Saturday, 16 May 2015

Links Park - Montrose


21st March 1998

Montrose 1-1 East Stirlingshire

A little Geography lesson for my good readers in the likes of India, Norway and Argentina: the county of Angus may be found sort of half-way up the east coast of Scotland, forming part of that mainly arable area between Dundee and Aberdeen.  

Angus comprises around 2.5% of the land mass of Scotland, and just over 2% of our population resides there.  But here is the thing: the county is home to four of the 42 Scottish League clubs – or just under 10%.  All very strange.

Prior to WWI there were no Angus clubs in the Scottish League, but by 1923 all four (Forfar Athletic, Arbroath, Brechin City and Montrose) had been elected.  Since then only Arbroath of the four have managed to make it to the top table, their most recent visit being season 1975/76, but Montrose and certainly Forfar can point to a few creditable cup runs over the years.


The approach to Links Park along Wellington Street.


The same view in 2015



I travelled up to Montrose for this particular league match with East Stirlingshire primarily to tick Links Park off the list, but also because the tie offered the opportunity to see how a former Bathgate player was faring.  

As Bathgate Thistle secretary I had signed Alan Neill from juvenile football in 1992, and had travelled through to Cumbernauld with him for his trial with Clyde the following year.  So, although I could never claim to have played even the remotest part in his football development, I nevertheless liked to keep tabs on the progress or otherwise of any Bathgate player who stepped upstairs.

Alan had signed for Clyde after his trial and spent the next two seasons with the club, making 50 appearances before in 1995 moving to East Stirlingshire.  He was pretty much an ever present during his three seasons with the ‘Shire, including an unbroken run of 86 matches, with his goals return of 10 more than acceptable for a defender.

1998 saw a switch to Berwick Rangers where Alan enjoyed a further 6 years, the highlight of which, I am sure, was captaining the Wee Rangers team which held the Big Rangers to a 0-0 draw in the 2001/02 Scottish Cup.

After 11 seasons and over 330 appearances in the Scottish League, Alan returned to Bathgate in time for the 2004/5 season, going on to be part of the 2008 Scottish Junior Cup winning side.  Season 2010/11 found Alan (now the better side of 40) still playing for the club, and as grumpy and uncompromising on the park as he is genial and likeable off it.


Alan Neill.



Anyway before I go, I should perhaps mention the match I went to see:  15 minutes in Benny ANDREW opened the scoring for Montrose converting Colin McGlashan’s pass, and thereafter the Shire just camped out in the Montrose half.  

Kenneth Kennedy missed two sitters and witnessed a third attempt hoofed off the line, Martin McBride and David Watt were denied by home ‘keeper Mark Murray and a post respectively, before Paul PATERSON biffed in a 20 yarder with 11 minutes remaining.  There was still time for two frantic scrums in the Montrose six-yard box before the ref finally called time, with the two dropped points probably calling time on the visitors’ promotion challenge as well.  


The Links Park stand in 1998.

 
The Links Park stand in 2015
 

Links Park, Montrose.

 
 
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16st May 2015

Montrose 3-1 Brora Rangers
 
 
Montrose retained their Scottish League place with this victory giving them a 3-2 aggregate win over the Highland League Champions.  Brora defended stoutly, but Steven Mackay's ordering off midway through the second half left them no outlet up front from the home side's incessant pressure. 
 
Marvin ANDREWS' 76th minute header, followed by a wind assisted belter by Garry WOOD moments later did for the visitors.
 
I think there must be few grounds in Scotland which have changed less over the last 20 years than Links Park.  There were few readily apparent differences in my pics (above) taken 17 years apart. 
 
 
Montrose warm up.

The noisy contingent of the Brora support. 


Panorama of Links Park, Montrose FC

Montrose forward Scott Johnstone, who had opened the scoring in the 37th minute.

Home right-back Terry Masson hunts down Brora's Andy Greig

Panorama of Links Park, Montrose FC

Panorama of Links Park, Montrose FC

Brora's Colin Maclean, wearing number 19, heads his side's equaliser just three minutes after the break.

Brora's Colin Maclean, wearing number 19, heads his side's equaliser just three minutes after the break.

Brora's Colin Maclean, wearing number 19, heads his side's equaliser just three minutes after the break.

Brora's Colin Maclean, wearing number 19, heads his side's equaliser just three minutes after the break.

Brora's Colin Maclean, wearing number 19, heads his side's equaliser just three minutes after the break.


It was good to see Marvin Andrews (left) still plying his trade. 
Now 39 years young - and a decade after (with the aid of God)
apparently self-healing a cruciate ligament injury in a matter of a few days.

Time -up: one may be forgiven for thinking his side had lost.....

..... although big Marvin's grin confirms otherwise. 

Monty Mole photo-bombs my pic of the rather sedate full-time pitch invasion
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


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