Bugger Me, How Did That Happen?

Last updated : 15 March 2007 By Simon Reynolds

So, my first visit to the shire - and despite living 20 minutes away, my first visit to Falkirk. So naturally, I got lost on the way, a few times. By some miracle though, I made kick off and arrived at First Park a few minutes before kick off. Now I had been warned that Firs Park was a poor stadium, but I was really pleasantly surprised by it!

Nice traditional looking stadium, decent covered terracing, and a nice wee stand at the other side. The big fuckoff wall round the stadium was a bit dispiriting at first, but it did a good job of adding to the atmosphere as it felt like a proper enclosed ground. The Shire supporters were in good voice, singing and chanting most (if not all) the way through the match…they really are a credit to their team!

So we started well, full of purpose and were immediately testing the Shire defence, which crumbled like a stale cake to allow Rennie to score. I would love to add more details, but really, it came out of nowhere and I can't remember a single thing about it. Sorry.

We immediately took the initiative and started driving forward, dictating the play and trying to carve out more opportunities. We had our chances over the next few minutes, and I was confidently ignoring recent history and predicting more goals. There was no more scoring in the first half.

After about fifteen minutes of attacking, we evidently decided that one goal was plenty. We went to our 1-0 strategy of aimlessly punting the ball forward. Marco in particular was the worst for this; every time he got the ball it was lumped forward, time and time again. I mean, really! What's the point? So we did absolutely nothing and Shire started to carve out a few chances. They had some sustained pressure on us close to half time, forcing a couple corners and a few shots wide and saved.

I was a bit worried, but we managed to keep a clean sheet. Of course we had no chance of adding to our tally as our strikers, Scott (looking rusty), Reilly (creative and tried hard as always), and Brazil (hard working) were just getting the ball lumped in their general direction.

We were quite glad when half time came and we were still 1-0 ahead, all the lichties who were spread around the ground came together in one half of the terracing, and I have it on good authority from an investigative reporter that the women's bogs at Firs Park, were indeed bogging! (Trivial I know, but this may matter to somebody somewhere out there!).

There was some worry over which Arbroath team would come out for the second half, the hungry, full of purpose one which started the match…or the "we've got our goal, that's enough for us" one which appears sometimes. Oh, and a word about the ref….I know I'm going to get an absolute slaughtering here, but what in gods name was he playing at???

He blew the whistle for the softest things, booked Shire players for trivial nothings, and did things like give us a corner when we blatantly hit it out. Although we had some soft decisions go against us too, the Shire really were the victims of some harsh, harsh refereeing! This continued all the way through the match.

So, the teams ran out for the second half, with Flyer on for the rusty and service starved Scott. The game kicked off, we ran up the right wing, and we scored two goals to go 3-0 up. I swear, it seemed to happen that quickly! We ran up the pitch, got a corner(or maybe a free kick), got it in the box, and the ball just seemed to trickle in off Sellars, with nobody in the box seeming to have a clue what was going on. So, 2-0 with our first attack of the second half.

Shire kicked off, we got the ball back, but East Stirling got it back and passed it back to the keeper. Keeper had the ball, punted it out, smacked it straight off the onrushing Brazil, and bang! 3-0! Flyer went on to have a good game, getting stuck in and could easily have had a goal himself.

East Stirling were obviously rattled and shell shocked by going 2 goals down within 3 minutes of the restart, and proceeded to show that a pishpoor defence was in fact capable of being even worse! We had chances aplenty! Stein cocked up a 1 on 1 with the keeper, as did Flyer, and there was another one later on. Could have been an absolute goal glut!

The fourth goal came from Nicky Smith, a good long range shot from 20 yards out with his left foot. Really though, he could have got down on his hands and knees and blown the ball into the box, and it probably would still have gone in…we really were that dominant at that point.

After the fourth goal rolled in, the game settled down. We didn't play brilliantly, but were definitely in control and confident. We had some more chances, some insignificant and trivial stuff happened.

Martin came on for Reilly and made a positive impact. He looked strong, powerful, and held the ball up well! Roddy Black came on for Sellars as well and didn't look out of place at all!

The ref continued his merry game of hating the Shire, and in the 76th minute, the inevitable happened…Stewart got sent off for East Stirlingshire for his second yellow card to the complete bafflement and bemusement of everyone except him and the ref. Were playing away, then the ref blows the whistle. The Shire player is sent straight off, nobody on either side says or does anything….said player trudges off the pitch straight away, and not a single person I spoke to had any idea what was going on. Kudos to the fans that started a chant of "6 in a row" though, good stuff!

So, right near the end, we conceded a goal thanks to poor, poor defending. We got complacent and we got sloppy. They wandered through our defence and slotted a goal home in the 87th minute. It really was the first time in the second half they'd come close to scoring! We just took our foot off the gas and got sloppy.

So, with only a fragile three goal lead to protect, we evidently decided we should do something about that, and we rampaged up the pitch for Bishop to score and give us the most over the top goal celebration ever! Blattered it home, took off his shirt, and ran past the terracing in front of us screaming like a loon. Nobody has ever celebrated a fifth goal with quite so much gusto.

The inevitable yellow from the ref was greeted with good humour from players, fans and officials alike. First Arbroath player to get a booking that got a big round of applause from the fans! And that was the last action of the game.

So, my final thoughts. Although we got 5 goals and looked hungry, we didn't actually play THAT well! It was really good to see us scoring 5 and looking hungry, but we have to be careful of complacency. We showed when we got our fifth that at times we do play within ourselves.

Still I'm not going to nitpick; I really enjoyed the game, played in an old fashioned stadium with a relaxed friendly vibe. Apart from a dodgy twenty minutes at the end of the first half we were more or less in complete control throughout. The Shire really do have an awful defence though, they badly need a leader in there or something.

Good luck to them and their loud and proud supporters for the rest of the season, Id like to see them get off the bottom. One point behind Berwick…we can do this!

Good performances all round; I would say that everyone got pass marks. Some doubts about Scott, but in fairness he got absolutely no service for large chunks of the first half. My man of the match is going to go to someone I never mentioned in this report, Jay Stein.

He looked confident, creative, and was not afraid to have a go at things! I'm surprised we never brought on Webster, but there was no need, Stein was very influential!