The Junior Cup Journey – Rossvale FC – 26/08/2022

“The Holy Grail”

Background

Before selecting Rossvale as my club of choice this week, I had only a brief understanding of the split between them and Rossvale Academy. While there is an extensive history to delve into, I feel it is important to immediately address the elephant in the room.

As far as I understand, the story goes like this:

Originally formed as Woodhill Boys Club in Bishopbriggs, Rossvale operated as an organisation primarily operating youth teams from the ages of 5 to 18. However, in 2010 the club made the decision to form a ‘first team’ that would compete in the Scottish Junior Leagues; joining the West Region Central District Second Division from the 2011-12 season. The aim of the first team was to provide a clear pathway from the multitude of youth teams into a competitive squad in the Junior ranks. It seemed to work as they achieved a respectable amount in a short space of time. A West Region Central District First Division title success lifted them into the West Region Premier Division.

This is where the spice comes in. As with plenty of former Junior outfits, Rossvale joined the newly formed West of Scotland Football League to take their place in an expanded senior pyramid. A couple seasons in, the club began a background restructure, including an interesting link with Gibraltar National League side Europa Point FC. During this time, Rossvale also relocated to New Petershill Park in Springburn while Huntershill Sports Hub was being developed.

The Academy side of the club became disillusioned with what the senior side had become, with arguments about the entire purpose of the club not being fulfilled. They felt a clear divide between the WoSFL side and the academy had been created. Claims that youth players were not being given a fair chance to progress came to light; with Rossvale’s decision not to enter an U20s team for the 2022/23 season used as the prime example. The academy also claimed they were not involved in the process of the link with Europa Point. As such, Rossvale Academy split from the senior outfit and were successfully inaugurated into the West of Scotland Fourth Division, with aims to reach as high as their potential allows them.

As for Rossvale FC, they currently ply their trade in the WoSFL First Division with a slight change to their original badge. The year 2011 lies at the base to signify the first season the senior team competed. Whereas Rossvale Academy sport the year 1976 after the original formation of the club. This leaves the confusing visual of a ‘first team’ and ‘academy team’ playing in the same league system that doesn’t involve the infamous Colt sides.

Moving forward, Rossvale look to be in a tricky situation. As with the terms of the split from the academy, they have until the beginning of next season to rebrand themselves. They will no longer have access to the Rossvale name. To spin it positively, it leaves hope for new opportunities and a fresh start for the club to forge an independent path.

However, I am not here to pick sides or to dispute who is right and who is wrong. I’m here for football not politics.

Friday night brings my first ever experience of the Scottish Junior Cup. It is a famous old competition responsible for hundreds of exciting moments, incredible narratives and a whole lot of community vibrancy. For decades, it was one of the highlights of the Scottish football calendar. It still runs strong to this day with plenty of now ‘senior’ clubs returning to their roots to compete for the ‘Holy Grail’.

This first round fixture sees my hosts for the evening take on Muirkirk Juniors at New Petershill Park. Cup ties always bring excitement, drama and anticipation. Under the floodlights, this was due to be a cracker.

Facilities

New Petershill Park is a relatively new multi-use venue in the heart of Springburn’s community. As well as the fantastic football facilities, NPP also hosts a gymnasium, dance studio, health suite, a bar and a function room. Upon entry it is clean, organised, and homely. It pays tribute to the multitude of club sides the ground hosts, including women’s football giants Glasgow City with pendants and memorabilia decorating the walls. Given this was the first match of the Junior Cup calendar, the famous old trophy was on display in the reception area. It is a lot bigger and glamorous than I thought it would be. After being welcomed at the door by friendly club staff and paying my entry fee, a door leads you outside where you are greeted by a flawless artificial playing surface.

NPP really is a great place to watch football for all. A 500-seater stand is the main attraction, consisting of two sections of regular seating with raised benches either side and small standing sections behind them. Three sides of the park are accessible, with a miniscule, raised embankment just behind the dugouts – presumably for away supporters on the busier occasions. Behind the goal to my left, I spotted an interesting feature to keep younger audiences entertained; a Teqball table. For those not familiar, the sport is essentially played in a ping-pong style on a similar sized but curved table, using your head, literally. I would highly recommend.

On the far side of the stand, The Coffee Cabin can supply your food and drink needs with approachable service and decent prices.

Overall, I really, really like NPP. It has a wonderful setting, a comfortable feel and is clearly a mainstay in the community. It is not difficult to see why the venue is experienced in hosting UEFA Women’s Champions League football. There were still ‘reserved’ stickers for prestige spectators on seats in light of the WUCL group stages matches played last week. I hope to return one day to experience the competition for myself. 4/5.

Atmosphere

For a first-round cup game played on a Friday night, I was expecting a reasonable crowd. I was not disappointed. The majority of the plastic seating was filled, with others crowded around the benches and standing at the metal railing. Both clubs were represented well. Rossvale-branded jackets and club merchandise were clear to see as well as a highly visible Muirkirk away support. Supporters old and young made their voices heard, signifying everything the competition stands for. 2.5/5.

Quality of the Match

* I could not gain access to a team-sheet, nor were there numbers allocated to names on either side’s Twitter feeds. Therefore, It was difficult to name players during the following match report.

