Champions – Bo’ness Athletic – 20/05/23
We’re in the last couple weeks of May. It’s a season defining period for a lot of clubs up and down Scotland where titles are won or lost, promotion is achieved or squandered, and relegation is confirmed or avoided. Its an incredibly exciting period and the part of the football calendar I look forward to the most. Its where emotions can ride high, celebrations can commence and hard work comes to fruition. Clubs will either look back on their season with immense satisfaction and pride or a regrettable reflection on what could have been.
This weekend, I’ll be travelling to a club who have experienced wonderful highs over the course of the season. Bo’ness Athletic have arguably been one of the most exciting teams in the country, having wrapped up the East of Scotland Third Division over a month ago. They have achieved this feat in ridiculously impressive fashion having scored a record number of goals and amassed a record number of points for any EoS team. Theres still 2 games left to play.
The beginning of Bo’ness Athletic’s journey started in 2001. Founded as Linlithgow Thistle, the club competed in the Edinburgh and Lothians amateur set-up. They were a successful outfit in their 18-year stint, winning plenty of league and cup silverware. The club’s longstanding friendship with now Lowland League club Bo’ness United then opened the door to a groundshare at Newtown Park and a rebranding to Bo’ness Athletic JFC. In 2021, Athletic were a part of the mass exodus from the juniors and joined the newly re-structured East of Scotland league, starting at the bottom of the ladder.
Athletic’s goal scoring exploits have not gone unnoticed this season. Frontmen Dylan Patterson, Grant Rose and Tiwi Daramola have an astonishing 165 goals between them, all three of whom are at the top of the EoS goal-scoring charts. Their scorelines have been high, their performances sublime and entertainment value off the charts. I felt it was a must to see them all in the flesh, especially as Daramola makes the jump up to SPFL League One next season having signed for Kelty Hearts in January.
Today marks the last home game of the league season, and thus a trophy lift to look forward to at full time. The hosts would be hoping to put on a show for the home crowd, while visitors West Calder United were hoping to spoil the party. United were chasing the third and final promotion spot and so have plenty to play for. A cracker of a match looked inevitable.
Newtown Park lies right in the centre of Bo’ness, with its brickwork walls sticking out like a sore thumb on the main road into the town. On entrance it’s a pretty impressive modern set-up, with a single covered terrace directly in front. Opposite lies an elevated terracing with plenty of amenities including a class wee bar set-up and the snack shed. Behind the goal stands another well-looked after terracing and a grass embankment behind the other. Its fair to say you get a great view of the action wherever you are in the ground.
Newtown Park has an artificial surface which in all honesty looks pretty good. It makes complete sense for lower league clubs, giving opportunities to use it to its full potential for training and renting purposes. It played well during today’s contest and is a useful tool for saving cash in the meantime. Nothing beats a good grass surface but its hard to begrudge artificial ones, especially lower down in the pyramid. I’m not sure most pundits on the likes of Sportsound can ever appreciate that.
On a whole, Newtown Park is a wonderful facility that clearly benefits the community of Bo’ness as a whole. Its mix of old and new amenities, close-knit perimeter and friendly volunteers bring a positive vibrancy to the surroundings. It provides an ample home for both Bo’ness outfits and is a superb arena to watch football in for this level. 3.5/5.
A decent sized crowd turned out to see the hosts lift the trophy. An incentive was put out for the first 100 kids aged 16 and under to head into Newtown Park for free, with a scarf presented as a thank you for their support. The youth showed up in their droves and armed themselves with Bo’ness merchandise to see their local heroes play. It’s a great way to drive a positive community spirit as well as laying the foundations for a future long-term support. Fair play.
The rest of the crowd was a nice age mix, with plenty of families in attendance. The club has a wonderful feeling around it which is obvious within the confines of Newtown Park. I really like it, and I’m looking forward to how it compares to Bo’ness United’s usual crowd. 3/5.
Quality of the Match
Right, strap yourselves in – we’ve a lot to go through.
It took a whole ten seconds for the hosts to score. After West Calder lost possession from their own kick-off, Ryan Robertson nipped in and strode into the box. He squared the ball to Tiwi Daramola who had the easy task of sweeping the ball into the net. 10 seconds in, 1-0.
However, West Calder had clearly not read the script. Literally two minutes later, they equalised. After a header was apparently deflected wide of the mark, the resulting corner landed at the feet of Andrew Jackson who fired the ball home. 3 minutes in, 1-1.
It is clear why Bo’ness Athletic have scored so many goals this season. Their midfield is incredibly resolute with the obvious technical ability to spot runs in behind from the front line. Daramola’s pace is a huge element to his game, and he was able to show it 9 minutes in. The striker was slipped in by an expertly weighted ball, giving him the simple task of rolling the ball through the legs of Dean Shaw. 9 minutes in, 2-1. Hope you’re keeping up.
