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Two more youth finals at the home of Bonnyrigg Rose JFC new Dundas Park. And two more memorable and enjoyable games of football. The first of the double-header of finals featured Hutchison Vale and Cavalry Park in an under-15 finale.
The first half of this game was the best I have seen in all the finals I have covered this season. It was full of very good, high quality football and Cavalry Park were nothing short of magnificent in the way they took on, head on, the Scottish Cup winning Hutchison Vale. This very good under-15 Vale outfit showed in a final at Hearts FC last week just how good they are as they ran out 4-0 winners against Tynecastle in the Federation of Hearts Supporters Clubs final.
There are players in the current Vale squad who are a lesson to others hoping to make careers for themselves in the greatest team game in the world. One in particular who I think has developed magnificently is Vale No 10, Ethen Feachen Hamilton. In this latest final in Bonnyrigg, Ethan was the star of the show as far as I was concerned. I also complimented Ethan for his display in the cup final at Tynecastle. I thought he played a blinder in that game and he repeated that performance against Cavalry Park. One of his goals in the second half was quite fantastic and, in youth club football, truly staggering. Here then, is a player who has grown in stature, got stronger, is very quick and talented when on the ball and, possibly, most important of all - developed the right attitude! How important all these points are for every boy playing in youth club football. I have seen many good young players over many years, but Ethan is one of the most talented and exciting of them all. It strikes me that players will only get out of football what they deserve if they put the effort in to improve all aspects of their game, such as Ethan appears to have done. The same, I add, as in life in general.
If I had anything to do with Cavalry Park, I would have been very proud of the players for the way they took the game to Hutchison Vale in this busy, busy cup final. Youth club football at its best, very best. Harry Davies (No 18) and his team-mate in the No 9 jersey, Ross Lamb, led by example as Park set about their more illustrious opponents. Cal Sheridan (No 8) looked in great form for Vale, with big Lewis Swaney (No 19) another who has improved out of all recognition. In fact, I could say this about every player on view in the under-15 cup final at New Dundas Park, shrouded in mist for most of this game.
Tom Carter was the referee in charge of this wonderful example of youth club football and he was all over the big pitch as both teams played the most enjoyable forms of attacking football. Surely, that is how all football games should be played, not the rubbish as seen live on TV in the name of Scottish professional football. There was not dull moment in this epic game in Bonnyrigg. I don’t know what Harry Davies had for breakfast on Sunday, but he played at the top of his form as he went on the hunt for the opening goal. Another very good prospect, I think. You know wot I mean, ‘Arry?
The Vale keeper and his fellow defenders were at full stretch in their own bid to contain the eager Cavalry Park attack. It was so entertaining to watch. Outstanding, in fact. Then Cavalry Park No 14, Sam Laverty, showed his skill and determination as the raids on the Vale goal built up. But it was not all one-way traffic, not at all. The talented Vale players made sure of that and it was Park keeper, Kerr Robeertson who was in the thick of the action as the pace of the game increased. Davies and Lamb hammered away at the Vale defence at one end, while Ryan Fox (No 9) and Swaney were prominent when Vale went on the hunt for a goal. Laverty and Lamb were in the thick of the fray at the Vale end again and CP were awarded a free-kick in a good position. It was a poor delivery from the free-kick but the action continued in the Vale goalmouth with Davies getting stronger and stronger. However, he ran up against Vale’s inspirational skipper, Cameron Begbie. The Vale No 5 is not as strongly built at this stage in his life as the aggressive Davies, but Begbie was more than a match for the CP attacker. Cool, calm and collected is a good way to describe Cameron Begbie who loves to play passes (precision slide-rule passes) out of defence.
I can only repeat the name of Harry Davies however, as this well-build young player did everything in his power to make the breakthrough at the Vale end. To say the game flowed is an understatement on my part. It was a truly beautiful game of football, a final in every possible way. Vale’s attacks built up with the ball being passed about. Great goalmouth action at both ends but the feeling existed that Vale could score the opening goal. Hamilton was buzzing about and the way he hit left-foot shots at the CP goal was nothing short of frightening.
Regan Hendry came more and more in to the game. Another cracker of a player, I just have to add. Scott Christie, in the No 3 jersey, grew and grew in stature for Cavalry Park. Lamb, whose fleece was not whiter than snow, tried to make the breakthough at the Vale end with long-range efforts that, possibly, were a wee bit niave on his part! Davies sent over a cross from the right and No 8, Aidan Holligan, got his head to, but no problems for the Vale keeper. Brandon Archibald was in great form for CP when Vale attacked and Brandon and his pals in the CP defence had their hands full, I can tell you! More wonderful play from Ethan Hamilton and equally good defending from CP. Christie looked even better on the left for CP as Vale let it all go, go, go! Gabrie Auriemma (No 14) joined forces with Regan Hendry in another grear Vale move. Gabrie’s shot went wide of the CP left hand post.
