong crowd. 

 

A very heavy wind was blowing across this ground during the game,  however it was an incident after only ten minutes which was to have the most profound effect on this game.  Spartans winger Donal Henretty was sent off for stamping.  Although down to ten men Spartans dominated the first half without being able to make the breakthrough.  The second half started in the same vein and just after the hour the scored a superb opener.  BOB MITCHELL picked up the ball on the edge of the area came inside the Uni defender and curled an unstoppable shot into the top corner of the goal.  The students now came back into the game, but it wasn't until the last ten minutes they really began to threaten and it was with a corner 3 minutes from time they headed an equaliser with their first attempt on target of any note.

 

The game now went into extra time and as the ten men tired Edinburgh University got the breakthrough almost instantly.  The Uni striker beat the offside trap and his shot squirmed under the Spartans keeper and into the net.  In the second period of extra time Spartans threw everything they had forward.  In the very last minute they won a corner for which everyone including the keeper was inside the students penalty area, and how they kept the ball out of the net I'll never know, three times it was cleared off the line before eventually being cleared.  At this point the final whistle went and the students had won the cup by 2 goals to 1.

 

 

 

Welfare Ground, Brandon United FC

Saturday February 5th 2005

 

NORTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE

BRANDON UNITED vs. WEST AUCKLAND TOWN

 

The first match of February saw a return to the North-East and a visit to the team I followed whilst at university.  Whilst living in Durham, Brandon United won both the Northern League second and first divisions.  This season after a mass exodus of players and management they are struggling near the bottom of the Northern League First Division.  However, they have been involved in a number of very high scoring games and also have the Northern Leagues leading scorer in Scott Bell, and whilst still top of the chart, he moved to Blyth Spartans just after Christmas.

 

Brandon started this game at a frantic pace and after only a few minutes DAVE FOLEY scored after going through one on one with the keeper.  Brandon continued to attack, but it was obvious why they had conceded so many goals this season as they were continually being exposed at the back.  However, it was Brandon who scored next when COATES caught a cross perfectly on the volley and the ball finished in the top corner.  Then on the stroke of half time FOLEY scored a third from inside the penalty area. 

 

One home supporter at half time claimed "it's a good job we've got three - we might even get a draw now!"  However the second half continued where the first let off,  COATES smashed in number 4 off the crossbar, before Tony Fort missed two more glorious chances.  Brandon were now being troubled very little at the back, but yet were still finding masses of space going forward. COATES added a fifth and completed his hatrick from the penalty spot before FOLEY completed his own hatrick and completed the 6-0 rout.

 

This victory moved Brandon to sixth bottom, but most of the teams below them still have games in hand.

 

 

 

Firs Park, East Stirlingshire FC    

Tuesday 15th March 2005

 

SCOTTISH LEAGUE DIVISION THREE

EAST STIRLINGSHIRE vs. STENHOUSEMUIR

 

This was the first league meeting between these two local rivals at Firs Park since the turn of the millennium.  In this seasons games at Ochilview, Stenhousemuir had run out comfortable 6-0 and 3-1 winners, but East Stirlingshire had beaten third placed Cowdenbeath at the weekend.  East Stirlingshire have the worst record in UK league football and last season won no matches, their players get paid just 10 per game and before this game they languished 10 points adrift at the foot of the third division table

 

On a night of horrendous rain, just 211 people turned up to see this derby, although top of the first division Falkirk were playing second placed Clyde less than half a mile away.  The heavy rain had turned the pitch into a mudbath and it must have been touch and go as to whether the game started, but thankfully it did.

 

The conditions defiantly suited the 10 per match men as they went 1-0 up inside three minutes, a long ball into the box was spectacularly hooked into the net by ROSS DONALDSON.  Soon they were two up, when a quick free kick from Donaldson sent MCcGROATY through and he had the simple job of sliding the ball past the keeper.  Stenhousemuir did start to come forward and were unlucky not to be on the scoresheet before half time hitting the crossbar twice, firstly with an header and then when the East Stirling keeper superbly denied McGrillen.

 

It wasn't long into the second half before the Warriors did pull a goal back.  It came from a superb curling effort from McGRILLEN, the keeper getting a hand to the ball, but was unable to keep it out.  On the hour the Shire restored their two goal advantage when a 25 yard drive from ROSS took a wicked deflection off a defender and sent the keeper the wrong way.  The small band of shire fans were now in fine voice and were encouraging their team forward with shouts of "We want six!" - I wouldn't even like to hazard a guess at the last time they scored that many!!  However, within minutes of their third a Stenny defender brought down Donaldson in the penalty area for which he receive a red card, but McGroaty missed the opportunity to put Shire into their biggest lead for at least two seasons (probably a lot more but I can't be bothered to find out!).  Spurred on by the penalty save the Warriors poured forward and once again McGrillen hit the crossbar, they did finally grab a second with the last kick off the game, McGREGOR stabbing home after a goalmouth scramble. As the Shire kicked off the full time whistle went and they had won a quite unexpected victory.

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Volunteer Park, Armadale Thistle FC
Saturday November 27th 2004
 
LOTHIAN LEAGUE CUP GROUP 1
ARMADALE THISTLE vs. EDINBURGH UNITED
 
Armadale looked on paper like a simple ground to get to. A Bus from right outside my flat would take me to Bathgate, where I would change onto a different bus for the five minute journey to Armadale. How wrong I was! The bus from Edinburgh to Bathgate unfortunately was hardly what could be called a direct service, we must have gone down nearly every road in Livingston. Once you've seen one road in Livingston you've seen them all! We even got a trip into the First bus depot between Livingston and Bathgate and now it was only ten minutes to go to kick off. I finally got to Bathgate at kick off time. The journey to Armadale was less eventful and I eventually got into the ground 10 minutes late to be told that Edinburgh led 1-0 through a McCormick strike.
 
What I saw of the first half, higher league Armadale were well on top and after half an hour equalised through Alexander who drilled a powerful low shot into the net from 20 yards. However, on the stroke of half time Edinburgh re-established their lead. A well worked corner found McCormick unmarked in the box and he fired the ball home from close range.
 
The second half was mainly Edinburgh, who whilst Armadale pushed forward they controlled the midfield. However, poor finishing meant they were unable to add to their tally, but still an impressive away win against higher league opposition.
 
All that was left after the match was an exciting bus journey to look forward to!!
 
 
Craigie Park, Dundee Elmwood FC
Saturday December 4th 2004
 
OVD SCOTTISH JUNIOR CUP ROUND 3
DUNDEE ELMWOOD vs. EDINBURGH UNITED
 
This was to be my first encounter with non-league football in the 'City of Discovery' at Tayside Premier League side Dundee Elmwood. Dundee Elmwood were formed in 1924 and have led a nomadic existence, they currently share Craigie Park with Tayside League division one side Dundee East Craigie. Craigie Park used to be used as a training ground by Dundee United, but now it is in a state of much disrepair.
 
There were about 50 people in the ground for this Scottish Cup tie including a sizable contingent from Edinburgh. For those that did turn up there were two very surprising occurrences for a Scottish non league game - Linesmen and a programme! The programme contained about a minute of reading material, but unlike most at least they'd bothered.
 
The game itself was a very tight affair. Elmwood scored both of the games goals midway through the first half, both times beating Edinburgh's offside trap. Edinburgh pushed forward from this point on and had most of the possession, but failed to create any real clear cut chances, whilst Elmwood speedy wingers always made them dangerous on the break.
 
The game wasn't helped by some bizarre refereeing decisions, culminating in the sending off of Edinburgh's Hall for two inconspicuous challenges, however it was too late to effect the outcome and Elmwood deservedly went through to the next round where they would be away to Dunbar United. [Elmwood lost in the next round 3-2 at Lothian League Division One side Dunbar United]
 
 
Pennypit Park, Preston Athletic FC
Wednesday 8th December 2004
 
EAST OF SCOTLAND LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION
PRESTON ATHLETIC vs. SPARTANS
 
A game with Linesmen and a programme again!!! Just like buses two come along at once!
 
Pennypit Park is one of the few East of Scotland grounds to have floodlights and therefore provides me with a number of midweek matches. Tonight's was of great interest with Preston playing reigning champions Spartans. Spartans had lost for the first time this season the previous weekend at League Leaders Annan Athletic and were looking to bounce back on a freezing cold night in Prestonpans.
 
Spartans started the game like they meant business. Within the first five minutes they were 3-0 up. McLeod put them in front, before Henretty drove in a low shot for number 2. Bennett then headed them further in front from a corner. After this spell of scoring Spartans continued to press forward, but only added one more before half time. Thomson hitting the goal of the game by lobbing the Preston keeper from all of 35 yards.
 
The second half was much the same, with Spartans pressing forward all the time and during the course of the half they were guilty of some atrocious misses. However, the pressure told and when Preston's keeper miskicked a back pass, McLeod had an easy task of scoring his second into an empty net. Preston then pulled a goal back, substitute McCall curling a free kick into the bottom corner of Spartans net. It wasn't long before the 5 goal lead was restored however, after a goal mouth scramble Mitchell stabbed home from close range. Even though Spartans continued to create chances they couldn't add to their tally, but all in all this was an impressive win and a big step towards regaining their championship.
 
 
Easter Road, Hibernian FC
Saturday December 11th 2004
 
SCOTTISH PREMIER LEAGUE
HIBERNIAN vs. ABERDEEN
 
For once I passed up my normal dose of Saturday Afternoon non league footy for the dizzy heights of the Scottish Premier League. A friend who was visiting wanted to go to Easter Road to see Hibernian and it was much better than the alternative of Christmas shopping. So for once on a Saturday afternoon I found myself back in the land of All Seater Stadia and 1.60 cups of tea!
 
Aberdeen are the sleeping giants of Scottish football having won the title twice and the Cup Winners Cup in the 1980's. They are (along with Hearts) probably the best chance of wrestling the title away from the Old Firm. After a few years of struggling at the foot of the table, new manager Jimmy Calderwood has lifted the Dons to third and until a few weeks back were in touch with Rangers. Hibs are also having a good season and were fourth at the start of play.
 
Given the teams standings this game drew a massive crowd (by SPL Standards!) of just under 14,000 including a massive travelling support from Aberdeen. It was Aberdeen who started the better of two sides, they passed the ball well, but their shooting left a lot to be desired. Hibs came back into the game and took the lead, a low cross from the left wing was converted by top scorer Derek Riordan. Then came five minutes which changed the game. First the Aberdeen keeper David Preece was sent off for handball outside the area. Almost immediately Hibs Gary O'Connor was only booked for kicking an Aberdeen player. The Dons did level just before the break when Darren Mackie lost his marker and poked the ball into the net.
 
Hibs started the second half brightly and it wasn't long before they were back in front, former Newcastle player Steven Glass allowed the ball to drop over his shoulder in the penalty area and he hit a thunderous drive into the top corner of the net. The ten men of Aberdeen continued to plug away for an equaliser, but it didn't come and the Hibees held on to close the gap on their visitors.
 
 
Murrayfield Stadium
Thursday December 16th 2004
 
UEFA CUP SECOND ROUND - GROUP E
HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN vs. FERENCVAROS
 
Amazingly the last Scottish club left in European competition this season was Hearts, however they had to beat Hungarian champions Ferencvaros and hope Basle didn't beat Feyenoord to stand any chance of going through to the next round of the UEFA cup. Hearts have moved their European ties to Murrayfield, home of Scottish Rugby Union, less than half a mile from Tynecastle.
 
Hearts are planning to sell their spiritual home at Tynecastle and move all their matches to Murrayfield. I'm not a big fan of clubs moving ground, especially if like Tynecastle the ground is perfectly big enough to accommodate Hearts crowds and more to the point is quite a nice ground. The vast areas of empty seats around Murrayfield certainly dampened the atmosphere at this game, so goodness only knows what it would be like for an SPL match. [NB - Since I wrote this it looks as tough Hearts will be staying at Tynecastle at least for the time being]
 
Ferencvaros are former winners of the UEFA cup, in one of it's former incarnations, in 1965 and reached the Cup Winners Cup Final in 1975. They have won the Hungarian title a record 27 times and the Hungarian cup 18 times. Ferencvaros also required a victory to maintain their slim hopes of progression.
 
Hearts made the better start, but after testing the keeper on a couple of occasions, they then started to fade and the visitors got on top. After 30 minutes they opened the scoring. Rosa scoring at the third attempt after Craig Gordon had blocked his first two efforts.
 
The hundred or so Ferencvaros supporters who had travelled to Scotland went crazy and were outsinging the 26,000 home supporters by this stage. Unfortunately they did little to help their already poor image by setting the seats behind the goal on fire, by the time it had been extinguished there were as many police around the visiting supporters as in the rest of the stadium.
 
After this the game became somewhat bad tempered and on a number of occasions the teams were guilty of not giving the ball back after the ball had been kicked out for players to receive treatment. The Yellow Card was being flashed around - including to the Ferencvaros Captain for a terrible high challenge.
 
Given that Hearts now needed to score twice to have any chance of staying in Europe you would have thought they would have come out second half all guns blazing, but instead it was the visitors who continued to dominate and should have scored more goals, but in the end they couldn't add any more and the final score ended 1-0, a score line which put both teams out of the competition as Basle beat Feyenoord by the same score.
 
 
City Park
Saturday 8th January 2005
 
EAST OF SCOTLAND LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION
SPARTANS vs. CIVIL SERVICE STROLLERS
 
On a dismally cold and Snowy January afternoon most games including my chosen one had fallen victim to the inclement weather conditions. Only three games remained one of which was the game at City Park between Spartans and Civil Service Strollers. Given I had seen Spartans three times already this season with an average of 7 goals per game this was the obvious choice.
 
This was my first visit of the season to City Park. The rain and snow held off for the 10 minute cycle to the ground, but unfortunately the lack of cover at the ground put pay to any hopes of staying dry as the heavens opened during the game.
 
Given my reasons for choosing this game I was worried it would end in a bore 0-0 draw (which would have been particularly bad on this day given the temperatures!). However, I needn't have worried. Spartans ran riot in the first half kicking down the hill. Bob Mitchell and Donal Henretty put them 2-0 up before Willie Bennett added an hat trick of headers. Two from corners and the third from a free kick in the last minute of the half.
 
The Second half started in much the same fashion a brilliant move was finished off by Thompson. Then after just 51 minutes Smart found himself free in the penalty area to blast home number 7. Spartans now made all three substitutions, but credit must go to Strollers for what happened next. Skea pulled one back with a brilliant individual goal. Then on the hour a good run down the left wing by the Strollers wide man resulted in a decent low cross which was turned into the net at the near post by Skea. After what had gone before one would have predicted more goals, but unfortunately so many changes to the two sides, the worsening snow and the cut up pitch turned the game into a bit of a drab affair from this point onwards and no more goals were scored.. However, I shouldn't complain 9 goals when it looked like I wouldn't get a game at all ain't bad going - still not an enjoyable cycle home though!

=====================================================

Easter Road, Hibernian FC
Wednesday November 17th 2004
 
INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY
SCOTLAND vs. SWEDEN
 
Scotland's policy of moving their friendly matches around the club grounds brought them once again to Edinburgh.  Entry to this match, at Easter Road home of Hibernian, was just a mere 10, this to see a team that reached the quarter final of the European Championships over the summer.
 
Scotland had suffered a sequence of disastrous results which resulted in manager Berti Vogts resigning just days before this match. Tommy Burns was in charge for this match and had some serious injury worries before kick off including captain Steven Pressley of Hearts.  Sweden on the other hand were missing big name players of their own such as Ibrahimovic and Larrson, but the team was still full of World Class players.
 
Despite Scotland's dismal run of form, Easter Road was almost sold out with just over 15,000 spectators in attendance including a fair number from Sweden.
 
Scotland started the game brightly and created a number of promising situations in the opening 20 minutes, but they failed to make anything of these opportunities.  As the game wore on Sweden settled and took control of the midfield. Kim Kallstrom was winning everything in the middle of the park and wingers Alexandersson and the games outstanding player Christian Wilhelmsson were deystroying Scotland down the wings.  And it was Wilhelmsson who set up the first goal, after a pacey run down the left wing he cut the ball back to Marcus Allback who had the simple job of tapping the ball into an empty net.  Sweden continued to attack but somehow Scotland survived to half time without conceding again.
 
Sweden did score just moments into the second half.  Kallstrom found Wihlemsson now on the right wing and his cross was met at the far post by Marcus Allback who once again just had to tap in from close range.  Scotland came back into the game briefly, but Sweden killed off any remaining hope with two goals in two minutes just after the hour.  First Kallstrom and Wilhelmsson combined again the latter hitting a shot which was well saved but Elmander was on hand to slot home the rebound.  Then Wilhelmsson got free on the left his low cross was turned in from close range by Berglund.  Scotland did manage a consolation with ten minutes to go.  A Scottish Cross from the left wing was dreadfully overhit, but James McFadden ran into the back of Petter Hansson in the Swedish penalty area and somehow Scotland were awarded a penalty.  McFadden got up to slot home the penalty, but not many Scottish fans were left in the ground to see it.
 
