A few weeks ago, Longniddry Villa Blue under 13's had to endure losing their Goalkeeper as he moved on to pastures new, leaving the team without a man between the sticks for their match against Lauriston Thistle. As head coach, Brian Hope broke the news to his team, he couldn't of hoped for a better reaction.
"I'll play in goals", said little Hamish. "I'll play a half aswell Brian" said Martin. It was a shock for Brian but also such relief that 2 of his players were willing to sacrifice themselves to help the team by pulling on the gloves. It was at that moment he knew that this team had team spirit that was very special. However, a little worry crossed his mind that the Villa boys would struggle without a recognised Goalkeeper.
What on earth was Brian worried for? A first half clean sheet for Hamish was all he could of asked for. 0-0 at half time, as Martin switched the blue and black stripes for the bright yellow as Hamish vacated the gloves. Villa took the lead, but were pegged back soon after. Martin made an outstanding save, but the Lauriston striker scored to equalise. Martin was put to the test in the second half but he more than held his own with some superb saves. 3 more goals from the Villa boys, and some excellent defending gave them a win and Brian was delighted with his whole team that day.
With the October school holidays forcing 2 weekends without any football, St Bernards BC Mid Blues were next to visit Longniddry, and still without a keeper, Brian had to ask again for someone to step up. Hamish's hand shot up as he dived for the gloves and jersey and was first out onto the pitch.
Unbeaten and scoring barrel loads of goals, St Bernards would prove to be a touch test for the Villa boys. After taking all 3 points already in a clash between the sides earlier in the season, Villa were looking for revenge on their visitors, but this time in the cup. Extra time was needed to separate the teams, and makeshift keeper Hamish was playing more like a seasoned pro! Making all kinds of saves and distributing the ball expertly.
"In agony with a finger injury and feeling dejected with losing 5 goals, he still played on, and what a diamond he is little Hamish. I couldn't be more proud of him". When anybody asks Brian Hope about his Goalkeeping crisis, I'm pretty sure his responses will be, "Crisis? What crisis?"
Despite losing out 5 goals to 4, Brian told me he had never been involved in a defeat that brought about so many positives. "Never have I been so proud of my boys. The football they played was brilliant, all of them took responsibility and got stuck in. We lost 6-1 to St Bernards earlier in the season, and now we have taken them to extra time in the cup. It shows how far we've come. Every single player in that team deserve unbelievable credit for getting stuck in, working extremely hard and having that 'never say die' attitude for the entire game! That's exactly what I wanted from them, and without a shadow of a doubt I got that."
Read the match reports from Longniddry Villa Blues' matches against Lauriston Thistle and St Bernards BC Mid Blues