Alloa Away Days


Bit of a shorter trip tonight … a hop, skip and a jump to arch rivals, Stirling Albion in the first of a double-header that concludes at home on Saturday.img_0215

Three away wins on the bounce was a bit too much to ask for, and in a pretty even game with few clear cut chances, it is perhaps unsurprising to know that it finished 0-0.

One of the best parts of the night, though, was seeing our favourite linesman, who you can see in the picture. The guy runs like he was in a severe car crash and rather than being taken to hospital, they took him to Scrapheap Challenge. It’s like he’s got an iron bar for a spine and the headlights from a 1994 Fiesta as kneecaps. His waistband is round about where his tits should be. Jude and I have seen him trot along the line like a Palamino on a number of occassions but tonight was the first time the rest of the crowd seemed to spot it and he even got a brief chant of “THE LINESMAN!! THE LINESMAN!!”

Moan the Wasps!

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img_0214Stranraer is 118 miles away from Alloa, meaning that there are only three grounds in Scotland further afield. I didn’t fully appreciate that before I left, but I do now. My right ankle certainly appreciates it, given that it’s now in a perpetual state of readiness for an outbreak of a Canadian Barn Dance.

Yes, it was a day spent observing advertising hoardings with odd dialing codes, which can only mean another Alloa away day.

Jude pulled out from the trip yesterday so I was on my lonesome as I bombed down the M77, but thankfully there was plenty to keep me entertained on the way down.

For example, I saw a traffic sign outside Maybole warning me of the presence of otters. Now, I’ve never seen a real life otter — and I still haven’t — but today was the first time I’ve ever been warned about them.

There’s a Cassillis Hotel and Cassillis Road in Maybole, which will be of interest to only one person and he probably already knows.

Every town in Ayrshire welcomes you on the way in and Hastes Ye Back on the way out.

Roads in South Ayrshire are obsessed with monitoring your average speed.

Sections of the road between Girvan and Stranraer are like driving round the Hawaii coast on Test Drive Unlimited. I know that sounds unlikely, but I thought it on the way home too, so it must be true.

Stair Park in Stranraer is wee. In fact, it’s toaty, as you can probably see from the photograph. But seriously, it’s very small and this is coming from someone who spends every second Saturday at Recreation Park. Stair Park is the sort of place you see at the side of the road and you’re likely to drive past because you think that can’t possibly be a football stadium — that’s surely part of a generous doll house. But no, that is it.

So, that was my Saturday. I left the house today at 12:10 and I arrived back at 19:05 but it was all worth it because today, at the 17th attempt, after travelling more than 1,000 miles to 11 different grounds scattered across the country, I finally saw Alloa win away from home.

Moan the Wasps!

I discovered three things yesterday:

1. Methil is a hole.

2. Alloa need a striker.

3. Methil really is a hole.

“Keep up with that bus, Jude.  I’m checking my emails.”

Perhaps the most random thing I’ve said in a while, but something that was perfectly true.  On the way through to tonight’s game in Dunfermline, I spotted a bus that boasted it had Free Wi-Fi.  And when I scanned for a network on my iPhone, sure enough, the bus was there.

First impressions of East End Park — nice bridies.

First impressions after my first away game of the season is that my stinking jinx continues.  I think that’s now 0 wins out of 14.  It’s a shame coz the boys did well tonight and I think we gave our higher division opponents a scare.  Certainly our McKeown gave their Bayne a fright when he went in with both feet in a tackle that at best could be described as ill-judged and at worst could be common assault.

On a plus side, that brings the total number of different grounds to 9 and a cumulative distance travelled of 710 miles.  These stats will keep me happy while other teams progress in the League Cup.

Hard as it is to believe, football season 2008/09 is almost upon us. Was it really three months ago when the Mighty Wasps were a mere 30 minutes away from promotion, only to cave into the influence of an overweight ex-Rangers player in the shape of Gary McSwegan in a Clyde strip? Well, yes. Yes, it was.

Parted with £140 for the season ticket today (price not changed in 3 years) and while the home games are rarely missed, it’s the matches on the alternate Saturdays that whet the appetite.

So at this time of year, I try to plan the away trips. Here’s what I’m aiming for and we’ll see by way of the “Didn’t We Have A Luvverly Time” posts through the season, just how well I’ve done:

13 Sept — Stirling Albion Dead cert. It’s 7 miles away and I always make it to the derby games. Seldom have a luvvery time, however, but bigger hopes this year what with the filthy Binos being relegated last year. Ha ha.

6 Dec — East Fife The new boys in Division 2 and they’re expected to hump most teams this term thanks to buckets of cash. Gretna, here they come. Never been to Methyl to see Alloa play, so this would be one to tick off the list, which is what it’s all about, really.

3 Jan — Stirling Albion Binos in the Ne’er Day game. Should be a cracker.

17 Jan — Peterhead This is a big one to plan for. 300 mile round trip and another new venue. Hoping the December pay will hold out long enough to fund this jolly, but being honest, it’s the one most likely to be bumped.

28 Feb — Stranraer Another long trip. 118 miles there and another 118 miles to get back. Maybe 119 if I go to the chippy. Never been to Stranraer, to see football or otherwise, so this will hopefully be the third new venue clocked up this year.

