Saturday, July 18, 2009 – Murrayfield Park, Blackburn
A number of games were under consideration for this, the first ‘big’ Saturday of the new season, but in the end I opted for a quick hop to one of my favourite local junior clubs, Blackburn United.
This was a testimonial for long serving player-turned-manager Mark Campbell, and United managed to attract relatively glamorous opposition in the shape of Scottish Junior Cup winners, Auchinleck Talbot to Murrayfield Park.
Talbot brought along the Cup, a truly magnificent piece of silverware which has been no stranger to West Lothian in recent years, with Linlithgow Rose and Bathgate Thistle preceding Talbot as winners.
Disappointingly they didn’t bring much of a crowd to boost the testimonial coffers. While it was a decent turn out in comparison to previous visits to Blackburn, I would have expected a few more Talbot fans.
Nevertheless, all the usual pleasantries were extended to the testimonial man, with both sides forming a guard of honour to welcome him onto the park, joined by his young son.
There was a programme produced, albeit a bit thinner than normal, and it contained various facts and figures about his career.
And around a quarter of an hour into the game he got the chance to taste the action, receiving warm applause as he ambled onto the field wearing the Blackburn number ten shirt.
The game kicked off in bright sunshine and it was relatively warm. Talbot seemed to be missing a few of the players who I saw towards the tail end of last season but their experienced forward talisman Stevie Mallen was on show.
The tempo of the game was higher than the usual pedestrian pre-season style, and much to my surprise Blackburn made a good game of it in the first half, giving as good as they got in an attacking sense.
Talbot did come closer to breaking the deadlock with one effort off the woodwork, while the wily Mallen always looked capable of outsmarting a back four containing players half his age.
By the time we got to half time the scoreline was still blank, but the weather had turned in true West Lothian style, with a heavy shower forcing the crowd to see refuge in the small shed, or for the better prepared, under golf umbrellas.
With the ball zipping about at a faster pace, Talbot’s superior ability started to show, and they hit the post and missing another easy chance.
Despite being forced further back, the Blackburn defence battled on manfully and for a time it looked like they might have the wherewithal and good fortune to weather the Talbot storm.
Alas, the roof eventually fell in with about twenty minutes remaining Boyle finally found the net, followed up almost immediately by Mallen with a tap-in for the second.
It wasn’t long until the third arrived, Slavin scoring comfortably from the spot after a clumsy tackle inside the box gave the referee no option.
In the final stages, the man of the moment Mark Campbell returned to play the remaining minutes up front, alongside his teenage son apparently.
Right on time Talbot rounded off the afternoon with a fourth goal, Talbot player-boss Tommy Sloan mopping up a rebound after Burnie ‘keeper Francis Carlin failed to hold a shot.
It was a harsh final result for Blackburn given their performance for the first hour and more, and was especially tough on the ‘keeper who had a fine game aside from his last minute fumble.
Scoring – 0-1 Boyle (71), 0-2 Mallen (72), 0-3 Slavin (74), 0-4 Sloan (90)
Attendance – 130 est
Admission – £4
Programme – £1
Food – P&B £1.50
Match Rating: 5/10
Match Report Links
Blackburn United FC