28 October 2007

The Rose Go Marching on

Well the Scottish Junior Cup holders are making the most of the new set up for the Scottish Cup.

Following up their 6-0 win down at Newton Stewart in the first round Linlithgow Rose took on East of Scotland League side Spartans. Spartans are no slouches in the Scottish Cup. In 2005-6 they beat league sides Berwick Rangers and Queen's Park (sadly not at Hampden) before holding St. Mirren (who went on to promotion to the SPL) to a goalless draw at home before losing at Love Street. And in 2003-4 they claimed the scalps of Alloa and Arbroath before losing out to returning former tenants of their City Park ground Livingston who were at that time in the SPL who were heading to the Semi-Finals and CIS Cup win that season.

But the Junior Cup holders didn't show any fear for one of the regular giant killers of recent years. Instead they carried out their own act of giant killing. For it was the home side that lifted the crowd at Prestonfield when Bradley scored in the 24th minute. A lead they maintained until the half time break, when the result earned almost as big a cheer as the Dunfermline losing scoreline announcement at fellow West Lothian side Livingston's ground.

In the second half Spartans did strike back on 54 minutes with a penalty strike by McLeod. But t he little teams lead was restored 4 minutes later when Donnolly scored their second. With just over 10 minutes to go Rose then killed the game off with two strikes in just over a minute from Tyrell and Hogg.

Linlithgow Rose make it into Saturday's draw when big local rivals Livingston of the Iron Bru Scottish Football League Division join many of the other SFL teams in the draw.

22 October 2007

After a weekend of sporting disaster

As a Scottish member of the BoSox nation, for those not au fait with Baseball that is what us fans of the Boston Red Sox are known as, I had a sleepless night last night.

Game 7 of the American League Championship Series fell on Five's normal Sunday scheduled basball night. So having recovered from 3-1 down during the week to take the series to the deciding game us UK fans were guaranteed at least one more look at the Green Monster, an iconic 37 foot high wall, at Boston's Fenway Park for this year. The Sox starting well getting the first hitter in each of the first 3 innings unto base and scoring a run as a result. However, two double plays (that is a hit that results in two men getting out) helped keep the Cleveland Indians in it as many runners were left on base. At the same time Boston's Japanese Starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka retired the entire Cleveland team in order for no hits.

The Middle three innings saw Cleveland fight back with two runs scoring. But there also controversy in the fifth when after collecting the ball off the Green Monster in his ungloved hand, fired it to second base, where the umpire ruled that Kenny Lofton had been tagged out by Dustin Pedroia. TV replays showed that the tag did not occur until after Lofton's left hand was securely on the bag.

However, after a solid defensive game and series by both teams the errors started to happen in the final third. An error by shortstop Julio Lugo allowed Kenny Lofton to finally make it to second base. From there he set off when Franklin Gutierrez hit a line drive down the third base line, but it ricocheted off the photo boxes and out into the outfield where Manny Ramirez was bearing down on the ball. Lofton was held up. But Japanese reliever Hideki Okajima got out of his own mess without allowing Cleveland to trouble to scoreboard operator.

The bottom half of the inning again saw Pedroia take centre stage. After Casey Blake possibly worried about Jacoby Ellsbury's pace allowed the rookie to ease to second base when he should have been held at first, up stepped Pedroia. Relief pitcher Rafael Betancourt, after giving up his first hit of the series to Ellsbury, then could only watch as Pedroia leaned back and let one rip up into the first row of the Monster seats, the smallest man in the game had come up with the biggest hit.

There was more to come in the bottom of the eighth when first Kevin Youkilis fired a homer which hit the Coke bottle part of an advertisement over the Green Monster for a home run double. Before Perroia followed up with the bases loaded to hit a drive through the centre to score three more. Making the final score 11-2, if the Red Sox repeat their World Series win of 2004, which wiped out the Curse of the Bambino, in the year that 4 time winning manager Joe Torres walks from fierce Divisional rivals the New York Yankees many hope it is the start of a transfer of power in the AL East, that might last as long as the curse.

21 October 2007

Football Stadia Tour 1: Dens Park

I've returned to my blogging just in time for the second quarter of the season in the Iron Bru Scottish Football League Division 1. So maybe this is an opportune time to start my personal take on the various venues that I come across on my travels. For the rest of this season there will be nowhere new to visit as the first quarter including the cup games has taken me to the strange fields once before.

Therefore this weeks venue was Dens Park home to Dundee.


