Thursday, December 26, 2013

Season 2013/2014: Match 6: Montrose 0 Annan Athletic 2 (Scottish Professional Football League Two)

Two goals in second half stoppage time.

Merry fucking Christmas.

Man of the Match: Scott Johnston - a tireless performance on the right wing that deserved to be rewarded with a goal or an assist.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Season 2013/2014: Match 5: Montrose 0 Clyde 2 (Scottish Professional Football League Two)

As Hurricane Bawbag II: This Time There's Snow howled round the eaves of Dungroanin' yesterday afternoon, I was nursing a hangover, having been at my office Xmas party the previous evening.

Crawling into my bed in an Aberdeen hotel at 4am, then waking four hours later and dragging my festering corpse home was not ideal preparation for anything beyond curling into a small ball and dying as quietly as possible.

Coupled with the fact that Mrs Wife and the Jocklings are away for the weekend, and I was therefore afforded peace and quiet to suffer, I surprised myself by deciding to leave the cozy house and let the wind carry me to the Basinside Bernabeu.

(My sorry condition yesterday also explains why I am writing this at 1pm on Sunday afternoon - I've just had 12 hours' unbroken sleep for the first time in three years).

Anyway, perched at the top of the concrete shed that masquerades as the stand at Links Park, it quickly became apparent that Montrose were in for a tough afternoon. The first half saw them facing not only the 11 Clyde players, but also Hurricane Bawbag II itself, as they attempted to play against the wind and rain.

Surprisingly, they worked out fairly quickly that long balls would be a no-no, and attempted to pass their way around the brillo pad.

But Clyde looked the better side, Stuart McKenzie and Luke Johnston - Montrose's new loan signing from current Best Team In The World Ever, Dundee United - keeping their opponents at bay with a series of saves and blocks.

However, Clyde finally moved ahead on the half hour mark, Kevin Watt poking home from a corner as the Montrose defenders watched in wonder.

Scott Ferguson doubled the lead two minutes later, heading over McKenzie from a McDonald cross.

Insult was added to injury two minutes before half time when Ross McCord was shown a straight red card. I didn't see the incident, so can only assume he shoved or punched someone in the Clyde wall as he attempted to take a free kick.

The second half was a quiet affair, Clyde happy to sit in against their 10 opponents, and Montrose unable to find a way past them. Garry Wood came closest for Montrose, sending a half volley inches wide from a McNally cross.

The result leaves Montrose in sixth place in the table, outside the playoff places only on goal difference, and seven points behind top of the table Clyde in a division where only 10 points separate top and second bottom.

Man of the match: A tough shift for the home side, especially after McCord's dismissal. McKenzie again looked comfortable in goals, and could do little with either goal.

I actually thought that, aside from the five minute spell surrounding the goals, that the Montrose defence looked fairly comfortable, particularly the centre backs, Alan Campbell and Luke Johnston. I'll go with Campbell for man of the match, as he kept his head and consistently looked for a pass rather than hammering the ball hopelessly into the wind.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Season 2013/2014: Match 4: Montrose 3 Elgin City 3 (Scottish Professional Football League Two)

Montrose were bereft of their lucky charm this week, Little Jocklette deciding to eschew the North Sea Nou Camp in favour of a nap and baking cookies with her mummy.

It therefore fell upon me to make the trek alone, in the knowledge that a Montrose win coupled with results going their way elsewhere could see them move up to second in the table, and the wisdom that that almost certainly would not happen.

Montrose's team looked strong on paper, although Gareth Roger's absence through injury left a gaping chasm in the centre of defence that neither Jonathan Crawford nor Colin Wilson could adequately fill.

With neither centre back entirely comfortable with the art of defending, they instead resorted to a comedy hair competition, Wilson emerging as the unanimous winner with fetching side parting/hideous moustache combination, presumably but hopefully not in aid of Movember - that bad boy has long-term potential.

Bryan Deasley - somehow having missed the cut for Gordon Strachan's Scotland squad despite his single-handed destruction of Albion Rovers a week earlier - lined up alongside Garry Wood in attack, while Terry Masson turned winger in the absence of anyone better qualified.

The Wood-Masson-Watson-Deasley axis of awesomeness looked likely to put Montrose ahead early on, but some magnificent saves from Raymond Jellema kept the scoresheet clear for the first 20 minutes.

It was former Aberdeen and Heart 'star' Dennis Wyness - a man whose wife one is not advised to dance with in an Aberdeen nightclub -  who opened the scoring at that point, backheeling Ross McKinnon's shot into the net.

Their lead lasted 10 minutes, at which point Montrose's answer to Jorg Albertz, Paul Watson, slammed a long-range shot into the bottom corner.

But as is the way of things down Wellington Street way, Montrose thereafter began to play like a bunch of hungover Sunday league players meeting for the first time. They could scarcely string two passes together, and found themselves camped in their own box for most of the time between their goal and half time.

Had it not been for some excellent saves from Stuart McKenzie, Montrose could have found themselves five or six goals down by the hour mark, rather than just two.

Elgin's second goal came on the stroke of half time, David Niven crossing for Wyness to tap home his second goal of the afternoon, the Montrose defence having left the park early to get a head start on the half time Hobnobs.

Their third came seven minutes after the break, Craig Gunn reacting quickest when Ross McKinnon's 30-yard free kick clattered off McKenzie's post. It was no surprise that Gunn was first to the ball, given that he was five yards offside when the free kick was taken.

It was at that point that I considered packing up my notepad and stopwatch, and heading home for a nap and some cookies.

Thankfully I chose to sit it out, and was rewarded with one of the least likely comebacks I've seen in a while.

I questioned Stuart Garden's sanity when he withdrew Garry Wood and Terry Masson on the hour mark, replacing them with Scott Johnston and Kieran Sturrock.

So there's a reason why he's the professional football manager and I'm just a smartass who watches football and occasionally gets paid to write about it.

Johnston scored Montrose's second goal after great play from Deasley. The on-loan Forfar man powered down the left, burst into the box and squared for Johnston to tap into the empty net - but with just three minutes remaining, it looked to be too little, too late.

