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No Country For Old Firm

By Paul Traill   ::  22/07/2012

‘Train leaves 7:31 am from Lime Street” was the text message from Carl so I got the bus over to Lime Street well in time for that. I was in despair however when I got a text from Carl again at 7:15 am saying they were just getting on the train at Conway Park. I was convinced they weren’t going to make it in time when with just a couple of minutes to spare, Carl, Kevin and Craig all appeared at the top of the escalators into Lime Street from the Underground.

Onto the train to Wigan, to change for our train to Glasgow. Craig brought some beers for the journey with the original plan being to just have a few each. Once we’d gotten the taste for it, however, a few beers turned into a few more and we arrived in Glasgow more worse for wear than we should have been at 11:10 am. The journey was easy and pleasant, aside from some rather disgraceful behavior by some other Evertonians who were quite openly directing racist abuse at some Black and Asian passengers on-board. It really wasn’t nice to hear at all.

Getting off the train and bundling into a taxi, it was considerably nicer to hear a taxi driver tell us about how he knew David Moyes when he was younger as he played in the same team as him which David Moyes Senior coached, taking them to a tournament in Iceland. He said David Moyes's father was / is actually a Rangers supporter which I found surprising given Moyes's connections to Celtic… though he couldn’t confirm who David supported as a boy. It was all quite interesting.

After a quick turnaround at the hotel, the same driver took us back to the train station, taking us to Queens Street Station rather than Glasgow Central, telling us that more trains went to Motherwell from here, though upon purchasing tickets we found this to be incorrect and that in actual fact no trains went to Motherwell from here and hence it was back to Central Station. After this kerfuffle we were eventually Motherwell-bound.

As we approached Motherwell by train, a helpful chap next to us tipped us off that we should get off at Airbles, even telling us where the pub was and the way to the ground. With that in mind and with around half-an-hour to kill, we went for a quick pint in the amiable Electric Bar before making our way to Fir Park. As we had to walk quite a way around the stadium before entering the ground, we were slightly late for kick off as we took to our seats. Motherwell seemed to be having the better of the game early doors, even if Everton didn’t exactly look uncomfortable.

Leon Osman headed Everton’s best early chance over the crossbar when he might have done a bit better. As a general outlook of the game, I thought Motherwell had the better of the first 30 minutes or so and also the last 10 minutes or so though Everton were quite dominant in the middle part. It was in this area, on 34 minutes in fact, when Everton took the lead. A corner kick was played to Neville at the edge of the box and eventually, cleverly, played back to Anichebe to loop in a cross which Duffy converted at the back post. 1-0 to Everton, though perhaps a little undeserved. Other attempts in the first half tended to be long range ones. One each from Cahill and Fellaini though neither were successful. 1-0 at the break.

At the interval, we nipped down to get some food. The game had been rather poor up to then and I wasn’t exactly optimistic the second half would improve as substitutions can really grind down the game in such pre-season fixtures. As it transpired, the second half was actually much improved, very much so from Everton’s point of view, even if we were unable to see out the win. This was courtesy of the outrageous audacity of Nicky Law who volleyed in beautifully following a generally sloppy headed clearance from Duffy. It really was some strike. That was on 54 minutes. Prior to that, Coleman drilled a presentable opportunity straight at Randolph following a Rodwell cross.

On the other side of Motherwell’s goal, a much more straight forward chance was missed by Rodwell following a marvelous interchange between Fellaini and Junior. It was basically an open goal for Rodwell but he side-footed tamely and Adam Cummins, once on the books at Everton apparently, was able to clear off the goal line. Jelavic also inexplicably missed a great chance when put through on goal. He and Naismith were booed throughout their time on the pitch. Naismith also had a shot saved / blocked and Coleman, despite an impressive effort to create something out of nothing, couldn’t convert the rebound. James McFadden also took to the field, this time for Motherwell as he’s training with them currently having been released by Everton, though was unable to make any notable impact on the game.

