Everywhere in life, you come across these great mysteries. Like, for instance, why are Inverness Caley Thistle such good guys, and Ross County just, well, bums really? Why do some people actually think Nigel Farage talks out of his mouth? Who cuts Donald Trump’s hair? Is it true that Dolly Parton sleeps on her back?
So while Glasgow gets 49 inches of rain per year, almost double what Edinburgh gets, why have Benburb Juniors built a new stadium with lights and about 400 nice blue tip-up seats, and only one problem: there’s no roof. I was there the other day, and it was pishing down.
My only visit to the old Tinto Park was in 2000 when Bens beat Nitten Star 2-1 in the sixth round (quarter final) of the Scottish Junior Cup. They were unable to follow up their Junior Cup-wins of 1934 and 1936 however, and went out in the semi to Whitburn. I only have this one photo from Tinto on the day – I think it shows the Bens’ first goal.
After 82 years playing at the Old Lady of Govan (no, not that one, although you can see it from here no problem), the Bens left dear old Tinto Park at the end of March 2 years ago, and in their final match they beat Johnstone Burgh 2-1 on the 29th. By this time Bens were no longer a force in the West Juniors and were languishing in the Central District Second (4th tier).
So after a year ground sharing with Neilston, the Bens moved into their new setup last August. Tinto Park was cleared for housing and New Tinto Park is about 50 yards to the south with the pitch rotated sideways. The move has done the Bens a bit of good as they’ve finished second and been promoted into the Central District First for next season. It’s now right next to the M8 and on the site of what was known as Craigton Park, which was apparently the original Tinto, back in the day. It’s very clear in the photo below which I have shamelessly plundered from the Internet.
A more detailed history of the club appears in the blog On Tinto’s Slopes.
I’d not managed to get to a Benburb game all season so it looked like I’d have to wait. Then I saw that the Rangers ladies used New Tinto Park and they were at home to Celtic on Sunday. Having been at Old Firm games I was assuming the atmosphere at this would be a lot more friendly. I suppose part of me was looking for some sort of train wreck though 🙂
I left around 1230 which would normally be ample time to get through to the West for a 2pm start. Unfortunately there were roadworks at Newhouse with a 20 minute delay. Also by the time I got there the game had started so I had a problem finding a parking space.
I paid my fiver and wandered over to the open air seats. Then it started to drizzle. I was pleased to see that the houses on the site of the old park had all been built with solar panels. It seemed a good competitive game with no quarter given, but no bitterness and after a foul the players would help each other up. There was only one dick, a Celtic supporter under a blue umbrella at the front of the stand, shouting for decisions and swearing at the ref. The crowd was only around 50 and he was clearly heard.
The ref was Morag Pirie, reasonably well known in the men’s game, and I saw from Wiki that she was due to have her 41st birthday next week. Her two linos were both big strapping baldies about twice her size.
Celtic seemed far better organised, playing it out from their three at the back with plenty of time to look for passes, but Rangers struggled to get any rhythm as Celtic pressed them in their own half. When they did get the ball forward their no 10 Gemmell had precious little support.
By half time Celtic were deservedly 2 up, the first a near post flick by Kelly Clark from a corner on the left, the second a penalty for which the Rangers keeper Claire Johnstone was booked and Chloe Craig scored from the spot. By this time the rain was getting heavy and I went round to get some shelter in the clubhouse, which is quite impressive and has a far better range of scran than your average club. As the second half began some people watched the action through the window and others tried to squeeze in under the eaves. Plenty of brollies in evidence too, a bit of local knowledge doesn’t go wrong.
The second half hadn’t long started when I decided to get on the road as I had a family gathering at 6pm back in Edinburgh and the roadworks were going to be reasonably bad according to my phone. Little did I realise how bad – as I got onto the M74 the overhead signs were predicting 45 minute delays from Baillieston onwards. I managed to escape by going round by Motherwell so I was home in an hour and a quarter.
I had expected Celtic to win by about 5-0 but I was surprised to see that the game ended 2-1 and Rangers made a game of it in the second half according to the highlights and scored through Clare Gemmell.
This is about the sixth women’s game I’ve seen, all of them this season. Obviously I’d rather have seen the Bens at home but I can’t say I’ll be rushing back as the stadium is yet another uninspiring 3G with the usual green cage. A lot of people criticise the women’s game in comparison to the men’s. I think you should watch it on its own merits and forget about the comparisons – it’s just a different game. People often say the women’s game is more skilful – in my opinion the skill shows up because the game is less pacy and it’s easier to control the ball. It’s usually entertaining though and cheap to watch. It’s far less physical which will disappoint many people used to the thud and blunder of Scottish football. I remember we had a woman at work and she was phenomenal when she played fives with us in the gym. However when she played for our 11-a-side team in the summer on a full pitch she struggled. Also for some reason the goalkeepers always seem pretty hopeless, partly because they’re smaller than the men and the goals look huge. However the Scotland women’s international team are doing better than the men and look certainties to qualify for Euro 2017 in the Netherlands, losing to Iceland but hammering every other team in their section.
I think if we had the resources the women’s game should be played on a smaller pitch with smaller goals, except at the top level where it’s much faster and more physical.