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.
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.
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.
So up next is Tranent juniors, a tough team to beat. Berwick are in the Lowland league, it’s where we are and we’ve not started well but this is a cup game and I’m looking for a decent cup run here but Tranent will be no pushover.
We seem to be a team that are beating ourselves at the moment, how many penalties can we give away this season? How many chances will we miss? Here’s hoping we can get it together enough to be competitive, a bit more concentration and we would be a decent team for this level. We are not getting out of the lowland league this season I’m sure of that, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Back to Tranent and a tough team to beat. They have already beaten Gala 6-0 away in the Football Nation Qualifying Cup this season. We’ve just drawn 2-2 with Gala away. Various factors are involved but it does give some indication that Tranent are a capable side. They are also top of their division, 5 played, 4 wins 1 draw.
I’ll be taking my dad to this game and I contacted Tranent via twitter to ask about seating. My Dad is 82 next Tuesday and needs to sit down. Tranent have a 49 seat stand so I’ll be down early to secure a seat. It’s a 2:30pm kick-off so I better not forget that. I’ve had a look on google maps and street view for the ground but it’s quite out of date, the ground has had some development since the last map update.
Tranent’s website is fairly out of date too but the person on twitter responded quickly which was very decent of them.
It will be about an hour and a half travel time and I’ll aim to get there around half one, I'll need to find somewhere my dad can get his lunch, perhaps a picnic for this one.....
Well it was a trip around the houses, but after a few detours I found it. I got parked in the club carpark. I was concerned about getting parked close for my dad but it was fine. Berwick had in their match preview that the club carpark was out of action due to building work but there were several spaces. I helped one of the volunteers with a spot of litter picking. It was quite a blustery day and he was having difficulties. I held the bag wheelie he picked litter. Turns out he was the turnstile operator (or whatever you call somebody who takes the money with no turnstile). We had a chat and then I bought 10 halftime draw tickets, a bit of cash towards Tranent’s pot of money to buy floodlights. Admission was £6 and £3 so I paid with a tenner and asked him to chuck the extra £1 into the club fund. He said he would give a halftime draw ticket to a regular with a disability with the extra £1.
Next stop the toilet, I must say it was the worst toilet I’ve seen in a very very long time. Absolute animal must have been in there beforehand...... it was then a walk around the pitch to get to the seats.
Well, I started writing this blog on Thursday. My usual well Tranent seem a decent team, tough to beat etc but we beat ourself again. This will be another short game section.
Tranent were there for the taking. The team seem to have taken a backward step again. Tranent score first with yes, you guessed it an bloody penalty. We equalised with a penalty, a poorly struck shot but luckily it went in. The half ended 1-1. We had our chances and plenty of opportunities to shoot but we don’t take them. Some dreadful passing added a bit of spice to the half too.
Second half saw Tranent take the lead as a shot was flapped into the net by the keeper. He really should have held it. Tranent were playing better now and Berwick became a bit more lacklustre like my blog posts. I can’t be bothered writing much more. The second half was poor, short passes, long passes, trying to walk the ball into the net. Poor corners, poor free kicks it had the lot. We face East Kilbride away on Saturday. I’ll take my dad to that but I don’t imagine we will came away with any points.
lets start with the fact they we were stuffed 4-0 in the first leg of the relegation playoff. We’ve got no real chance of coming back from that.
muself, my dad and my friend Gordon were on our travels for this one. We arrived before 1pm to make sure we could get parked close so my dad would manage. We also wanted to get a seat which is a £2 supplement. Turns out there was only about 40 seats that weren’t reserved so it was prudent to arrive early. I bought pies and some juices from the fanzone and we sat in the car listening to the Aston Villa v West Brom game on the radio. We were there even before the Berwick team bus.
1955 attended the game so we were lucky to secure seats. We were in at 2pm as the gates opened. £10 a ticket, £5 for my dad and then you had to pay the additional £2 separately at the stand for a seat. It’s a nice enough ground, small but will do them well. Halftime draw tickets were purchased but we didn’t win the prize which was just under £1000, not bad!
Well what can I say, we were well beaten. We never looked like we were going to score. Cove put 4 passed us and 2 off the bar. Cove had 21 shots to our 3. That pretty much sums it up. I really had a bit of hope we would.come away with a draw or a 1-0 defeat that we could take back to Shielfield for the 2nd leg. We are pretty much done for now. I’ll still go down for that game, taking my dad with me. We have hospitality booked for the game along with my brother and his wife. We might be the only ones there....
well it’s a short away trip today, Cowdenbeath is about a 30 minute drive. I’ll pick up my dad and my friends Gordon and Ewan then head off to Central park. I’m optimistic for this game, God knows why. We have been put to the sword by Cowdenbeath this season a 4-0 defeat at Central Park followed by a 3-0 defeat at Shielfield. Cowdenbeath are close to us in the table and are a team we could take points from, we need to keep the points gap from Albion Rovers to stay away from the relegation spot. The result last week against Edinburgh City gave us a valuable and in my opinion an unexpected point, let’s hope we can build on the performance we had in the last 30 minutes or so of that game and get a result today.
