For the longest time I thought Camelon was pronounced ‘Cam-E-Lon’. It turns out I’ve been wrong for the entirety of my twenty-seven years on this planet. I figured that it had similar phonetic principles to ‘Camelot’; the place where the legendary King Arthur held his court. It was perhaps my love for Disney’s ‘The Sword and the Stone’ as a youngster that inspired this mistake, but who can ever be sure. Funnily enough, there are several myths and stories linking this wee town in Falkirk to the ancient location. It is rumoured that King Arthur used an old Roman fort in Camelon as his base to suss out his archnemeses Mordred. Stories go as far as insinuating that Camelon may even be the site where Arthur died. Though the famous Battle of Camlann is said to have happened somewhere in Wales, I prefer exaggerated biasness.
Anyway, turns out Camelon is pronounced ‘Came-Lin’. Every day is a school day, eh?
Mythical folklore aside, Camelon has plenty more to offer. I’m here for the local football team, who have been present in the area since 1920. Camelon Juniors make their debut on the blog this weekend, and the club have an interesting history to delve into. After playing in the local Stirlingshire leagues for the first seven years, the club joined the Scottish Intermediate League where they only lasted a short two and a half years before resignation. They joined the Scottish Junior League next, where they remained for a while longer before leaving to ply their trade in the Edinburgh and Lothian District Leagues in 1947.
In 2018, Camelon joined a host of clubs to leave their junior status behind to be a part of the East of Scotland League setup. Despite entering the senior ranks, the club keep the ‘Juniors’ element to their name as a nod to their time in the junior system. They can look back on some incredibly memorable moments, including their one and only Scottish Junior Cup win in 1995. At Motherwell’s Fir Park, The Mariners (class nickname by the way) defeated Whitburn 2-0 to lift the famous old trophy for the first time in the club’s history. They did reach the final again the next year but missed out on consecutive titles; losing to Tayport by the same scoreline.
Other successes line the Camelon trophy cabinet, with the nineties, noughties and 2010s bringing the majority of the club’s silverware back to Carmuirs Park. Camelon captains of old have lifted the East of Scotland League Cup twice, the Lothian District Division One twice, the Alex Jack Cup once and the Fife and Lothians Cup three times. Not too shabby.
Today, The Mariners see their matches played in the EoS First Division where they still finding their feet. After finishing rock bottom in the EoS Premier last season, Camelon sit 15th out of 16th in their new surroundings. Results have been close though; two of their four defeats have been by a single goal. The club will hope this weekend’s match against local rivals Dunipace will kickstart a run to the top end of the table. Their 5-0 drubbing of Strathspey Thistle in the Scottish Cup the weekend before should give some well needed confidence for the league season ahead. I near enough always head into these adventures with a support for the home side. This is certainly the case today, where I hope to see a positive performance and three points on the board for the home side.
Carmuirs Park (The Moor Equipment Hire Stadium for sponsorship reasons) has been Camelon’s only official ground in the club’s history. They existed as a nomadic presence for a long time until offered a piece of land on the north side of the Forth and Clyde canal. They were offered this land by a farmer, who was impressed by the fact that all but two of the Camelon squad had been army veterans. The ground has undergone a huge lift since the days of a supporter rope. Carmuirs Park was born and alive; taking its name from the farm in which it lay.
I’ll give away a spoiler right away; I absolutely love Carmuirs Park. You literally enter the ground through the side of the road with cars blocked from queuing supporters. Its turnstile entrance is old, concrete, narrow and perfect. I gave my entry fee to a friendly club volunteer and entered to see an absolute beauty of a stand in plain sight. It has an elevated row of seats in a rustic old enclosure; Camelon badges and branding emblazoned on its roof. To my right is a standing enclosure that serves its purpose well. Its imperfect concrete steps tell a story of years gone by and the multitude of spectators who have stood there before. Behind the goal is a small embankment where plenty of people stood and sat in a wave of faces.
The Carmuirs Park pitch looks superb. It glistened in the sun and played its part in some of the passing play during the game. I doubt you’ll see many pitches as well kept as this one in the lower leagues, perhaps even in the SPFL. A lot of credit must go to the grounds staff for keeping the beautiful game looking beautiful. (Smiv, 2022).
