Click on link for report. Download 1997/1998 Season 1998/1999 Season Review Download 1998/1999 Season Queens 1 Arbroath 0 31/07/99 Queens 2 Arbroath 3 07/08/99 Queens 1 Berwick 4 10/08/99 Queens 3 Hamilton 0 14/08/99 Queens 1 Hearts 3 18/08/99 Queens 1 Alloa 1 21/08/99 Queens 0 Partick 2 28/08/99 Queens 1 Clyde 1 04/09/99 Queens 0 Stenhousemuir 3 11/09/99 Queens 0 Stranraer 1 18/09/99 Queens 3 Stirling 3 25/09/99 Queens 1 Ross County 1 02/10/99 Queens 3 Hamilton 2 16/10/99 Queens 2 Arbroath 5 23/10/99 Queens 1 Stenhousemuir 2 30/10/99 Queens 0 Stranraer 5 06/11/99 Queens 0 Clyde 3 09/11/99 Queens 1 Partick 2 20/11/99 Queens 0 Ross County 2 27/11/99 Queens 0 Stirling 3 11/12/99 Queens 1 Arbroath 0 18/12/99 Queens 2 Stranraer 1 3/01/00 Queens 3 Montrose 1 8/01/00 Queens 3 Stenhousemuir 1 15/01/00 Queens 2 Stirling 3 22/01/00 Queens 0 Livingston 7 29/01/00 Queens 0 Ross County 2 5/02/00 Queens 4 Partick 5 12/02/00 Queens 1 Hamilton 1 26/02/00 Queens 2 Alloa 1 4/03/00 Queens 0 Stenhousemuir 2 11/03/00 Queens 3 Clyde 0 14/03/00 Queens 0 Stranraer 0 18/03/00 Queens 1 Partick 1 25/03/00 Queens 1 Clyde 3 01/04/00 Queens 2 Stirling 2 08/04/00 Queens 1 Alloa 3 11/04/00 Queens 0 Ross County 3 15/04/00 Queens 2 Arbroath 1 22/04/00 Queens 1 Hamilton 1 29/04/00 Queens 1 Alloa 6 06/05/00 1999/2000 Season Review
1999/2000 Season Review
Well, that wasn't quite what we had expected then!
All looked good in pre-season as Queens went undefeated in their seven warm up games. After last years late run to fourth in the league our expectations were high for the season to come. However, the signs were there in that pre season that this may not be a promotion year, although it certainly didn't look like a relegation struggle year either. Bryce and Thomson had gone to Arbroath, but I felt we could overcome this one. Much more serious than that however was the loss of our new found attacking left back, Jamie McAllister, to Aberdeen, David Mathieson through an injury sustained during a pre season victory over Aberdeen, which turned out to be worse than originally thought, and most seriously of all, Derek Townsley, our only creative player, moving to Motherwell. They were soon to be followed by David Lilley to Aberdeen, and in hindsight, the loss of four Premier League quality players was probably too much for any Second Division team to suffer.
The bookies prediction of how the league would shape up was :
Hamilton 3-1 Ross County 3-1 Clyde 11-2 Partick 6-1 Alloa 7-1 Stirling 7-1 Queens 8-1 Stenhousemuir 12-1 Stranraer 12-1 Arbroath 16-1
At the time I thought they had got it wrong by putting Queens 7th, just shows you shouldn't argue with the bookies, although they got Hamilton slightly wrong!
And so we got down to the serious business, and already I was worried. The League Cup game against Arbroath was played on one of the hottest days I can remember, and this could be used as an excuse, but, despite a 1-0 extra time win, we were dire, although the local press took it as a sign we were going to win the league. When Arbroath came back to Palmerston a week later to begin our league campaign, we actually played a lot better despite going down 3-2 to a Tommy Bryce inspired side. At least we looked a bit more creative. It was to be the last time for a while!
A week later, having squeezed in a 4-1 Challenge Cup defeat at Berwick, which I'm going to skirt over, we went to Firhill for the first time to play Hamilton and were very flattered by a 3-0 victory over a very poor Hamilton side. I still wasn't confident.
The following mid week Queens scared Premier League Hearts when they led 1-0 at half time before fading to a 3-1 defeat. Again the papers got excited, again I had to point out that we were not too bad at stopping another team play but our own play was pretty poor. The unthinkable did happen in this game, however, I awarded Steven Leslie Man of the Match. And so our interest in the cups for the season was over (you're not going to make me mention that game, are you?).
Queens then went into a run which was to typify our season, a string of defeats with the occasional draw and victory over Hamilton, and in October, the one player who was beginning to look like he could make things happen, Paul Harvey, was sold to Motherwell.
Queens form then slumped, as if that was possible, as they went on a run of 7 defeats in a row till the middle of December and make bottom of the table firmly ours.
All this prompted Ken Eadie to finally get his kit on, and along with the signing of Warne Hawke, led to a brief revival of four wins in a row, culminating in our best performance of the season, a 3-1 win over Stenhousemuir, who were now looking like the team we were most likely to catch. However, the next week, a 3-2 defeat against Stirling at Palmerston didn't truly reflect by how much we had been slaughtered. The cup defeat against Livingston the next week did! 7-0, and as the old saying goes, we was lucky to get nil! This was to prove to be Steven Leslie's last game for Queens, how appropriate.
And so our season went back into it's pattern, mainly defeats, the occasional draw and win over Hamilton (and a 3-0 win over champions elect, Clyde, to totally confuse the issue!). By April it was down to Queens, Stenhousemuir, Hamilton and Stirling as to who was going down and with six games to go I did a bit of a prediction thingy which predicted that Queens would survive. And I was right, although I didn't quite predict how correctly.
14th April, 2000.
Hamilton had gone on strike before a game at Stenhousemuir a few weeks earlier and on this day, Queens season was saved as the league decided to punish Hamilton by deducting them 15 points. The following week Queens won at Arbroath, Hamilton lost to Ross County and we were saved. The rest of the season was about politics, as we waited to find out about Hamilton's appeal, but Queens form didn't improve and we would be relegated if Hamilton succeeded. Ironically, our final home game of the season was against Hamilton, and although we only drew 1-1, our biggest home league crowd of the season showed them just why the league would rather have us stay up! With one game to go, the punishment was confirmed and in the most unusual and unsatisfactory of circumstances we had avoid relegation.
My Own Awards : Player of the Season : Sandy Hodge Goal of the Season : Steve Mallan v Stirling (25/9/99) Game of the Season : Stenhousemuir at Palmerston (15/1/00 3-1) Man of the Match Awards : Steve Mallan 3 Dennis Boyle 3 5 others had 2 awards 9 others each had 1 award (including a girl goalkeeper from the half time shoot in!). Site Player of the Season : Sandy Hodge : 3 Votes Steve Mallan : 2 Votes John Dickson : 2 Votes Site Goal of the Season : Denis Boyle - Partick (A) - 12/2/00 : 4 Votes Sandy Hodge - Clyde (H) - 14/3/00 : 3 Votes
Only 9 votes received this year, I don't know if the site is just less popular (I still get plenty feedback on other matters) or it just shows the response to this season.
With a couple of games to go, George Rowe and Ken Eadie resigned and it was immediately announced that John Connolly, from North East England side Ashington, would be taking over, the obvious plan to try to tap the potential of the North East for Queens. Mr C. soon made his mark by freeing 9 player (See News Story) and announcing he had signed 7 North East players for next season with another 8 to come. My recommendations from the few players left is :
David Mathieson : Move heaven and earth to keep him, but it could be a struggle, any big team worth their salt should be in for him.
Alistair McMillan : Haven't been convinced by him, was talk of him going to Stoke at one time, don't think we'd miss him too much.
Paul Stewart : Seems like a nice guy but I just Don't think he quite has the ability required.
George Rowe : Suffered under the extra responsibility this year but his experience will be vital.
Kevin Robison : Never really let us down, worthy of another go.
Andy Aitken : Had a poor season, but is still a very good player, and as I have said before, Central Defenders can be made to look bad by lack of support from midfield.
Sandy Hodge : Wasn't convinced by him to start with but really came on to eventually win my Player of the Season award. Really looks like he could develop into a top player.
John Dickson : Our best signing last season, worthy of another go.
Denis Boyle : Received a lot of abuse last season but is probably our best prospect.
Geoff Patterson : Only got a couple of games last season but looked a good young player.
Brian Caldwell : Seemed to go out of favour towards the end of the season but looks another good prospect.
Mark Weir : Tried to off load him to Albion Rovers during the season, signed people during the season to replace him, don't think they fancy him but I'm told he still has a year of his contract to run.
Warne Hawke : Possibly our most consistent performer of last season (won the Official Site's Man of the Match Award) and would benefit from more support. Class player.
Steve Mallan : Ditto. The more support bit anyway. Consistently our top scorer and you can't get rid of him, can you?
Saturday, 6th April, 2000 Recreation Ground, Alloa Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 714 Queens 1 Alloa 6 Eadie (88) Christie (31) Little (38) Beaton (40) Walker (48,66) Robison (54 og)
Queens Team : Mathieson, Stewart, Hodge (Gallagher 48), Robison, Aitken, Boyle (Eadie 45), Dickson, McMillan, Adams, Mallan, Weir - unused sub : Hillcoat
As you read this I am sunning myself in Majorca (unless you have found out that I cheated by posting this on the Friday night). For a report on the Alloa game go to the Official Site.
Saturday, 29th April, 2000 Palmerston Park, Dumfries Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 2,084 Queens 1 Hamilton 1 Rowe (48) Quitongo (39)
Queens Team : Mathieson, Robison, Hodge, Rowe, Aitken, Duncan, Adams, McMillan, Hawke, Eadie, Weir (Dickson 70) - unused subs : Gallagher, Kerr
What a strange day. Thanks to the SFA/League, nobody knows what the significance of today's scoreline is. One thing for sure is that Queens can no longer stay up on merit, now being 4 points behind Stenhousemuir with only the one game to play. But how fair was it on Queens that today we were playing a team who a couple of weeks ago would have had nothing to play for today but were put in the position of having to assume that they were fighting for their lives today. Would Hamilton really have put in as much effort if they had known for sure they weren't going to be relegated? I don't think so. Queens fans responded well to Ronnie Bradford's gesture of halving the entry money as 2,084 turned up for our biggest league gate of the season. The sheets had been moved along a section of the new stand to make room for the expected Hamilton support, but in the end they would be lucky if they made up the 84. Still, beats their average home gate! My mate was at his first game of the season and I went to sit with him in the almost full main stand instead of my usual enclosure space. Because I was having a yap to him, I didn't take as many notes as usual (to be honest, there weren't that many to take), but I also thought that the occasion and atmosphere today were probably more important than events on the pitch. To be honest, I think the uncertainty of what was going on also affected the crowd as there wasn't the amount of singing you might have expected, and again, this is something which I feel was caused by the league and FA. So, it may be a couple of weeks before we know our fate, and to be honest, I still think we deserve to go down, but as I have just pointed out, if Hamilton end up not being punished atoll, then we have been unfairly punished over the last couple of weeks.
Queens were very flat in the first half, not showing the spirit you would expect from a team fighting for survival, as they attacked the empty Terregles Street end, which in itself must be off putting when you are needing all the backing available. From my seat in the stand, the crowd didn't look that big at this point and as I said, the atmosphere was also a bit flat. After a non eventful first 10 minutes the first real action came when Hawke found some space in the box but looked to have lost the ball before he went down and made a half hearted appeal for a penalty. Five minutes later Quitongo went on yet another run through the Queens defence, taking over from were he left of at Firhill, but like at Firhill, miss hit his shot which looped into the air, hit the bar and rebounded to safety. The next 15 minutes minutes was very flat as my mates attention turned to the chips that the little boy next to him was eating, to be fair, they were more appetising than the football. In 30 minutes a long range effort from Hamilton had Mathieson scrambling across his goal as the ball went wide. Then came Queens best chance of the half when Weir crossed to the unmarked Hawke at the back post but Warren just couldn't get above the ball and put his header over. Disaster struck in 38 minutes when a left wing cross was flicked on and Quitongo actually connect with a sweet volley to put Hamilton into the lead. Queens heads looked to go down as the rest of the half was played out without incident.
The massed pipes and drums of the 'Queens Town Band' played at half time (OK, there weren't that many of them but it was a nice change and they were good) as the standing crowd made their way round to the covered end, and it was only then that I realised how much the crowd had been expanded on the usual. In all the excitement this week, I hadn't realised that Stirling and Stenhousemuir were playing each other today but it was no surprise to learn that they were drawing 0-0 at half time. I'm sure I saw big Jim Thomson in the stand at half time. Can anyone confirm this?
Queens came out for the second half with all guns blazing, spurred on by the new found enthusiasm of the covered end supporters. 3 minutes into the half, Weir's first attempt at a corner was cleared back out to him and his second cross found George Rowe in the six yard box to do what he used to do so well, head home his first goal of the season. This game showed already that George was definitely affected by his spell as player manager, today was much more like the old George and he was awarded the sponsors Man of the Match award. A minute later Weir had a good effort just over and a couple of minutes later the Hamilton defence made a right hash of it almost allowing Hawke in, although how the ref missed the fact that the keeper had handled the back pass is beyond me. A minute later and Eadie out paced the defence (Yes, Eadie) but just when I'd have put money on him scoring, blazed the ball over. I think Ken was just trying too hard today and it didn't really go too well for him. Queens challenge and the backing of the support then began to fizzle out again and very little happened until the last 5 minutes. Adams, now on the left wing, skinned his man and sent over a beautiful left foot cross (ye, I was surprised too) but Eadie's header brought out the best save of the match from their keeper. Queens had another couple of changes from free kicks, one put over by McMillan and one blasted wide by Rowe, both of which I would have preferred to have seen pumped into a crowded box, but the final whistle came with Queens not really threatening to get the goal which could have proved to be all important.
As the final whistle blew, Alex put on The Great Escape, but nobody seamed to know how to react. Most stayed on to applaud the team of the pitch, some just drifted away, nobody booed, which was good. The looks on the Hamilton fans faces told you they felt the same as us, they just don't know what fate awaits them. What a way to end the season at home. Thanks SFA! When I got back to the car the radio was going on about what a great advert the Forfar-Cowdenbeath game had been for the 3rd Division. I'll tell you one thing, I won't be buying it. If we do go down through, as the song says (nearly) "I'll be back next year" and hopefully a good proportion of today's crowd will join me. In the meantime, we can only sit and wait (And go to Majorca on our Holidays!)
