Back to Forthbank, the home of Stirling Albion and Stirling University and in the top few “coldest I’ve been” football grounds. I’ll be takin my friended Gordon and perhaps my dad if I can track him down. I wasn’t going to go to this one, Christmas party at work last night but I only had a couple of pints be fore the drowsy ness of a long day set in so I substituted beer for Spanish ham, pizza and waffles...... first thing to do today’s though is head off back to work to pick up the car. We got a taxi home last night, 6 mile trip and £25! (Well £23.45. But keep the change). I’m sure the last time I got a taxi it was about a tenner. That may have been about 15 years ago though....
A lift into work to collect the car and tidy up a bit before heading home and getting an all day breakfast at the cafe in the village starts the day off. I’ll meet Gordon at my folks about 1pm and head to Stirling. It should only take just over an hour so we should be there in plenty of time. There’s ample parking at Forthbank stadium and I would expect the crowd to be less than a Stirling Albion game.
So my dad wasn’t allowed out. Too cold for him so my mum said. To be fair it was cold and it got colder as the game went on. The rain was pretty torrential on the drive to and from the game, a bit of sleet on the way back too along with a mystery tour because I was following the Satnav and missed a few junctions......
we had the chances but again we failed to take them. It’s annoyingly frustrating. Take a bloody shot. Stop pissing about on the edge of the box or down by the corner flag. A bit of direct play is required. We need a striker. Yaw isn’t cutting it. I don’t like to criticise but he’s simply not good enough, his positioning is dreadful, his first touch isn’t improving and his shooting (when he dose) is pretty woeful. Why is he standing on the touch line inside his own half? Get up the bloody front. Why are you taking throw ins? Get up the bloody front. Why are you on the wing crossing a ball in? Get up the bloody front! I think you get the picture here. If you think you’ve been fouled but the ref doesn’t think so and play is not stopped get on your bloody feet and chase the game. Don’t sit on your ass on the grass looking around, nothing’s going to happen. I honestly could have played better at his age, I didn’t take football seriously but at least I could hit the ruddy goals. It’s too late now though, I’m too old and I’m still in recovery from my back injury so Berwick will never see the majesty of “the rubber hammer” as they used to call me.... oh and I could pass a ball too, something that I never though was actually a skill but it turns out it’s actually something that people struggle with. Yes I was playing at a lower level but putting the ball into the box doesn’t change, I always put it where it was to go, never hammered over the top past the opposite corner flag or hoofed upfront a like a cannonball that nobody had a chance to collect. I was predominantly a left back too!
The really frustrating thing is that we pretty much dominated but done nothing with it. Stirling won a free kick and slung it into the box and within the congestion at the rear post the ball was in the net. We have some decent players but I fear they will now start giving up, it must be frustrating for them too. Lewis Barr put in a great shift again. I think he should be given a chance upfront a striker. I think he would work well there given the chance, what we currently have isn’t working and I don’t think anybody would complain if he was moved upfront for a game or two. Another narrow defeat full of promise but no points.
Civil service strollers next week and I doubt I’ll go. It going to be cold and the prospect of navigating Edinburgh on the last weekend before Christmas doesn’t appeal to me. I’m not a city boy and hate driving in them. There are also very few seats (for my dad) and the seats often have an obstructed view because they are at ground level and people stand at the railing in front of them (from the internet). I also don’t expect Berwick to beat them. I will be at the following two games that are both at home though but my dad will be at home for these two. His next game (weather permitting) will probably be Berwick v East Kilbride on the 25th of January.
A short one this week, busy weekend wrapping up what seems like a million Christmas presents and all the running about that Christmas drops on the doorstep
It was a. trip down with my dad for this game with a boot full of Christmas presents for my wife’s family who are in Berwick. A Santa run for the day. Once that was sorted it was to Foulis in Tweedmouth for the all day breakfast before heading to Shielfield. Hospitality was booked for this game but I would also be cameraman too. Alan doesn’t get anywhere near enough credit for this. Recording the game takes you out of it somewhat, not able to interact with anybody really. Watching. The game on a tiny screen. He then does the editing too. So thanks Alan for all the effort. It’s very much appreciated.