At this stage in the game, I could feel the bacon roll I bought along with a cup of coffee before the start, lying in my stomach. Not a good idea to eat bacon rolls for someone my age. Still, Gail Swanson was not there with sausage rolls. So, bacon rolls and coffee it was for the auld yin!
Regan and Hamiton featured in another raid on the CP goal, but no problems for keeper, Kerr Robertson. Then Christie again on the left for CP followed by Hamilton for Vale in more great great play. Jack Kidney (No 10) took centre stage in the next assault on the Vale goal and there was a break in play while attention was given to the Vale goalie, who took a sore one while challenging for a through ball. Yes, it was real fire-in-the-belly stuff! In the 34th minute a great roar went up from the Cavalry Park fans on the terracing as their team opened the scoring. Great play on the right from No 2, Callum Shields, and he sent over a picture of a cross to No 8, Aidan Holligan, who scored with a looping header at the left-hand post to put CP 1-0 in the lead. Have you experienced the feeling in a game of football when the ball seemed to hang in the air before coming down to land in the net. Well, that was what it was like watching Holligan’s header. It seemed to take ages before it came down to land in the net. Ah, ha, what celebrations followed and rightly so.
Kidney hammered a shot off Begbie in another raid on the Vale goal. The same two players in contention for a through ball, but yes, great turn by Begbie and a superb clearance. At the CP end, Hamilton lashed a thundering free-kick from 35yd out over the crossbar. Some of the clearnaces from both goals were don’t mess with me, variety! In the 39th minute of this great final, Vale scored an equaliser. What a bloody goal if was from Hamilton, too, and the ball simply ripped in to the CP net at the top left-hand corner. Then Lamb hooked a shot wide of the Vale goal and another good promising move featuring Lamb, Rowen Shaw (No 17) and Cai Smith (No 5) broked down. Vale No 16, Innes Goodall, let fly at the CP goal from the right, but the ball was booted off the goal-line by a defender and it was still 1-1 at the break
Should I go for another bacon roll and coffee, I asked myself. Better not, or I might make a mess of myself. Play safe, Ian.
Half Time: Hutchison Vale 1-1 Cavalry Park
After such a tight, glorious game in the first half, six more goals came along in the second half, five of them for Hutchison Vale. It was truly bewildering to see how well this team played in the second half. Very good players in every position and how they made CP suffer. The final scoreline of 6-2 was a travesty for the team from east Edinburgh. But Vale simply tore in to their opponents and the goals came along at regular intervals. I must say, too, the quality of football from both sides was exceptional.
Vale were the better team and they went on to show just how good they are. In the sixth minute of the second half, Swaney powered his way up the left wing and, as he does, sent over a super cross for Hamilton to put Vale 2-1 in the lead. Was it a good goal? It was another stunner in my opinion.
Lamb sent another free kick sailing away over the Vale crossbar but in the 10th minute of the second half CP scored a dramatic equaliser from a spot-kick. Lamb, it was, who scored from the spot to make it 2-2. A glimmer of hope, therefore, for CP. Vale No 17, Cameron McAlpine sent in a ball that landed nicely for No 9, Ryan Fox, his shot looked easy for the CP keeper, but the ball spun out of his hands and on to the top of the crossbar and behind for a corner. Phew! From the corner kick, Cal Sheridan hooked a shot wide of the CP goal. Sheridan, need I say it, is another great prospect.
The pressure built up on the CP defence as Vale controlled the play. Enter stage left, Regan Hendry, and the Vale No 11 made it 3-2 with yet another superb shot. CP brokee the siege and No 17, Rowen Shaw, showed how good he is on the right, but - damn it - offside against CP ended that promising piece of play. Hamilton, meanwhile, caused havoc in the CP defence every time he was on the ball - or should it be boil? Archibald continued to shine for CP with good defending.
It was, indeed, a great final and in the 26th minute of the second half, Vale went in to a two-goal lead, with the talented Ryan Fox on the mark this time. Another well-taken goal! Three minutes later it was 5-2 and Hamilton again tested the strength of the nets at New Dundas Park with a shot of breathtaking proportions.
Fox won another corner for Vale and when the cross came over, Cal Sheridan was crowded out by the CP defenders. Davies re-emerged at the other end, but it was a lone furrow for the CP No 18. Arran Singh came on for Vale to show off his lovely close skills and it was the Vale No 19 who was involved when his side scored the final goal of the game, with Gabrie Auriemma applying the final touch to make it 6-2 for Hutchison Vale. Forget the scoreline, however, this was a brilliant final between two very good and disciplined sets of players.
I just have to add this. It was Vale No 16, Lewis Swaney, who gave away the penalty that resulted in CP equalising. Now, it befalls me to say: DOWN(ED) BY THE SWANEY once again. Sorry, Lewis, I just can’t resist it!
The John McConnell Cup and individual awards were presented by Douglas Dalgliesh, on behalf of the club dear to the heart of the late John McConnell.
Full Time: Hutchison Vale 6-2 Cavalry Park