Travels to the soul and heartbeat of English football...alright primarily Leicestershire!!!!
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STRANRAER 1-7 GREENOCK MORTON Saturday 31st July 2010 Co-operative Insurance Cup 1st Round Stair Park
My first competitive game of the season also sees me take in a first ever game in Scotland thanks to an offer of a lift with Gary. We along with a friend of his Ian Crompton left Leicester around 7.30am to make the 318 mile journey north which primarily took us along the M6 to the border and across the A75 to Stranraer itself. All three of us did approximately one third each of the driving each way with myself doing the third leg. To be honest the stretch west from the M6 via Dumfries and Newton Stewart was a bugger of a journey having to deal with road works, farm traffic and “sunday” drivers.
The town itself has a population of around 11,000 inhabitants and located in the county of Wigtownshire which in turn is part of the Dumfries and Galloway region. Stranraer lies on the banks of the southern shore of Loch Ryan, with Stena Line operating a ferry service to Belfast. Stena are at present the football club’s main sponsors. The town is also home to Wigtownshire Rugby Football Club who are located opposite Stair Park on the London Road Playing Fields.
The Bandstand on Stair Park
Stranraer Football Club were formed in 1870 and are currently plying their trade in the third division of the Scottish Football League (SFL). They joined the SFL in 1949 after previously competing in the Southern Counties League, Scottish Combination, Scottish Alliance and South of Scotland League. Honours have been few and far between since entry to the SFL with just two second division titles (1993/94 & 1997/98), one third division title (2003/04) and the SFL Challenge Cup which was won in 1996/97 to their name. Their home is Stair Park which has a capacity of 5,600 and is located on London Road in the town. It is set back from the road with a public park of the same name between the road and the ground. The dominating feature is the main stand which houses 1,500 spectators and is located on the far touchline. Behind the near goal is a section of covered standing while opposite the main stand is the Coo Shed stand which straddles the half way line.
The Main Stand
The game today sees Stranraer up against Greenock Morton who play two divisions higher in the Co-operative Insurance Cup – which is also known in its unsponsored title as the Scottish League Cup. The hosts come into the game on the back of 2-1 defeat at home to East Stirlingshire in the Alba Challenge Cup while visitors Morton beat Dumbarton 4-3 on penalty kicks after a 0-0 draw in the same competition and lost by the same result midweek to St Mirren in the Renfrewshire Cup Final. The game was one to forget for the home side as they were generally outclassed and outplayed from the word go. The only surprise was that it took until 27 minutes for the visitors to open the scoring, as prior to this they came close on several occasions. The goal was scored by Stewart Keane who held off the challenge of a defender to coolly slot the ball past keeper Ryan Marshall. Just four minutes later and it was 0-2 after Graeme Holmes smashed the ball home from ten yards out following a cross from Carlo Monti. The half time came without further incident and addition to the scoreline. Ten minutes into the second half and the game was over as a contest as Greenock added to more goals in the space of four minutes from Stewart Keane. This double salvo resulted in some of the home fans heading for the exit. The ones that did leave missed a cracking goal from the home side as Stuart McColm drilled a shot from the edge of the penalty area which flew past Colin Stewart in the Morton goal. The let up from Morton didn’t abate as Peter Weatherson helped himself to a double inside five minutes, the second being a lovely chip over Ryan Marshall on 77 minutes. The scoring was completed seven minutes from time when substitute Kevin Kelbie headed home a cross from the right.
My final note is to thank Commercial Manager and co-programme editor Iain Dougan who took the time to show the three of us behind the scenes at the club before the game. Much appreciated Iain.
Programme: £2 – A5 size and one of the best I have had in a long time. Top marks.