 
Ferguson Park, Whitehill Welfare FC
Sunday November 7th 2004
 
ALEX JACK CUP FINAL
EASTHOUSES LILY WMC vs. LOTHIAN THISTLE
 
Whitehill Welfare's Ferguson Park played host to the 2004/05 Alex Jack Cup Final, on a sunny but bitterly cold November afternoon.  Since I first came into contact with this competition a few years ago, I wondered who Alex Jack was and why only certain teams entered this competition. Well this year a programed was issued for the final and it explained all.
 
'The Competition was introduced in season 1988/89 for teams in the East of Scotland League who were not Full members of the Scottish Football Association and therefore not eligible to play in the Scottish Qualifying Cup (South).'
Alex Jack himself it turned out had been both secretary and Treasurer of the East of Scotland League.
 
Since 1997-98 one of these two teams had been in every final, but this was the first time they have met at this stage.  Both teams having won the competition on two occasions previously, Thistle were actually the holders having beaten Edinburgh Athletic in last seasons final.
 
Neither of these two teams are particularly well supported, but just over two hundred turned up for this final, probably bolstered by a number of neutrals like myself.
 
The game was desperately short on quality not helped by the sub-zero temperatures.  Lothian took a first half lead through Scott, who tapped in a low cross at the far post. Lily equalised in the second half with a screaming 25 yard drive from Love.  As the game drew nearer the final whistle I was desperately hoping for one of the teams to find a winner so I could go somewhere warm, but it wasn't to be.  So being the looney that I am I stuck out a desperate period of extra time in which the sides still couldn't be separated.
 
So the final went to that neutrals favorite the penalty shoot out.  In almost pitch blackness Lothian took an early lead, but Easthouses came back to force sudden death and then after three penalties each of sudden death Lily finally emerged victorious by 5-4.  I didn't stick around for the trophy to be presented as by this point I no longer had any feeling left in my whole body,  it would have probably been too dark to see it anyway!!
 
Robert Smillie Memorial Park, Royal Albert FC
Saturday November 6th 2004
 
OVD SCOTTISH JUNIOR CUP ROUND 2
ROYAL ALBERT vs. EDINBURGH UNITED
 
The OVD Scottish Junior Cup is probably the 3rd biggest competition in Scottish Football, after the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Cup, drawing huge crowds and media interest for the latter stages.  However, Edinburgh United were to get their first game in the 2004/05 competition in the less than glamorous surroundings of Royal Albert FC.
 
Royal Albert play in the small town of Larkhall which lies a few miles west of Motherwell.  Now for the history part, Larkhall is an old textiles and mining community the latter giving the ground it's name.  Robert Smillie, who lived in Larkhall, was once the leader of the Mining Federation of Great Britain (Sorry to bore you, but I just had to find out how a ground like that got it's name!).  The team itself is one of the oldest in Scotland having been formed in 1878.  For many years they hung around the amateur leagues before moving to the junior ranks.  They haven't won a major trophy since 1937 when they won the Lanarkshire League.  The ground itself is one of the worst I have ever encountered, no cover, just a wire mesh fence round the ground (but having gone all that way I thought I'd give them my 3!), run down and those who decide to stand behind the barrier are a long way from the action.
 
Royal Albert play second fiddle in the town to Larkhall Thistle who ply their trade in the Caledonian West of Scotland Superleague.  This showed in the number of people who turned up for what was in theory the biggest game of the season.  Around 30 people were in the ground by kick off, about 20 of whom were from Edinburgh, and most of the rest were probably committee members.
 
Royal Albert sit bottom of the Central League Division Two, whilst Edinburgh are riding high in the Lothian Division Two and it showed as the game got under way.  Edinburgh United attacked time after time and it was only about 15 minutes into the game when they grabbed the opener.  After a goalmouth scramble the ball came out to captain Stephen McIntosh who fired the ball into the net.  Before half time Ryan McLaughlin made it 2-0 from the penalty spot after McCormick had been brought down in the box.
 
The second half was still mainly Edinburgh, but the heavens opened and attacking up the slope in the conditions proved difficult. They did add one more when Ross Millar rounded the keeper to score.  After this the game petered out in a very surreal atmosphere.  The reason for this was that Larkhall Thistle were also at home in the same competition, just a few hundred yards away, to Musselburgh Athletic.  That game had obviously reached a dramatic climax as the shouting from the 200+ crowd could be quite clearly heard at the Robert Smillie Memorial Ground.
 
So Edinburgh progressed easily to the next round where they were drawn away at Tayside Premier Division Outfit Dundee Elmwood.  As for me I spent an exciting hour in Motherwell in the rain waiting for a train back to Edinburgh (and I can quite categorically say from this experience there is absolutely nothing to do in Motherwell!) - some people would say I'm mad!!!
 
 
Moorside Park, Dundonald Bluebell FC
Saturday October 23rd 2004
 
FIFE AND LOTHIANS CUP
DUNDONALD BLUEBELL vs. EDINBURGH UNITED
 
Dundonald Bluebell was one of the teams I had wanted to visit ever since moving to Edinburgh, purely on the basis of their name alone.  Remarkably for a team so far from Edinburgh this was a ridiculously simple ground to get to.  A ten minute walk to Haymarket station from where the Fife Circle Train dropped me at Cardenden, two minutes walk from Moorside Park home of Dundonald's Ground.
 
Cardenden is a modern town built for the railway, and Dundonald is basically an estate high on a hill at the edge of town.  Despite this Moorside Park is a ground of some charm, the ground entrance is on a residential street, but the other sides are on the edge of the countryside and there are fine views across Fife. 
 
Dundonald, were founded in 1938 although unfortunately I couldn't find where the name Bluebell comes from, and are one of the most successful teams in Fife league history. But as I've mentioned previously in this column Fife teams are notoriously weak in this competition and as a result Edinburgh basically sent out a reserve team for this game. (A strange thing to do against a team technically above you in the pyramid structure!).
 
A Decent crowd turned out for this match and they were treated to a fairly even first half, Edinburgh going closest when McCormick's free kick hit the woodwork.  Bluebell had much of the possession but failed to get in any real efforts on goal.
 
In the second half Edinburgh meant business and brought some first team regulars off the bench.  Just after the hour they opened the scoring.  McCormick got away down the right and his low cross was turned in by Watson at the back post.  Shortly after Howat found himself with the ball at his feet in the box and he cleverly dinked the ball over the advancing keeper to make the score 2-0.  Bluebell managed to grab a consolation goal through Doyle late on, but Edinburgh comfortably hung on to clinch a place in the next round.
 
The Train journey back to Edinburgh offered a tantalising glimpse of Cowdenbeath's game with Queens Park (Dundonald match kicked off at 1:30 in case you were wondering!) at Central Park as the train went past high above the ground - If only the train had broken down!!!!! Preferably just for 90 minutes!!!
 
Saturday 25th September 2004
Lothian League Cup Group 7
@Paties Road   
Edinburgh United vs. West Calder United
 
On a very blustery afternoon in Edinburgh, the home side were looking to continue their good start to the season against the team they had beaten on the opening day of the season.  The wind made the ball very difficult to control, West Calder had the best of the first half kicking in to the wind, but they failed to take any of the chances they created.  Edinburgh themselves failed to really create anything in the first half as the ball was proving to difficult to chase with the wind behind them, although they could have had a penalty midway through the half when Hall went round the West Calder keeper and was brought down but the referee amazingly waved play on.  In the second half Edinburgh got on top and created a series of chances.  Millar went closest hitting the crossbar, before McIntosh tested the goalkeeper low to his left.  Just after the hour Edinburgh were awarded a free kick on the edge of the area, MILLAR hit the wall with his shot but from the rebound he managed to find a gap and the ball flashed into the bottom corner of the net.  West Calder staged a late fight back, but couldn't find an equalising goal
 
Edinburgh United 1-0 West Calder United
Attendance: 31
 
 
Thursday 16th September 2004
Lothian League Cup
@ New Victoria Park
Newtongrange Star vs. Dalkeith Thistle
Newtongrange Star, in the pouring rain at New Victoria Park, comfortably beat Dalkeith Thistle in the Lothian League Cup to progress to the semi finals.  BAILLIE scored the first midway through the first half pouncing on a mistake by the goalkeeper to slot home.  Baillie went close again minutes later, his shot beat the keeper, but hit the post.  However, the ball rolled along the goalline and was tapped into the net by Brown.  Milne added a third from the penalty spot before half time to pile the agony on Dalkeith.  Star were happy to sit back in the second half, but Nicoll still managed to add a fourth heading home from a corner.  Dalkeith did press forward in search of a consolation, but couldn't find the killer ball in the final third and in the end the win was comfortable for Newtongrange.

Newtongrange Star 4-0 Dalkeith Thistle
Attendance: 82
 
 
Wednesday 17th September 2004
East of Scotland Qualifying Cup Round 1
@ Saughton Enclosure
Lothian Thistle vs. Whitehill Welfare
 
Lothian Thistle one of the few clubs with floodlights in the East of Scotland League staged this Qualifying Cup with Whitehill under the lights, but may have wished they hadn't come the final whistle. Whitehill opened the scoring through Kenny Young before John McAllister struck and equaliser for the home side.  Whitehill then took the lead in controversial circumstances on the hour mark. A Shanks shot cannoned off the post and ran along the goal line where Lothian goalkeeper Justin Hynd grabbed the ball. The assistant referee, amid protestations from the Lothian side, decreed that the whole ball had crossed the line. Lothian conceded another goal five minutes later when Shanks headed in. McAllister reduced the arrears with the goal of the game from 25 yards but Whitehill held out to progress to the next round.
 
Lothian Thistle 2-3 Whitehill Welfare
Attendance: 65
 
 
Saturday 11th September 2004
Fife and Lothians Cup Round 1
@ Paties Road
Edinburgh United vs. Lochore Welfare
 
Edinburgh United hosted the Fife League side Lochore Welfare in this Fife and Lothians Cup match at a blustery Paties Road.  Lochore play in the Fife town of Crosshill and were a major force in the Fife non-league scene in the 1960's picking up no less then 3 Fife league titles and 13 cup successes.  Since then they have won just two trophies, today they had a chance to progress in this competition, but Fife teams are notoriously bad against Lothians opposition.  So it was no surprise that Edinburgh United took the lead midway through the first half when the ball was laid back to McKenzie who struck it low through a crowd of players and into the net.  The lead was doubled soon after when Andy Howat was sent through on the keeper, he rounded him and slotted the ball home.  Lochore pulled a goal back before half time, a free kick from 40 yards out was superbly struck by Steve Paterson giving the keeper no chance.  Lochore pushed forward in the second half and missed a number of good chances as well as hitting the woodwork.  Edinburgh's McKenzie was sent off for throwing a punch at an opponent in an off the ball incident, but Edinburgh hung on to progress into the next round of the competition
 
Edinburgh United 2-1 Lochore Welfare
Attendance: 41
 
 
Monday 30th August 2004
Central Midlands League Supreme Division
@ Hard Lane
Kiveton Park vs. Greenwood Meadows
&
@ Laughton Road
Dinnington Town vs. Holbrook
 
Back in Sheffield for the bank holiday weekend and with Sheffield's game against Goole having been postponed due to their involvement in the FA Vase I decided to visit two of our closest Central Midlands sides.  First up was Dinnington Town at high noon, where I noticed there have been significant improvements to the ground since my last visit.  Unfortunately the match itself was not as good as my last visit with the home side managing just a one nil victory, with the goal being scored by Rosser.  Dinnington should really have won by more, but as the game drew on they were on a couple of occasions fortunate that Holbrook didn't grab an equaliser.  On the way out I spotted Bill, who was just on his way to Gainsborough or Hyde or somewhere.  I set off on the 3 mile walk to Kiveton Park. I could have caught the bus but had an hour between matches and hanging around Kivey for 45 minutes didn't seem like a great idea.  Hard Lane, Kiveton is a ground which never changes much, but they seem to have employed a novel way of charging admission.  Just stand where you are and the friendly lady from the tea hut just comes extracts your money from you.  Once again the action on the pitch at this match left a lot to be desired.  High flying Kiveton took the lead early on through Gorman, but failed to score anymore against a poor Greenwood side.  This it seemed was just one of those days two games, just two goals and generally poor fayre.  It could have been worse I've had two 0-0's on a Easter Monday before - now that really was bad!
 
Kiveton Park 1-0 Greenwood Meadows
Attendance: 43
Dinnington Town 1-0 Holbrook
Attendance: 80

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Tuesday 3rd August 2004,
East of Scotland Shield, Tynecastle,
Heart of Midlothian vs. Hibernian
 
This once prestigious trophy has in recent seasons become a contest between the reserve sides of the capitals top two teams.  However, this was both teams last warm up game before the start of the SPL season, so both teams fielded fairly strong sides on a miserably wet night at Tynecastle.  Despite the conditions a decent crowd turned up for the game to see if Hearts could retain the trophy they won at Easter Road just over a year ago.  Hearts started having most of the possession, with Hibs happy to play on the break.  At the same time the game was being played in typical derby fashion with tackles flying in from all angles.  Hibs breakaways became more and more effective as the half wore on and on 22 minutes Nicol's low cross from the right wing was met by DOBBIE who beat Hearts Scottish International keeper Gordon with a shot high into the roof of the net.  Hearts pushed for an equaliser, but Hibs hit them on the break again.  Sheils ran into the area and laid it of to MORROW for the easiest of finishes.  Just before the interval Hearts got back into the game when Kane brought down Tierney in the box and DENNIS WYNESS converted the penalty.  The second half was only six minutes old when Hibs restored their two goal advantage when Morrow played in SHEILS who beat Gordon in front of the visiting fans.  Hearts continued to have most of the possesion without carving out any real chances, as a result frustration set in and tempers were fraying on both sides and a number of yellow cards were issued.  As the game neared it's conclusion Hearts tackles became more rash. Confusion reigned after one as referee Finnie brandished a red card to Michael Stewart (who once scored a goal at the Coach and Horses!!) immediately after a yellow, but Stewart remained on the field of play for the remainder of the match, the referee obviously realising he hadn’t previously cautioned the on loan Manchester United man.  That was about the last action before Hibernian were presented with the trophy.
 
Heart of Midlothian 1-3 Hibernian, Attendance: 2,000
 
 
Saturday 7th August 2004,
Beatons Sectional Central League Cup Group 7,
Keppoch Park,
Glasgow Perthshire vs. Ashfield
 
As the Non-League season in the East of Scotland didn't begin for another week, I made the trip to the West side of the country to see a game in the 'prestigious' Sectional Central League Cup.  The Group stages of this competition are always drawn to maximise the number of local derbies, the other two teams drawn in this group being Caledonian Supeleague sides Petershill and Maryhill, both less than a mile from Perthshire's ground.  Ashfield however, is even closer, and must be a contender for closest derby match in the world where the two sides don't share the same ground.  The closest league derby must be in Dundee where just a road seperates the two clubs, but there isn't even a road between these two clubs, just a disused bus depot, which surrounds Pethshire's Keppoch Park on two sides giving the ground a very eerie feel.  The club gained it's strange name as they were formed by a group of businessmen who moved from Perth, 100 miles to the north east, and formed a football team in 1890 making them one of Scotlands oldest teams.  They have played on a number of grounds in the Glasgow area, before moving to their current Possil home in the 1920's.  Both Possil clubs currently find themselves in the Central League Division Two, with Ashfield having being relegated last season to join their close neighbours in the bottom division it is possible for them to play in.  The heat and the narrowness of the pitch at Keppoch Park made the playing conditions very difficult, but Ashfield managed to take the lead midway through the first half when MAXWELL finished off a neat passing move.  LAPPIN doubled the lead in the second half with an almost identical goal before substitute GREEN scored the best goal with his first touch.  A low cross in to the Perthshire area was picked up by the sub striker, he turned two defenders and hit a good shot back across the keeper and into the bottom corner, to ensure a happy stroll home for the Ashfield supporters.
Glasgow Perthshire 0-3 Ashfield, Attendance: 119
 
 
Tuesday 10th August 2004,
CIS Insurance Cup Round 1, 
Ochilview,
Stenhousemuir vs. Arbroath
 
Ochilview was a ground I had wanted to visit for some time and this midweek League Cup tie against the Red Lichties was a perfect opportunity to take it in.  The ground is essentially two sided, although as with many Scottish Division Two and Three sides only one side was open.  The opposite side of the ground from the main stand is completely open and the main stand has an unobstructed view towards the normally spectacular Ochil hills. Unfortunatley this is a summer evening in 2004 and of course it was raining and foggy so the visibility was about quarter of a mile, and for much of the match it may as well have been a few feet as there was nothing of note on the pitch.  Arbroath controlled most of the play, but failed to carve out many openings.  They did take the lead when captain JOHN CUSICK converted a controversial penalty just before half time.  Arbroath spurned a number of second half chances before JOHN PAUL McBRIDE equalised with a free kick from 25 yards quarter of an hour from time.  The game looked like it was moving into extra time when Stenhousemuir midfielder LEE COLLINS latched onto an half cleared corner and struck an unstoppable shot from 25 yards into the top corner of the goal.
 
