Mart visits Brig O’ Lea

Martmak continues his adventures…

A Visit to Brig O’Lea

Accies were away to Inverness and I found myself with the kids for the weekend, so it was junior fitba day today and luckily for one of them, his gran called and offered an escape route, from his own personnel version of hell and he happily left his brother and me to go our own way. I tried to appear disappointed that he wasn’t joining us but secretly I was delighted, one kid is far easier to handle than two who just feed off of each other’s boundless energy.

We arrived at the Brig O’Lea, home of Neilston Juniors with plenty of time to spare, paid our entrance money which you all know is pretty standard throughout the leagues and bought a nice little programme for a quid, it had all the usual content, match reports, quiz, loads of adverts and it was really pretty impressive. We made our way to the pie stall and got a couple of pies and not wanting to leave my errant son out of the picture, I asked if they had any badges,  I was met with a look of utter bafflement and then silence as they attempted to process the question. Both ladies were perfectly nice but I was left feeling like an idiot, I was about to have a George Costanza moment (now known as a Costanza) and lose the rag before sanity prevailed and I broke the question down to a level that a prehistoric hunter gatherer could understand, the answer was no. It reminded me of a time back in the early nineties, I’d been living in London and came back home for a few days, I went into Safeway and asked an assistant if they had any bagels, “A WHIT!” was his reply, then got his colleagues over to look at the Victorian fairground attraction, the b*****d!

My youngest decided that he wanted to stand at the far terracing  behind the home bench, so we made our way round and he found himself a spot to plank his backside and play Minecraft on my tablet. The game was about to start and I’d forgotten to bring a notebook or Dictaphone, so I rooted around my back pack and found a bookie’s pen and football coupon, I was all set and just as well. The ‘Lok scored after only thirty seconds or so,  midfield dynamo Bradley, picked a nice pass out wide to McAleenan who then played to the on running Davie Winters, he rounded the keeper and slid the Ball into the net for 0-1.

What is it that separates football from all other sports? For me it has to be the theatre of it all, something that can’t be replicated on TV, and nowhere is that more obvious than in a junior football setting. Although a big match setting can be full of passion and atmosphere, junior football still allows those eccentric individuals to be themselves, if Hampden is the Royal Concert Hall then Brig O’Lea is the Globe Theatre, I’d choose the later every time. The Pollok fans, Neilston bench and the home linesman were all situated next to each other, just ripe for banter. The linesman made a few dodgy decisions that the Pollok fans weren’t happy with and made the mistake of standing next to the bench for the entire match, making himself an easy target for some edgy quips. He managed to survive the jibes from those behind him, but it must have been uncomfortable as the crowd were only a few of yards behind him, one of the Southside funsters cut the atmosphere with “haw linesman that lines going the same way as yer hairline, yaw baldy b*****d”, cruel but funny!

There was an old time Neilston fan with a walking stick and bonnet, kicking every ball and giving voice to his every thought on the way Neilston should play, “balance, balance”, “play the baw” and “send the baw”, were amongst his most popular repertoire, his passion was infectious and I think all those around him were a little happier as a result. Several times throughout the first half, the Neilston bench turned to the use of shall we say industrial language, in an attempt to motivate the team, this led to all sorts of digs between the bench and the Pollok support, bit like wrestling at the town hall. Andy Whiteford and Robert Graham, the home management team, were definitely not aware of the Dominic Cumberbatch style of fan interaction, so I’ll paraphrase “get tae f**k….” and I’m sure I heard a “yer a cheat’n b*****d referee” from somewhere close by.

Then for a moment of pure comedy gold, the home linesman raised his flag for a throw in, but play continued and Bradley played the ball towards Winters, he made his way into the Neilston penalty area and was brought down, the spot kick was converted by Hanlon for 1-3. You had to be there but it was hilarious and Neilston’s bench felt a little aggrieved and gave voice to their frustration. It was 1-4 at half time and Pollok looked to have this one in the bag. My boy was trying to lie down to play Minecraft on his back as the sun was in his eyes, so we headed round to behind the Pollok goal and onto the grassy bank, a brilliant spot. I should have brought a refreshment or two with me, as many of the fans around me had brought their own, not that the place was heaving with bon viveurs in the Alan Brazil category or anything close to it. The concentration of dads and grandads with buggies was suspiciously high and I did manage to see a variety of exotic soft drinks sitting snuggly in the bottom of the buggies. The boy had given up on Minecraft for now and went for a wee explore, making his way to the side of the pavilion and discovered a couple of kids jumping about on a rusty old roller, so he joined in. A father I’d seen earlier carrying a toddler in one arm and a can of soft drink in his free hand, came up to me and said “daddy day care” with a knowing smile.

Towards the end of the game, we made our way round towards the exit and took a few photos of him larking about, Pollok looked a class above Neilston this early on in the season and the game was pretty one sided, but we both had a nice day out and look forward to taking in another game at Neilston in the future.

 

 

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