Berwick are fielding a smaller pool of players at the moment due to various injuries but had the ex Berwick player Darren Smith was in the squad as a trialist. Manager Ian Little commented “We are delighted to have brought Darren back to Berwick. With his experience and calmness on the pitch we think he will be an outstanding addition to help our young squad. He will also play a big part in our backroom staff and will certainly bring a lot of qualities to the club”. Gretna took the lead in the first half after a defensive mixup saw Berwick’s keeper fumble the shot from the Gretna number 9 to make it 1-0. Berwick equalised in the first half when a penalty for handball was confidently dispatched by Ricky Miller to level the game. Halftime 1-1.
Berwick dominated the second half pushing for the win and creating many chances that they were unable to convert. Gretna threatened on occasion but the Berwick defence soaked up the pressure.
Darren Smiths introduction at halftime seemed to be the experience the young Berwick squad were needing and Smith scored the winner with a looping ball into the top corner after cutting inside and beating two players to secure 3 valuable points for Berwick. Smith signed for the club after the game to become a Berwick player once more having left Berwick in 2005.
Full time 2-1.
Berwick next opponents will be an away game to Stirling University.
It was a trip down of the Friday for this one. My dad tucked up at home. I was unsure if the game would go ahead anyway, it was so cold. My wife was due to be marshalling a race for Tweed striders on the Sunday morning so were we’re planning on staying over anyway. This was a fixture free Saturday but the BSC game was a midweek postponement. I had various things to do in Berwick, visit the foodbank to drop off some selection boxes (40 of them), visit B.A.R.K to drop stuff off there (they were shut but I’ll try next week) and also dropping off some money for Berwick Cancer cars. I also picked up a barrel of beer from Bear Claw brewery for a Christmas party at work. A busy weekend.
I was expecting a hiding, damage limitation but we actually put up a decent performance. Sadly we still lost though and we are hovering around the bottom of the table. A place we don’t need to be. The game started with the ref requesting a kit change. The BSC fan I was talking to couldn’t understand what the ref was doing requesting a change of kits. BSC playing in their home kit (yellow) and Berwick in their away kit (green) was requested. There would have been no clash with BSC in Blue (their away) or yellow (their home) and Berwick in Black and Gold as far as I could see.
Anyway, kickoff time and in the 13th minute we have a straight red card. Puzzled faces all round, even the BSC fans were left wondering what happened. The ref had been ok up to that point, missed a few things that others might have picked up but that’s the nature of the game. We held on to end the half 0-0 and we put in a reasonable show to be fair. We are not where we want to be, that’s a given but we looked better than last week.
So the next step after a red card is usually for Berwick to give away a penalty (not related to the red card I might add) and we did just that. BSC score and we were left chasing the game. The ref was losing it a bit now though, decisions sliding on both sides. The BSC manager having a screaming match about an offside decision. The ball hit the ref twice and he never halted play, once took a deflection that lead to a dangerous BSC attack. BSC had a man sent off for dissent with about 10 minutes to go. A double yellow. Quite harsh I felt (although happy to see it as a Berwick fan to perhaps give us a chance at an equaliser). The ref couldn’t get the second yellow out of his pocket quickly enough.
Again points dropped though, another week of almost but almost doesn’t put points on the board. Next up Gretna 2008 at Shielfield. Gretna are sitting below us on 6 points to our 12. Surely we must add another 3 point on Saturday. The game should go ahead as the temperature is rising throughout the coming week and no rain is forecast.
I’ll be in Hospitality for that game and also on cameraman duties, so it will be a quick cup of tea at halftime for me then.
Well I done my prep work for this one, contacted East Stirling to ask about disabled parking and got a swift reply. Turns out the reply was wrong though and we were parked at the wrong side. Luckily it wasn’t busy and we managed to get parked closer to the open turnstile. I did ask a guy who was shutting a gate where we should go and the turnstile we were waiting at was the one he said, eventually I even went to reception and was told the same. We saw people disappearing down the other end so I went to investigate and found the open turnstile. A bit of signage wouldn’t go amiss. Still we manage to get in and let’s face it, we weren’t going to be short of a place to sit.....