Man of the Match - I'll agree with the sponsors and give it to the born again George Rowe.
Ronnie Bradford's gamble of half-price entrance to Palmerston paid off, with the crowd being almost double our usual home gate. Unfortunately, the so called loyal Hamilton support didn't turn out in the large number that they threatened us with. I reckon there was little more than 75, of whom only a dozen or so were actually demonstrating against the Accies board. Hopefully Queen's got a financial boost from the inflated crowd, with a large queue at the shop both before and after the game, and also extra programme sales.
A pipe band was playing when I entered the Stadium, but it wasn't quite the same as being at Hampden, or even Fir Park for the Challenge Cup Final. Queen's fans got right behind the team from the start, although didn't sound as noisy in the first half as the majority of the Choir appeared to be in the Terregles St. enclosure. Queen's started bright, and seemed to have much of the ball, however Hamilton looked dangerous on the break, especially the diminutive Quitongo. It was Quitongo who had the first real chance of the game when he broke free on the right and lobbed the advancing Mathieson in the 15th minute. However you could hear the sighs of relief around the ground when it clipped the bar and went over. This seemed to lift Hamilton a bit, and they started pressing for a goal. Queens best chance of the half came on the half hour when Warren Hawke couldn't get above a Weir cross, and the ball flew well over the bar. Just as the first half was beginning to look goal-less, Quitongo latched on to a loose ball, and chipped Mathieson somewhat similar to his earlier effort, but this time found the net. The small band of protesters in the Hamilton end were ecstatic, and one fool ended up on the pitch. When you're worried about your team being deducted enough points to be relegate, surely this is the last thing you would do. Certainly, it has left me with even less sympathy for Accies now.
The Queen's heads went down a little, but the players were applauded off at the interval, though some booing was reserved for Quitongo, who had let his great skills down a couple of times by conning the Ref. with what was his trademark in his previous spell at Hamilton, the dive. I though Jose had matured a bit after his spell at Hearts, as he impressed me couple of months ago at Firhill. Unfortunately, he appears to have spent too much time with Darren Henderson, who wasn't playing today.
The pipe band played again at half-time, and Alex Wilson managed to dig out a copy of the Great Escape. The band must have been enjoying themselves, as they took their time leaving the pitch when the players were ready to re-start the match, leaving the referee looking very bemused. There was no change at half-time, but Queen's had clearly set out to attack for the second half, and were on the offensive from the whistle. For once Queens' scored the early goal, rather than concede it. We had a succession of corners, before a Mark Weir one ended back at him, and when he crossed in Geordie Rowe got up well to header home a great goal, send the packed covered enclosure wild. This started up the great escape, this seemed to really lift the players. Sandy Hodge started surging forward, with Mark Weir, often dropping back to provide cover for him. Weir and Hodge have been playing well together recently, and I wouldn't mind seeing them doing more of the same next season.
Hamilton started to resort to time wasting, and diving, and they obviously wanted the draw. Quitongo really enraged the crowd when Andy Aitken collided with him during a tackle it was Aitken who went down first, but Quitongo took a look at him, then flung (the only way I can describe it) himself to the ground .He reminded me of a dog rolling in smells with his "I've been hit Sarge" impression on the grass. This prompted the Ref to award Hamilton the freekick, and suddenly Quitongo was better. Now I do hope that Hamilton are relegated, because this was cheating in it's crudest form.
It was all Queen's for the remainder of the game, though it was constantly interrupted for apparent injuries to Hamilton players, and the Commonwealth Diving team must have been getting worried. Sandy Hodge went close, and had a couple of good crosses. Ken Eadie missed the kind of chance that you would have expected him to score, when he was one on one with the keeper. Queen's got another succession of corners near the end, and also a couple of freekicks at the edge of the box, one which McMillan put harmlessly over, and a cracker of a low drive from Geordie Rowe, which was only inches past the post with the keeper well beat.
The final whistle went, and many true fans stayed to give Queen's a standing ovation off the pitch, which seemed gratefully received. Outside the ground the small band of protesters waited patiently for their team and board to emerge. No doubt there would have been many more, had it not been that they had already been employed to head to London for the May Day protests planned there!
Queen's first half performance wasn't great, but the players did work hard enough, barely deserved to be a goal down at the interval. The second half performance was much better, and hopefully John Connelly saw a lot of what we've got. Ally McMillan has played much better the midfield in recent games, Kevin Robison performed well at right back. Mark Weir looked decent on the left wing, but could still chase a little harder. George Rowe got the sponsors man of the match, but my personal choice is Sandy Hodge who was excellent through out, and had a moment of magic with a great run in the first half which unfortunately came to nothing.
e-Doonhamer signing out for 1999-2000.
Saturday, 22nd April, 2000
Gayfield, Arbroath Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 589 Queens 2 Arbroath 1 Hawke (2) Raeside (4) Eadie (13) Crawford (Off 88)
Queens place in the 2nd Division next year has been assured today by our win at Arbroath and Hamilton's defeat to Ross County. I don't know about you, but I feel an amazing anti climax in that this is totally undeserved. Stenhousemuir's win today means they and Stirling are now 5 points ahead of us. Let's hope we can win our final 2 games and overhaul at least one of them so I at least can feel a bit less guilty.
Well, I have now managed to stumble out of my bed and stagger to the computer to try and attempt a match report. Please do not be disappointed if it is not of the usual standard, mind you my usual standard is disappointing too!
The talk in the Tutties Neuk centred on one thing, and one thing only. Yup, you guessed it Silverstone, uh only kidding. Yes, never in our wildest dreams could we have found ourselves needing just a Queen's victory and a Hamilton defeat. This time last week I was thinking "if Arbroath beat us, we are DOWN". This time last week, Arbroath were certainties to beat us. This was one of those days were deep down you knew we were going to win, and Accies would be beat, but you didn't dare say it for fear of tempting fate. The celebrations began shortly after 1pm when, in my view, the most loyal supporters in the world, the Doonhamers Travel Club poured of the bus at the door to the Tutties Neuk, into the bar and turned it into a little part of Dumfries. Reading fan profiles in Queens' match programme will tell you that this is many fan's favourite destination, and it is easy to see why, while many pubs do not prepare themselves for an influx of Doonhamers, the host of Tutties' Nuek always has plenty of good looking female staff willing to satisfy our thirst. I think many of the celebrations to follow were more in line that we are going back to the Tutties' next season, rather than that we were saved!
What was the line-up going to be today? Well it began to be answered when Steven Leslie, Bryan Caldwell and Denis Boyle arrived in the pub, they couldn't divulge the team, but knew that they weren't in it. Leslie and Boyle have both found themselves in the past to be criticised for lack of commitment, but when they come in to a pub, and take time to talk to fans, smiling and greeting them like friends, you cannot doubt their commitment to Queens'. A while later Ronnie Bradford came in with Craig Paterson, and another chap whose name escapes me. It was nice and touching to see Ronnie come in and greet the fan's, especially as he has not had his troubles to seek with his own recent illness. Indeed, he still doesn't look 100%, but I'm sure once he regains his health we have a Chairman fitting to fill the boots of Norman Blount.
I left the pub at 2:55pm, and was in the ground in time to see the kick-off. A mist had descended across Gayfield and I wondered aloud if the game would finish. The first player in a Queen's shirt I saw was Eadie, so that answered the question of who would be up front with Hawke. The majority of Queen's fans were at the north end of the ground, I couldn't see them but I could hear the theme tune to "the Great Escape". The game began with Queen's shooting south, and the fans were only half way round the terracing when Warren Hawke picked up on a defensive error to coolly lob Hinchcliffe, the ball hadn't even hit the back of the net and bedlam had let loose. Hawke ran across to the fans still making their way round and almost joined them. The Great Escape increased by several decibels, and rarely lowered in volume for the rest of the game. As the fans finally got behind the goal, there was much hand shaking, hugging and smiles wider than the Nith. Arbroath went right up the pitch and scored, the mist obscured most of it for me, but I saw a low cross going in, and then the ball rustling the back of the net. The Great Escape didn't even stutter, indeed I heard one fan exclaim "they've just scored you know" and another retort "so?". This was going to be our day.
Queen's moved forward with wave after wave of attack, the players were really responding to the fans. Then news came through that Hamilton had dropped behind at Firhill, and again bedlam ensued on the terracing. I don't know if this news filtered through to the players, but they certainly began attacking with even more gusto. It was only a matter of minutes before we were back in the lead, After some good football from Queen's an Arbroath player managed to clear the ball out for a throw, in line with the eighteen yard line, Sandy Hodge came up to take it, and launched it into the box Geordie Cloy style, Eadie took the credit for the goal, but it was only the deftest of touches with his head, and it was in the back of the net. The fans chanted "Eadie, Eadie," then it became "Egor, Egor" and with out so much as an intake of air "the great escape" began again. Queen's really started turning the screw, and I began to wonder if it was going to be a rout, Hinchcliffe was in magnificent form as he denied Queen's time and time again. Shots whizzed by the post and over the bar, Queen's were determined to finish the issue of relegation off. News filtered through of another goal at Firhill, initially it was suggested that Accies' had equalised, but it was more joy when we heard it was two nil to County. The decibels went up again, fans were running about, bouncing up and down the terracing. Women in their fifties were clapping along to "the Great Escape", several fans went topless, unfortunately they were all male. Kids little more than toddlers were smiling and laughing at their fathers celebrations. Of course I remained calm and uninvolved in the party that was going on round about me. Not!
The referee was again shocking, he was awarding US everything. The icing on the cake was the penalty award, Hawke ran into the box with the ball, but pushed it just too far in front to catch, the Arbroath defender appeared to put his hand on Hawke's back, and he stumbled, with the ball already lost, he landed on the pitch and looked disbelieved himself as the ref pointed to the spot. Hawke hadn't dived, but it wasn't a penalty. Surprisingly it was Dickson, and not Eadie, who placed the ball on the spot and took a step back. He ran up and sent the keeper the wrong way, but watched with disbelief as the ball clanged the outside of the post and went by. Arbroath must have felt justice had been done.
The remainder of the half was played with Arbroath camped in their own half. The Great Escape continued unabated, though one or two fans appeared to be flagging, the beer in the Tutties' Neuk beginning to take effect. The half-time whistle went, and the roof was almost raised off the terracing. There was complete silence for half-time results, until the Hamilton result came through, and once again celebrations started up all round the North end of the ground. One fan complained he couldn't hear the rest of the results, but nobody cared, there were only two games that mattered.
The second half was a bit of an anti-climax, most of the game was played in the midfield, and the game appeared to be meaningless. The singing in the Queens' end never stopped, as fans began digging out the old classics;- From the Bonnie Banks...; We may travel by the railwayline...; Order, order, we are the border; We drink beer, we drink wine, we are the Scottish Borderline. I think you get the picture. At times the mist completely obscured the opposite end of the ground, and I began to worry that the ref might decide the game was unplayable. Tam Bryce came on for Arbroath, and seemed to re-ignite them. Indeed he had the best chance of the second forty-five when Mathieson appeared to turn a great effort over. We got more nervous as the game went on, it was turning from The Great Escape to The Longest Day as time seemed to stand still. Our heads were lifted when we heard that Ross County had scored again. The referee must have sensed how nervous the fans were, because he gave us hope when he showed the red-card to an Arbroath man to finish the game for them. It hadn't been a dirty game, and although it was bad tackle from John Crawford on Hawke, it was not malicious, more clumsy. Hawke, and other players attempted to persuade the referee that his action was over the top, but Crawford still walked. Minutes later it was all over, the fans were singing with renewed gusto. McMillan, Hodge and Hawke turned to the fans raised their hands above theirs heads and began marching over, other players were heading for the tunnel, only to find Geordie Rowe turning them around and sending them to the fans. A well known loyal Queen's fan had stressed in the final minutes that no fan should go on the pitch, for fear of a reprimand from the SFL, and thankfully no one did. The fans were bouncing on the terracing, and the players saluted them.
As I left the ground, en-masse with the choir, George Rowe's father came up grinning from ear to ear informing us all that County had won three nil. Oh what a day!
My capacity for alcohol suddenly increased last night, and it was heading for four am when I hit the sack.
The man of the match yesterday is a collective one, the team were magnificent, but were outshone by the supporters. The support made me proud to be a Queen's fan, I don't know how we managed to sing for two hours and more, we just did. I feel sorry for the Hamilton supporters, and players, but at the end of the day their board deserves the punishment that was dished out.
Do do do do, do do do do. do do do do do!
e-Doonhamer. nursing a hangover.
Saturday, 15th April, 2000 Palmerston Park, Dumfries Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 1,010 Queens 0 Ross County 3 Irving (38) Bone (61) Kinnaird (71)
Queens Team : Mathieson, McMillan (Adams 77), Hodge, Robison, Aitken, Duncan, Dickson, Boyle (Kerr 56), Hawke, Rowe, Weir - unused sub - Gallagher
I suppose it's quite appropriate that one of our worst performances of the season (and it had a few to beat) has more than likely hammered the final nail into our coffin. Long before the end of the game, the rapidly emptying ground had taken on the atmosphere of a funeral parlour. We are as good as resigned to our fate, although I'm sure more than me heard that Stenny had lost 7-0 at Clyde and thought, 'maybe just a little chance'. Such is being a Queens fan. I was wrong in my preview (no, it's true) in that Andy Aitken had finished his suspension and returned to the centre of the defence. George Rowe said in the paper that the suspended Steve Mallan would be replaced from within the squad and since the transfer deadline passed some weeks ago I suppose that made sense! By the way, Jim McCormick stood in for me for the Border T.V. interview -:). I was thinking outside as I wandered around with my £10.00 allowance how much better an idea Stirling had on the program selling front, i.e. ambush you cash in hand as you enter the ground. I had to do without a program this week due to my lack of change. Why not sell some inside the ground?
