Friday, December 21, 2012

1p Album Club

A bit of shameless self-promotion here - my first review as part of the 1p Album Club has just gone live on the website.

I first found out about the club through Twitter. The premise is quite simple:

Pair up with a friend and each month, send each other an album that is available through the Amazon marketplace for 1p (plus postage).

There are thousands of records on Amazon for that price, and the 1p Albums Club is a way of rediscovering some lost classics, finding new music and putting the idea of the album back at the forefront of music, rather than single tracks or iPods set to shuffle.

I received a record I'd never heard of earlier this week, Space Monkeys' 1997 debut The Daddy Of Them All, and in return I sent The Beta Band's Three EPs.

If anyone fancies pairing up for a monthly exchange of albums, let me know.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Season 2012/2013: Match 12: Montrose 2 Rangers 4 (Irn-Bru Scottish Football League Division Three)

SFL Division Three Manager of the Month for November, Stuart Garden, welcomed Division Three new boys Rangers to Links Park on Saturday, hoping to see the home side extend its unbeaten run to seven matches.

A year ago, that would have sounded like the least likely opening paragraph in Scottish football history. But today the Bizarro World that our national game finds itself in continued to unravel as the end of the world draws near.

For Montrose, a win would have seen them further consolidate their place in the playoff spots in their penultimate home match of 2012, while Rangers were looking to extend their lead at the top of the league.

It felt strange arriving at Links Park today, from the hundreds of police officers milling around the town, to well-kent faces wearing nametags and punting programmes in the streets, to being asked by a strange security guard in a headset "where are you going?" as myself and my Montrose press corps colleague made our way towards the same entrance we have used every fortnight for the past three years.

Once the initial excitement had worn off, and my press corps colleague had restrained me from bounding onto the pitch to ask Messrs McCoist, Hateley and Durrant if I could have my photograph taken with them, it became apparent that this was going to be like every other Montrose match, but with more fannies.

Chief among those fannies were some of the visiting journalists, who seemed most interested in moaning about everything they encountered:

  • "There's only wan power point. This is a fucking joke".
  • "There's two McIntoshes, two Woods and three Crawfords. Fucksakes".
  • "Is there nae teamsheets? Fucksakes".
[Team sheets promptly arrive and are delivered to the well-kent Montrose press corps. Scrum erupts around said press corps. Some members of the travelling press seem to think that photocopied team lines are some mystical item made of unicorn horn and hand-spun angel hair, such is their desperation to grab one].

Montrose fielded an attack-minded line-up, with Garry Wood and Leighton McIntosh up front and Lloyd Young and Ricky McIntosh flanking Jamie Winter and Terry Masson in midfield. The weak point was always likely to be centre back, with Paul Lunan still on the injured list. This meant that Stuart Garden kept faith with Alan Campbell's Arthritic Knees and Jonathan Crawford at centre back, the latter having shaved his head to the wood in order to look less like Napoleon Dynamite when faced with a pair of international strikers.

It was the home side who started brightest, taking the game to their more highly-paid opponents, Garry Wood punting a half volley just over Neil Alexander's crossbar from wide on the right and Jamie Winter honing the sights on his right foot missile system.

But it still came as a shock when Montrose opened the scoring 16 minutes in. McNally's throw-in reached Young in the box, the winger meeting the ball with an exquisite volley that curled over Alexander and into the net.

The Dynamo bounced around with gleeful abandon in front of the global ESPN audience, and it really was game on.

Montrose's lead lasted only six minutes, Lee McCulloch and His Enormous Penis equalising from the spot following McNally's trip on David Templeton.

But despite that, Montrose continued to at least match their visitors, and frequently looked like the better side, with Young and Wood keeping the Rangers defence on its toes. At the other end, Sandy Wood was giving a heroic performance, with a series of pointblank saves that kept Montrose in the match.

Half time arrived with the sides level, and no indication which would prevail. Rangers began to look stronger as the match wore on, and their superiority finally shone through midway through the half.

Two goals in as many minutes saw Kevin Kyle put Rangers ahead, the former Scotland striker sidefooting into the bottom corner from Dean Shiels' pass.

Shiels then turned scorer, firing into the bottom corner after Barrie McKay's great run down the left wing.

But even then, Montrose didn't surrender. A year ago, they would have been dead and buried long before the 75th minute, but this side is made of sterner stuff. That showed when David Gray scored with practically his first touch after coming on as a substitute, firing a sweet half volley over Alexander's head.

Which set the stage for 15 minutes of both sides attacking, Rangers seeking to restore their two-goal advantage, Montrose looking for an equaliser.

Garry Wood came closest, bursting through the Rangers defence and sending a shot over Alexander, only to see the ball crash against the crossbar and rebound to safety. Substitute Scott Johnston also hit the woodwork late on, knocking a shot against the post from a corner.

Rangers gave the result an air of superiority their play hadn't fully merited when Robbie Crawford blasted home in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

Even more so than when they met at Ibrox earlier this season, Montrose can hold their heads high after today's performance. They matched their opponents for all but a crucial five minutes, and frequently bettered them.

At the time of the Ibrox match, I considered myself a neutral, watching the team I grew up supporting play the club I've become a part of over the past five years. Today, I unconsciously found myself rooting for Montrose. It came as a shock to me - I have always been and will always consider myself a Rangers fan.

But watching Montrose week-in, week-out, through thick and thin (or thin and thinner), and seeing them today match far better paid players for 90 minutes, I couldn't help but think that it would be good to see them get the result they deserved.

I still want Rangers to win the title, and to win every game against every other club, but part of me wishes that Montrose had gotten at least a point today.

On a less positive note, the stramash that has kicked off on the internet about the matchday programme is unfortunate. Describing Rangers as a new club looking to win its first trophy this season smacks of pettiness, and was completely unnecessary. For me, it has tarnished Montrose's reputation and has made it look small-minded. It's the first time I've ever felt embarrassed to be associated with an otherwise excellent programme.

Man of the Match: From a Rangers point of view, I liked the look of Templeton and Little today, keeping things moving from the wings, and Kyle Hutton, who had a tough shift being marked by Terry 'The Destroyer' Masson (who was substituted after collecting his inevitable booking).

In the Montrose ranks, there were no major disappointments, although Leighton Mcintosh was largely anonymous. All of the players gave a hard shift, and Garry Wood's workrate couldn't be faulted. On any other day, Lloyd Young would have been my man of the match, a constant menace to the Rangers defence and the scorer of a great goal.

But today I thought that Sandy Wood was immense in goals, pulling off a string of saves to keep Montrose in the match, commanding his defence with authority and even turning auxiliary striker in injury time as Montrose sought an equaliser, much to Stuart Garden's rage.