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David Moyes finally took the belated opportunity to play a number of fringe players in what the Official Website laughably called a "strong side" featuring a number of reserves (Pilkington, O'Hanlon, Southern, McLeod, Osman) and a surprise trialist in goal but no Alex Cleland.

If reports are to be believed, York City goalkeeper Russell Howarth is one of the most sought-after young players in the lower divisions.  The highly rated youngster has been capped at England Under-16, Under-18, Under-19 and now Under-20 level, yet has found first-team opportunities at a premium owing to the terrific form of current number one, Alan Fettis.  

Russ first attracted the interest of the country's elite when he was drafted into the side for the Club's first game back in the third division in 1999.  Speculation linking Russ with a move away from the York City has been rife ever since but, with just months remaining on his existing contract, it seems unlikely that one of the country's best young 'keepers will want to stay at York as back-up.

Previous Clubs: None. 
York City Debut: Swansea City (Home), 7th August 1999. 
York City Career: League: 6(2) Cup: 5 . 
Height: 6' 2" 
Weight: 13 st 1 lb

M A T C H    F A C T S
 Sports Match Info  
  End-of-Season Friendly The Alex Scott Memorial Trophy
7:00pm  Saturday 30 April 2002
Brockville Park, Falkirk
Referee: Mr B McGarry
Att: 2,175

Line-ups Subs not used
Falkirk Hogarth (46' Hill); Lawrie, McQuilken, Hughes, Denham, Cringean (46' McStay), Craig (75' Morris), Kerr, Miller (46' Waddell), McKenzie (46' Rodgers), Coyle. Deuchar.
Everton: Howarth; Watson, Unsworth (76' Gemmill), Pilkington, Weir (46' Stubbs); Linderoth, Blomqvist (61' O'Hanlon), Pembridge; Campbell (75' Southern), Radzinski (54' McLeod), Tal (54' Osman). Gerrard.
Unavailable:  Carsley, Chadwick, Ferguson, Hibbert, Naysmith, Simonsen (injured); Pistone (visiting a knee specialist); Nyarko (on loan); Clarke, Moore, Rooney (International Duty); Alexandersson, Gravesen (rested)
Playing Strips Formations
Falkirk: # shirts; # shorts; # socks 4-4-2
Everton: Royal Blue shirts; white shorts; blue socks. 4-4-2
  Yellow Cards Red Cards
Falkirk:   --
Everton:   --

Premiership Table
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1 Arsenal 81
2 Man Utd 76
3 Liverpool 74
4 Newcastle 71
5 Chelsea 64
6 Leeds 63
7 Tottenham 50
8 West Ham 50
9 Aston Villa 47
10 Middlesbrough 45
11 Fulham 44
12 Blackburn 43
13 Everton 43
14 Charlton 43
15 Southampton 42
16 Bolton 40
17 Sunderland 39
18 Ipswich 36
19 Derby 29
20 Leicester 25
 After 29 April 2002
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Scottish Sojourn

by Ian MacDonald

The Preamble

The rumour of a game at Falkirk six months ago finally became reality.  But it appeared that the PR for this game became a deafening whisper as most Evertonians did not realise it was definitely on until very, very late. 

It was to be published in the Everton programme at the Blackburn game and a small notice on the back page of the Echo the night before the kick off.  I really thought David Prentice would have included mention of this game in his Pink Echo column on Saturday especially as the game involved one of our past greats, Alex Scott.  

We had about a week to organise a coach up to the game and, as usual, we filled it for the 230-mile trip.  A Tuesday night, with weather more fitting to December than the last day in April.  Unusually, Everton also laid a coach on for this game in the past, for such games as Kilmarnock, Dundee and Yeovil etc, the club has never seen fit to lay a coach on maybe with the new era, such excursions will become the norm?

The Falkirk game itself was a belated 125th anniversary celebration of this grand old club's existence.  It was also a memorial to that great Everton servant, Alex Scott, who sadly passed away last September.  A trophy would be presented to the winners on the night in honour of 'Chicko'. 

Falkirk was formed in 1876 and the real anniversary was last year.  Were they really formed two years before 'us'?  Falkirk are nicknamed The Bairns from a mention in a Robbie Burn's poem; it goes something like this: "Better meddle wi't' Devil than the Bairns o' Falkirk..." 

A world first for this club was being shown live on television in floodlit conditions in a friendly against Newcastle nearly 50 years ago.  Their time in the league has been workmanlike; they have won a couple of Scottish Cups and First and Second Division championships, but never the Premiership.  

Sadly, they are a bit of a yo-yo club, again being relegated to the Second Division this season and having to bring in the creditors to a meeting next week.  In between all this, they are playing us; I don't know how to feel about that for them especially after the Blackburn game: why pour more misery on the condemned?

