Monday, December 29, 2014

Top 10 Albums of 2014

Top 10 albums of the year:

1. Radio Moscow - Magical Dirt
2. Swans - To Be Kind
3. Kasabian - 48:13
4. Jimi Goodwin - Odludek
5. Pink Floyd - Endless River
6. The Horrors - Luminous
7. Jack White - Lazaretto
8. Johnny Marr - Playland
9. Aphex Twin - Spyro
10. The War On Drugs - Lost In The Dream

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Season 2014/2015: Match 6: Montrose 2 Elgin City 3 (The Scottish Professional Football League Two)

Freezing cold in the final minutes of today's match, my bollocks furiously burrowing their way into my lower intestines as they sought the tiny bit of warmth remaining in my body, my brain became so cold that I momentarily thought that Montrose were going to stage an unexpected fightback.

Ross McCord had just curled a sublime free kick over the Elgin City wall and into the top corner, pulling the score back to 3-2 in the visitors' favour.

But not even five minutes of injury time could re-inject life into Montrose's fight against relegation, and the slide towards a life of away trips to Brora, Wick and Nairn continues.

Elgin should have gone in at half time with a five or six goal lead, but had to settle for two. Shane Sutherland, having noticed that Alan Campbell is slower than the movement of the tectonic plates, took it upon himself to tear Montrose's arthritic centre back a new rectal opening.

The visitors' first goal came in the 16th minute, Sutherland bursting almost straight through Campbell and curling a shot onto Stuart McKenzie's post. The rebound dropped into the centre of the box, where Dennis Wyness was on hand to stab the ball into the net.

They were two ahead in the 23rd minute, Sutherland again firing down the left  and sending a cross into the box. The ball bobbled up and into the path of Montrose's Ross Graham, the defender unable to do anything other than watch the ball bounce off his chest and into the net.

Sutherland and Wyness could each have had another brace, and Montrose could count themselves incredibly lucky still to be involved in the match at the end of the first 45 minutes.

When the half time whistle blew, I was ready to add my voice to the chorus asking that George Shields find something else to do with his Saturday afternoons.

But Montrose, presumably fresh from a severe half time bollocking, came out for the second half with a new-found intensity and purpose to their play. Paul Watson had a free kick tipped wide four minutes into the second half, and it took them only another minute to pull a goal back.

Trialist Michael Travis headed the ball down from a corner and Garry Wood pounced, lashing a half volley into the net.

Having pulled a goal back, Montrose's chances were further enhanced when Terry Masson rearranged Sutherland's skeleton for him, the best player on the park departing on a stretcher after an hour.

Montrose continued to have the best of the match as the second half went on, even having a Jonathan Crawford equaliser ruled out for shirt-pulling that was invisible to everyone except the far side linesman.

With two minutes of regulation time left, Sutherland's replacement Craig Gunn controlled the ball and rolled it straight through Campbell into the bottom corner.

That was all the encouragement many of Montrose's fans needed to stage a mass exodus, but those who walked out missed Montrose's too-little-too-late final effort from McCord.

Based on their second half performance, Montrose could well have been worth a point. Based on their first half showing, they were barely worth none.

I'm not usually a believer in changing managers mid-season, but something at Montrose needs to change, and rapidly. The side could be bottom of the league if the results of Elgin's and East Stirlingshire's games in hand go against them.

I've also been saying for the last wee while that Montrose have a good squad on paper, but now the tears in that paper can't be ignored. No-one in the defence looks particularly confident, and on days like today Campbell's lack of pace is a liability.

McCord and Deasley aren't the players they were a couple of years ago. Johnston continues to work hard but rarely produces much of note. Garry Wood's workrate is exemplary, but he's given so little to work with that he's continually left stranded.

Still, every cloud has a silver lining - it'll be nice to visit Golspie next February...

Man of the Match: Counting Elgin as well as Montrose players, Shane Sutherland was miles ahead of everyone else up until he was Massoned. Hopefully the injury isn't serious.

