Milder tremors were felt in Lanarkshire and on the Clyde Valley. The Fake Diamonds surprisingly turned over Hamilton Comicals 1-0 at New Douglas Park, whilst the newly-promoted Sons slipped up at home to the newly-relegated Doonhamers by the same scoreline. The goals in each game were brief bright pinpricks in a near-infinite tundra of tedium for the four sets of fans, who presumably left at 4.45pm wondering why they had been looking forward so much to the big kick-off.
Elsewhere, the games went largely as expected. The Bairns beat the Binos in their carpet slippers. The Wee Rovers frustrated Morton at Cappielow for an hour before quietly subsiding 2-0. “Department S” met at Stair Park with Martyn Corrigan taking charge of Stenny for the first time. Keith “the Postie” Knox was unable to prevent his Stena Sealink Works XI, still blinkingly unexpectedly in the surroundings of SFL2, stumbling to an odd-goal-in-three defeat. “Jukebox” Durie, who has quietly built quite a decent squad at East Fife, got off to a good start at Balmoor against the Fishy Jailers with a 2-1 win that was perhaps a touch more comfortable than the scoreline suggests. An achingly dull revival of the Firhill rivalry of old – bizarrely played at Recreation Park – saw Plastic Whistle sluggishly get the better of the Bully Wee by a single goal.
The last two of Saturday’s ties produced one entertaining featherweight bout and a lop-sided, dour defensive struggle in the other. The Borderers and the Pipe Smoking Gentlemen Amateurs roughed one another up equally over 120 minutes at Shielfield, and the Northumbrian side will be happy to have given a very good account of themselves against one of the favourites for this season’s Third Division. With both sides having boxed their way to a standstill, the game finishing 2-2, a points decision via penalties was needed – a comically bad shoot-out saw the Spiders squeak through, 3-2.
At Central Park, a similar fate awaited the Miners and Paul Hartley’s Wasps. Both sides had traded the games’ only goals after 20 minutes – Lewis “the Flamingo” Coult early on, cancelled out by Ben Gordon. One hundred minutes of borderline-pointless inconsequence followed, before the Miners settled their account 3-1 on penalties. Still, Paul Hartley will have been quietly pleased that his Third Division champions more than held their own against their Second Division counterparts – perhaps a good sign that further success lies ahead of the Wasps this term, if the bearded former international can somehow be imprisoned in the home dugout and not allowed to leave until the end of the season.
And, finally, a glimpse of the future at Glebe Park as Sevco 5088 played their first-ever match against the Village People yesterday afternoon. The little park looked immaculate and the pitch was ringed with more police yellow vests than the Glebe normally sees in an entire season. I Can’t Believe it’s Not Rangers turned up with a bloated coaching staff bigger than most Third Division squads. Charles Green and his faceless new board glowered down at proceedings from the matchbox main stand, a row of overweight men in ill-fitting suits and dark glasses, looking for all the world like a South American junta, or the Belarussian politburo c. 1976. The park was ringed with cringeworthy advertising hoardings from the Scottish Tit & Bum – FROM PAGE THREE TO DIVISION THREE.
The game began ominously as Sevco scored their first goal after just four minutes when Andy Little finishing a flowing move, and for the first 20 minutes, it looked as though there was little the Hedge Trimmers could do to stop themselves being sunk with the loss of all hands before half-time. But, oddly, this was a disjointed and rusty performance from the Genetically Modified Bears. The passing was crisp, but there was a real lack of cutting edge. The hugely impressive Euan Moyes, with the frightening Human Cue Ball Gerry McLauchlan alongside him, began to hoover up their rather blunt and unimaginative attacks. “Tiger” Molloy spurned a great chance to equalise early on, before an appalling defensive blunder just before half time let Andy Jackson in to equalise. Broadfoot’s sclaffed header, together with Goian reacting with the reflexes of a tranquilised sloth and Neil Alexander showing Jackson far too much space between his body and his near post, made the striker’s task – deftly accomplished – much easier than it should have been.
The second half was a niggly affair, and the gap narrowed noticeably. Sevco had a very good penalty claim for handball with about 13 minutes remaining, but referee Salmond quickly turned his head away; McCoist and the coaches glowered like the Easter Island statues. Eventually, Sevco prevailed through a scumbled, deflected Lee McCulloch header in the first half of extra-time.
The Hedge Trimmers did very well in the almost parallel-universe circumstances of this game, and they should have a better season after last term’s pisspoor effort. As for Sevco, the battle turns to gaining a permanent SFA licence through the week to enable them to compete in Division Three. That is far from a formality. Fans hoping that the long running Sevco saga is at an end now that the season has started, are in for a disappointment, I fear.