Pollok v Irvine Meadow
Evening Times Cup Final
Thursday 18th June 2009, kick-off 7.30pm (delayed)
Newlandsfield Park, Glasgow
The season finale had finally arrived and two of the junior heavyweights were going into battle for the final time in the 2008/09 season. Newlandsfield Park, home of Pollok FC, was the destination on a wet night in Glasgow, Meadow had agreed to play the match at their oppositions ground despite being given the option of a neutral venue.
The prices were hiked up an extra 20% from my previous junior experiences, but I wasn't complaining as I could watch a game of football in the flesh in mid-June. Many more fans seemed keen to take up this opportunity and with a big queue building outside the gates the kick-off was delayed by ten minutes. The programmes where sold out fifteen minutes prior to the original kick-off time and the queue at the pie hut was getting longer and longer. A rather unique option of being able to purchase a newspaper was on offer inside the ground, it was the days edition of cup sponsors Evening Times newspaper.
The cup brings together all the winners of the league and cup competitions throughout the season. Pollok gained entry after winning the Central League Cup on penalties against Kilsyth Rangers and were drawn at home against Auchinleck Talbot in the preliminary round. A 3-1 victory meant a trip to Largs in the quarter-final where they came from behind to defeat the Super First Division champions 2-1. Dalry Thistle were just cannon fodder in the semi's as Pollok romped into the final, winning 8-0. Meadow entered the competition in the quarters as Super Premier League champions and faced Arthurlie at Dunterlie Park, winning 5-2. They then stumbled into the final after a tight 1-0 victory over Blantyre Victoria on Monday night.
Just under a month ago Meadow came to Newlandsfield and won 2-1, a result that eventually proved to be a title clincher. You could understand why they agreed to play at Pollok's home ground after that result and the fact that the pitch was in excellent condition. A perfect pitch, two top teams, a bumper crowd, everything was perfectly set for a great conclusion to the football season.
Unfortunately the spectacle didn't quite live up to it's billing. The 'Lok started brightly, pressing high up the pitch and forcing the Meadow defence back, although only a few half chances were created. An early injury saw Meadow gaffer Chris Strain sub off his son, who enjoyed some friendly banter with the home support when departing from the action. After a bit of reshuffling they managed to weather the early storm and get a hold on the game.
Pollok seemed to struggle with the ball being flighted into their box, and Meadow had the players to give them something to really worry about in that department. A poorly defended free-kick ended up with Meadow defender Chris Robertson free at the back post, who found the net just as he did last month at Newlandsfield. Meadow held onto their one goal lead into the half-time interval just as the rain started to come down.
The rain didn't put off the young punters from getting a kick about on the fine surface, it was packed with various different games all over the park, it was also arguably more entertaining. A tannoy announcement requesting that they left the field of play to allow the substitutes to warm-up was thankfully ignored, I wanted my moneys worth. It didn't seem to bother Meadow's veteran sub Andy McLaren as he was chuckling away with an interested spectator in the name of Chic Charnley, both controversial characters of the Scottish game in their heydays.
A very professional performance, some would argue that their on professional wages, by Meadow in the second-half as they killed off any momentum Pollok attempted the build up. A very solid, committed defensive display, along with time-wasting and keeping the ball in the corner prevented the 'Lok from getting any real chances, an opportunist effort by Pollok goal-getter Bryan Dingwall was collected at the second attempt by Wardrope in the Meadow goal. That was as good as it got for Pollok and without any real danger Meadow held out to clinch their fourth trophy of the season.
The celebrations began, Meadow had done the quadruple and could call themselves winners of the Super Premier League, Ayrshire League Cup, Ayrshire Cup and now the Evening Times Cup. They'll be looking to add the Junior Cup next season and will be competing in the senior Scottish Cup next campaign after their league success, with their current financial backing there's no reason why Meadow won't become a real force in junior football in the coming seasons.
Pollok will be looking to improve next season and will have former manager Rab Sneddon back at the helm as they seek the title and their first Junior Cup success for thirteen years. Meadow have already added a few new players as they aim to succeed on all fronts, they'll be only the eight victories away from securing European football, you never know.
Other match reports can be found on the official Pollok website, the sponsors Evening Times newspaper and Down the Wing blog. Further photos can be found on the Irvine Meadow blog, Medda Message Board and Pollok FC Fans Forum (will need to be a registered user on messageboards). Also a video of the presentations can be found here.
Result: Pollok 0-1 Irvine Meadow
Pollok: Robertson, Carruth, Dillon (?), Wingate, Walker, McClay, MacKay (?), Turnbull, Dingwall, Essler, Cruickshank.
Irvine Meadow: Wardrope, Ryan, Swift, Robertson, McGowan, Strain (Docherty (McLaren)), Turner, Crilly, Hamilton, McGinty (Hyslop), Barr.
Irvine Meadow: Chris Robertson