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Every word of this match report will be one of praise for both teams who produced such a total thriller of a final on a night that was just nigh perfect for football, good football at that. This latest in the long number of finals staged by the SERYFA was, especially, an example of the most wonderful and satisfying display of sportsmanship and good spirit that it was possible to see. Leith Athletic and Dalkeith, you did football proud last night! Leith Athletic and Dalkeith, you were nothing short of magnificent!
Sit back, therefore, and let me praise every player, match official, coach, spectator and if there was a dug in Oiive Bank - well it was brilliant as well. I am almost salivating as I think of all the good things in this final. It was the second time Leith have walked away with the silverware at this neat and tidy home of Musselburgh Athletic JFC - and the best pies in Scottish Football (Lovable Hughie Ferguson told me so!). From the opening whistle from referee, Alan McEwan, this game rocked and rolled. The crowds, most of them on the sunny terracing on the side of Campsie Primary School (what were these people doing on the roof I asked myself?) shouted and bawled their way through this amazing game. The referee, as usual, got laldie (is that the correct spelling)! No change there, then! I watched in awe at the coolness under pressure of Leith’s skipper, No 6, Lyndon Leonard. One cool customer in the centre of defence, but more about him and his immediate opponent, the brilliant Dalkeith No 9, Chris Jamieson, the son of the former Hibs player, Willie Jamieson!
Good players emerged all over the pitch (which, I have to say, could have done with a cut) and Dalkeith No 8 Liam Fellenger, another whose father played for the Hibees, looked a class player. Callum Mein, No 8 in the famous Leith colours, delivered an excellent free kick in to the danger area in front of Dalkeith keeper, Connor Lunn (I don’t know if his dad played for Hibs). Mein’s free kick cannoned off Dalkeith No 16, Daniel Greig and that produced the first corner of the game. I thought Leith had the better of the opening excchanges but even I was not prepared for what followed in this titanic encounter in the sun. And so, Leith pounded away at the Dalkeith goal and here, I want to mention Dalkeith No 16, Daniel Greig. What a great prospect he is and with his throw-ins at either side of the pitch were like guided missiles, better than free-kicks and corners, in my humble opinion. How did Daniel get so much power in to his throw-ins? If I find out, I will let you know. Enough of that, Ian, get on with lavishing more praise on the players.
So, Darren Gallagher (No 7), Callum Mein and Sean Macpherson impressed in Leith attacks on the Dalkeith goal, while Fellenger, whose dad played for Hibs (oh, I have already said that) and Mark Lawrie, No 3, were prominent for Dalkeith. Now, I have to say I have no idea if Mark is any relation to the Annie Laurie immortalised in song so long ago! Jack Brien (No 4) had a lethal left foot and his clearances out of defence were awesome! OK, too well hit at times as well. But I like Jack and I have known him and others on the pitch for a long time. All strapping, handsome young men with their respective lives ahead of them. And good luck to all of them. I was impressed by Dalkeith striker, you know, Chris Jamieson and if you think I am going to mention he is the son of Willie Jamieson who played for Hibs, you are correct! Chris looked a very skilful player indeed, not like his dad, I have to add!
In another alll-out Leith attack (where the hell did these young players get their energy from?) it took a great clearance from Daniel Greig to clear the danger. In a Dalkeith attack, Leith keeper, Reece Smail, had to come quickly off his line to clear from Jamieson. At the other end, Leith No 9, Ross Davies, let fly at the Dalkeith goal with an absolute piledriver of a shot and that produced a great tip over the crossbar from Dalkeith keeper, Connor Lunn. The corner, taken on the left by Mein, was grossly overhit. Dalkeith No 14, Chris McCartney, and I don’t know if his dad played for Hibs either) sent in a great free kick and the ball rocketed towards Smail, but it was headed away. Phew! Sean Macpherson then showed up well with a well-timed tackle on Chris Cairns. The game moved at express speed from end to end and the excitement brought out the shouts and roars from the fans.
Leith continued to look the better side but that went for nothing in the 18th minute when Willie Jamieson’s son, Chris, produced his very own little bit of magic to the left of the Leith goal, some 25 yards out. The boy Jamieson, not his old dad, lit up Olive Bank with a stunner of a shot and the ball flashed past the bewildered Reece Smail in to the right-hand corner of the net to put Dalkeith 1-0 in the lead. It was Happy Days Are Here Again among the Leith players and their fans on the sidelines. Let us get at them, was the Leith reply! Led by Mein and Davies. Woof, another cruncher of a tackle from Daniel (in the lion’s den) Greig on Jamieson, and another free-kick to Leith. Cleared easily, I have to admit! Dalkeith then attacked on the right and in stepped Jack (the lad) Brien to blooter the ball away.
Enter then another Dalkeith hero in the shape of Tyron McLean, in the No 2 jersey. Tyrone’s workrate was staggering! And, just to confuse me a wee bit (not much) Tyrone played on the left side of defence for the team from Midlothian (yes, I know my geography!). He set off on a surging run but it was a case of Thou Shalt Not Pass mentality from Lydon Leonard & Co. Have I mentioned Liam Greig (No 7) or his father so far? I cannot remember, but Liam was another very good player in the Dalkeith colours. I notice I jotted down on my notebook how well organised and strong the Dalkeith defence was, when - guess what? Leith equalised! Another brilliant free-kick headed from the right in to the near post and with Lunn rooted to the spot, it was big No 16, Ryan Ward, who managed to stick the ball in the Dalkeith net. I promised Ryan’s dad, Freddie, I would mention his son, so there you are Freddie and thanks for the offer of a pint in the pub nearby! I could fill a book about Freddie Ward and the greatest amateur side I have ever seen, the Jolly Farmer/Waverley side of so long ago that won the Famous Grouse Sunday Amateur Cup. I could tell you of the truly epic encounter this team had with Moodiesburn, from Glasgow, at Southhouse Basin! But I won’t!