Arrival at Central park
we arrived in plenty of time as usual and got parked. Then into the ground and a pie and a cup of tea (bovril for my dad). We had a good old chit chat with some Cowdenbeath fans and the stewards about the upcoming cup game against Rangers. There will be 4000+ at Central Park for that game, a far cry from the 300-400 that attend a league game. All hands on deck then but a massive payday for Cowdenbeath. £20 a ticket and half the gate from the cup games. So £40k if all tickets are full price, there will be concessions of course but with program sales and 50/50 draw tickets they should net at least £30k. Chit chat finished we headed for a seat in the stand for the main event.
Well it was another defeat and another sending off, we’ve now played Cowdenbeath 3 times this season. In those 3 games we have conceded 9 goals, scored 0 and picked up 5 red cards. Today’s red card was another stupid red for mouthing off at the referee. A complete lack of control and discipline to get a card like that, it a way to let down your team, manager and the fans. Yes tempers can rise but it’s easy enough to keep a lid on it and walk away, there is no way a mouthful towards the ref is going to result in anything but a booking. It was a tough game to watch, we did have spells where we had a go but overall not great. I have written a few things here and deleted them, I don’t want to grumble and single out players who were below par. I will say that Jordan Orru had a good game, full of running and effort and one of our best players. We need a solid leader in defence though (bring back Pat Scullion, all is forgiven... although he was subject to a load of abuse from a section of the Berwick fans) The first goal we conceded was a real lack of concentration though. We had a free kick that nobody was switched on for, the ball swung into the Cowdenbeath box to static Berwick players. Nobody was prepared. Cowdenbeath took the ball and drove forward and scored, it was deflating to see and really shouldn’t have happened. Overall possession was pretty even but Cowdenbeath had 15 shots to our 5. No point in having possession and doing nothing with it. Then we gave away a penalty for what looked like clipping the heels of the Cowdenbeath player. Albion Rovers managed a draw with Queenspark too, they were leading at one point so they are slowly reducing the gap. Next week home to Clyde. I don’t see us winning that one, my faith has gone for now. I will of course still go to the games, you have to don’t you. I think other than the Peterhead game away in a couple of weeks I’ll be at all the home and away fixtures for the rest of the season (weather permitting). As I’ve said before, league survival is the aim this season, as rubbish as that is it’s the reality for this season. We have 2 games still to play against Albion Rovers and they are looking pretty crucial for league survival now.
well, I picked up my dad and my friend Ewan and headed off to Broadwood. I took the wrong junction on the motorway and had a wee loop diversion but got there in plenty of time. We had a bit of a struggle getting into the ground, Clyde have gone cashless at the turnstile and the guy said they were using contactless. If your paying cash you have to go to another window to buy a ticket.
Then present that at the turnstile. Not great for the concessions, my dad doesn’t have a bank card. The card machine was broken anyway so we had to go to a different turnstile but we managed to get in.
well it was Ewan’s first Berwick game and it had everything in it! We were 3 up at halftime. An incredible performance. We seemed to take the chances that we would usually miss, Clyde however missed the chances I think they would usually score. Clyde had 3 off the woodwork in the first half. Berwick rode their luck a bit but still going in at halftime 3 up was some achievement. The second half however saw Berwick lose the lead. Clyde pulled it back. Berwick did have their chances and had shots off the woodwork. It was a oddly disappointing and satisfying game. I would have happily have left with a point but 3 up at halftime had all the fans expecting a win. Still 7 points out of the last 3 games is quite the achievement. The trialists are turning out to be a real find for Berwick, really turning the team around. Brennan pulled off another few good saves, had a bit of a dodgy looking kick out at one point but overall another very good performance from the young keeper. Then it was the customary detour and wrong turn on the way home. Peterhead at Shielfield next week. I think we could win that game if we can hold it together.
well that’s a game to forget about. Absolutely stuffed by Cowdenbeath. 4-0, 2 goals in each half. This wasn’t a game where we were desperately unlucky, it was a game where we were desperately poor. I had to get my wife to drive me to my folks where I would meet Gordon and then my dad would take us to the game. It’s about a 30 minute drive so not too bad. We arrived in plenty of time as usual. It was Gordon’s first trip to Central Park and his first Berwick game of the season, it might also be his last......
