Sunday, December 04, 2011

New Additions

Mrs Wife bought me an aquarium for Christmas:

And it now has its first four inhabitants - thankfully not the kind that require a trip to a professional that has attended one of the many schools for a vet tech:

Names still to be decided but suggestions include:

Quinzel, Bane, Nigma and Cobblepot

Laudrup, Gascoigne, McCoist and Hateley

Boyle, McNally, Hegarty and Tosh

Sausage, Egg, Beans and Chips

Brian, Gary, Dave and Nigel

Batman, Superman, Spider-Man and Wolverine

All other suggestions welcome...

FAO Ken Fit Like

FAO Ken Fit Like - I've circled myself in yellow!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Season 2011/2012: Match 12: Montrose 1 Alloa Athletic 1 (Irn-Bru Division Three)

I'm back in the Arctic tundra known locally as Angus, and so I found myself back in the familiar surroundings of Links Park rather than The Emirates or White Hart Lane this afternoon.

It was absolutely freezing even before kick-off today - I'm sure I saw a polar bear queuing to get in the concessionary turnstile at 2.30pm, then think better of it and head home. The pitch was already in shadow by kick-off, and both of Montrose's strikers were wearing gloves - although Scott Johnston was wearing a short-sleeved shirt, which seems to have defeated the purpose of donning handwear somewhat.

Alloa are a good side by Division Three standards, and are rightly considered amongst the favourites for promotion. Paul Hartley (a more dapperly-dressed manager than we're used to in Division Three) (and one with a few more Scotland caps than Ray Farningham) has the side playing well, with a core of good ball playing midfielders (and Darren Young) allied with the experience of Robbie "All this was fields when I were a lad" Winters and the emmm "imposing physical presence" of Armand One (that's Oh-Nay, not Wun).

Montrose made a few changes to the team from recent matches, Saaaaaaandy Wood making his first competitive start of the season in the sticks, behind centre backs Paul "Lurch" Lunan and Jonathan "Baggio Beckenbauer" Smart and full backs Sean "But I'm a centre back" Crighton and Dougie "Kneeheid" Cameron.

Stephen "Macca Macca Reyna" McNally was moved to central midfield alongside Terry "The Destroyer" Masson and Jamie "Of course I can shoot, it's only 75 yards" Winter. Montrose's attacking options were Martin "Have Barcelona called yet?" Boyle, Scott "If Martin's going so am I" Johnston and Lloyd "Who?" Young.

(I spent the first 10 minutes thinking Lloyd Young fronted The Commotions. But that was Lloyd Cole. Lloyd Young doesn't even front Montrose).

Montrose took the game to their high-flying opponents, and deservedly took the lead after 11 minutes when Boyle missed Masson's corner at the front post, only for the ball to fall in front of Johnston, who knocked the ball across the line with a diving header.

It was an end-to-end encounter, and both sides could have had a few goals throughout the course of the match. McNally, Boyle and Johnston were the main threats for Montrose, while Winters and Kevin Cawley created most of Alloa's chances.

Montrose were looking good for a surprise win until 10 minutes from time, Ben Gordon nodding home from a McCord corner. But Montrose could still have won it, Boyle using his pace to stretch the visiting defence a few times as the match came to a close. There was even a late penalty shout, one of Alloa's defenders appearing to handle a Cameron corner at the back post.

All in all, a draw was a fair result. Montrose can take credit from a strong showing against one of the division's better sides, while Alloa can take credit for continuing to push for an equaliser until late in the day.

Congratulations also to the Montrose groundstaff for managing to get the knackered floodlights working again at half time - abandoning the match when winning 1-0 against Alloa would have been unthinkable.

Man of the Match: Another good team performance in which no-one was disgraced. The midfield was solid and generally passed the ball well, and was perhaps more disciplined than in recent matches. That was out of necessity, as pouring forwards en mass would have been suicidal against the slick Alloa passing. Masson and Winter in particular looked reliable in the middle.

Defensively Montrose were strong, with no major errors to report. Up front, Boyle was his usual tireless self, and on another day might have had a hat-trick. But my man of the match was Scott Johnston, tricky on the ball, creative in attack, diligent in tracking back and in the right place at the right time to score Montrose's goal.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Season 2011/2012: Match 11: Tottenham Hotspur 1 PAOK Salonika 2 (Europa League Group A)

So from The Emirates on Tuesday night to White Hart Lane on Wednesday.

I thought that the Spurs match might be a sell-out, given that it was a European clash between two teams both in with a shout of winning their group, but there were a significant number of empty seats.

Most of the noise was coming from the sizeable away support, who didn't let up from the time I entered the ground almost an hour before kick-off until long after I left.

The ground itself seemed remarkably tight, probably because I'd been to The Emirates the night before. Even sitting in the top deck, it felt like I was right on top of the pitch, making it feel like a bigger version of Tynecastle.

Like Hearts' ground, White Hart Lane has seen better days, but what it lacks in the sparkling newness and glamour of its North London rivals' ground, it makes up in feeling like a traditional football ground, one where history has been made and the stands have stories to tell.

I've always had a soft spot for Spurs, ever since I was a boy and the teams of Gazza, Gary Lineker, Jurgen Klinsmann and Ilie Dumitrescu. Even today, I like more of their players than is the case with most of the English clubs - Bale, Modric, Defoe, van der Vaart and even Aaron Lennon all try to play attractive football. All of that group besides van der Vaart played today, with Bale introduced as a second half sub.

By that time, the match had unravelled for both teams, albeit to different degrees. Spurs were a mess at the back (more of that later) and PAOK (which I only discovered today is pronounced "Powk" and not "Pee Eh Oh Kay") raced into a two-goal lead inside 12 minutes thanks to a Salpingidis header and a back post slide from Athanasiadis.

Spurs found a way back into the match when Stafylidis was sent off for handling the ball on the goal line, Modric stepping up to stroke the resulting penalty into the net.

But that was it for Spurs. They had the ball in the net twice again, but both times the goal was ruled out, once for offside and once because Contreras was lying on the goalline injured as Defoe netted.

The match descended into a series of petty squabbles and niggly fouls, and Spurs couldn't find the goal they needed, with Bale, Defoe and Lennon all going close.

For me, the biggest villain on the night was William Gallas. Supposedly Spurs' most experienced and mature defender, he spent the majority of the match wandering around in what appeared to be a disinterested huff, making little effort to actually defend (he was at fault for PAOK's first goal) and found frequently out of position. When he did finally show an interest, it was when he moved himself up front to act as an auxiliary striker for the last five minutes. A petutlant, spoilt bastard of a player, who should do everyone a favour and retire gracelessly.

Gallas' poor showing masked Steven Pienaar's, but only slightly. Pienaar is useless. Absolutely useless. He did nothing good tonight, misplacing passes, getting caught in possession, losing the ball and wasting chances. A truly horrendous display.

All in all, another good night out, spoiled by the result (I was rooting for the Spurs).

Man of the match: Salpingidis gave the Spurs defence a tough time and took his goal well, before getting into a barney with Kyle Walker before and after the final whistle. Aaron Lennon was pacy but couldn't do anything with the ball in the final third. Pulling the strings today was Luka Modric, the hub of everything good Spurs did against a team of 10 men intent on sitting behind the ball and frustrating the home side.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Season 2011/2012: Match 10: Arsenal 0 Manchester City 1 (Carling Cup Quarter Final))

I'm back in London with work this week, and this trip has luckily coincided with a busy week in the English football calendar.

The last time I was down, I took in West Ham vs Ipswich, but this time around I'm at top flight grounds, although not for Premier League matches.

First up on Tuesday night was Arsenal against Man City in the Carling Cup.

When I booked the ticket, I did so expecting to see Arsenal U19s vs Man City reserves. It wasn't quite as bad as that, although there was no Van Persie, no Kompany, no Arteta, no Szczesny, no Hart, no suspended Balotelli, no Tevez (too busy arguing with his own reflection in an Argentine mansion).

But included in the line-ups were Benayoun, Chamakh, Djourou, Squillaci, Park, Zabaleta, Dzeko, Toure, Johnson, Nasri, Hargreaves and De Jong (brilliantly described as "The World's Most Expensive Nigel" by The Guardian not long after he signed for City).

Nasri had a tough evening, booed by almost the whole stadium every time he went near the ball, retribution for deserting the club late this summer.

And what a stadium it is. I'd been before for a conference held in one of The Emirates' sumptuous function suites, but the atmosphere outside the ground for Tuesday's match was electric. I did a full lap, reading about the true legends of Arsenal who grace the stadium's outside walls.

Where Hampden, also a huge purpose-built football arena, feels like a soulless bowl, the Emirates crackles from the minute you step out of Arsenal tube station. The view from my seat in the gods was perfect. I genuinely couldn't fault the place. The only stadium I've liked watching a game at more is Ibrox.

It's just a pity that Arsenal weren't firing on all cylinders. They actually contained City very well - Laurent Koscielny in particular was composed at the back, marshalling Dzeko with confidence.

But Arsenal's front two of Park and Chamakh were a long way off the pace. Park in particular was a huge disappointment, and made no impact whatsoever.