Scottish Football, like our own Nationwide, is at a crossroads financially.  The Glasgow giants want to jump ship from this in mostly part time league and Sky digital have messed up badly leaving the Nationwide clubs to clean up the mess left behind.  

Football has been living beyond its means and the writing is on the wall...   Too much money is going out of the game in players' wages and very rarely coming back in from these recipients.  Only one player comes to mind and that is Steve Archibald and looked what's happened to him and Airdrie for his honourable deed.

So, we set off just after noon with the usual suspects on board for a kick-off over 7 hours away.  To be honest, this game has come just at the right time for David Moyes to look at some more of the squad that were not involved in Sunday's shambles.  The man needs to access the full squad himself so this game was a good exercise in itself.

Pistone was in Colorado having his knee looked at by a specialist and Tommy Gravesen was rested for his fine performance once again as a headless chicken.  The guy is so frustrating at times but you believe there is a more composed player in there somewhere...

Personally, I thought Blackburn would have been a better barometer of fringe players in a full competitive game but, hey, David Moyes has saved our bacon this season so in my estimation he can do what he likes just now.  Pity young Wayne Rooney was not in the squad but he was busy terrorising National teams in Europe and putting even more money and pressure on his head, he really is that good.  Having met his family, I think he will stay with us for some time they are Everton mad and loyal as can be in today's world.

With a trouble-free road journey, we flew past the likes of Gretna Green, Lockerbie and Sterling the home of Duncan.  We arrived at Falkirk's ground, Brockville Park, at about half four.  We jumped out at the nearest pub, The Edge, to be greeted by more fans of the secret society of the Falkirk game.  Evertonian's love the club and each other's company, most of the time, and many will travel to these type of games anyplace, anywhere.  The ale flowed and a flag proclaiming us as 'the people's club' and the hundred season winners was hung up with pride. 

I met one of our dual Celtic/ Everton supporters here, Jason Higgins, brother of John Higgins currently playing in the snooker world championships.  If we get it right on the field of play we will need a 55,000-seater stadium we have that many fans around the country! 

After a few jars I got a call to go to the pub called the Aitkin where more Evertonians were gathered.  This pub was jointly managed by Alex Scott and his brother Jimmy and mounted on the wall opposite the bar was two framed international jerseys worn by Alex Scott for Scotland and some fella by the name of Pele.  A signed match programme by the super stars played at Hampden on 25 July 1966 also was in the frame.

Time came to go to the secret event a short walk to the ground situated next to a new railway station.  For anyone who has been to a lower-division old Scottish ground, you knew what to expect.  The likes of York and Oxford's old Manor ground are state of the art compared to Brockville Park it was that old and decrepit.

Many thousand of memories for the locals housed in a ground were time has literally stood still.  The toilets were something else I've seen better in Istanbul's old city.  There is talk of a new ground shared by neighbours Sterling but, with the financial climate of late, maybe this will be a casualty. 

I gave my English money to the gateman and received more of the foreign currency in exchange which would by palmed off later back at The Edge.  I sat down next to John Munroe, secretary of the Everton Southport branch.  We looked at the playing surface and knew that is was going to be hard for our ball players.  In fact I was expecting a herd of cattle to go past me on the way into the ground. 

Three sides of the ground were taken up and a healthy contingent of the Everton secret society assembled.  I'd bought a programme with our own Captain Braveheart on the front cover, Duncan.  But, as the Everton team took the field, there was no Duncan even if he was on the cover of the programme.

The last time these two teams met, Everton won 4-1.  First surprise in the line up was our goalkeeper.  At first I thought it was Pettinger but a close look and investigation revealed it was Russell Howarth, a surprise trialist from York City.  

The rest of the line-up was Weir, Watson, Rhino, George Pilkington, Linderoth, Jesper, Pembridge, Campbell, Radzinski and Tal.  So Moysie was really looking at fringe players here.  But where were Cleland, Alexandersson and Carsley to name but a few?

The Game

The game started brightly for Falkirk on the attack towards the empty open end, their centre forward Lee Miller a big gangly lad looked out to impress, as did Owen Coyle, a former Bolton player.  The pitch took a bit of getting use to for the Everton players but gradually they got into the game; Pembo and Linderoth looking industrious in midfield.

On 15 minutes, Campbell was fed by Pembo, he turned and shot from 20 yards out hitting a supporter wide of the goal post.  From the resulting goal kick, a smart cross from Coyle set up Miller for a powerful header just over the bar.  Again, Falkirk pressed with the impressive left back Jamie McQuilken whipping in more dangerous crosses but thankfully there were no takers.

The midfield started to get bogged down a bit again and Tal was ever willing to plough a path down the left with Rhino burrowing just behind him.  Thing is about Tal he reminds a bit of Bambi; all legs, although he beats opposing players the final ball is 'disappointing' and he can be pushed off the ball too easily; he needs beefing up.  I think he may be a leaver in the Summer who knows?

