Regular observers of this blog will know that I try to write about grounds that I know well, but sometimes it’s good to have a day out to somewhere new.
Lochee United were promoted to the East Superleague last season having beaten Sauchie Juniors 5-0 in BOTH legs of the playoff. The Bluebells have been playing at Thomson Park since 1959 (the grand opening was performed by George ‘Corky’ Young of Rangers) and to my shame I’d never been there. On the Friday I bumped into Charlie Kirkwood, the Bonnyrigg Rose chairman. Charlie used to clean the windows in my street but he’s got others doing it for him now while he drives around in a wee van… 😉 A quick word with Charlie and I had a seat on the bus for Saturday’s visit by champions Bonnyrigg to Lochee.
Lochee have been East Superleague champions in 2004-5 and 2007-8. They have never won the Holy Grail of the Scottish Junior Cup but did reach the final in 2005 where they lost to neighbours Tayport, which must have been a sair yin at the time.
In 2008-9 they reached Round 3 of the Homecoming Scottish Cup where they beat Bathgate Thistle and Buckie Thistle before going out to Ayr United after a replay. Of interest to me was that ex-ICT striker Paul Ritchie played with the Bluebells and managed the club for 3 years from 2010. Lochee had had a decent start, beating Fauldhouse, Dundonald and Carnoustie, and losing to Hill o’Beath and Linlithgow. Today though, the champions were in town.
Plenty of roast beef and Yorkshires being served in hospitality and the Bluebells seemed to have a decent load of staff/committee helping out, including the Blue Belles who do the catering. With loads of time before kick off I was in the Tom McMillan Lounge where the Spurs – Liverpool game was on. My good mate Jamie was there having caught the red-eye to Stansted from Edinburgh airport.
A lesson here for wee clubs like my own, Whitehill, who only open two nights a week. Lochee don’t bother with draught beer. Just cans of draught at £2 a pop. No kegs to change, no gas cylinders, no brewery lorries needing in the gate when nobody’s about. No beer cooler to break down. No pipes to clean. Anybody listening?
It’s a ground where everything is behind one of the goals. There’s also some pretty steep banking which reminded me of Lesmahagow a bit. This means there’s a lot of grass to mow so a lot of it wasn’t…
After about 4 minutes Bonnyrigg were awarded a softish penalty when Keiran McGachie went down under a challenge from Greg Kirk. I’m told it was softish but I was in the pie queue at the time and service was a bit slow I have to say, two of the Blue Belles were a bit dittery, although they have a good range of stuff including soup and lorn rolls as well as pies and sweets. So I jumped out of the queue to watch Dean Hoskins slotting away the spot kick.
By the time I’d got my pie I had time to wander round to the other side just before Wayne McIntosh, ex-Whitehill legend, added a second for Bonnyrigg, 10 minutes before the break. Decent shot you have to agree? Wayno’s was a decent shot too.
This next photo harks back to the golden days of Junior fitba when crowds were much bigger.
Bonnyrigg looked comfortable for most of the game although Lochee slung a few dangerous crosses in with nobody to take advantage. Sean Jamieson showed them how it was done with about 10 minutes left. Lewis Turner went on a mazy run on the right, Ross Gallagher brought him down, Adam Nelson floated in the free-kick and Jamieson was there to finish.
Boss Robbie Horn was satisfied with the performance as he was interviewed on the pitch after the game. With the three points Bonnyrigg were tucked in nicely behind leaders Kelty. Back in the bar Lochee put on some excellent scran for the players and I caught sight of a blast from the past, Lee Wilkie. What a size that guy is.
Next up – Tórshavn, the penultimate part of my Faroe Islands trip.