With the clock ticking into its final seconds, a corner fell for Watson, and he slammed his shot into the roof of the net, before racing off to silence his detractors in the ranks of the Montrose faithful.

So, while in the cold light of day this was two points dropped to the team sitting second bottom of the table, in the end it almost felt like a win, so unlikely had it seemed even five minutes before the end.

Montrose remain outside the playoff spots for the meantime, but with just nine points separating first and ninth in the table, there's a long way to go.

Man of the Match: Bryan Deasley left it late to emerge from his shell, creating Johnston's goal with a surging run and composed pass. Paul Watson's finishing made the difference between a draw and a defeat.

But for me, today's key performer was Stuart McKenzie in goals, without whom Montrose really would have been dead and buried by half time. His saves kept the scoreline more respectable than it might have been, laying the foundation for the late recovery.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Season 2013/2014: Match 3: Montrose 2 Albion Rovers 1 (Scottish Professional Football League Two)

Attempting to leave Dungroanin' for the sub-Arctic environs of Links Park this afternoon, I was accosted by Little Jocklette, who at the age of two and a half is now chief overseer of everything that happens in our lives.

Little Jocklette: "Where are you going Daddy?"

Groanin' Jock: "To the football."

LJ: "My coming too" (this was phrased as a statement, not a question).

GJ: "I don't think so. It's cold outside, and I'll be there a long time, and you can stay here and watch Dumbo."

LJ: "No, my going to the football" (Jocklette considers the conversation finished, and begins searching for welly boots, jacket and gloves).

GJ: "No, I think you should stay here with Mummy."

LJ: (Voice coming from inside a practical if unorthodox hat/hood combo) "No, my going to the football. Come on Daddy, let's go."

Five further minutes of attempting to convince Obergruppenfuhrer Jocklette that she'd be much happier at home later (whilst also trying not to convince myself), the two of us were en route to the Basinside Bernabeu.

With the benefit of hindsight, I should have been glad to take her with me - in three visits to watch Montrose in action, she has never seen them lose. Her previous matches were a 3-1 win over East Stirlingshire (when she memorably shouted "Oh No!" when Jonathan Crawford received the ball in central midfield) and a 5-1 destruction of Annan Athletic last season.

It looked like she was on a hat-trick from early in today's match, the superb Bryan Deasley controlling on the edge of the box and firing over visiting goalkeeper Neil Parry.

But, as is so often the case when watching Stuart Garden's men in action, they seemed to hit the self-destruct button from the midpoint of the first half, frequently losing possession, defending with wild desperation, and becoming incapable of stringing more than two passes together.

It therefore came as no surprise when Mark McGuigan bundled the ball over the line in the 24th minute, the Montrose defence having fallen asleep in their own box.

From that point onwards, the home side rode their luck for the best part of an hour, only truly stepping up their level of play in the final half hour of the match. Paul Watson came close with a series of long range efforts, while Gareth Roger had a 30-yard strike tipped over.

When the Montrose winner came, it was Beasley who struck again, beating Parry with an audacious lob from 25 yards.

This was a curious match, in that Montrose were ultimately deserving winners, but could also have been on the end of a major hiding.

There are still a number of problems in the side - a lack of extensive strength in depth being one, alongside an over-reliance on Garry Wood and Bryan Deasley.

In defence, Stephen McNally continues to provide cause for concern - two seasons ago he was one of the strongest and most reliable players on the park, week-in, week-out - but now his performances are frequently erratic, with poor distribution and positioning haunting his game.

Montrose need to be better at holding onto leads, and to improve their concentration. The quality is there, and they have players who can keep the ball and pass - they just need to be reminded they can do so.

Anyway, it looks as though I will need to continue bringing Little Jocklette to Links Park - at a cost each week of a bottle of juice, a packet of Rainbow Drops and a running commentary throughout the match: "Look Daddy, a ball" "Daddy, where's the mole gone?" "Look Daddy, a bus" "My go down the stairs and play on the grass".

Still, few Montrose fans can boast a record as impressive as P3 W3 D0 L0 F10 A3 Pts 9...

Man of the Match: There were two outstanding players today. On any other day, Gareth Roger would have been my man of the match, keeping his head when all those around him were losing theirs in the 40 minutes spanning half time.

But Bryan Deasley was the best player on the park by a comfortable margin today. Not only did he score twice with majestic finishes each time, but he maintained a ferocious work rate, constantly seeking the ball and finding space to keep the Melchester Albion Rovers defence on its toes.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Season 2013/2014: Match 2: Montrose 1 Queen's Park 2 (Scottish Professional Football League Two)

Regular readers (both of you) will be aware that amongst my many gripes are:

A) The foolishness of engaging in outdoor activity in Scotland in any months between September and March. Add to this, if you will, the climatic effects of kicking off after dark in a ground beside the North Sea.

B) The utterly incomprehensible incompetence of football officials in the sewers of the Scottish 'professional' game.

Unusually, my normal pessimistic nature was offset by having seen Montrose dispose of East Stirlingshire three days earlier with what passes for discipline and control at Links Park.

Facing off against the team sitting bottom of the league, a team still looking for their first win of the season, a team that had traveled up from Glasgow that afternoon, and surely - SURELY - Montrose were destined for the top of Serie Z4, or whatever the multi-headed monster that is the SPFL is calling Division Three these days.

I should have known better. The twin impediments in Montrose's rise to become the creme de la creme of the 10 worst teams in Scotland were:

A) The Montrose players


B) Referee Mat Northcroft

Usually, I can sympathise with referees - they're on a hiding to nothing, and they're almost never going to please everyone all of the time.

Initially, I thought that Northcroft was having a decent match, allowing play to flow instead of whistling for every minor infringement.

But as the cold seeped into his brain, Northcroft reverted to type.

Firstly, he managed to pull more than seven minutes of second half injury time out of his arse. Queen's had taken the lead in the 25th minute when Blair Spittal cut inside Jonathan Crawford and curled a shot inside Stuart McKenzie's far post.