Arsenal's brightest attacking player throughout was teenager Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who gave the city defence a torrid time from the right wing. If his final ball had been a bit more dangerous, or his strikers more alert, Arsenal might have taken something from the match.

In the end though, it was City who moved into the semi-final. Sergio Aguero, introduced in the first half as a substitute (a £38m substitute!! Is that a record?) was played in by Adam Johnson and dispatched a low finish past Lukasz Fabianski.

Arsenal can feel aggrieved, but it was their own poor finishing that cost them. A decent enough match, and certainly a bit different to the Montrose v Ayr United match I was at a week earlier. (A cup tie that ended in a single-goal win for the visiting side....)

Man of the Match: Most of City's players looked comfortable. Aguero clearly put the shits up the Arsenal players, as they looked panic-stricken for about five minutes after he came on. Toure organised the City defence well. Oxlade-Chamberlain's performance against illustrious opponents belied his tender years. But for me Koscielny was the stand-out perfomer, giving an assured performance at the back in the face of attacking talent most defenders would baulk at.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Season 2011/2012: Match 9: Montrose 3 Berwick Rangers 5 (Irn-Bru Division Three)

Hurricane Mo is currently howling her way through Angus' answer to Rio de Janeiro, and high winds almost threatened to derail today's clash of tit(an)s at Links Park.

Referee Kevin Clancy was seen in conversation with both managers just five minutes before kick-off, debating whether the match could go ahead. Needless to say, it did, and the two sides served up an eight-goal thriller.

The match could have gone either way, and the wind did play a part in the proceedings. Montrose were playing against it in the first half, and keeper Michael Andrews never seemed to grasp the idea that long kicks up the park were out of the question.

It was the home side that took the lead today, Martin "Star of The Sun" Boyle flicking the ball over goalkeeper Jamie Barclay from a Scott Johnston lob into the box. The ball looked to be dropping wide of the post, but Boyle nipped around the keeper and stooped to nod the ball into the net.

The lead lasted 11 minutes, Berwick finding an eqauliser out of nowhere, Darren Gribben thumping a low shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

Gribben was a constant pain in the ass threat, and put the visitors ahead five minutes later, flicking a header into the bottom corner from Kevin McDonald's cross.

Both sides had chances throughout the first half, Montrose looking especially dangerous from set pieces. But it took them until six minutes after the break to find an equaliser, Paul Lunan sending a sublime shot high into the net from the edge of the box.

That goal should have spurred Montrose on to win the match, but Berwick took only nine minutes to restore their advantage, Jonathan Crawford caught in possession from a short McNally pass, Stuart Noble taking advantage to beat Andrews with a low shot.

It was Andrews himself who was at fault for Berwick's fourth, spilling a catch that allowed Noble to thump home from six yards out. This isn't the first time Andrews has been culpable this season, and there have to be questions over his bottle, as although he makes a lot of good saves, he also makes a lot of bad mistakes.

Montrose were given a brief boost three minutes from time, Dougie "Kneeheid" Cameron scoring directly from a wind-assisted corner, Barclay unable to scoop the ball to safety before it had crossed the line.

But that brief boost came to an end three minutes into added time, Ross Gray turning on the edge of the box and dinking a shot over Andrews and into the net.

Barclay had to be alert direct from the following kick off, Jamie Winter thumping a shot from just inside his own half that would have dropped into the net had the keeper not been watching closely.

All in all, a disappointing but not disheartening day for Montrose. They created plenty of chances, their top goalscorer found the net again, their second goal was a peach and their third was a feat seen all too rarely.

They sometime lacked defensive composure, but that is nothing new. Jonathan Smart was out of the team today, the Alan Campbell and Sean Crighton partnership restored at centre back. Winter, Masson and Lunan look to be forming a solid unit in the middle of the park, and Cameron and McNally appear to be thriving as fullbacks/auxiliary wingers.

Andrews in goal is an enigma - a great shot stopper who has saved Montrose a number of times in recent matches, but who is prone to disheartening errors all too frequently. Sandy Wood can still feel aggrieved at having been dropped after his strong pre-season form, but at least we've left the days of experimental mime artist Ramiro Gonzalez's Crab Football Extravaganza behind.

Conceding five goals at home is unacceptable, as is scoring three at home and still losing. But again (and I feel like I say this after every Montrose match) there were a lot of positives from today's performance.

Montrose: The team that aspires to mediocrity.

Man of the Match: Today was more of a team showing, with no one player standing head and shoulders above his colleagues. Terry Masson continues to look like a creative and defensive force in the middle, while Jamie Winter - who I regard as a luxury player - is nevertheless beginning to look like he should be the first name on the team sheet every week. Dougie Cameron has also improved considerably over the past couple of months, putting some of his more disastrous errors behind him and looking like a genuine leader on the park. In fact, of the the three candidates I've just named, I'm shocking myself by selecting him as my man of the match - for the second time in three matches. I think I need medical help.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Season 2011/2012: Match 8: Montrose 1 Ayr United 2 (William Hill Scottish Cup Third Round Replay)

Holidays and other real life stuff meant that it was a month since I'd last seen Montrose when I donned the warm jacket and Thinsulate bunnet for last night's Scottish Cup replay.

By all accounts the Gable Endies had given a spirited performance against Ayr in the original tie, and had been well worth their draw.

There was a good turnout last night, the crowd just a smidgin under 600 for a Tuesday night cup match a month shy of Christmas.

Montrose started the better side, and had several chances to take an early lead, Terry Masson coming close on a couple of occasions with twisting runs and powerful shots that were saved or deflected wide.

But despite having the best of the first half, Montrose were a goal down at the break, Michael McGowan playing Alan Trouten into the box, the winger rounding Michael Andrews and shooting into the net.

The same player doubled Ayr’s advantage in the 73rd minute, latching onto a short passback and flicking the ball over the home goalkeeper.

Montrose never do things the easy way, and Jamie Winter's 81st minute goal suggested that they were going to claw their way back into the match in the dying minutes. A short free kick from Stephen McNally was touched to Winter, who hammered a Groanin' Jockesque shot from 20-odd yards that flew into the bottom corner.

The home side threw caution to the wind from that point, pouring everyone up front. If Jonathan Smart was half the striker he thinks he is, he'd have equalised in the dying seconds, but instead he shanked his volley out for a goal kick.

Martin Boyle had put the ball in the net even before Winter's goal, but it was chalked off for offside in questionable circumstances. The striker was definitely onside when the ball was played, and succeeded in rounding Kevin Cuthbert before rolling the ball into the net. Some amongst the press corps suggested he may have handled the ball in the build-up - I guess we'll never know.

All in all, Montrose can be proud of their performance. Over 180 minutes, they refused to lie down to a team that, on paper, should be far superior. With more luck they could have won last night to set up a money-spinning lucrative desirable clash with Livingston in the fourth round.

But there were enough positives last night to suggest that progress is continuing.

Man of the match: None of the players could be ashamed of their performances last night. All of them worked hard, tracked back, covered their men and passed quickly along the ground. Michael Andrews made a number of crucial saves to keep the home side's hopes alive. For me, the key performer was Terry Masson, just edging out Sean Pierce. Pierce was creative throughout, and his crosses were begging to be tucked home. But Masson was a figure of authority in midfield, crisp in his passing where Winter was occasionally wasteful, a danger going forward and a leader from deep.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Season 2011/2012: Match 7: Montrose 2 Clyde 1 (William Hill Scottish Cup Second Round)

Before today, I'd seen Montrose play Clyde twice since the almost-weegie club were relegated at the end of the 2009/2010 season.

Montrose had scored 11 and conceded two goals in those two matches, so they definitely had the upperhand going into today's match.

The home side was missing Stephen McNally through suspension today, and Jamie "Fat Steven Gerrard" Winter was relegated to the bench.

Clyde looked much improved from last season, and they deservedly took the lead in the 18th minute, John Neil nipping between two dozing Montrose defenders to nod the ball into the net from Liam Cusack's cross.

But their advantage lasted only five minutes, visiting goalkeeper John Charles Hutchison palming Scott Johnston's shot into the path of Paul Lunan. The midfielder took a touch before curling a sublime 22-yard shot over the goalkeeper and into the net.

What proved to be the winning goal came in the 50th minute, Montrose hitting Clyde on the counter attack. A long ball from the back was controlled by Dougie Cameron, the left back/midfielder/captain/consumer of pastry products sending a perfectly-weighted through ball to Sean Pierce. The youngster carried the ball into the box before sending a perfect shot with the outside of his boot off the inside of the post.

Clyde weren't dead and buried though, and had plenty of chances to equalise and win the match. Cusack even managed to scoop a shot over the bar from four yards out, which is an achievement of sorts.

The match ended in controversy, with Clyde claiming that Jonathan Smart had handled the ball when clearing a corner. The referee awarded a corner, but the reactions of the Clyde players certainly suggested they were adamant it was a foul. At the final whistle, Smart was confronted by several of the visiting players, and his reaction seemed to suggest that he knew he'd got away with it.

Tough tits if you're a Clyde player or fan basically.