Stenhousemuir 2-1 Arbroath, Attendance: 416
 
 
Saturday 14th August 2004,
Peter Walker Lothian League Cup Group 1, 
Burngrange Park,
West Calder United vs. Edinburgh United
 
After much rain during the week the season started for these two teams on a very soggy Burngrange Park.  This was my first visit to Burngrange Park and to be perfectly honest calling it a football ground is a little bit strong.  It is basically a pitch surrounded by a rail on the edge of the West Lothian village of West Calder, yet they still manage to charge for entry.  There is also a tiny tin hut which serves as cover from the elements but the view from within is restricted to say the least, fortunatley I didn't need to use it.  The ground is dominated by two large spoil heaps, a reminder of a industrial past in the area and by the rumble of trains as they pass through the cutting right next to the pitch.  After two succesive relegations Edinburgh United had replaced their manager over the summer break and they started positively.  West Calder play in red and black stripes reminiscent of AC Milan, but that is where the similarities ended as they weren't up to much in this game.  Edinburgh moved into a two goal lead before half time, the first a well executed shot after a low cross, the second a penalty.  The home side pressed quite a bit in the second half, but were mainly restricted to long range shots.  Ten minutes from time captain McINTOSH powered a suberb header into the West Calder goal to make the points safe for the visitors.
 
West Calder United 0-3 Edinburgh United, Attendance: 59
 
 
Saturday 21st August 2004,
Peter Walker Lothian League Cup Group 1, 
Paties Road,
Edinburgh United vs. Armadale Thistle
 
mmmmm!!! - sometimes I wonder why I bother!
 
Edinburgh United 0-0 Armadale Thistle, Attendance: 71

North of the Border - June
 
Saturday 12th June 2004 - St Michaels Cup Final - Linlithgow Rose vs. Whitburn Juniors (@Carmuirs Park, Camelon Juniors FC)
 
This was the first of an amazing three cup finals in five days for Whiburn on a very sunny day in Falkirk at Camelon Juniors.  This was also Linlithgow's third cup final of the season, having already lost in the finals of the Carlsberg League Cup and the Heineken Fife and Lothians Cup Finals.  It was lower league Whitburn who started the better and took the game to their higher league opponents, they had the better of the first half chances, but couldn't score.  In the 60th minute Whitburn did take the lead when Campbell slipped the ball through to FLANAGAN who stroked the ball past the keeper.  Rose now pushed Whitburn back, but Whitburn still produced the best chances on the break.  As the game went on it looked more and more like Whitburn would hold out.  Then with a minute to go an amazing series of events took place.  Whitburn recieved a free kick on th edge of the area, instead of going for the goal which would finish the tie off, they pushed the ball into the corner and tried to hold onot it. At the same time the Linlithgow fans round the ground began to cheer, as news was filtering through from the Superleague match at The Canniepairt, where Tayport had conceded an injury time goal to already relegated Hill of Beath Hawthorn, thus handing the title to Rose by a single goal from Tayport.  This seemed to lift the players, they stole the ball in the corner, they worked the ball forward and the Whitburn keeper could only parry the resultant 30 yard shot into the path of the inrushing HIGGINS, who slid the ball into the net for a dramatic equaliser.  The game now went into extra time (which was the worst case scenario as far as I was concerned as it meant I would miss the opening game of Euro 2004!) and Whitburn seemed to have run out of steam.  Linlithgow now controlled the match, but it took them until the 25th minute of extra time to find a winner as HIGGINS flicked home a winner.  A good day for Rose, winning two trophies and putting there poor record in cup finals this season behind them.
 
Linlithgow Rose 2-1 Whitburn Juniors (Att: 1,000)
 
Wednesday 16th June 2004 - Calsberg East of Scotland Cup Final - Linlithgow Rose vs. Whitburn Juniors (@Albyn Park, Broxburn Athletic FC)
 
As it turned out Whitburn lost the second of their cup finals 2-1 (again!) to Penicuik Athletic in the Supplementary Cup Final.  Having finished as runners-up in the Lothian League Division One this was their final chance to get some silverware.  In a cruel twist of fate their opponents for this final were again Linlithgow Rose.  Well over 600 people chose to brave the rain and pass up the Russia vs. Portugal game to see this final game of the East Region season.  This was also a new ground for me, Albyn Park was a typical East Region ground with terracing and covered standing on one side and massive grass banks on the other three, but it did have the unusual feature of a spectator bridge over the players entrance!  The game itself was as dull as the weather conditions, Whitburn looked like a team playing their third game in five days and Rose lacked any cutting edge.  Whitburn proably had the better chances but it was Rose who scored the only goal of the game midway through the first half when a low cross was vollyed in by WELCH. Whitburn had a great chance in the dying seconds when Hannah went one on one with the keeper, but his shot was straight at the keeper.  So Whitburn had lost their third final in five days, and altough they had a good season they must be gutted at finishing runners up in four competitions.  Rose on the other hand finished off the season with three major trophies maintaining their status as one of the best teams in Scottish Junior football.
 
Linlithgow Rose 1-0 Whitburn Juniors (Att: 660)

North of the Border - May Round-up
 
To find a midweek match in Scotland for the majority of the season is pretty difficult, to find a non-league midweek match is almost impossible, but as the season moves into May with the lighter nights you find yourself spoilt for choice.  The majority of Scottish non league sides do not have floodlights and with so many matches being called off over the Scottish winter, all the remaining matches are crammed in on everyday of the week during May and June, hence why I haven't written this for so long - too many matches!!
 
At the start of the month all the focus was on the championship tussle at the top of the East of Scotland League between Spartans and Edinburgh City.  Going into the first week in May Spartans had a 2 point lead with two games left, City had three games left, but the two sides had yet to meet at Spartans City Park.  So I decided to follow this tussle as closely as I could and first up saw City visit relegation threatened Whitehill Welfare at Whitehill's Ferguson Park ground
 
Monday 3rd May - East of Scotland League Premier Division - Whitehill Welfare vs. Edinburgh City
City were without a number of key players through injury and Whitehill were in desperate need of the points as well to avoid relegation to the First Division, so it was always going to be a tight tense affair and so the first half proved with the sides going in 0-0 at the break, altough both teams had hit the woodwork.  Midway through the second half it looked as though City were heading to the top of the league when DONNACHIE scrambled them in front, but with just five minutes remaining Scottish non-league international ROSS JOHNSTON volleyed home from a free kick to give the home side a valuable point.
Whitehill Welfare 1-1 Edinburgh City (Att: 210)
 
Tuesday 4th May - East of Scotland League Premier Division - Spartans vs. Lothian Thistle
So after City's failure to win a victory for Spartans would put them in a commanding position at the top of the league and they produced just that against Lothian Thistle.  It was a dismally wet night at City Park, after the nice day we'd had I thourght no coat required and then once inside the ground it decided to tip it down, not a problem you may think just head for the cover, but Scotland's best non-league team have no cover in sight, so a nearby tree had to suffice and whilst some shelter was to be had it didn't prevent the inevitable soaking.  However, at least it wasn't a dull 0-0 draw and Spartans did live up to the reputation I have just given them.  It took them merely 8 minutes to get in front, the Thistle goalkeeper twice saved but McLEOD pounced to turn the second rebound into the net.  Lothian were, however, playing some good stuff of their own and deservedley equalised on 30 minutes a superb move found Ogilivie on the left and his low cross was side footed home by BROWN.  The torrential rain made passing football difficult, but Lothian were having the better of it and frustrating the home side.  Then on the hour a debatable penalty was awarded to Spartans and RAE scored fom the spot. There was only one winner now and McLEOD sealed victory when he interchanged passes with Hobbins and struck a superb shot in off the post to seal the points. This opened up a four point gap at the top of the league with one game to play at home to City the following midweek.  (It all turned out to be irrelevant however as City lost their game in hand the folllowing night to a last minute goal against already relegated Craigroyston, giving Spartans the championship.)
Spartans 3-1 Lothian Thistle (Att: 70)
 
Saturday 8th May - East of Scotland League Division One - Ormiston vs. Eyemouth United
With the Premier Division title decided, I decided to head for the East of Scotland First Division match at Ormiston. This was my first visit to Ormiston, which turned out to be a quaint village in East Lothian, unfortuanley the ground was no more than a railed off part of the local park, with a tiny covered enclosure down one side. The top two in this division get promoted to the Premier division and Ormiston were sitting third, three points behind second placed Kelso United who had finished their matches already.  The only snag was that Ormiston had to win by 25 clear goals.  Impossible you may think, but their opponents Eyemouth have finished bottom for three seasons on the trot, had only three points and a goal difference of -53.  I couldn't resist even though 25-0 was unlikely I thourght goals were inevitable in the circumstances and so it turned out.  After ten minutes Ormiston took the lead when McQUEEN headed in from close range, but then to everyones surprise the league's whipping boys equalised.  TURNBULL hitting a sweet left foot shot past the keeper from 20 yards.  SMITH restored the home sides advantage before the break, but their constant pressing had yeilded just a 1 goal advantage.  So for the second half they came out with 6 up front and THOMSON soon added a third and then TULLOCH scored from the spot.  Ormiston were pouring forward and hit the woodwork on numerous occasions before McQUEEN headed his second and then right on the final whistle SNEDDON scrambled a sixth. 
Ormiston 6-1 Eyemouth United (Att: 35)
 
Tuesday 11th May - East of Scotland Legaue Premier Division - Spartans vs. Edinburgh City
Even though this championship race hadn't come down to this match it was fitting that Scotland's best two non-league sides should meet in the final game of the season (these two getting the furthest of any non-league teams in the Scottish Cup).  Edinburgh City still ravaged by injury were no match for Spartans, but they took the lead after only a minute when WHYTE scored form the penalty spot.  That was as good as it got for City as Spartans class shone through LYALL headed them level on 8 minutes.  After the break Phil HOBBINS put them in front before SMART headed in a third.  The best goal of the night was saved for last when McLEOD superbly chipped the advancing keeper to make the win and the championship more emphatic.  At the final whistle Spartans were presented with the championship trophy which was a fitting reward for a superb season.
Spartans 4-1 Edinburgh City (Att: 193)
 
Thursday 13th May - East Region Supplementary Cup - Edinburgh United vs. Penicuik Athletic
With the East of Scotland League Season over, my attention turned back to the Juniors (Vase sort of level for the unitiated and not under 5's or something!) and the team I had followed for most of the season Edinburgh United.  The visitors tonight were looking to exact revenge for a 6-0 drubbing earlier in this competion by Edinburgh.  They grabbed the lead in the first half with a scrambled goal through AULD, but in a dull end of season type game the scoring nver looked set to continue. Edinburgh did blaze a glorious chance over the bar in the dying seconds, but Penicuik had their revenge and also almost certainly the Group 3 title which would mean progression to the next phase.
Edinburgh United 0-1 Penicuik Athletic (Att: 75)
 
Saturday 15th May - East of Scotland League Cup Final - Spartans vs. Edinburgh City
These two clubs met for the second time in five days, this time in the East of Scotland Legaue Cup Final at Whitehill Welfare and once agian it was Spartans who came out on top against their close local rivals. For my part I was late for yet another match, but this time just five minutes, five minutes in which MANSON and HENRETTY had put Spartans two in front. Damn! However, more goals were to follow, despite my pessimism that it would end up two-nil.  In fact I need not have worried as on 27 minutes a Thomson cross found Phil HOBBINS to put Spartans 3-0 in front.  Within a minute City pulled one back when a long throw in went in off the knee of HUNTER.  Spartans wrapped up the game with a second half penalty, which was taken by BURNS, who up to that point had been the only outfieild member of Spartans squad not to score a goal this season. So Spartans went on to pick up a second trophy of the week at the expence of Edinburgh City, who must be sick of the sight of Spartans and cup finals having lost to Spartans in the Scottish Qualifying Cup Final and having lost in the final of the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup as well.
Spartans 4-1 Edinburgh City (Att: 250)
 
Wednesday 19th May - East Region Supplementary Cup - Tranent Juniors vs. Dunbar United
Yet another new ground in East Lothian, this time in the small market town of Tranent, the ground is fairly well equipped with a large section of cover running the entire length of the pitch.  The visitors Dunbar were still in with a chance of progression to the next stage.  Dunbar scored twice in the first half of this scrappy match with the home side getting one back before the break, but they wrapped things up with a third in the second half to almost ensure their passage into the next round.
Tranent Juniors 1-3 Dunbar United (Att: 98)
 
Thursday 20th May - East Region Supplementray Cup - Edinburgh United vs. Crossgates Primrose
On a pleasnt evening at Paties Road this was game was little more than a formality with neither side retaining any chance of progression to the next phase.  Edinburgh were the better team however, and deserved only their third home win of the season.  On fifteen minutes Millar missed a sitter, but seconds later MALCOLM was credited with a bizarre goal.  He recieved the ball hit it first time on the volley, the keeper was way out of position, but the ball hit the post, the keeper had however made his way back only for the ball to hit his outstreched hand and nestle in the back of the net.  United doubled their lead with the first attack of the second half Malcolm slipped the ball to FORD who slotted the ball past the advancing keeper.  Whatever competitve edge the game had had was now well and truly extinguished, United were happy just to defend their third home victory whilst Primrose offered little as an attacking threat.
Edinburgh United 2-0 Crossgates Primrose (Att: 55)
 
Saturday 29th May - White & MacKay East Region Superleague - Linlithgow Rose vs. Tayport
Well the month started with a championship battle and ended with another, this time in the East Region Superleague.  Linlithgow top at the start of play required just a point to clinch the title.  The only side who could catch them, Tayport (who were in the bottom half of the table at the start of the game) knew nothing less than a victory would do if they were to have any chance of retaining their title.  Tayport however had three matches remaining after this (due to their run to the final of the OVD Scottish Cup which they lost to Carnoustie at Partick Thistle the week before) and would have to win all of these too.  These are two of the heavyweights of Scottish non-league football (Tayport even having squad numbers and players names on their shirts!) and the importance of this match was evident walking down the road to Prestonfield (undoubtedley the best ground I've come across in Scottish non-league football). Here I was confronted with people queuing down the street to get in and they had three turnstiles open.  Needless to say the game kicked off late, and as can be imagined was a tense affair, but both teams attacked and were trying to win the game.  It was Tayport although down to ten men after just fifteen minutes, who led at half time with probably the best goal I have witnessed this season.  Rose gave away a needless free kick 35 yards out on the right hand side of the box, the resultant free kick was delightfully curled left footed into the top corner by DAILLY, the ball nestling perfectly in the stantion without dropping, the ground fell silent except for the hundred or so travelling Tayport supporters.  The second half continued in much the same vein, but on the hour all hell broke loose.  Linlithgow broke into the area and the striker seemed to stumble, but the referee awarded a penalty,which incenced the Tayport players and officials.  When the game got back underway the penalty was duly converted by WOOD.  Tayport's anger increased monents later when a penalty claim of their own was turned down. Rose seemed destined for the title when Tayport's influential midfielder Dailly was injured and had to be carried off, but they made a bold substitution and brought on two attackers.  In the very last minute it appeared to have paid off, a superb move down the left resulted in a hanging cross into the box this was turned goalwards only to come off the keepers legs, the incoming striker turned the ball into the net and the away fans were going wild.  The players were on their way back to the centre circle when the linesman decided it had been offside, you can imagine what followed, but needless to say it resulted in two members of the Tayport bench being sent from the dugout.  However, in the 8th minute of added on time Tayport again attcked down the left, Rose headed clear but the right back drilled the ball across the goal and EVANS side footed the ball home from point plank range to send the vistors into hysterics.  It seemed that justice had been done, but a few minutes later and nearly half an hour after the match should have finished Linlithgow were handed yet another opportunity.  A long ball over the top saw the Tayport keeper Fitzpatrick, rush out to gather the ball, from where I was stood it looked as tough both his feet were inside the area, but the assistant adjuged the ball was outside the area and the referee sent the keeper off.  It took quite some time for the keeper to leave the field, but Tayport had to continue with a centre forward in goal, but he wasn't called upon to make a save as Rose's free kick smashed into the wall.  Still the final whistle didn't come, but Rose had run out of ideas and couldn't break through.  Tayport were in the circumstances delighted with their win, but in reality the title will still almost certainly be Rose's as Tayport's long hard season will probably take it's toll in one of their remaining 3 matches.
Linlithgow Rose 1-2 Tayport (Att: ~1,100)
 
Sunday 30th May - Stella Artois Kingdom of Fife Cup Final - Kelty Hearts vs. Glenrothes
After earlier in the season when I decided to walk to Tow Law and got their just before half time you'd have thourght I'd have learned my lesson, well apparantley not.  This time I decided it would be a good idea to cycle to Blairwood Park, home of Oakley United for the Kingdom of Fife cup final.  You probably don't know where Oakley is, but suffice to say it was a possibly ill thourght out venture and resulted in lateness again, this time just 25 minutes! (For those of you who want to know where it is you'll find it on your map just west of Dunfermline).  Oakley is a small Fife village, but their side is a member of the East Region Superleague (As are the teams involved in this final), however the ground doesn't reflect this status being very basic indeed, however if you ever find youself there - damn good pies!  It was goalless when I arrived this time and it was soon easy to see why, both teams are struggling at the foot of the superleague and whilst big on effort, quality was at a premium.  Kelty did take the lead on the stroke of half time, a defensive error allowing the striker to nip in round the keeper and score.  Glens' as they are known to their supprters equalised with a penalty on the hour and the game dragged to a close with a draw being about fair.  Extra time came and almost went, but in the very last minute a Glenrothes corner was turned back across goal and the ball was scrambeld home.  The next action was Glenrothes collecting the very impressive trophy to the delight of their supporters.
Kelty Hearts 1-2 Glenrothes (Att: 300)
 
...and now to June a mere three weeks of the season left up here (It's terrible I know but someone has to do it, there is even one team up here that still has nine matches left to play!)

