2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,500 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 42 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


The Benny Andrew Hall of Fame

In a slightly blatant copy of the Football Ramble’s Dean Windass Hall of Fame, I thought I’d start an irregularly regular series in the same vein, describing those players who for some reason hold something of a special place in my brain and stomach. There are no special entry criteria, and like the Ramble I might branch out into tournaments, stadia and squads as time goes on. Plus, it gives me something to write about when I haven’t been to see Linlithgow Rose in a while, or nothing otherwise piques my interest.

The obvious place to start then is the man who the Benny Andrew Hall of Fame is named after. Benny Andrew. Mr Andrew has earned his eponymous Hall of Fame for one reason – on an October afternoon in 1996, he scored an absolute screamer against a Chris Waddle-inspired Falkirk to help East Fife, the team I have supported since 1990, to their only home league win of that season at the sadly-missed old Bayview Park.

A picture of the aftermath of THAT goal (courtesy of East Fife FC)

A picture of the aftermath of THAT goal (courtesy of East Fife FC)

To go into it in a little more detail, from what I can remember 18 years later, after a long ball forward and a Falkirk defensive header, the ball sat up beautifully for Andrew to strike on the volley from quite a distance outside the penalty area. That he did, and the ball arced magnificently into the keeper’s top left corner to give the Fife a 1-0 advantage after 11 minutes. That 1996-97 season was otherwise a disaster, the first and only one we have had in the Scottish second tier since I became an East Fife fan. We finished that season with a record of P36 W2, but to be able to witness THAT goal and rip it out of Chris Waddle was magnificent, on the way to a precious 3-1 win.

What of Benny Andrew himself? That goal was such a shock because, though a forward, Andrew didn’t score many goals at all. A tendency to miss the target saw him grab only 8 goals in 109 league games for the Fife, despite ostensibly being a striker. Though that’s what made the Falkirk goal all the more special – it was wonderful and a complete surprise.

After his time at East Fife and a spell at Montrose, Benny arguably found his level and stayed at Glenrothes FC, the new town’s representative in the Scottish Junior ranks, for more than a decade. He has now become the manager of said Junior team, who are currently struggling a little at the lower end of the East Premier League.

In any event, whatever comes of his managerial career, and I’m sure we all wish him every success in that, as far as I’m concerned Benny can dine out on that magnificent goal for life. Anyone with a good photo or story about the man himself, as well as any suggestions about future posts, feel free to leave a comment.

Newcastle United v Chelsea, 6 December 2014

I took it as a bit of a sign that last week Newcastle were still offering tickets to this match for general sale, and decided to make an investment in seeing yesterday’s 12:45 kick-off. This was rather different from my last trip to Newcastle on a whim with unbeaten league leaders Chelsea paying a visit to the North East.

The Chelsea players do some pre-match hugging

The Chelsea players do some pre-match hugging

The first half largely involved Chelsea dominating possession and keeping the home fans quiet, with the Magpies attempting to park at least a reasonable-sized van if not a bus. However as the half went on, Newcastle did carve a few openings, the best of those falling to Jack Colback, who forced a good block from Thibaut Courtois, the Belgian relying on his enormous frame to keep out the ginger midfielder.

My view of the first half at St James

My view of the first half at St James

Half time arrived with the home fans not overly impressed, though glad of their clean sheet. Some opprobrium was particularly reserved for Sammy Ameobi, who reminded me a bit of me playing football in the way he drifted about and didn’t pick up any markers. Daryl Janmaat, as in August, looked like Newcastle’s classiest player.

An interesting side-story came at the start of the second half when Newcastle third choice keeper and Premier League debutant Jak Alnwick replaced Rob Elliott. The 21-year-old (whose Wikipedia profile had been tampered with during the game with the claim that, among other things, he had built Alnwick Castle) was confident from the very beginning of his stewardship between the posts, as he had to be for the first 10 minutes of the second 45 minutes. Chelsea battered the home goal endlessly without finding the opener.

Some second half Chelsea pressure

Some second half Chelsea pressure

Which made it all the more surprising when the Toon found it. A great break through the middle from Moussa Sissoko found Sammy Ameobi. The younger Ameobi’s first, and most, decisive touch of the game was a left footed cross which Gary Cahill missed, and substitute Papiss Demba Cisse was there to finish.