The question of how George Rowe, Kevin Robison and Andy Aitken would combine was soon answered when Robison and Aitken went into central defence and Rowe went to right midfield, it looked like to take care of danger man Paul Kinnaird, although a lot of good that did. Queens threatened first in what was actually to be quite an even first half when Hawke and his forward partner (to start with anyway) Dickson, almost pulled of a cute 1-2 on the edge of the box. Straight away, McMillan totally miss hit a cross but Rowe chased it to the line and hooked the ball across for Hawke to head comfortably into Henry Smith/Nicky Walker's hands (whichever one it was, I can never tell them apart!). The travelling Ross supporters (about 40 made the long journey) thought they had taken the lead after 11 minutes, as did I, but it turned out that Mathieson had turned the ball into the side netting following a goalmouth scramble. Then a complete miss hit by Robison presented a chance which Mathieson saved comfortably. In 15 minutes McMillan was yellow carded for a late and wild challenge and Paul Kinnaird took the opportunity of the break in play to start an argument with a guy in front of me in the enclosure. I don't know if he has a good memory or what but he actually had an argument with the same guy in the last Palmerston encounter. And he's not one of our louder fans. A 30th minute scramble from a Queens corner almost saw Rowe bundle the ball over the line. A minute later at the other end McMillan stopped to claim a free kick and almost let Kinnaird in but Aitken did well to clear the danger. Then another of those crazy refereeing decisions that we seem to see all too often. A defender leapt at Warren Hawke from about 5 yards away and flew right through him as he almost broke him in half. However, it turns out that he was forced to launch this assault because Hawke had made a back for him! The 34th minute saw yet another goalmouth scramble, this time Hodge's shot ended in the side netting. Another 5 minutes passed before Robison missed a long clearance allowing a 2 on 2 situation to develop but the pass was too far and Queens got it away for a corner. From the corner, Queens defensive frailties showed again as Irving rose unchallenged to head home an easy goal. Round about this time Rowe and Dickson made the obvious switch of positions. A minute from half time a nice Queens move finished with Hawke creating space for Weir on the left edge of the box but the shot was easily saved. Weir was then decapitated by Irving but this didn't even earn the big sheep farmer (was that what they called him?) a talking too. Nobody was too surprised then when we went in 1-0 down at half time despite having put up a not too bad showing.
There was yet another half time shoot out between two school sides. This was a good idea to start with but they are starting too spread it a little thin. How about some dancing girls next time?
Queens started the second half with a nice spell of sustained pressure which was eventually brought to an end when Rowe was penalised by the ref for ..........., well, you tell me. Then, just in front of us, 2 Ross players absolutely waked into one another in what looked like a very nasty clash of heads. I don't blame Neil Cooper for coming onto the pitch to see how his players were, and some of the Queens support were out of order for getting onto him for doing so, but he was out of order to then conduct a team meeting on the pitch, and the ref was out of order for not stopping it. Cooper then conducted a running argument with the fans for much of the rest of the game (he'd already had a couple of little run ins before this). There are some arses in Scottish Football but Neil Cooper has to be the biggest one! Anyway, back to the fate of the 2 players, they both had to go off, one was replaced straight away and I think had to go to hospital (hope he's OK, as I said, some Queens fans were out of order to be more concerned with Cooper on the pitch than his condition) while the other guy reappeared after about 5 minutes. Queens responded by bringing Kerr on for the ineffectual Boyle (dam, I thought I'd got that Sunday Post talk out of my system). The game had now become quite dull (or did I just miss it all while I was having a chat with a mate?) but the next action was the killer blow. A left wing cross saw Bone about a yard out with a free header. Mathieson parried his first header but Bone was on hand to easily tuck away the rebound. Ten minutes later it was Kinnaird's turn to be awarded the freedom of Palmerston as he had all the time in the world to put away number three from the left edge of the box. And that was about that. As the stands emptied rapidamundo Adams replaced McMillan, meaning Rowe now occupied his 3rd position of the day at right back, but it was much too little much too late. Allan Kerr, however, nearly ruined my Goal of the Season poll when he first timed a Charlie Adams lay off with a full volley from about 40 yards which would have finished all the voting if it hadn't been stopped by the post. And it would have been totally meaningless. And that ass, Cooper, with his team 3 up and heading for promotion, still wasn't happy and continued to argue with supporters. I actually felt sorry for him. By the time the game finished there weren't many of the still loyal 1,000 Queens fans left in the ground to boo the team off.
At least one good thing happened today,on the way home. I usually sit for ages waiting to get onto Terregles Street and then Castle Douglas Road as a queue of stationery traffic steadfastly refuse to let me into the line. However, today I was allowed out at both junctions without having to wait! And so, SWIFT MOBILE TAXIS have earned themselves a free mention and I'll be looking them up the next time I need a taxi (don't get over exited, it's not that often), sorry, I don't know who the other person was but thanks anyway. Stenhousemuir's Livingston like performance at Clyde at least left us with some hope, but I think most of us now accept it's Albion Rovers next year.
Man of the Match - Sponsors went for Andy Aitken (he did have a good spell in the first half) but I'm finding it very difficult to think of anyone who deserved this accolade so for the second time this year I'm not awarding one.
The performance was so bad yesterday that I'm struggling, but here goes: -
There were a number of changes on the park for Queen's today, everyone had expected Andy Aitken and Geordie Rowe to return from suspension, but no one expected us to have a new centre forward! Rowe picked himself for the number ten shirt, replacing the suspended Stevie Mallan, who watched the game from the enclosure along side Marc Cleeland and Steven Leslie. These guys aren't getting picked (Leslie's injured) but at least they are making the effort to support the team.
The game started fairly slowly, and the opening period really had nothing worth noting. Despite Geordie's shirt number, he was actually playing on the right wing, with Dickson playing up front along side Hawke. This really wasn't working as Rowe seemed to be pulled further and further back covering the defence were McMillan was having a particularly poor game. This also appeared to pull Dickson out to the right, leaving Hawke as our sole attacker. Queen's seemed intent on pumping high balls into Hawke, however this was largely ineffectual (oh,oh Stuart's Sunday post talk is spreading), as the County defence had about 3 large defenders built like cart horses snuffing everything out. One notable weakness of County was Nick Walker in goals who struggled with the high crosses coming in from John Dickson. Walker dropped the ball at least three times in the first forty-five, each time sparking off a goalmouth scramble which the Ross County defenders eventually managed to clear a few times. Mark Weir also hit the side netting in our only other real chance of the half. Geordie had promised 14 players with the attitude of Archie Bell(?!) in his programme notes, however the team was really lacklustre, with a number of players out of position. The first half really was a bore, and it was hard to pay attention to the match. The ground lacked atmosphere, with only 30 or 40 travelling fans in the away end of the new stand. I know it's a hell of a trip, but when your team is on the verge of clinching promotion, surely you make an effort? It was reassuring to see Andy Aitken back in defence, and just to prove his worth he made two or three crucial tackles to keep the scoreline level. Neither team was playing well, but it was no surprise when Brian Irvine opened the scoring in the 38th minute when he headed home a Kinnaird cross.
The feeling at half time was that we were perhaps a bit unfortunate to be a goal down, but I must confess that I didn't have much hope of us getting 3 points at this stage. The referee was another shocker, but his mistakes were fairly even with both teams getting a number of freekicks which baffled everybody. However he infuriated the home support early on when he booked McMillan for a late tackle on Mark Duthie. He was late, but there was absolutely no contact, and Duthie cried out in pain BEFORE the tackle was made. I remember a similar incident at our first game at Stranraer when a Queens' player (Rowe, I think) was booked after a Stranraer player screamed and performed an acrobatic dive right in front of the referee. I have no idea who he was, as the programme said he was Martindale, but the teamsheet named him as Smith.
Queens' had a bit of a flurry at the start of the second half, with Weir and Hodge both getting a couple of decent crosses in from the left. Then came a sickening incident when two Ross County players clashed heads and lay lifeless on the pitch. Credit to the referee, he stopped the game immediately and summoned the stretcher. The first player managed to get to his feet, but Brian Irvine remained motionless on the pitch. After treatment both players left the pitch, Irvine on the stretcher and the other player ushered of by the physio. The players were applauded off by the majority of the crowd, but Neale Copper infuriated the home support by remaining on the pitch to conduct a team talk. The referee was at first oblivious to this, but eventually shepherded him off. Irvine was replaced immediately, but I'm not sure what happened with the second player. They was again nothing really notable after this until the hour mark when that constant thorn in our side, Alex Bone, put the Dingwall side two up. Mathieson couldn't hold a shot from a County player and Bone gratefully blasted the rebound home. The move had all began with a mistake from Kerr, who had only just come on to replace Boyle. It was all over as a contest, and fans began heading for the exits. Ten minutes later, County extended their lead when Paul Kinnaird, another man who always performs well against us, thundered home a long ball past the despairing Mathieson. The heads were hanging low now, and the remainder of the game was uneventful, though every time County attacked you felt they may add another goal. Kerr had a late shot hit the post, but we wouldn't have deserved the goal, and it would have flattered Kerr who has been really poor in the last couple of games. When the final whistle went there were a few boos, mostly from the stand surprise, surprise. I left the ground with ease, as the majority of the crowd were long gone.
This match really summed up our season, and I'm afraid that although we can still avoid relegation, it is very unlikely, and would probably also be undeserved. We really missed Stevie Mallan today, and I can't see where we will get goals from while he serves out his suspension. It almost seems a chore in picking man of the match, as barely anyone gets pass marks. Hodge and Weir were reliable on the left side, Mathieson made a number of good saves, and Warren Hawke put himself about a bit up front, but was obviously missing Mallan. Only Andy Aitken deserves the award though, and he was also the sponsors choice. He kept trying, and forayed forward on a few occasions to give the attack some support. I'm afraid it will be unlikely to be with us next season, as surely a bigger club will snap up this great young player.
The significance of the result was compounded when I heard that Stenhousemuir had been humped seven nil by Clyde. Had we reversed the score against County then we would have had a fighting chance of staying up. On the subject of Clyde, they only had 23 more of a crowd than us for their game, and I find that really disappointing for a team who are about to be crowned champions.
Tuesday, 11th April, 2000 Recreation Park, Alloa Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : Queens 1 Alloa 3 Mallan (89) Nish (59,65) Cameron (78)
Queens Team : Mathieson, McMillan, Hodge, Robison, Kerr, Duncan, Adams, Gallagher, Hawke, Mallan, Weir. Subs: - Dickson, Stewart and Boyle.
Two reports from a Tuesday night away game, wow! e-Doonhamer was not sure if he would be able to make the game so the guy who has probably been involved in as much controvosy as anyone on the Official Message Board, Ewan Lithgow, has agreed to help out with a report.
First up : e-Doonhamer
Alloa 3 Queen's 1. It doesn't look good, does it? However that's only half the story, and had we taken some of our first half chances, we could have been celebrating tonight.
The defence remained the same as Saturday's line up with McMillan replacing the injured Stewart at right back. In midfield, a couple of surprises as Adams replaced Dickson on the right wing, and Denis Boyle surprisingly dropped to the bench. Weir playing out on the left instead.
Queen's were almost a goal down after less than 30 seconds, as Alloa took advantage of the kick off and shooting down hill immediately. The fans were still moving behind the respective opposition goals, when an Alloa player smacked a shot just over the bar. The next ten minutes or so were uneventful as the ball seemed to be punted from one end of the park to the other, with neither side creating much. Queen's though had a couple of early chances, though nothing to trouble the keeper. Queen's started to improve, as the 4-4-2 set up started to work, with Sandy Hodge giving some good runs up the left wing, and looking comfortable working with Mark Weir, who put one or two early crosses into the box to test the keeper. At the other side of the park though Charlie Adams looked uncomfortable as a right wing, and got caught in possession a few times. This upset a few of the fairly large travelling support, who started to abuse him everytime he had the ball. Oh dear, some people never learn! Charlie actually put in a fair bit of effort, he is just not suited to that role. It was Chico himself who had the best chance of the half, when he lobbed a defender and the ball beat the keeper who was relieved to hear the ball clatter the crossbar.
Alloa pulled one or two fine saves from Mathieson at the other end of the park, as they looked sharp on the break. Either Robison or Duncan (I'm not sure) saved us with a goal line clearance, but it was the Doonhamers who had most of the possession and we could have been at least three up at half time, Stevie Mallan saw the ball get the wrong side of the post after some good work with him and Hawke, and Mark Weir was also unlucky with a good effort. The keeper did well to catch a high Mark Weir cross with Hawke waiting at the far post, and he would surely have scored with the head had the on loan keeper not risen for the ball. When the whistle went for half time, it was Queen's who went in with their heads high, and the applause of the support behind them, the only thing missing was a goal.
With Queen's attacking down hill for the second half, we were looking for even more pressure on the Alloa defence. We weren't disappointed, as Queen's followed the example of Alloa and went on the offensive right away some more great work on the left by Hodge and Weir, almost saw us take the lead. From this point though, Alloa started to find their feet, and David Mathieson was forced into a string of fine saves, as the midfield of Queen's seemed to lose the plot. Kerr was having a poor game by now, and Alloa started taking the ball to Queen's through the centre, before knocking the ball on to the wings. Alloa were still counter attacking, but it was working well , and in the 58th minute Colin Nish took advantage of some poor defending to knock the ball home. The effect of this was, perhaps, disastrous. Firstly, the heads of the Queen's players went down, and secondly some so called fans started really getting on the backs of the players, Charlie Adams for the second game running coming in for a torrent of abuse, despite the fact that he was playing out of position. The fans were calling for a substitution, and it wasn't long in coming. Dickson came on, rather surprisingly replacing Hawke. This upset some of the fans even more, with some now venting anger and frustration at Ken Eadie. What was more surprising was that Dickson didn't switch with Adams, but filled in Hawke's position up front. Little more that sixty seconds later Nish got his second, and more or less finished the game. Alan Kerr seemed to be caught out again, and Alloa raced forward. Our defence was all at sea and Nish blasted the ball into the back of the net. Queen's kept trying though, and Mallan, Hodge and Weir kept on running, and kept on chasing every ball. Adams was still trying too, but was damned for not chasing balls, and damned if he did! It is little wonder he didn't perform with some of the abuse he was getting, and one fan in particular even tried to have an argument with him. This chap has a thing about Adams anyway, but it was encouraging some of the youths in the support to have a go as well. The fans seemed divided at this point, as some suggested a number of substitutions, while others tried to lift the team. What actually cooled this down was a sudden down pour which moved everybody, bar the ball boys,under the cover of the enclosure. Just before this we almost got back in the game when a great shot from Gallagher (I think) was palmed of the post by the keeper, and out of play. The Queen's support was incensed when the referee (Mr Toner, who needs no introduction) gave a bye kick.