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Saturday 1st May 2004
East Region Supplementary Cup Group 3
@King's Park
DALKEITH THISTLE vs. EDINBURGH UNITED
 
There was a very 'end-of-season' feel to this supplementary cup match at Dalkeith.  In the bright sunshine the game was played at a very slow pace in front of a small crowd. 
Edinburgh were favourites at the start of play having won all their supplementary cup matches so far, including a 2-0 victory over Dalkeith, but against the team third bottom of the league below them they put in one of their worst performances of the season.  Dalkeith had the lead midway through the first half when their striker was allowed to run through a static defence and easily slot the ball past the keeper.  Dalkeith doubled their lead on the hour, but Edinburgh scrambled a goal from a corner moments later with MILLAR getting the final touch.  Edinburgh now pressed forward looking for the equaliser and in one frantic goalmouth scramble Dalkeith only just survived.  Even though Edinburgh were looking the more likely, the defence which had looked dodgy all day stood off as a Dalkeith striker once more walked through them and secured the victory for the home side by scoring the third.
 
DALKEITH THISTLE 3-1 EDINBURGH UNITED
Attendance: 40
 
 
Wednesday 28th April 2004
King Cup Semi-Final
@Riccarton
HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY vs. EDINBURGH ATHLETIC
 
Both of these East of Scotland League Division One teams were vying to reach the King Cup Final and a clash with Premier Division Lothian Thistle in the final on the 12th of May.  The Students ground is merely a roped off pitch and hence they don't charge to get in, there is also no cover, which would have come in handy on this rainy wind swept evening!  Athletic never really got into this match and rarely threatened the students goal.  The only surprise was how long it took for the students to take the lead, but when the goal came it was merely a long ball into the box which the defence didn't deal with and LUKOWIECKI put the ball into the net from close range.  LUKOWIECKI doubled the lead not long into the second half and they sealed their passage into the cup final with the best goal of the night.  A flowing move down the left ended with STODDART striking a superb shot from 20 yards to send the home team into their first ever cup final as a senior side.
 
HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY vs. EDINBURGH ATHLETIC
Attendance: 50 approx
 
 
Saturday 24th April 2004
White & MacKay Lothian League Division One
@ New Victoria Park
NEWTONGRANGE STAR vs. EDINBURGH UNITED
 
Edinburgh United's Lothian League Division One Status lives to fight another day after this 0-0 draw at New Victoria Park.  This point lifted the capital club out of the relegation zone and moved them 1 point clear of Dunbar United, but this was Edinburgh's last match.  Dunbar on the other hand were playing a cup match and hence didn't have to play their last game at the same time, so in two weeks time they travel to Musselburgh Athletic needing a result to relegate Edinburgh.  What the Scottish Junior Associations thinking is behind this bizarre fixture scheduling I don't know (and they only come up with fixtures a week in advance!), but you'd think that for such important matches they would be played on the same day.  The match itself was a very tense affair, but Edinburgh were attacking more than usual and had a number of good chances but couldn't convert any of them.  Newtongrange had the best of the second half, but apart from two good saves from Burgess in the second half they lacked cutting edge and the game ended 0-0.  At least the result quietened the home support who were convinced before play that they would relegate Edinburgh, however the respite for the visitors may only be temporary!
 
NEWTONGRANGE STAR 0-0 EDINBURGH UNITED
Attendance: 116
 
 
Wednesday 21st April 2004
East of Scotland League Premier Division
@ City Park
SPARTANS vs. WHITEHILL WELFARE
 
Spartans, who shot to fame with their Scottish FA Cup run earlier this season, are embroiled in a two horse race with Edinburgh City for the East of Scotland League Championship, and before play commenced they were a point clear.  Whitehill the previous seasons champions are struggling at the other end of the table and were in desperate need of points to help them steer clear of relegation.  Both teams started well and were providing the supporters with an entertaining game with chances at both ends.  However, it was Whitehill who were creating the better openings, but a couple of good saves from the Spartans keeper kept the game all square.  Then on 25 minutes Spartans took the lead with a fortunate goal, RAE hit a free kick from just outside the area which squirmed under the keepers body.  Whitehill responded immediately a long punt from the kick off wasn't dealt with by the Spartans defence and LEE ran through and spectacularly volleyed past the Spartans keeper.  Spartans restored their lead on the stroke of half time when a through ball to McLEOD was clinically finished in off the post.  The second half was a very tight affair until 12 minutes from the end, a Whitehill corner was headed back across goal by Ewart and O'DONNELL headed the ball home to bring the scores level.  In the dying minutes both teams could have won it, first Clark pulled a shot just wide for Welfare, then Hobbins went close for Spartans.  In the last minute the Whitehill keeper pulled off a stunning save to tip Smart's effort onto the crossbar.  Whitehill must now wait to see if their fight against relegation as been successful as this was their final game, whilst Spartans slipped to second as Edinburgh City won at Gala Fairydean.
 
SPARTANS 2-2 WHITEHILL WELFARE
Attendance: 148
 
 
View From the North East....Revisited
 
Saturday 17th April 2004
Northern League Division One
@ Ironworks Road
TOW LAW TOWN vs. BRANDON UNITED
 
After one aborted attempt to watch this match already this season, this second attempt wasn't a whole lot more successful.  The first attempt back in January resulted in turning up at the ground only to be told that it had been called off for extremely windy weather, this time we managed to turn up 40 minutes late to be told that the home side were leading 2-0.  And all because the bus to Tow Law gets there at 1 o'clock, so to save hanging around  for two hours (and trust me there's not a lot to do in Tow Law!) a decision was taken to walk to the match....from Durham! (I don't know what I was thinking!)  Once again it was very windy and cold this time!  However, the latter goes without saying at Ironworks Road.  At least there was football to watch this time, if only five minutes of the first half before heading off to what must be the best snack bar in the Northern League.  After devouring a pie of gigantic proportions and admiring the view across the Durham Dales, it was back on, or should that just be on with the football.  Brandon, the reigning Northern League champions had most of the possession, but lacked any cutting edge and looked vulnerable at the back when the Lawyers broke.  It was no surprise then that Tow Law made it 3-0 when a shot could only be parried by Brandon keeper Poskett and the ball was slotted home by CRAGGS.  Brandon did manage a consolation goal, with the last kick of the match, when a nice move involving Huggins and Cuthbertson resulted in BELL being slipped through on goal and he shot past the keeper.  The victory for Tow Law ensured their top flight status for another season, Brandon looked destined to finish mid-table.  On the way back, the bus to Durham left Tow Law at 5pm and this time there was no way we weren't getting it.  On the way we passed the sorry sight of Stanley United, one of the oldest clubs in the country, who sadly folded at the beginning of the season, their superbly situated Hill Top Ground still intact, but overgrown.  By 5:30 we were back in Durham and more importantly to a TV with NCEL results on Ceefax, only to find that Sheffield had lost 3-0 at Harrogate.  Bad day all round Really!
 
TOW LAW TOWN 3-1 BRANDON UNITED
Attendance: 122

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Saturday 10th April
East of Scotland Supplementary Cup Group 3
@ Penicuik Park
Penicuik Athletic vs. Edinburgh United
 
Penicuik are a relatively new club having been reformed at the beginning of last season and have since commanded average crowds in excess of 300 and even more amazingly for the Lothian league produce a programme and have a tannoy system!  Both sides had won their opening Supplementary Cup matches, Edinburgh had beaten Lothian .division two strugglers Dalkeith Thistle 2-0 and Penicuik had beaten Fife League side Crossgate Primrose 3-0.  Just five places separated these teams at the start of play with Edinburgh 3rd bottom of the Lothian first division and Penicuik 2nd in Division two so this promised to be a closer tie.  Before I go any further, I think an explanation of the competition is in order. After a mild winter, many teams in the East Region had almost finished their fixtures, particularly those teams who were out of the other cup competitions, so to combat this lack of fixtures the East of Scotland Junior Football Association announced a plan a few weeks ago for a group based supplementary cup for these teams.  So these two teams took to the field in this prestigious tournament when their relative league fortunes were hanging on results elsewhere.
 
Edinburgh started the game the better of the two teams and after only five minutes Andy Poteous was upended in the box and CRAWFORD blasted the resultant penalty into the roof of the net.  Penicuik started to have the better of the possession, but Edinburgh were looking dangerous on the break and were winning a number of corners.  It was from one of these that they doubled their lead, a goalmouth scramble was stabbed home by McINTOSH.  Minutes later Michael Fraser hit the crossbar from yet another corner and Edinburgh were threatening to do something they hadn't done all season - score more than two goals in a game. Penicuik had a couple of good efforts before half time, but Michael Burgess in the Edinburgh goal was equal to everything they threw at him.  Penicuik started the second half as they finished the third, but they couldn't make the breakthrough and it was Edinburgh who extended their lead.  Yet another corner found McIntosh unmarked and he headed home.  Minutes later another corner was again met by McIntosh, but the crossbar denied him his hat-trick.  Edinburgh were no controlling the game and massive cracks were appearing in the home defence, and it was CRAWFORD who exploited these gaps, he was brought down in the area, and for the second time in the match he converted from the spot.  With ten minutes to go Edinburgh won another corner, from which they had been so effective, this time it was BROOKFIELD who met the ball the ball at the near post and managed to steer the ball home. Edinburgh managed to save the best goal for last, Crawford picked the ball up on the left side of midfield and his ball over the top was latched onto by MALCOLM who coolly lobbed the keeper to make it 0-6 and complete Edinburgh's best win for over 18 months. 
 
For the majority of the 200+ crowd the day got even worse at the full time whistle as news came in from the Blackburn United versus Pumpherston match that Pumpherston had won 2-1 to overtake Penicuik into second place condemning Penicuik to another season of Lothian second Division Football (Penicuik having finished their league matches).  There was bad news for Edinburgh too, as Dunbar had gained a point to move above Edinburgh on goal difference and put United into a relegation place.
 
Penicuik Athletic 0-6 Edinburgh United
Attendance: 230
 
 
Saturday 3rd April
St Michaels Cup Round 2
@ Paties Road
Edinburgh United vs. Arniston Rangers
 
I would do a match report, but since Arniston Rangers have the best website of any non-league club I have ever found (with the exception of BTF of course!) and have found it in them to show some nice pictures of Edinburgh United's Paties Road ground - http://www.arnistonrangers.co.uk/
 
Edinburgh United 0-2 Arniston Rangers
Attendance: 100
 
 
Tuesday 30th March
East of Scotland Cup Final
@ Pennypit Park, Prestonpans
Preston Athletic vs. Berwick Rangers
 
Berwick Rangers put out a young side for this East of Scotland cup final at Preston Athletic on a cold night in Prestonpans.  Berwick automatically qualify for the final of this event being the only Scottish League side (outside the Premier League) that are affiliated to the East of Scotland Football Association.  Preston Qualified by winning the Qualifying Cup, with a Final win against Edinburgh City (see earlier NOTB).  Preston took the lead Early on when a shot rebounded off the keeper and the ball was headed in by the striker from close range.  Berwick equalised almost instantly with a stunning free-kick from 25 yards which was blasted into the roof of the net.  Preston retook the lead with a curling free kick 10 minutes into the second half from almost the exact position that Berwick had struck in the first half.  Berwick replied instantly once again, a corner was well headed home by one of Rangers tall Central defenders. Both teams had chances as the game swung from one end to the other, but it was Preston who won the match when they scored a headed goal form a corner of their own, and clinched the trophy.
 
Preston Athletic 3-2 Berwick Rangers
Attendance: 147
 
 
Saturday 20th March
King Cup Round 2
@ Saughton Enclosure
Lothian Thistle vs. Civil Service Strollers
 
On a dismal day on which the wind and swirling rain made football very difficult to play and even more difficult to watch.  Many matches had already fallen victim to the weather, but the game at Lothian Thistle went ahead.  After a scrappy start Lothian got a goal out of the blue on 16 minutes, O'NEILL was given the ball 25 yards out and his speculative shot sailed over the keepers head and into the visitors net.  Lothian were looking most likely to add to their lead and were creating the best chances, but at half time it remained 1-0.  After half time Strollers looked much stronger, and on 55 minutes a good move down the left resulted in a low cross which was turned home by HARTLEY.  Both sides had chances, but as the game entered injury time it looked as if extra time were inevitable.  However, a defensive blunder in the second minute of added on time allowed O'NEILL to stab Lothian back in front from close range and book their place in the last eight of the competition.
 
Lothian Thistle 2-1 Civil Service Strollers
Attendance: 36

_______________________________________________________

Saturday 13th March 2004

Scottish League Division Two

@ Bayview

EAST FIFE vs. BERWICK RANGERS

I was persuaded at the very last minute that this weekend I didn't want to see any non-league football and instead I wanted to go to Methil to watch Scottish second division East Fife take on Berwick Rangers. East Fife's modern one-sided ground does 'exactly what it says on the tin', indeed you can see the bay from the stand in which you have to sit, however, it is somewhat obscured by the power station which runs along side the ground on the opposite side from the stand. The Home and Away fans are segregated either side of the Tunnel, and on the away side there was a sizeable travelling support to see if their team could keep up their promotion push. The Fifers on the other hand needed the points for a totally different reason, struggling in 8th position.

The game started at an extremely quick pace and immediately a cross from the left was headed home by the Fifers number 9, DEUCHER. Just two minutes later East Fife were awarded a corner this was driven low into the box and was turned home by HILLAND to bring the visitors level. It was promotion chasing Berwick who looked most dangerous now, but the Bayview side still looked dangerous on the break and on the half hour re-took the lead. This time it was an attack down the right and the resultant cross was headed home once more by DEUCHER. Berwick were still being the better team and were level on the stroke of half time when HUTCHISON crashed home a low shot. The second half was nearly all Berwick. The goalkeeper and the woodwork were, however on hand to save the home side. East Fife nearly stole it at the end when a nothing low shot was fumbled by the keeper, and was trickling towards the goal before he managed to recover to pounce on the ball. Berwick supporters left disappointed with the result as they fell further behind the leaders, but in reality a draw was just about a fair result.

EAST FIFE 2-2 BERWICK RANGERS

Attendance: 498

Wednesday 10th March 2004

Representative Game

@ Saughton Enclosure, Lothian Thistle FC

EAST OF SCOTLAND LEAGUE XI vs. SCOTTISH UNIVERSITIES

The East of Scotland football league warmed up for their annual match with the Highland football league with a rather dull encounter under the lights at the Saughton Enclosure, the EoSL including a number of Spartans players who had been involved in that amazing Scottish Cup run earlier this season. On a bitterly cold night there was little to warm the cockles, indeed even the snack bar remained shut. The only interesting moment of the first half was when the Universities keeper dropped a cross in his own penalty area allowing the EoSL Striker an easy finish to make it 1-0. In the second half the EoSL were in the ascendancy, but failed to really test the opposition defence. The game finally came to life in the last five minutes when an EoSL player was sent clean through on goal, he rounded the keeper and was pulled down in the process. The resultant penalty was duly dispatched, the EoSL then went onto score a third in the dying seconds and record what was in reality a comfortable victory.

EAST OF SCOTLAND LEAGUE XI 3-0 SCOTTISH UNIVERSITIES

Attendance: 70

Saturday 21st February 2004

Lothian League Division One

@ Gibbshill Park

HARTHILL ROYAL vs. EDINBURGH UNITED

This was my first visit to Harthill for what was to be a crucial relegation battle. Harthill rock bottom of the Lothian League second Division played host to third bottom Edinburgh, who in turn were two points clear of second bottom Dunbar United. Harthill itself is just a small village on the West Lothian - North Lanarkshire border. Gibbshill Park is at the edge of the village and has fields on two sides, the only structure for spectators in the ground is a tiny covered enclosure carefully situated right behind the dugouts. Despite the basic nature of the ground, the Scottish non-league website had made the bold claim that it had one of the best tea-huts in Scottish non-league football, so off I went to find out and all I can say in conclusion is that it's a good job I didn't have more money on me or I would have stayed there all afternoon, particularly good was the home made minestrone soup (just in case you're ever at Harthill Royal!).