But Terry Masson looked to have snatched a point for Montrose right at (what should have been) the death, bundling the ball over the line at the second attempt in the 87th minute.

However, 10 minutes later a free kick was awarded against Garry Wood for having the temerity to allow his opposite number to climb onto his back. A quick free kick was spanked up the park, Liam Gormley controlled and fired low into the net.

It was a cruel blow, and Northcroft's decisions towards the end of the match defied all logic.

Jesus suffering fuck on a bike - is it too much to hope that someday we might be graced with a referee capable of making correct decisions for an hour and half?

I should point out, however, that Montrose were not entirely blameless when it came to the result. They eschewed the crisp passing of Saturday for aimless punts up the park, in the vain hope that Garry Wood had become Wayne Rooney since the weekend.

He hadn't, and their industry in their own half went unrewarded, as instead of playing the ball to feet, they opted instead to return it to their opponents as quickly as possible.

In David Gray, Scott Johnston, Bryan Deasley and Garry Wood, Montrose have some skilled ball players, but they can only work with what they're given.

Having said that, I do sometimes wonder if Scott Johnston is the hardest-working, least productive winger I've ever seen...

In fairness to Montrose, their evolution is continuing - 18 months ago they'd have lost this match by three or four goals.

But it's infuriating when we've seen them play so well, to watch them resort to hit and hope tactics just days later.

Man of the Match: This is a tough one to call, as the team performance was so disjointed that it was difficult for any of the players to shine. McKenzie again looked comfortable in the goal, and could do nothing about either of the Queen's goals. Wood was, as always, tireless up front, and with a bit of luck could have won the match for Montrose in the second half.

But the greatest goal threat came from Paul Watson, who seems to be thriving in his new role in the middle of the park, acting as a link between defence and attack, and proving a constant threat with his long range shots.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Season 2013/2014: Match 1: Montrose 2 East Stirlingshire 0 (Scottish Professional Football League Two)

Work trips to Singapore and London and a holiday in Oban had until today kept me away from the Montrose Maracana this season.

By all accounts, the campaign so far has been a mixed bag, and Division Three League Two is so tight that most of the clubs are within a few points of each other.

This was the first time I'd seen Bryan Deasley and Colin Wilson in the Montrose side, but both appeared to have slotted straight into the team.

Scott Johnston seems to have morphed from an angry woodpecker into a powerful driving winger, Paul Watson has evolved from an ineffective left back into a more useful central midfielder, and Ricky McIntosh spent the match doing his best Roberto Carlos impression.

I was also impressed with goalkeeper Stuart McKenzie, who commanded his box well under pressure, even if his distribution was a little shaky at times.

Montrose started well, Deasley having a shot well saved by Grant Hay after he was played in by Garry Wood.

The home side had the best of the play during the first half, but were denied by horrendous officiating. League Two may be a new brand name, but it appears to have inherited Division Three's scandalous referees and linesmen.

Montrose finally took the lead in the 34th minute, East Stirlingshire's Michael McGown sliding in to poke Garry Wood's shot into the bottom corner past Hay.

Wood and Watson also went close near the end of the half, Wood's diving header flying narrowly wide and Watson firing just over from 20 yards out.

While the on-pitch fare was pleasing enough, the best entertainment of the half was to be found on the terracing at the beach end of the ground, where a gazillion stewards spent 20 minutes wrestling with shirtless Shire neanderthals, before admitting defeat and summoning half of Tayside's police officers to provide support.

Back on the field, it took only six minutes of the second half for Montrose to double their lead, Terry Masson controlling the ball 25 yards from goal and shooting low into the net.

Shire worked hard in their search for a way back into the match, but Montrose remained well organised and saw the match out in relative comfort.

If they win against bottom of the table Queen's Park on Tuesday night, they have the chance to go top of the league. We live in hope...

Man of the Match: Most of the Montrose side looked good today, and McIntosh, Masson, McKenzie and Johnston all excelled. But Garry Wood again looked different class, holding the ball up well and bringing those around him into the play.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Value For Money

David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom:  Salary £142,500

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany: Salary £177,519 (based on today's exchange rate)

Barack Obama, President of the United States of America: Salary £250,394 (based on today's exchange rate)

Total combined salaries of Cameron, Merkel and Obama: £570,413

ALLY McCOIST-1405727

Ally McCoist, Manager, Rangers Football Club, Scottish League One: Salary (2012/13 season for Scottish Football League Division Three campaign) £825,000.

Poor Ally is only going to be on around £400,000 for this campaign.

I wonder if Obama could get three points from Rangers' clash with Airdrieonians in January?

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Blood Skies Omnibus


Vampires. Magic. War.

Welcome to the world After the Black.

This collected edition includes the first three novels of the Blood Skies saga — BLOOD SKIES, BLACK SCARS and SOULRAZOR — plus the all-new short story CRUCIFIX POINT.

Completely re-edited and featuring exciting new cover art by Barry Currey, the BLOOD SKIES OMNIBUS is a must-have for any Dark Fantasy or Military Sci-Fi collection!


Southern Claw warlock Eric Cross is a member of Viper Squad, ordered to pursue the renegade witch called Red across a war-torn wasteland before she can betray vital secrets to the Ebon Cities.

Cross and a band of unlikely allies find themselves on the trail of a recently released evil as it stalks the land in search of its ancient enemy, leaving a trail of madness and destruction in its wake.

Sent to investigate a series of mysterious vanishings in the wastelands, Cross and his newly-formed mercenary team learn the true fate of those killed during the massacre at Crucifix Point.

Cross and his team are tasked with halting enemy activity near the remote city-state of Fane, where vampire agents have teamed up with a former Revenger to locate a deadly weapon called Soulrazor.

Buy A Copy Now!

Amazon (US)

Amazon (UK)

Print Edition

Barnes & Noble


Steven Montano is an accountant by day and an author by night. Sadly, he doesn’t own a superhero costume. He’s also hopelessly addicted to books, films, music and video games, the darker the better.

