(Newtongrange Star won 2-1 on penalties)
April 24, 2009 – Creamery Park, Bathgate
Friday night football matches are few and far in Scotland, between making this SJFA East Region South League Cup final, close to home, as one opportunity which was too good to miss.
Regular readers will know that Bathgate Thistle’s Creamery Park home has been common destination for me lately, although my previous visits have been for games of a lesser significance than this one.
For Camelon and Newtongrange Star it was a first chance to earn some silverware this season, although possibly not the last.
This promised to be an intriguing game with Camelon riding high in the Super League and Star in contention in the division below.
It drew a decent crowd with a good contingent backing both sides, including a vociferous forty-strong crowd of Camelon supporters who set up camp across from the covered enclosure. More about them later.
All told there must have been around 500 in attendance, possibly a little more. Admission was hiked to £6 for the evening, not a big deal really considering the exorbitant gate prices found in the likes of the Scottish First Division.
For that slightly inflated price tag, the crowd didn’t get much in the way of entertainment in the first half, which was instantly forgettable.
Similar to their game with Kinnoull, Star lacked a spark up front but looked comfortable at the back. Their left back caught the eye through the game.
Camelon had probably the best chance of the opening period when their no 7 forced Star keeper Chris Hill into a good save.
Star drew first blood in terms of scoring, however, when winger Stuart Roseburgh took advantage of a lucky break of the ball in the Camelon penalty area to calmly fire the ball home.
The goal was just what the game needed and the second half was much better than the first.
Predictably, Camelon upped the ante to try and get themselves back into the game and they had what I thought was a very good appeal for a penalty turned down.
At the other end, their keeper had one particularly good save, although the Star no 3 should have done much better with the follow up.
Much of the second half was played out against a bizarre backdrop of Camelon supporters fighting amongst themselves across the pitch from where I stood.
Obviously well oiled, the group backed their team in a relatively civilised way to start with, before their behaviour got more drunken and more disorderly as the evening went on.
Two of their number knocked lumps out of each other on at least three occasions during the second half, with the others trying (and failing) to keep the peace. By the end of the third scuffle, one of the protagonists had lost his t-shirt.
With no stewards or police in attendance, their behaviour went unchecked, turning more nasty as the clock ticked down and Camelon got ever more desperate for a goal.
With their opponents looking solid, I didn’t see them getting one, but in the final minute of the game, the Star defence lapsed momentarily and conceded a penalty with Cringean going down in the penalty area. Cue a pitch invasion from the self styled ‘Kemlin Red Ultras’.
Martin Jack put away a pressure kick from the spot. Cue a repeat pitch invasion with at least two bottles thrown and an advertising hoarded damaged.
The equaliser meant that the contest – and the destination of the Dechmost Forklift Cup – was decided on penalties; the ideal conclusion from a neutral’s point of view.
The shoot-out turned out to be one to forget for Camelon – the strong pre-match favourites – with three of their kicks saved and another going wide.
Had it not been for a couple of very wayward Newtongrange kicks going high and wide of target they wouldn’t have got as far as taking their fourth or fifth kicks.
The hero of the hour was Chris Hill, the Star goalkeeper, although a Camelon player picked up the man of the match award, an accolade of little consolation I suspect.
Before the trophy presentation could be fully completed, the Kemlin boys swaggered across the pitch clearly intent on getting a reaction from the delighted and good natured Newtongrange support.
Thankfully it didn’t escalate any further than a verbal exchange but it undoubtedly brought the night to a slightly unsavoury close.
I am sure that it’s not something that Camelon would condone in any way shape or form, but it was disappointing that their players didn’t do more to discourage the pitch invasions.
Either way it’s the kind of thing that can only do harm to generally good reputation of Junior football, where the requirement for crowd segregation, uniformed stewards or a police presence is still thankfully very rare.
Scoring – 0-1 Roseburgh, 1-1 Jack
Attendance – 500 est
Admission – £6
Programme – none
Ground – 6/10. Familar territory
Game – 6/10. Poor for long spells but good finish
Overall experience – 6/10. Friday night bonus
Match Report Links
Edinburgh Evening News – Youtube highlights (some swearing)