So Montrose march into the third round. And hopefully onto a fourth round clash with Rangers....

Man of the Match: I've been his biggest critic; he genuinely has been shit for most of his time in a Montrose shirt; he's a master of rubbish throw-ins; he likes the odd lasagne or four; he has a head like a knee. But today Dougie Cameron was reliable in defence, passed assertively, encouraged his team-mates and set up the winning goal (then celebrated like he'd scored it). It was cold at the football today. I think hell may be freezing over.

Friday, October 21, 2011

What The World Is Waiting For

...This IS the one we're waiting for.

Although I've been saying for 15-odd years that I never want The Stone Roses to reform (and posted about it here almost five years ago), I now have tickets to see them in Manchester next June. I haven't stopped shaking with excitement since 9.35am.

Please. Pleeeeeaaaaaaaase - let it be good.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Season 2011/2012: Match 6: Montrose 2 Peterhead 1 (Irn-Bru Division Three)

Before I start this report, I should remind both of my readers that I am legally obliged under Article 7, Clause 2 of the SFL Reporting Act (August 2011) to refer to Peterhead as "Big-spending Peterhead" at least once in my article.

However, plans to add an additional sub-clause to the effect that I must also refer to them as "the high-flying Balmoor side" were shelved roughly two games into the season.

Because you can't always buy success in football. Especially if your idea of success is paying Rory McAllister £600 a week to play against the assorted brickies, plumbers and astronauts who populate Irn-Bru Division Three.

Montrose's random assortment of part-timers gave one of their best team performances of the season today, working hard for each other, tracking back diligently, pushing forward en mass and generally getting stuck in all over the pitch.

Today wasn't a performance marked by extraordinary individual turns - this was a collective effort, and a collective "fuck you" to those who had them written off before the season, and this match, kicked off.

Peeeeeeeeeeeeeeterheeeeeeeeeeeid actually took the lead in this match, and it was McAllister's close control and neat finish that put them ahead after 12 minutes.

Both sides had chances during the remainder of the first half, and if Peterhead had scored it would have been a long way back for Montrose.

But the home side didn't stumble and didn't panic. They just kept on playing, although there were too many instances of them resorting to route one football, which demonstrably doesn't suit their attackers.

The equaliser, when it came, was as a result of a strong run from Sean Pierce, a constant threat to the Peterhead backline. His square ball outfoxed all of the visiting defenders, but was perfectly weighted for Terry Masson to slam the ball home.

After the break, both sides sought a winner, but the match began to tilt in Montrose's favour. The winner, when it came, was again the result of Pierce's persistance, the youngster chasing down visiting goalkeeper Paul Jarvie. The keeper panicked, failed to bring the ball under control, and Pierce dinked the ball into Martin Boyle's path, leaving him to poke into the empty net.

Too often we've seen Montrose collapse after taking the lead, in fact it happened in their most recent home match against Annan. But today they stuck it out, kept the ball and kept Peterhead at bay.

A great result for Montrose, and one that could be a kickstart to their season. They're now on nine points, six off the play-offs, while Peterhead are only one ahead of East Stirlingshire at the foot of the table.

I don't care too much for money, 'cos money can't buy me love....

Man of the Match: This was a collective performance, and everyone played their part. Particularly good were Terry Masson, who gave a commanding performance in the middle of the park; Stephen McNally, playing wide right and a constant driving force; Jonathan Smart, managing not to get sent off and leading the back line in the way we've heard he is capable for the first time; and Martin Boyle, whose pace again could have been his opponents' undoing, but who should have had a hat-trick today. Even Kneeheid Cameron was a force for good today, proving particularly dangerous from set pieces. But overall, the most important player was Sean Pierce, creating both goals and generally giving a tireless performance that bamboozled Peterhead's defence.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Season 2011/2012: Match 5: West Ham United 0 Ipswich 1 (nPower Championship)

I'm in London for work this week, and with an evening or two to kill, I ended up spending tonight at the Boleyn Ground, also known as Upton Park, for West Ham vs Ipswich.

Both sides have aspirations of achieving promotion to the Premier League this season, so I was anticipating an exciting clash.

I've never been to Upton Park before - this was only my fourth match south of the border, my previous visits having taken me to Goodison Park, Carrow Road and The City Ground.

First impressions of the stadium were impressive - this is a ground that manages to blend all the hallmarks of a traditional stadium - steep stands tight against the pitch - with the expectations of a modern ground.

But of course the Boleyn Ground won't be housing the Hammers for much longer, the club having agreed to move to the new Olympic Stadium after the games in 2o12.

It seems a shame to leave behind all the history at the old ground. I'm always in favour of clubs staying in their traditional homes, particularly if those stadia are designed for football rather than athletics.

Upton Park certainly bears comparison with the top Scottish grounds. Only Ibrox and Parkhead are better, and I'd rate West Ham's ground over Hampden for actually watching the match - those of you who've read my nonsense before will be well aware of my thoughts on our national stadium.

Anyway, the match boasted no fewer than five England internationals between the two teams.

1) Robert Green - derided throughout by the Ipswich fans with chants of "USA, USA", a tribute to his spectacular performance at last year's World Cup. The West Ham fans responded with "England's No. 1" - which if kind-hearted, is factually inaccurate given that Joe Hart is the nation's first choice keeper.

2) David Bentley - the enigma continues. A fine footballer on his day, Bentley doesn't have those days very often any more. He's on loan from Spurs, and did nothing tonight to demonstrate that he's even Championship class any more, let alone likely to be challenging Aaron Lennon for a place in the Tottenham or England teams.

3) Carlton Cole - big battering ram of a striker. What he lacks in sublime skill he makes up in....emmmm......well, he's big....Cole had a forgettable evening, substituted just after the hour mark, having contributed little to West Ham's play.

4) Lee Bowyer - Coming home for the evening, the boyhood West Ham fan was his typical nippy self in the middle of the park, snapping into challenges and just generally making a nuisance of himself. He also scored the only goal of the match in the 88th minute, slamming home the rebound after Keith Andrews' header came back off the post. He started to celebrate, then remembered where he was and checked himself. Anyway, the corner that Ipswich scored from was taken by...

...5) Jimmy Bullard. I've never understood the fascination with Bullard. From the evidence I've seen on TV, he's another player who is all style and no substance. But that did him a disservice tonight, as he was a constant creative force for Ipswich, pushing them forward throughout the match. A credible contender for man of the match. Even if he does have hair like a fairytale princess.

Kevin Nolan, West Ham's new captain, also started. He likes to think that he's been unfairly kept out of the England squad by inferior players, which is a load of bollocks. He's the rich man's Scott Brown - engaging in petty squabbles, involving himself where there's no need and generally charging around like a horny rhino seeking a mate. Nothing he did tonight marked him out as special, but Allardyce seems to like him.

The match was also unique in that it had not one but two players who weren't good enough for the SPL. Daryl Murphy, on loan at Ipswich from the Mhanky Mhob, made it to the Ipswich bench but no further, while Jason Scotland, formerly of Dundee United and St Johnstone, started up front. Scotland's greatest contribution to the match was hammering a shot from the edge of the box that went out for a throw-in.

It was a decent match in that both sides tried to attack, although West Ham created far too few chances for a side hoping to achieve automatic promotion. Their best passing was in their own half, and they struggled when they pushed further forwards. I thought Henri Lansbury, on loan from Arsenal, was the stand-out player for the home side, but Sam Allardyce disagreed, substituting the midfielder midway through the second half.

I've never liked Allardyce or his teams. This was the man who signed African footballers on the cheap, then whined like a scolded dog when they were called up for the African Cup of Nations. A man whose definition of successful football was lumping the ball long to Kevin Davies and hoping for the ball to somehow find its way into the opposition net. A man with an extreme dose of misguided self belief.

West Ham have a reputation (that may or may not be deserved) for playing attractive passing football. There was little of that on show tonight, and they looked more like an Allardyce team than a Barcelona in waiting.

Ipswich had the lion's share of the chances, as well as playing the better football. Robert Green was the official man of the match, which should tell you something about how often he was called into action.

All in all, it was a decent night's entertainment, another ground chalked off to experience, and definitely one I'd be happy to return to. There's a great atmosphere, with the West Ham fans in fine voice, and hopefully that isn't lost when they move home in a few years' time.

I'd like to hope I'll be back, and hopefully I'll see a Hammers win next time. I'd also like to hope that I'm not paying £32 towards Fat Sam's wages by then as well....

Man of the Match: West Ham's defence looked tidy, and their back four could all reasonably be in with a shout. I thought Lansbury was the most dangerous player in claret and blue until Allardyce bizarrely decided to take him off. And Green was kept busier than he would have liked. But the man of the match has to come from the visiting side, and though it pains me to say it, it has to be Jimmy Bullard. I feel dirty now.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Eighteenth Groanin' Jock Lyrical Challenge

A while back, I resurrected the game no-one seems interested in playing, The Groanin' Jock Lyrical Challenge.

Jack Deighton was the winner on that occasion, correctly identifying Money by Pink Floyd. Answers to all of those questions are now in the comments on that post.

Here are the latest songs for you to identify. Place your answers in the comments. No Googling.

