Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Edinburgh City v Gretna 2008 - East of Scotland League, Kings Cup 2nd Round

Wednesday 17th March 2010
East of Scotland League, Kings Cup 2nd Round
at Meadowbank Stadium, London Road, Edinburgh

Edinburgh City (1) 3 (Howat 2, Gair)
Gretna 2008 (0) 1 (Jeffery)

Admission £4, Programme £1
"Edinburgh. A city, the size of a town, that thinks it's a village."
Ian Rankin
I had to be a bit careful upon entering the Meadowbank Stadium tonight, once you've passed through the turnstile, you have to cross an artificial running track that runs beneath the grandstand to get to the stairs that lead up to the seats.
Tonight there was an athletics club practice meeting taking place in there and I didn't want any of those finely toned young ladies in their 'clima cool' tight fitting, aerodynamically designed running gear, crashing into me and falling on top of me in an undignified heap.
Nor did I want to get arrested if the temptation to take such a timely liaison to the next level didn't prove to be mutually convenient.
Anyway, here's a picture of the running track ... I know you're only interested in the football and facilities and wouldn't want to see pictures of pert little buttocks squeezed into running shorts.
I can remember 'back in t'olden days' when you had to look inside a ladies shorts to see her bottom, these days you have to look up her backside to see her shorts.
What is the world coming to!?
Turnstiles left, stairway to seats right, very fit women behind me and out of shot

Of course, when you get upstairs, into the cavernous stand, the pitch itself stands across another six lane running track and a sandpit, so the action is quite some distance away.
Just as well my eyesight is good and I haven't been perusing any other of the indoor track pictures I took yet then.
Kick off was delayed due to Gretna and their fans arriving slightly late because of congestion on the Edinburgh bypass caused by a car fire.
But the game got started at about 7.50PM and the hold up was nothing too major. Unless it happened to be your car of course.
Gretna 2008, are the reborn from the ashes, brand new version, of Gretna FC. The only team I had ever seen playing in competitive fixtures, home and away, against both Worksop Town and Hearts.
In actual fact, I've seen them play home and away in the UniBond League (v. Worksop Town x 2), home and away in the Scottish Football League (v. Berwick Rangers x 2), home and 'away' in the SPL (v. Hearts x 2) when they were ground sharing with Motherwell at Fir Park ... I even saw their last ever game as Gretna FC there (v. Hearts) and also saw them play at Hampden Park in the 2006 Scottish Cup Final (a game they lost on penalties to Hearts).
But this is the first time I've ever seen them play at Non League/Junior level in Scotland. I'm not counting the time I passed Fernieside Rec' on the bus to Hearts while Tynecastle FC v Gretna 2008 was taking place there (Tynecastle were taking a corner that the visitors keeper caught with ease as I recall).
After a short spell at the local athletics ground, the new club now play at Gretna's old ground, Raydale Park and seem to have picked up a good few of the original clubs followers, who from my experience have always been a very cheerful and sociable lot.
On fifteen minutes, City won a throw on the right wing, level with the penalty area.
It was launched into the mix and headed on across the six yard box, where Andy Howat was waiting to firmly plant an header into the visitors goal.
The crowd went wil ... err, there was a polite ripple of applause that might even have been audible out in the swirling wind on the dim and distant field of play.
It seems the floodlights at Meadowbank were designed more for running events and as a consequence the track is infinitely better lit than the pitch itself.
Before half time, Edinburgh City blasted a close range shot over, Gretna had an effort saved just under the bar and a Gretna defender cleared a goal bound effort off his line with just moments to spare.
I bet all those suckers who were sat in the nice warm pub just up the hill watching Barcelona on TV weren't enjoying this much excitement.
Gretna (in blue) defend an Edinburgh City (in white) corner, obviously!
In the second half, Edinburgh City threatened to run riot.
Their new signing Howat fired home his second from inside the box, tonight was only his second game for the 'Citizens' after signing from Bonnyrigg Rose, he scored a goal on his debut against Coldstream too.
And then Dougie Gair ran on to a defence splitting through ball to whack home a third goal for the home side.
Edinburgh then had a penalty saved (Howat took it in an attempt to reach his hat trick) and missed a virtually open goal within the space of a minute.
Then Gretna added to their own problems when defender Dean Rea got himself red carded for fouling the last man as City mounted yet another attack. The attacker was ... a bloody long way away and I couldn't make out his number.
Then, just as Gretna appeared to be completely capitulating, they hoofed a left wing free kick into Edinburgh's area that David Jeffrey leapt, like a salmon, to reach ... and he headed home a consolation goal.
Such is life.
It's these ironic little sub plots that make football the grand old game it is.

As I left Meadowbank the temperature was plummeting.
And I was very grateful to see my bus approaching the stop that stands just outside the ground.
Night buses in the city can at times resemble a mental asylum on wheels, but I didn't care about that, regardless of who was already on the bus, I would be warm and on the way to my temporary bed, via a piping hot supper I'd defrosted 'specially earlier on.
I love it when a plan comes together.
A windswept, elderly man approached me on the bus, he was quite unkempt and looked slightly psychotic.
"Hey Rob" he growled "Do ya know who got the Gretna goal late on there?"
"Err ... yes mate. It was David Jeffrey" I nervously replied.
He pulled out a notebook and pencil and recorded the information.
Then went back to his seat without uttering another word.
Phew! For a minute there, though I'm still slightly nonplussed as to how the hell he knew my real name (Ian Midloth is actually a pseudonym), I was quite relieved.
I thought he might have been some sad, lonely nutter for a minute.
Heaven forbid there might be any such characters prowling out n' about in the vicinity of London Road, EH7, on a night such as this, eh!?