Steven is the author of Blood Skies, Black Scars, Soulrazor, Crown of Ash, The Witch’s Eye, Tales of a Blood Earth 1 and 2 and something black…. He’s currently hard at work on Blood Angel Rising, a horror novel; Chain of Shadows, the next installment in the Blood Skies series; and Path of Bones and The Black Tower, the remaining books in The Skullborn trilogy.

He lives in Washington State with his wife, two children, a dog of below-average intelligence, and a ridiculous number of books and bottles of wine.

Visit Steven’s official website,

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

New Dan Brown Book Out Today!

Dan Brown's new book is released today. Here's a quick preview:

A genius in the field of cryptography, who also happens to be devilishly handsome, hilariously funny and great in bed, receives a strange call from someone they’ve never met asking them to go somewhere they’ve never been.

A mysterious phrase is carved into the skull of a blind man. But it just so happens that our hero can decipher this gory message.

It’s the masons that did it. Or the Pope. Or the Illuminati. They’re all the same anyway.

For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, they end up in Cairo, which we discover is where God has been living for the past 45,000 years. God doesn’t want to be found. But our hero knows where to find him. He’s known all along, but for reasons known only to himself, has never acted on this information.

Our hero’s lifelong confidant has secretly been the Pope all along. Despite having known that God lives in Cairo, and being able to decipher 100-year-old texts just by giving them a quick glance, our hero never noticed that his best pal was moonlighting as the Pope.

Our hero kills the masons, the Pope and the Illuminati. God moves to Thurso and is never seen again.

Our hero gets to sh@g three stupendously beautiful women in the three days covered by the story. While rescuing God and killing the masons, the Pope and the Illuminati.

The End. Or is it?

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

The Groanin' Jock Montrose FC Player of the Year Award 2012/2013

Now that the dust has settled, Rangers have buggered off to Division Two and Montrose have missed out on the promotion play-offs, it's time for the award that no-one is waiting for, the The Groanin' Jock Montrose FC Player of the Year Award 2012/2013.

Martin Boyle won the first two awards, but his time on the Dundee substitutes bench robbed him of the opportunity to grab a third consecutive trophy*.

The new name on the trophy* is Garry Wood's, the big striker/defender/goalkeeper named Man of the Match on this blog four times during the season, making him the first outright winner.

A total of 12 players received nominations for the award:

Garry Wood - 4 MOTM
David Gray - 2 MOTM
Terry Masson - 2 MOTM
Martin Boyle - 1 MOTM
Alan Campbell - 1 MOTM
John Gibson -  1 MOTM
Cammy McDonald - 1 MOTM
Ricky McIntosh - 1 MOTM
Stephen McNally - 1 MOTM
Paul Watson - 1 MOTM
Jamie Winter - 1 MOTM
Sandy Wood - 1 MOTM

* There is no trophy. But there is a bottle of champagne, which Garry received after a recent home match.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Season 2012/2013: Match 19: Montrose 1 Queen's Park 2 (Irn-Bru Scottish Football League Division Three)

And we're done.

While Montrose's season may officially finish in Annan next week, their hopes of a promotion play-off spot were dashed today when they lost to Queen's Park in a Royal Rumble of a match that finished with only 20 players on the park.

Scott Johnston and Jamie Winter were dressed in suits this afternoon, Johnston inexplicably pairing brown elbow pads with a blue suit and brothel creepers, while Winter tested the stitching on a snug waistcoat.

Their presence in the stand meant that Montrose lined up with Terry 'The Destroyer' Masson and Irn Bru's Ross McCord in central midfield, with Lloyd 'Hairdo' Young and Ricky 'No, the other McIntosh' McIntosh on the wings. Martin Boyle and Garry Wood started (and finished) up front, with Mary Shelley's Paul Lunan partnering arthritis' Alan Campbell in central defence. Stephen 'The Body' McNally and Paul 'But I'm not a left-back' Watson played at full back and Sandy Wood was restored to his rightful place in the Montrose goal.

Montrose needed to win while hoping that Annan did the same against Berwick if they were to retain their faint hope of a play-off place. They started well, Boyle reasoning that if he's officially a full-time professional footballer, he might as well rip the fuck out of some amateurs. He gave the visitors a torrid time, bursting past Scott Gibson before having a shot held, before turning creator only to see Wood thump a shot into the side netting on the turn.

But it was Queen's Park who took the lead on the verge of half time, Tony Quinn heading in from a Tony McParland corner.

Deprived of fluids, I joined the pie queue in search of £1 cups of Irn-Bru at half time, where I was regaled by tales from my press corps colleague. Choice among today's riveting topics was the way in which she differs from Kim Kardashian. A prize to anyone who can guess first time.

Surrounded on all sides by madness, I hoped that Montrose would restore some sanity in the second half. Actually, sanity is Montrose rooting around at the foot of Division Three. We're not accustomed to referring to the side as 'promotion-chasing Montrose', but sometimes this season their play has indicated that they're capable of being a good side.

That side came to the fore primarily through Garry Wood, who firstly freed Boyle with a back heel, only for the top goalscorer to roll his shot wide of the goal.

Wood was involved again when Young and McCord connected on the edge of the box, but the copper-headed midfielder lashed a shot wide of the far post.

And he finally got the assist he deserved on the hour mark, his neat flick into the box releasing Boyle, who made no mistakes this time around, slotting home from around 12 yards out.

I believe (actually I know, because he's posted a picture of the trophy on Facebook) that Martin Boyle has been crowned Montrose's top goalscorer at tonight's Player of the Year dinner. Which assumes that neither Garry Wood nor Lloyd Young will score four against Annan next week. And that Alan Campbell won't go mental and put 11 past the Borders side.

Anyway, anyone believing that the goal meant that Montrose were now in the ascendancy had their hopes dashed when a right back made the Montrose team look like traffic cones a few moments later, before Sandy Wood spooned a corner in the box, allowing Gibson to poke home what proved to be the winning goal.