At the other end, Law, despite excelling with a great strike earlier, failed to hit the target with a noticeably easier opportunity, and Howard saved well from a Hateley free kick in the closing moments. The last chance of the game fell to Rodwell. Trying to make amends for his earlier miss, the young England international struck at goal from distance after a clever turn though struck the wrong side of the post. Full-time and a goal a piece was just about right. Off the ball, we were also joined by another acquaintance, Gareth, who looks like Javier Bardem from ‘No Country For Old Men’.

Following the game we went back to The Electric Bar for a few beers before heading back to the hotel, and then into Glasgow for a good night out. What struck me about the people of Glasgow was their willingness to discuss the current plight of the Scottish Football League with all that is happening with Rangers at the moment. Some of the Motherwell supporters we spoke with seemed particularly concerned about the lack of finance coming their way given the inevitable lack of Sky TV money, opportunities to progress and more crucially survive as a football club. You feel for them… you really do.

The only downside to the trip, other than the vile racism en-route, was the length of time taken in our journey home. I’m more keen to drive such distances when possible as I can’t stand the restrictions of public transport. From leaving our hotel at 10:30 am this morning, we didn’t arrive home until about 5 pm this evening. Had I have driven, I’d have been back probably for 3pm at the latest. I think I’ll don my driving gloves next away game.

A good run out for the Blues and good to see some of the more senior players return. Hopefully this will stand us in good stead for a successful trip to Indonesia next week.

Player Ratings:
Howard: Good to see him back. Made some decent, though generally comfortable saves. Where on earth is Jan Mucha by the way? He hasn’t featured at all this pre-season thus far. 7
Hibbert: Coped OK on his unfamiliar side, albeit with some poor mistakes in the second half. 6
Distin: Did fine. He’s just coasting through the games and developing fitness at the moment as far as I can tell. 6
Duffy: My man of the match. Scored our goal and was quite commanding at the back. Somewhat at fault for Motherwell’s goal but it was some strike. Seems to be growing in confidence. 7
Coleman: Improved second half when pushed further forward. I’m not convinced by him personally but he didn’t do badly yesterday. 6
Neville: He played the full 90 minutes, starting in central midfield before switching to right back in the second half. Usual Neville really. Solid if unspectacular. 6
Osman: Replaced by Rodwell at half time. He missed a good chance and didn’t quite get involved as much as he can do. 5
Fellaini: Added a touch of class. Certainly the pick of the midfield. 7
Cahill: Looked a little sluggish to me. I don’t know why but I get the feeling he might be moved on soon as he just doesn’t seem to offer what he used to be able to, particularly as we now also have Naismith. It will be a shame when he does leave but all good things come to an end eventually. 4
Anichebe: Followed up his impressive display at Motherwell with an assist though I don’t recall him doing anything else in the game and then he was substituted at the interval. 5
Vellios: His passing and lay-offs weren’t too bad I suppose but for a lad of his size he really has to learn to hold the ball up better as he gets brushed off far too easily. Maybe loaning him out for the season to the Championship or better still, a team in the Bundesliga or French League 1 (if anybody would be interested in taking him) would benefit him. I think these leagues tend to have tough defenders so it might toughen him up a bit. Then again, if he can’t hold the ball up why would any team in these divisions want to sign him? 4

Substitutes:
Rodwell (for Osman): Was more involved than I recall him usually being and did rather well despite missing such a guilt-edged chance. Was deployed on the wing mainly which obviously isn’t his best position. 6
Junior (for Cahill): Created a great chance for Rodwell and was generally involved and busy. Does look promising. 6
Jelavic (for Vellios): Busy, albeit without seeing much of the ball. Missed a good chance but will be fine following a few games I’m sure. 5
Gibson (for Anichebe): Passed the ball about intelligently and covered quite a lot of ground. 6
Heitinga (for Distin): Settled in just fine though only on for 20 minutes. 6
Naismith (for Fellaini): Also given 20 minutes and had a lively impact. You can see straight away how he could combine well with Jelavic. Looks promising. As I say…perhaps not so promising for Tim Cahill’s prospects as an Everton player. 7

Reader Comments

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Bob Willis
220 Posted 23/07/2012 at 09:34:08
Good article Paul sorry to hear Rodwell felt guilt-edged. If he plays to his potential he will have nothing to feel guilty about. Perhaps by playing alongside Felli some gilt will rub onto him.

