GLF74: Graham's football diary for January
MY FOOTBALL YEAR - 2010
January - Started on the morning of the 1st when we were sitting at the Hilton Bellshill having Brunch after the Hogmanay Ball (not as posh as it sounds!).A text came in telling me the Accies game the following day was off due to burst pipes in the Stands at Fir Park!What…….?!!?Sadly there was no alternative fare to be found elsewhere and the first football weekend of the New Year was spent sitting in the house watching the FA Cup on the telly.The only thing that disappointed me with all this mess was the fact the club published all the details on their website, and apparently glorying in the mess.Personally I would have been embarrassed by the whole situation.
At least there was the prospect of the Scottish Cup the following weekend at Inverness but with Scotland in the grip of a "deep freeze" it was always doubtful it would be on.I also made a pretty quick decision that I wouldn't attempt the A9 even if the game was on.You never know on that road when the snow could come down and you could be trapped on the Slocht or at Drumochter.Therefore for the first time in over 40 years of watching Well I was happy to have a game called off.
I finally made my first game on Wednesday 13th when I went to New Douglas Park to see Accies take on Dundee Utd in a re-arranged SPL game.It was one of those games that you wished you hadn't bothered going to given the lack of entertainment on show.Both sides really struggled to pass the ball 10 yards to each other, something that I get annoyed with myself about when I play 7-a-sides on a Tuesday.As the game looked to be heading for a goalless draw, David Goodwillie stepped up to score from about 15 yards out to seal all 3 points for Utd.
The only "highlight" of the game was the refereeing performance of Ian Brines who was his usual inconsistent self, making a string of decisions that baffled everyone in the ground.This forced Accies boss Billy Reid to say after the game he felt the referee was poor on the night, and when asked by the press pack if there was anything in particular that had upset him he simply replied - "Everything!!"One of the other talking points at the game was the number of SPL managers you can fit in one Directors Box, with about six of them there that night.There was also the sight of Mixu Patalainnen in there as well, an unemployed manager at a game where one of the clubs was looking for a manager - was one and one going to make two?Having had a couple of games cancelled early in the year and having frozen my nuts off at Hamilton, I finally came to the conclusion that summer football may indeed be the way forward.But that is maybe an argument for another day…..
The first 'Well game of 2010 finally came along on Saturday 16th when we travelled down the A77 to take on Kilmarnock at Rugby Park. There was a real feeling of trepidation ahead of the game given the lack of playing time and the appointment of Jimmy Calderwood as Killie's new boss, although many seemed to forget that this was the first "proper" game with our own partnership in charge, with Craig Brown and Archie Knox in the dug out for the first time.Killie at least proved before the game that we are not the only club that is pretty useless behind the scenes when they had to shut their two Stands behind the goals due to burst pipes.This meant the close on 700 Well fans who travelled were shoe-horned into the Main Stand, but this only seemed to generate more atmosphere with the fans huddled together rather than scattered across the top tier of the Chadwick Stand.
The game itself was decent enough in the first half, and when we went in at half time a 0-0 there was that nagging fear we were about to be hit with a sucker punch by a poor Killie side.Thankfully we got the first goal in the second half through Jim O'Brien and coasted to a comfortable 3-0 win which could have been more.The highlight of this one was O'Brien's celebration when leaped into the crowd, which had the Stewards on high alert for the next two goals.After the game Giles Coke was a bit distressed when he was asked by Motherwell's own Andy Devlin how he felt when he was dumped by Jim Gannon.Not a word I think Giles would have used himself by the look on his face.
Next up, Monday 18th Jan and a decision to make, would I go to Inverness or not for the re-arranged Cup game?Made the decision not to go as I couldn't be bothered with the hassle of taking a half day, getting back in small hours and going to work the next day!This is the first Scottish Cup tie in 40 years I have made a conscious decision not to go to, a worrying step!The only others I have ever missed was when I was 12,000 miles away in Hong Kong the year we lost to Ayr Utd 3-4 at Fir Park.Instead of heading North I headed to Coatbridge to take in the 4th Round tie between Albion Rovers and Stirling Albion.Before the game you knew you had reached the bottom of the Scottish senior pile when the PA announcer tells you there is only one toilet open and that is the disabled one, and the ladies need to use the one that is situated through the tea bar.Commercial Manager Patrick Rollinck also let me know that he had invited guests to the game for a meal and he had cooked the curry himself!The game lived down to its expectations with little football played, with a former Well player providing the only real talking point. Stirling sub Martin Grehan (remember him) missed a couple of sitters to prevent the game going to a replay with the game ending goalless.
Throughout the game a small bunch of Rovers fans kept bouncing up and down and singing they wanted to be on the telly BUT I don't think the camera that was there would have been powerful enough to pick them out from the other side of pitch.This game was another fine advert for summer football, with the players saying after the game that the frost was coming down and making the pitch harder and slippier as time progressed.
Next up Jack and Victor's first game in charge at Fir Park against St. Mirren.The first shock when arriving at Fir Park was the state of the pitch again, it looked to have taken a bit of a pounding over the three or four weeks under covers with the undersoil heating on.As a result the game was awful but in the end who cared we had won our first live TV game for almost five years.We had also won SPL games back to back for the first time this season - happy days.The highlight for me was a fifteen minute chat with Fraser Wishart and Craig Paterson as they reminisced about their time with Tommy McLean - sadly none of it can be re-produced here!Although it does sound like he passed man-management tips to Jim Gannon…..
On to Falkirk in midweek for a largely forgettable encounter which produced a decent point after Giles Coke was shown a straight red card.The only point of note in this one was the fact the press room was kept closed for about 25 minutes after the game, the speculation being we would have been able to hear Eddie May ripping into this team through the wall!
Final game of the month brought a trip to Aberdeen, which looked to be a tricky journey given the weather reports coming from the North but the journey up was uneventful.Although I did get a fright when Richard Gordon said on Radio Scotland there was heavy snow in Aberdeen, thankfully he meant overnight!!The journey home was made easier following a brilliant three-nil win against former boss Mark McGhee and Motherwell man Scott Leitch!!I found it funny Mark McGhee couldn't explain how his side had lost.Well think about it Mark you weren't very good and Motherwell were organised and clinical, not very difficult to work out.The Dons fans behind Ruddy's goal in the first half were also made to look stupid after early shouts of dodgy keeper before he pulled off a string of saves to keep the Dons out, while at the other end Langfield managed to palm two into the path of Sutton that ended up in goals.
After a slow start the month, taking almost two weeks to see a game I ended up with six games under the belt.Given the cancellations during December and January I am sure I will pick up more across Lanarkshire as 2009/10 goes on.
Wednesday 13th Jan - Hamilton 0 Dundee Utd 1 (Goodwillie), crowd 2,033, SPL
Saturday 16th Jan - Kilmarnock 0 Motherwell 3 (O'Brien (2) Jutkiewicz), crowd 5,354, SPL
Monday 18th Jan - Albion Rovers 0 Stirling Albion 0, crowd 359 Scottish Cup 4th Round
Saturday 23d Jan - Motherwell 2 (Murphy, Sutton) St. Mirren 0, crowd 3,621 SPL
Wednesday 28th Jan - Falkirk 0 Motherwell 0, crowd 4,321 SPL
Saturday 31st Jan - Aberdeen 0 Motherwell 3, (Sutton (2), Jutkiewicz), crowd 9,555, SPL
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