Thursday 28 March 2013

Accies vs Dumbarton (x2) - Sat 30th March and Tues 2 Apr 2013

These might be 2 of the most competitive matches played all season.  Dumbarton were mighty impressive when I saw them outplay Accies in January in the shadow of the Rock and on their day Accies are more than capable of performing to a better level than their league position might suggest.  In fact, there is an argument that each of these clubs deserves to be in better league positions than 7th and 8th, but inconsistency has been another common factor.

Accies are likely to rely on the men who came to the Falkirk party last weekend, although Jon McShane impressed a number of respected commentators in scoring 3 times for the U20s side against Dunfermline at NDP in midweek.  It will be interesting to see if BR continues to play 3 at the back after the Falkirk success, or if he has identified a different strategy for the threat posed by Dumbarton.  If Accies do win the first game, will he employ the same tactics on Tuesday?  While I always enjoy predicting victories, I'll be delighted if we take 4 points out of 6 from this unusual double header.

Dumbarton - past times 1

Hmmn. Funny place, Dumbarton.The late Ian Archer described Boghead as a ground where they did not build stands but breed them. At my last count there were 5 of them, some with the same capacity as a dugout.

Erstewhile Football First commentator David McKinney was a friend of mine (clank!), and also a self proclaimed, non old firm, Dumbarton fan. Such declarations were not necessarily to be taken at face value, and some of you may recall Tam Cowan describing Clyde v Rangers as the "Dougie Donnelly derby" ! However in David's case it was actually true, and so I saw many a match  at Boghead with him against a variety of teams, none of whom appeared to have any difficulty  leaving with the points tucked away.

However, not so Accies for whatever reason. Though my recollection is doubtedless incomplete, I can recall few victories there, one being back in 1997 when we won 3-0 and gave them a real going over ( I had missed our win there the previous season, and one in 2003). The surreal nature of the occasion  was illustrated  by the fact that fans leaving the ground were told  that the  Grand National that day had been cancelled  because of a bomb threat. In fact, that season was a good time to follow Accies in Division 2, when we had the free scoring Paul Ritchie, and entertaining wide men in Jose and Scott McCulloch, and in this particular match Steven Thomson!

The usual outcome was, however, misery and depression, and I remember us being dumped out the Scottish Cup in 1972, losing 5-1 in the League in 1975, and 4-1 in the League Cup the following year.

Even in promotion season 1985-86 we lost there in the final weeks, and then lost and drew two years later when we again won the title. In fact, in the latter season the Accies fans were heard unforgiveably barracking Kevin McKee, who was playing out of position in midfield, but this was drowned out by the Dumbarton fans booing Owen Coyle!  Kevin duly overcame that episode of  fan non-worship, and went on to become a real Accies hero ( where have we heard that before!).

So Accies' Scottish Cup win this season at the new ground was indeed an occasion to savour, normal service being resumed, of course, in the league fixtures. However our form at home is a different story, and this is something to which I shall return next season, assuming the Sons ( and us!) avoid relegation.

Tuesday 26 March 2013

POSTPONED: 3rd Plays 7th - Livingston vs Accies - 27 March 2013

Match rearranged for Tuesday 16 Apr 2013 at 7.45pm

4 league places and 11 points will separate Livingston and Accies at the start of their meeting at Almondvale (Braidwood Motor Company Stadium).  We have poor record against Livingston this season, but they come to the game having been beaten (mauled?) at Firhill while Accies completed a comprehensive victory away to Falkirk.  So we have another typical SFL Div 1 game that is impossible to call.  This is the first game for the new Livingston management team of Richie Burke and Mark Burchill and they would hope that their players will be suitably motivated to impress by that fact alone.  Accies Chairman Les Gray acknowledged earlier this week that his team had under-performed this season, but was equally clear that this season is one of reconstruction and Les also suggested that more similar seasons could follow.  This realistic and financially prudent approach should be widely welcomed by Accies supporters, even it does mean that we are unlikely to be challenging for a very swift return the the SPL.

Back to the matter in hand.  Accies haven't admitted to any injury worries and supporters, who will be charged only £5 admittance, can expect to see a very similar team to the one fielded at Falkirk.  The pitch will be heavy, if recent weather reports by the Blog's Livingston correspondent are to be believed, but it's impossible to know whether this will benefit either team.  So, the game's up for grabs by the better team on the night - I'll be consistent and plump for Accies to win, 0-1. 

Women and Girls Update

This guest blog is contributed by Cheryl Smith, on behalf of HAWFC.

If the superb goal scored by Clare Gemmell in the women’s game against Forfar on Sunday, was scored by one of Billy Reid's first division players it would have been re-played on Sportscene as a contender for goal of the season.