The game was very tense and niggly, just like all relegation battles, and throughout the match it was Harthill who had the bulk of the possession without ever really testing Michael Burgess in the Edinburgh goal. Edinburgh were meanwhile playing on the break., and it was Andy Poteous ranging cross field pass after 15 minutes which sent NICK BROOKFIELD through and he carefully slotted the ball past the keeper to give the visitors the lead. In the second half it was another breakaway which lead to the second goal, the only way the attack could be broken up was for Harthill to commit a foul on the edge of their own penalty area. The free kick was taken by ANDY PORTEOUS whose effort went under the keepers body and into the net. Harthill now drove forward with desperation and the woodwork saved Edinburgh on a number of occasions, but they hung on to open a nine point gap between themselves and Harthill, but second bottom Dunbar beat Armadale Thistle to keep the relegation battle interesting.

HARTHILL ROYAL 0-2 EDINBURGH UNITED

Attendance: 65

Tuesday February 17th 2004

Scottish League Division Three

@ Cliftonville

ALBION ROVERS vs. STRANRAER

The famous old ground of Cliftonville will soon no longer host Scottish League football, as owners Albion Rovers have sold it to finance a new 3,000 all seater stadium to the south of Coatbridge. In the meantime they plan to ground share at West Region Junior side Bellshill, who have recently move to a new 2,000 seater stadium of their own (and no I have no idea why!). If this is to be their last season it won't be a memorable one as they are struggling at the bottom of Division Three. Their visitors on the other hand are well placed second in the table and looking for promotion to division two.

Albion Rovers started the game much brighter, but Stranraer scored the first goal of the game after 17 minutes when COLLINS scored from 20 yards after a goalmouth scramble. Six minutes later HENDERSON doubled Stranraer's lead with a lob over the keeper. Stranraer, the SPL's leading scorers could have had more before half time, but poor finishing and good defending denied them.

At half time a trip to the Snack bar yielded a nice surprise. Most League snack bars (in England too!) are very expensive and often of poor quality. Albion Rovers on the other hand supplied me with a pie that was not only edible, but pretty nice, superb homemade soup and a bread roll for a mere 1.50. If this quality is maintained after their move then further trips may have to be planned!

Rovers started the second half as they had the first, but failed to turn all their possession into an end result until the 72nd minute when substitute BRADFORD drilled the ball home from the edge of the box, but any hopes of a comeback for the home team were dashed within a minute when a superb through ball sent AITKEN through and he duly restored Stranraer's two goal advantage. Stranraer now had a number of chances to extend their lead, but they missed a couple of sitters, but in the last minute a long clearance from the keeper found SHARP onside and he rounded the home keeper to make the final score 4-1 to the visitors.

ALBION ROVERS 1-4 STRANRAER

Attendance: 427

Saturday January 24th 2004

Lothian League Division One

@ Paties Road

EDINBURGH UNITED vs. DUNBAR UNITED

Edinburgh's battle against relegation was dealt a severe blow after this defeat at Paties Road. At the start of play Edinburgh were third bottom (two are relegated), with Dunbar second bottom, six points behind, but with two games in hand. A win would have given Edinburgh breathing space, but instead are now looking over their shoulder after this heavy defeat. Although Edinburgh had a number of injuries to first team players, they never ever looked as though they would get anything from this game. Indeed Dunbar were two-nil up at half time and hadn't really got out of first gear. Edinburgh heads dropped completely when Dunbar added a well headed goal to make it 3-0 mid way through the second half. Then much to the delight of the visiting supporters Dunbar added two more in the final minutes, to ensure they would enjoy the long trip back to East Lothian. Edinburgh meanwhile looked doomed to second division football next season

EDINBURGH UNITED 0-5 DUNBAR UNITED

Attendance: 77

Sunday January 18th 2004

Image Printers East of Scotland Qualifying Cup Final

@ The Saughton Enclosure, Lothian Thistle FC

EDINBURGH CITY vs. PRESTON ATHLETIC

Edinburgh City were by far the Favourites to retain the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup and meet Berwick Rangers in the East of Scotland (City) Cup Final. But the large number of Preston fans who braved the miserable Sunday afternoon conditions at the Saughton Enclosure got behind their team non the less and their support drove Preston to take a two goal lead. The first a long distance shot which skidded off the wet surface and deceived the keeper, the second a fierce shot after a goalmouth scramble. The East of Scotland league's second place side City pulled one back with ten minutes to go, but the expected siege on the Athletic goal never materialised and they hung on easily to win the cup and earn the right to face Berwick Rangers for the East of Scotland Cup.

EDINBURGH CITY 1-2 PRESTON ATHLETIC

Attendance: 254

Saturday January 17th 2004

Lothian League Division One

@ Paties Road

EDINBURGH UNITED vs. WHITBURN JUNIORS

Championship chasing Whitburn Juniors Whitburn Juniors brought a large travelling support to Paties Road to see their team take on Struggling Edinburgh United. However, much to their surprise United took a shock lead after ten minutes when CRAWFORD headed home a cross from the right wing. Five minutes before half time Whitburn equalised with a fluke goal, an attempted cross from Whitburn sailed over the keepers head and into the goal for the equaliser. Whitburn overpowered Edinburgh in the second half and scored twice with two headed goals to give them what was in the end a deserved victory, which helped them keep up the pressure on Camelon Juniors at the top of the league.

Whitburn match report and match photos can be found here:

http://www.whitburnjuniors.fsnet.co.uk/reports/jan17.htm

EDINBURGH UNITED 1-3 WHITBURN JUNIORS

Attendance: 148

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Saturday January 10th 2004
Brown Cup Round 2
@ Creamery Park
BATHGATE THISTLE vs. EDINBURGH UNITED

Before this cup tie Bathgate Thistle were sitting at the top of the East of Scotland Super League, whilst Edinburgh United were struggling 3rd bottom of the Lothian League Division One.  Most would have thought it would be a
whitewash and that's how it looked in the first half.  Bathgate had all the pressure, but poor finishing and a number of good saves by Michael Burgess in the Edinburgh goal kept the game scoreless at half time. 
 
In the second half Edinburgh started to come into the game, and amazingly on the hour they took the lead. A through ball by Andy Porteous was collected by CRAWFORD who rounded the keeper and fired home from close range. Bathgate now threw everything at Edinburgh, hitting the woodwork on four occasions, including three times in one goalmouth scramble, and also finding Burgess in irresistible form.Bathgate just could not find a way past Edinburgh, then four minutes into injury time with Edinburgh looking like they were about to
pull off one of the biggest shocks of the non-league season, the referee awarded a penalty to Bathgate. A cross from the right wing hit a defender stood less than a yard away, who with his hands at his sides was judged to
have handled the ball, Bathgate had been let out of jail and scored the resultant spot kick.

In injury time however, it was Edinburgh who were playing the better football and creating the better chances. First Malcolm scuffed a shot inside the penalty area, then the move of the match saw Porteous release Chisholm, he was forced wide, but got in a great shot which beat the keeper, but sailed agonisingly over the bar. In the second half of extra time it was Bathgate on top, but again they were denied by Burgess. So with neither side able to break through the game went to a penalty shoot out. Every penalty taken was on target, but Edinburgh's Andrew Porteous saw his saved and Bathgate won the penalty shoot-out.

BATHGATE THISTLE 1-1 EDINBURGH UNITED (Bathgate win 5-4 on penalties)
Attendance: 80


Saturday January 3rd 2004
Scottish League Division Three
@ Central Park
COWDENBEATH vs. MONTROSE

Due to a number of circumstances, the weather being one of which, I found myself watching The Blue Brazil play the Gable Endies for the second time in two seasons. Last season 'Cowden' had won 3-2 and I was hoping for a
similar match to keep me warm in the freezing cold Fife afternoon. And I wasn't to be disappointed. ELLIOTT SMITH gave the visitors an early lead with a close range effort, but DENE SHIELDS responded almost immediately to bring the Blue Brazil level. Cowden' were on top, but Montrose looked dangerous on the break and midway through the half leading scorer STEVE KERRIGAN picked up the ball in midfield and he fired a thunderbolt of a shot into the top corner from 25 yards. On 40 minutes Cowdenbeath were level again, GRAEME BROWN flicking a curling free kick into the net.

In the second half both teams created good chances, but the keepers were now on top.  Montrose however made the breakthrough on 70 minutes when a pullback from the by-line was sidefooted home by SMART. Montrose now sat back and Cowdenbeath were finding it hard to break down the defences. Then, with the clock showing five to five, Cowdenbeath got one last corner. BROWN rose highest in the penalty area and headed his second of the match and rescued a point.

COWDENBEATH 3-3 MONTROSE
Attendance: 282


Saturday December 26th 2003
Unibond League Division One
@ Causeway Lane
MATLOCK TOWN vs. BELPER TOWN

A Bumper crowd turned up to see the Unibond First Division leaders in this Boxing Day derby clash. The only problem was that as picturesque the ground is, the weather and the football on show were dismal. In fact the only noteworthy effort of the first half was Clarke's free kick for Matlock which was well saved. Minutes into the second half the game burst into life, a Belper corner wasn't properly cleared and BULLIMORE volleyed home from 25 yards to give the visitors the lead. The game then for a time descended back to it's first half quality. But in the last twenty minutes Matlock started to show why they were top of the league. However, it took a fluke goal on 77 minutes to bring the hosts level. IAN CLARKE was given the ball in midfield, he hit a speculative shot from 30 yards, which wizzed off the wet surface, deceived the keeper and went under his body and in. Now Matlock were rampant. A minute later a fierce shot was well saved by the Belper keeper, but the ball fell to SISSON, who tucked away the rebound. 
Then on 82 minutes a flowing move down the left resulted in a cross into the box, and the ball was headed home by DANNY HOLLAND. Matlock could have had more in the dying minutes, but that would have been harsh on Belper.

MATLOCK TOWN 3-1 BELPER TOWN
Attendance: 792

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Saturday 13th December 2003

Calders East of Scotland Cup Round 2 @ Paties Road                                              

Edinburgh United vs. Pumpherston Juniors

In absolutely dreadful conditions with swirling winds and driving rain, Pumpherston heaped more misery on the dreadful Edinburgh season by dumping them out of the East of Scotland cup. Pumpherston in the league below Edinburgh took the lead after only five minutes when Ainsley Armit scored with a cracking 40 yard strike, within minutes Edinburgh were level when they were awarded a penalty which was dispatched by Weatherson.  Both teams had further chances in the first half but were finding it difficult to make the most of the chances in the difficult conditions. However, in thesecond half Pumpherston took the game by the scruff of the neck and Derek Williams curled in a stunning wind assisted shot from 35 yards. Edinburgh were now totally out of ideas and the Pumpherston keeper was never in trouble. Pumpherston then brought on Steve Dickov, brother of Man City's Paul and it was his pass that released Stuart McDonald and he Calmly slid the ball under Burgess to complete a 3-1 win over their higher league hosts.

Edinburgh United 1-3 Pumpherston Juniors                                                              Attendance: 30

 

Saturday 6th December 2003

OVD Scottish Junior Cup Round 3                                                                                         @ Millburn Park

Vale of Leven vs. Edinburgh United

Edinburgh United's reward for beating Aberdeen East End was a trip to Alexandria on the banks of Loch Lomond to Face Central League Division One Team Vale Of Leven. Vale of Leven used to be in the Scottish League and the ground is terraced on all four sides, a relic from this past era. However, I'm guessing that not many Scottish league clubs miss the Vale of Leven, even though they are on the banks of Loch Lomond they are located in the town of Alexandria on the South bank of the loch which is just outside the National Park and it is very run down, the supporters weren't very endearing either, most of them came to the ground equipped with carrier bags full of alcohol, which they proceeded to drink and dispose of the empties behind the main stand and all over the terracing. On the pitch though the Vale of Leven were far superior and took the lead midway through the first half through Cox, minutes after they scrambled a second through Wardle and Edinburgh looked down and out.

In the second half Edinburgh came out fighting and had most of the possession, but they were unable to conjure up anything which would break through the defence of a Vale of Leven team who sat back sensing that a place in the last 32 was all theirs. And after Edinburgh tired they created the best chances of the half, but they failed to convert any of them. However, it was not much of a struggle for them to hold on and they easily moved into the fourth round.

Vale of Leven 2-0 Edinburgh United

Attendance: 204

 

Thursday 4th December 2003

SFA Youth Cup Quarter Final @ Tynecastle

Heart of Midlothian vs. Hibernian

After a last minute aborted attempt to watch Tow Law Town the previous weekend, it was a pleasant surprise to find a MIDWEEK match and just 4 minutes walk away at that. Hearts faced Hibs in the Quarter Finals of the Youth Cup, both teams had players with first team experience on show in their line ups and the match also had that niggly edge of derby games. Hibs went in front midway thought the first half only for the Jambos to level with an header from a corner just before half time. In the second half both teams played some good football and both keepers made fantastic saves. It was in extra time when the game really sparked into life, first Hibs had a man sent off for throwing the ball at a Hearts player and then in the second half a swift attack caught the ten men short at the back and the square ball found Driver all alone and he drilled the ball into the bottom corner to send Hearts into the semi-finals.

Heart of Midlothian 2-1 Hibernian

Attendance: 400

 

Saturday 22nd November 2003

OVD Scottish Junior Cup Round 2 Replay @ Paties Road

Edinburgh United vs. Aberdeen East End

It was a fairly mild afternoon at Paties Road for this Scottish Junior Cup Replay and that can actively sum up most of the action on display too. The game finally burst into life in the second half, firstly a Aberdeen player was sent off for a second book able offence and then Edinburgh started to get on top. Twice Chisholm went clear through on goal only to waste the opportunities on both occasions. Then with fifteen minutes remaining Chisholm set up Thorpe who thumped the ball into the roof of the net. Edinburgh were then content to maintain their lead and although they had made a meal of it they progressed into the next round.

Edinburgh United 1-0 Aberdeen East End

Attendance: 48

 

Sunday 16th November 2003

Scottish League Division Two @ Recreation Park

Alloa Athletic vs. Berwick Rangers

Alloa switched this game to the Sunday to avoid a clash with Scotland's UEFA Championship play off with Holland, but must have wished it had never been played at all. Victory for the English team consigned the Wasps to their fifth successive defeat, which left them rock bottom of division two. Clackmannanshire's only league club, Alloa, play in the shadow of the Ochil hills in a ground which is not much better equipped than some in the NCEL, but there was the novelty of free shampoo with each programme (Don't ask, I don't know why!). They climbed from the Scottish third division in 1999 to the first last season, but finished rock bottom and now look like going all the way back down to the third. Gareth Hutchinson, a former Alloa player put the visitors in front in the first half, but within ten minutes a corner was headed home by Little to level the scores.

In the second half Berwick had a man sent off for abusive language and then just after the hour Little put Alloa in front, when he stabbed the ball into the goal after a goalmouth scramble. Then Alloa collapsed, first they gave away a penalty, which was slotted home by another former Alloa player, Neil Bennett. Then with just over ten minutes left Alloa conceded a free kick on the edge of their own area, Paul Hampshire took the kick and he curled it into the bottom corner. Although they piled forward Alloa could not rescue a point, and slumped to another defeat resulting in their manager resigning after the game.

Alloa Athletic 2-3 Berwick Rangers

Attendance: 391

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Sunday 9th November 2003
SFA Youth Cup Round 3
@ Meadowbank Stadium
Edinburgh City vs. Elgin City

To all intents and purposes the first teams of these two teams, even though Scotland has no pyramid system as such, are only 3 places apart on the league ladders, so it wasn't really a shock that Edinburgh comfortably beat their Aberdeenshire visitors. They led at half time with a goal after only 30 seconds. The second half began in similar fashion, when on 47 minutes the hosts doubled their lead.  A great cross from the right was met by a stunning header.  However, within a minute Elgin were back in the game when
their striker found the ball at his feet in the box, he turned and shot the ball into the roof of the net to make the score 2-1. Both teams then had chances, but Edinburgh City made sure 20 minutes from time with a fine low shot from a midfielder. In the last minute a spectacular chip could have seen Edinburgh win by a more emphatic margin, but the forty yard effort hit the crossbar, the line, the keeper and the post before rolling to safety.

Edinburgh City 3-1 Elgin City
Attendance: 53


Saturday 8th November 2003
Scottish OVD Junior Cup Round 2
@ New Advocates Park
Aberdeen East End vs. Edinburgh United

Edinburgh made the long trip North to Aberdeen for this Scottish OVD Junior Cup second round match. In 2002-2003 Edinburgh won only three games all season, one being a 5-0 victory at home to a team from the same league as East End at the same stage of the competition. The North Region non-league game is notoriously weak and only two teams made it through the day still in the competition, East End and the team Edinburgh beat the previous season (Fochabers winning 4-0 at home).  So even given United's poor league form
they were expected to win this tie, against the team sitting 6th in the North Region Superleague. However, they were without 4 or 5 first team players and New Advocates Park was not for the faint of heart. The ground itself was merely a rail around a pitch behind East End Social Club, it is less than a mile from the sea and the wind and rain were swirling around the ground, along with the pitch being the bobbliest I have ever seen and full of litter it made for a very unpretty game of football.

The first half started as expected with Edinburgh controlling the game, however Aberdeen kicking with the strong wind had a number of chances too. Edinburgh took the lead after just ten minutes when Brookfield who looked
suspiciously offside crossed from the left and the ball was poked home by Kelly. Minutes later Porteous broke down the left crossed and Brookfield missed and almost identical chance to one which he had just set up for the goal.  In the run up to half time the home team got on top and brought two fine saves from Burgess in the Edinburgh goal.  Firstly a long shot which caught the wind was well tipped over, then a powerful header from a corner was turned round the post at full stretch.