As any football trivia buff will know Dundee's Dens Park is just along Tannadice street from Tannadice home of Dundee United. And therefore is one half to the trivia question which two league grounds are closest in the UK. In fact as away fans are located in the Bob Shankly stand, the end closest to Tannadice much supporters coaches catch sight of Dundee United's stadium first before they see Dens Park once they turn the corner into Tannadice street.

Getting to the ground cars and coaches are best to take the ring road and then come off down either Clepington Road or Strathmartine Road to get in towards the stadium. Unfortunately is two miles uphill from Dundee's railway station, so for a visiting fan who is looking after their carbon footprint the best option really is to grab a seat on one of your visiting clubs supporters coaches, as unless you can work out the bus timetables you'd be relying on getting a taxi up from the station.

Although with the ongoing work to the Forth Road Bridge, we spent 25 minutes on our coach staring toll booths before getting to them, 18 of which were on the roundabout on the approach from Kirkliston, so we turned up only 15 minutes before kick off.

The Ground

As already mentioned the away fans are housed in the Bob Shankly stand behind the eastern goal and is a single tier. There is dedicated wheelchair seating at entrance level with a companion seat beside the wheelchairs' slots. Which yesterday afternoon gave us a brilliant view of Dundee's spectacular first goal by Bob Davidson a screamer from 30 yards into the top right hand corner. The late evening sun at this time of year did start to get in our eyes towards the end of the match, so much so that I was considering urging Dundee Council to move one of the tower blocks, to the south of the stadium, slightly further east to act as a sunshade.

Opposite behind the other goal is the nearly identical twin to the Shankly Stand the Bobby Cox stand. To the right as away fans view the pitch is the Main (North) Stand, which is unusual in that it is the one section that remains of the old oval ground, meaning that those who sit on the halfway line are actually furthest away from the action on the park. It is two tiered however, there are very few seats in the lower tier, with the majority being in the upper tier.

That leaves the Southern Enclosure known locally as the Derry. Nobody has yet explained coherently to me exactly how this stand came to be known by the name of the city of my father, outwith the connection to a sectarian style chant that has had the words altered subtlety from the original Loyalist connotations. This though is where the most vocal Dundee supporters congregate in what was the last terrace; the Derry Boys and Dark Blue 62 Ultras.

The Atmosphere

Fortunately the design of the two goal end stands does add to the atmosphere as the ability to make a great deal of noise is greatly enhanced. As my previous visit was for the CIS Cup game that went to penalties this was definitely the case in a tense tight game. As with many grounds the vocal home support is close to the away support which adds to the atmosphere as the banter does flow between the two adjoining sections.

The Programme

Cost £2. Had four pages dedicated to the visitors profiles. As well as a four page interview with one of the home players. The centre was the season stats section. With a great deal more stats than some other clubs include. There is a collector's section which this week featured the 1947 Great Britain versus Europe programme from Hampden Park.

Pie and Bovril

There is a bridie or macaroni pie available. But I went for the steak and gravy pie to accompany my bovril, cost £2.10 + £1.50. The steak in the pie was gorgeously tender, the crust was cooked just right and wasn't too thick or burnt, and the gravy while hot wasn't scalding, excellent fayre. However, by Bovril wasn't warm enough so I'm quite glad it wasn't really the depths of winter when I rely on it as much to warm my hands as my insides.


Admission = £16
Programme = £2
Pie and Bovril = £3.60
Total = £21.60

Match Report

Livingston started strongest and could have been up even before Czech Thomas 'Tam' Pesir scored in the 14th minute but Kenny Sampson had pulled off a spectacular save. Livingston continued to dominate even though Bob Davidson released his spectacular equaliser 6 minutes later. However, a combination of poor finishing and more saves from Sampson, some of which a poacher might have leapt on as they bounced free from the keeper, kept the scores level at half time.

At the start of the second half Livingston continued to have the lions share of territory, possession and chances. But shots seemed to be nowhere on target. Then Jan Zemlik got on the end of a move started by Dixon who found McDonald in the box who laid it off for the second Czech to beat Mariusz 'Super Mario' Liberda in the Livi goal.

The third Dundee goal came seven minutes late in the 68th minute and was a second for Davidson, who made a run across the penalty box. It was clear from the away end that he pulled on Dermot 'Des' McCaffrey's shirt in order to get past him to get his shot in, but the goal was allowed to stand effectively killing of the game as a contest. Five minutes later it was as Derek Lyle on a a substitute for Zemlik made it 4 for the home team. Although there were calls for offside and protests after the goal from Livingston.

Final Score Dundee 4 (Davidson 20, 68, Zemlik 61, Lyle 73) Livingston 1 (Pesir 14)

Effect on the relative teams' positions. Dundee remain in 2nd Livingston remain 8th.