Queen's kept plodding away, but some of the spirit was gone, and it was no surprise when the defence was breached again and Alloa's top scorer Cameron got in on the act. The game was finished now, and as one wag shouted, we could only go for pride. Adams started to relax a bit, and with the fans off his back had one or two nice touches, which the majority applauded. A few chances were created, though Alloa had a shot just over the bar, and one or two just by the post. Kerr really began to look lost in midfield, and this took the heat off Adams. In the final minute, Queens' got a consolation, when a great cross from Charlie Adams (I'm pretty sure) beat the defence, and Mallan got behind the last man, and looped a brilliant header over the keeper, and into the back of the net. Stevie, you may just have got your goal of the season! Though I know it will not matter to you as we gained nothing bar pride from it. This started an amazing 60 seconds when Queen's could have got another two goals as first a long pass back seemed to deflect of a Queen's player, and then another chance was saved.The final whistle went though, and we are now staring relegation in the face, ruing missed chances in the first half. Many Queens' fans had stayed to the bitter end, and applauded the team, and in particular Stevie Mallan off the park.
It was vital we won tonight and we didn't, however despite the bleak prospects now, it ain' over till it's over. We must continue to get behind the team. The players mustn't let the criticism get to them, for a for one though this was a good performance overall. One things for sure we showed for a could part of the game that we are more than a match for another of the promotion candidates, and it is almost unbelievable that there may be two divisions between these two sides next season. We must bounce back on Saturday, and the boo boys should shut up, or ship out. The team needs passion and commitment and much of this begins on the terracing, if you are on the backs of your own players from the start, it must affect them. Think about it!
Man of the Match? Quite hard tonight, because despite the result there were some very good performances. Sandy Hodge was excellent with his running forward, especially when he runs at players, Mark Weir combined well with Hodge, and often when Hodge ventured forward Weir would drop back to cover for him. Hawke had a good first half, though he did seem to tire quickly in the second half. Dickson played well when he came on, though it would surely have worked better if he had swapped roles with Adams. Chico worked his socks off, and didn't deserve the abuse he got, however he coped with it well and by the end the boo boys were shut up by the support Charlie got. Stevie Mallan is once again my man of the match, he laid off a good few chances, on the ball he was magnificent, turning defenders inside out, and in the first half constantly switching with Hawke to confuse the Alloa defence. He also applauded the Queen's support at the end, though some barely deserved it.
And Ewan's view
Relegation Day Approaches!
The phrase "a game of two halves" is very much overused in football commentary. None the less it has too often been the story our season and this game was as good an example as any. At half time in this match the score stood at 0-0 but Queens could legitimately claim to have dominated the half, at least in terms of possession. By full time we had lost 3-1 and, if we are truly honest, that scoreline flattered us much more than "The Wasps".
Queens started the match having made three changes from Saturday's side. McMillan replaced the injured Paul Stewart at right back ( though Stewart was fit enough for a place on the bench ) and Mark Weir and John Gallagher started in place of Dennis Boyle and John Dickson. This meant Charlie Adams moving to the right side of the midfield.
The first half saw Queens control most of the possession as Alloa looked a pale shadow of the side which won the Challenge Cup and started the season so well. However, they are still a very quick side and frequently outpaced us on the break. The first 20 minutes or so saw the two sides feeling each other out but the pick of the chances in this period fell on the quarter hour mark to Stevie Mallan who latched on to a mis-hit shot but hammered it just over the bar. However, from halfway through the half onwards the match lurched from end to end so often that I barely had time to note the chances down. First Weir, of all people, made a good challenge when left as last man in the defence, then Martin Cameron rounded Mathieson only to be forced too wide and "Smiler" recovered. Mallan was wide left with a twenty yard effort, Weir stumbled through Alloa's defence and forced a good save from Colin Stewart low to his left, Hawke skied an effort from Kevin Robison's right wing cross and Cameron just failed to connect with an open goal gaping after McMillan was skinned on the left. On 32 minutes, Adams had a shot deflected over the 'keeper and on to the crossbar after good work by Mallan and Hawke and, 3 minutes later, a great reversed pass by Hawke released Weir whose cross was headed just wide by Mallan. Within a minute though Martin Cameron was clean through on goal after Robison missed his header but pulled the shot wide right and, before the half was over, Mark Weir somehow contrived to slice a clearance up and over his own bar when seemingly standing under it!
If all the above seems frantic then it's only because it was. However, as we laughed at Alloa's pathetic floodlights during the half time interval, we remained quite confident that goals would come. The first half's clear chances had been more or less shared but Queens had looked the better football side throughout despite looking vulnerable to the quick break.
The second half was a different story entirely. Alloa dominated from start to finish, were first to every loose ball and could quite easily have scored at least double the three goals they did get. Five minutes into the period Mathieson had to react quickly to tip a cross over the bar and, from the resultant corner, the ball was headed down on to the ground and bounced up over the bar with the defence nowhere. Three minutes later Alloa broke upfield 3 against 1 but wasted the chance when the ball carrier shot instead of squaring the ball. This was to be our final warning. On 58 minutes, Warren Hawke misplaced a lay off and Alloa's COLIN NISH seized upon the loose ball. Advancing through the Queens half untouched, he found a path opening up in front of him and strode through to beat David Mathieson low to the 'keepers left.
We so nearly equalised two minutes later thanks to a piece of opportunism by John Gallagher. The ball broke to him fully 40 yards out but seeing Colin Stewart off his line he hit it sweetly first time, only to see it strike the angle of crossbar and post, bounce off the back-peddling goalkeeper and go wide. This should clearly have been a corner but the referee gave a goal kick and, as we argued the decision, Alloa broke upfield and Martin Cameron again lashed over when clear. Within 60 seconds he hit another good chance over and the Queens management decided a change was required. When it came however, it was a surprising one - Dickson for Hawke. Most of us had probably expected Dickson's arrival to be sooner rather than later but I can only suppose that Hawke had picked up a knock. He wasn't having his best game but had been better than most and the far more obvious change would have been a straight switch with the ineffective Adams. Even more surprising was that Dickson went straight up front for Hawke with Adams staying wide right. It was another quarter hour before they switched. Within a minute of the change Alloa clinched the points with a second goal. Kerr, who had a very poor game, lost the ball carelessly in his own half and Cameron got clear in on Mathieson yet again. David made a fine low stop from his shot but was left helpless as COLIN NISH steered in the rebound.
If there was any doubt at all about the result it was removed in the 78th minute. Ally McMillan broke into the Alloa box but was brushed off the ball and "The Wasps" again broke quickly into the space he had vacated, beginning a move which finished with Colin Nish having a shot deflected wide. From the resultant corner Nish rose unchallenged to head towards Mathieson's left hand post. The header was going just wide but MARTIN CAMERON rose to nod the ball over the line.
Alloa dominated the remaining time without really threatening to score again until, in the last minute, Queens grabbed a consolation when Ally McMillan's long cross from just inside the half found STEVIE MALLAN running in to head home from about 15 yards out. There was still time for him to almost add another when a charged down defensive clearance flew back past Colin Stewart but just eluded the post. This really would have flattered us though.
Queens had Kerr and Mallan booked for late challenges and Mathieson for pushing Colin Nish in retaliation after the striker had charged in to him at a corner.
With four games remaining Queens now need to win at least three of them, maybe all four, to have any chance of avoiding the drop and top scorer Stevie Mallan will miss the next three games through suspension.
Man Of The Match - David Mathieson - for performing heroics to keep the score down and being blameless for all three goals.
Saturday, 8th April, 2000 Forthbank, Stirling Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 520 Queens 2 Stirling 2 Adams (8,75) Graham (19,44) Woods (Off 90)
Queens Team : Mathieson, Stewart (McMillan), Hodge, Robison, Kerr (Gallagher), Duncan, Dickson (Weir), Boyle, Hawke, Mallan, Adams
Just because I'm paranoid, doesn't mean they're not out to get me! Quarter to five, Saturday afternoon, Forthbank, Stirling, 2-2, Steve Mallan is clear of the last defender and bearing down on the stand in keeper. Stenhousemuir were one down the last I heard. Even the ref., who is straight from the Bernie Eccleston school of fair play, (he gave Stirling more decisions than Ferrari!!), can't think of a reason to chock this one off, the Queens fans have risen as one man to celebrate. Well, read on.
Arrived nice and early in Stirling, took the wife and mother-in-law into the town centre for some shopping (Brownie points!!), drove out to the ground, and arrived around 2:00. Now, it's much better playing a team from another town, as opposed to the trip to the village league I made a couple of weeks ago, and the stadium is well set up with plenty parking available, but there isn't a hell of a lot to keep you occupied for an hour out there. So I sat in the car, listening to the radio, watching a couple of guys shoot some hoops (gee, it is Americanised), thought about going to watch the hockey match going on behind the ground but changed my mind. Then a double decker bus pulled up with the words Forthbank Stadium on the front, wow, I thought, this is some set up. Then out of the bus poured ......... 3 Stirling fans. And once inside, I realised they made up half their support! Really good program for sale inside the ground (cunningly priced at £1.00 so they can take the change from your £9.00 entry money), but I have to say, while the ground is really functional, it's got no sole man!!
Queens started the game in their 'home' formation of 4-3-3, Mallan filling the left sided role. Duncan dropped back to cover for the suspended Aitken and Kerr took his place in midfield. McMillan reappeared on the bench along with Weir and Gallagher, but interestingly, there is still no sign of Cleeland or Leslie. There were a few growns when it was realised Adams was to play up front, but a quick look above will show that worked out not too bad.
The makeshift nature of the Queens defence was soon exposed when Graham easily beat Duncan in the box, but Duncan managed to deflect the shot over the bar. Mathieson was then forced into early action after Stewart made a mess of a clearance. Queens first chance came from a long Hodge throw, the balling eventually coming back to a Queens player (I wrote down Gallagher but since he was still on the bench, I doubt it!) who shot narrowly wide. Queens defence was all at sea again as a left wing free kick was allowed all the way through to McGrillen, all alone and 3 yards out, but he managed to sky it over the bar. It was then Queens turn to break forward, Dickson hit the bye line and crossed to the far post, Hawke won the ball and knocked it back to where Charlie Adams was gleefully waiting a yard out to put Queens 1-0 up. And remember, we had only played 8 minutes at this stage. Queens defence again looked dodgy as a ball spun over Mathieson but landed on the roof of the net. Around this time, the man in black (and his assistants) were really annoying the Queens fans (I've got to be polite) and this was confounded when Hawke was pushed in the back when clean through and awarded nothing. I was still noting this incident when I looked up to see the ball coming in from the left wing, hitting Graham's head, and sneaking past Mathieson for the equaliser. Soon after, Robison was easily beaten in the area but Mathieson pulled of a quite remarkable point blank save to keep the scores level. The resultant corner also led to panic in the defence and the ball being scrambled of the line. Queens then had a penalty appeal turned down when Adams was assaulted in the box, but, apparently, that's allowed. Queens suicidal streak surfaced again when Kerr was dispossessed by McGrillen but his chip went narrowly over. After this for a while, Queens took control of things as Stirling went into their full time wasting routine. This period was spoiled however, and I'm afraid to say, I think a section of the Queens support was responsible for it. Their less than constructive criticism clearly started to get to the players and their heads went down. Denis Boyle was the main target for abuse, but he shouldn't really have reacted by giving his detractors a one fingered salute (twice!). I have to say, if this is how we treat our promising 18 year olds, we don't deserve them. The guys criticising him are probably the same ones who wanted Mathieson dropped after the Partick game! With the heads down, the ref gave them yet another dodgy decision, this time a free kick 20 yards out, dead centre. Mathieson and Hawke desperately tried to organise a wall as the rest of the team squabbled, but to no avail as Ally Graham proved he isn't just a big rumble with a beautiful left foot shot round the wall and into the corner. And so, a half that had looked good for so long ended with us 2-1 down.
Early in the second half McGrillan was one on one with Robison but Mathieson turned over his shot from the edge of the box. More slackness in the Queens defence led to another chance for McGrillen to miss (my god, he's inconsistent!). I was writing this down as the volume was turned up around me as Sandy Hodge went on one of his trade mark runs forward, for the first and last time in the game. On this occasion his attempt to chip the keeper was just not quite high enough and he managed to push the ball into the air and gather at the second attempt. Steve Mallan was then the next victim of the ref, when he was booked, apparently for being fouled! Desperation then began to rear it's ugly head slightly as the double substitution of Stewart and Kerr for McMillan and Gallagher was quickly followed by Weir for Dickson, and apparently three left wingers. Maybe it was a cunning ploy by Eadie to ease the pressure on the players as he became the target for the boo boys. Queens rearranged with Adams on the right, Weir on the left, Gallagher in the middle and Mallan up front with Hawke. Hawke was brilliant in the air again today and yet another knock down caused panic in the dodgiest defence in the league as the attempted clearance cannoned of Hodge but into the keepers relieved hands. I was a bit disappointed in Queens soon after when they didn't return the ball to Stirling after it was put out of play for treatment to an injured player. Sure, they were getting frustrated as Stirling were back in the time wasting groove, but there's no need to sully our reputation as well. This bit of gamesmanship resulted in a free header for Hawke six yards out but I'm pleased to say he missed. Hawke won yet another header when he got on the end of a Weir cross but put it over. It was hectic stuff, and Queens got their reward when Mallan battled to win a high ball, Hawke, would you believe, knocked the ball down, and Adams turned nicely to turn the ball home. Suddenly, decisions were going Queens way and we started to go all out for the winner. The game was delayed yet again, this time rightly, when their keeper was left out cold after a clash with Hawke. It looked bad as the stretcher was called for but then he got up and it looked like just another time wasting incident, but their doctor, I presume, came on and decided he had to go of to be replaced by an outfield man. But, another 5 minutes was gone. Queens then got carried away going forwarded and were almost caught when their bald number 6, who had played well all game, went through the defence only to see Allistair McMillan, who's introduction had definitely helped, clear the ball off the line. Then came that chance. Quick thinking by Queens saw a free kick taken quickly and Mallan away and clear of the last man and bearing down on the stand in keeper. To be fair, nine times out of ten, his decision to square the ball to the other free man would have been correct, but as the free man was Weir, perhaps Marv should have taken on the responsibility himself. Anyway, the chance was gone, Stenhousemuir scored twice in the last ten minutes, the world's against me! There was still time for Mallan to miss hit another chance, McMillan to totally waste a chance from a free kick by floating it aimlessly over the bar (tension showing?), their number 12 to totally out pace Duncan only to be denied by Mathieson closing the angle (and then they had the cheek to moan at the ref for not giving a penalty), and then their man of the match, the bald number 6, to get himself sent off for kicking the ball away (second yellow). After the allotted injury time the game was over. Few!
