No archive photos this week. I joined the ranks of the groundhoppers instead.

You know, those weirdos that turn up at your games now and again. Beard, beer belly, rucksack, DSLR round the neck, pen, etc. We get one at Whitehill every week or two. They need two programmes – one to write on and the other to put into one of those evidence bags like the police SOCO’s use. And a badge. If they don’t get a badge and a programme they’re absolutely devastated.

They no sooner arrive at the ground than they’re quoting train timetables at you and checking if they need to leave before the end to get the 49 bus into Edinburgh to get the 5.42 to Preston or Nottingham or wherever.

You tell them to relax and have a pint over in the social club, because somebody will run them into town at the end nae problem. They can’t stop looking at their watch though. And they never watch the game, they talk all the way through it…..

Only joking, guys……?


Anyway, with Whitehill off yet again (only played once since 24th October) I wasn’t too keen to trek up to ICT with all the bad weather. I managed to persuade Mrs Mantis that she could pass a couple of hours at RSPB Lochwinnoch while I popped along to Valefield.


Ladeside are known as The Blasties. There are one or two explanations for this but the prevailing one is from the poem The Inventory by Robert Burns:

My furr-ahin ‘s a wordy beast,
As e’er in tug or tow was traced.
The fourth’s a Highland Donald hastle,
A damn’d red-wud Kilburnie blastie!

So it was appropriate that I was there on January 25th, Rab’s birthday.


Over the years I’ve managed to set foot in a good few of the Juniors stadiums around the Lothians, and in recent seasons I’ve made the odd trip to the bigger clubs in the West.


By all accounts Kilbirnie’s park was a decent one so it was a good chance to find out, especially on Cup day. The last 32 of the Scottish Junior Cup and Ladeside were at home to Tayport, Cup winners in 1996, 2003 and 2005. Ladeside themselves were members of that exclusive club, winners in 1952 and 1977.

The current hit song with Scotland fans is ‘Coming Down the Road’ which has also spread into England. Yet the first time I heard this song was at Newtongrange Star’s old ground, sung by the Kilbirnie boys, sometime in the 1990s.


So at 1.30, 15 minutes before kickoff, Mrs Mantis dropped me off at the gate and I paid my 6 quid. I also got 2 programmes (I know what you’re thinking, but one was for my good mate Jamie. People always buy him a programme wherever they go). They did a nice pin badge at only £1.50 which is about half what others charge so a refreshing change. I never got a chance to try the pies – I hate queues. Maybe next time.


Anyway, on a heavy park the game got underway and even up the slope it was obvious the Blasties were dominant. So with 22 minutes gone it was no surprise when winger Ian Gold chipped in a nice cross for centre Adam Forde who had plenty of time to pick his spot and roll a left footer across the keeper and in at the post.

Just before half time Tayport had a flurry of corners, possibly even 5 in a row, but failed to muster a shot on target from any of them.


That was it at half time and although Tayport started the second half strongly, the pattern continued in the second half with Kilbirnie unable to get the goals which would clinch their place in the last 16.


Then out of the blue Tayport were handed a way back into the game with about 15 minutes left when Finlay won a penalty. This proved to be the turning point, as his spot kick wasn’t strong or accurate enough and Hughes got down well to push it away with his right hand.

Robertson of Tayport was sent off soon afterwards for a needless foul, having been booked earlier.

Ladeside doubled their lead with 5 minutes left. No 7 Miller had a shooting chance in the inside right channel but unselfishly squared it to substitute Meechan who buried it at the near post.

In the last minute Forde turned provider as he broke down the left and crossed for Rafferty to tap in for 3-0.

A satisfying afternoon for the Blasties who will now fancy their chances of reaching the quarter-finals as they travel to the winners of Glenrothes v Hermes.

Full Time: Kilbirnie 3 Tayport 0. Crowd – looked about 500.