1. When I hear that big black whistle they blow, I feel inside it's time for me to be going.

2. When I fully grow I'll outsize you, but I won't let you fall in love.

3. Gonna manage my time just like Johann Cruyff.

4. For what it's worth it was worth all the while.

5. And when she lets me slip away, she turns me on, all my violence is gone.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Season 2011/2012: Match 4: Montrose 2 Annan Athletic 3 (Irn-Bru Division Three)

Those of you who regularly venture down this dead-end road at the far-flung rear-end of the worldwide interweb will be aware that on the past two occasions that I have seen Montrose "play" "football", they have conceded 12 goals (that's 12 goals total. Not 12 goals in each match. They're not that terrible. Yet.).

In each of those matches, they've had a right royal hiding. But today's defeat (for it was a defeat, if the scoreline in the title of this post didn't give it away) was a different affair.

Montrose were great in the first half. Slick passing ON THE ACTUAL GROUND AND EVERYTHING and fast running from Martin Boyle saw them take the lead in the 14th minute.

OK, OK, they were pegged back almost immediately when they left a great lumbering centreback completely unmarked at the back post.

But they didn't panic, didn't resort to the casual brutality and long balls that have become their trademark - they just kept on passing the ball.

This seemed like a brave new world, one that had come about as a result of water on their collective brains due to the Angus monsoon season starting roughly 20 minutes before kick-off.

In fact, Montrose were so good in the first half that they actually went in for their shared half time orange (one segment each, Dougie Cameron gets the biggest bit) in front, wee Martin Boyle's whippetesque pace carrying him into the box to poke home a second just a minute before the whistle.

All good so far....

....then came the second half. Annan had decided that enough was enough, and spent the majority of the second period squeezing Montrose back into the their own half. But Montrose sat it out well. The slick passing may have been cast aside, but they coped well with constant pressure, and Annan didn't create much in the way of chances.

Until six minutes before time, when they lumped the ball into the box for the same centreback, again left unmarked, to slam a shot into the net.

Still, a draw is a draw, a point is a point, and when you play for Montrose a home draw is like winning the lottery.

Except Montrose went into panic mode, and Annan added a winner barely seconds short of the full time whistle.

Some attempts have been made to blame the referee for the defeat, and while he was guilty of a few odd decisions, none of them cost Montrose the match. They did that themselves through poor concentration.

There were a lot of positives today. Martin Boyle had the best game I've seen him play, the team playing to his strengths and capitalising on his pace. He also seems to be making progress towards adding a killer instinct to his game, which was previously marked by a lot of pace but an occasional lack of composure. Two goals today tell their own story.

Jamie Winter was a creative hub for Montrose. He may have picked up the nickname Sixpence for his tendency to seek the Hollywood pass everytime, but his passing ability is miles ahead of that of his team mates. He's also built like a rhino, and it's good to see a bit of muscle/gristle/flab/big bones in the middle of the park for a change.

Speaking of muscle/gristle/flab/big bones, Dougie Cameron appeared to be captaining the side today despite Stephen MaccaMaccaReyna McNally playing at right back. I'm not sure why, but then I'm one of Kneeheid Cameron's biggest critics. He actually had a decent afternoon today, with some thunderous tackling and a few decent passes. It also helped that he was out of harm's way far out on the left wing, somewhere where he can do less damage to the home side than usual.

Steven Masterton, formerly of Clyde, played as a trialist in central midfield, and he looked like a worthwhile capture if he's available permanently, working well alongside Winter and combing well with Jonathan Crawford and Boyle.

Most of the team would get pass marks based on today's performance. I can't think of any major disasters, although the defence should have been marking better at set pieces, as it was poor awareness at dead balls that cost us all three goals and all three points today.

Still, onwards and upwards....well, downwards if we keep getting no points, but you know what I mean.

Man of the match: A good all-round team performance, with a few stand-out performers, but it could only be Martin Boyle for an eye-catching display up front. If he continues to develop at the rate he has over the past year, he may not be a Montrose player for long.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Season 2011/2012: Match 3: Montrose 0 Stranraer 6 (Irn-Bru Division Three)

I'd missed Montrose's last couple of matches for varying reasons, but was looking forward to getting back to the Montrose Maracana for today's clash with a beatable Stranraer side.

Montrose started the match in good form, and in truth dominated the first half. They should have gone ahead from the penalty spot early on after visiting goalkeeper David Mitchell tripped Martin Boyle in the box.

But Jonathan Crawford (a player I've never been overly impressed by) sent his spot kick two yards wide of the post. Failing to test the goalkeeper from the spot is a cardinal sin, and one I'll be loath to forgive.

Sure enough, Montrose were made to regret it, Stranraer taking the lead in the 37th minute when Alan Campbell hesitated and Stuart McColm capitalised.

The same player added a second three minutes later, robbing Jonathan Smart and slotting low into the net.

Smart was billed as Montrose's big summer signing, and a number of the Gable Endies faithful have been singing his praises. But I've yet to see him have a good game. Today, having proven himself a liability in conceding possession in the run-up to the second goal, he added insult to injury when he picked up his third red card of the season (IN AUGUST!!!!) for halfing a Stranraer player. If I were in charge of Montrose, he'd already be on his way out of the club, for poor discipline and lack of ability.

By the time he was red carded, Montrose were three down, Chris Aitken having added a goal just after the break.

Three more followed in the second half as Montrose collapsed in horrible fashion. Having started so strongly, they were incredibly poor as the match wore on, resorting to long balls and struggling to string passes together. Sean Crighton is Montrose's best centre back but was played out of position on the right. Martin Boyle was given little to work with, and needs a target man to feed off if Montrose are going to insist on playing long balls.

My ambivalent attitude towards Dougie "Kneeheid" Cameron is long-documented, and I fail to see why he's so well regarded. He seems to be extremely limited in his abilities, resorting time and again to hopeful crosses into the box for strikers with barely enough beef on them to remain upright in a strong breeze.

One highlight from Doooooogie today was an overhead kick clearance, although I suspect that he was falling over and was simply lucky to make contact as he fell backwards.

I've seen two Montrose competitive matches this season and seen them concede 12 goals. This is supposed to be Ray Farningham's brave new world.....

Man of the Match: Few contenders from a shameful performance. Steven McMcMcMcMcPhee wins my award for looking lively when few of his colleagues were up to the task.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Season 2011/2012: Match 2: Montrose 1 East Fife 6 (Ramsdens Cup North East Section Round One)

Back in May, in the last football match I attended of the 2010/2011 season, I saw Montrose beaten 5-1 at Hampden by Queen's Park.

Yesterday, I saw Montrose beaten 6-1 by East Fife at the North Sea Nou Camp (or Links Park as it is better known) in their first competitive match of the 2011/2012 season.

Apparently, Montrose have progressed under Ray Farningham....

East Fife are a team from a higher division. It showed yesterday, as they came out flying. The scoreline didn't flatter them at all, and Montrose chances were few and far between.

Michael Andrews made his debut in goal, and some early saves indicated that he might be a worthwhile addition to the side.

But then he collapsed in spectacular fashion. East Fife's second goal came when he dropped the ball at his feet with a view to kicking it up the park, believing that he was alone in his box. But he wasn't, and East Fife striker Robert Ogelby appeared from behind the goalkeeper, stole the ball and ran it into the empty net.

The Fifers' fifth came as a result of the keeper tripping Craig Johnstone in the box to concede a penalty and allowing Ogelby to complete his hat-trick.

There were very few high points for Montrose yesterday. Steven McPhee's goal was one of them, the youngster picking the ball up on the edge of the box and slamming a shot into the top corner.

Further observations:

1) If East Fife had brought no fans, there would barely have been anyone in the ground. A poor show for the first match of the season.

2) Montrose need to keep the ball on the ground, as sending it long to our hobbit-like strikers doesn't work.

3) David Dimilta could be a decent player when he grows up. Someone needs to get him a boy's kit from the club shop.

4) Dougie Cameron has a head that looks like a knee.

Man of the Match: Not many contenders from the Montrose ranks. Steven McPhee gets the nod for his superb goal.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It's A Crime

The Nuremberg trials convicted some of the most evil people in history just 13 months after the end of World War II.

But Metropolitan Police reckons that it might struggle to complete its phone hacking INQUIRIES before the next general election in four years' time.

Modern efficiency is wonderful.

Monday, July 18, 2011

I'm A Stain

I picked up a pair of jeans yesterday morning that I had worn the day before.

I intended to wear them that day.

It wasn't until I was buttoning them up that I found the crotch displaying both tomato sauce and poop.

Tomato sauce mine. Poop not mine.

The joys of fatherhood.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Seventeenth Groanin' Jock Lyrical Challenge

My blogging has been very erratic over the past couple of years, for a multitude of reasons.

So erratic in fact that the last time we had a Groanin' Jock Lyrical Challenge was back in September 2009.

Way back then, Cedric M. Kippers (now no longer wandering the blogosphere) identified three of the five tracks and Kenfitlike spotted one.

The answers are now in the comments on that post.

