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I Loved Being Back At The Football!

Date: 26th July 2021

On Saturday, I managed to get to my first live game of football in about seventeen months and it was glorious! 

I don’t have a club team that I am fanatic about, so I don’t have a home ground as such but I haven’t been to a stadium more times in the last decade than Newlandsfield Park. 

I love going to see Pollok as they’re my local team and I always have a great time there but it was extra special on Saturday after such a long-time away. 

Football is always better when you are there and when the suns out. It was definitely out on Saturday afternoon! 

It’s was also fantastic to go to the match with my wife. The only other game we’ve been together before this, was the friendly between Liverpool and Napoli at Murrayfield in 2019. I was interested to see how she’d get on with a West of Scotland football league match… Spoiler Alert – She enjoyed it! 

The game was between Pollok and Glenafton Athletic in the Premier Division. 

Obviously Covid still looms over everything and that hits you straight away as you have to wear your face mask as you enter through the turnstiles and your next port of call is to use the track and trace QR code. Then disappointedly the next thing I noticed was that the pie stall was shut, both my wife and myself had skipped lunch in the hope of getting ourselves a pie. That disappointment soon disappeared as I turned around to take in the pitch, which looked magnificent. I stood still for ten seconds just to look around and be thankful that I was there. 

The other thing I quickly noticed was that the main stand was cornered off and not available to supporters. We sat just beside the main stand in the tiny bit of shade that covered the ground. I soon worked out why the stand shut off to the fans, as it was being used by both teams as a changing area. You forget that these smaller traditional grounds will have dressing rooms that won’t meet the requirements during these pandemic times. 

But it was great to see the players interact with each other and receive team talks before kick-off. It was unique and very much of the moment. 

I was absolutely delighted to see a healthy crowd turn out for the game. One of the better things about this level of football for me is that people can bring their dogs into the ground. I saw at least five dogs in there enjoying their day in the sun/shade. Seeing dogs at games will give me a huge smile. 

During shooting practice one of Pollok’s subs hit a wayward shot that hit one of the dogs behind the goal. About three or four of those substitutes jumped the fence to comfort the Golden Retriever and he couldn’t get enough of their attention. Again at this level the interaction between the team and their support is terrific and is a reason why I choose to go there instead of a top tier game. 

The game itself didn’t let anyone down. Both sides were honest and hardworking.

In total we saw the ball crash off the woodwork three times. Technically the players are up there with their passing ability and touches, they just lack a tiny bit of pace that you’ll see in the higher reaches of the professional game. You also notice some fearsome tackles. But with those tackles there was also respect, I noticed with one crunching challenge the tackling player knew he was late. He took himself sheepishly away from any heated confrontation and received his booking before going over and shaking hands with his opponent.  

Pollok’s defence played as a strong unit. They won most of their aerial battles and hardly gave the Glenafton attack any sight of their goal. Keeper Jordan Longmuir was constantly communicating with his defence to make sure they were concentrating for the full ninety minutes.

In midfield, Derek Esplin was a standout for me. The number eight always looked comfortable whenever he was on the ball and his passing was very crisp. Although he too made a pretty tasty challenge at one point that angered both the opposition’s players and fans.

The Lok eventually won the encounter by two goals to nil, with both of their forwards getting on the scoresheet. Defensive errors were pounced upon as both Stuart McCann and Adam Forde held their nerve to tuck away their chances. 

As the referee blew up for full-time, the home fans and their players were happy with the afternoon’s events. I walked off taking in the moment once again. I just loved being there!

Credit to both sets of players for giving their all.

Now I’m already looking at my diary and pencilling in my next game. 

By Scott Johnston (@TheFootyblognet)

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