In the second half Edinburgh were kicking down the slope with the wind and produced wave after wave of attacks, but failed to take any of them due to good goalkeeping and woeful finishing.  Five times they found themselves in
one-on-one situations, but failed to make any of them count and almost inevitably the home side scored. Five minutes from time an East End corner was somehow scrambled home to earn the North Region side a replay in two weeks in Edinburgh.

Aberdeen East End 1-1 Edinburgh United
Attendance: 40


Saturday 8th November 2003
Lothian League Division One
@ Paties Road
Edinburgh United vs. Musselburgh Athletic

This was a very disappointing Edinburgh derby at Paties Road on a bitterly cold afternoon.  Edinburgh after their good away win of the week before never got going and allowed Musselburgh to continue their promotion push. 
Mike Sutherland scored two first half headed goals to take all three points back to the coast. The first after just fifteen minutes and then again on the stroke of half time.  Edinburgh changed things around at half time, and were  much stronger in defence, but could not make any meaningful incisions into the Musselburgh half.  Nick Brookfield had a late penalty appeal turned down for the home side and Athletic held on for what was a comfortable victory.

Edinburgh United 0-2 Musselburgh Athletic
Attendance: 60


Saturday 25th October 2003
Lothian League Division One
@ Volunteer Park
Armadale Thistle vs. Edinburgh United

Volunteer Park, Armadale, once many moons ago hosted Scottish league football, now the vast terraces of Railway sleepers are still there, but they are very dilapidated and crumbling away.  However, the ground had a certain charm that comes with an historic old ground.  Now the team, having long been out of the football league are struggling at the foot of the Lothian first Division, just like their visitors Edinburgh. Armadale had won 3-0 at Edinburgh earlier in the season, but a win would see Edinburgh
claw level on points with their hosts. The omens looked good early on, Nick Brookfield broke into the penalty area for United, and was pulled down by the keeper who amazingly stayed on the pitch. A United defender then converted the penalty. Armadale dominated the rest of the first half but
could not break through the United defence. In the second half United started just as they had the first and on 47 minutes they won a corner, the ball in bobbled about before being hooked into the goal by Nick Brookfield to give Edinburgh a most unlikely scoreline. Thistle then poured forward and Edinburgh were defending deeper and deeper and the breakthrough eventually came ten minutes from time.  Armadale's striker broke into the area and from a tight angle drilled the ball low across the goalkeeper and inside the far post. Now, having watched Edinburgh before I thought this would herald the collapse, but even tough they were under immense pressure they held firm and hung on for a valuable three points (and the first away win I have seen them produce).

Armadale Thistle 1-2 Edinburgh United
Attendance:104

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Saturday 18th October 2003
Lothian League Division One
@ Park View
Fauldhouse United vs. Edinburgh United

This is the longest trip that Edinburgh have to make in the league this season, to the West Lothian-Lanarkshire border town of Fauldhouse. 
Fauldhouse was a pleasant surprise in comparison to most other central belt towns and was a reasonably nice town, the ground being fairly pretty, with views across the valley to one side and woodland on two sides.  Fauldhouse
also have some of the best facilities in the division having a new clubhouse and changing room facility paid for by a Foundation Grant. They are also well supported an today their was a fairly large turnout to see if they
could maintain their promotion push. 
 
However, it was Edinburgh who started the game the brighter and they were causing Fauldhouse all sorts of problems, in fact they had the ball in the net when Chisholm fired home
after Brookfield headed down, but the goal was ruled out for pushing. Then minutes before half time Fauldhouse were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the Edinburgh area, this was superbly curled into the top corner to give the
home side the lead. Edinburgh faded in the second half and a string of poor final balls prevented the home side from adding to their lead and the game just petered out with the 1-0 lead never really being threatened.

Fauldhouse United 1-0 Edinburgh United
Attendance: 119


Wednesday 15th October 2003
Representative game
@ Saughton Enclosure
Lothian Thistle vs. Scottish Amateur FA XI

I don't know why this game took place or why I went to it (the latter probably being because it was only ten minutes walk away). Lothian Thistle, an East Region Senior team, are technically only one league below the Scottish football league (on the same level as the Highland league, whether
Ceefax or Teletext like to acknowledge it or not!) and they were soon ahead against their amateur opponents. 
 
The answer to the first question soon became apparent, the pick of Scotlands amateurs were very good and from the moment they went behind they dominated the game and scored five times, hit the post twice and could (possibly should) have had a lot more. Lothian Thistle's resident four legged supporter also made an appearance, the fox which lives down the side of the ground came out to watch the match for a
while, but unlike last time I was at the Saughton enclosure he/she did not encroach on the playing surface, having said that the action was much better to watch this time!

Lothian Thistle 1-5 Scottish Amateur FA XI
Attendance: 86


Sunday 12th October 2003
SFA Youth Cup Second Round
@ Pennypit Park
Preston Athletic vs. St Johnstone

Prestonpans is the extremes of Scotland concentrated into a very small area, the historic village centre is surrounded by a run down 20th century town built to serve the nearby power plant and it is in this part of town that Preston Athletic play.  The ground is not very memorable other than the fact it must be the home to every flying creature within about 100 miles, given the state of the floor and the seats in the stand. However, it was a fine autumn afternoon and the stand could be avoided. Preston certainly raised their game against their professional opponents and went into a two goal lead, the first a half volley from a low cross, the second was an amazing goal, the left winger picked up the ball in midfield and struck the ball low
from the best part of 35 yards and somehow beat the keeper at his near post. The Perth team hit back before the break with a powerful header from a corner and not long into the second half they were level. Preston sat back and defended resolutely, but the game turned ten minutes from time when a Preston player was sent off for a violent tackle,  St Johnstone's extra man and fitness finally paid off five minutes from time when a low cross was turned home by the saints striker.

Preston Athletic 2-3 St Johnstone
Attendance: 134


Saturday 11th October 2003
Lothian League Division One
@ Paties Road
Edinburgh United vs. Sauchie Juniors

Edinburgh after having won their first game of the season against Harthill Royal at the end of September, then won away at Dunbar and at Lochore Welfare in the Fife and Lothians Cup, but were brought back down to earth
with a 3-0 defeat at league leaders Camelon a week before this match. Sauchie, from Alloa, which if you didn't know is in Clackmananshire, not Lothian at all, were only one place above Edinburgh at the start of play. 
After only ten minutes that one place seemed like more of a gulf as Sauchie raced into a two goal lead.  Edinburgh now seemed to have more fighting spirit than earlier in the season and before half time Val Chisholm struck a low shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the area to bring the hosts back into the game.  Sauchie, however, started the second half as they did the first with a goal, but the new found fighting spirit of Edinburgh spurred them on and with twenty minutes to go a corner to Edinburgh was only
half cleared and Nick Brookfield struck the ball home from the resulting scramble. The Alloa team however secured their victory five minutes later with an amazing strike from 25 yards and this time Edinburgh had no response
even though Sauchie had a man dismissed in the dying minutes.

Edinburgh United 2-4 Sauchie Juniors
Attendance: 55


Saturday 11th October 2003
OVD Scottish Junior Cup First Round
@ Murrayfield Park
Blackburn United vs. Clydebank

After being bought out by the Airdrie United consortium about 18 month ago the name Clydebank has been missing from Scottish Football. However, a group of loyal supporters reformed the club over the summer of 2003 and
entered the club into the Abercorn Central League Division Two. They ground share with Drumchapel Amateurs and are currently drawing in crowds of around 300, more than the old club if I remember rightly ! This high noon kick-off
was their first match back in a national competition away at East Region side Blackburn of West Lothian. Blackburn ply their trade in the Lothian second division, play in a very basic ground, but have the number one programme in Scottish non-league football according to the Wirral awards.  Unfortunately the vast travelling army of Clydebank supporters had bought out the progs before I arrived so I couldn't find out how good they were for
myself.

The East Region non-league is considered the strongest of all the regions and Eastern teams have won the last two Junior Cups. The West region is close behind, with the East and West both having won 5 of the last ten Junior Cups (The last North region team to win it was in 1956). This was in
evidence in the play with the two teams being particularly even matched. Clydebank took the lead through a penalty midway through the first half. Blackburn equalised not long after when a long cross was headed home at the far post after the keeper had come for the cross and missed it.  Clydebank had the final chance of the half when they hit the crossbar.  The second half was nearly all Blackburn, but Clydebank hung on against wave after wave of attacks from Blackburn to take the game to a replay a week later. (NB
Blackburn won the replay 4-3 aet)

Blackburn United 1-1 Clydebank
Attendance: 320

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Saturday 13th September 2003
White and MacKay Lothian Division One
@ Paties Road
Edinburgh United vs. Harthill Royal

This was a very scrappy game between the bottom two teams in the Lothian First Division. Both teams had only picked up one point before this game and early on it was easy to see why, with passes going astray on both sides. However it was Harthill who showed more promise early on and they took the lead with an headed goal after about twenty minutes.  So far, as bad as the game had been there was no indication of the storm to come. The game erupted ten minutes before half time, when Edinburgh won a free kick on the edge of the area, the Harthill wall refused to retreat ten yards and a Harthill player was booked for arguing. In the jostling that followed another Harthill player was booked for raising his hands. Edinburgh missed with the free kick, but moments later a scything tackle by a Harthill player saw him receive a second yellow card, in the arguments that followed the other Harthill player who had been booked at the free kick was also shown a second yellow, and a couple of other Harthill players were also booked. Harthill
held their lead until half time, but would have to fight out the second half of this vital relegation battle with only 9 men.

Edinburgh came out in the second half, as would be expected, on the offensive and within ten minutes they were level. A long throw in was flicked on by Miller and the ball was headed home at the back post by Brookfield. Now Harthill had every player behind the ball, and Edinburgh
had the problem they have had all season, they had very little invention and couldn't break through the resolute Royal defence. With about twenty minutes to go the game took another twist, yet another dreadful tackle from
a Harthill midfielder saw him see red as well and it wasn't long before the Manager was ordered from the dugout. Then, with five minutes left, came the ultimate justice for Harthill's tactics, a long ball into the box was somehow forced home by McIntosh, to give Edinburgh their first win of the season and for the final five minutes they were happy to just keep possession. It was a shame that Edinburgh's first win of the season was spoilt by the antics of some of the Harthill supporters, which saw the
referee require an escort from the field by the home officials, whilst the keeper was being restrained by three of his own players.

Edinburgh United 2-1 Harthill Royal
Attendance: 64


Wednesday 24th September 2003
Calders League Cup Semi-Final
@Creamery Park, Bathgate Thistle FC
Harthill Royal vs. Linlithgow Rose

Harthill Royal rock bottom of the Lothian First Division were expected to be no match for last years OVD Cup finalists Linlithgow, but as it turned out they could have won a see-saw game. A large crowd turned out on a mild
evening at Creamery Park most of which were supporting Rose. Rose didn't take long to get going and were in front within a minute, but Harthill were level after 10 minutes.  An Harthill attacker jinked into the penalty area and when he was bundled over the referee gave a penalty which was duly converted. Then after half an hour there was a remarkable twist Harthill took the lead.  A mazy run by the winger left him in the penalty area and from a tight angle he drilled the ball across the keeper into the far corner
of the goal.  Rose managed to claw the game back to all level by the break when a stunning shot by McClellan found the top corner from 30 yards out.

In the second half, both teams had chances to win the game, with the woodwork saving the day on more than one occasion. Midway through the half Rose had a man sent off for a second bookable offence. Now Royal poured forward in numbers and were looking like the most likely team to grab a winner. Twice they hit the crossbar and twice they wasted one-on one situations. Linlithgow made numerous substitutions to try and show some semblance of attacking intent, however those attacks they could muster were few and far between. Harthill however couldn't find the net and the game went into extra time.

Extra time was going much as the second half had, with Harthill on top but wasteful in front of goal and it seemed inevitable that the game would go to penalties. Then in injury time at the end of the first half of extra time
the course of the game turned.  A Linlithgow player broke into the area and was pulled down, the defender was sent off and Woods converted the penalty. 
In the second half of extra time Royal heads visibly dropped, Woods added another after a defensive mix up, Pearson hit a fifth from a tight angle and Woods then converted another penalty in the last minute.  Flattering maybe, but Linlithgow went through emphatically to meet the holders Fauldhouse United in the final.

Harthill Royal 2-6 Linlithgow Rose
Attendance: 500


Saturday 27th September 2003
Scottish League Division Two
@ Gayfield
Arbroath vs. Greenock Morton

Gayfield is the closest ground to the sea in Great Britain and there was cold wind and rain blowing across the ground, but this didn't stop the massive traveling support from Greenock from creating a party atmosphere. After narrowly winning the third division last season Morton are romping
away with the second division this time around and their travelling support massively outnumbered the home support in a crowd of just over 1,000. In comparison Arbroath had been relegated from Division One, rock bottom and are showing no signs that their fortunes are improving this season.

The game itself was one of the most one sided games I have ever witnessed. Morton were so superior in every department, the only surprise was how long it took them to take the lead.  A Superb through ball put Wetherson in the
clear and he fired the ball past the keeper.  Moments later a corner was headed in by Greacen at the back post. 
 
The second half was much the same story, the impressive Wetherson added number three when he stretched for a low cross at the back post and number four arrived midway through the half when Bottigieri struck.

Arbroath 0-4 Greenock Morton
Attendance: 1,117

___________________________________________________________

Saturday 6th September 2003
UEFA European Championships Qualifying Stage
@ Hampden Park
Scotland vs. Faroe Islands

This Euro 2004 Qualifying game offered a rare opportunity to see one of the international teams I had always wanted to see, and for only 10 I couldn't resist.  I think it is for the same reason that non-league football appeals
to me that nations like the Faroes instill the same sort of interest. 
However, this collection of lower league professionals and part-timers has improved much more than many of the other small nations of Europe.  Indeed they had held the Scots to a 2-2 draw in Toftir a year ago, and were unlucky not to win after having led 2-0 and twice were within a minute of taking a point of the group leaders Iceland.  Scotland on the other hand were in desperate need of a victory to keep the pressure on Germany and Iceland at the top of the group, before Wednesdays trip to Dortmund to face their
crunch game against the Germans.

By kick off 49,900 people had packed into Hampden park, nearly all of which expected an easy win for Scotland.  However within five minutes a mistake my Dundee defender Lee Wilkie gave the Faroe's an early opportunity, and they
were only denied by a superb save by Celtic keeper Rab Douglas.  It wasn't long until Scotland got on top and they were kept at bay by a combination of desperate defending and the Faroes' own SPL goalkeeper Jakup Mikkelsen of
Partick Thistle.  Scotland snatched the lead on seven minutes when Paul Devlin crossed to the back post and Neil Mcann Volleyed the home side into the lead.  Scotland then took their foor of the gas and for the next 20 minutes the Faroes were the only team in the game and after a number of
close calls they finally got a reward after 30 minutes.  A corner from the right wasn't taken by Douglas and Julian Johnsson silenced Hampden Park by heading the ball home much at which the small band of about a 100 travelling
Faroese fans went ecstatic.  However, right on the stroke of half time Scotland scored a goal almost identical to their first, this time Stevie Crawford supplied the cross and it was Paul Dickov who this time struck the ball home at the far post.

Scotland were probably a little flattered by their half time lead, but in the second half the Faroes faded.  However they had one good chance when Johannesen picked the ball up in his own half and his stunning run was only
stopped by last ditch tackle.  Both sides then had chances, the Faroes flashed a free kick just wide whilst at the other end Crawford twice had the ball in the net, but was called up for offside on both occasions. Scotland
had been the better team in the half though and got a reward sixteen minutes from time when Crawford this time sent a low cross into the area for Everton new boy James McFadden to steer the ball home.

Scotland had played well enough to deserve the victory, but the Faroes had shown a lot of courage and determination and some moments of good football and thouroughly deserved the standing ovation they received at the end of the game from their small army of travelling supporters.

Scotland 3-1 Faroe Islands
Attendance: 49,901


Sunday 7th September 2003
SFA Youth Cup Round One
@ City Park
Spartans vs. Forfar Athletic

The Scottish FA Youth cup got underway with a potential upset in store at City Park for league club Forfar Athletic.  This was the first time I had been to City Park, even though it is the closest non-league team to Edinburgh City Centre and their first team was Edinburgh's top non-league club last season.  City Park is a bizarre ground with massive grass banks on three sides and a massive stand on the other, however this is sealed of and boarded up.  After the Taylor report all Scottish Senior grounds were
inspected and Spartans stand was found to contain Asbestos and as been redundant ever since. The Spartans were originally a club for ex-university players and even though this is no longer the case the players still pay for the privelidge of playing.

The game itself was played for the first half in scorching conditions and as a result there was little in the way of goalmouth action. In the second half a slight breeze was blowing across the ground and as a result the play picked up.  At first it wa sthe league club who was doing all the attacking, but with ten minutes left Spartans scored against the run of play.  Omar Kader picked up the ball on the left wing, cut inside beat two players and curled the ball into the far corner of the goal. Both sides created chances during the last ten minutes, but Spartans were now looking more threatening and in the last minute they won a penalty which was duly despatched to book their place in the next round against the winners of the tie between Berwick Rangers and Albion Rovers.

