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I went to Saughton Enclosure on Sunday, August 19, 2012, to see Hutchison Vale and Tynecastle under-19s play their league fixture in the East of Scotland League for that age group. It was a superb day, with the sun out and the pitch looking good in the strong sunlight.
It is hoped the stadium can be modernised and renamed the Craig Gowans Stadium in memory of the Edinburgh boy who died in a tragic accident seven years ago - when he was 17 years old! His family are totally involved in the bid to name the stadium after their wonderful son and brother. In my humble opinion, it will take a lot of work to change this venue back in to the real treasured football stadium it was in my youth.
The opening game of the season in the EoS under-19s was very good indeed and it is important I get this message across to as many others as possible - IT WAS PLAYED IN A GREAT SPIRIT WITHOUT ANY CURSING AND SWEARING FROM THE PEOPLE ON THE SIDLINES AND TERRACING! From my position near the pitch all I heard was good shouts of support and from the team coaches, good positive instructions to both sets of players.
Hutchison Vale had only one player up front and that played in to the hands of Tynecastle and their rock-solid defence. Jason Coyle was the Vale No 10 given the onerous task of leading the line against a very strong Tynecastle rearguard. Jason is a superb young player and when he did get on the ball he looked quite brilliant.
Tynecastle used the full width of the pitch and they also utilised well the pace of their front runners. Indeed, some of the Tynecastle players looked to be very good athletes. Many years ago the then Rangers manager, Bill Struth, was credited with the quote: “Give me a good athlete and I will make him a great footballer!”
With so many good under-19 players on the big Enclosure pitch, the game fairly crackled along and I thought Tynecastle employed the better tactics. They always looked the side that would score and they duly did when a great free-kick in to the Vale goalmouth shot up off the turf in front of Kerr McLernon and the ball rose up in the air and there was Brendan Edwards to bundle it over the line. That goal came in the second half and it turned out to be the only goal of the game.
On a personal note, I wish someone else had scored other than Brendan! If I try to congratulate him and say it was a ‘good goal’ he invariably replies ‘I know’! That’s my boy, Brendan Edwards, beloved of many, not that many, at Holy Rood High School in Duddingston.
Several of Brendan’s schoolmates were in the Tynecastle team and I have to say they all played very well indeed, including my ‘surrogate grandson’, Neil Fairnie in the Tynecastle goal and also skipper of the side. Neil’s clearances from hand were massive and created danger for Vale’s defence.
The Tynecastle back four of Finlay Matthews, Josh Rogers, Michael Langdale and big Kieran Muirhead were outstanding. Former Liverpool manager Bob Paisley - boss of the team when they were the top club in England and Europe - once said: “It does not matter if it is a long ball or a short pass, as long as it reaches its target!” I was reminded of these wise words at times as the Tynecastle defenders used great long balls out of defence with such deadly accuracy.
It was a real tour-del-force type of game and the Vale defence were under lots of pressure when Tynecastle attacked. Scott Millar was the man in charge and this excellent referee was fully extended as the ball was worked from end to end at lightning pace - or should I say frightening pace! There were thrills galore in both goalmouths, but I think Kerr McKernon was the busier of the two good goalkeepers in this game.
Thankfully, there were no expert coaches among either set of fans so the team coaches got on with their respective jobs without interruptions from loudmouths. “I was not dreaming, was I?”
So, end to end football, two sides with different approaches to the game, but no goals to raise the game to the level of ‘greatness’! There were lots of scary moments in both goalmouths with crosses and free kicks causing most of the problems. Was it tense? I would say so but the lack of a goal for either side also caused frustration.
I thought another plus factor in the game was the way players picked themselves up after heavy tackles and get on with the game, none of the eyeball-to-eyeball nonsense we get from pathetic overpaid professionals. Brendan Edwards was always keen to have a pop at goal but most of his efforts were crap! Ryan Malcolm, No 14 in the Vale side, had one glorious effort from well out and the ball rocketed just over the Tynecastle crossbar.
For a short spell, the game developed in to a bit of a slog, with neither set of players giving an inch. It was 0-0 at the break and they teams disappeared in the changing rooms. Others took the opportunity to show us all why they were subs. Their shots at goal without any pressure were hopeless. I was on the far touchline and I did not feee completely safe as shots went far and wide. Oh, thankfully, here come the teams! I have to say I thought Vale looked more than ‘up for it’ on the restart and they produced very good attacking moves, using both wings in to the bargain. Oh, it almost brought tears to my tired old eyes to see boys use their imaginations to create good moves.
The game went up a notch or two - possibly even three - and it was great to watch. Tynecastle No 10, Ousman See, and No 11 Dylan Rintoul, looked to be jet-propelled when they attacked on the left and boy, big Ousman was sent up in the air a few times for his troubles. He even lost a boot in one of these take-your-breath-away tackles! Wow, weeee! And it was from a free-kick won by Ousman that Tynecastle broke the deadlock.
The Tynecastle talisman took one of the free-kicks himself and the ball was whipped from the left in to the area in front of Kerr McLernon. It was a difficult ball to deal with and the Vale keeper could only watch as it came off his body to rise up in the air for that, what’s his name, Brendan Edwards to bundle the ball over the line! 1-0 to Tynecastle and if Brendan thought I would give him the praise he possibly deserve, forget it. It wasn’t a bad goal, I give him that, and I suppose he was correct in celebrating with his team-mates, but I wasn’t unduly impressed!
Vale brought on Rob Dent to play wide right and that gave them fresh impetus with Dent providing good crosses in to the middle. Cammy Haddow sent a good header just wide of the Tynecastle goal, with more danger for the visitors by Dent on the right. He won a free kick in a good position but Tynecastle goalkie Neil Fairnie looked majestic when picking the crossball out of the air.
So, it was three points for Tynecastle and that is the best possibly start to this season’s campaign in this EoS Under-19 League. But there is a long way to go and I honestly believe Hutchison Vale will improve in the weeks ahead. I also thought the referee, Scott Millar, had a super game. It was very enjoyable at the Enclosure, thanks to everyone who made it so.
Full Time: Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale 0-1 Tynecastle FC