It was myself, my dad and my friend Gordon for this one. Raining and cold we settled down for the game armed with teas and bovril. I have no idea what arrangements East Stirling have with Falkirk regarding ground sharing but you wouldn’t know East Stirling played there, there was nothing that I saw to indicate it from the outside. Inside there was a stand for merchandise though and program sellers, halftime draw tickets etc and more of a feeling that East Stirling were represented.
I was thinking we would get stuffed here and well, we did. 3-1. We gave away a penalty (couldn’t really work out what happened) and we were chasing the game. A cracking Header from Miller saw us go in at halftime 1-1 and some optimism for the second half though. I though we could actually go on and get another goal. What happened in reality is we collapsed. Overplaying passes, good runs forward but with nobody in support was particularly frustrating to see. We had chances but we didn’t take them. We are still scared to shoot. It’s becoming insanely frustrating to watch passes around the edge of the box where we ultimately lose possession. When the 3rd goal went in late one we upped and left. There could only have been a minute to go but my dad said “right, that’s enough” so off we went home in the lashing rain and wind.
We have some reasonable players (Miller surely must have done enough already to win all the end of season awards) but there’s something obviously not right. 13 games played and 12 points. Next up BSC Glasgow at Shielfield and I can’t see us picking up 3 points against them. I would dearly like to though.
A cold and wet Tuesday night and I was in Kelty with my dad. It’s not too far away from us so I had to go but I wasn’t expecting much from the game. We arrived in plenty of time as usual but shunned the disabled parking bays for other ones that were much closer to the entrance. Parking is in the community centre so the bays are really designed for them. The rain was coming down and the temperature dropping. We had a chat with a couple of Kelty fans and bought some programs and halftime draw tickets. A Bovril for my dad and a cup of tea for me and then off to the stand for a seat. A charge of £1 to access the seated stand seems a bit odd, it was the same at Cove Rangers last year. I didn’t know what size of crowd would be there so early arrival is crucial to get a seat for my dad. He doesn’t look as bad as he actually is at walking, he hides a fair bit but he’s 82 and needs a seat.
Well it was a 4-0 loss in the end but it was a funny game. Kelty has us under pressure for most of the game and we did have a few breaks but nothing came of them. Kelty are a good team but they aren’t unbeatable. We needed more composure and we were very lucky not to have a bucketful of cards for the pulling, pushing and poor tackles that we put in. It wasn’t a “bad” match but we looked a little run off our feet and some poor passing saw us lose possession far too easily. The team held their shape much better than the Friday night Spartans game. I didn’t come away disappointed, there was some good work by the team but it now really needs to kick in. It’s been a bit too long now that we have been showing glimpses. We need to turn these glimpses into more.
Miller put in another good performance as did Balde but we came away out of the cup on a cold freezing night with the next game away to East Stirling looking like it will be pointless given their form.
A good striker who holds their position would make a massive difference (on everybody’s wish list I would imagine), a couple of wingers wouldn’t go amiss either. We are still afraid to take a shot and would rather put the ball wide for a high cross into the box. It’s not as if we are specialists in the crossing/heading a goal area so a shot would be just as effective and there’s a greater chance of a deflection, handball, keeper spilling it etc. I’m not suggesting that’s all we do but it’s frustrating when we have a player in a position to shoot and the ball goes wide nearly every time. We seem to be frustratingly close to pulling off a win but it’s just not happening. Hopefully soon it will though.
An early start for this one. A Supporters Trust meeting at 11am means leaving the house at around 7:30am and collecting my dad just before 8am before heading to Berwick. It would be myself, my dad, my brother and his wife at the game my wife and dog coming to Berwick with us but not attending the match. My brother and his wife having headed down to Berwick on Friday. I had hospitality booked and hoping that the game wouldn’t be off because of the rain. (It wasn’t.....).
Plenty of rain on the way down but the game was still on. Family dropped off in Spittal and off the Shielfield for the Trust meeting. A change of venue from the pilot inn but much easier to get parked. The meeting was a bit longer than expected but there were a few things to discuss. I’m the new membership secretary and still have a few things to sort out but I’m getting there. Bill the previous secretary had a comprehensive set of documents that I need to tweak (update addresses etc) and it looks like the bank have finally granted me access to the account to check payments (the biggest stumbling block).