On the way out a guy told me his companion had come all the way from Dartford for the game. I don't what he was in for, but if he keeps making journeys like that to watch the Queens, he won't be getting out soon (or is that Dartmoor?)(Yes, I know it is, it's a joke!). I got back into the car and the clock only said 4:50. Now, bear in mind what I'd said about all the lost time and you may get the idea that the ref perhaps didn't play as much injury time as he should have. And you may be right to think that. The radio was still reporting Stenny 1-0 down at this stage but 5 minutes later they had won 2-1, Hamilton had got a draw, and we were right in it. Best for Queens were Mathieson, McMillan, Mallan, Hawke and despite the opinions of some, Boyle. Graham and baldy did particularly well for them.
Man of the Match - Warren Hawke
The Queen's team bore a rather different look this week, with the suspension of Aitken forcing Duncan into the back four and Kerr on in midfield in Duncan's usual place. Queen's had travelled with another big support despite last weeks defeat, and when you look at the home support of Stirling, you wonder how we find ourselves where we are, and how teams like Stirling, Stenhousemuir etc. survive financially.
The game started slowly, with Stirling obviously intent in letting us do the running. From the start though it was obvious that the main threat would come from the pairing of McGrillen and Graham. Every time Stirling broke through our makeshift defence you felt that one of the pair was capable of scoring. However, it was Queen's who opened the scoring on the eighth minute, when Dickson went on a great run down the right wing, and put a cracking cross over the face of the goal, where it found Hawke, who knocked it down in front of Adams. Charlie couldn't miss, and the travelling support went wild. A short while after this, in another Queen's break, Adams clashed with the keeper, who went down injured. Adams rightly put the ball out of play, however he proved that he isn't in the top range of the mensa IQ bracket when he attempted to take the throw-in following treatment to the keeper! It should be noted that Stirling didn't return the ball to Queen's, but instead tried to set up an attack. Stirling were now pushing forward with commitment, as they realised they were in danger of being pulled into the relegation dogfight. Mathieson was forced into a number of fine saves, as the defence failed to cope with McGrillen. You don't realise how much Andy Aitken does in defence, and how well he controls it till he is missing. It took Stirling till the 19th minute before they got the inevitable, when a fine move started by McGrillen, was finished with Graham putting the ball in the back of the net. Queen's were really struggling at this point, and it wasn't helped by the fact that a number of fans were starting to get on the backs of the players. Dennis Boyle found himself the victim of a prolonged verbal attack by someone who obviously hasn't seen too many games this season. He suggested that Boyle wasn't a fit player to play in the royal blue, despite the fact that in the last few weeks, it has been Boyle who has commanded the midfield in an excellent manner. Bearing in mind that he is only 18, Boyle eventually cracked, and allegedly made a gesture at the fan, who retorted that Ray Stewart had been sacked at Livingston for this. Actually, Mr Smartarse, it was Marc Millar, who promptly found himself playing in the SPL!
Queen's managed to hold on, and made a couple of half chances themselves, but Stirling eventually took the lead right at the end of the 45, from a disputed freekick. The wall failed to organise itself correctly, leaving the goal invitingly open, and Ally Graham cheerfully took full advantage, burying the ball in the back of the net. Almost immediately, the referee signalled the end of the half, playing no injury time whatsoever, despite there having been a few stoppages. We were however cheered by the fact that Alloa where beating Stenny just a few miles away.
Surprisingly there were no changes at half time, despite the fact that we had McMillan on the bench. Stirling started on the offensive right away, but the defence appeared to be better organised, and Queen's started closing down players quicker. There were a few chances went a begging, and the fans started giving more abuse to the players, Charlie Adams unfairly shouldering a lot of the criticism. As the game wore on, Queen's started to take control, and it was helped when McMillan came on to replace the injured Stewart. He was an imposing figure, and the Queen's defence looked more at ease with his presence. Gallagher also came on to replace Kerr, who had been unusually quiet in midfield. A short time later Weir was brought on to replace Dickson, the fans were bewildered, with some in their wisdom calling for Eadie's head. I would suggest that Dickson is carrying some sort of injury, as he has been replaced in the last couple of matches, and he visibly tired in the second half. The forward line reorganised, and we appeared to be playing with four up front. Queen's eventually got the goal we deserved when Hawke again set up Adams, and he fired home as the Stirling defence crumbled. Charlie, ran along the pitch taking the adulation of the fans singing Chico, Chico. The same fans who had berated him minutes earlier. Stirling players were dropping to the ground like sacks of potatoes, though to be fair there were some fierce tackles going in. The Stirling support were angered when Queens failed to return a ball which had been put out for an injury to be attended to. However Stirling themselves had set the precedent in the first half, and we are literally fighting for our lives. The referee, was having a better second half, and we even got some dodgy decisions from him. However he upset the support, when a Stirling player and Stevie Mallan both went down injured following a 50-50 clash Stevie found himself in the book. Stevie had a great chance following a quick freekick in Queen's box, he found himself on the break with only the keeper to beat, however he squared to Weir, who couldn't connect properly and the chance was wasted. Stevie had commented in The Sun last week that he had never won the goal of the season award from Queen's fans, this was a great opportunity for him to change that, but you can't blame him for trying to be unselfish.
Things were looking up when the Stirling keeper failed to recover from a head knock and was replaced by an outfield player. However we failed to really test the stand-in keeper in the remaining ten minutes, we were also helped when Stirling number 6, who had had a good game walked for his second yellow. It seemed a bit harsh, as this hadn't been a dirty game, but in our position we have got to take these opportunities. However we had no time to take advantage as the referee rather abruptly ended the game, leaving Queen's fans bewildered as to what had happened to the five minutes wasted when the keeper was injured, and several other stoppages. The stadium announcer broadcast that Alloa had beaten Stenny, but it was despair when Radio Scotland announced that they had scored twice in the closing minutes, and we are 5 points adrift at the bottom.
Man of the Match? Charlie Adams for taking his chances, and doing a lot more than many of the fans would give him credit for.
Queen's played a lot better than last week, and we dominated the most of the second half, but we are now a lot worse off, and must now set our sights on catching Hamilton, who look likely to have three points deducted, and have still to come to Palmerston.
It time for us all to get right behind the team and give our all in support of the players, and hopefully they will reward us with what is looking like the unlikely. Slagging off individuals is counter productive, especially when there is no changes that can be made. A lot of the criticism yesterday was unfair, do we really wanted to put talented 18 year olds out of the team because they didn't have one of their better games? The people who were calling for Ken Eadie's P45, are the same ones singing his praises this time last year. Ken and Geordie could have so easily walked away this season when things started going wrong on the pitch, but they are committed to beating the drop, and will stay to the bitter end. They deserve our support, and if you don't want to see us go down then you'd better bloody well get right behind the team! As the song goes "united we stand, divided we fall".
Saturday, 1st April, 2000
Broadwood Stadium, Cumbernauld Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 1,099 Queens 1 Clyde 3 Kerr (83) Carrigan (13 pen, 77) Barratt (46)
Queens Team : Mathieson, Stewart, Hodge, Robison, Aitken, Duncan, Dickson (Adams 68), Boyle, Hawke, Mallan, Gallagher (Kerr 55) : unused sub -Weir
You can be forgiven for having a feeling of deja vu after today's game, because so much of what went on today was reminiscent of past Queen's matches recently, and especially games against Clyde in the last two seasons. I'm glad we're seeing the back of this ground for a season, at least.
It was funny, but having visited the nearest watering hole, Broadwood Farm, before the game on a number of occasions, I can't ever recall of seeing more than one or two Clyde fans enjoying a pre-match pint. Today however it was packed, well there was at least ten of them! It's funny how the promise of promotion can bring all sorts out from the holes that they dwell.
The pre-match build up is usually of no interest, bar perhaps the odd rumour, But as we arrived at Broadwood Radio Scotland announced that the Stenhousemuir v Hamilton Accies game was off due to industrial action by the Accies players. This left the Queen's fans wondering what the outcome would be and how it would affect us. Surely the SFL won't award Stenny the points? Once in the stand behind the goal we discovered that there were no programmes on sale in the away end. Instead we were told that if there were any left after the Clyde fans had had first shot, then they would be brought round. At half-time though it was announced that the programmes had sold out, however they will be available at the next home games of the respective clubs. Big wows! So a club that aspires to become big can't even organise their programmes when they must be aware that their gates would be up today. Instead they treat Queen's fans as second class citizens.
Okay on to the game! Queens' started well, obviously feeling that they were capable of getting something from the game. However Clyde struck the first blow when Andy Aitken failed to clear a loose ball at the edge of the penalty area, and Sandy Hodge brought down Barrett who had gained possession. There was no doubt about it, and the ref pointed to the spot. Carrigan struck the ball to Mathieson's right, and the keeper remained rooted to the spot. The heads went down a little, but Queens' continued to battle for the ball. Before the goal, Clyde's Darren Murray went off for treatment to an injury, and although he returned to the pitch, he was obviously in some pain, and on twenty minutes he was replaced, however the man who has done more for Queen's disciplinary record than some refs received no sympathy from the travelling support. Queen's had a couple of first half penalties turned down (deja vu), however it was hard to tell as Queen's were attacking the opposite end of the ground. The referee, as has happened so often in the past against Clyde seemed to be falling for the same old tactics which some of their players have brought from the junior ranks. High tackles on Queens' players went unnoticed, however innocuous challenges from Queens' defenders seemed always to end with a Clyde player fighting for his life on the deck and Clyde with a freekick (deja vu).
As the half-time whistle went and Queens' trooped off, you felt that we could still get something from the game. This feeling, however, was to be short-lived. Queens' came back on for the second and almost immediately conceded another goal (deja vu). The Queens' defence was caught ball watching as Carrigan knocked a ball through which Barrett gratefully hit past the helpless Mathieson. The heads went down further, and the writing was on the wall.
Clyde, it must be said, were poor. Queens' seemed to have much of the possession, but couldn't quite get the final ball in. Clyde resorted to the junior's tactics that they have become renowned for, and wasted as much time as possible. Andy McClay angered the visitors more than once with some cynical tackling and some off the ball pushing and shoving with, amongst others, Stevie Mallan. I was sure that the game was going to finish short of the full complement of players as more than once the referee lost the plot and the game threatened to boil over. One memorable time wasting incident happened when Clyde keeper Wylie took for ever with a bye kick, before eventually running to kick it. He instead ran over it, claiming to the referee that the ball had moved, which the referee duly accepted even though there was no wind in the ground, and for that matter no atmosphere form the supposedly celebratory Clyde fans. Perhaps Mr Wylie if you hadn't taken so long in the first place the ball wouldn't have got fed up and tried to get up the park itself!
Alan Kerr replaced Gallagher in the 55th minute, as Queens' tried to reorganise. Gallagher had had his moments in the first period, but had again failed to stamp his authority on the midfield. Dickson was surprisingly replaced in the 68th minute by Adams. Dickson had played well, but had been unable to supply a good enough ball to the forwards. There were a few grumbles to Adams appearance, can I just remind his critics that he is indeed Queen's second top goal scorer!
The game was well over for Queens' by the time Carrigan netted his second in the 76th minute. Some poor defending by Andy Aitken (I think) saw Carrigan slide it past Mathieson. Queens' got a glimmer of hope seven minutes later when some good play saw Alan Kerr get the ball on the edge of the box and delicately chipped over the keeper and into the net. The players' heads lifted a bit, but it was our last real chance and the scoreline remained 3 - 1 to Clyde.
This was a poor match with some poor refereeing, and some poor defending from Queens (deja vu). However Clyde were also poor, and I think they will struggle in a twelve team first division next year. Our own fate is still unknown, but it will seem strange if there is two divisions between these teams next season. All eyes are now on the outcome of the Stenny v Hamilton fiasco, but one thing is for sure though; the Hamilton players couldn't have picked a worse fixture for a strike.
When Queens' play poor then it is hard to pick man of the match, but one player who did stand out once again with his continual running and chasing the ball all over the park is Dennis Boyle, some of the older members of the squad would do well to learn something about attitude from one of the youngest players on the park.
We now travel to Stirling next week, whose defence has leaked eleven goals in their last two games. Lets hope we can breach it a few times ourselves.
Saturday, 25th March, 2000 Palmerston Park, Dumfries Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 1,813 Queens 1 Partick 1 Mallan (7) McWilliam (47 pen) Jacobs (Off 82)
Queens Team : Mathieson, Stewart, Hodge, Robison, Aitken, Duncan, Dickson, Boyle, Hawke, Mallan, Gallagher (Weir 60) : unused subs - Adams, Kerr
As expected, thanks to the large travelling support from Maryhill, the crowd was up today although I have to say the Queens support looked down on recent weeks. I hope Thistle don't go up (and we don't go down) because I love the games against them, but I have to say they deserve to go up as the best footballing side in this league. Just goes to show, it can work. Queens had John Gallagher from Arbroath filling the problem left side of midfield slot and there were wide spread rumours on the terracing of another two signings although nobody had heard anything on who these may be. Mark Weir made a surprise re-appearance on the bench but there was still no sign of the available again Leslie and Cleeland, and the way Boyle and Duncan played today it could be some time before they are seen in a Queens team again. The rest of the team was unchanged, Robison having recovered to take his place having hobbled off last week.