The drama wasn't over though. Queen's Park's Guiseppi Capuano was shown a second yellow card and plodded up the tunnel to get a head start on the shower gel. The Montrose free kick that followed was atrocious, failing to beat the first man and allowing Queen's Park to break. David Gray, carried up the park in a cloud of red mist, took matters into his own feet and committed a professional foul, following Capuano up the tunnel after just a minute.

En route, he stopped to have a slanging match with Lunan, who is due back at his master's laboratory at the end of the season for a tune-up. Gray then whipped his shirt off and threw it at the Montrose bench, not a wise course of action given that it acts as the holding pen for Big Mad Lee Wilkie and George 'The Animal' Shields.

I await reports as to whether Gray arrived at tonight's dinner in one piece.

And so Montrose's season effectively ended a week early, which is a four-month improvement on the past three years. We've seen a lot of encouraging signs during the campaign, Young and Gray having been particularly good to watch. Garry Wood has looked more effective this season than we've seen in the past, and it was good to welcome the Boyle Wonder home to do what he does best - score goals for Montrose.

It's probably for the best that they have avoided promotion - results like the recent hiding from Peterhead have shown that they still lack consistency, and I'd have wagered on a swift return to the basement if they had been promoted.

But there are a lot of encouraging signs, and for the first time in a few years, I'm optimistic about the next campaign.

Man of the Match: Garry Wood. A strong performance up front, repeatedly acting as a creative force for those around him, and setting up Boyle's goal with a sublime flicked pass.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Season 2012/2013: Match 18: Montrose 2 Stirling Albion 2 (Irn-Bru Scottish Football League Division Three)

Today was sunny but chilly at the AnguS ArenA. At least it didnae snaw.

Mary Shelley's Paul Lunan was back from the spare parts shop today, but Garry Wood found himself sittting in the stand with Saved By The Bell's Jonathan Crawford. Bakery's Jamie Winter and Terry 'The Destroyer' Masson started in midfield, flanked by Lloyd Young and Ricky McIntosh. Wood's absence saw Boyle and Johnston form the smallest strike partnership outside Middle Earth. Leighton McIntosh, once linked with Celtic, is now deemed to be Montrose's fourth-best striker.

Stirling Albion included Kieran McAnespie and Graham Weir in their starting line-up, but looked distinctly average for much of the match.

But average Albion took the lead after seven minutes, Mark Perry with a low finish from a Jordan White knock-down.

Montrose had the better of the first half, but took until the 36th minute to equalise, Winter heading over the Stirling back line for Boyle to race through one-on-one with visiting keeper Filler. Boyle headed over the goalkeeper before taking a pair of knees to the ribs. Filler got a yellow card when it should have been a red, but Montrose were level.

Boyle was involved again when Montrose took the lead, robbing Jamie Bishop wide on the right before racing to the bye-line. Terry Masson dummied the square ball, allowing Ricky McIntosh time and space to float the ball over Filler.

They looked to have won the match until three minutes from time when Josh Flood met Scott Davidson's cross at the front post, heading across goal and in off the opposite upright.

Does it go without saying today's refereeing would have shamed a boys club match in the third world? Kevin Graham had a nightmare, allowing Filler to stay on the park when he should have walked, and allowing Albion to get away with a whole host of fouls. I only counted one Albion yellow card today, for Filler's assault on Boyle's ribs, but it could and should have been at least half a dozen.

The late equaliser is a kick in the balls for Montrose's promotion campaign. They were three minutes from bagging all three points, a result that would have seen them sitting third in the league, a point ahead of Peterhead and five ahead of Berwick. But now they're a point behind Peterhead and only three ahead of Berwick. Three of their four remaining matches are away from home and the home tie is against Queen's Park, sitting second in the league.

It looks like we're set for a nerve-wracking run in as Montrose push for a play-off place.

Man of the Match: Although he lost the ball to allow Albion to grab that late equaliser, Terry Masson otherwise had a good match, urging his team mates on and dummying the ball sweetly for the second Montrose goal.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Season 2012/2013: Match 17: Montrose 0 Rangers 0 (Irn-Bru Scottish Football League Division Three)

The tale of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde may be more than 100 years old, but the idea of one person having two distinct personalities remains valid today.

Take Montrose Football Club as an example. The last time I saw them, they were thoroughly walloped by a rampant Peterhead side, capitulating with barely even a whimper.

Today they went toe-to-toe with (then) champions elect Rangers, a side wilfully spunking thousands of pounds a week on strikers and the barbaric midfield partnership of Ian Black and Lee McCulloch as they look to steamroller all before them en route back to the top of the Scottish game.

On paper, this should have been no contest. But as I've said before, matches at Links Park aren't played on paper, they're played on a Brillo pad, and anything can happen.

Rangers, missing a few players through injury, started with only one up front, Kane Hemmings given the task of breaking down a creaky Montrose defence.

Montrose, missing Mary Shelley's Paul Lunan through suspension, played trialist Cammy McDonald alongside Alan Campbell at centre back. I actually played with McDonald, formerly at Livingston and Airdrie, in amateur football almost a decade ago, and I can safely say he is the only player who played today that I have nutmegged.*

Anyway, Rangers could have been out of sight early on, David Templeton, once again their best player, coming close on a number of occasions but kept at bay by goalkeeper John Gibson and right back Stephen McNally.

But the longer the match went on, the better Montrose looked. For being a full-time side spending more each week in wages than most SPL sides, Rangers looked distinctly average, and it wouldn't have been easy at first glance to tell which side did football for a living and which did bricklaying, accountancy and office work.

I grew up idolising the Rangers team of Gascoigne, Laudrup, Durrant and McCoist. Not one of the Rangers players today would have got near that squad. It's painful to see Ian Black wearing what used to be Gazza's shirt, an absolutely heartbreaking gulf in class hammered home every time he shanked a pass into touch then blamed someone else. The only miracle was that both he and Terry Masson avoided bookings today.