Everton smelt something to be had here and it wasn't the gasses of downed Guinness's all day.  Jesper threw in a wicked cross only to be turned away for a corner wasted high and wide by Tal.   But then, out of the mud, Rhino fed Tal down the left a great cross to Campbell, bullet header, one nil to Everton.

"Are you watching Manchester " rang out.  Everton started to dominate in this period and, from a free kick from a foul on Linderoth, Rhino shot at goal from 20 yards out but again way off target.  Weir was commanding in defence in his hometown and there to support him was his Dad and sister sat amongst us.  

His fellow centre back, Pilkington was safe and assured most of the time.  Crisp passing from neat interplay involving Watson, Pembo, and Linderoth set up Rhino again but again the shot was wide of the goal.

Falkirk didn't want Everton to have it all their own way in this memorial trophy game; a shot from Scott McKenzie was well saved by Howarth the first real save he had to make on 26 mins.  From the resulting corner, dangerously swung in by that man Coyle again, the ball was headed out by Weir to John Hughes who smashed the ball goal bound, but thankfully the referee blew on the previous foul on Weir.

Falkirk came at us again and a through-ball by Mark Kerr nearly found Coyle clear on goal but for the quick thinking of Howarth who ran out to meet the would-be assassin's ball.  A long kick to Radz who was goal-hanging gave the Canadian a guilt-edged chance to raise the stakes but sadly he also shot wide.

Radz tries but I think he gets on the wrong side of the opposing defender so he has to run around the guy first to get the ball and nine times out of ten the ball has passed by then.  He has pace, that's for sure, and maybe he his suffering from the Cottee syndrome were not enough balls are threaded through for him to run onto.  His service could be better but so could his positioning.  

Rhino was wallowing in this surface now and kept making dangerous powerful runs to try and feed our strikers.  One such run created our second goal.  A through ball, after beating three men, to Jesper sent him all alone clear on goal and the Swede took the fruits of the run and slotted past the helpless Hogarth.

Falkirk tried to come back but Rhino popped up everywhere and their attacks hit our own version of Hadrian's Wall in the shape of Rhino.  But on a couple of occasions Falkirk threw a ladder over Rhino and came close to scoring.  One such occasion was when Miller set up Hughes who made a rasping shot just wide. I'd say a daisy cutter but the cows had previously eaten them all before the game.

Everton rallied and neat interplay once again involved Campbell to Watson to Jesper to Tal who was then fouled.  The free kick was taken by Pembo 20 yards out; he let fly with a tremendous shot well saved by Hogarth again.  Cruel songs ensued by some of the travelling Evertonians "Can we swap you for Gerrard." 

Our own goalie, Howarth, had only really one shot to save up to now and 36 minutes had gone.  His kicking and distribution impressed me; he always placed the ball where a fellow team mate was and never kicked the ball out it seemed.

On 40 mins Tal had found his feet and placed the ball to Pembo who played a one-two with Radz splitting the flat footed defence and scoring from the resulting return.  "Pembo" was the cry from the Evertonians how pleased he must have been to hear these shouts after a long period out of the first team.  He has been missed for his industry and closing down.

At 3-0, the game was over.  Falkirk tried to get back into it but 'class' showed in a twenty minute purple patch by Everton.  Another move involving Campbell, Jesper and Radz brought a good save again from Hogarth when Radz shot at goal.

Half time came and so did the streaker ,another ginger haired lad, I thought it was the same lad that streaked at the Blackburn game.  It was funny when he eventually caught by a man half his size in a suit, God knows what he touched when he wrapped his arms around him at bottom height. 

I spoke to some fellow Blues (those that were left loads went back to the pub and from what I saw in the second half I should have joined them) who had stopped off in Glasgow earlier and did a ground tour of Celtic Park.  Apparently its well worth the 8 entry fee and you don't have to book. 

During the interval, half of the pitch was taken up by about sixty majorettes who must have been hired to flatten the turf at the same time as dancing.  On the other side of the pitch, a match was played for what looked like the under six's they were that small.  Blues v Whites, sorry I never got the final score on this game.

I was busy watching the Everton reserves being warmed up by the new Everton coach.  A coloured lad sorry I don't know his name, but he ran the players through assorted warming up exercises.  Never seen that before...  The picture of the ground was surreal, about a hundred people in different sections doing their 'thing'.

Second half came and so did the changes: Stubbs on for Weir and more to follow.  The following change of play came in a negative way; gone was the fluent passing of the previous 20 or so minutes.  A bit expected I suppose as the pitch was getting worse with each kick.