As usual against Partick, the game started at a break neck pace with both teams looking to get forward early on. Queens, however, made the early break through when the continuing to improve John Dickson skinned Des out wide and sent over a beautiful low cross which Mallan and a defender went for at the same time and Steve came away celebrating as the ball went into the bottom corner, although from were I was standing it looked like the defender may have put it in. Queens were up for it now and soon after a hopeful through ball caused panic in the Thistle defence and they were lucky to get away with only conceding a corner. Queens then settled down and although Partick probably had the better of the remainder of the half, Queens usually looked to be in control of things and holding out quite easily. However, you can never be sure against Thistle and on a couple of occasion the defence looked under pressure, once Mathieson saved a week shot easily and then Aitken had to clear of the line after Mathieson had failed to make it to a cross through a ruck of players (I'm back at this Sunday Post cliche stuff again!). Queens were looking good 'doing a Thistle', i.e. hitting on the break and straight from Aitken's clearance went quickly up field and Dickson was lucky not to lose a leg when Jacobs was wild and late with a challenge. Fortunately, he was so late that he missed, but the ref went back and booked him after the advantage had fizzled out. The whole Queens team was playing well but I was particularly impressed with Hawke, who was winning everything, Boyle, who was back to form and bossing the midfield (what a work rate!) and Hodge, again going on dangerous run after dangerous run, the best of which finished with a ball to Dickson to cut inside only to see his left foot shot well saved. That is all I have written in my note book for the first half but I have probably missed half of the incidents, I was really struggling to keep up.
Puff Mungo on the M.I.C. was missing from the half time entertainment, a shoot out between Loreburn and Locharbriggs, and for some reason the Partick fans decided to get right behind Loreburn. I have to say, the Thistle fans were superb for the boys, well done to you, and the boys repaid them with some crazy antics, going on a lap of honour after the shoot out. The half time results brought cheers for Stranraer at Palmerston as they were 2-0 up, but I warned then never to cheer Stranraer, and I was proved right as they managed to throw their lead away and draw 2-2.
The second half started badly for Queens, within a minute a goalmouth scramble had led to Partick being awarded a penalty. Mathieson got hands to it but the ball squirmed in for the equaliser. Far from being downhearted by this Queens proceeded to pummel the Partick goal, putting in one of their best halves of the season. Again my notebook is fairly empty as I struggled to keep up, but I remember numerous penalty appeals being turned down by the referee, a definite member of the Glasgow Mafia. The clearest penalty claim came soon after Partick's when Mallan was taken down by both the keeper and a defender, but the ref gave nothing. Mallan looked to be clear of the defence at one point but was pulled back, the defender only receiving a booking for his efforts. Stewart then went in with a wild challenge right in front of the Thistle support and we feared the worst but he too was only booked. Mark Weir came on for the tiring Gallagher and did a lot to silence his critics as he created numerous chances and had a couple of good efforts well saved. One run almost had him right through the defence but Mallan took the ball off him only to blast wildly over. Dickson, who wasn't having as good a second half, burst into action to cut inside and blast a shot narrowly past. Then the Glasgow Mafia ref was faced with a dilemma. Jacobs was late on Stewart and the ref obviously had to send off one of his favourites. After a delay to think if he could possibly hand the advantage to a team from the country, he finally produced his red card. Queens, with the crowd right behind them, went into overdrive to try to find a winner in the remaining eight minutes (plus about five injury minutes) but couldn't find a way through and had to settle for the draw, despite another couple of goalmouth scrambles.
As I said, the Clay Holers managed to throw away their lead against Stenhousemuir, so we are still three points behind but surely on this form we have to stay up. Why couldn't we have played like this two weeks ago. The down side is we only have two home games to go, and that fact that Stenhousemuir also seem to be picking up the pace. From what I have been reading on the 123 mailing list Stirling Albion are actually the team which most other fans seem to want dragged into the relegation spot. I'm all for that.
Man of the Match - Sponsors went for Mallan, I thought Hodge and Hawke did well, but I thought Denis Boyle was the pick of the bunch.
Queen's started the first half looking for an early goal, and it wasn't long in coming. Sandy Hodge was brought down in the middle of the park during one of his surging runs, from the resultant freekick the ball found Dickson on the right at the corner flag. Dickson skillfully turned his marker, none other than Des McKeown, and fired a low cross into the six yard box. The ball flashed by the defenders in the area and found Stevie Mallan with his back to goal at the far side. With what appeared to a casual flick, Marv backheeled it into the net sending the home fans down at the standside enclosure delirious! The goal looked simple, but believe me it was a touch of genius from Mallan. The goal stunned the unusually quiet Thistle support, and left the Jags chasing the game.
Queen's were contented to sit and let Thistle do the running, and the tactic seemed to do the trick, as Mathieson was only really troubled once in the half when he was well beaten, but George Rowe's capable stand-in Kevin Robison was on the line to clear. Shortly after this the Jags Namibian so-called boy wonder, Jacobs, enraged the main stand with a brutal tackle on Dickson and was fortunate to escape with a caution. Another Jags player who was making himself felt was former Kilmarnock stopper Ray Montgomerie who reinforced my theory that ex-premier league players are the worst when it comes to sportsmanship.
When the half-time whistle went the Queen's players left the park to a standing ovation. Minutes later a large cheer went round the ground when the scoreline Stranraer 2 Stenny 0 was announced.
The start of the second half saw Queen's, not for the first time this season, lose an early second half goal. The ball was scrambled around the penalty box pinball style, with several players ending up on the ground. Andy Aitken appeared to be fouled, and as he went down, so did the Thistle player he was tangled with. The script was written, Queens never get these things in our favour, the Ref. pointed to the spot. Mathieson did well to get down to his left and get a hand to the ball, but he was helpless in preventing it cross the line. This was the first time that we heard the Thistle fans as they celebrated their obvious good fortune and toasted the referee.
It was also to be the last time we heard the Thistle fans, as the goal only seemed to fire up Queen's, players and fans alike, and it became almost one-way traffic towards the Portland Drive end. In recent weeks the fans have got behind the team when required, and the players have responded well, this was no exception. To be honest the pace became that fast that the rest of the second half is a blur to me. Thistle brought on Brian Martin, another fine example of ex-premier league poor sportsman, and this buoyed up the home support even more.
Stevie Mallan for not the first time in recent weeks had a stone wall penalty turned down, when he was tripped at the edge of the box, the referee, having failed to keep up with play simply waved him up, leaving the home support exasperated. Stevie glared at the Linesman, who like his accomplice the previous week failed to do what linesmen's new job title suggest they do. That is ASSIST THE REFEREE! Again I ask, if it is not a penalty, then why was Mallan not booked?
Mark Weir came on on the hour mark for new signing John Gallagher, who had had a solid, but uninspiring debut for Queen's. The extra width gave Thistle even more problems and Weir and Hodge, who played well even with a head knock, tore down the left wing time and again whipping balls across the goals, only for scrambles, and some good goalkeeping keeping the scoreline the same.
Decision after decision went against Queens, and the fans really started getting on the back of the referee, who seemed oblivious to all that was going on around him, unless the perpetrator had a blue shirt on. However, he had no choice when Jacobs committed another wild tackle, this time on Paul Stewart, and showed him a second yellow, though in my view it should have been a straight red. Queen's continued to pound the Thistle goal, but as time was running out, and another penalty appeal was turned down, the news was filtering through that the Clayholers having heard that Queen's were up at half-time, had gifted a couple of goals to Stenny. The game ended with another ovation for the team, followed by the usual vote of thanks to the referee for cheating us out of three points.
The difference between the current side, to that of a couple of months ago is that the team appears more settled. There was only one change, with John Gallagher replacing Charlie Adams. Kevin Robison has done all that has been asked of him in filling in Geordie's boots, and Dennis Boyle has been simply superb in the last couple of weeks. I was very tempted to give Dennis man of the match, however I feel I must give it to Mallan for the audacity with which he scored the goal, and his consistent 100% commitment.
Saturdays game at Clyde is yet another crucial game for us, with Clyde desperate for revenge after their thrashing a fortnight ago. I will bold make one prediction going on previous encounters at Broadwood - there won't be 22 players on the park at full-time. Hopefully though it will be Clyde who finish short of their compliment. Lets hope Ross County do us a favour on Tuesday at Dingwall, and put one over Stenny.
Saturday, 18th March, 2000 Palmerston Park, Dumfries Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 1,163 Queens 0 Stranraer 0
Queens Team : Mathieson, Stewart, Hodge, Robison (Kerr), Aitken, Duncan, Dickson, Boyle, Hawke, Mallan (Eadie), Adams (Caldwell)
Queens put in another good performance today, keeping their second clean sheet in a row for the first time this season, but just couldn't break down a stubborn Stranraer defence despite some long periods of domination, particularly in the first half. It must be lambing season down Clay Hole way as the influx of the Galloway Irish wasn't quite as big as usual, although half the village was still there, about 20 of them. I notice that Queens, despite having been bottom nearly all season, still got a bigger crowd than the meeting of the top two. Has to say something. As expected, the team was largely unchanged, only Robison for the suspended Rowe and Eadie onto the bench, Leslie and Cleeland banished to the stand. Was please to see Andy Murray back in the program, until I read the article, what a sad man.
Remembered my note book this week and the first thing I have written down is 'Through ball, Mallan keeper, Adams miss'. Buggered if I can remember what that means, a lot of use that was then. Still, might refresh somebody's memory. Queens began to get on top after a fairly even opening fifteen minutes and we thought we had a penalty when Adams went down under pressure in the box and the refs whistle blew. It looked a soft penalty to me, but then again, how the ref worked out it was a free kick against Adams is beyond me. Soon after, we thought we were in front again when Duncan riffled in a shot, beating the keeper all ends up, but one of their defenders somehow got back to clear the ball of the line. Just after this Stranraer had the only chance which warranted an entry in my note book (I may be biased) when Robison was slow to deal with a bouncing ball allowing their centre forward a great chance which he blasted over. Queens then had what looked like a stronger penalty appeal when Adams appeared to be hauled to the ground as he went past his man but the ref chickened out again. This was followed by a beautiful sweeping move from the back when the ball was worked from the right to Mallan on the left and Adams only just failed to get on the end of the cross. The half finished with Dickson cutting inside and firing in a good shot which the keeper struggled to save. The Queens fans were getting very encouraged by all this and getting right behind the team, in fact, in the second half with Queens attacking the covered end there was quite a bit of singing. Stranraer were also getting ruffled and in one incident one of their players took a dive in the area, Queens swept up field, Dickson brushed past an attempt by one of their men to bring him down and the ref, when he should really have played the advantage, stopped the game to book both the Clay Holers. Anyone who remembers Billy McLaren will can imaging what he was like. He certainly hasn't switched to the Arsen Wenger school of management!
Stranraer did manage to slow the game down in the second half and reduce the amount of pressure Queens were having a little. However, they almost blew it in the first minute when the keeper made a hash of a clearance and hit it straight at Hawke. To be fair, Hawke's return shot was no classic and the keeper was watching it wide as it came back of his post. Lucky boy! Queens had their third penalty claim turned down when a long Hodge throw was flicked on at the near post for Duncan to head towards goal and the ball seamed to come of a Stranraer player's hand to send it to safety. Again, nothing from the ref. Robison had to come of injured to be replaced by Kerr who went into Duncan's midfield bearth while the big man went back into defence, where he was to do well for the rest of the match. Adams had already been replaced by Caldwell having had a poor match and Eadie came on for Mallan for the last fifteen minutes. Possibly Queens best chance came from a brilliant Dickson run and pass to get the hard working Boyle in behind the defence but the keeper managed to parry the shot and although Eadie got to the rebound first, the ball was cleared. In the very last minute their keeper came for and missed a corner but again there were just too many bodies to scramble it home.
As I said, this was a good all round performance, although as Stenhousemuir also got a draw, it isn't really much use to us at the end of the day. Adams and Hawke were the only players below form today, the rest of the team all did well. Aitken got the sponsors man of the match award, I was once again impressed with Duncan, although many around me thought he was slow, and Dickson continued his recent improvements. There is still hope.
Man of the Match - John Dickson.
Tuesday, 14th March, 2000 Palmerston Park, Dumfries Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 830 Queens 3 Clyde 0 Hodge (3) Mitchell (Off 76) Hawke (7) Mallan (50)
Queens Team : Mathieson, Stewart, Hodge, Rowe, Aitken, Duncan, Dickson, Boyle (Kerr), Hawke, Mallan, Adams (Caldwell)
How can you analyse Queens? With only a couple of changes from the team that 3 days earlier had put in one of the worst performances seen for years, tonight we gave run away league leaders Clyde a right good seeing to in a performance far better suited to a promotion chasing team than a team which has looked like relegation certainties in recent weeks. The new professional era on this page didn't last too long as I forgot my note book tonight, so here, from memory, is my report.
The two changes from Saturday were Hodge for Preston, who was nowhere to be seen tonight, and Adams for Caldwell who was joined on the bench by Robison and Kerr. Hodge looked like his little spell out of the team had done him the world of good and combined with his fellow full back, Stewart, provided the width which Queens needed to turn them into a half decent team. Stewart, indeed, was awarded the sponsors Man of the Match award tonight. In midfield, Dickson continues to improve, Duncan had the best game I have seen him have, Boyle was off song on the ball again but as usual, worked endlessly to close them down and Mallan uses his experience to know when to come infield, something Caldwell is still missing. Hawke led the line as well as I have seen him as well. Queens started brightly and a Rowe header from a corner looped high and dropped just under the bar to cause the keeper problems. Mallan had another effort from a fine Dickson cross field cross, but we didn't have to wait long for the opener. Queens should probably have had a free kick in midfield but Hodge didn't hang about to find out as he picked up the loose ball in midfield, drove forward, cut inside and sent a right foot shot low past the keeper. Only four minutes later we were on easy street. This time it was Stewart who found time to get forward, despite the fact that Clyde seemed to be trying to test their former player defensively, and he sent over a perfect cross for Hawke to head powerfully off the underside of the bar and in. The rest of the half was a bit nip and tuck (is that the right expression?), Clyde coming back into the game but Queens still looking capable of scoring and really holding them quite comfortably, except once when Mathieson had to make a scrambled save from a point blank header and Duncan was on hand to coolly walk the ball off the line and to safety. So Queens went of to a standing ovation at half time.