So without any further ado, here is the Seventeenth Groanin' Jock Lyrical Challenge. Simply name the artist and track, post your answers in the comments, no Googling.

1. I don't know if I'm up or down, Whether black is white or blue is brown.

2. Take off your disguise, I know that underneath it's me.

3. Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash.

4. I can see that light surrounds me, I want you to show me round.

5. Such a melting pot, on the corner selling rock, preachers pray to God.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Season 2011/2012: Match 1: Montrose 1 Raith Rovers 0 (Friendly)

The title of this post is slightly misleading.

Although I'm counting this as the first match I've been to this season, I actually saw the first 20 minutes of Montrose's encounter with Stenhousemuir a week earlier, before husband and father duties called me away.

In the 20 minutes I saw of that match, Montrose looked lively, and Martin Boyle scored a well-taken goal. They ended up winning that match 2-0, and by all accounts played well

So it was with optimism that I took my seat in the Links Park press gallery (the seats at the back of the stand) for their encounter with Division One side Raith Rovers. Raith finished 10 points behind champions Dunfermline last season, so should really be significantly better than Montrose, who at their worst are one of the least capable sides in Scottish football.

But Montrose have a new steel about them under Ray Farningham. A few of last season's old guard have moved on, and there are some new faces looking to carry Montrose to new heights.

Former Arbroath winger David DiMilta was named in the starting line-up. He's a nippy wee bugger, but he runs in a very comical fashion that brings to mind a football sprite from a late 1980s ZX Spectrum game.

Jamie Winters played in central midfield as a trialist. All I can remember of his performance is that he looks like a fat Steven Gerrard. This is not intended as a compliment.

Several Montrose fans have been raving about the performances of new signing Jonathan Smart. I thought he had a disastrous first half against Raith, allowing their strikers in too often, leaving Sandy Wood unprotected. The keeper, thankfully restored to the starting line-up now that Argentine mime artist Ramiro "The Incredible Flying Gonzo" Gonzalez has left, had a great game, pulling off a series of flying saves to deny Raith the goal their build-up play deserved.

Montrose grew into the match as it wore on, and they took a well-deserved lead through Martin Boyle, the youngster knocking home a rebound after Jonathan Crawford's shot had been saved. It seems obvious even at this early stage that the key to any Montrose success this season will be utilising Boyle's pace. If he can add an extra degree of composure to his game, then perhaps we can dare to dream....

Man of the Match: It's between Sandy Wood for his first half saves and Martin Boyle for his livewire performance up front. Sandy gets the nod this week though, as without him Montrose would have been skelped.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Funny Because It's True

From today's Daily Mash

Philip to say 'Mick' no more than eight times

PRINCE Philip will be allowed into Ireland today on condition he calls them all 'Micks' no more than eight times during the four day visit.

'Gosh, you're all surprisingly tall'
The historic trip was only agreed after intense negotiations between London and Dublin, with the Foreign Office stressing that he was going to say it and there was nothing that anyone could do about it.

Prince Philip will say 'Mick' for the first time when he meets President Mary Macalese at her official residence in Phoenix Park. He is expected to say that he 'did not know Mick houses had roofs'.

He will then use an average of two Micks a day culminating with a visit to the Tyndall Institute in Cork on Friday when he will say 'Christ almighty, not more fucking Micks'.

It will be the first time Prince Philip has met an Irish person since 1984 when he told Eurovision song contest winner, Dana: "You're not so bad. The worst is the half-Irish, half-Chinese. I met one once. He was called Declan Wu and he stole my horse."

The visit is the first by a British sovereign in a century and the Queen is understood to be very excited about meeting hundreds of people who, according the British Constitution, are not good enough to be married to her.

The Royal Household has acknowledged the sensitivity of the visit and made key changes to protocol, including replacing the Queen's Official Royal Question of 'What do you do?' with 'Are you going to kill me?'.

During the trip the the Queen will view the Book of Kells and say it is 'very nice' as well as visiting the Irish National Stud in Kildare where she will attempt to drug key rivals in advance of next month's Epsom Derby. And sources say the Queen is also keen to try out her Irish accent and has been rehearsing phrases including 'a very top of the good morning to you' and 'one is being sure, one is being sure'.

Meanwhile, in addition to his eight Micks, Prince Philip has also been given an allowance of three 'bogtrotters', two 'fenians' and a completely unacceptable joke about Bobby Sands.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Between The Sheets...

...or what I've been reading recently.

Mother Tongue - Bill Bryson

Entertaining look at the English language, how it was formed and how it compares with other languages. A tad drier than Bryson's other work, including the superior Made In America that looked at the history of American English, and not even in the same league as his travel writing, but well worth a read for those interested in how the world's dominant tongue rose to its current position.

The Girl Who Played With Fire - Stieg Larsson

The second instalment of Larsson's wildly popular Millennium trilogy. I didn't find it quite as absorbing as its prequel, but the continuing saga of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomqvist is certainly more entertaining and pacy than almost every other work of modern fiction I've read recently.

Mort - Terry Pratchett

My fourth venture into the Discworld, and the quality continues to be evident. A well-crafted story that, like all of the Discworld novels I've read so far starts very strongly, loses its way for a short while in the middle before resolving itself in comedic style.

Rangers Cult Heroes - Paul Smith

This was my Secret Santa gift at the work Xmas party last year. It was good to read the stories of some bona fide Rangers legends, including several from the nine-in-a-row years that I watched as a boy. But there were two faults: firstly, the choice of players covered. To describe John Greig, Ally McCoist, Jim Baxter or Brian Laudrup as cult heroes seems to me to disregard the notion of what makes a cult hero. I've already picked my alternative 10. Secondly, the book seems to have been rushed out in the latter half of 2010, and could have done with a more thorough sub-editing to remove typos and factual errors. Nonetheless an enjoyable read for those of a blue persuasion.

The Business - Iain Banks

Picked up for 20p in an Aberdeen second-hand bookshop when I ran out of things to read on the train, this was a most unexpectedly good book I'd read in a while. A tale of a Scottish girl made good in a shadowy multinational corporation, the humour and fast-paced plot were a delight.

Kingdom of Fear - Hunter S Thompson

Dispatches from Thompson's meandering mind in his twilight years, Kingdom of Fear lacked the punch of his earlier works, but was nonetheless a rollicking ride from one of literature's great heroes of the 20th century.

As In Eden - RM Lamming

I'm a strange hypocrite in that I don't believe any of the stories in the Bible, don't believe in any religions, but I find fiction based on those stories being true to be fascinating. I suppose it stems from a childhood love of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade. But I digress. As In Eden retold a number of the Bible's more famous tales from the viewpoint of women mentioned, occasionally only in passing, in the original tales. Interesting, but still not enough to make me a believer....

Foul! The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes, Vote Rigging and Ticket Scandals - Andrew Jennings

Exposing the sordid world of life inside football's governing body, this book is enough to provoke rage in anyone who first became enchanted by football as a sport, not as a jolly and a means of stuffing pockets with wads of cash.

The Lost Symbol - Dan Brown

Entirely predictable fare from Brown, who must write his books to a generic template. Fast-paced and entertaining enough, but for those of us who have read the rest of his books, the conspiracy theories are starting to wear a little thin.

Fatherhood: The Truth - Marcus Berkmann

A birthday present from Mrs Wife, this is a hilarious guide to the first few years after the birth of the first baby. Actually had me laughing out loud on the train. While simultaneously giving me a little bit of dread at how unprepared I am for the biggest life-changing event of all.

Neuromancer - William Gibson

Supposedly a cyberpunk classic, Gibson's most famous work left me a bit cold, with a plot that was overly complicated and characters that inspired little in the way of feeling. Not recommended.

The Bloke's Guide To Babies - Jon Smith

A second baby "how to" book, along a similar vein to the Berkmann book, if written from a younger man's point of view. Inspiring of further laughs and further dread.

Monday, May 09, 2011

The Groanin' Jock Montrose FC Player of the Year Award

As Montrose have now finished their season, it's time for the award no-one's waiting for, The Groanin' Jock Montrose FC Player of the Year Award.

In the supporters' club official awards, I voted for Stephen McNally, the club captain having looked a figure of calm in a team occasionally capable of some pretty football but more often capable of spectacular mediocrity.

But the Groanin' Jock award is based on the number of times the players have been awarded my man of the match award.

So we're talking about the best players from 20 competitive Montrose matches this season (actually, it's only 18 because I forgot to pick a MotM from two matches....)

The results are:

Martin Boyle: 3
Ross McCord: 3
Chris Hegarty: 2 (one of those was for getting sent off against Arbroath in the New Year shellacking)
Terry Masson: 2
Daryl Nicol: 2
Paul Tosh: 2
Sean Crighton: 1
Hugh Davidson: 1
Stephen McNally: 1
Fraser Milligan: 1

Which means that for the 2010/2011 season, Martin Boyle and Ross McCord officially share the inaugural Groanin' Jock Montrose FC Player of the Year award.

If I was forced to pick between them, I'd go for Boyle.

"Tosher and Boyler, Tosher and Boyler...."

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Season 2010/2011: Match 21: Queen's Park v Montrose

It may be over.