Spartans 2-0 Forfar Athletic
Attendance: 55

___________________________________________________________

Tuesday 19th August 2003
Carlsberg League Cup
@Carmuirs Park
Camelon Juniors vs. Edinburgh United

Camelon is just on the outskirts of Falkirk about 30 minutes drive from Edinburgh, unfortunately the traffic out of Edinburgh was terrible and when I arrived at Carmuirs Park, Edinburgh United were already 1 goal up.

Carmuirs Park has cover running right the way down both sides of the pitch and large terraces behind both goals, and like most of Junior Grounds has no seats, but it does have the best pies I have encountered in Scottish non
league football so far.  As a result the first port of call was the snack bar, then to find cover from the driving rain. Camelon were pressing Edinburgh's fragile defence hard fo an equaliser, but midway through the first half they had a player dismissed for a second bookable offence.  Right on the stroke of half time Camelon were awarded a corner, from which a defender rose tallest to head Camelon level. 
 
In the second half Edinburgh came out all guns blazing, and were overrunning Camelon, but couldn't find the finishing touch.  Then on the hour and against the run of play a Camelon player picked the ball up in midfield, hit a shot from 40 yards which sailed into the back of the net.  Edinburgh continued to press forward and hit the post a number of times.  In the last ten minutes of the game there was to be a dramatic turn of events. First Edinburgh created a glorious opening and with the keeper beaten a defender handled on the line and was subsequently
red carded.  However, Edinburgh saw their penalty saved.  Then with the last kicks of the game Edinburgh forced one last attack down the left wing, the low cross was turned goalwards, only for the ball to hit the post, hit the
keeper and go out for a corner, which when taken was the last kick of the game.

Camelon Juniors 2-1 Edinburgh United
Attendance: 182


Wednesday 20th August 2003
Carlsberg League Cup
@ Olivebank
Musselburgh Athletic vs. Bathgate Thistle

The dull first half at Olivebank which saw Bathgate lead 1-0 through a penalty gave little indication of what was to follow.  The old saying 'a game of two halves' must have been coined for this match.  Musselburgh got their own penalty just into the second half which they duly converted.  Five minutes later Musselburgh attacked down the right wing and the low cross into the box was turned home by the striker at the back post. It wasn't long before Musselburgh were on the attack again and the cross into the box this time was met by an outrageous overhead kick which sailed into the top corner of the net to give Athletic a 3-1 lead. Musselburgh of the Lothian first division now looked as though they would cause an upset and knock out
their superleague visitors.  But with ten minutes left a deep Bathgate cross was headed back across goal and the substitute headed the ball home. With time running out Thistle were awarded a free kick on the edge of the
area, which was delightfully curled into the net.  As few junior clubs have floodlights there is no extra time and so the game went to penalties in which Bathgate held their nerve to win 3-2 and progress to the semi-finals.

Musselburgh Athletic 3-3 Bathgate Thistle
Bathgate win 3-2 on penalties
Attendance: 70


Saturday 23rd August 2003
Lothian League Division One
@ Central Park
Whitburn vs. Edinburgh United

This was to be my first trip to Whitburn Juniors football club, the favourites for the Lothian League Title.  They just missed out on promotion to the East Region superleague last season and are expected to push hard for the coveted spot this year.  Their Central Park Ground is right in the
centre of town, but the entrance is up a tiny alleyway and as a result I missed the ground a number of times before finally noticing the entrance. 

The Ground itself is one of the better grounds I have so far encountered in the league, with a large covered section running the length of the pitch on the opposite side to the turnstiles and high grass banks on the other sides.
The game itself was little more than a formality - Whitburn stormed into a three goal first half lead with Edinburgh offering little in the way of resistance. In the Second half United started brightly and hit the woodwork on a couple of occasions but soon Whitburn were back on top and added a fourth five minutes from time.


Whitburn 4-0 Edinburgh United
Attendance: 203


Saturday 30th August 2003
Lothian League Division One
@ Paties Road
Edinburgh United vs. Armadale Thistle

The less said about this game the better.  It was a scorching hot afternoon at Paties Road, and Armadale Thistle just required to turn up to easily beat Edinburgh, they scored three goals without ever really playing any good football. Edinburgh, were understrength, after picking up injuries in the previous game at Whitburn, but even so they lacked fight and never looked likely to stop the run of form which has seen them win only one game in 2003.

Edinburgh United 0-3 Armadale Thistle
Attendance: 83

___________________________________________________________

Saturday 16th August 2003
White & MacKay Lothian League Division One
@Paties Road
Edinburgh United vs. Fauldhouse United

It was Edinburgh's first game of the season and their first in the Lothian First Division after their relegation form the Superleague last term. 
 
It wasn't long until they got themselves infront.  A defensive mistake from Fauldhouse let in the Edinburgh Striker who coolly slotted the ball past the keeper.  Edinburgh started now to sit back, and Fauldhouse started to press forwards and their pressure was rewarded after half an hour when they were awarded a dubious penalty, which was duly converted.  Fauldhouse continued to press forward and took the lead before half time, a curling shot into the top corner finishing off a fine move down the left wing.

In the second half both teams had chances to score, but both sides squandered a number of good chances.  Edinburgh now pushed three men up front in a desperate bid not to continue their losing streak from last season. Five minutes from time they really should have scored the equaliser
when a teasing ball in from the right wing only required a touch from a striker and it would have ended up in the net.  However, from the corner which resulted from this move, an Edinburgh defender rose highest at the near post to grab an equaliser.

Edinburgh United 2-2 Fauldhouse United
Attendance: 60


Wednesday 13th August 2003
Carlsberg League Cup Round 1
@Penicuik Park
Penicuik Athletic vs. Linlithgow Rose

A huge crowd turned up for this League Cup match between Second Division Penicuik Athletic and Superleague Linlithgow Rose.  Linlithgow were virtually a different side from that which had reached the Scottish Junior
cup final last season, but were fielding a number of new signing including their new striker whom they had purchased the day before from First Division champions Falkirk.  The game started at an high tempo with Penicuik looking to avoid a repeat of the 9-1 hammering Rose gave them in the same compeittion last season.  The Athletic players hassled and closed down the Rose players, frustrating them and as a result one was sent off for taking a kick at an Athletic player.  Athletic then took a shock lead when a weak shot was fumbled by the Rose keeper and trickled over the line, to the delight of the 300+ home supporters packed into the tiny ground. Penicuik continued to pressure Rose, but Linlithgow showed glimpses of what they could do, and equalised against the run of play deep in injury time at the end of the first half.

The second half was a very tense affair with neither side giving much away, but as it dragged on Rose's superiority, even with ten men was beginning to show.  However, Penicuik thought they had hung on for penalties, when Linlithgow launched  one last attack down the right wing, a low cross was drilled into the area and Mark White was on hand to turn the ball home from eight yards out and clinch a place for Rose in the next round.

Penicuik Athletic 1-2 Linlithgow Rose
Attendance: 450


Tuesday 12th August 2003
Carlsberg League Cup Round 1
@Kings Park
Dalkeith Thistle vs. Bathgate Thistle

Dalkeith of the Lothian League Division Two were totally outclassed by their Super League opponents in this League cup tie.  Bathgate had taken the lead after only about five minutes after a defensive error, but then their Second
Division opponents took the game to them and equalised in amazing fashion on the half hour.  A Dalkeith attack was not properly cleared by Bathgate and the ball was volleyed goal wards from 30 yards and the ball flew into the
top corner.  This just spurred Bathgate on and they added two more before the break, the first a header form a corner, the second a break that beat the offside trap and the striker cooley rolled the ball under the keeper. 
Bathgate started the second half the way they had finished the first and quickly notched up two more goals, both from close range. Bathgate now looked like they could score with every attack and on numerous occasions in the half they hit the woodwork or had shots that flashed just wide, but in
the end they had to settle for five and comfortable passage into the next round.

Dalkeith Thistle 1-5 Bathgate Thistle
Attendance: 42


Saturday 9th August 2003
Central Sectional League Cup Group A
@Hannah Park
Shotts Bon Accord vs. Carluke Rovers

Bon Accord will of course always be remembered for that scoreline against Arbroath, but unfortunately there would be no repeat performance on a scorchingly hot day at Hannah Park.  Hannah Park like many Central Junior grounds has vast crumbling terraces reminiscent of better days. Now they ply their trade in the West of Scotland Division One, whilst their opponents two leagues below them play in the Central Region Division Two. The game was played at a very lethargic pace in the sweltering heat, Bon Accord scored once in each half to move top of Group A, but there is very little else to say about this match, the quality of play was terrible and most of the crowd looked to be falling asleep in the summer sun.

Shotts Bon Accord 2-0 Carluke Rovers
Attendance: 62


Wednesday 6th August 2003
Central Sectional League Cup Group A
@Kinghill Park
Forth Wanderers vs. Shotts Bon Accord

Forth is a small village perched on the Lothian-South Lanarkshire border.  The ground is what would be expected from a village football side very bobbly and very basic, but there are good views out into the Scottish
Borders.  From the opening exchanges there could be nothing seen of the two divisions between the two sides.  In fact lower division Forth looked like they would take the lead when they were awarded a dubious penalty, for which
a Shotts player received his marching orders, but the Shotts keeper saved the kick. Then on the stroke of half time Bon Accord were awarded a penalty for handball, but again it was saved.

In the second half the higher division status began to show and Bon Accord hit the crossbar, then an header from a corner went just over. Then after a goalmouth scramble they finally took the lead when the striker kept a cool head to sidefoot the ball into the net. As Forth pushed forwards in search of the equaliser, Bon Accord found lots of space, but poor finishing prevented them adding to their lead.  Forth had a couple of good chance also, but couldn't convert them into goals and the game ended 1-0.

Forth Wanderers 0-1 Shotts Bon Accord
Attendance: 77

___________________________________________________________

Saturday 2nd August 2003
Festival Cup Final
@ Easter Road
Hibernian vs. Heart of Midlothian

This was the inaugural Festival Cup match, a new cup between the Edinburgh  league clubs to mark the opening of the Edinburgh Festival. Considering this was little more than a glorified pre-season friendly a good crowd of over 10,000 turned up with the Hearts end almost sold out. There was little between the two teams at first, but Hearts began to take control gradually and the Hibs keeper had to tip over a scorching shot from Andy Kirk. Hearts were also forcing a number of corners and it was from one of these that Scottish International centre half ANDY WEBSTER headed Hearts in front. Hearts should really have added more before half time, but a number of good chances were wasted. In the second half the game became niggly and was anything but friendly. Hearts did manage to get the ball into the net twice more in the second only for both to be ruled out for offside. Hearts managed to keep their 1-0 lead until full time, but it really didn't do justice to their superiority. Unfortunately the event ended on a sour note,
with the Hearts fans still in the ground waiting for the trophy to be presented, the announcer said their was to be no presentation of the trophy on safety grounds, much to the irritation of the away fans who would have loved nothing better than to have collected a trophy on their arch-enemies ground.

Hibernian 0-1 Heart of Midlothian
Attendance: 10,090


Thursday 31st July 2003
Pre-Season Friendly
@ The Millfield
Haddington Athletic vs. Gala Fairydean

Yet another ground I have never been to, the Millfield in the historic village of Haddington is probably the most scenic of all the junior ground I have seen so far. It is situated on the edge of the village down by the river, right next to an ancient mill building. Haddington are in the same division as Penicuik and Fairydean in the same as Whitehill (see below) and once again the senior side showed their quality. Fairydean led 1-0 at half time, but in the second half kicking away from the low summer sun they added another 3, before Haddington scored a last minute consolation with a deflected free kick.

Haddington Athletic 1-4 Gala Fairydean
Attendance: 37

Tuesday 29th July 2003
Pre-Season Friendly
@ Penicuik Park
Penicuik Athletic vs. Whitehill Welfare

This was my first visit to Penicuik Park, just outside Edinburgh in the Pentland Hills. Penicuik were once a massive junior side, but they went bust, they reformed last year and are now playing their trade in the Lothian
Juniors Division Two. However, even the large crowd which turned out on this miserable evening to cheer them on couldn't bring them any sort of result against the East Region Senior Champions. Whitehill scored twice in
each half, but really should have reached double figures. The third goal was the pick of the bunch - a superb passing move got the striker in one-on-one with the goalie and he powered the ball into the roof of the net.

Penicuik Athletic 0-4 Whitehill Welfare
Attendance: 177

Saturday 26th July 2003
Scottish Junior Super Cup Semi Final
@ Prestonfield
LINLITHGOW ROSE vs. TAYPORT

37 Days exactly since the final competitive game I saw in 2002/03 (isn't Scottish non-league football great!).  There were a number of matches to choose from, but this Super Cup Semi Final stood out.  The Super Cup is contested by the winners of the three Junior Leagues (North, East and West)
and the Scottish Junior Cup Winners, but as Tayport won both the East League and the Junior Cup, the Junior Cup Runners Up, Rose qualified.  So this was a repeat of last seasons Junior Cup final with Rose looking for revenge for
their 1-0 defeat at Firhill.  The other semi final was between Sunnybank(Aberdeen) and Pollock (the giants of Scottish Non-League football), with the winners meeting in a weeks time.

Linlithgows hopes of a revenge victory in front of a massive Prestonfield crowd looked doubtful early on when Tayport scored after a flowing move down the right was converted by the striker at the back post and then it was
nearly two when Tayport hit the crossbar.  However as always Rose looked dangerous on the attack, but it was from a freekick that they levelled the scores just before half time.  Rose's attacker was brought down on the edge of the area and the resultant kick was curled into the top corner of the goal.

The second half started like a house on fire, first from 30 yards out a Rose player hit a powerful free kick which the Tayport keeper couldn't hold and the ball trickled in.  Instantly Port came back and after a goalmouth scramble in which they hit the bar again they finally forced the ball home. 
 
The game then calmed down and it looked as tough the game was going to penalties, but with ten minutes to go Rose won a corner and it was a Rose player who climbed highest to head the ball home. Then moments later it was 4, a Rose substitute was sent clear, but his shot was saved bravely by the keeper, but at the fourth attempt Rose managed to force the ball home and secure a place in the final.

LINLITHGOW ROSE 4-2 TAYPORT
ATTENDANCE: 560


Wednesday 23rd July 2003
Pre-Season Friendly
@ Ferguson Park
WHITEHILL WELFARE vs. HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN

In this Friendly Hearts sent out a mixture of Reserves and Youth players against the East of Scotland League Champions.  Both teams could have scored in the first half, but Hearts superiority finally showed through in the
second half when first KING lobbed the advancing keeper.  KING then grabbed a second on the volley and DRIVER completed the scoring in the final minutes when he converted a far post cross.

WHITEHILL WELFARE 0-3 HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN
ATTENDANCE: 200approx


MONDAY 14th July 2003
Pre-Season Friendly
@ Muirhouse Sports Ground
EDINBURGH ATHLETIC vs. BRECHIN CITY

Brechin City sent their full first team for this friendly against Edinburgh Athletic.  It had only been 25 Days since the final game I saw last season and the withdrawal symptoms had obviously been worse than I thought, by my
reckoning it finished 2-0, but the Brechin Website claimed it was 3-0.  I did miss the first ten minutes, but a Brechin substitute who was warming up assured me it was 0-0.  I don't know!!!

EDINBURGH ATHLETIC 0(Definitely!)-2/3(who knows!) BRECHIN CITY

 
Scottish Non-League Season Review
 
Since I've subjected you to a season of teams you've never heard of I thought it about time to tell you who won what and how it all works.
 
At the top of the Pyramid is the Football League with the senior non league game below this, then the juniors below this (a bit like our league, then Trophy level then Vase level).  However there is no promotion between the different sections and bizarrely the Junior non-league game is much better supported than the Senior non-league game.  This seems to be because the Seniors (who can enter the Scottish Cup) tend to come from more rural areas outside the central belt of Scotland, whereas the Junior teams are mainly concentrated around the big cities in Central Scotland and Fife, but the Junior teams also enter the prestigious OVD Scottish Junior Cup, many of the games in which pull large crowds which surely must annoy the lower division Scottish League sides.
 