Just a thought!

Charlie Dixon
224 Posted 23/07/2012 at 11:52:43
Sorry to hear about the cretins on the train.
Sad to think that in 2012 there are still some of proper horrors knocking about. They shall never be associated with this club.
Phil Bellis
231 Posted 23/07/2012 at 13:23:37
I take it, Paul, that you and the lads were vastly outnumbered by the racist bastards?

If so, a quiet word with the train manager, a redeployed CCTV camera and a police entrance at Carlisle or Carstairs would've shut the cretins up.
Jamie Yates
305 Posted 23/07/2012 at 19:46:06
A rabble of absolute horrors tipped up in the queue one turnstile down from me just before they opened the gates at Fir Park. It looked to me they came off one of the coaches, but maybe it was your fellow train travellers mate. I guess there'll always be that element in a large crowd of people, shame though.

Glasgow's not a bad old place is it? I've lived here 5 years now and, like most cities, it's got it's many down-sides. That said, it's a place with a real pulse about it, plenty of great characters overflowing with genuine warmth and humour.

Great summary of the game by the way, pretty spot on analysis I'd say.

Mick Davies
466 Posted 24/07/2012 at 03:29:07
Very prophetic there, with Cahill now moving on. What's the Euromillions numbers this week then?
David Ellis
472 Posted 24/07/2012 at 04:11:32
Bob Willis - LOL

Anto Byrne
841 Posted 30/07/2012 at 14:08:03
Great story-telling. I hope you're going to keep this fine work up for the upcoming season.
Tony Onslow
673 Posted 20/08/2012 at 15:18:53
Having spent some of my early working life in Scotland I decided to relive soon old memories by going to watch Everton play Motherwell. I travelled, by train, on Friday and had a pleasant journey chatting about football to a couple of fellow travellers who were Scotsmen. The main topic of conversation was, of course, the demise and sad plight of Glasgow Rangers and what the future held for this famous football club.

I arrived at Glasgow Central and had a couple of drinks in the famous Horseshoe pub before returning to Central Station where I caught the local train, from the low level, and, having made one stop at Rutherglen, arrived in Motherwell 14 mins later where I checked into my hotel that was close to the station.

Motherwell has suffered considerably since the closing down of the Ravenscraig Steel Works and indentity of town has changed beyond all recognition, Still I managed to find wee pub where the locals,mostly retired like myself, made me welcome. I have found, over the years, no nation loves to "blether aboot fitba" like the Scots so I had an enjoyable evening before getting "awa to mae bed" and retiring for the night.

Next morning, following an excellent breakfast, I discovered that there is no left luggage facility at Motherwell station so I returned to my hotel were a kindly lassie agreed to take care of my overnight bag until after the game.

I had purchased, for £46, a ticket which included a match day programme and a meal in the hospitality suit where I was joined, at my table, by a number of fellow Evertonians. The main course, which was very tasty, consisted of breast of chicken served on a bed of black pudding and mint sause. There was, of course, also lots of neeps and tatties. Sweet and coffee was then served and all was cleared away in good time for the kick-off

The grandstand was only half full and I was shown to paddered seat near the half way line. I returned, at half time, to my table where I was served with cup of coffee and a meat pie.I later enjoyed a,"after match wee dram" before, after collecting my bag, I arrived at Motherwell station to discover that my train had been cancelled (something about a cow on the line). The next train, the last one going south that evening, had been instructed to make an unsheduled stop, in about one hours time,to pick up stranded passengers. I decided not to take chance and jumped the local train back to Glasgow.

Once there I was redirected on to a First Group train, bound for Manchester Airport, and told to change at Preston. I had forgotten that this years open golf tournament was being played at Lytham and, consequently, Preston Station "choca block" with people. Still I managered, somehow, to squeeze on a train that got me safely back home.

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