From Montrose's point of view, Leighton McIntosh looked bright up until he went off injured. But I'll go for Stuart McKenzie, without whom Montrose would have been dead and buried by half time.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Season 2014/2015: Match 5: Montrose 1 Queen's Park 2 (The Scottish Professional Football League Two)

I've now seen Montrose five times this season. Here's their record in matches I've been to:

Played: 5
Won: 0
Drew: 0
Lost: 5
Scored: 3
Conceded: 16

Not pretty, is it?

Montrose actually looked half decent yesterday, taking the game to the team sitting second in Serie Z4, and coming close through Garry Wood on a couple of occasions.

But Queen's Park opened the scoring against the run of play in the 24th minute when John Carter was sent clear of the defence and slipped a low shot past Stuart McKenzie.

They doubled their lead in the 36th minute thanks to schoolboy defending of the worst kind, Paul Woods heading home Darren Miller's corner at the back post, having been left completely unmarked.

Montrose were given a lifeline in the 64th minute when Leighton McIntosh was tripped in the box, Wood making no mistakes with the penalty.

But it was too little from Montrose, who remain 7th in the league, three points off the playoffs and six off the bottom of the table.

Man of the Match: A year ago I'd have been happy to see Montrose cut Leighton McIntosh loose. He looked completely lacking in confidence, a yard off the pace and unable to pass the ball or score.

A year on, he's like a different player. Playing on the right today, he was by far Montrose's best player, his pace giving Queen's Park problems throughout. With better finishing from Wood, he might have had a couple of assists, but he did win the penalty that led to Montrose's goal. Fast, determined and electric, if he can maintain that momentum the season may not be a write-off.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Season 2013/2014: Match 4: Montrose 0 Clyde 3 (The Scottish Professional Football League Two)

A glutton for punishment, I was today accompanied by not one but two Jocklings at today's Montrose match, as I aimed for the perfect storm: two kids under the age of four, one in nappies and one currently obsessed with sampling as many toilets as possible; pishing rain; and the abject football served up by Montrose.

In some respsects, it was good to have the Jocklings with me, as it meant I barely saw any of the football.

I was on my way down the stairs en route to the toilets when Clyde scored their first after 35 seconds; I was wrestling open a packet of chocolate buttons when they scored their second; and when they scored their third in the second half, I'd forgotten we'd had the half time break, so applauded what I thought was a Montrose goal.

What little I did see looked grim. Montrose struggled to keep the ball, Clyde dominating possession and powering forwards at every opportunity. For some reason Paul Watson was on the bench, while Alan Campbell is injured.

Montrose played their third goalkeeper in as many matches, Stuart McKenzie still suspended and Lucas Birnstingl having run off to Canada before Lee Wilkie eats his spleen. Did I mention the new fella's first touch was to pick the ball out of the net after 35 SECONDS?

On top of all that misery, I had Little Jocklette asking where Monty the Mole was and why there were no rainbow drops in the pie hut.

Oh, and Barry Ferguson's hair makes him look like a sad, middle aged Tin-Tin tribute act.

Man of the Match: Not a fucking clue.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Season 2013/2014: Match 3: Montrose 1 Arbroath 5 (The Scottish Professional Football League Two)

Deja fucking vu.

A fortnight between encounters, half an hour less of play, two more goals, one fewer goalkeeper by the end of the match.

Despite the scoreline, Montrose were better today than they were a fortnight ago, although they could have played all day and struggled to score from open play.

Arbroath passed up a fair few chances as well, but they did manage to score five. One was a penalty after Lucas Birnstingl was sent off for a late foul on Paul McManus. Having used their three substitutions already, Montrose put their biggest lump between the sticks, Garry Wood's first touch while wearing the keeper's gloves the unfortunate task of picking the penalty out of the net.

He shipped a second (and Arbroath's fifth) in stoppage time as McManus added his second.

Strangest goal of the afternoon came courtesy of former Montrose goalkeeper David Crawford. Div thumped a free kick from 10 yards outside his own box up the park, watching the ball bounce once and fly through Birnstingl's hands and into the net. The fact that the ball was moving in the wind when he took the kick was deemed irrelevant by both Crawford and referee Craig Charleston, but not by the Montrose bench, driven incandescent with rage.

