…Scottish Junior football… junior in name only…

…football fans who hail from anywhere else in the WURLD other than Bonnie Scotland may be excused for mistaking the ‘Scottish Junior Football League’ tag as a reference to the age level of the players involved… not so… the ‘Junior’ refers to the level of the football, compared with the Senior Professional Leagues… the guys on the field are usually a good mixture of young bloods coming up through the ranks, with dreams of steeping up to the ‘big’ League, and older pros, one-time full professionals, having served their time in the headier atmosphere of the larger professional teams, but perhaps having lost a yard or two of pace, but still with plenty of footballing experience to hold their places in the Junior ranks… my earliest club in the Junior League, more than 50 years ago, was based in Glasgow, in the Docklands Govan of my youth… Benburb F.C…   ‘The Bens’ played at a ground called Tinto Park…. a more recent photo below doesn’t show the holes at the back of the corrugated iron fencing around the ground that used to allow us to get into watch games for free as youngsters… and I don’t recall ever seeing as much grass on the pitch as that!…

tinto-park-png

…summer time evening games rarely needed the string of floodlights as darkness in Scotland didn’t settle in until usually well past ten in the evening… another player at that time, Archie Donachie, lived in my street, but played for a rival club, Kilbirnie Lakeside F.C., who were based in North Ayrshire… too far away for Archie to get there every day for training (most Junior League players had day jobs back then), so he used to train with a few pals and I in a local park most evenings after WURK… he was much older than the rest of us, but with excellent skills… he taught us a few tricks of the trade… for example, I am naturally right-footed, but liked to play on the left wing… he trained me for half an hour each night, wearing a proper football boot on the left foot and a soft shoe on the right, making sure I would use the left as a more instinctive choice… he also showed is how to ‘ride’ tackles, by training with small ‘penny-dreadful‘ paperbacks tucked in the front of our socks, then making tackles on each other without the football, hitting the shins where the books were, ensuring our studs were off the ground… back then, few of us used shinguards, which are now mandatory in current football everywhere… I wonder how many of the ballet dancers masquerading as footballers in the modern game ever learned these basic tricks… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

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