In fact, the most interesting thing Black did all day was fly into the Montrose dugout headfirst after a challenge. He took a while to emerge, and I feared for a moment or two that he'd been eaten by Big Mad Lee Wilkie and George 'The Animal' Shields.

They may be champions, but this has not been a vintage year for Rangers. They should have romped to the Division Three title, but they aren't even Scotland's first champions of the season, beaten to the punch by Queen of the South in the division above.

Nonetheless, Queen's Park's defeat later in the day meant that Rangers were confirmed as champions in unspectacular fashion. It'll be good to see the back of their travelling pantomime in Division Three, and we can get back to enjoying football for football's sake. The overzealous policing and stewarding at Links Park for both of Rangers' visits this season has been a joke, and the media circus that has followed them has been excruciating to be a part of.

Take today's overheard conversation:

Media Wanker Talking Loudly Into Mobile Phone: "Yeah, so the Rangers team is: [reads out Rangers team into mobile phone. Discusses Rangers formation for five minutes, including players who aren't even in the squad]. Do you want the Montrose teams? I doubt anyone cares. You can get them off ESPN if you want them."

[Person on other end speaks for a few seconds]

MWTLIMP: "Haw haw haw, Montrose are playing a trialist at centre back! This is fucking ridiculous!"

[Person on other end speaks for a few seconds]

MWTLIMP: "No, no idea what his name is, sorry. No-one will care."

Well, I'm guessing that Rangers will care a bit more than that massive bellend did, given that McDonald was probably the most comfortable player on the park, giving an assured and confident performance in the face of the most expensively-assembled squad in SFL history.

The travelling support might have cared a bit more about Martin Boyle as well if his second half goal hadn't been disallowed for a foul on Neil Alexander.

As I was leaving the ground, I heard two Rangers fans in discussion, the gist of which was: "Montrose's number seven should have been sent off. Did you see him celebrating at the end? Obviously a bitter Celtic fan."

Which smacks of the sour grapes more often associated with the green half of Glasgow. A part time player castigated for celebrating a result against the biggest club in Scotland? Get a grip. And for the record, I believe Masson is a Rangers fan.

Montrose looked the better team in the second half, Winter coming close with a couple of long-range efforts, while Lloyd Young and Paul Watson also went close. Rangers could have snatched the win with efforts from Templeton or Hemmings, the latter having a shot well saved by Gibson.

From a Montrose perspective, today was a strong performance, and they didn't look cowed by their more illustrious visitors. Stephen McNally was given a torrid time by Templeton, but persevered, and the defence in general coped well.

From a Rangers perspective, today raises further doubts about the mental toughness of the Rangers squad and the tactical capabilities of its manager. I'm most certainly in the pro-McCoist camp, but when you're held to goalless draws two weeks in a row in Division Three, there are clearly big problems.

If I was in charge at Rangers, I'd be rebuilding that horror show of a defence, keeping only Wallace. Ian Black would be first out of the door - there can rarely have been such a disparity between talent and earnings in the Scottish Football League.

Rangers definitely missed Andy Little, and with him in the team it would probably have been a different story. But the lack of depth in the Rangers squad should definitely be ringing alarm bells.

Man of the Match: For Rangers, it was Templeton, their most creative player by a country mile, shaming his elders Black and McCulloch (again played too deep to make use of his [searches for euphemism for hammer-throwing] combative skills. Templeton's an exciting talent, and learning to cope with the rugged defending at this level will stand him in good stead in future.

For Montrose, all of the players performed. Terry Masson was disciplined on the right in the first half, before moving inside to shackle Black in the second. David Gray kept Montrose's attacking momentum going throughout the match. But for me, Cammy McDonald excelled on his one and only appearance for the Gable Endies, marshalling the defence and keeping Kane Hemmings under wraps throughout, while also seeking the ball at every opportunity and passing with authority.

*Disclaimer: I nutmegged him in training. He emptied me immediately afterwards by way of warning not to do it again.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Season 2012/2013: Match 16: Montrose 0 Peterhead 6 (Irn-Bru Scottish Football League Division Three)

A snapshot of Montrose's results over the past few weeks:

Montrose 2-2 East Stirlingshire
Stirling Albion 3-1 Montrose
Montrose 4-1 Elgin City
Montrose 5-1 Annan Athletic
Queen's Park 1-2 Montrose
Berwick Rangers 4-0 Montrose

Making Montrose one of the most erratic teams in Scotland. Today they 'welcomed' Peterhead to the North Sea Nou Camp, letting the Balmoor side experience a slightly different style of driving horizontal rain than they're used to in the shadow of the sex offenders' prison.

Montrose knew a win would see them push even further ahead of their visitors in the quest for a playoff place, both sides seeking to win an imaginary berth in the non-existent playoffs to a division that won't exist next season.

Napoleon Dynamite lookalike Jonathan Crawford was suspended today, while Alan Campbell and his auld manny's knees were joined on the injured list by Alan Campbell's auld manny's back, giving Stuart Garden what the Daily Record would refer to as a selection headache. Rather than attend his headache with paracetamol, Mr Garden instead opted to shuffle his pack in an unfathomable manner, pushing Terry Masson to right back and selecting Stephen McNally alongside Mary Shelley's Paul Lunan at centre back.

The Montrose selection was, quite frankly, a fucking disaster. Peterhead ripped Montrose a new arsehole down the left, so much so that they'd scored three in the first half hour. Enough was enough for Garden, Big Mad Lee Wilkie and George Shields, so they performed a swapsie with their McIntoshes, Leighton coming on for Ricky, Garry Wood moving to centre half, Masson pushing up into midfield and McNally restored to right back.

Montrose's best chance in the first half came immediately after Rory McAllister had scored Peterhead's second. The home side launched an attack immediately from the restart, an attack that ended when Scott Ross flattened Garry Wood in the box.

Jamie Winter, having one of his girnier days, stepped up and dinked a weak shot to visiting keeper Graeme Smith's right. The keeper didn't have to be at his best to make the save, and recovered quickly enough to save Winter's volley from the rebound as well.