Montrose's only goal came from the penalty spot, courtesy of a soft award when Scott Johnston decided to lie down in the box near Arbroath's Kevin Nicoll. Wood made no mistakes from the spot.

I can barely be bothered to analyse today's performance. Deasley looked livelier than I've seen him so far this season, and with better composure would have had a goal.

Leighton McIntosh came on as a sub and looked better than he has in at least two years, while Wood was typically tireless up front.

Defensively Montrose were a mess, leaving gaping holes at the back that Arbroath should have exploited much better than they did - Montrose could easily have been four goals down by half time.

There were few highlights today. The most entertainment I had was trying to decipher what the new Links Park stadium announcer was havering about - I'm sure at one point he boldly stated that Montrose fans should "come and see Willy, he has great tattoos and a bottle of wine, tickets just £12".

Which sounds like a better deal than watching Montrose get humped by Arbroath every second Saturday.

Man of the Match: Slim pickings from Montrose. I thought Bryan Deasley looked good, finishing excepted, but I appear to have been in the minority there. Ross McCord looked better than he has for a wee while, with a bit of bite and purpose to his play. Choosing between the two, I'd go for McCord.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Season 2013/2014: Match 2: Montrose 1 Arbroath 3 (The William Hill Scottish Cup Second Round Replay)

Since the last time I saw Montrose 'play football', I've been to Tokyo, Houston and London, occasionally working and occasionally seeing some of the finer things in life.

Which means that this season I have seen 210 minutes of Montrose in action, seen them ship six goals, score one, have two men sent off and fail to win a game of football.

I've not seen them play well. I've barely seen them string two passes together. I've seen them rely on Paul Watson in midfield and Stuart McKenzie in goals far more than any team should rely on just two players.

There were high hopes today (but not the bumper home crowd that might have been expected), Montrose having held their backwards fish-smoking cousins from down the coast to a draw a week earlier.

But Arbroath came roaring out of the traps, Paul McManus sweeping a low finish under McKenzie in the fourth minute.

Montrose tried to stage a comeback, but it took them until first half stoppage time to equalise, Paul Harkins playing a one-two with Scott Johnston, scrambling his way through the Arbroath defence and poking the ball into the net from a couple of yards out.

Both sides had chances in the second half, but neither could break the deadlock, McKenzie performing heroics in the Montrose goal.

It took just two minutes of extra time for Arbroath to go back in front, McManus again applying a low finish.

And he completed his hat-trick eight minutes from time, again finding space in the box to slip the ball into the net.

By then Montrose had all but given up, George Shields having withdrawn Watson to keep him relatively fresh for the long league trip to Berwick on Wednesday night.

Complaints? Much the same as the last time I saw Montrose, two and a half months ago - no strikers who actually score goals, a lack of pace on the wings, a determination to hammer the ball up the park rather than pass it, launching throw-ins up the line to an opposition player instead of passing back and passing out.

Last time out I was overly harsh on Paul Watson - without him, the Montrose midfield would have been overrun today.

There are flashes of quality of throughout the team on occasion - McCord sometimes offers an interesting pass, Deasley is capable of igniting every so often and Johnston works his arse off every time he steps onto the Montrose Brillo pad, although not always terribly effectively.

Paul Harkins worked hard today and ultimately deserved his goal, but Graham Webster on the opposite wing had a miserable afternoon, never looking comfortable during the two-hour match.

While the Montrose defence may lack pace, the Crawford-Wood-Campbell-Graham axis generally worked better than the scoreline would suggest. They need to be more switched on from the get-go, and choose how to distribute the ball better, but there's a solidity that seems to be growing under the watchful eyes of George Shields and Lee Wilkie - working with a former Scotland centre back is presumably paying dividends.

Anyway, as I have now seen the side lose twice in two outings, I'll maybe stay away for a while and see if things improve...