2 May — Ayr United Might as well be optimistic. If we’re still playing for promotion on this, the second last Saturday of the season, I’ll be making the relatively short 67 mile hop to the west coast. Maybe Casillis would be kind enough to buy me a pie when I get there.

So there we have it. Who wants to bet that I just make it to Stirling (once) and Kirkcaldy (again)?

This was to be the third time I’d seen Airdrie this season and we were yet to pick up a point. Here we were, at the arse end of the season, knowing that a result here would leave us in pole position going into the final game of the regular season against Berwick, who officially are so shite it’s unbelievable, and a play-off spot would be ours.  Hoorah!

As you can see, a capacity crowd squeezed into Airdrie’s Excelsior Stadium for this crunch game. Actually, much like most 2nd Division teams with a decent stadium, they stick everyone in the same stand so the 1,000 souls who can be bothered end up looking onto an otherwise empty stadium, which creates an unusual atmosphere. Anyone who’s gone to see Queens Park will know exactly what I’m talking about … 500 people in a 50,000 stadium makes you feel like part of the press pack awaiting a new signing or manager. Or in the wrong place.

Anyway, it was a decent enough game; plenty of heart, not so much in the way of speed or talent, with the exception of Kyle McAuley who was magnificent today. Apparently, his mom’s a bitch but you can’t have everything.

The day was somewhat complicated by the fact that my missus and her sister were off getting pampered at Stobo Castle. Brother-in-law, Kevin, and myself agreed to share taxi duties as neither of the women can drive and my initial intention was to take them down, even though it would be an early start, with Kev doing the return trip. As it turned out, Kev was glory-hunting at Celtic Park while I was in Airdrie so I decided to have a check on uk.multimap.com to make sure we were doing this in the most sensible way. As it turned out, the results provided more surprises than the football.

First, I checked to see how long it would take to get from Airdrie to Stobo. I reckoned about an hour. Multimap had other ideas.

58 miles, says Multimap. Well, that’ll take you 1hr 39 mins. Eh? 58 miles? 100 minutes? And I don’t know if you can see this, but 16 miles were due to be on the A74(M) where surely I could bump the average speed to above 35 mph? No, no, you must’ve got it wrong, Mr Multimap. And sure enough, after closer inspection of the detailed route, it had. It had me missing Carluke which didn’t seem anything like the best way. So I put in via Carluke and asked it to have another wee think to itself.

The initial progress of shaving nearly 20 miles from the journey was quickly pissed on when I realised that this saving was going to cost me another 10 mins on! This was ridiculous. So I decided to see if Kev was better placed. He was going to be further west but judging by the two results I’d had so far, I wouldn’t have been surprised if Multimap, which I suspected of being drunk, had reckoned on his journey being 20 miles and taking minus six-and-a-half minutes.

With that in mind, I’m not sure how I should react to the actual result:

You know, I’ve often thought that the best way to get to the Scottish Borders from Glasgow is via London. And now, I have proof.

So I phoned Kev to say maybe it would be a better idea if he took the womenfolk down to their pampering session in the morning and I picked them up in the evening, as if we did it in reverse, he wouldn’t get them back home to Alloa until eight o’clock tomorrow morning. He agreed.

The game finished 1-1.

Moan The Wasps!

I love away days watching Alloa Athletic and the fact that I don’t go to as many as I’d like means that I tend to appreciate the ones I manage to haul my arse along to.

Cowdenbeath is one of the easier trips — twenty miles and a forty minute drive away — so today was my third trip to Central Park in the kingdom of Fife.

Alloa went into the match in fourth place, which would see us through to the promotion play-offs while Cowden were at the arse end of the table, languishing comfortably in the relegation play-off spot.

I should say at this point that while there’s a lot of badmouthing of the play-offs, mainly due to the fact that out of the 10 teams in the league, only four find themselves at the end of the season with nothing to play for, I rather like the excitement and even though we’re well off the pace this year, there’s still a slim chance we could go up.

Strange, then that both teams seemed to be treating the game as a mid-table, end of season encounter and the game itself was frequently beaten for excitement by the weather. It started sunny. Got cloudy. Started to rain. Which changed to sleet. Which decided to chill a little further into snow. And it finished sunny. The game was 1-1, and Cowden can probably consider themselves mugged. Makes a change.

But the highlight of the day was that myself and my mate Jude were treated to some Cowdenbeath hospitality, both pre and post match.

Jude, the main blur in the image as he heads to or from the Gents, works with one of Cowden’s youth coaches who got us into the ground and at the bar for 1pm where we enjoyed lager, crisps and the Arsenal – Liverpool match.

At half-time, a wee cup of tea and some sandwiches were on offer and we were able to hob nob with the Alloa injury list. Dougie Wilson, our midfield maestro, revealed that he hopes to be back next week. Hoorah!

And at full time, more beer and halfs and a tin of Baa Bru for the driver and some chat with a few guys who turned out to be on the board of Bo’ness Juniors. And not a penny was spent. Except at the Gents. Several times.

All in all, a fantastic afternoon out and thanks to Jude’s mate Jim for being a top fella.

Moan The Wasps.