Mart visits Gartcairn

Gartcairn 2 Caruke 1

It’s the start of a new season, and I’ve been looking forward to taking in Gartcairn’s first real SJFA match at their alternative home for this season, Coatbridge Outdoor Sports Centre, where they face Carluke Rovers. The venue is situated in the Langloan area of Coatbridge, where the now legendary Phil Cole’s bar and Hue and Cry both hail from, and if you don’t know Coatbridge, you wouldn’t even know it is there. Now Glasgow’s greatest sporting moment had to be the Real Madrid versus Eintracht Frankfurt European Cup Final, England’s greatest, the 1966 England versus Germany World Cup Final, but none of these can compare to Coatbridge Outdoor Sports Centre’s greatest moment. That came in the halcyon days of 1978 when the pride of the Monklands took on the might of Clydebank and East Kilbride in “It’s a knockout”, that pan European festival of sporting lunacy hosted by the now infamous Stuart Hall. East Kilbride eventually beating the Monklands in a tie breaker and qualifying for Jeux sans Frontieres at Bourgoin – Jallieu, France according to the website, and looking back now with hindsight, is it any wonder that the Eurozone is going down the pan?

Back to the present, and I think that it may have cost a fiver to get in and a couple of quid for a great wee programme, one of thing’s that impresses me about the Gartcairn set up as I always feel let down if I can’t get one before a match. It had been maybe two decades or more since I last graced the Outdoor Centre with my presence but I was amazed by the scale of the place, the building itself is pretty small and nondescript with a decent gym, toilets and changing rooms located inside. The ground outside however, is hugely impressive and maybe a tad overwhelming for a junior football match, try and imagine a gigantic neolithic amphitheatre in it’s prime and you won’t be far off, in fact outside of the major SPFL clubs, it would be a large venue for any Scottish match. The pitch is floodlit and surrounded by a reasonably modern running track and two massive grass banked terraces on one length and one width of the playing area, the terraces are between ten and twelve high in places but very deep and very high, they could easily accommodate two or maybe three thousand people if current safety legislation were to be eased.

There was officially two hundred and forty at the match, many of them young children jumping around on the bouncy castle, having their faces painted or making use of the handy sand pits on one side of the track. I found myself a nice spot on the banking next to a few veteran Carluke supporters who had managed to bring in a few refreshments with them, I say veteran, but they were probably more akin to Napoleon’s Old Guard when comparing them to the wide eyed and innocent fresh faced Gartcairn troops. The Rovers fans had probably been through the trenches over the years, full of cynicism for every decision that went against their beloved heroes and adding to their already vast encyclopaedic knowledge of English sweary words from that well received academic work known as Roger’s Profanisaurus, finding four swear words to use when one would have been enough to make a death’s row gangbanger blush.

Both teams entered the arena to the resounding strains of ‘Jump Around’, that classic by the House of Pain, I bought the album of the same name on the day of it’s UK release back in the early nineties, when I made my way into a Leeds City Centre record shop from the North Yorkshire countryside with a basketball loving Mansfield Town fan. Anyway I digress, Gartcairn managed to make a lively start and pressed the Carluke defence for the first twenty minutes or so of the match without making much of their possession. Rovers then started to find their feet and run the Gartcairn defence ragged with some well worked moves, Carluke then had the ball in the back of the net on twenty two minutes, but the referee was far too quick in blowing his whistle for a free kick to the attacking side when the move was still in progress! The pressure finally paid off for Carluke when Greig Cavanagh played a beautifully weighted pass out for Ian Watt who then made his run in on goal before sliding past Cairn keeper Martyn Meek from twelve yards. Both teams then played out the rest of the half with roughly equal possession and chances until the forty fifth minute, when a speculative ball was played deep into Rovers half for Barry Foy, the race to the ball was won by Foy who then lobbed the keeper from the corner of the penalty area with his first touch, worthy of ‘Match of the Day’s’ goal of the month competition, a spectacular goal!

Half Time: Gartcairn Juniors 1 Carluke Rovers 1

Half time was soon upon us and I decided to leave the elderly Carluke Casuals and especially that EXTREMELY LOUD f**king foul mouthed mature lady with the walking stick and her crappy generic American brand of not so soft drink fused tightly into her non crutch carrying fist, (as an easily offended beer drinker, her choice of non soft drink annoyed me more than anything) and made my way down to the trackside, as I felt that Nelson’s blood stained spy glass offered a better view than my Gregory Peck’s did from this distance.

The end of the first half and beginning of the second couldn’t have been more stark, as Gartcairn went on the attack from the first whistle with their first chance coming on the forty sixth minute when Jamie Pollock struck just wide from twenty yards. Within a few minutes, Chris Dolan placed a lovely timed ball down the wing for Barry Foy, who then cut into the Carluke penalty area and was just about to let loose from five yards when William Soutar slid in to block for a Gartcairn corner. The home side then felt justifiably hard done by when Scott Murphy looked to have been pole axed just inside the Carluke penalty area but had their appeals waved away by the referee, Murphy for his part was down for a good five minutes receiving treatment from the medical staff or having a wee rest, he deserved it has he’d played a blinder up until this point. Rovers then went on to have a pretty good ten minute spell, the best of the chances came when a vicious in swinging corner was sent into the Gartcairn far post by goal scorer Ian Watt, it looked a certain goal until a Gartcairn defender moved to make a last minute clearance from the goal line. Both sides went on to have further chances but it was the home side that got the final say when they were awarded a controversial penalty kick as Pollock appeared to have been brought down inside the Carluke penalty box, Chris Dolan stepped up and made history with his winning goal.

A tight game and Carluke Rovers can justifiably feel a little bit aggrieved at losing out on the opening day of the season to a controversial late penalty decision, after such a keenly fought match when both teams had such dominating spells. Gartcairn on the other hand, the only Airdrie based side that managed a home win at the weekend, must feel overjoyed after their victory, especially after having been brought back down to earth by the 3-5 defeat to Rossvale after having friendly wins against Ardeer Thistle and a young Albion Rovers XI. Glencairn now face Newmains at the Excelsior Stadium on Wednesday night whilst Carluke Rovers play Shotts Bon Accord at Hannah Park.

Gartcairn Juniors: 1. M Meek, 2. A Cummings, 3. M Harty, 4. S Easton, 5. S MacFarlane, 6. B Canning, 7. B Foy, 8. S Murphy, 9. J Lindsay, 11. C Dolan, 12. C Shields, 14. J Pollock, 15. M Brown, 17. S Cameron, 18. S McAuley, 19. B Maltoni.

Goals: B Foy 44, C Dolan 88 pen.

Carluke Rovers: 1. J Grier, 2. J Lithgow, 3. G Gow, 4. G Cavanagh, 5. W Soutar, 6. L Hill, 7. L McDougall, 8. G Murphy, 9. I Watt, 10. R Smillie, 11. M Weir, 12. J Wilson, 14. M Napier, 15. A Walker, 16. S Bellew, 21. G Bruce.

Goals: I Watt 34.

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