Man of the Match: He conceded three and could have done better with the first, but Stuart McKenzie kept Montrose's hopes alive until extra time with a series of outstanding saves.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Season 2013/2014: Match 1: Montrose 0 Peterhead 3 (The Petrofac Cup Round 1)

The last time I saw Montrose beat Peterhead was in November 2012. Since then, they've lost Martin Boyle and Jamie Winter, and have lost 6-0 to Peterhead at Links Park.

Using the well-honed skill and judgement that comes with the territory of being an amateur pundit, I today predicted that Montrose would not win their first competitive match of the season.

The reasons for this prediction included:

1) Montrose's lack of a real goalscorer - Garry Wood is a striker who rarely strikes, and Bryan Deasley seems to have forgotten he ever was one. Scott Johnston runs a lot but seems to forget what he was trying to do when he gets where he was going.

2) Montrose continue to play Alan Campbell and his arthritic knees at centre back, while Paul Watson has polished his game down to a solid core of wandering around, shouting at his team-mates and trying audacious long-distance shots.

3) Peterhead are, though it pains me to say it, a very good side (when speaking comparatively alongside the rest of the scrapings in the bottom two levels of the SPFL barrel).

4) Montrose are pish.

Even the previously unbreakable lucky charm of Little Jocklette was unable to counteract the Rory McAllister effect, daughter dear seeing Montrose lose for the first time, in her fourth visit to the North Sea Nou Camp.

Peterhead took the lead in the fifth minute, Andy Rodgers' header dropping inside the far post from a James Stevenson corner, despite Ross Graham's best efforts to Riverdance it to safety.

The visitors doubled their lead in the 17th minute when McAllister broke into a light jog which saw him race clear of the Montrose defence, before he slipped a low shot into McKenzie's net.

They completed the scoring before the half hour mark, Rodgers cutting the ball back for Stevenson to sidefoot home.

Having all but lost the match already, Montrose were further hindered when referee Colin Steven showed Graham Webster a red card for allowing Peterhead's Jamie Redman to smash into him with a sliding challenge.

He was joined in the Montrose dressing room by Garry Wood early in the second half, the Montrose skipper adjudged to have committed a professional foul on McAllister, although there looked to be little or no contact between the two.

If Webster and Wood thought they were having a bad afternoon, it probably got a whole lot worse when they were joined by Big Mad Lee Wilkie, the raging assistant manager banished to the dressing room lest he forcibly remove assistant referee Joseph Lawson's head from his shoulders. One would imagine that was an uncomfortable 45 minutes for the red-carded players.

After the second red, there was little action on which to report - Peterhead pissed about with the ball in their own half, occasionally gave Rory McAllister a chance to make Campbell look like a fud, and fired a few long distance shots at Stuart McKenzie just to check he wasn't sleeping.

And that was that. Three goals conceded, none scored, two men sent off and suspended.

Welcome to the new season...

Man of the Match: Slim pickings from Montrose. Without Stuart McKenzie in goals, it could have been a lot worse, so we'll go for him.

Monday, June 09, 2014


MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula 1 drivers, Lewis Hamilton & Nico Rosberg, are great rivals off the track as well as on it. Watch this behind the scenes video as Lewis and Nico work to stay ahead of their closest competition, whatever the situation!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Groanin' Jock Montrose FC Player of the Year Award 2013/2014

As my Montrose viewing is over for the season, it's now time to award the award that no awardee is waiting for, The Groanin' Jock Montrose FC Player of the Year Award.

Determined by who I most often awarded the man of the match, this season we have a clear winner.

Stuart McKenzie, in his debut season at the Montrose Maracana, has been a solid and confident performer in the Montrose goal.

On the 14 occasions I've seen Montrose this season, McKenzie has been the home side's best performer in five of them.

The full list is as follows:

Stuart McKenzie 5
Scott Johnston 3
Bryan Deasley 2
Garry Wood 2
Alan Campbell 1
Paul Watson 1

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Season 2013/2014: Match 14: Montrose 2 Annan Athletic 1 (Scottish Professional Football League Two)

Having last seen Montrose win around six weeks ago, and having seen them ship five goals without reply in my previous two visits to the Montrose Maracana, it was with no optimism that I ventured out today.