That essentially summed up Montrose's half, when hand-delivered gilt-edged chances were spurned.

They started the second half in a brighter frame of mind, Winter coming close with a 40(!) yard free kick, while Leighton McIntosh had the ball in the net, only for the goal to be disallowed due to a foul on Smith.

It looked as though the match was heading for a 3-0 home defeat when McAllister, looking to complete his hat-trick, was taken out in the box by hapless home goalkeeper John Gibson. He was shown a straight red card, and Montrose had used all three substitutes. Striker/centre back Garry Wood  donned Gibson's jersey and gloves and immediately faced Grade A wanker Rory McAllister from the penalty spot.

The massive walloper looked to have missed his hat-trick opportunity when he battered his kick off the post, but Montrose had one final and spectacular collapse left in them, shipping three more goals in the final three minutes. McAllister completed his hat-trick and Andy Rodgers knocked in two to give Montrose their heaviest defeat of the season.

By the end, they were taking the piss so much that they introduced one of the Jedward twins as a substitute.

This was a miserable afternoon for Montrose, who were poor in every position and never looked up for the match at all. Masson's performance at right back was shaky, gifting Peterhead their opener with a weak clearance. The Montrose left was ripped raw by McAllister and David Cox, and Paul Lunan had an abominable match at centre back, giving the ball away frequently and too often opting for long balls that didn't suit the strikers playing in front of him.

Recent results have shown that Montrose's play-off push isn't as robust as might have been hoped, and that most of the teams in the division are much of a muchness (Montrose beat Annan 4-1. Annan then won at Ibrox...)

They can still do it, there's no doubt about that. But the last two weeks have sown significant seeds of doubt.

Man of the Match: Almost no contenders. All of the players struggled, and some of them were simply very poor. McNally showed a bit of drive in the second half, trying hard to push Montrose back into the match. But Garry Wood, shifted to centre back in the first half, succeeded in shackling the previously rampant McAllister, before turning makeshift goalkeeper after Gibson's red card.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Season 2012/2013: Match 15: Montrose 5 Annan Athletic 1 (Irn-Bru Scottish Football League Division Three)

The arrival of a second Jockling - this one a boy weighing in at 9lb 4oz who clearly has 'battering ram striker' written all over him - meant that today was my first Montrose match since the draw at Ibrox, and only my second at Links Park in 2013.

To give Mrs Wife some respite, I dragged/carried/coaxed Child Number One along with me, Little Jocklette attending her second match at Links Park. Her only previous visit was a 3-1 win over East Stirlingshire, so I was hopeful that she would continue her run as a lucky charm.

Annan are a side in freefall. Last season, under Harry Cairney, they were an imposing physical team, full of brutal power and formidable long-range shots.

Today they were pathetic. Second to every ball, they were lucky to escape with only a four-goal defeat. That defeat was largely the work of one man, the returning and resurgent Martin Boyle.

Barry Smith, the erstwhile Dundee manager, was in the stand at Links Park today, his Saturdays having been freed for the foreseeable future.

(How embarrasing must it be when your employers consider John Brown to be a superior tactician/football brain to you?)

Smith therefore had to sit and watch as Boyle showed exactly why he should have been given more than the occasional substitute appearance after his transfer to Dens Park.

He had a hat-trick before the break, scoring two sublime goals and a third in comical fashion when hapless visiting goalkeeper Craig Summersgill dropped the ball, thinking he was alone in his box.

Jamie Winter, working on a 'we'll give you a Mars Bar every time you score' bonus system, added a penalty as Annan went in at half time 4-0 down.

Boyle took only two minutes to score his own fourth goal, and Annan could begin contemplating the long bus journey back to the Borders.

The rest of the second half was largely uneventful, Montrose happy to sit on their lead and Annan unable to offer much by way of reply. Only with 10 minutes to go did we see any real excitement, Annan subs Ally Love and David Murray combining to score the visitors' consolation goal.

Montrose now sit three points clear of Peterhead in third place, and six points clear of Elgin who sit outside the playoff places with two games in hand. Rangers have ruined any hope there ever was of a title race, but without the Ibrox side, we would be talking about a push for the trophy from Montrose.

The change they've undergone in the past year - hell, even in the past six months - is incredible. The Montrose coaching team hasn't been given much credit beyond the local supporters, but it's time their efforts were given wider recognition.

I have absolutely no criticism of the team today, other than for switching off near the end and allowing Annan to score.

So, Little Jocklette's record as a Montrose supporter stands at P2 W2 F8 A2 Pts 6. Long may it continue, even if it does cost me a fortune in chocolate buttons, Fruit Shoots and mini Montrose tops.

Man of the match: Take a wild guess...

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The FA Is Confused...

It appears that the FA needs some geography lessons ahead of the 2028 European Championship...

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Season 2012/2013: Match 14: Rangers 1 Montrose 1 (Irn-Bru Scottish Football League Division Three)

Today was a match of strange noises and lack of noises.

The attendance at Ibrox was 46,273, which is 46,000 people more than usually watch Montrose on any given Saturday.

It must be discombobulating for the Jonathan Crawfords and Alan Campbells of this world, to go from playing in front of 12 men, a Maz, three toddlers and a dog, to playing in front of four times as many people as actually live in Montrose.

Today we experienced a round of spontaneous applause in the opening 10 minutes; an eerie minute's silence accompanied by a lone piper's lament in the 54th minute; a ground ringing to the sound of cheers when Rangers opened the scoring just before half time; and a chorus of boos when the final whistle went, Montrose having equalised and secured a point.

Montrose welcomed Martin Boyle back to the club, the current holder of the Ginger Boot back home to get some game time while Barry Smith attempts to unfuck Dundee's season in the SPL.

But with Leighton McIntosh and Garry Wood in good form of late as a striking partnership, Boyle was inserted at right wing, presumably with a view to having him run at Lee Wallace as often as possible.

Which might have been an idea if Montrose had played the ball to him to run onto. But they didn't, and Wallace dragged him out of position as he operated as a wingback.

