Tuesday 27 May 2014

What do you mean Accies aren’t playing now until August!

May be you had thought Accies were just going to keep playing all summer but I’m sorry it is now officially the close season. For the players it’s been a really long season with the addition of the play – offs and I’m sure they are off on well-earned breaks. The season started way back in 2013 with a friendly away to Spennymoor on the 18th of July. I missed that one so for me and a number of Accies fans the first game was a couple of days later when we played East Fife on the 20th. Seems like ages ago that I was sitting in the summer sun wondering where Methil Power Station had gone! But instead of finishing with the Morton game on the 3rd of May we have had an extra 3 weeks of excitement, nail biting, squeaky bum time to go through. However until next August, unless there are pre season friendlies, I’m sorry it’s an Accies less summer so what are you going to do?

I used to go down to the ground peer over the fence at the Sainsbury end and watch the grass grow. Cant do that any more with the 3g pitch. There is the World Cup for those fanatics that like their international football but unless there is a team with red and white hoops and a player with a passing resemblance to Jason Scotland I’m not sold. You could always support England of course.  Last year we had the Olympics but the beach volleyball proved too much for me and by the time the Commonwealth Games come round we will have kicked off again. You could take up another sport like subbuteo or coarse fishing but many of us are couch potatoes.

Of course if you are a season ticket holder you can plan a trip to the ground to renew. Perhaps if you ask Scott Struthers nicely he will let you sit in your seat just to try it out. You can monitor the media and social media to see who is coming and going as Alex reshapes the squad for the premiership. Personally I’m going to watch the game against Hibs over and over and over again.  So see you all in August. If we are in the first round of the League Cup then it's the second of August, if not the SPFL kicks of on the 9th. And for those of you who cant wait for a live game of football then you will be pleased to know that Brechin are playing Aberdeen in a pre season friendly on the 25th of June and that is less than 5 weeks away.

Monday 26 May 2014

Stranger than fiction

And so Accies discover a new, more exciting way to win promotion. Nobody can deny the events of Easter Road were hugely exciting and entertaining, and as exhilarating for Accies as they were devastating for Hibs.

Nobody, even most of our own fans, expected us to do it. The first leg had been a big disappointment - somebody summed up that game as "Accies played the football, but Hibs scored the goals", and the least that can be said is that we dominated the first half. But the bottom line is we lost 0-2 at home, and only the biggest optimists felt we could overturn that deficit in the away leg.

The script required a more urgent Accies than in the first game, with greater penetration: Jason Scotland, in particular, duly obliged. It required Accies to score the first goal, preferably early on, and in 12 minutes, Jason Scotland obliged again. It required an equaliser in 90 minutes, and with 1 minute 20 seconds to spare, a sublime combination featuring Gordon, MacKinnon, Scotland and Andreu led to the last named blasting into the net. That took us into extra time.

Accies dominated from start to finish, played the best football, had a clear goal scoring chance denied when referee Collum missed a blatant cynical foul in the second half, and could well have won by more in normal time. If we had, Hibs could have had no complaints, and it might have saved them later agony.

After a great game, extra time was an anticlimax, with both teams exhausted, and so the penalty shootout arose.

I don't know who would have taken the fifth Accies penalty - I've read Alex Neil, I've read Jesus Garcia Tena - but it wasn't needed, because Gillespie, Andreu, Antoine-Curier and Scotland all coolly scored, while Cuthbert saved two out of five Hibs pens.

The media have focused on Hibs' dramatic fall, and the fall-out, but these are trivial concerns to this blog. This was all about Accies' triumph, and manager Alex Neil winning promotion in his first full season in charge. It was about a special blend of youth, such as Gillespie, Gordon, Crawford and Longridge, with experience in the shape of the likes of Cuthbert, Canning, Neil and Scotland, gelling into a successful team unit. And it was about an unforeseen conclusion to a rollercoaster season.

In time, we'll move on to speculate about our prospects in the top flight, back where we spent three seasons just two years ago. We'll look ahead with relish to contests with the best teams in the country. But that's for another day: the here and now is about celebrating one of the greatest victories in Accies' post-war history, and dreaming of what it may portend.

Thanks and congratulations are due to everyone associated with this phenomenal success. Hibs 0 Accies 2, aggregate 2-2, Accies win 4-3 on penalties, Hibs are relegated to the Championship, Accies are promoted to the Premiership.

Sunday 4 May 2014


Yesterday's win deserves celebration regardless of its context.

  • Ten goals is the most I have ever seen Accies score in any game - I suspect it's the most any living Accies fan has seen us score.
  • 10-2 is the biggest winning margin I have ever seen Accies record. Others will have seen 8-goal wins before, with our 9-1 wins over Berwick in 80/81 and Brechin in 93/94, but I missed both of those.
  • Twelve goals is the biggest single game total I have ever seen Accies involved in - my previous highest, with much less cause for celebration, was 3-8 to Celtic in 86/87.

It was a tumultuous end to the season, albeit somewhat subdued by the circumstances of losing the title to Dundee by virtue of their last game home win.

The game invites comparison with our narrow miss of promotion in the memorable 91/92 season, when we lost out on goal difference to Partick Thistle on the last day. Similar conspiracy theories have emerged about missed chances for Partick's and Dundee's opponents respectively. These should be discounted as readily as competing theories that Morton players took a trip to the bookies before yesterday. The big difference is that we always trailed Partick in 1992, and only drew level on points due to their last game draw.

Finishing second this season is a great accomplishment, not least because for the first time in many years it affords an opportunity for promotion, via play-offs. Hopefully the disappointment of having thrown away automatic promotion in the crazy last quarter of an hour at Dumbarton last Saturday will be eclipsed by yesterday's fantastic performance and result.

The play-offs beckon: let's see if we can do it.