Linderoth had caught the bad passing bug now and his frustrations showed; his head went down in disgust as he put a ball (meant for Watson) out to a native in the opposite stand.  Tal joined in in the demise and succeeded in beating himself with poor passing to boot and was replaced by Leon, Osman. 

Not to be left out Pembo placed a bad backpass to Andy Rogers who brought out a good save from our impressive trialist, Russell Howarth.  Falkirk sensed the jigsaw that is Everton was thrown up in the air and the pieces were definitely not falling into place this second half.

Kevin McLeod replaced the missing Radzinski on 53 mins, who did his best for the rest of the game to show some neat passing and full-blooded commitment.  You could tell he had played with Osman a lot as they interwove the best Everton moves remaining in the game. 

Campbell now joined the messing up party and was lacking in pace to make anything of the passes given to him.  I think Kevin will have to get that bit of pace back in the summer otherwise he will be found wanting in the Premiership next season.  We owe this lad a lot for past achievements and it will be sad if he leaves but Everton must move on and not tread water too much next season with players who have 'older legs', lack of pace and don't respond quickly to injuries.

The game was really scrappy now and the pub was beckoning but I'd promised a match report of sorts to the site Editor, so I had to sit and take it on the chin.  But the railway sleepers that passed as seats were giving me piles of trouble, like one of those long films in the pictures your bum goes num. 

Another young prospect, Sean O'Hanlon, came on in the 61st minute.  He is a centre half and moved to the defence to help Pilkington and Stubbs, replacing Jesper.  O'Hanlon was also neat and tidy in his distribution.  It seemed at times that the older pros were messing up their football threads. 

Stubbs was having a mare of a game too many bad balls and a long hard season have taken their  toll on this brave 'come back ' hero.  Again I think the season's end cannot come sooner for Stubbsy and a few more. 

McLeod put in some real gems of crosses after beating Falkirk players through sheer willingness and commitment but no one was on the end of these inviting crosses.  I like the look of this lad but again he needs 'beefing up' a bit. 

Neat work by Osman and Pembo nearly created another scoring chance but the final pass to Campbell was intercepted by Hughes, another impressive Falkirk player with McQuilken.  Every other minute it seemed that McLeod, Pembo and Osman were trying to unlock the at times desperate Falkirk defence but I won't get carried away just yet with this threesome as it was only a relegated Falkirk side but it's a start!

In the 76th minute Stubbsy went on one of his powerful runs but again the final ball was wasted to Mr Nobody in the box.  Rhino was getting a bit wound up now and was challenging the Falkirk players as if he was still marking Mark Hughes in the FA Cup final so, for friendlies sake, he was replaced by Gemmill who hardly touched the ball for the rest of the game.

Campbell finally got his wish of being replaced by Keith Southern.  So every player that travelled who was fit and on the team sheet was finally used.  The waning Linderoth gave a handball away in the 78th minute from the ensuing free kick Ricky Waddell hit a 25 yarder but again Howarth dealt with the shot with an air of confidence not seen much of late by our first choice keepers.

In the last ten minutes or so, referee McGarry was feeling sorry for the home side (and hopefully the rest of us) and was giving every decision to them in an effort for them to score. 

In the last stages of the game, Howarth made his first mistake and dropped the ball after gathering it from a cross by who else but McQuilken, thankfully Pembino was there to kick the offering away.  It was mostly all Falkirk now, trying to show respectability to the scoreline but in between their rallies Osman made a lung-bursting run at the Bairns defence from a pass yet again from Pembo and a good shot was well saved by the new Falkirk goalkeeper, Darren Hill.

Osman did his best in the death throws of this game to lighten up a poor Everton second half performance.  In fact, all the kids showed some promise to a degree but more top-flight challenges need to be set before them and that's another reason why the Intertoto could have been a blessing. 

As the referee blew his whistle to release our pain and the numbness of me bum, a small presentation was made on behalf of the Alex Scott family and there to help present the trophies was Alex Parker, Jimmy Scott (Alex's brother) and his two son's.  Alex Parker is another great ex-Everton player from Falkirk and a member of the championship-winning side in 1962/3. 

Firstly man of the match to Everton was given to Pembino; Falkirk's raiding left back Jamie McQuilken was rightly their MOM.  Then captain Stubbs for the second half lifted our first trophy of the season 'The Alex Scott Memorial Trophy', I mean the best when I say I hope we keep this trophy for all time as I would not like this to be an annual event

Now for our kids trophy I really hope we lift that one two coaches booked already for the return leg Evertonians don't you just love 'em

PS Met 'Tiger' McLaughlin in the pub after the match he has not changed much.  I asked him briefly who was the best Everton player he played with?  "Dave Clements" was the answer.  John is another man who has lived our dream of putting on the Everton shirt and playing.  He came to the pub deliberately to be around Evertonians for he admires them for their passion and loyalty, what a nice thing to say about us.

Ian Macdonald


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