One goal per 43 fans at just £1.62 per goal.


Despite losing a late goal Rovers fans applauded and appreciated their team’s efforts

It’s rare that both sides are applauded off the field. It’s even rarer that both sides applaud their fans back.

But that’s exactly what 347 well entertained spectators did at Cliftonhill in Coatbridge on Saturday. The North Lanarkshire side and their visitors from Aberdeen both came into the game on the back of a league win.

That fact would have been even more delightful for Cove as their win was their first ever in the Scottish League after promotion from the Highland League.

Declan Byrne, Euan East, Lewis Wilson and substitute Smart Osadolor scored for the hosts with Harry Milne, Jamie Masson, Declan Glass and Mitch Megginson netting for Cove, with Glass’s effort on 41 minutes being the pick of the eight as it rocketed off the underside of the bar leaving a forlorn Chris Smith with no chance.

With a crowd of just 347 enjoying eight goals, that meant there were 43.375 goals per spectator. Imagine that at Anfield where such a calculation would have yielded 1219 goals but definitely not a draw.

In fact as eight different players scored the eight goals, it was 43 fans per goalscorer.

For this writer however, there was a deeper story.

For 30 years, I have heard the story recounted by my pre-journalism football friend and now Prost Scotland correspondent Roddy Speirs the day we blagged our way on for free at Cliftonhill at a 1984 Scottish Cup tie against Partick Thistle.

He claims someone opened a gate and, with the match already underway, we just walked in.

I had no memory of this or of ever even going to Cliftonhill but he has been insistent and the guilt has been weighing on him for 20 years. He claimed returning to the scene of the crime would invoke my ‘repressed memory syndrome’, and still wracked with guilt, he selected Albion Rovers v Cove Rangers as our game of the day.

But when we arrived, I was even surer I hadn’t seen the stadium before. Paying to get in did not alleviate his remorse and he dutifully bought half time draw tickets – quite a lot of them.

Even if our reasons for selecting that game were not wholly grounded in football, it was the football that had us talking.

We saw some great goals, and some not so good ones and a fantastic performance by young William Graham who only joined Rovers a week ago from Kilmarnock and thoroughly impressed with his controlled aggression after coming on in the 59th minute.

The visiting Cove fans were very good natured even if the locals only comprehended fleeting snatches of their amusing but highly Aberdonian-accented quips. The home fans were superbly encouraging, especially for a side that hasn’t given them much glory over the years.

Cove looked the better side from the minute they went behind to Byrne’s opener. Even at 1-0 down, they looked likely to win. By halftime, they were 3-1 up and cruising to three away points and a 100% record.

Albion Rovers’ Cliftonhill Stadium which it turns out I was seeing for the very first time

All that made Rovers’ second half fightback more laudable.

The yellow and red shirted youngsters showed immense courage and self belief after Kevin Harper’s halftime team talk and Cove were somewhat blown away by the schizophrenic nature of Rovers’ second half performance compared to their first.

Indeed the Lanarkshire side even had the audacity to briefly take the lead at 4-3 when Osalodor rolled the ball home, only for Cove to remember just in time that they indeed had enough ability to score at will.

They will be the less happy of the two sides because at half time, they had this game in their pocket. However both their fans and Rovers’ enthusiastically applauded both sides off the pitch and even the referee John McKendrick was given a grudging tribute of “not bad son” from one of the local elders.

Finally, in case you were wondering, when asked for the date of the mystery match I was accused of entering without pay, new evidence arose. It happened in 2000 and I had an alibi. I was in Texas at the time.

So having exculpated his guilt at denying Albion Rovers their £8 … well he thinks it was £8 but as he didn’t pay to go in and can’t even remember who he went with,  he is now carrying the guilt of falsely accusing me of the same for 19 years.

But I’m not bothered.

If it hadn’t been for his glib and unfounded accusation, I wouldn’t have seen this goalfest and reminded myself of just how much entertainment and value there is to be had away from the glamour of the televised games.

Rovers’ next home game is Saturday 24th August with Brechin City being the visitors with a 3pm kick off.

It’s £13 to get in and if Saturday is any guide, you’ll pay just £1.62 for each goal.

By the same author:

The four biggest differences between Barnet v Yeovil and the Women’s World Cup Final

Op-Ed: EFL Playoffs have replaced FA Cup Final in English fans’ hearts and minds

No Scotland No Party. Nice had both (and England fans were invited)

Unsung Heroes: Leanne Crichton

Yokel Harum – The best of Englishness on show as Wurzels delight on West Country’s day out at Twickenham

Boundary Bletherings: Middlesex must become more ruthless when they have the advantage

American soccer says goodbye to Sigi Schmid in emotional farewell service in LA

The last time Chelsea lost 6-0

2018: The ones I’ll miss most: John Lambie, for the greatest one liner in Scottish football history and so much much more

2018: The ones I’ll miss most: Cyrille Regis, who answered Man United racist boos with a starring role in the “Game of the Century”

2018: The ones I’ll miss most: Eric Bristow – the Crafty Cockney



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