Not much to as really, well not much i want to say rather. For the first 20 minutes neither team really looked particularly comfortable but I though Berwick would settle down and we would net a couple of goals. Well that was a mistake. Cowdenbeath scored with a close range free header and then a few minutes later scored again. This time Berwick failed to clear the ball on the wing, seemingly forgetting the basics of football. The ball was put into the box where the defenders stood still looking at it and allowed Cowdenbeath to have 3 cracks at scoring. 2-0 half time. We all hoped that Robbie would really give them what for in the half time talk and the players would emerge ready to battle and claw back a draw. Well this never happened. The 3rd goal was proper school football. Every single Berwick player was in the box for a corner, every single one. I dont know what they were thinking, even if the cleared it (which the did) the ball would go to a Cowdenbeath player (which it did) and they would be on the attack. The clearance was a scramble in the box, too many bodies trying to get the ball. When it was cleared it fell to Scullion the ex Berwick defender who took his shot and it was deflected in. The Berwick keeper had no chance in such a crowded box. The fourth goal I can’t even remember, I’ve had to ask Gordon on Facebook messenger to remind me. He’ll be at home now getting his dinner and I can’t be bothered waiting for his reply to add it here*. A red card a piece rounds out the game as the clock ticks down to the final whistle to one of the poorest games I’ve seen Berwick play. The only highlight was collecting a shirt to frame for Northen Soul Kitchen to hang up in their cafe.
*The guy broke through the almost non-existent defence and curled it round Brennan inside the far post- Gordon.
well it was off to Broadwood for myself, my dad and tom for the final game of the season. We were also meeting up with our friend John (Clyde fan) who was making his own way there. We arrived just before 2pm, nice and early as usual and headed to the bar in the ground. We bumped into See (our injured striker) in the bar and I approached him for a bit of a chat. He’s a nice guy and seemed happy to talk to us about his recovery and the impact it’s had on him working. Driving is off limits for now, he has a shot of his dad’s car because it’s an automatic but it’s a bit too much of a struggle for the time being. After my dad’s interrogations he hobbled off to the changing room to the rest of the squad. He did say that he’s finding being at Berwick to be good for him, a good group of lads friendly and welcoming. That’s a nice thing to hear. We hung around to watch the end of the Liverpool v Stoke game then headed to the stand. It was Tom’s first time at Broadwood so another ground to add to the list.
well I was tasked with writing the match report for this game so my synopsis is a bit different than usual.
Saturday, April 28th, 2018 SPFL 2
CLYDE 1 BERWICK RANGERS 2
It was a game Clyde were needing to win to keep their playoff hopes alive, it didn’t turn out the way they hoped.
Clyde started on the attack forcing a corner in the first minute and a shot on goal. It was looking like the start of an assault for Berwick as Clyde looked for the big win they might require to take a playoff spot from Stenhousemuir. But it was Berwick who struck first, Jordan Orru’s Cross found Jack Hamilton who slotted home neatly with a left footed shot in the 7th minute.
Clyde continued to press but were now on the back foot looking for an equaliser. A few minutes later Barry Cuddihy (Clyde) worked his way forward to have a shot from a difficult angle but the shot went wide to the right. Clyde continued to press and on the 22 minute mark Mark Lamont (Clyde) had shot from outside the box but Brennan saved it comfortably. This was the start of a surge for Clyde who had a further 4 shots on goal in the next 10 minutes.
Berwick handled the pressure, The defence holding up well to the Clyde attack. Notman then picked up a yellow in the 33rd minute for a clumsy challenge. A few moments later Paul Willis found the space to have a shot from outside the box narrowly missing the top left corner. Clyde pressed further with David Goodwillie (Clyde) having a shot on the 48 minute mark narrowly missing the target.
Berwick continued to soak up the pressure and Robert Wilson should have made it 2 for Berwick on the 40 minute mark but his header from very close range missed to the right following a well taken Willis corner. In the last few minute of the first half Jack Cook picked up a yellow card and Willis had a further shot on goal that was saved by the Clyde keeper.
The second half started with Clyde still pressing, Berwick conceding 3 corners in the first 12 minutes under the Clyde attack. The Berwick defence were holding under the pressure until the 57th minute when Clyde equalised. Jack Boyle (Clyde) with a shot from close range finding the bottom left corner of the Berwick net.
Clyde’s celebrations were to be short lived however. In the 62nd minute Jack Hamilton headed home from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. The ball supplied by Jordan Orru with a well placed and weighted cross to make it 2 for Berwick.
Notman was then shown a straight red in the 73rd minute for a lunging tackle, reducing Berwick to 10 men. Not the ending that Notman would have wanted for his final game, leaving the club after 11 years, 13 goals and over 300 appearances. Martin McNiff (Clyde) and Jordan Orr both picking up yellow cards in the minutes to come.
Clyde pressed on with the extra man advantage winning 4 corners in what remained of the half. Berwick defence coped well with the loss of Notman and Steven Thomson worked his way into a close shot from a difficult angle that missed to the right.
3 minutes of added time passed and the final whistle blew. A good win for Berwick who despite not having as much possession or shots on goal looked the better team and came away with the 3 points.
Starting XI: Brennan, Fleming, Wilson, Todd, Cook, Notman, Willis, Phillips, Orru, Murrell (Lavery 75), Hamilton (Thomson 83). Subs: McCrorie, Simpson, Fairbain.
Possession Clyde 62% Berwick 38%
Shots on goal Clyde 16 Berwick 6
Shots on target Clyde 4 Berwick 3
Corners Clyde 9 Berwick 4
Fouls Clyde 3 Berwick 9