Making a welcome return from his adventures down-under, our regular scribe brings you the news from yesterday’s hum-dinger at the Bear Yards in his own, quite inimitable style!
Allan Glen’s Vs Glasgow Accies
Saturday 2nd March 2013
Final Score: 32 – 31
Famed American rock singer Lewis “Lou” Reed was born in Brooklyn, New York, on Saturday 2nd March 1942. How ironic then that the lyrics from one of Reed’s best known hits would so accurately surmise this RBS West Division 1 clash on his 61st birthday. On what proved to be a Perfect Day for the Bishopbriggers, it was very much a case of You’re going to reap just what you sow for the Anniesland side who found themselves Hanging On into the final throes to try and rescue a game which arguably should have been tied up some time prior.
The respective teams were in familiar middle/upper league positions going into this encounter, and whilst promotion is therefore not a word used extensively in either dressing room, this is a Glasgow derby which never fails to bring out the best in those involved.
The game was preceded by a round of applause for young Marr player, Jordan Deary who tragically lost his life last Thursday and to mark the recent passing of Glen’s Committee stalwart, Peter Campbell – both will be sorely missed at their respective clubs.
Head coach Davey “Davey” Wilson was spotted napping on the tackle pads prior to the warm up however thankfully his team showed no signs of drowsiness as they opened the scoring with a spectacular try, no more then 5 minutes into the game. A midfield scrum saw the ball released down the blind side to ageing winger and Accies favourite Mike Hermes who showed just why he was voted MVP in the 1975/76 season. Rounding his man with relative ease, and with one man to beat, Hermes threw a long inside pass to teen heartthrob Jack Walker who crashed over the line to open his account. Ginger icon Ali McLaren did the necessary to take the score to 0 – 7.
This early strike roused the home side into action and a period of well contested and physical rugby then ensued, with both teams admirably eager to keep ball in hand. It was the Glens men who were to answer back however with a well worked try coming from a lineout in the Accies half. A combination of good offloading and some flailing Accies arms allowed the home side to dot down, taking the score to 7 – 7.
Under the supervision of former Hawks man Mark Sitch, Glens were clearly looking to pressurise the Accies backs in defence, however continual flirtation with the offside line gave the referee no choice but to award a penalty in the 16th minute. With a couple of deep breaths and a trademark waggle of his backside, McLaren slotted this to take the score line to 7 – 10.
In true tit-for-tat fashion, the Bishopbriggs side were to answer back almost immediately with a try which again could be attributed to some unconvincing Accies tackling, and which sat the score for the first quarter at 12 – 10.
The game was to ebb and flow in the second quarter, and a combination of eager defensive lines and a closely monitored breakdown by the referee, led to a high penalty count which would prove costly for both teams. A series of penalty kicks (including a retake for Glens resulting from some Accies back chat) took the score at half time to 15 – 16.
One can only speculate as to what was relayed to the players by Messrs Wilson and Beattie at half time, however journalism these days seems to be based upon exactly that. With no phones available to hack, or police to bribe, my guess would therefore have to be a mood of overall content given some positive attacking rugby. There would surely however have been some concern regarding the aforementioned penalty count and occasional ineffectual tackling which had allowed the home side to stay afloat. In my experience neither coach is one to dwell on the negatives, and it was not a surprise to see the boys with heads up and sporting a positive disposition as they took the field for the second half.
The North Glasgowers clearly had similar ideas and entered the second half with equal vigour. It was not long before they were again crossing the Accies whitewash following some direct running and effective redistribution. With his kicking form continuing to improve, the Glens number 10 duly converted to edge his side into a lead of 22 – 16.
A penalty for the home side not long after allowed the kicker to execute once more and push his side into what was then looking like a convincing lead of 25 – 16.
Now this old scribe has been part of Accies sides over the years which have suffered from a crippling lack of confidence at certain crucial junctures in matches. With an enthusiastic and vocal (if at times inappropriately so) local crowd, the “Bear Yard” can often be an intimidating arena in which to perform, and with the score line beginning to roll over in favour of the South Kirkintillochers, the final quarter was always going to be a big test for this young Accies side. Given the kind of rugby that the Anniesland team has produced so far this season, it was however no surprise that they would answer the call, and who better to do so than the young Obanite Gus MacCallum who is growing in stature with each performance. Showing true incisiveness and desire, MacCallum ghosted through the Glens midfield in the 64th minute, and powered past the full back for a very well taken try. Unfortunately McLaren’s attempt on goal was wide of the mark however Accies had now bounced back into the frame with a score line of 25 – 21.
A penalty deep in the Glens half not long after allowed McLaren to make a mends and he soared the ball through the sticks to set us up for a nail biting final 15 minutes at 25 – 24.
Late into the season and with conditions under foot very favourable, fitness did not seem to be an issue for either team, and the closing stages were to be a test of ball retention and positional play. It was indeed a long touch finder from McLaren which took Accies deep into Glens territory where Accies were then to turn over possession in their favour. Following wave after wave of Accies attack, the ball was switched across field and some slick handling found that man Walker once again lurking on the flanks. With a two on one to deal with, the back row pin up opted for the power play and fended off the Glens full back to crash over in the corner. McLaren dropped over what was arguably his best kick of the day to give the visitors a 6 point lead with as many minutes on the clock. 25 – 31.
It was now a case of the Anniesland team keeping possession as they had done for so much of the second half. To their credit however the home side was eager to reward their loyal supporters and had come to play the full 80 minutes. Returning a deep kick, the Glens right winger set off down the flank from 50 metres out with no intention of being stopped. A series of well timed side steps allowed him to evade three Accies defenders to cross the line in dramatic fashion, and a well struck conversion put Glens back into the lead with two minutes on the clock. 32 – 31.
Play resumed and before they knew it, Accies found themselves with a penalty awarded in the Glens half – appx. 35 metres out from the try line, and with an unenviable angle to the posts. To his credit, McLaren was willing to put himself on the line and take the attempt at goal which unfortunately was to drift wide of the target, bringing the game to a close at 32 – 31 to the home side.
There was understandably an air of bitter disappointment in the Accies camp at full time given the opportunities that had been missed, and the cruel way in which the game was snatched from them. That said, I think it is clear to the Accie faithful on the sidelines that this club has not been in better shape for a number of years. It is very encouraging to see new players making their mark, and the younger contingent contributing with real effect.
With only two games (I believe) to go for this season, thoughts are already moving to next year and I believe the coaches are quietly confident that we are developing a squad of players which will be able to genuinely compete for the top spot in coming seasons. We now face another 6 nations weekend and the resultant break in competitive fixtures, so it is important that guys treat the next two weeks as business as usual, as we look to close out the season with a couple of winning performances.
Note: Many thanks to Donald Reid for his assistance with today’s match report, ever the provider of “impartial” and “level headed” sideline commentary.