Chelsea then controlled the game for another 20 minutes. Their best opportunity came in the 77th minute, when Eden Hazard hit Alnwick’s left upright. From there, the ball broke into midfield, where an excellent tackle from Jack Colback and a great advantage after a foul on Ayoze Perez set Colback free through the middle. His pass out left found Sissoko, who squared for Cisse just as Courtois was coming out for the ball. All Cisse had to do was turn the ball into the net. 2-0 to Newcastle and suddenly St James Park had acquired some atmosphere.

My attempt to get a piccy of the two managers

My attempt to get a piccy of the two managers

United’s fans were made to perspire a little in the last 15 minutes (once 6 minutes of stoppage time had been added), with a red card for Steven Taylor. His first yellow had been a silly headlock tackle on Willian; his second was one of those fouls that you “take for the team” on Andre Schürrle. From the resulting floaty Fabregas free kick into the box, Dider Drogba headed in for 2-1. Despite further relentless pressure on the Newcastle goal for the remaining normal time and the gargantuan stoppage time, the home side held out for a fantastic victory, ending Chelsea’s unbeaten start to the season.

Newcastle United 2-1 Chelsea (Cisse x 2; Drogba)


This Sporting Month (and a Bit)

Seeing as I’ve not done a post for a while, I thought I’d mix a few things I’ve been to over the last month or so into one post. Newcastle v Chelsea will follow later today or tomorrow.

Sunderland v Arsenal – 25 October 2014

Stadium of Light

Some pre-match build-up in Sunderland

First on the list is a wee family trip to the Stadium of Light back at the tail end of October. We’d collectively promised my grandad a trip to a Premier League match for his 80th birthday, and Sunderland provided the perfect mix of readily available tickets for a biggish game and not being too far from Fife. My dad, brother and uncle made the trip too.

Arsenal didn’t play particularly brilliantly, but two horribly glaring errors from the home team were enough for the Gunners to win 2-0. In the first half, Wes Brown’s horrendously short pass-back was pounced on by the magnificent Alexis Sanchez who finished with ease. Then as Sunderland pushed for an equaliser, Vito Mannone tried to take Sanchez on in his six yard box. The Chilean unsurprisingly won that battle, knocking in an easy second and with that a very cheap three points for Arsenal.

Arsene Wenger in big jacket mode

Arsene Wenger in big jacket mode


Scotland v New Zealand, 15 November 2014

Scotland v New Zealand

Murrayfield in the dark as the teams line up


Sporting event two was seeing the new and suddenly try-scoring Scotland rugby team in action. Having beaten Argentina 41-31 the previous week, when my parents offered me and Clare the chance to go to the All-Blacks match it was hard to refuse. And what a match. Scotland played incredibly well though ultimately lost 16-24, though what change Vern Cotter has already provided to the side. We now seem to offload with some confidence, Tommy Seymour scored another interception try and if Greg Laidlaw’s kick had gone over in the 72nd minute, we would have led the All Blacks with 8 minutes to play.

As it was, the All Blacks bundled over for their second try of the day with a couple of minutes left to put some air between the sides on the scoreboard. 8 points was still the smallest gap between the two sides in 23 years, and with the convincing-ish win over Tonga in Kilmarnock that followed, this could be a good 6 Nations to come for Scotland.

Some second half action from Murrayfield

Some second half action from Murrayfield


Linlithgow Rose v Montrose Roselea, 29 November 2014

Finally, last weekend saw another trip to Linlithgow. Between this one and my last trip, Rose had performed valiantly against Raith Rovers in the Scottish Cup before going down 2-0. This time, they were not to be outdone in their Scottish Junior Cup replay against their East Premier League opponents.

Some second half action from Prestonfield

Some second half action from Prestonfield

In short, Rose won 6-0, a scoreline that flattered a little as Roselea dominated parts of the first half without finding a goal. The needle in the match increased as it wore on, Roselea’s striker Watson hitting John Ovenstone but out of sight of the referee. Rose eventually pulled away from their opponents in the last 15 minutes with Coyne, Batchelor and an excellent team moved ended by Colin Strickland putting a gloss on the performance.

A potentially tricky round four tie awaits, likely to be away at Aberdeenshire giants Culter. With Rose losing today at home to Kelty Hearts, falling 15 points behind their Fife rivals for the Superleague title, the Cup might be Rose’s best hope of silverware this season.