Thursday, 25 October 2012

Pollok 2 - 1 Neilston - 20/10/2012

Much of my Saturdays during my teenage years revolved around going to football matches with my Dad. We would go to all levels of the game in the North East of Scotland, from large stadium games to full blooded amateur battles at the local park. We went to see a lot of junior football as there were several teams fairly close to where we lived. Junior football 'up north' differs a bit to the junior game in the Central Belt. For one, it's a much bigger deal in the South of the country. It isn't uncommon for Junior matches in Aberdeen to get crowds of between 30-90 people, obviously there are some exceptions.

Our most local team was Hermes, and if I remember rightly, you would get a crowd of around 40 at their games. Myself and my Dad decided one Saturday to go and see them as they were playing the big guns Pollok FC in the 5th round of the Scottish Junior Cup. The local paper estimated a large crowd of about 250, what was recorded was a gate of just under 1000. I realised that day that the Junior set-up in Glasgow and it's surroundings were much more serious than what I had been used to.

So fast forward 15 years and at 4:30pm on Saturday the 20th of October, I find myself sitting in Pollok FC's social club with a pint having enjoyed my second Pollok game. Again, another Scottish Junior Cup tie.

Pollok are now the club closest to where I live, around a 10-15 minute walk, longer if I stop for a pint en route, which I did on Saturday at local Shawlands favourite, The Granary. I've walked past Pollok's ground before but until I arrived on Saturday I didn't realise quite how big it was. In fact, it can hold 5000 spectators and has a covered terraced stand down one side of the pitch, with a couple of stepped levels around the rest of the pitch. Chris' trip to the Highland League last week was slightly 'marred' by his shock at the £8 ticket price. No issues at Pollok. A straight up fiver to get in.

The game started competitively and Neilston had a couple of decent passages of play early on but were soon pegged back by a strong Pollok side. With Pollok in the ascendancy they were awarded a penalty, only for the 'keeper to make a diving save. Game on! It wasn't long however until Pollok did have the ball in the net, twice, with goals from Paul McQuilken and Steven Reilly. The latter I thought played well for the 90 and took his goal very well.

The second half started with a bang when former Pollok man Andy Essler grabbed a goal for Neilston, five minutes after the restart, but as Neilston plugged away they got more tired and Pollok started to struggle to get decent balls into the box, the game fizzled out as a contest.

I hadn't been to a junior game for a couple of years and am quite used to seeing 'professional' football so it was nice to go and see a game played with passion and guts. I lost count of the times I winced when challenges flew in and then surprised that they didn't merit a yellow card! After the game we retired to the social club attached to the ground to enjoy a few pints before the short walk home. A walk i'm sure i'll make a few more times this year.

Ticket Price: £5

No pie or hot drink consumed (I know, i'm still disappointed in myself for that)

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