Barring an unforeseen (and unforeseeable) venture to a match over the next couple of weeks, today was probably the last match I'll attend this season.

It may even be the last Montrose away match I'll attend for a long while, given that my first-born - Laudrup McCoist Hateley Durrant Gascoigne Rae - is mere weeks from arrival and is likely to monopolise my free time for a long, long time.

(That name is only a working title - I may still go with Hegarty McNally Gonzalez Crighton McCord Tosh Boyle Rae. Or Lennon if it's a boy [after John, not Neil or Danny].)

Anyway, today was my first time on a Montrose supporters' bus, my first time in the Queen's Park social club and my first time at Hampden when the stadium hasn't been in use for a cup semi-final, cup final, Scotland match or concert.

It's a strange experience being in a sub-1000 crowd in a stadium designed to hold 52,000 (a text from Montrose's own Argentine-obsessed roving reporter asking me to "save her a seat" raised a smile).

Montrose had nothing to play for today, having already secured(?) eighth place in Division Three. But Queen's Park (we're amateurs, honest - we don't pay our players, just give them £100 expenses a week) were looking to guarantee a promotion play-off place.

Some of Montrose's early movement looked vaguely decent, but once Queen's took the lead in the 27th minute, there was never going to be any doubt of the result.

Jamie Longforth ultimately scored a hat-trick and Ian Watt also got on the scoresheet as Queen's put four past The Incredible Flying Gonzo, playing what was probably his last game for Montrose. His larger-than-life personality will be missed around the club, but his abilities as a goalkeeper have been called into question too often since he arrived earlier this year.

Today marked the end of the Montrose careers of a few of the players, most notably Hugh Davidson, who skippered the team for the last time before retiring. His final match ended in near-heartbreaking fashion, limping off after just 20 minutes.

He was replaced by Chris Hegarty, another player likely to be on the way out of Links Park. Along with Gonzalez, Hegs had the good grace to come across to the noisy travelling support at the end of the match and give away his shirt. Gonzo went one better, also handing across his shorts (after ensuring that the roving reporter had received the goalkeeper's jersey and a kiss).

Montrose's only real high point came with Terry Masson's goal, the midfielder picking the ball up far from goal, striding in towards goal and lashing an unstoppable shot into the net.

Aside from that, my personal highlight was hearing a small girl shout, out of nowhere: "Heggy's gonnae get you" - a chant that sounds infinitely more chilling when uttered by an innocent child than by a bunch of blokes old enough to know better.

And so it ends here. Next year's team will look vastly different to this year's incarnation, and will hopefully carry some of the better recent form into the new campaign. From tenth to eighth this season - hopefully from eighth to sixth next year....

Man of the Match: No outstanding candidates - it can't be any of the back five in a match when we conceded four. Masson's superb strike and general work rate make him my final man of the match of the season.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Season 2010/2011: Match 20: Arbroath v Montrose

Despite my protests, despite my ongoing recovery from a cold, despite the weather and despite what was obviously going to be a defeat, I was at Gayfield today to watch Arbroath win the title against Montrose.

There was a noisy travelling support that was given a token corner of the ground, while Abroath completely failed to fill the remainder, despite pre-match boasts that thay'd bring a bumper crowd.

No complaints over the scoreline today, the better team won. Montrose were too often second the ball, were guilty far too frequently of giving the ball away and too often tried to score from ridiculous long-range shots.

It was obvious from the point that Arbroath were given an early penalty that the referee was a sub-human wazzock, and every decision went against the visitors. The penalty was retaken due to a one-man pitch invasion, and the second attempt only went in after trickling along the goalline after coming off of Gonzo's right-hand post.

But the home side scored four on the day, and the flying Argentine was at fault too often, wandering into strange positions miles off his goalline.

Often I think it looks as though Gonzo is watching a different game from everyone else, as he seems to spend a lot of the match barking orders to invisible players just in front of him and flapping at balls that aren't there.

Either that or he has a drink problem, and what we're actually witnessing is a weekly episode of "Ramiro Battles The Pink Elephants". It's easy to imagine, when he's leaping around his box muttering to himself, that he's screaming: "Fuck off elephants, I'm trying to play football".

Anyway, today's match was shite from a Montrose point of view and presumably great from an Arbroath point of view, as they secured the Division Three title and promotion. Montrose bright spots were few and far between, although Terry Masson's overhead kick for the consolation goal was a bit special.

Disgraceful scenes at the end as hundreds of Arbroath fans invaded the pitch, a handful of them knocking Gonzo to the ground and piling on top of him. Montrose need to make an official complaint about the incident and the fact that the police stood and watched an assault that they should have prevented taking place just feet away.

Man of the Match: Terry Masson. The goal alone made him Montrose's best player, but he generally got stuck in throughout a disappointing Montrose performance.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Season 2010/2011: Match 19: Montrose v Stranraer

This was the first time I'd seen Montrose since Ray (or Raymond as the matchday programme calls him) Farningham was appointed full-time manager.

The club's form has picked up in recent weeks, and there was a nonchalent swagger about their play in the first half.

Chris Hegarty was restored to the starting line-up, which was missing Stephen McNally through suspension. The team lined up in what looked like a 4-3-3 formation, and the emphasis seemed to be very much on pinning Stranraer back and constant attack.

The first goal arrived in odd circumstances, Ross McCord turning the ball into the empty net but referee John Beaton instead awarding a penalty for a foul on Hugh Davidson. That decision could have proven to be a nightmare for Montrose, but Daryl Nicol made no mistakes from the spot.

Their lead was doubled before 20 minutes were up, Dougie Cameron the beneficiary of a stramash in the Stranraer box, the ball deflecting off him and looping over goalkeeper David Mitchell's head.

Having set themselves up with such a strong lead early on, Montrose looked like they might rack up a cricket score. Their passing was crisp and they looked confident, particularly from midfield forwards.

Armand One - who is fucking huge - is generally used by Stranraer as a battering ram. But he found himself unable to make an impact, and was hooked before half time, storming straight up the tunnel in a huff.

The second half was a different story for Montrose, and they struggled to find and maintain a rhythm. Stranraer scored nine minutes after the break with a weak goal, Montrose's defence caught napping.

The best was still to come though with Daryl Nicol's second goal. The youngster dipped his shoulder, cut inside and slammed an unstoppable shot into the top corner.

He looked likely to bag a hat-trick until Farningham made his only substitution of the match and swapped him for Sean Pierce 18 minutes from time.

Stranraer got a second goal 17 minutes from the end, and it flustered Montrose, but the home side managed to hang on to secure a good three points from one of the better teams in the division. If Stranraer had won today they'd be third in the league and very much in the promotion chase.

It's very unlikely that Montrose will finish bottom of the league this season, so there has definitely been progress since last year. Steven Tweed can take some of the credit for that, but the team looks a lot better since Ray Farningham assumed control. That suggests the problem may have been with the previous manager's personality as much as anything, so here's hoping the biggest problems are behind us.

Man of the Match: If the match had finished at half time, I'd have gone for Dougie Cameron. Today's first 45 minutes were the best I've seen from him in a Montrose shirt - he looked comfortable on the ball, passed well, crossed efficiently and generally looked dangerous. But he was very poor in the second half, snatching at tackles and picking up a needless booking.

Ross McCord had a good game, playing just behind the front two and generally involving himself in all of Montrose's attacks. His match had everything except the goal he deserved.

Ramiro Gonzalez was also a key figure, keeping Montrose ahead with a number of outstanding saves. But Gonzo can also be a bit erratic, and should have done better with both of the Stranraer goals. An outstanding celebration for the third Montrose goal though, running to the halfway line to roar his appreciation in front of the home dugout before getting a bollocking from Stuart Garden and scuttling back to where he was supposed to be.

The real man of the match though was Daryl Nicol, whose thunderbolt second goal was the icing on the cake of an outstanding performance.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Season 2010/2011: Match 18: Montrose v Elgin City

The sun was shining today, and the summery weather seemed to inject Montrose with a bit of life.

This was the first time I've seen Montrose since Steven Tweed quit/flounced off in a huff.

Montrose were looking for their first win in six games, and by all accounts they've been decent but have just lacked the killer touch over the last few matches.

That was definitely obvious today, and the home side should have scored five or six today.

In the end they only got the one, but that was enough to take all three points.

It was a well-taken chance, Jonathan Crawford meeting Daryl Nicol's cross with a perfectly-placed header.

Both sides had chances, and today was the first time that I've actually believed that our Argentine mime artist Gonzo is a goalkeeper. He made some good stops and blocks, and even kicked with his right foot at least once.

In fact, Montrose generally looked quite good today. Aaron Sinclair had probably his best game of the season, playing at left back, although there were a few defensive slips from his team-mates.

Stephen McNally was his usual industrious self at right back, and the midfield was solid and fairly creative.

The front line of Nicol and Boyle was very lively throughout, and if Montrose were suffering from top goalscorer Paul Tosh's departure to Peterhead, they didn't show it.

Too many chances were passed up for this performance to be truly great, but a win is a win, and those have been few and far between at Links Park over the past two years.

Hopefully Ray Farningham will take the Montrose job permanently and will have a clear vision of how to take the side forwards.