Given that they were facing an Annan side sitting second in the league and with a playoff place guaranteed, it seemed obvious that Montrose would continue their sorry capitulation of the preceding two home matches.

The previous week they'd rolled over and let Clyde tickle their bellies, but this week there was a growl and a determination to their play.

Jonathan Crawford epitomised it, with a snarling, ill-tempered showing that included a booking in the third minute. Having long since cast aside his Screech Powers curls, Crawford today was a torn-faced menace to any Annan player who ventured into his fallout zone. He almost scored with a fantastic bullet header during the second half, only to be denied by a great stop from visiting keeper Kenny Arthur.

Montrose had taken the lead on the half hour mark when Scott Johnston's cross to the back post was headed down by Paul Watson, allowing Bryan Deasley to sneak in front of his marker and poke the ball into the net.

The same player had several chances during the match, but found Arthur in good form, as well as passing up others through poor finishing.

It took until the 74th minute for Annan to find an equaliser, David Hopkirk sent clear of the Montrose defence and slotting a shot past McKenzie and in off the post.

But it took Montrose only two minutes to move back in front, McCord's corner falling to Wood in the box. The Montrose skipper's first shot was blocked, but his second zipped across goal and into the net.

And so Montrose's final home match of the season ended with an unlikely win. The season will end next week in deepest, darkest Stenhousemuir, and from there we can begin to think about next season under a new manager.

I'd keep most of the squad on, assuming they wanted to stay. McKenzie has been a revelation in goals, and Montrose will be doing well to hold on to him.

Campbell and Wilson have settled as a central defensive partnership, and Crawford's versatility continues to make him a useful asset. Left back remains a problem, although Bell did fairly well today before being replaced by McIntosh.

Watson, Masson and Gray are all definite keeps, but I've been concerned over the form of McCord this season, as he doesn't appear to be the player he was during his first spell at Links Park.

Deasley, Wood and Johnston are all great players on their day, and I'd definitely keep all three.

So, if a new manager can add some additional bodies in defence and midfield, and hold onto the best players already at the club, it might be possible to move me from pessimism to optimism.


Man of the Match: Bryan Deasley's movement and workrate were great today, but his finishing could have been better. Garry Wood took his goal well and looked generally untroubled all afternoon, as did the unusually fiery Jonathan Crawford.

But yet again, Stuart McKenzie was exceptional, keeping Montrose ahead with some magnificent goalkeeping. The best player at the club by a sizeable margin this season.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Season 2013/2014: Match 13: Montrose 0 Clyde 2 (Scottish Professional Football League Two)

As my press corps colleagues and I departed the Basinside Bernabeu this afternoon, I canvassed some of my fellow punters for their choice of reports:

Punter 1: "What a load of shite"

Punter 2: "Pish. Pish. Pish."

I really have little more to add to those assessments. Montrose were dire today. Scarcely a shot on target. An insistence on thumping crosses into the box despite Garry Wood being carved out of granite and Kieran Sturrock making Martin Boyle look like a towering behemoth. Graham Webster in midfield. The list of complaints goes on...and on...and on...

Positives? Barely any. Montrose only conceded twice - is that a positive?

Terry Masson started on the bench as George "The Animal" Shields, caretaker managing Montrose for the first time at Links Park, selected Ross McCord and Graham Webster in the centre of the park, flanked by Bryan "Emmmm, but I'm a striker George" Deasley and Scott "And so am I" Johnston.

Even with the midfield being overrun in the second half, it wasn't the hapless Webster who was substituted, but the anonymous Sturrock. Terry Masson came off the bench and took two minutes to collect his customary booking.

Clyde looked good today - especially when we consider that it's very recently that they would arrive at Links Park and receive an absolute hammering (8-1 seems a long time ago). Their opening goal came from a surging run from Stuart McColm that, if it didn't quite evoke Gareth Bale's Copa Del Rey winner from midweek, it did rip Jonathan Crawford a new arsehole.

Their second came from the penalty spot after Colin Wilson decided to empty Stefan McCluskey in the box.

Positives? At least there's only 180 minutes of the season to go...