Trust meeting finished it was off to collect the troops (dog included) and head to the leaping salmon for lunch. Cheap and cheerful but with the usual mixup (chicken sub ordered, chicken club arrives but obviously we say nothing because it’s not worth the hassle). Lunch finished and it’s off the Shielfield.
We arrive, usual stuff can of coke and watch the first half of the Scotland game on the tv, buy half time draw tickets etc. Then outside to watch the game.
I actually won the £200 Black and Gold bond prize at half time (money will be going to Berwick cancer cars).
Well it was a 4-0 victory to Berwick at the end of the game. The first half however was dreadful. Miller scored a penalty late in the first half to east the pressure but it was a pretty poor performance. The second half however saw a different team emerge scoring early in the half with a great cross into the box that Osei nodded in at the back post. Chalmers scored the third from close range, poking in the ball. Late on in the second half Miller scored the second penalty of the game (couldn’t tell why we got the penalty though). A crucial 3 points that we desperately need to build on. An interruption in the league next as it’s away to Kelty Hearts in the football nations cup on Tuesday night. (Kelty won 7-1 today).
Well I headed to the Spartans game in the end. It turned into a bit of an Epic journey. Heavy traffic on the Edinburgh bypass saw me arriving at Dunbar at 5:20. I had arranged to get a lift from Dunbar but my plan was to get to Berwick and drop off Ruth and Pippa then head back to Dunbar. That never happened so I stopped at Dunbar and Ruth drove to Berwick and back to Dunbar later to collect me. There was an nasty accident on the A1 Northbound (we saw lots of flashing blue lights going past) that delayed several Berwick fans and officials. Even the return journey saw us thwarted by roadworks in Edinburgh that sprung up while we were at the game. I had had a very long day of it and was looking forward to getting a result at Spartans. Hopeful as always......
This is going to be short again, the game was pretty poor. It was blooming cold and we were pretty lacking as a team. The first half was a turgid affair, we were on top for perhaps 15 minutes (on top for Berwick anyway) but again a complete lack of shots on goal. Pass, pass, pass lose possession. There’s also the constant crossing, pass from the edge of the box to the corner to put a cross in to be cleared. It’s not working just take a ruddy shot! Now I’m writing this on Saturday evening and I’ll post it when I get home on Sunday but right now I can’t remember if Spartans scored one the first half or the second! I can’t be bothered looking it up I was so disappointed in the result and the performance. We never really looked threatening. Aaron Murrell the ex Berwick player from a couple of seasons ago netted for Spartans after a defensive error that saw Spartans take all 3 points.
We do have a few decent players but it’s not enough and I fear they will soon start letting their game slip when others either can’t or won’t raise theirs. We are desperate for points, it’s getting a little embarrassing now. I appreciate it’s a young squad but something needs to happen. We are up against BSC Glasgow on Tuesday night (I won’t be at that one) and Vale of Leithen on Saturday at home (I’ll be at that one) followed by league leaders Kelty Hearts on the following Tuesday (I’ll be there too). We must take points from these league games, Kelty will be difficult but it’s a cup game but the other two games surely?
It's a visit to Caledonian Braves in Strathclyde Country Park that's next for me and my dad (writing this on the Friday) I'm fully expecting a win here. We have no chance of winning the league but we need to put points on the board. It's a young squad that we have and they are playing reasonably well together but we are just that little bit short. There's only so many games we can narrowly miss out on. We need to take charge and gather points.
We have another few midweek games coming up too that break the flow somewhat but with some empty Saturdays in the calendar (I'm not quite sure how the fixtures are arranged). I miss the regular Saturday games, I can't get to midweek games easily but I will be able to make the Kelty Hearts cup game on the 19th of November, I'll take my dad to that and probably my friend Gordon too.
As per usual we arrived in plenty of time and today’s lunch provided by Big Al’s diner. The burger an in the car park. The food was alright and the guy serving asked me to keep an eye on the place and make sure nothing burns as he had to nip to the toilet....