Those of you with children, send them out of the room now, for I have shocking news. Doogie the Doonhamer is an impostor. We were looking in the office at half time and saw a boy getting into a Doogie costume. I was shocked, but soon got over it as Queens increased their lead. Hodge went on another good run, hit the bye line and crossed. The keeper couldn't deal with the cross and could only push it out to were Steve Mallan was waiting to pounce for number three. Queens were now in total control and a few minutes later should have made it four when they were awarded a rather soft penalty but the keeper had to dive forward to save Boyle's weak effort. Still, it didn't matter as Queens were on easy street, a situation which was helped by Clyde's Mitchell picking up a second yellow card with 15 minutes to go. Queens cruised to the end, creating a couple more half chances, but they had done enough. Surely they must have preferred the ringing of cheers round the ground to the boos they have been getting used to as they left the park. Let's hope they have got a taste for it!
Stenhousemuir lost at Hamilton (I think, Ceefax is still showing a latest score) so it looks like its back to a straight battle between us and them. If we play like this, we can do it. If we play like Saturday, we can't. Lets hope for the former. A little aside from Saturday's report and the praise I gave the Clydebank fan. I was told a story about him tonight when he joined my mates at the Queens end at Palmerston for a game against Clydebank when he hurled abuse at Queens for the whole match, prompting a couple of fans to offer to shut him up, then had the cheek to report Derek Townsley to the police when he politely told him to go forth and fornicate! I hope his team goes bust!
Man of the Match - Stewart got the sponsors, I was tempted to go for Duncan, but in the end I can't go by Sandy Hodge.
Saturday, 11th March, 2000 Ochilview, Larbett Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 560 Queens 0 Stenhousemuir 2 Hamilton,R (50) Fisher (90)
Queens Team : Mathieson, Stewart (Hodge), Preston, Rowe, Aitken, Duncan, Dickson, Boyle, Hawke, Mallan, Caldwell (Adams) : unused sub - Robison
Double report again this week, here's how e-Doonhamer saw the game :-
Probably more a rant than a report, but here goes!
Queens fielded a team with only one change from last weeks starting eleven, Caldwell replacing Adams who had to be content with a place on the bench. With a large travelling support behind them the players should have been aware of the importance of today's game. Unfortunately they seemed woefully unaware that defeat in this game would leave our fate more or less in the hands of the Gods.
The game was never much of a spectacle, Stenhousemuir almost took the lead after just 3 minutes when Dennis Boyle cleared off the line. There was never many chances in the opening spell and it was 12 minutes before the Doonhamers had something to shout about, Hawke seeing a great shot hit the bar. With a travelling support in excess of 300 you would have expected some noise to lift the players heads, however the only singing was coming from the usual throats of the Doonhamers Travel Club. The first half rapidly deteriorated into a boring kick about, Stenhousemuir happy to be level, and Queens final ball into the front men once again sadly lacking. The Stenny no. 10 saw a shot go woefully wide in their only other real attack of the half (17mins). 10 minutes later Stevie Mallan saw a great chance go a begging when his header looped over the bar. That was about it for this half, as Queen's had the majority of possession, but were bogged down in midfield. What Queen's needed was balls played out wide, but Caldwell seemed to be ignored by his team mates, and Dickson seemed sucked in to the middle of the park. Alan Preston seemed unaware that a game was going on round about him, and as the half wore on an ever increasing number of fans were calling for him to be replaced by Hodge, who may have been able to give Queens the width needed.
The second half began much as the first, with Queens having possession, but failing to distribute decent balls to the forwards. However it was Stenhousemuir who took the lead when a Hamilton chip caught Mathieson off the line, though it was more down to the failure by Preston to close his man down than Mathieson's position that led to the goal This infuriated the Queen's support, who began to demand Preston's immediate replacement, this was not forthcoming. Boyle had a great freekick palmed over by the keeper two minutes later. Dickson running over the ball before Boyle hammered it. Great set piece! In terms of chances, this was one of Queen's very few, as the play continued to be held up in the middle of the park. It began to get very noticeable by all bar Martin Clark, the referee, that Stenhousemuir were favouring the "man staying down for treatment" tactic. Time and time again Stenny players went down, in apparent sheer agony, before the magic sponge, or the female physio's kiss it better(funny, they all seemed to be clutching their groin!) restored them to full fitness at the long click of the fingers. Queen's fans continued to call for a change, however when it came, it was not the expected one of Hodge for Preston, but the surprising one of Adams for Caldwell. This substitution only succeeded in holding the ball up even more in the middle of the park. Queen's required width, so what did they do? Take of the wide man, come on!?
It became apparent that the heads were down, and despite the efforts of some Queen's fans, it appeared that they could not be lifted. Paul Stewart was surprisingly replaced by Sandy Hodge as the game wore on, losing us a right sided defender, and giving us two left sided. However Preston saw sense and moved into central defence where he continued to do nothing.
Stenny consolidated their lead in the dying minutes when a Fisher goal against the run of play finished Queen's off. George Rowe holding his head in despair.
Once again I find it hard to find a man of the match due to some poor performances. Mathieson had little to do, but could have done better with the first goal. If I never see Preston in a Queen's shirt again, it will be too soon. Dickson wasn't his usual self, but I think this was down to him being pulled into the middle of the park. As usual, when the chips are down, some fans began getting on the backs of the players who in my view are the most committed to Queens. Geordie Rowe played one of his best games for Queen's this season, and looked hungry to get a goal. Steve Mallan can't be faulted for effort, if only someone could have got a decent ball to him. Dennis Boyle got a fair bit of abuse, but I personally felt he was the best player on the park. Andy Aitken and Warren Hawke both put in some effort as well, but the rest of the team should hang their heads in shame as they let the club and the fans down when it mattered the most.
And my opinion :-
As someone once said, I think it's all over. The trip to Stenhousemuir resulted in defeat and left us once again isolated, six points behind Stenny. Well over 100 Queens fans had made the trip to Stenhousemuir but their efforts were little rewarded by the players today who at times didn't seem to be treating this match with the sense of urgency it deserved. I remember a game during the run last season, at Palmerston against either Livingston or Inverness, where Queens were one behind in the dying minutes and George Rowe gave everything he had to get on the end of a last minute cross to save a point. That kind of spirit was never shown today.
Woke up this morning to a lovely spring like day which was to last the rest of the day and set of for Stenny in good spirits. It seemed no time until I was thinking I must be nearing Glasgow as I saw the cars start to appear with Celtic scarfs in the window. Then I realised I was still in Georgetown! So much for home town loyalty. I really can't see the attraction of travelling all that way every week in the almost certain knowledge that your team is going to win. Very shallow people!
The game started very lively, unfortunately at the wrong end. First Boyle did well to clear a corner off the line and from the second corner the woodwork (metalwork actually) was rattled but Queens goal remained intact. It took about 15 minutes for Queens to put together a decent move when Mallan finished of a nice, sweeping cross field move with a rather weak long range shot which the keeper easily saved. Soon after this came Queens best effort of the whole game, Hawke turned neatly on the edge of the box to riffle in a left foot shot but it was Queens turn to hit the metal work. The rest of the first half frizzled away to nothing. Queens were playing a very risky off side trap well up the park but were getting away with it, despite the fact that Preston at left back was constantly caught behind the rest of the defenders. At half time we decided to leave the stand, which was about a quarter Queens fans, to join the bulk of the travelling support behind the goal which Queens were about to attack. I have to say that it is sad to see the violence which is putting you feet on the empty seat in front of you sneaking back into the game. At least, at the last two away games I have attended, the stewards have been extremely keen to ensure this barbaric behaviour does not occur. Bring on the Milwall!
At half time I noted in my note book (I was all professional this week!) that it had been a boring first half. I should have saved my random use of the word boring for something that really deserved it, such as the second half. I forgot to mention an incident in the first half, I'll put it here to fill some space. A Warrier wag shouted at the Queen's support "get back to Cumbria". Maybe this type of geographical skill shows why Stenhousemuir don't even play in Stenhousemuir but Larbett! Anyway, the first action of the second half involved an excellent save by Hillcoat. No, that isn't a mis-print, as the ball flew into the stand from a tussle, Hillcoat leapt to his feet to excellently catch the ball an return it to the play. Things soon got worse for Queens through, Aitken couldn't deal with a through ball and his header landed at the feet of a forward about 30 yards out who hit it first time past the despairing Mathieson (Oh no, I just used a Sunday Post cliche!). Queens immediately went into all out attack and pinned Stenny back for the rest of the match, but more through effort than skill, the team as a whole was having a stinker. Immediately after the goal, Boyle, who was having the worst of the stinkers, although the underfoot conditions did him no favours, hit a free kick from 25 yards and central towards the top corner but the keeper got there and turned it over. The next best chance came when Hawke was clean through but mis-controlled and the chance was gone. Apart from this, Queens huffed and puffed but never really looked like scoring. Adams came on for Caldwell but made little difference and the strange decision to send on Hodge for Stewart and push Rowe forward was similarly fruitless. Inevitably, with minutes to go, Queens were caught on the break, but as it looked like the danger was cleared Dickson, I think, was disposed on the edge of the box and our fate was sealed as they made it 2-0. The large travelling was left to trundle home dejected once again.
Still, on the bright side, I spent the second half with the Bankies fan who was at the first Hamilton game with us. His mobile phone rang with regular monotony as his mates at Love Street kept him up to date with his beloved Clydebank. They were 8-0 down while we were still holding out hopes of having enough time to win the game. I must admit, I used to wander what difference it would make if Clydebank or one of the other strugglers went out of business but to talk to this guy you understand what a tragedy it would be. He loves his club and is one of the most knowledgeable people about lower league teams I have ever met, he knows everything about every player there is (nearly!). Apparently, a favourite Bankies chant is "You're worse, worse, worse than Warren Hawke". Not impressed with our man then! On the subject, he reckons our chances of avoiding relegation by the back door of a team going out of business is non existent as Clydebank have plenty cash, just no ground, Hamilton have a wealthy benefactor just desperate to move in and the administrators will sort Airdrie out. Wouldn't want to be saved this way anyway. One final thought, let's hope George Rowe is still around for his testimonial dinner next week!
Saturday, 4th March, 2000 Palmerston Park, Dumfries Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 1,018 Queens 2 Alloa 1 Mallan (75,83) Conway (34) NOBODY OFF!!!!!
Queens Team : Mathieson, Stewart, Preston, Rowe, Aitken, Duncan, Dickson (Robison 89), Boyle, Adams (Caldwell 59), Mallan, Hawke : unused sub - Hodge
I was of on a lads day out in Edinburgh today, mixing with loads of guys with stupid hats, ruby cheeks, tartan scarfs, tweed jackets and kilts, must have been some kind of farming show on. Oh, and they use their mobile phones in pubs where I can't hear the guy standing next to me! My brother-in-law reckons I should be banned from Palmerston as they have won the last two games I have missed but in my defence I would point out I also missed the Stranraer game. Anyway, here's e-Doonhamer's report.
Queen's made two changes from last Saturday's team. Paul Stewart replaced suspended McMillan and Warren Hawke returned to the side after suspension. Sandy Hodge was on the bench, his place at left back was taken by Preston as Queen's adopted a 4-3-3 formation. The first 15 minutes or so was pretty much incident free as both midfields tried to take control of the game. Queens looked the stronger and Alloa struggled to cope with the width that having three front men gave us. The first real chance of the game fell to Hawke who was unlucky to see his shot cannon back off the upright. Alloa looked to be causing Queen's no cause for concern when they won a throw-in on the 18 minute mark, however they scored from it a la Tranmere, with some pretty poor marking from the Queen's defence. However to be fair I don't think anyone expected anything from the throw-in. From then on the game seemed to take on the same manner as last weeks against Accies, however it was Queens who were doing the pressing this time and looked good to get something before half-time. John Dickson was immense and really controlled the right-wing. However Queens couldn't find the net as the final ball was once again lacking. Alloa's number nine (Cameron I think) took a tumble in the box before half-time, but the referee, Underhill waved him up. Now I'm no expert of the laws of the game, but if it wasn't a penalty,then the player should have been booked as it was a blatant attempt to con the match officials.
As the half wore on, a number of Queen's fans seemed to vent their frustration at Adams for Queen's lack of scoring. How they expect him to do much without actually getting the ball I don't know, as I thought he was playing quite well. One or two of the guys dishing out the abuse have done it to him since he first signed, and I firmly believe they have it in for him. Either they are jealous of his looks, or he has nicked their birds (sorry girls - girlfriends!).
As the half time whistle went I had that sinking feeling that despite all our possession, we weren't going to get anything from the game.
Queens retained the same formation for the second half and really started going for it. Warren Hawke and Dickson in particular were causing the Alloa defence all sorts of problems. However despite some really good football we didn't get the breaks we deserved, first with Mallan getting felled in the box with his legs taken from him, yet no penalty. Then Boyle penalised in Alloa's box for no reason. Queen's fans sensed that it was game on and started getting right behind the team. The teamed responded to this and started flooding forward, surely we would get a goal soon. Hawke had another chance that the young Alloa keeper somehow managed to get right across the goal and stop. This buoyed the Queens fans and players alike even more and it was only going to be a matter of time before we scored. Caldwell replaced Adams on the hour, and the added width he gave the forward line would prove to be the decisive.
It took to the 75th minute before we got the well deserved goal to bring us back into the match. Hawke ran into the right hand side of the box and rather unselfishly played it back to Mallan, when he could have applied the finish himself. Mallan hammered the ball into the back of the net, leaving the keeper no chance at all. It was a great finish! The joy and relief was apparent on and off the pitch, and there was a genuine belief that we could go on and win the game.
Queen's continued to push forward looking for the winning goal, and it wasn't long in coming. On 83 it was that man Mallan again who bulleted home a header after some great attacking play. The celebrations on the terracing were unbelievable, and "Marv" was so delirious he almost joined the fans much to the disgust of Underhill! Queen's continued to push forward, and in the dying minutes Robison replaced Dickson who received a standing ovation as he left the park. As the final whistle went it was a mixture of delight and relief on the faces of Queen's fans as we realised we had picked up a very important 3 points as the Stenhousemuir game was off, leaving us only 3 points behind and setting up an intriguing encounter at Ochilview next Saturday, I just hope I can report more good news next week.