Man of the match: Slim pickings - even the usually dependable Stuart McKenzie struggled today. If forced to pick from the Montrose ranks, I'd reluctantly go for Bryan Deasley, who came closest to scoring for the home team and at least looked like he might like to win a football match.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Season 2013/2014: Match 12: Montrose 0 Elgin City 3 (Scottish Professional Football League Two)

Optimism and positivity tend to be in short supply in the stand, cow-shed and storm-ravaged terracing of Links Park, but today Montrose largely ditched their "launch it into the wind and see what happens" approach to the beautiful game and opted instead for slick passing and the creation of scores of chances.

They could have gone in at the break leading by four or five goals had it not been for some good saves from visiting goalkeeper John Gibson, some unlucky/poor finishing from Paul Watson, Scott Johnston and David Gray, and Bryan Deasley's inexplicably poor final balls.

Potentially four or five goals ahead at the break, but drawing 0-0 when Mat Northcroft blew for half time. Those of you aware of Montrose's recent history know where this is heading, don't you?

Montrose were still the better side in the second half, Campbell and Watson both coming close and Terry Masson shooting wide when it looked easier to score,

But it took only eight minutes for Elgin to score, Shane Sutherland (who was an international-class striker in Football Manager 2012) robbing Jonathan Crawford and poking the ball under Stuart McKenzie.

Two more goals followed, both scored by substitute Adam McLeod, and both after Montrose corners were cleared by long punts from the Elgin defenders.

So despite dominating the match, playing some attractive attacking football, regularly winning the ball and forcing Elgin into errors, Montrose contrived to lose 3-0 at home to the team second bottom of Scotland's lowest professional league.

Optimism and positivity tend to be in short supply...

Man of the Match: When Montrose were playing well today, they were as good as I've seen them all season - breaking fast, constantly pressing and looking for openings. Paul Watson and Terry Masson were the driving forces in the middle of the park, while David Gray created several chances and Bryan Deasley's work rate was second to none.

Leading them all by example was Scott Johnston, the youngster up front with Gray and a repeated threat to the Elgin defence. He seems to have bulked up recently, adding a previously unknown physical aspect to his play, as well as developing his final ball to be more effective.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Season 2013/2014: Match 11: Montrose 2 East Stirlingshire 0 (Scottish Professional Football League Two)

Jock 1:1: And lo, the wind did howl, and there was great misery upon the Earth.

Jock 1:2: And the people asked: "Must we watch Montrose in the storm? For we have seen them ship five to Berwick and they were poor".

Jock 1:3. But Garden spoke: "Venture unto the Links Park and thou shalt be rewarded".

Jock 2:1. The people heard the word, and it was true. For East Stirlingshire contrived to lose to a team battered by Berwick a week earlier.

Jock 2:2. Garden selected Gray, and there were great rejoicing, for he did open the scoring with a 30-yard half volley.

Jock 2:3. And the people were happy, for Deasley scored a second, poking into the net from six yards out.

Jock 3.1. Lo, the storm did blow, but Montrose were strong, and the people were happy.

Jock 3.2. Though the Shire had chances, they could not have scored in a Babylonian brothel. And Garden was happy. And the Mo rejoiced.

Man of the Match: David Gray scored a belter of a goal, Jonathan Crawford gave possibly the best performance I have ever seen from him and Ricky McIntosh was superb at left back.

But yet again, Stuart McKenzie was a formidable presence in goal, keeping a clean sheet as Shire and the wind did their best to find goals in the second half.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Season 2013/2014: Match 10: Montrose 2 Albion Rovers 1 (Scottish Professional Football League Two)

Could the playing and coaching staff of Montrose FC please consider alerting paying punters if, in future, they intend to cram all the interesting bits of their match into a five-minute spell in the second half.

That way, those of us who aren't always blown away by the avant-garde performance art of Messrs Crawford, Deasley, Johnston and Campbell can find something less arse-numbingly dull to do, then turn up for the good bit.

Today's match turned in a chaotic five minutes early in the second half when Albion Rovers - who have ditched their Melchester Rovers strips for Spanish national team knock-offs - took the lead through Gary Philips' header at the back post.