Jamie Winter also came back into the team, and it appeared that the midfielder had a good festive period, having seemly added an additional couple of stone to his already curvaceous figure during his absence.

Neither side looked particularly good during the first half, and the greatest entertainment was to be found in watching the managers. Ally McCoist bounced between apopleptic rage, weary dismay and enthusiastic encouragement, while Stuart Garden passed the afternoon by engaging in an argument and staring battle with the linesman. When Lee Wilkie is telling you to calm down, you've gone too far.

Rangers took the lead on the verge of half time, David Templeton crossing the ball into the net via the unorthodox route of Jonathan Crawford's leg, which was a shame both for the leg in question and new Montrose goalkeeper John Gibson, as they'd both had a decent enough game up until that point. Crawford's leg was having one of its better games in fact, although I'm not yet sure if that is because Crawford himself has better control of it, or if it has escaped his clutches completely.

Templeton was the best player on the park by a fair margin, but his hard work was frequently let down by the dire situation in the Rangers attack. Francisco Sandaza may not be the worst player I've ever seen in a Rangers jersery ("Hi Nuno Capucho! Hiya pal!"), but he's a long way from being the best. Dean Shiels was unusually quiet as well.

Then we have the midfield. Lee McCulloch and His Enormous Penis were injured today [I should probably state here that I don't know if McCulloch's injury was in any way penis-related], so Rangers started with Kyle Hutton and Lewis MacLeod in central midfield. MacLeod lasted only half an hour before being stretchered off, at which point he was replaced by Ian Black, the (very) poor man's Barry Ferguson.

It should be noted here that I don't intend the Ferguson comparison as a compliment. Black has all of Ferguson's worst qualities - girny pus, bad attitude, delusions of grandeur, superiority complex - but none of the talent. Although he can pass the ball sideways and occasionally hit the post with a free kick, so I suppose there are some similarities.

Anyway, as the match went on, Rangers looked more and more average, and Montrose began to see more of the ball, and more of it in the Rangers half as well. Garry Wood came close with a long-range effort, but the match really changed when Leighton McIntosh went off for David Gray, with Boyle pushed up front to test the Rangers centre backs.

And when the goal came, it was a goal worthy of silencing Ibrox. Gray picked the ball up 25 yards from goal and unleashed a shot that rattled the underside of the bar before bouncing over Alexander's line and in. The Montrose players swarmed to the corner containing their dedicated traveling support, while Rangers' players waited for the ground to open and swallow them up.

Neither side particularly deserved to win today, although Rangers created enough chances to do so several times over. That they didn't will be of particular concern to Rangers' all-time leading goalscorer, currently one of only two Rangers managers never to win a trophy...

Question of the Day: Why were both Ally McCoist and Stuart Garden wearing tracksuits and football boots? Surely unless you plan on joining in the match, you should be in a suit?

Man of the Match: For Rangers, and the match as a whole, it was David Templeton, who was head and shoulders above everyone else on the park, but whose exciting play too often met a dead end in his strike force.

For Montrose, all of the players put in a good shift, but I was particularly impressed with John Gibson, the latest object of affection for the Montrose Goalkeepers Fan Club (Membership: 1 (and that one isn't me)).

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Season 2012/2013: Match 13: Montrose 1 Clyde 1 (Irn-Bru Scottish Football League Division Three)

Weather: Montrose had some today. Other places apparently had more. 12-year-old referee with no testicles decides at 10am that match will go ahead. 32-year-old men with testicles would rather keep them warm at home but decide to brave Arctic conditions and concrete shed nonetheless.

Crowd: Is 336 people officially a crowd? Or is it just a gathering? What is the collective name for a gathering of Montrose fans? A delusion? What's the collective name for a smattering of Clyde fans? A resignation?

Goalkeepers: Sandy Wood flapped like a flappy thing today. Stephen McNally didn't, pulling off a fine one-handed save on the line in the seventh minute. Unfortunately he's a right back, not a keeper. Referee Robertson, unlike McNally, made no mistakes with this one. Red card, penalty kick, Clyde goal from John Sweeney. Montrose prepare for 83 minutes with 10 men...

...but Montrose survive Clyde having most of the first half play, despite Sandy Wood channeling the ghost of Ramiro Gonzalez ("YAGSHEMASH! REGARDS!") with a goalkeepering performance that incorporates the Can-Can and an impromptu game of crab football.

After the break: Much better from Montrose, who dominate the second half despite being a McNally short. Stuart Garden resists the temptation to tinker with his team, hoping to pick up the Oscar for "Most Addams Family Substitutes Bench" by having Lee Wilkie, Paul Lunan, Phil McGuire and David Crawford sit in a row for 90 minutes.

A nifty combination of neat passing and spawny deflections sees angry woodpecker Scott Johnston equalise on the hour mark. Leighton McIntosh and Paul Watson also have chances as Montrose run their piss-poor visitors close.

What It All Means: Verbal Kint is really Keyser Söze. Sorry, wrong drama. It means Montrose are still third in Division Three (or second in the league of teams not spending £10,000 a week on strikers), and will remain so unless Peeeeeeeeeterheeeeeeeeeeeid wallop Rangers at Balmoor tomorrow.

If they remain in third place until the end of the season, they will get a play-off place to see which of the SFL's proposed divisions they play in during season 2013/2014. The Elite League of 19 teams, splitting after three matches with a round robin decider? The Championship Select of eight teams, splitting after 14 rounds of fixtures, with the the top and bottom sides meeting at Hampden in a meaningless challenge match? Or Serie 12, made up of the remaining 57.7 amateur, semi-pro and pub teams, who nobody gives a fuck about?

It's all too exciting.

Man of the Match: Terry Masson. Sent to right back after less than 10 minutes, kept Montrose's momentum up despite being out of position. Pushed close by Paul Watson, David Gray and Ricky McIntosh.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Jimmy Savile Inquiry - New Victims Emerge

It seems even the residents of Beanotown weren't safe from the shadow of Jimmy Savile. Poor Minnie The Minx. This all seemed so innocent in 1986...