Groundhop 1881 – Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic JFC

Scottish Junior Football Association, East Region Superleague
Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic JFC v Camelon JFC
Saturday, 9th February 2013, 2pm
New Dundas Park
Entrance £5, No Programme
Distance 389 miles, Attendance 130 (estimate)
Whilst beneath the four “Senior” divisions of the Scottish Football League there are three regional leagues of the East, South and Highlands, somewhere above the amateur leagues – living on an entirely different plain altogether – is the world of Scottish “Junior” Football. This also has three regions. The winners of each of these six regional leagues plus the winners of the Scottish Junior Cup are invited to enter the (Senior) Scottish Cup each year.
Getting home from the Palace game the night before, I’m not sure this structure was entirely clear in my mind. What was clear was that I’d forgotten my cousin’s upcoming wedding, which for some peculiar reason had been arranged during the football season and approved by her father, a Watford season ticket holder. To circumvent this I needed to get to an 1881 game quickly, so booked flight to Edinburgh for the next morning.
It hasn’t the promised “Spring is here” but, thankfully the weather north of the border was an improvement on London’s and as the taxi driver asserted “It isnae raining”.
Though unsure exactly where I was, the beautiful valleys near Bonnyrigg & Lasswade felt reminiscent of South Wales, with stone buildings punctuating country lanes. A former coal-mining community, these quiet residential towns now act as commuter belt for nearby cities. Pulling into a pub car park, the welcome sight of the ground finally came into view. Having arranged for a later collection, I headed for the Sports Club as the jovial driver called out “They eat children here!” and sped off.

130209 EoSSL Bonnyrigg Rose v Camelon (35)

Inside the bustling bar – having met Chairman Charlie Kirkwood – there were introductions, guided tours and wonderful football history lessons to absorb. Clearly everyone I met was proud of this club and its former players.
130209 EoSSL Bonnyrigg Rose v Camelon (127)wFormed in 1881 from Bonnyrigg Swifts, The Rose last lifted the Scottish Junior Cup during a successful period in the 70s and 80s. Since the millennium – after seven further trophies and titles – they’ve twice become East Superleague Champions; the second coming last season under new manager Max Christie.
In the ground supporters congregated under the covered terrace. To their left were changing rooms and down the gentle slope across the pitch, the dugouts, behind which young children were emulating their heroes.
130209 EoSSL Bonnyrigg Rose v Camelon (48)In an evenly contested first half, a heavy surface influenced proceedings but, both teams showed end-to-end commitment only to be deprived by the woodwork or stunning saves. Discussing the first half in the “committee room” I was introduced to the League Trophy and more inquisitive well-wishers – however turned down the opportunity to partake in “customary” extra pepper in my Bovril – before heading out for a whirlwind second period where challenges, controversy and goals would fly in.
130209 EoSSL Bonnyrigg Rose v Camelon (110)Camelon scored first when a free kick bounced tamely in at David Paterek’s far post, and a goal line incident was followed by an offside Andy McGowan doubling the lead. Paul Shields headed in for Bonnyrigg, the visiting manager was sent off, the ref missed a handball in the away box but managed to spot a clumsy collision up the other end, and Kevin Kelbie netted from the resultant penalty. When the outstanding debutant Paul Currie fired home, at 3-2 we still had hope The Rose could get something out of the game but, goal line scrambles, irritatingly time-wasting, and a second offside goal meant there was no way back.
As committee members began clearing the ground, I headed for the players’ lounge where befitting the entertaining match, the mood was cordial.
Yes there was frustration at losing; Max Christie told me “The wins last two seconds, the defeats last three days”. It was his life but, unlike Holloway’s idiosyncratic tones the night before the response was far more pragmatic and profound. Such words were easier to sympathise with.

130209 EoSSL Bonnyrigg Rose v Camelon (82)w

Before my taxi arrived, it seemed apt that beneath John White’s portrait, former player Wilson Bertrand would illuminate the club’s appeal. Having only notified Bonnyrigg late of my imminent arrival, some had shown surprise that I’d fly up just to see their team play and even more that I would turn down souvenirs and free entry to the game but without doubt, their warm and generous welcome repaid me handsomely. I would do it all again.

130209 EoSSL Bonnyrigg Rose v Camelon (38)w

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Initially appearing in this season’s Watford FC matchday programmes, consequently Groundhop 1881 reports will appear late on here. At the end of the journey, a book will be published telling the full story.
This entry was posted in 2012-2013, East Region Superleague, Groundhop 1881, Scottish Junior Football Association and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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