That lead lasted two minutes, Bryan Deasley taking a break from shanking wild shots wide of the target to send a square ball to Scott Johnston, who poked the ball into the net from two yards out.

The home side then took the lead a further two minutes later, Terry Masson applying the finishing touch to a smooth passing move involving Deasley and Gray.

Montrose also had two headers cleared off the Albion Rovers goal-line, and by the end they were feeling so confident that Jonathan Crawford decided to take a wander to left back, dropped his shoulder, cut outside the Albion Rovers right winger and pinged a 45-yard pass down the touchline. It may prove to be the high point of his career.

The second half of the second half (fourth quarter in Americanese) was possibly as good as I've seen Montrose play all season. But nonetheless, someone sitting near the back of the stand called for Stuart Garden's resignation on the final whistle.

Up to sixth in the league, only five points off the play-offs? I must not be optimistic...I must not be optimistic...I must not be optimistic...

Man of the Match: There were two stand-out performers in my opinion - Scott Johnston and Stuart McKenzie. The striker scored one and gave a typically hard-working performance up front, but the goalkeeper kept Montrose in the match with a series of point-blank saves and generally strong command of his box. He also picked up my vote for player of the season in today's poll.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Season 2013/2014: Match 9: Montrose 1 Queen's Park 0 (Scottish Professional Football League Two)

There really is no logic to football, particularly in the end-of-line bargain bin we know as Scottish Professional Football League Two (or Division Three in old money).

Montrose were battered by both the excitable North Sea wind and their Glasgow-via-Airdrie opponents, but somehow managed to emerge at the end with all three points, keeping them in the heady position of eighth (or third bottom) of Serie Z4.

Shockingly, they also kept a clean sheet, which is more than can realistically be expected from a back four containing Jonathan Crawford, Alan Campbell and a striker masquerading as a centre back.

The whole match turned on a 60-second spell around the hour mark, when Queen's Park had a goal disallowed for offside. Montrose reacted quickly and fired the free kick up the park. Bryan Deasley was fouled on the edge of the box, but referee Mike Taylor waved play on. The ball fell to Paul Watson 25 yards out, the midfielder emerging from an hour-long period of anonymity to lash a left-foot drive into the bottom corner.

That Montrose were able to get a result here bordered on the incredible, given that Queen's Park had two shots cleared off the Montrose goal line and missed a couple of sitters in addition to having their offside effort chalked off.

There are still serious question marks over the squad, not least in the strength in depth (or lack of) throughout the squad. With no discernible fullbacks, Garry Wood shoehorned in at centre back and the hapless Jamie Reid bamboozled in an unfamiliar central midfield role, Montrose struggled to keep possession and to string any passes together.

Even with a relatively solid spine of Stuart McKenzie, Alan Campbell, Terry Masson, Paul Watson and Bryan Deasley, they struggled to find a rhythm, and too often smacked the ball hopefully and hopelessly into the wind, only to find it bearing back down on them within seconds.

Six points is far from an insurmountable gap between Montrose and the playoff positions, but if we are being realistic, that chance is fast slipping away (which sounds like an odd thing to say after a win).

But this was a victory against the odds and against the run of play - realism and pessimism are effectively the same thing when watching Montrose...

Man of the Match: Another calm and assured performance from Stuart McKenzie in goals kept Montrose in this match, while several of his outfield colleagues put in tireless shifts. Chief amongst those was Scott Johnston, whose drive and determination kept Queen's Park on the back foot during Montrose's attempted attacks.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Winter Olympics Live Streaming

I'm quite excited by the Winter Olympics - the summer games always remind me of things I might have been able to do if I was younger, fitter, faster and considerably less lazy, but the winter games always show me things I could NEVER do - launching myself off a hillside while strapped to two planks of wood, hurtling down a hillside while strapped to two planks of wood, flying round an ice rink with two sharpened blades attached to my feet...and so on...