Of the team that started today, I'd now keep Gonzalez, McNally, Davidson, Boyle and Nicol. Sinclair I would sell for the right price, even though he's a great player on his day. I'd keep most of the backline if they could eliminate the silly mistakes. But it would be end of the road for Dougie Cameron, who looks too sloppy in his passing and seems to make odd decisions too frequently.

Cameron passed up a glorious chance today, hammering a volley high and wide from six yards out when it looked easier to score.

Onwards and upwards for Montrose? Maybe. There were certainly green (or blue) shoots today anyway.

Man of the Match: This could easily have gone to one of a number of players. Gonzalez looked like a goalkeeper for the first time, and kept Montrose ahead with a lot of good saves. Hugh Davidson looked reliable in midfield, and Aaron Sinclair seems to have been rejuvenated by his move to left back. But today's key player was Daryl Nicol, who worked tirelessly (as did strike partner Martin Boyle), creating chances throughout and setting up Crawford's goal with a great run and cross.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Calling All Junior Scientists!

Google Science Fair is now open! Ages 13-18 can compete for internships and scholarships.

Google is looking for the brightest, best young scientists from around the world to submit interesting, creative projects that are relevant to the world today.

Who can enter?

The competition is open to students aged 13 to 18 from around the world working on their own or in a team of two or three. For more details, visit the Science Fair Rules page.

How to enter

  • If you don't already have one, create a Google Account. You will need a Google Account to complete the sign up form.
  • Complete the Google Science Fair sign up form. After you submit the form, you will see an important link on the confirmation page. This link will create the Google project submission site where you will post your science fair project details. Signed up but can’t find the link? Click here to create your Google project submission site.
  • Plan your science project, conduct your experiment, and write up your results.
  • Complete all of the sections of your Google project submission site (see sample project submission site).
  • Create either a two-minute video or 20-slide presentation giving an overview of your project and embed it on the Summary page of your project submission. A video or presentation is required to enter.
  • When your project site is done, make sure to submit it via this form by 4 April 2011.

Detailed instructions and tips for building your project submission can be found in the Resources section of this website.

Please note: Entries and supporting documentation must be submitted in English. Google Translate is a free tool that may be useful for students who don't speak English as a first language.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Season 2010/2011: Match 17: Montrose v Albion Rovers

Last week Montrose were good for 45 minutes.

Today they were atrocious for 90.

No-one enjoys sitting in a freezing cold shed and watching joiners, plumbers and assassins-for-hire playing football in a strong wind and hammering rain.

I very much doubt that the players enjoy turning up and getting paid three Haribo and a cup of warm orange juice for "playing" in those conditions.

But Jesus fuck, if you're going to charge idiots like me £10 to get in, at least make it look as though you're interested.

There were no plus points from today's performance. Not one of the players who turned out for Montrose can be happy with their contribution.

I normally reserve scant praise for the younger lads who lack the experience to know what it takes to grind out a result in those circumstances.

But every single player looked devoid of ideas. Presumably that's filtering down from the management. I don't know if Steven Tweed was telling his players to attempt to thump it long in the first half, but a surely even a schoolchild could understand that if the ball leaves the ground and is fighting against a strong headwind, you're never going to get it very far.

Montrose's back four couldn't grasp that, and it was a miracle (and the result of some extraordinarily bad finishing from Albion Rovers) that they were only a goal down at half time.

Several times this season Montrose have looked like a shambles in the first half but come good in the second. Tweed tried his usual masterplan of bringing Martin Boyle on at half time, but even his pace and enthusiasm couldn't ignite Montrose.

John "Beast" Gemmell scored after seven minutes and Scott Chaplain added a second 15 minutes from the end. Montrose never looked like scoring.

Some observations:

A) Dougie Cameron is Montrose's self-designated throw-in taker. No matter where on the left the ball goes out of play, Doooooooogie wants - no, NEEDS - to take the throw-in. The number of effective throw-ins from Mr Cameron today - 0.

B) Dougie Cameron can spin on the ball like Zidane one minute than shank a simple pass out for a throw-in 30 seconds later.

C) Dougie Cameron, like Zinedine Zidane, is bald.

D) That's where the comparison ends.

E) Playing a left-footed player on the right and right-footed player on the left doesn't work. Especially not in Division Three.

Highlight of the game for me was seeing Sandy Wood jump to catch a ball that was flying out for a throw-in. While standing in the dugout.

He nearly decapitated himself and Steven Tweed spent the next five minutes looking at his now reserve keeper with a look that said: "Now you know why I dropped you in favour of an Argentine mime artist-cum-interpretive dance master who wears white leggings, white gloves and a snood and can only kick with his left foot, even if he was previously standing on same left foot".

Says it all really when the highlight is watching a grown man bump his head.

Man of the Match: No-one deserves praise from that match. Not one of them looked like doing something worthwhile. If I was forced to pick one I'd probably go for Stephen McNally for occasionally looking like he'd played football at least once in the past.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Season 2010/2011: Match 16: East Stirlingshire v Montrose

On Friday night I was in Glasgow to witness Liam Gallagher's second coming as lead singer of the abysmally-named Beady Eye.

I was accompanied by a Falkirk-based friend, and before setting off to Glasgow that night we were trying to decide what to do on Saturday. I'd forgotten that the Mighty Mo were also in town to take on homeless East Stirlingshire, but when we spotted that one on the fixtures list, it seemed to be written in the stars.

So at 3pm on Saturday I found myself straddling the thin line between lager hangover and cider drunkeness as we entered Ochilview (or Lesser Firs Park as the stadium announcer would have it).

As is their style, Montrose were honking in the first half and could easily have been a few goals down, having inexplicably survived when Shire's claims for a clear penalty were waved away. They were actually only one goal down at the break, but they'd been very poor and were lucky even to have nil in their own "goals for" column.

The previous week I'd seen The Tosh go into psycho Terminator mode when Hugh Davidson accidentally got in the striker's way. This week it was Nicky Smith incurring The Tosh's rage, and the 1,000-yard stare focused on the youngster was enough to scare the fuck out of me, sitting 50 yards away in the stand.

The Tosh didn't make it for the second half, and I'm impressed that Steven Tweed had the balls to sub him. Martin Boyle came on to a standing ovation from the vocal away fans, and made an instant impact, levelling the scores inside 30 seconds.

Nicky Smith took pelters from the small group of fans sitting beside me in the stand, and when he scored what proved to be the winner, he wasted no time in turning to his critics and giving them a "who's laughing now pricks?" point.

Montrose were a different team in the second half with the introductions of Boyle and Fraser Milligan, who was a constant threat down the right. They deserved their win based on that second half performance, but if the match had ended after 45 minutes Shire would have been worthy winners.

That's the first Montrose away game I've been to since Jim Leishman got sent to the stand against Brechin City many moons ago, and it was a good laugh, especially sitting in the "away" "end".

Surely we can't finish bottom of the league now?.....

Man of the Match: A few contenders from the second half. Stephen McNally led the team well, but some of his passing was a bit awry at times. The defence was mostly solid, and had to be given Romiro Gonzalez's continuing attempts to redfine goalkeeping as a comedy dance routine. But there can only be one real winner - Martin Boyle, fleet-footed goalscorer extraordinaire.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Season 2010/2011: Match 15: Montrose v Queen's Park

The weather was almost summery when I left the house bound for the North Sea Nou Camp at 2pm, but by kick off a chill had set in.

That change in the weather might have been an omen, as Montrose were very poor today. The first half was a fast-paced affair, and both sides created chances. But it was the Hampden men who scored, Montrose failing to heed the warning delivered a minute earlier.

Daryll Meggett had connected with Martin McBride's corner in the 34th minute, debutant Montrose goalkeeper Ramiro Gonzalez punching off the line.

But an indentical delivery found the same player a minute later and this time his header flew into the net.

Montrose had had a definite penalty turned down earlier in the half when the goalscorer had tripped Paul Tosh in the box, but otherwise Montrose had offered little.

The second half was a slower affair, and Queen's Park created the bulk of the chances. Montrose struggled to find their rhythym, and key players Aaron Sinclair and Paul Tosh were largely anonymous.

Queen's Park put the result beyond doubt in the last 10 minutes, Paul McGinn cutting into the box from the left wing and hammering a shot across Gonzalez and into the far side of the net.

It was no less than the visitors deserved.

Montrose have picked up one point from the last nine, and need to begin demonstrating the ability that the squad is undoubtedly capable of.

Man of the Match: No genuine contenders from the home side, and too many players didn't turn up today. Stephen McNally, playing in central midfield, showed occasional flashes of inspiration, but disappeared for most of the second half. I'll go with Sean Crighton, who gave a no-nonsense defensive performance despite playing at right back instead of his normal centre back.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Season 2010/2011: Match 14: Montrose v Berwick Rangers

There are some days when the build-up to a football match is less than inspiring.

It's been raining in Angus for the best part of 24 hours, and the fixtures at Forfar and Montrose were postponed as a result.

But Montrose have a green carpet instead of a pitch, and their encounter with Berwick beat the weather.

