Saturday, 8 June 2013

Auchinleck Talbot 3 v Hurlford United 0, Evening Times SJFA League Champions Cup Final.

Saturday 8th June, 2013
at Newlandsfield Park, Newlands, Glasgow, home of Pollok FC
Scottish Junior Football Association,
Evening Times League Champions Cup Final.
Auchinleck Talbot (2) 3
Ray Montgomery 22, 27
Scott McGlip OG 79
Hurlford United (0) 0
Hurlford United's John Craig sent off 55 minutes
Admission £6, Programme £2, Attendance 783
Left click images for enlarged versions.
An all Ayrshire final, played between the SJFA West Region Premier Division champions Auchinleck Talbot and West Region First Division champions Hurlford United.
'The Bot', as today's winning team are quaintly known, completed an impressive treble, with a comfortable win, on a gloriously sunny afternoon in Glasgow; having also won the Scottish Junior Cup last week, when they beat Linlithgow Rose 1-0 in the final, at Almondvale, the home of Livingston FC.
In Scotland, the term 'Junior' football does not relate to the age of players. It's the equivalent of what we in Englandshire, would refer to as 'Non League', i.e. not senior level, a la Premier League and Football League.
Football for youngsters, north of the border, is generally known as 'Youth' (up to Under-19) or 'Juvenile' (from Under 19 to Under-21 level) football.
Urgh! What have I stood in?
Pretty much as expected, Auchinleck dominated the game for the most part and were too strong for a Hurlford side who had very sportingly, given double winners Talbot a guard of honour as they came out on to the pitch.
United's manager, Derek McCollough summed it up after the game thus: "Today we were up against the best Junior side in Scotland and it's a tough task. Talbot are a real machine".
The Premier Division champions, inevitably took the lead on 22 minutes, when Mick McCann created an opportunity for Ray Montgomery to open the scoring via the upright.
And five minutes later, the same 'McCann, Montgomery and via the upright' combination struck again, the put Auchinleck firmly in control.
Hurlford tried their utmost to get back into the game, but they barely troubled Andy Leishman in the Talbot goal. Possibly the occasion got to a couple of the United players, because once or twice they resorted to rushing attempts on goal rather than taking a few seconds to weigh up their options, when it was apparent that clear cut chances against their dominant opponents would be few and far between.
HT - Auchinleck Talbot 2 v Hurlford United 0
I'm not sure exactly how many supporters Hurlford had in the ground, though there were a few dozen quite outspoken and vociferous ones stood close to us on the covered terrace side of the ground during the second half ... but I'd estimate that at least three quarters of the crowd was made up of Auchinleck supporters ... and all but a couple of people in the Pollok FC Social Club prior to the game seemed to be 'Bot' fans too.
Ten minutes into the second half, any short lived hopes 'The Ford' held of getting back into the game, all but vanished without a trace, when their number 11, John Craig, was shown a straight red card for a foul on Stephen White. 
Some of the Hurlford fans, vented their frustrations at the referee and his assistant on the near touchline; saying that the sending off had killed the game as a spectacle. 
It probably had, but it wasn't the match officials who were to blame. 
I wouldn't be so as generous to say that they got everything right all afternoon, but it wasn't the referee who caught Stephen White with his studs up, was it!?
At several recent games, I've seen some prime examples of teams upping their game when they've been reduced to ten men, but today alas, Auchinleck were far too strong to be undone by the remaining Hurlford players applying more effort to compensate for their numerical disadvantage.
With just over ten minutes remaining, Kyle Faulds whipped a low cross over from the right hand side of the penalty area and Hurlford defender Scott McGlip diverted the ball into his own net.
Effectively that killed the game off and Auchinek Talbot cantered home until the final whistle. 
Game over.
FT - Auchinleck Talbot 3 v Hurlford United 0
Though both of my travelling companions today, are definitely what I'd call hard core ground hoppers, I'm still standing by my claim, that I am actually not one. I'm a football fan, who just happens to visit quite a lot of different grounds.
But by now, I know that is starting to sound a bit like like an "I'm not gay but my boyfriend is" type alibi.
For the record, he might be, but I'm not!
A great day all told, in good company ... and by way of a bonus, that nice Mr Picken from Scotter, took us to The Agricultural Hotel, an excellent pub in Penrith, on the way back. 
Top man!
And I was home in plenty of time for a big home cooked supper with my good lady too. 
She does have her uses after all ;-)
By rule of thumb, when I collate my complete total of games per season list, I usually count May 31st as the cut off point. 
Whereby anything up to and including that date, is where I stop for one season and anything after then counts towards the following season's total. 
However, seeing as this was the conclusion to Auchinleck Talbot and Hurlford United's 2012-13 campaign, I'm going to flout that rule this time around. 
Rules scmules! n' all that.
But, this game actually, genuinely and ...err, possibly is, my last of the 2012-13 season.
Roll on the pre-season friendlies in July.