I'm looking forward to following the Winter Olympics on ESPN's Winter X Games channel, which includes both recorded interviews and live streaming events with some of the biggest names in winter sports.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Season 2013/2014: Match 8: Montrose 2 Peterhead 3 (Scottish Professional Football League Two)

The ingredients for yesterday's encounter between mediocre Montrose and promotion-chasing Peterhead:

  • Two pints of lager and a chilli burger from The Picture House
  • Four friends, three of them making their first visit as paying punters at the North Sea Nou Camp.
  • The insane ramblings of my lesser-spotted press corps colleague.
  • A sublime Garry Wood strike from 20 yards out to open the scoring.
  • A less sublime Alan Campbell own goal four minutes into the second half to level the scores, the big pudding resorting to type after his recent sterling performances.
  •  A well-taken goal from professional walloper Rory McAllister, the striker sent clear then rounding Stuart McKenzie and shooting into the empty net.
  • McAllister's second 'goal' -  a lob that bounced down off the crossbar and landed in front of the line, but deemed to be across it by the far side linesman.
  • Terry Masson's great strike for an injury time consolation, the substitute controlling on the edge of the box and firing into the bottom corner.
All of it - Montrose scoring a comedy own goal, Garry Wood and Bryan Deasley working hard up front, third-world refereeing, the random gibberish being spouted in the stand, Rory McAllister being a dick - was entirely in keeping with type.

By the end, it had all become too much for George Shields to deal with, the Montrose assistant manager randomly launching balls into the Peterhead dugout, possibly in an attempt to spark a 30-man brawl and have the match abandoned.

The result leaves Montrose third from bottom of Serie Z-6, with the chance to go second bottom if Elgin beat Queen's Park in their game in hand.

Garden must go? Hardly - but for the spectacularly unfunny comedy refereeing, Montrose were generally a match for Peterhead, McAllister excepted.

I know I say it every week - but there's a desperate need for a few more bodies (preferably some of them living) at Link's Park.

Do we dare to dream that we can be better than mediocre?

Man of the Match: If we were taking both teams into account, it would easily be McAllister, who was head and shoulders above those around him. From a Montrose point of view, I'd go with Garry Wood for a great opening strike and his typically tireless shift up front.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Season 2013/2014: Match 7: Montrose 0 Berwick Rangers 0 (Scottish Professional Football League Two)

As is becoming the norm in Montrosefootballclubland, the home side today failed to score a goal, but did manage to pick up their customary red card.

It was Paul Watson's turn this week, following in the footsteps of Terry Masson and Ross McCord in making sure that he gets a weekend or two off during the coldest part of the season.

The red card, awarded for Watson's clumsy second half challenge that added a second booking of the day to his account, was one of the few moments of note in an otherwise comparatively tame encounter.

Both sides did have efforts cleared off the line, and at one point I thought my halftime hot chocolate had been laced with LSD, as I'm sure I saw Alan Campbell cut inside his marker on the Berwick bye line and crash a shot into the side netting.

For Montrose, it was the usual list of shortcomings that were apparent - toothless up front (despite the industry of both Bryan Deasley and Garry Wood), a lack of truly dangerous crosses from the flanks, and a paucity of flair in the middle of the park.

This may have been Stephen McNally's last appearance in a Montrose shirt, the fullback apparently heading off for a life on the rigs, a fate also shared by Lloyd Young.

Young will leave a big hole in the squad, but McNally is not the loss he would have been a couple of years ago, his game recently having been plagued by inconsistency and errors.

What his departure does mean is that Montrose are again chronically shortstaffed at both fullback positions, as well as lacking a regular goalscorer while Deasley and Wood continue to search for goals.

While in previous years I have frequently lamented the quantity and quality of centre backs at the club, the improvements in Alan Campbell's game have been notable, and his partnership with Luke Johnston is bearing fruit. In goal, Stuart McKenzie has been magnificent since his arrival.

So, New Year, and hopefully some new faces arriving at the North Sea Nou Camp to fill the gaps.

We live in hope...

Man of the Match: Alan Campbell had an excellent match, marshalling the defence well under pressure. But it was Stuart McKenzie who shone today, keeping Montrose in the match with another great performance in goals.