The Main Structure and winners as I can make out is below:
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
FOOTBALL LEAGUE
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
SENIOR NON-LEAGUE
 
Highland League:
Winners:  Deveronvale
Runners Up: Keith
 
South of Scotland League:
Winners: Stranraer Athletic
Runners Up: Tarff Rovers
 
East Of Scotland League Premier Division:
Winners: Whitehill Welfare
Runners Up: Annan Athletic
Relegated: Coldstream,
Peebles Rovers
East Of Scotland League Division One:
Winners: Edinburgh University
Promoted: Civil Service Strollers
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
JUNIOR NON LEAGUE
 
East Of Scotland Superleague
Winners: Tayport
Runners Up: Hill Of Beath Hawthorn
Relegated: Carnoustie Panmure,
Dundee Violet,
Edinburgh United
-------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                 
Lothian Division One:                       Fife Premier Division:                  Tayside Premier Division:
Winners:Bo'ness Utd                        Winners:Kelty Hearts                       Winners:Lochee United
Relegated:Pumpherston,                                                                              Relegated: Dundee East Craigie,
Bonnybridge                                                                                          Arbroath Victoria
                                                                                                             
Lothian Division Two                                                                                 Tayside Division One
Winners: Harthill Royal                                                                                           Winners: Kinnoul
Promoted: Dunbar United                                                                                      Promoted: Scone Thistle
 
West of Scotland Premier Division:
Winners: Pollock
Runners Up: Neilston Juniors
Relegated: Irvine Meadow,
Benburb
West of Scotland Division One
Winners: Arthulie
Promoted: Troon
Relegated: Cambuslang Rangers,
Largs Thistle
-------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   
Central League Div 1:                                                                         Ayrshire League:
Winners: Kilsyth Rangers                                                                Winners: Lugar Boswell Thistle
Relegated: Lesmahagow,                                                                                                                      
                         Blantyre Victoria 
                      Central League Div 2:
             Winners: St Anthony's
             Promoted: Port Glasgow
 
North of Scotland Premier Division
Winners: Sunnybank
Runners Up: Culter
Relegated: Wilsons XI,
Deveronside
-------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   
Division One (East):                                                                    Division One (East):
Winners: Turriff United                                                                Winners: Forres Thistle
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
The big non-league cup, the Scottish OVD Junior Cup was won by Tayport who beat Linlithgow Rose by 1-0 after extra time in front of 4,613 spectators at Partick Thistle.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

_______________________________________________________________

Wednesday 4th June 2003
New Recreation Park, Rosyth Recreation FC
Fife Junior Cup Final
Hill of Beath Hawthorn vs. Kelty Hearts
It had already been a good season for these two clubs, Hawthorn looking at a top two finish in the inaugural East Region Superleague and Kelty having already reached the Cowdenbeath Cup Final and winning the Fife Junior League to book their place in next seasons superleague.
The First half of the game was very open and could have been about 5-5 by half time, but it was Hawthorn who led at the break when the striker was put one-on-one with the keeper and struck the ball past him into the goal.  Hearts replied moments into the second half when they won a penalty for handball and the penalty was converted to pull level.  However the higher division began to tell and from a corner Hawthorn managed to head themselves back into the lead and then a screaming swerving shot from 30yards moments later gave them a 2 goal advantage.  Despite having a man sent off late on in the game Hawthorn held on to beat their local rivals and win the Fife Junior Cup.
Hill of Beath Hawthorn 3-1 Kelty Hearts
Attendance: 520
 
 
Saturday 7th June 2003
New Dundas Park
White & MacKay East Region Junior Superleague
Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic vs. Tayport
Tayport brought a large following with them to New Dundas Park to see if they could clinch the superleague title, to add to the OVD Junior Cup they had won at Firhill the week before.  A win would be enough to see off any lingering challenge from Hill of Beath Hawtorn, but they got off to the worst possible start when Bonyrigg took the lead after only five minutes. A Long ball forward was headed skilfully past the keeper by the onrushing keeper.  The game became scrappy as Tayport attempted to break down the Rose rearguard, but with little success, it finally took a second half penalty to bring them onto level terms and then a stunning 30 yard drive to finally put them in front and despite massive Rose pressure they hung on to clinch the title.
Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic 1-2 Tayport
Attendance: 324
 
 
Monday 9th June 2003
Carmuirs Park, Camelon Juniors FC
Streamline Taxis Cup Final
Linlithgow Rose vs. Bathgate Thistle
Camelon must have the best pitch I have seen in Scottish Junior football and have cover stretching the length of the pitch on both sides of the ground. After losing the Scottish Junior cup final 8 days earlier to Tayport and finishing in a disappointing mid table position, this was a final chance for Rose to clinch some silverware for the season.  Their chances took a turn for the better when Bathgate had a man sent off for stamping in under ten minutes.  It took until midway through the first half for linlithgow to now make the breakthrough, but it came in spectacular style with a FLYNN hattrick inside ten minutes.  The First a cross which went behind him, but he stuck out a foot and the ball looped back over the keeper, the second a terrific shot from a difficult angle and the third a superb curler from the edge of the area.  In the second half Rose were just going through the paces but they added two more, firstly a through ball was met by a onrunning midfielder who rounded the keeper for 4-0 and then a powerful header from a corner completed the rout.
Linlithgow Rose 5-0 Bathgate Thistle
Attendance: 600 approx
 
 
Saturday 14th June 2003
Petershill Park, Petershill FC
West of Scotland Trophy Final
Kilsyth Rangers vs. Larkhall Thistle
An absolutely incredible crowd turned up in the summer sun for this cup Final.  Larkhall play their football in the West Junior Premier Division, Kilsyth are the runaway winners of the Central First Division two divisions below Thistle.  Petershill Park, located in Glasgow is a old and vast ground and could easily have accommodated 5 times the number there for this game. 
The game was a scrappy affair with neither side really threatening, Kilsyth made most of the early running without really threatening, and Thistle started to get on top as the game progressed.  However it was Rangers who had the ball in the net first, only for it to be ruled out for offside.  Minutes later they were in front however, when a goalmouth scramble somehow ended up in the back of the net.  After this it was all Thistle, but the Kilsyth keeper pulled off some incredible saves to cause a massive shock.
Kilsyth Rangers 1-0 Larkhall Thistle
Attendance: 1,000 approx
 
 
Tuesday 17th June 2003
Creamery Park
White & MacKay East Region Junior Superleague
Bathgate Thistle vs. Hill of Beath Hawthorn
This was the final league game of the Scottish Junior season and it was a fantastic evening in Bathgate for it.  Hawthorn were destined to finish second whatever happened, but Bathgate could climb a position to third in the inaugural Superleague season with a victory.  There was some superb football on display throughout this match, much of it coming from Bathgate, but the finishing did not match the build up play and when it did it was matched by the Hawthorn keeper.  The breakthrough came midway through the first half when the Thistle full barks burst into the area was cynically stopped and the resulting penalty was despatched by the centre-forward.
Bathgate Thistle 1-0 Hill of Beath Hawthorn
Attendance: 101

______________________________________________________________

Saturday 24th May
White & MacKay East Region Superleague
Paties Road
Edinburgh United vs. Oakley United
 
There was nothing really to play for on this glorious day at Paties Road.  Oakley had already finished safely in midtable and Edinburgh had already been relegated to the Lothian Division 1.  Oakley started strongly and were ahead in three minutes when a low shot was drilled past the Edinburgh keeper.  The rest of the game was a dour midfield battle, Edinburgh couldn't break through the Oakley rearguard, who were happy to just hang on for the 1-0 victory.
 
Edinburgh United 0-1 Oakley United
Attendance: 50
 
Monday 26th May
Play Off Final
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Sheffield United vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers
 
The less said about this the better - everyone knows what happened!
 
Sheffield United 0-3 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Attendance: 69,473
 
Tuesday 27th May
International Challenge Match
Tynecastle
Scotland vs. New Zealand
 
This international thing is becoming a bit frequent, but when it only costs 10 and only takes 6 minutes 33 seconds to get from your front door to your seat then why not.  Tynecastle was about half full for this game with the Kiwis who had a fairly sizable support within the ground.  Scotland were the better team in the first half and McFadden and Devlin were causing particular problems down the wings.  Scotland took the lead in this period when DAILLY headed home a corner.  At this point it looked as tough Scotland would now cruise to an easy victory and they were having numerous chances, but couldn't add to their tally before half time.
 
In the second half New Zealand, 13 places above Scotland in the FIFA World rankings, came out a bit more positive.  Almost immediately NELSON touched home a free kick from point blank range to give the Kiwis the equaliser.  Now New Zealand got on top and really should have won the game when a slip from Hearts defender Steven Pressley let in the striker, but his shot was superbly saved by Celtic Keeper Rab Douglas.  New Zealand continued to play the better football, but Scotland should have won it when Kevin Kyle was handed the chance of the half, but saw his header well cleared off the line. 
 
Scotland 1-1 New Zealand
Attendance: 10,016
 
Monday 2nd June
Calders East of Scotland Junior Cup Final
Newbyres Park, Arniston Rangers FC
Musselburgh Athletic vs. Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic
 
There was a large crowd at Arniston to see who would win this all Lothian cup final.  Musselburgh of Division One took the game to their superleague opponents and were playing some superb stuff, and they were in front after only 5 minutes when a corner wasn't cleared and BRIGANE fired home.  Bonnyrigg responded not long after when a brilliant move culminated in a super cross from the left, this was headed back across goal and BAILEY headed it home with a diving header.  Musselburgh then scored twice in quick succession, firstly HALL beat the keeper with a low drive and then the goal of the game. A good break by Musselburgh was fired home by FORRESTER from the edge of the area into the roof of the net.
 
Bonnyrigg came out in the second half with all guns blazing, but it took them until the hour to pull a goal back when a ball across the face of goal was turned home by WATT.  Then they finally equalised with 15 minutes remaining with an almost identical goal this time it was inadvertently turned home by a Musselburgh defender.  In the remaining minutes of the half Musselburgh had a player sent off for an off the ball incident, the referee had to receive lengthy treatment which eventually saw him substituted and Musselburgh had a last minute free kick on the edge of the area which was dramatically blocked and so the game went to extra time with the scores poised at 3-3.
 
However it only took Bonnyrigg moments of the first half of extra time to force a corner, which was turned home by central defender MORRICE.  Musselburgh were then reduced to nine men for another niggly incident.  However Musselburgh now got on top and were playing by far the better football, but with only two men back they were always vulnerable on the break.  Musselburgh had a number of good moves, but couldn't break through Rose's superior numbers and Rose finally scored again in the dying seconds of extra time.  A ball over the top was picked up on the right wing and the ball was squared into the area, where the phrase 'queuing up to score' doesn't do the situation justice and it was left to BAILEY to score the fifth and claim the cup.
 
Musselburgh Athletic 3-5 Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic
Attendance: 500 approx

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16th April 2003
Station Park
White & Mackay East Region Juniors Lothian Division 2
Livingston United vs. West Calder United
Livingston United were one of the most successful teams in the junior game until Meadowbank Thistle arrived in the town and changed their name to Livingston FC.  Now United find themselves languishing in the bottom division of Junior football and their ground is in a state of disrepair. 
This was a game of little consequence except for local pride, with a number of supporters making the short trip from Calder.  In the first half Livingston did most of the running, but couldn't find a goal.  In the second half West Calder got on top and launched a number of promising attacks and they finally scored with a low shot from the edge of the area.  To compound their bad evening Livingston had a man sent off late in the game.
Livingston United 0-1 West Calder United
Attendance:60
 
30th April 2003
Hampden Park
International Challenge Match
Scotland vs. Austria
Now I know it isn't in my nature to attend games of this magnitude, but my full international debut at only double the price of watching Mossley (10) was an opportunity I couldn't turn down.  Hampden Park is very impressive as a stadium, but this was a perfect example of the sorry state of senior Scottish football, that for a full international match (on the cheap too!) the stadium wasn't even a quarter full.
As for the game itself Scotland were truly awful from start to end, but Austria played some nice stuff on the break.  Their first goal came from a cross from the right which was converted at the back post by the striker who was at full stretch.  The second followed shortly after, when a costly misunderstanding between defender and Goalkeeper gifted the Austrian striker an open goal which he gleefully accepted.  Austria continued to be the better team and should have scored more goals especially from two glaring opportunities late in the second half.
Scotland 0-2 Austria
Attendance: 12,189
 
3rd May 2003
Peffermill Sports Ground
East of Scotland League Division One
Edinburgh University vs. Ormiston
Yet another game which meant nothing, the University having already clinched the title and promotion to the Premier Division and Ormiston languishing in midtable obscurity.  The Ground itself is tucked away in the corner of the University playing fields and is nothing more than a rope around a pitch, however it is quite scenic being on the edge of the countryside.
The first half was a non event, but the second half exploded into action from the off, the University scored twice - firstly a low cross from the left was turned home and then a corner was headed home.  Ormiston hit back instantly when a defender misjudged the bounce of the ball and the striker nipped in and headed it over the advancing keeper. One of the Uni strikers then produced a moment of true class when he flicked the ball over the defence ran onto the ball and hit it sweetly on the volley into the far corner of the goal.  Ormiston however were still not finished and in the last minute scored again with a powerful shot that beat the keeper at his near post.
Edinburgh University 3-2 Ormiston
Attendance: 26
 
5th May 2003
Lochside Stadium
Abercorn Central League Division Two
Carluke Rovers vs. Royal Albert
This was my first experience of the Central league at one of it's most easterly outposts, some of the teams in this Junior region can command average crowds of over 500, but this was 2nd bottom vs. bottom of the bottom division.  Lochside Stadium has an Athletics track running round the pitch, but it was obviously built for the football club and has a large covered terrace running the entire length of one side of the pitch.
Royal Albert did most of the early running and took the lead when the striker capitalised on a defensive mistake.  However the home side levelled before the break.  In the second half the home side ran the show and scored three more before the away side were awarded a last minute penalty - but they missed and Carluke had completed an emphatic 4-1 win.
Carluke Rovers 4-1 Royal Albert
Attendance: 53
 
7th May 2003
Newbyres Park
Doug 'n' Al Cup Quarter Final
Arniston Rangers vs. Linlithgow Rose
I have no idea how this cup completion got its name, but it and (probably more importantly) the Junior Cup Finalists drew a large crowd to bitterly cold Newbyres Park.  Newbyres Park is a very typical Junior ground with covered standing on one side faced by the changing rooms, canteen etc on the other, oh yes and with a slope on the pitch, but it also has very good views towards the Pentland hills.
Arniston Rangers actually are above Rose in the East Superleague and started very well scoring after five minutes when a through ball was flicked on into the path of the striker who finished calmly under pressure from two defenders.  Linlithgow tried desperately to get back into the game to please their large travelling support, but were kept at arms length one way or the other by Rangers for the rest of the ninety minutes, sometimes illegally which lead to the sending off of a Rangers player late in the game, but they hung on to book their place in the next round.
Arniston Rangers 1-0 Linlithgow Rose
Attendance: 230
 
10th May 2003
Fernieside Recreation Ground
East of Scotland League Division One
Tollcross United vs. Dalbeattie Star
Tollcross was one of only two grounds in Edinburgh that I had yet to visit, and one couldn't have found a more important game.  Tollcross second bottom of the league were playing for pride alone, but Dalbeattie still had an opportunity to clinch promotion to the Premier Division. They had to win by 5 clear goals to dislodge Civil Service Strollers from second place in the table.
Surprisingly it was Tollcross who started the brighter and they were full of running.  Dalbeattie weren't seeing much of the ball, but when they did attack they looked dangerous and hit the bar after 20 minutes.  However Tollcross took the lead after a scramble in the penalty area and moments later they made it two when a superb ball over the top released the striker whose volley superbly sailed past the keeper into the far corner of the goal.  United were now running Star ragged and should have extended their lead but wasted a number of good opportunities just before the break.
Star came out after the break looking more determined, but for all their possession couldn't break through the rearguard of Tollcross.  All their pressing was finally rewarded when they pulled a goal back with ten minutes to go, then they found an equaliser minutes later and were now going all out attack, they again hit the woodwork and missed an absolutely golden opportunity from a corner when it seemed easier to score. 
Tollcross United 2-2 Dalbeattie Star
Attendance: 66
 
12th May 2003
Easter Road
East of Scotland Shield
Hibernian vs. Heart of Midlothian
There could not have been a more appropriate game for my first visit to Easter Road than an Edinburgh derby all be it in the East of Scotland Shield. The two teams put out a mixture of first teamers and U21's but the fare on offer was well worth the 3 entrance fee.  Hearts did most of the attacking, but lacked penetration up front.  It took a moment of genuine quality midway through the first half to open the scoring.  A loose ball was picked up in midfield by Hearts first teamer Scott SEVERIN, he made is way towards goal and from 25 yards sublimely chipped the keeper.  Hibs tried to get back into the game, but failed to create any chances and the trophy's destination was effectively sealed just before half time when another Hearts first teamer Andy KIRK scored from what looked like an impossible angle.  Hibs tried hard to get back into the game in the second half, but the game descended into a midfield battle, which Hearts controlled and easily hung on to lift the shield to the delight of the travelling support.
Hibernian 0-2 Heart of Midlothian
Attendance:  1,200
 
14th May 2003
Newbyres Park
Streamline Taxis Cup
Arniston Rangers vs. Linlithgow Rose 
There was a strange sense of deja vu about this game, but yes one week later the same teams faced each other on the same ground in an obscure cup competition.  At least this time it was a nice evening and it must have inspired Linlithgow as they put in a much improved performance.  They took the lead midway through the first half, the only other action of the first half was another Red Card for an Arniston Player.  This time Rose took advantage of the man extra and scored twice early in the second half.  Arniston gave themselves some hope of a comeback when they scored a headed goal with twenty minutes to go, but this time Linlithgow were victorious and sent their supporters home happy.
Arniston Rangers 1-3 Linlithgow Rose 
Attendance: 193