As it stands the women's game in Scotland doesn't receive this kind of support, the thought of settling down on a Sunday night to watch the weekend highlights of Hamilton Accies Women v Glasgow City may seem like an unrealistic pipe dream but it’s a dream none the less.  The game has come a long way in the last few years with increased support from the football authorities and the media with the introduction of online publications and social network sites, the BBC has even hopped on board with a page on the sports section of their website dedicated to women's football.  You can be forgiven for not knowing very much about HAWFC, like many of the other women’s clubs in Scotland, but this is beginning to change.  The highest level of exposure the women's game in Scotland has had this year came about somewhat ironically when Daily Record Columnist Gordon Parks disregarded the game in Scotland as being unworthy of financial support, an opinion which he may or may not have changed after Hamilton Accies Women and Girls invited the man himself to take part in a training session with the club’s Premier League players.

Hamilton Accies Women and Girls FC play in the Scottish Women's Premier League, the highest level of women's football in the country and have done so since its inception.  Home matches are played at the John Cumming Stadium in Carluke, a facility which has recently been refurbished.  The club was established in 1992, set up by Ian Steele, William Brown and the Fleming Family who did so to provide a place for girls to play the game.  HAWFC are very proud of the set up which has evolved into having six teams playing in the league, from U9's, U11's, U13's, U15's and U17's up to the Reserve and Premier team.  The club has a professional coaching team which are SFA level 2 qualified and a squad of volunteers who give of their own time freely to ensure the progression of the club.  The players are professional in every sense of the word, training four nights a week, working around full time jobs or studying.  They play for the love of the game and the dedication and passion to play football throughout the club on every level is second to none.

HAWFC has grown rapidly in the 20 years since it was formed and it has a bright future ahead, but it is relying on the support of the local community to help the club evolve.  Football fans of all ages are encouraged to come along and watch the women in action, whether you are a Hamilton fan or not, the talent on show is not to be missed.  For those who are sceptical of women's football take a chance and come along, you might be surprised by what you see.
Cheryl Smith

Monday 25 March 2013

Managerial Updates

Further to previous blogs about the update of the Aberdeen managerial position it appears it has almost been confirmed as Derek McInnes (not Adams....!)
All terms have been agreed for him and his assistant Tony Docherty. Although there doesn't appear to be a length of contract displayed anywhere I reckon it will be a 3 year deal for the 41 year old. In my opinion a great managerial appointment and one that I think Aberdeen will benefit from in the long run.

To bring it back to an Accies related subject I noticed that Livingston (who we play on Wednesday night) have appointed caretaker boss Richie Burke and former Celtic striker Mark Burchill on a player/ management team role. There first game in charge being against ourselves on Wednesday.

If I was a Livingston fan I wouldn't be convinced on the appointment of these two as they appear to lack experience and knowledge of the current Scottish game. Obviously with Partick Thistle beating them comprehensively on Saturday.

Will be interesting to see how it pans out over the rest of the season for the Livi duo and if they manage to last in the job long term...

It's times like this that make me glad we still have Billy at the helm as at least you know what you are getting!

Saturday 23 March 2013

Livingston v Accies. Past times

In footballing terms, our relationship with Livingston and predecessors has been brief, extending back only to 1974, and their admission as Ferranti Thistle. Accies through our then programme editor Alan Dick ( who was present at the recent Falkirk cup tie ) were corruscating in criticism of their arrival- pointing to the greater potential of the Highland League teams, particularly in Inverness.

So it was in an atmosphere of some hostility that we arrived in Edinburgh for our first match - and promptly rolled them over 4-0, including a Jim Brand piledriver from 2 feet ( think Jose at Alloa 9 years ago).

Meadowbank ( another name change) was only the latest in Alan's roll of dishonour,- the Accies programme was called Britain's most controversial publication after Private Eye, and as usual he was forced to apologise, which he did with some good grace on the day of the return fixture. We then rolled them over 8-0, and without playing particularly well.

Notable old boys for them include Adrian Sprott, and Vic Kasule ( of whom more later when Airdrie are our opponents). Vic , I think, was in their ranks when they completely demolished us 5-1 at Douglas Park in our promotion winning season 1987-88.

It would be amiss though to omit mention of our final match of the season against them in 1991-92, when our 2-0 win was 2 goals short to win us promotion at the expense of Partick Thistle. We all mostly know the story about how Partick should have lost their final game anyway against Forfar, when Forfar were denied a late penalty, to be taken by Craig Brewster, who had a Carrigan like record of conversion. The point is this though, that only now some 20 years later all Thistle fans I know accept that it was a stonewaller. Our team, though, broke up not long afterwards and our chance was gone for a generation.

