February 24, 2009 – Creamery Park, Bathgate
Considering that floodlit football has been around for more than half a century now, it’s a fairly backward attitude.
Thankfully, the clubs who do have lights occasionally press them into action for friendly or ‘bounce’ matches such as this one at Creamery Park tonight.
The home side, Bathgate Thistle are currently one of the East Region’s leading clubs. With the emphasis on currently.
Their pre-eminence has a great deal to do with the financial input of long time player Willie Hill, a wealthy property developer who managed the club to Scottish Junior Cup glory last season.
Yet Mr Hill recently advised the club that he is to withdraw his fiscal support of the club at the end of the season and the future now seems a lot less certain.
There seems little doubt that they will continue to operate, but with a comparatively small support they may have to get used to a more modest level.
At the time of writing they prop up the East Region Super League, from which no fewer than three out of twelve clubs are relegated at the end of the season.
In fairness, a long succession of postponements means that they have only played ten league games to date.
The Scottish winter weather has hit them harder than most this season – so much so that they’ve turned out just twice since the end of November.
No doubt one of the reasons for arranging this friendly against Premier League leaders Musselburgh Athletic was to try and regain some match sharpness, although they showed no sign of rustiness by establishing a two goal lead within little over a quarter of an hour.
Musselburgh hit back before half time with a controversial penalty which was won seconds after they took a quick free kick with a Bathgate player down injured.
That incensed the Bathgate bench, but after the break their mood improved when the two goal advantage was reinstated within five minutes later.
Towards the end sub Brian McPhee – a former cult hero at my own club Livingston – knocked in a fourth goal which was a little bit harsh on a hard working Athletic side which tried to play football.
For a friendly kickabout, this was a relatively entertaining affair, and fairly keenly contested too. Altogether it was nice wee bonus on a Tuesday night which I had previously expected to spend in my armchair, trying (and probably failing) to work up some enthusiasm for the UEFA Champions League.
There was one oddity to ponder on the short journey home and that was Musselburgh turning out in old Hearts kit – last season’s away unless I am mistaken. Very strange.
Scoring – 1-0, 2-0, 2-1, 3-1, 4-1
Attendance – 25 (h/c)
Admission – £NIL
Programme – None
Ground – 6/10. Familiar ground, fairly standard for junior level
Game – 6/10. Reasonable friendly fare
Overall experience – 6/10. Got me out of the house for an evening!
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