West Calder should have equalised again soon after. Stevie Donaghy’s set-pieces were causing chaos in the Bo’ness penalty area, and his whipped free-kick fell to Jackson once more. With a free shot at goal, his volley was blocked well and flew over the bar.
That miss was punished. Some excellent play down Athletic’s right hand side saw Daramola in once more. From a tight angle, his shot/pass was put into the West Calder net by an unfortunate defender. I’m not sure you could credit the striker with the goal despite his good work. A 24-minute hat-trick would have been some feat though. 3-1.
The visitors were not fazed and continued their pressure. A superbly whipped cross into the Bo’ness area found Donaghy all on his own, only for the forward’s header to crash off the bar.
However, they did pull another back 5 minutes later. Despite a poor forward pass, the Bo’ness back line did not deal with the ball well. Donaghy was able to steal the ball off a host centre-back before performing an intricate piece of skill to create some space. The last act of this footballing dance was to rocket a strike into the roof of the Bo’ness net. Superb. 3-2.
Donaghy was almost at it again just before half time. After collecting a long ball with a deft touch, his curled left-foot effort went just wide of the home goal. From my angle it looked destined to nestle into the net to end a wonderful half of football. Aaaaand breathe.
Half Time: Bo’ness Athletic 3-2 West Calder United
The second half started as the first ended; with Bo’ness unable to deal with set-pieces. Another free kick into the danger area found goalkeeper Ben Duffield coming for a ball that I’m not sure he should have. The ball landed at the feet of Jason Gregory who rifled the ball into the ‘keeperless net. 3-3.
After a frustrating first half, Dylan Paterson found his feet and showed his quality through the second forty-five. An unbelievable ball over the top was controlled like a bag of cement by the tricky forward. With West Calder ‘keeper Dean Shaw aiming to meet the ball outside the penalty area, Paterson had the simple task of rounding the stopper and curling home. A truly wonderful goal. 4-3.
With West Calder’s danger man Stevie Donaghy heading off with an injury, Bo’ness began to control the match from back to front. With this, Daramola should have an undoubtedly had his hat-trick. Some excellent work by Dylan Paterson on the right saw him beat his man, reach the by-line and square the ball. However, from 12 yards, the formidable striker blazed over the bar.
Further Bo’ness pressure saw the hosts score their fifth. Some excellent build up on the right hand side saw a pinpoint cross into the box by Grant Rose. From my angle, it looked as though Daramola got the touch to send the ball into the net. However, the official Bo’ness Twitter account awarded the honour as an own goal. The striker will have to deal with *just* the 79* goals this season.
*since this, the referee has confirmed that Daramola did in fact score. This means Daramola did in fact secure his hat-trick as well as reach a remarkable 80 goals for the season.
Bo’ness continued to batter the West Calder goal and arguably should have scored a further 2 or 3 but for a combination of poor finishing and some excellent goalkeeping from Dean Shaw. I’m sure they’ll be content with the five.
Full Time: Bo’ness Athletic 5-3 West Calder United
Its apt that Athletic managed to hit the ridiculous feat of 100 points in typically exciting fashion. The forward line of Ryan Robertson, Dylan Paterson and Tiwi Daramola is just so dangerous, particularly when you have a superb mixture of hardened and technical midfielders behind them. All three were superb today.
However, football is a team game and these three would not have the chances to score if it wasn’t for the hardened defence and technical midfield behind them. A special mention must go to captain Blair Woodburn who was an absolute rock at the back and dealt with everything that came his way. Grant Rose was equally as impressive, and although he didn’t add to his huge goal tally, he set up plenty of attacks and controlled his area well. It all lays the foundation for the strikers to do their job successfully.
West Calder will be disappointed to have come away with nothing, particularly after performing so well in the first half. They created a mass number of chances and probably should have scored more than the three, which is a strange thing to say when playing away to the runaway champions. I’ve seen Stevie Donaghy twice now this season and am continued to be impressed. His technicality is superb to watch, as well as his incredibly accurate long throws. He’s a very good player for this level.
All in all, I saw a whopping 8 goals, a hugely entertaining match and saw some of the most exciting players in the Scottish lower leagues kick a ball about with ease. This is an easy 4/5.
Its amazing to think that it costs a measly £6 to watch arguably the most exciting team in the country. Put that in with affordable food and drink prices, then it is an absolute no brainer to make your way down to Newtown Park for a game. 5/5 all day every day.
Bo’ness end the day having lifted the EoS Third Division trophy and given a solid 15.5/20 from me. Given Athletic’s /cup exploits this season, I have no doubt they will thrive in the division above, even without the threat of Tiwi Daramola. They play football to their strengths, have a squad capable of playing some entertaining stuff and some wonderful individually skilled players. I look forward to seeing them make their way up the Scottish footballing ladder.