The refreshments bar was a nice wee visit too. A pair of lovely volunteers served with enthusiasm and positive chat. Volunteers make up the looks and feel of a club. They have the unique ability to produce a welcoming atmosphere to anyone who visits. I certainly felt that today.
I think I’ve found a hidden gem in Carmuirs Park. I knew there were some absolute belters in Scotland’s lower leagues, but I feel Camelon’s home is something particularly special. It is a mix of rustic and modern, battered but beautiful. It is a superb place to watch football and I have no hesitation in giving a high score of 4/5.
This clash was a local derby. Separated by just 4 miles of road, Camelon and Dunipace were about to fight it out for East of Scotland bragging rights. Therefore, you’d have expected a fair few away supporters to be in attendance. They showed up in numbers, with the majority placing themselves on the far side of the south enclosure and scattered within the opposite standing section. Both sets of supporters provided a level of noise that went along with the intense nature of the game. It felt as though there was something important at stake, with cheers and shouts matching the happenings in front of them.
There is no doubt that the game contributed to the emotions of supporters, but the feeling inside is one that I have not experienced in the lower leagues for a wee while now. It felt good to be a part of and I feel is deserves a solid 3/5.
Quality of the Match
Hold on to your hats, troops. This is going to be a rollercoaster.
It only took five minutes for the first chance of the game. Dunipace’s Sam Colley broke on the right-hand side before firing a thunderous shot towards Camelon ‘keeper Darren Dolan. The big stopper parried the ball well to deny an early opener.
The first goal of the game would arrive soon after. Some wonderful play from the back by Lewis McArthur saw him cushion a pass to winger Mitchell Taylor. He played a superb wee flick to Mati Zata who powered forward with the ball. He was tackled well, but the ball found its way to Lewis Paton. He beat his man at the edge of the box before cutting the ball back for Zata. The midfielder confidently slotted the ball past David Kane in the Dunipace goal to put the home side one-up. A wonderful move.
Dunipace may have considered themselves unlucky to have not found a way back into the game from the penalty spot. A ball into the box flicked on by David Grant made its way over to Colley who went down under after some pressure from the back. The referee had his whistle in his mouth, but no spot-kick was to be awarded.
The ‘Pace were beginning to really find their feet and took their time to control the remainder of the first half. Striker Keir Stevenson saw his left footed strike from the edge of the box fly just over, but it was a warning for Camelon who allowed pressure onto themselves.
Camelon were hanging on. A good cross in from Liam McCroary was dropped by Dolan. With the ball bouncing around the box, it fell to Stevenson with the ‘keeper still on the floor. He could only hit the ball over the bar, much to the relief of the home support.
The Mariners then had an opportunity to double their lead. They looked dangerous on the break, with a flick from Kyle Samson finding Taylor through on goal. However, his low right foot strike was not powerful enough to beat a well-positioned Kane. Taylor had another half-chance soon after. After cutting inside onto his left, he curled an effort over the bar to end a half filled with opportunities for both teams.
Half Time: Camelon Juniors 1-0 Dunipace
The second half began with an urgency from the away side. Chances came thick and fast, with the first falling to Tristan McArthur. He rose highest from a free-kick but could only head his effort towards Dolan.
David Grant was next to be frustrated. Good midfield play saw the striker through one-on-one with Dolan. From an angle he could only shoot over the bar, much to the annoyance of the striker. A golden opportunity to equalise.
Just as the contest was beginning to slow down, the derby feeling came to light. A few tackles flew in, hands were raised and tempers were flared. A switch flicked from one particular argy-bargy in the Camelon box, and the game came to life…
This is where things get messy.
Despite consistent Dunipace pressure, Camelon broke away and made it two. Some good work in midfield resulted in Kyle Samson trotting down the wing. His backpost cross found Kieran Anderson, and with the goalkeeper in no man’s land, his well timed header looped over the stopper and into the away net. A superb breakaway and a wonderful finish against the run of play.
Dunipace continued their push with an increased sense of willpower. They should have pulled one back when a cross swung into the middle was flicked goalward. With the goal at their mercy, two Dunipace players got in each other’s way, with the ball heading upward and into a grateful Dolan’s hands.