So, where am I? Oh, yes, big Ryan had done the dirty on Dalkeith in the 32nd minute and from then on till half-time, Leith were back in the drving seat. Here, then, I have to introduce Sean Melvin. The Leith No 17 had a fantastic game and, once again, I have no idea if his dad played football, Possibly not, but he could have got a game for Hearts or some other of our crap professional teams in Scotland.
Oh, and while I am at it, Sean Alexander was another star in the Leith ranks. But all that praise counted for nothing when Dalkeith went back in front, at 2-1, just before half-time. It was another stunner of a goal, too, from Chris Jamieson, out on the left again from a free-kick and I doubt if the flying Reece Smail had any real chance of stopping the ball as it careered in to the net, again at the right-hand post. Bedlam in the Dalkeith ranks once more! Wonderful to watch!
It was 2-1 at the break and time for a wee breather. Where was Freddie Ford (no, I have not a clue which senior side Freddie played for) when I needed him and a cool glass of your best cider, landlord, in the pub nearby! But, unlike all the big(?) games at Hampden and elsewhere, there were no freebies at Olive Bank, just honest young, great, wonderful, magical, sporting, talented young footballers.
Half Time: Dalkeith CYP 2-1 Leith Athletic
And the second half was positively mouthwatering!
Do you ever get the feeling at a game that a lot more is going to happen. Well, I had that feeling after the break. In the 4th minute of the second half, Leith equalised and it was a tragedy for Dalkeith No 3, Mark Lawrie, as a free-kick delivered from the left hit the unlucky defender and from him in to the net and it was still 2-2. There were no more goals in the rest of normal time, but goodness me, it was a total thriller of a game. I moved my position to the other side of the pitch, close to the dugouts and the bulk of fans.
My enjoyment increased serveal fold as I listened to the banter and also managed to check if I had the goalscorers correct. Despite the lack of goals, everything else was there to see and enjoy. Goalmouth thrills - in abundance. Mistakes at both ends and the poor referee was lamblasted by the bigmoouths on the terracing who have never refereed a game in their lives. Alan McEwan is an honest referee and I just could not figure out what the bigmouths were shouting about. Dalkeith’s No 6, Scott Waugh, was outstanding in defence for his team as play surged and I really mean, surged, from end to end. Hell, I could not see down the touchline. Jings, as Oor Wullie would say. Crivvens! Help Mah Boad! Et al!
In no time at all, it was full-time! Hi, check your watch Alan McEwan! The second half must have flown past and I did not want it to end. Play to the finish, I muttered under my breath! Oh, so they were and 30 minutes of extra time to come. Bring It On! Bloody Hell!
In the 5th minute of extra time, Dalkeith scored again and they led 3-2 and it Steven McKenzie, it was who profited from very poor defending by Leith away out near the left corner flag, and the Dalkeith No 12 somehow or other managed to send a shot past Reece Smail in to the far corner of the Leith net. I just could not believe my eyes. That was a positively ridiculous/great goal! Needlesstosay, the roars from the Dalkeith contingent must have been heard far away in the Midlothian town.
Two minutes later, it was 3-3 with another totally crazy goal from No 7, Darren Gallagher, and the Leith players let fly at the Dalkeith goal from far out on the very left touchline and the ball, well, how can I describe the pace Darren’s shot - like an express train and it was still heading down the East coast when the ball exploded in to the Dalkeith net at the near post. At the finish, I asked Darren if he meant to score. I have to take him at his word and he said he did mean to score. A team-mate added: “It was meant to be a cross!”
Whatever, they all count as they say and with the teams locked at 3-3 it was on to a penalty decider and the sky had started to get dark. No floodlights at Olive Bank, so get on with it and the Leith players certainly did just that. All five of their penalty takers - Darren Gallacher, Sean Melvin, Josh Riddell, Jack Brien and Euan Morrice, scored from the spot. Euan’s dad had to hide his eyes as this sone took Leith’s final spot-kick. “I just could not watch Euan take the penalty, I was so nervous!”
Sadly, for the brave, wonderful Dalkeith team, only Scott Waugh, Jason King and Mark Lawrie found the back of the Leith net. Reece Smail saved Steven McKenzie’s spot-kick and, as they say, it was all over bar the shouting!
Harry Smith, president of the SERYFA Under-19s, did the honours as the light continued to fade over Olive Bank. The memory of this final will remain with me for a long time to come. Tonight, in fact, when I travel to Haddington, to see the final of the Under-19 Royal Edinburgh Cup, at Millfield. It is between the crack Hutchison Vale side and Haddington Athletic Colts. Another cracking game is in prospect.
I would love to name everyone who was at Olive Bank. The atmosphere and banter were captivating for me. I had found my home and the greatest team game in the world. No wonder I love football with such endless passion. The players, the coaches, fans, etc etc - I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THE GAME! Thanks, from the very bottom of my heart! Every player is special to me when I watch youth club teams in action. And it was just that at Olive Bank.
Full Time: Dalkeith CYP 3-3 Leith Athletic (Leith Athletic win 5-3 on penalties)