And this brings us back to our first match against them in 2007-08. We had, of course,  won our first 6 games , and were winning 1-0 at halftime, but did not look convincing. They duly equalised through Steven Craig, and my memory is of a usually imperious Accies midfield struggling to cope with Livingston's midfield running at us from all parts of  the pitch. In their ranks, that day -Dorrans and Snodgrass. It was our final match away to them which effectively clinched promotion.

Finally to our first home match against them last season. Marko contrived to get himself sent off. On our one break up the field thereafter we scored a fantastic goal, largely through the efforts of Jim McAllister, we then defended heroically, but had victory sntached from us with a wonder strike with the last kick of the ball. The girl I was with had never been to Accies before "Is it always like this?" she said.  Pretty much so......

Dunfermline on the brink?

The first thing to say is that it's sad to see a famous Scottish football club like Dunfermline in such parlous circumstances (debts allegedly in excess of £8 million). I wish them well in extricating themselves from their financial problems. The fact that they got themselves into this situation through spending beyond their means is a salutary lesson for other clubs, but should not detract from wishing them a speedy recovery.

This week is the crunch for them.  If they don't put themselves into administration by Tuesday, they will be liquidated, via a winding up order from HMRC.

If they are liquidated, my understanding is their results for the season are declared null and void. Among the immediate implications of this would be a change in the title race, with Morton gaining 2 points on Partick, but Thistle having a game more to play.  For Accies, it's a positive situation, as we have only taken 1 league point from Dunfermline this season (despite a great cup win at East End Park), while all the teams below us have taken at least 3 - we'd gain 2 points on both Cowdenbeath and Dumbarton, and 3 on Airdrie (our position relative to Raith would not change, as they, like us, have taken 1 point from Dunfermline).

If Dunfermline go into administration, it will be interesting to see how the SFL act. Contrary to popular belief, there is no standing points penalty for going into administration in the SFL (unlike the SPL). There is also no precedent for penalising any club for a first instance of administration - Dundee's 25 point penalty two seasons ago was for a second period of administration. But Dunfermline are only 9 points above Accies in the table (and we have 2 games in hand), so a penalty of 10 points or more would see them fall below us. Dunfermline are 14 points ahead of Dumbarton in the play-off place (and Dumbarton have 2 games in hand), so the threat of relegation would be real.

As Accies stand to gain in either scenario, it seems appropriate to express the genuine hope that Dunfermline are able to fulfil their next scheduled home fixture, on Wednesday against Falkirk, see out the season, and overcome their current problems. I hope they will also learn from prudent financial management models like that put in place by Accies over the past decade.

Falkirk 0 Accies 2 - 23 March 2013

What a great result for Accies today.  First win against Falkirk since Apr 2010 and it seems to have been a pretty comprehensive performance.  The pitch was poor, the wind was blowing, but we created lots of chances against what seems to have been a pretty disappointing Falkirk side.  However, teams can only play against the other team, not that other team's potential, so the win stands with the best of our results this season.  Well done Jon Routledge and Louis Longridge on getting the goals.

This win takes us into 7th in the table, 3 pts ahead of the Blue Brazil (we have a game in hand), 5 pts clear of Dumbarton, who had a fine win at Dunfermline, and 13 points clear of Airdrie Utd.  We now have 9 games to play and need look no further than Wednesday at Livingston and next Saturday at home to Dumbarton for the next challenges.  This season's history suggests we won't win both games but this supporter would be delighted with 4 points, especially 3 of them are prised from Dumbarton.

In other football news, BBC suggesting that Derek McInnes (not Adams as I initially read it!) is on the verge of signing for Aberdeen.  Interesting appointment.  Discuss!!

Thursday 21 March 2013

Falkirk vs Accies - 23 March 2013

So, we continue the Falkirk saga on Saturday 23rd March.  Some say they are a bogey team, but I've witnessed a couple of fine victories at Westfield in recent years.  This will be a different Falkirk, too, without Steven Pressley at the helm.  So, what difference will that make?  Since we played Falkirk in that ill-fated cup match they have played only twice, suffering a 2-0 defeat at Morton and drawing with Raith Rovers at home.  They also have the very experienced Alex Smith, their technical director, taking charge as interim manager.

In the topsy-turvy world of the Scottish First Division any prediction is foolhardy, but that won't stop me expressing an opinion.  Accies are quite capable of beating Falkirk - without a wonder goal against us and with a wee touch of luck for Andy Ryan we would have done so on 2 March.  Accies away record is only marginally worse than their home record this year and it could be that there is less pressure of expectation on the team away from home.  There are no known injury issues (at the time of writing), although whether the fragile Alex Neil will last 90 mins or not (from a fitness point of view!) is anybody's guess.  Hopefully Stevie May will have a bit of luck and Martin Canning will keep Lyle Taylor quiet, leading me to conclude that Accies will pinch a tight game with the only goal.

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