Camelon perhaps should have increased their lead even further. Filled with confidence, Kieran Anderson found space on the right-hand side. With the goal at his mercy and a man running next to him, the striker chose to go for goal. His effort was saved, with the cut-back to his team-mate looking like the better option in hindsight.
The drama truly began with around ten minutes of regular time to play. A corner whipped in by Liam McCroary was cleared into the direction of the right back. The defender rushed to meet the ball and hit a wicked half-volley straight at the ‘keeper. The power looked too much for Darren Dolan as the ball deflected off his knees and into the far corner. A disappointing goal to concede. Dunipace had their tails up.
The ‘Paces’ attacks became more and more common. Camelon could not get out of their own half and looked physically and mentally drained. The pressure told, and it happened in the blink of an eye. A corner swung in resulted in a strike at the back post. The low, driven shot was saved well by the feet of Dolan, but only in the direction of striker David Grant. He placed himself well at the back to tap in the equaliser, much to the delight and elation of the ‘Pace support and bench.
The away side were not finished. Camelon advanced up the pitch in an attempt regain their precious lead. However, when the move broke down, Dunipace raced away. An incredibly quick counterattack saw Grant race away with acres of space in front of him. He advanced forward with huge anticipation from the players and coaching staff behind him. It felt as though time stood still when he slotted the ball under Dolan. Then… eruption. The entire Dunipace bench jumped in the air and ran onto the pitch. The players wheeled in celebration with Grant leading the wild antics. The away side had come from two goals behind; the Camelon players were on their knees. A potential 90th minute winner had just been scored.
This is where things get really interesting. Goal-scoring hero David Grant was subbed off and was sent to the far end of the pitch to complete his walk to the bench to prevent any time-wasting. As he passed Darren Dolan in the Camelon goal, audible pisstaking could be heard. “Yous are shite”, “Bottom of the league” to name just a few. Just a bit of competitive football patter. Step in – Karma.
With seconds left to play, Camelon threw everything at Dunipace. Somehow, someway they scored. A throw in on the near side bounced around the away box. I have no idea who got the final touch, but the ball was bundled into the net. Carmuirs Park erupted with a ridiculous amount of emotion. At the centre of said eruption was Darren Dolan. He immediately made his way to the Dunipace bench to produce a sensational ‘Get it right up ye’ sign toward (one can only assume) David Grant. Just when you thought that was that Dolan was sent off for his gesture. Unjust in my opinion, but incredibly funny, nonetheless. Centre back Steven Dolan took the gloves for the final moments to bring this absolute fuckfest of a second half to a close.
Full Time: Camelon Juniors 3-3 Dunipace
Where do I even start with this?
It’s a strange on for Camelon. They will be absolutely gutted with chucking away a two-goal lead, but to even the game up again in the last few seconds will feel like a win in itself. I believe they showed enough today to suggest that they’ll be okay this year. They can clearly play the ball on the deck when the need to and present a pacey threat on the break. Centre backs Steven Dolan and Lewis McArthur looked solid, building decent plays from the back. They’ll be looking to build on this draw to push up the table.
This result also sees Dunipace go through a whirlwind of emotions. From being two goals down to a goal up, you’d have expected ‘Pace to head home with all three points. Lady luck does not work like this though. I feel they dominated the majority of the game and were unlucky to be two goals down in the first place. They showed outstanding belief to continue implementing their game and deservedly found themselves ahead. Only a blip in concentration let them down. I’d be surprised if they weren’t pushing for the top four or five places this season.
Overall, I was treated to one of the best halves of football I’ve ever witnessed live. The game had everything you could want as a neutral. Six goals, a lead blown, a comeback, a red card, high tempers and a last-minute equaliser. I don’t think the overall game beats the unbelievable Pollok 3-3 Auchinleck Talbot match from last year, but it runs it pretty close. 4.5/5.
Pricing at this level is always incredible. I paid £7 for entry, £2 for two raffle strips and a further £2 for a couple hot drinks. £11 for everything I experienced is amazing value. 5/5 every single time.
Camelon finish the weekend with one of the highest scores ever produced on my adventures. They race to the top of the TSFA League Table – Season 2 with a score of 16.5/20. Please, if you’re ever able to get to Carmuirs Park for a game, do it. Even if the game is not half as good as the one, I witnessed today, you’ll leave with a sense of gratitude that you experienced this age-old venue in all its glory.
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