Rossvale kicked the game off in nervy style. A low, drilled freekick into the box was swiped by Rossvale’s number 5 towards his own goalkeeper from close range. Luckily for the defender, his ‘keeper Stuart Goodfellow was on hand to react well and tip over. Muirkirk continued their early pressure and perhaps should have taken the lead. A whipped corner met the head of number 8, who could only glance his effort wide.

A more even period arrived, with Rossvale gaining traction in the match, but the chances kept coming for the visitors. A decent strike from distance from Muirkirk’s 14 was easily dealt with by Goodfellow, before the same player’s free kick flew just over the crossbar.

With the half coming to an end, Rossvale mustered their best chance of the match. Good work down the right by Rossvales’ number 7 made space for a cross. He found the head of his number 9, whose header was saved well by stand-in ‘keeper Gary Bishop. The rebound was tapped in by number 8 to loud cheers, only for the referee to chalk it off for offside.

Half Time: Rossvale 0-0 Muirkirk

An exciting end-to-end second half loomed. Muirkirk threw the first punch, with a free-kick fired into the box. The ball bounced around the home box before falling to Muirkirk’s number 17. His poked effort from two yards was held well by Goodfellow.

Rossvale responded. Firstly, some fantastic work by the captain saw him muscle away from his defender. Entering the box, he squared to number 9, who unleashed a decent effort at goal. It was matched well by Bishop who did well to tip it over. Number 9 had another chance two minutes later. More superb work by number 7 in midfield resulted in a perfectly weighted through ball for his striker. One-on-one and from an angle, he could only volley the ball wide.

Rossvale continued their pressure. A corner fell to number 5 at the back post. The ball arrived at the wrong height though, with the defender only managing to weakly volley over.

Muirkirk countered. Some excellent work down the visitor’s right-hand side worked an opportunity for number 17. His volley looked goal bound but a much-needed deflection saw the ball wide, only for the referee to give a goal kick.

Rossvale’s left back then had two quick-fire opportunities. A free kick in by number 12 found the head of the defender, whose effort went just wide. A corner two minutes later also found his head at the back post but his body leaning backwards could only result in the ball going past the post.

With Rossvale dominating, Muirkirk went very close to finally opening the scoring. A long ball over the top found the visitor’s number 17. He cut inside on his right before curling an effort just wide of the post.

The Kirk were mightily aggrieved with the final whistle on the horizon. With number 11 through on goal, he looked to have been taken out by the last defender. With space to get up and shoot though, the striker got up and fired an effort goalward. Stuart Goodfellow saved it, with the Muirkirk players arguing for a sending off despite advantage being played.

Muirkirk kept going and had the final big opportunity of the match. From the resulting corner, A header by number 9 went just wide. It looked easier to score, much to the frustration of the corner’s deliverer.

No goals in ninety-minutes. A nervy crowd awaited penalty kicks.

Both teams kept their nerve for the first six penalties, but it was Muirkirk who would blink first. Stuart Goodfellow matched his opponent’s effort to save well. Gary Bishop evened it up once more though. The stand-in parried wide to keep the scores level.

Muirkirk missed again with a poor effort hitting the outside of the post, leaving a single spot-kick to win the game. Rossvale took the opportunity, just. Bishop got a hand to the effort, only for the ball to hit the top corner and cause home celebrations. Rossvale had kept their nerve.

Full time: Rossvale 0-0 Muirkirk (Rossvale win 4-3 on penalties)

For a nil-nil this was a thoroughly entertaining spectacle. Cup ties are always played at a higher intensity. Each moment is important and could be the difference between progressing and elimination. Both teams showed that on a tense Friday night under the lights. A flurry of missed opportunities had the crowd on the edge of their seats; frustration gradually building with each effort.It is a shame for Muirkirk, who were struggling for numbers. They battled well with no substitutes and a stand-in goalkeeper. I’m sure they will be absolutely fine this season when the squad numbers reach a healthy level.

Overall, it is impossible to be disappointed with a match like this. People look at nil-nil draws and instantly believe the match is boring. I can assure you this game had more action than your standard football match. Furthermore, I got to witness the first ever penalty shoot out since my journey began. No reasonable supporter can complain with the number of chances created, good individual performances and the tension of a shoot-out. 3/5.

Pricing

I’ve said it a million times; football at this level is incredible value. I paid £7 for entry and £1.80for a tea. Under a tenner spent to watch an entertaining game in a wonderful competition. 5/5 every time.

Final Score

Rossvale end the weekend with a score of 14.5/20. They climb to the upper echelons of the TSFA League Table and deservedly so. No matter what is going on behind the scenes, these scores are subjective to my experience on the day. They are part of a superb set up at Petershill Park and play some good football. Their future will certainly be interesting.

– Connor

2 responses to “The Junior Cup Journey – Rossvale FC – 26/08/2022”

  1. Iain mcmillan avatar
    Iain mcmillan

    Many a time my team ek thistle got beat at the old petershill Park. But the crowd was always very friendly and welcoming.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment Iain. I hope to be down at EK Thistle at some point this season.

      Like

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