We sat in the car eating lunch and watched an episode of still game on the screen in the car. Then into the “stadium” for the game. It’s a soulless stadium with the constant noise of the motorway behind the stand(s). It felt like the sort of place you turn up to for a kids football birthday party. I counted around 60 fans and around 40 of them were Berwick fans. There were a few others in the ground, cameraman etc. It was quiet and a quite a dull place to visit in the middle of nowhere. The two small stands were decent though. It’s a difficult task to establish yourself as a football team in that area and attract fans. There’s a lot of competition with Motherwell and and Hamilton close by and the attraction of the Glasgow teams. There’s also a number of Junior teams in towns like Bellshill that you have to compete with. A tough thing to do but best wishes to them. Let’s hope they can build a better fan experience as they grow.
This section is getting harder to write as the weeks go on. I really should leave it to later in the week but it may never get done then.
The performance in the first half from both teams saw them trot off to the dressing room 0-0. There was a delay to kick off of about 5mins but I have no idea why. Neither team looked like they were at their best and I though it would be one of those games that 1 goal would win it.
The second half saw us score a cracking free kick. Straight to the top right hand corner. Braves equalised with a good goal from the edge of the box, we gave the player too much room though. We went up 2-1 after their defender nodded a pass back over the top of the keeper who was coming out to gather it. It looked like it was going in but Lewis Barr was there to guide it home. There was also a shout for a penalty for Berwick in the second half but it wasn’t given.
The heavens opened and the rain poured down. The floodlights casting shadows and making it difficult to see, they went the best but the rain didn’t help matters. We were stuck in our own half for the last 5 minutes plus what seemed like and awful lot of extra time (even a minute seems like 10 when you are pushed back defending). This is when Braves scored. We took our eye off the ball and concentration dropped. It was pretty much the last kick of the ball that the Braves put home to end the game 2-2.
We did score a cracking free kick but we were gifted the second and again unable to hold on to the end to secure 3 points. Next up away to Spartans on Friday night. It’s looking unlikely I’ll be at that one.
A long weekend in Berwick for this game so no dad with me. I did take him to East Fife v Forfar last Saturday and into Hospitality for that game so he was happy enough with that. A tour of a East Fife’s ground, trophy room etc, 3 course lunch and refreshments at halftime too. £45 and worth it for a day out. Some of the other clubs hospitality offers are far more expensive and not worth bothering with in my opinion.
I was on turnstile duty for this game, offering my services to cover when needed. It’s a much simpler gig when it’s £10 entry rather than £12. No messing about with fivers and pound coins running dangerously low. Most fans pay with a tenner and those that pay with a twenty get a tenner back. Easy. The hardest part is working the old cast iron turnstile and waiting for the stragglers who arrive at 3:15pm. It was blooming cold too. Hat and gloves were the order of the day.
The game was a bit of a well, boring one in the first half. We yet again seemed incapable of taking a shot. When we did have a couple in the first half the keeper spilled it and we were close and a thunderous effort off the bar. We did go 1 up though. A shot off the bar/post/keeper/shot/own goal/not an own goal. Saw us end the half in front.
The second half was a much better spell seeing us score a further 2 goals! Both good well worked goals that my brain is struggling to remember the details of.... the second goal as I recall was a shot that the keeper saved high but pushed out to the side and the resulting header went in. Dalbeattie weren’t a particularly threatening team but a 3-0 victory was more than welcome. The next game is on Tuesday night in a cup game that has carried over from last season? I doubt I’ll be down for that. It’s a bit of a trek on what will no doubt be a cold Tuesday night. Next up for me will be a trip with my dad to Caledonian Braves on Saturday.
I have around 70 travel mugs from a student event looking for a home. I’m going to try homeless charities as a suitable home. They should be ideal for that sort of thing. They are branded with the American Express logo but I don’t think that matters. They are all brand new unused mugs.
There is one damaged one, it escaped the box and hit every single step on the way down the stairs at work, bounced off the wall at the landing and made its way down the rest of the stairs. It did crack but they are pretty strong.