Only 301 hardy souls ventured out for the match, and the first half was nearly as dreich as the weather.

Referee Eddie Smith was at least partly responsible for that, failing to award a penalty and instead booking Conor Thomson for a dive when the young striker was clattered by Steven Notman in the 20th minute.

The second half was better entertainment, Paul Tosh putting Montrose ahead from the penalty spot after Jamie Ewart handled in the box.

Montrose's lead lasted only nine minutes, Craig O'Reilly heading the ball over Sandy Wood to level the scores.

Tosh could have snatched a winner deep into second half injury time, sliding in to connect with Thomson's pass but poking the ball wide of the post.

A decent performance from Montrose, although there were too many fouls and too many stray passes for them to look properly threatening. Ross McCord, Hugh Davidson, Paul Tosh and Conor Thomson all looked dangerous in short spells, but never all at the same time.

Man of the match: Hugh Davidson was probably the pick of the bunch for Montrose, looking calm in an occasionally heated midfield battle. He looked confident on the ball and sprayed some decent passes during the course of the afternoon.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Season 2010/2011: Match 13: Montrose v Clyde

Back in September, Montrose trounced Clyde 8-1 at Links Park when the visitors had two men sent off.

The chances of a repeat this weekend were always very slim, but Montrose's fans were still confident of a win over Division Three's basement boys.

It all looked very unlikely in the first half when Clyde came roaring out of the traps. If they could have finished their chances, they'd easily have been three or more ahead at the break.

Ultimately though, it was only one goal that separated the two sides at half time, and that strike came three minutes into stoppage time. Montrose's marking was atrocious, and Marc McCusker had time and space to turn in the box and slam a shot beyond Sandy Wood.

Thankfully for those of us of a blue persuasion, it took only two minutes of the second half for Montrose to equalise. Ross McCord was tripped in the box and Paul Tosh made no mistakes from the spot.

Montrose were further ahead nine minutes later when McCord curled a corner to the near post and Sean Crighton (who otherwise had a match to forget) bulleted a header into the net.

The result was put beyond doubt nine minutes from time when Stephen McNally burst forward, stumbled through a challenge and slipped the ball to Boyle, who had the simple task of firing the ball into the empty net.

To fall back on a cliche, it was a game of two halves - Montrose were dire in the first and would have had no complaints had they found themselves several goals down at the break. But there was a fire about them in the second, and they looked far more confident and dangerous.

If they can play as they did in the second half more often, Montrose have the makings of a good side. But if they continue to make mistakes as they did in the first half, they'll struggle against better sides than Clyde.

Man of the Match: No real contenders from the first period, although Sandy Wood did well to keep Clyde at bay until the third minute of stoppage time. They were much better in the second, and Paul Tosh, Stephen McNally, Ross McCord and Wood again all had a great closing 45 minutes. But for his work rate and never-say-die attitude, Martin Boyle, introduced as a half time substitute, gets my nod this week.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Season 2010/2011: Match 12: Montrose v Annan Athletic

Any football team missing its most creative midfield player and top goalscorer through illness is going to struggle.

Add in an injured centre back and a suspended right back and the team in question would normally be written off before the match has even kicked off.

Especially when that team is Montrose, a side well-versed in the art of taking mediocrity to ever more mediocre non-heights.

But inexplicably, Montrose were half decent yesterday despite missing Ross McCord, Paul Tosh, Steven Tweed and Chris Hegarty.

Neither side offered much in the way of genuine attacking threat, but both Montrose and Annan approached the match with a great degree of gusto.

Annan wanted to hammer the ball into the net from 40 yards, Bryan Gilfillan frequently testing Sandy Wood from long range. Montrose were more focused on getting the ball in front of Martin Boyle and Conor Thomson, but what the two youngsters offer in pace they perhaps lack in composure.

The match appeared to be petering out into a 0-0 draw when Kevin Neilson rose in the 92nd minute to connect with a deep cross, head the ball back across Wood and into the bottom corner.

It was harsh on Montrose, who were worth at least a point.

Annan should only have had 10 men on the park at that point, Peter Watson incredibly lucky to avoid a straight red card for shoving Hugh Davidson to the ground after a heavy challenge.

There were positives for Montrose despite the result, and last season they might have lost this match 3-0. Mid-table obscurity may be the best the side can hope for this season, but that's a significant improvement for last season's Worst Team In Scotland.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Ten: My 10 Rangers Cult Heroes

And no, cult isn't a mistype before I get any smart-ass comments.
I'm currently reading a book called Rangers Cult Heroes that mysteriously deems John Greig (European trophy-winning captain, 20 years at Rangers as a player, later manager and club director), Ally McCoist (all-time club top goalscorer. Current assistant manager and manager-elect) and Jim Baxter (widely regarded as one of the most talented players in Rangers and Scotland history) to be cult heroes.
So here's my own personal alternative list:
1: Mark Walters - When I first became properly interested in football, Walters was the Ibrox wing king. Fast and creative, he was in the first Rangers team I ever saw in the flesh.
2: Rino Gattuso - In his days before becoming a World Cup and Champions League-winning dynamo in the heart of the AC Milan midfield, Rino Gattuso was a terrier as Rangers missed out on 10-in-a-row at the final hurdle.
3: Terry Hurlock - With long greasy hair and vaseline on his eyebrows, Terry Hurlock looked more like a wrestler when he entered the field of play. Anyone described as a "Millwall hardman" is going to add substantial grit to a team. I think that to this day, Mither thinks his name was Terry Warlock.
4: Dale Gordon - Scored twice on his Rangers debut, joining the nine-in-a-row squad during its unchallenged superiority, and managed to score a fair few goals despite competing for them with Messrs McCoist and Hateley.
5: Pieter Huistra - Effectively forced out of Ibrox by the arrival of Brian Laudrup, Huistra was another foreign-born wing wizard. Five league medals, two league cup medals and a Scottish Cup medal tell their own story, but many was the hour I spent in the garden attempting to teach myself to turn with the ball like Huistra did.
6: Charlie Adam - Fat, slow, not overly disposed to defensive duties, loathe to track back. Possessor of a powerful shot and capable of scoring spectacular goals. Charlie Adam is my most recently departed cult hero thanks to the fact that he is the professional football player I am currently closest to resembling.
7: Jorg Albertz - The Hammer. Everything that made Albertz a crowd favourite at Ibrox was packed into that steamhammer left peg. I remember seeing an unfortunate East Fife defender take an Albertz free kick in the balls from 10 yards, and heard the whole ground groan on his behalf.
8: Alan McGregor - Still at Ibrox, but I think that of all the current Ibrox players, Shagger has the most unique bond. He features frequently in the tabloid gossip columns, and my favourite McGregor moment came as he took to the field at Tannadice for a match with Dundee Utd and greeted the chants of "Shagger, Shagger gies a wave" with a subtle nod of the head.
9: Nacho Novo - There's only one Nacho Novo - famously turned down the chance to sign for Celtic and became an immediate Ibrox favourite as a result. Scored a barrowload of goals in a Rangers team that was frequently uninspiring. And he sings The Bouncy in a heavy Spanish accent.
10: Maurice Johnston - My first favourite Rangers player. Probably the most controversial player in the club's history. But I didn't fully understand the religious overtones (or that his time as an ex-Celtic player counted against him). I was gutted when he was packed off to Everton to make way for the McCoist-Hateley partnership.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Season 2010/2011: Match 11: Montrose v Dunfermline Athletic

Montrose really are one of the most perplexing sides in Scottish football.

Last week they were torn apart by Arbroath, losing five goals and two men at home in the Angus derby.

Yesterday they took the lead against full time opponents Dunfermline, failed to collapse as had been predicted and were unlucky to lose an equaliser.

It looked as though they were heading out of the Scottish Cup when Dunfermline went ahead with 10 minutes remaining, but Paul Tosh slammed home an injury time equaliser to book a replay at East End Park.

Before the match, I thought Montrose would lose at least six goals. But they played well, limiting Dunfermline to long range efforts and attempts from corners.

When they took the lead, it was well deserved, Tosh racing onto a through ball before turning the ball into the bottom corner. They then defended excellently until 17 minutes from the end, and Sandy Wood was unlucky to be beaten by Patrick Clarke's long range effort.

Montrose heads could have gone down when Andy Kirk was quickest to react when David Graham's free kick clattered off the far post to poke the ball over the line.

But Tosh sent the Montrose fans home happy, taking a touch outside the box after Stephen McNally's long throw had been cleared and thumping the ball into the roof of the net.

Steven Tweed had probably his best game in a Montrose shirt, leading the line with authority. Sandy Wood was desperately unlucky with both goals. Ross McCord was combative and creative in midfield. And Paul Tosh showed the younger and supposedly better strikers on the park how to be an effective target man, constantly creating space for himself and others around him.

If Montrose could play like that every week, they'd be romping Division Three. But they don't, and recent league performances have been barely deserving of mid-table mediocrity.

Maybe the times they are a'changing....

Man of the Match: For generally making a nuisance of himself, for running around non-stop despite his advancing years and for two great finishes to keep Montrose in the cup, it can only been Paul Tosh.