Unlike last week, when I found it hard to suggest an outfield player who had played well, it is the opposite this week. Dennis Boyle commanded his midfield well and I reckon that Leslie is going to have a fight on his hands if he wants his place back next week. Mallan and Hawke were brilliant up front, and Alloa must be relieved to see the back of them. Paul Stewart was great filling in McMillans shoes, and should also keep his place next week, especially as McMillan has said that he wants to move on. Man of the Match? It has to be Dickson, he is probably our best signing this season, and has done enough on the right wing to suggest that there is life after Deggsie.
Saturday, 26th February, 2000
Firhill, Maryhill is Falling Down, Glasgow Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 553 Queens 1 Hamilton 1 Adams (7 pen) Henderson (90) McMillan (Off 75)
Queens Team : Mathieson, McMillan, Hodge, Rowe, Aitken (Robison 45), Duncan, Dickson, Davidson, Adams, Mallan, Preston : unused subs - Caldwell, Kerr
I have acquired the services of a new special guest report who is going to do reports on away games for me. Here is his first report. Not only is it good, it was bloody quick, reaching my computer before I had even got back from Firhill. My report will follow tomorrow.
Queens started with only one change, the enforced one of the suspended Hawke being replaced by Dickson. Dickson filled in the right wing role made vacant by Adams playing up front beside Mallan. Queens made a bright start, and looked hungry for three vital points. Things looked to be going our way after just 7 minutes when Mallan was bundled down in the box by Davidson and the referee, Stuart Dougal, pointed straight to the spot. The handful of Accies fans in the home end of the stand were incensed at the decision, but perhaps their anger should have been directed at the defender as Mallan was going nowhere when he was brought down. As we all wondered who would take the vital kick (please not Marv!) Adams grabbed the ball, placed it on the spot and confidently buried it in the back of the net. Unfortunately the keeper decided not to trip him this time round! It was the start the Doonhamers needed, and the fans hoped Queens would capitalise. However, the goal seemed to spur Hamilton on and as the half wore on Mathieson became the busiest man on the park. Twice he palmed great efforts on to the bar as the Queens defence failed to close down men. The man Queens fans love to hate, Darren Henderson, seemed to have plenty of space all the time and Hamilton's midfield continually pumped balls into him. Another unmarked Accies player was the diminutive Quitongo whose pace down the wing gave Preston plenty of chasing to do. Queens seemed to be happy booting the ball out into orbit up the Firhill pitch, almost ignoring the midfield. Only Dennis Boyle seemed to be playing well, and he made a couple of great runs to no avail as Queen's final ball was sadly lacking. The travelling support was happy to hear the half-time whistle with their team still ahead.
Queen's made a change at half-time, with Robison coming on for Aitken who, for Captain, had seemed to fail in motivating the troops in the first half. The second half was much of the same, with Queens chasing the tails of Accies who seemed spurred on by the fact that if the scoreline remained the same then they would be dragged back into the relegation struggle. Mathieson was again the hero in the second 45 as Hamilton pushed forward, using Quitongo on the wing who was by this time turning Allan Preston inside out. Queens had one or two efforts, but none really troubled the Accies keeper.
The most controversial moment of the game came in the 75th minute. As Queens made one of their few forays forward, McMillan was fouled and dispossessed by Accies number 8 McAulay. Dougal waved play on, and seconds later McAulay was left writhing on the touchline in agony as if having been shot by a sniper. Dougal immediately summoned McMillan and for the fourth week running a Queens man saw red. Now I didn't see anything, but I heard a Queens fan afterwards say that McMillan had kicked the Hamilton player as he ran passed him. This incident seemed to give Hamilton even more incentive to push forward, and for the last 15 minutes it was wave after wave of attack. Henderson almost equalised in 85, but managed to miss an open goal. As the game wore on the Queens fans began whistling for the final whistle, but it didn't happen quick enough, and right on 90, with Caldwell standing on the touchline waiting to come on in an obvious time wasting scam,Hamilton won a corner and pushed everyone forward. With many Queens fans with heads already in hands, the corner was swerved in from the old stand side and it was that thorn in Queens side, Henderson, that met the ball, and it was in the back of the net. Queens restarted the match only to hear the final whistle.
Queens needed to win today, unfortunately it was a disappointing performance and at the end of the day we were lucky to come away with a point. There weren't many good performances today, indeed Rowe in particular was disappointing, perhaps there is too much pressure on him in managing the team and marshalling his defence. Preston was also a let down, especially in the second half where he gave Quitongo a free reign. The only outstanding outfield player was Boyle, who seems to have matured since his recent spell with the Northern Ireland squad, however my man of the match must go to Mathieson who more than made up for his two mistakes against Thistle a fortnight ago. On the subject of the keeper, the rumour that Hillcoat has left the club swept round the pub before the game, can anyone say if this is true?
And now for my views :-
A last minute strike broke our hearts today as it looked like we were going to leave Firhill with all three points. Buts let's be honest, this would have been the least well deserved result ever. Queens were terrible, panicky at the back and posing very little threat up front. Still, at least we have a ground, fans and programs! The main pre match talking point was the lack of programs. This surely points to another team in a bad way. We may yet avoid relegation by the back door if one of the many struggling teams go out of business. If not, on this form it looks as if next seasons visit to Glasgow could be to Hampden to face Queens Park, if either of these still exist. There were very few pass marks in the Queens team today. Quitongo gave McMillan a roasting for as long as he was on the pitch, it's lucky for us the little Angolan can't play football cause he's a bloody quick runner! Aitken got pass marks until he had to come of at half time and his replacement, Robison, was again steady if unspectacular and did a much better job on Quitongo than McMillan had when moved to right back. Rowe's troubles continue, however, the player manager has been struggling this season and continued today. Hodge looks OK going forward but very nervous in defence and put us under pressure with a few miss hit clearances. Dickson was OK, Boyle was by far the best outfield player, how he is only in the team because Leslie is out I don't know, as he is quite clearly in a different class. Had one effort late on which the keeper only just turned round the post and an amazing clearance of the line at the height of the siege. And that sums up just how much better he is than Leslie. This was my first sighting of Duncan, and I'm afraid I could see why he was an Albion Rovers player. At least he adds strength to the midfield but his touch looked terrible. I find it difficult to believe Preston was a Premier League player not long ago. I take it he must have had quite a serious injury as he is now so slow he doesn't look like he's trying half the time. Adams and Mallan tried hard up front but if the balls in the other half most of the time there isn't much you can do. I have deliberately saved the one redeeming feature till last. Those of you who were critisising David Mathieson a fortnight ago should be begging forgiveness from the God of being able to spot a class footballer when you see one. While I didn't see the Partick game, it was his first game back and he was absolutely brilliant today, unfortunately, we surely can't hold on to him long in this form. There was talk going around that Hillcoat has left the club. If true, this would be a shame as he done well but he isn't in Mathieson's class. I'm sure Hillcoat would have played well today, but I think 3 or 4 would have gone past him which nobody would blame him for. The difference is, Mathieson saves stuff you don't expect him to get anywhere near. Guess who's going to be my Man of the Match then!!
The game started with Hamilton having a strong wind behind them but this proved a hindrance to start with as many through balls were finding there way all the way through to Mathieson, and the first few minutes were pretty even. Duncan was lucky not to be sent of in the first five minutes when he clearly elbowed a Hamilton player after a tussle and even although it was one of the weakest efforts ever seen you very rarely get away with that these days. Things, however, started to look up after seven minutes when Sandy Hodge got the ball in his left back position and couldn't see a pass so he decided to run with the ball. He ran and ran and ran till eventually Dickson took the ball from him to send a cross towards Mallan. I though our Steve nudged the defender sending him over which in turn led to him bringing down Timmy Mallet but the ref saw it as a penalty. I wasn't exactly filled with confidence as Charlie Adams collected the ball but he sent it into the back of the net with a confidence which his recent performances have hardly merited. This was about it for Queens in the first half, and the second for that matter, as Hamilton proceeded to dominate the rest of the match. The closest we came in the first period was a chance which fell to Mallan's right foot and predictably was high and handsome and a nice cross shot from Dickson which wasn't far away. On the other hand, the fact Hamilton hadn't equalised by half time was down to a mixture of miracle (we are THE ONLY TEAM IN THE BIBLE!) and David Mathieson. Funniest chant of the half has to go to the bloke behind me who chanted "Ginger hair is not acceptable" aimed at Queens reject Darren Henderson, quickly followed by "Sorry Andy" as he realised his mate was also a member of the ginger species! Unfortunately for us, the ginger mop of the Queens reject was constantly beating the slightly balding ginger mop of the current Player-Manager and twice (at least) Mathieson had to be at his best to turn headers onto the bar. and on another occasion showed how good he is one on one as Hamilton once more got behind the defence. Fortunately, it was usually Quitongo who got behind us, and as I said, he may be quick but he sure as hell can't kick a ball.
So, Queens somehow held on till half time and reappeared for the second half with Robison on for the injured Aitken. Our best efforts of the half were long range efforts by Adams and Boyle but the best chance fell to Hodge from a corner but, as he had been doing at the other end all day, panicked and miss kicked. The rest of the half was a rear guard action, but, thanks to a mixture of Mathieson, desperate defending, incredibly poor finishing and our old friend, the miracle, it looked like it would be our day. However, after 75 minutes, for the fourth game running, Queens had a man sent off. This time it was McMillan's turn and although I didn't see it a few of the travelling support did see him take a kick at the Hamilton man off the ball. What really worried me at this time was that it was Allan Preston who was the first man to start re-organising the team and the Player-Boss only joined in when he saw Preston doing it. From this point on, the guy behind me began to shout ever 30 seconds "Get a sub on Eadie", very annoying and I think Eadie was actually right to stick with what we had. However, three minutes into injury time, with Eadie trying to bring on Caldwell in an obvious time wasting ploy, Darren Henderson got his ginge head to a corner and sent a looping header past the helpless Mathieson into the top corner. There was only time for Queens to kick off before the ref sent us all home dejected.
At least Stenhousemuir lost today so we are within 6 points of them but on this form that won't make any difference as we will be lucky to get another six points this season.
Man of the Match - Did you guess it? David Mathieson.
Saturday, 12th February, 2000 Firhill, Maryhill is Falling Down, Glasgow Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 2,605 Queens 4 Partick 5 Boyle (19) Lennon (39) Mallan (56) Lyle (43) Duncan (63) Lindau (70) Preston (84) Craig (75) Hawke (Off 88) Jacobs (81)
Queens Team : Mathieson, McMillan, Hodge, Rowe, Aitken, Boyle, Adams, Duncan, Hawke, Mallan, Preston : unused subs - Caldwell, Kerr, Dickson
Anyone tuning in expecting an in depth match report, I've been telling you all week I couldn't make it today, PAY ATTENTION! Looks like I missed a classic but Queens still lost out in the Maryhill blizzard. Noticeably, 2 of our goals came from the players that the management were forced to bring into midfield, Denis Boyle and new signing Graham Duncan (See News). David Mathieson also made a surprise return in goals. It was a ding dong day watching Sky as the scores kept pouring in, 1-0 up and I was blaming the wife for not letting me go, 2-1 down and I was thankful, 3-2 up and I was cursing her again, 5-3 down and I was giving thanks to the Lord, back to 5-4 and I was nearly hiring Concorde to get me there for the last five minutes, Hawke off, to keep up our recent man a match off record, and I was back down again, final whistle, Stenhousemuir had drawn with the Clayholers, and the black days are back again. Celtic fans, you don't know you're living!
Saturday, 5th February, 2000 Dingwall, Greenland Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 2,018 Queens 0 Ross County 2 Cleeland (Off 82) Kinnaird (61) Irvine (67)
Queens Team : Hillcoat, McMillan, Preston, Rowe, Aitken, Cleeland, Dickson (Eadie 82), Boyle, Hawke (Adams 66), Mallan, Caldwell : Unused Sub - Kerr
Queens made the long trip to Greenland and when they get back a week on Wednesday it will be with the expected haul of 'NIL POINTS' from the Greenland jury. Now, I know I am famous for not attending many away games, but at this rate it looks like we will be having quite a few trips to Greenland next year and believe me, I consider a trip of this length a holiday except I would be travelling in the opposite direction via the nearest airport. I look with envy at the first division and trips to Greenock, Paisley, Airdrie, Livingston and Ayr, now these are the types of away games I would go to. In our division there is only Partick and Hamilton (and I can't even make the Partick game next week) and at a push Stranraer although not on the second day of the millennium, although I do usually consider the A75 a road to be avoided at all costs. It gets even worse in our destination for next year, division 3, with only Queens Park and maybe Coatbridge looking remotely attractive. As for Montrose, Peterhead, Elgin and Brechin, not in you wildest dreams and Berwick is possibly the hardest place in the world to get to from Dumfries! Unfortunately, it looks like this is now our lot for next season. At least last season you could tell Queens were a good team with a bad manager. This time they are a poor team, apart from 1 hour against Stenhousemuir they have shown me nothing to suggest they can avoid relegation. Still, I'll still be at Palmerston for every game!
Yesterdays bad news, apart from the result, was Hawke breaking his wrist, Aitken getting booked and going over the disciplinary point mark for a hefty suspension and Cleeland spoiling his new improved image by having his first sending off for a while. The only bright spots were that Hamilton and Stenhousemuir both through away big leads, Hamilton allowing Arbroath back from 2-0 down to earn a draw thanks to a big Jim Thomson last minute goal and Stenhousemuir even more spectacularly throwing away a 3-0 lead to loose 4-3 to league leaders Clyde. Lets cling on to some hope at least.
Saturday, 29th January,2000 Palmerston Park, Dumfries Scottish Cup, 3rd Round Attendance : 1,530 Queens 0 Livingston 7 Leslie (Off 23) McKinnon (14,89) Keith (51,58,63) Bingham (59) McPhee (68)
Queens Team : Hillcoat, McMillan (Kerr 45), Hodge (Adams), Rowe, Aitken, Cleeland, Dickson, Leslie, Hawke, Mallan, Eadie (Caldwell)
A very black day at Palmerston today, hence the new temporary, hopefully, colour scheme. Queens slumped to the biggest defeat it has been my misfortune to witness (although I do remember 8 past Purdie on the telly a few years ago) in a game which confirms that the 4 game winning run was a fluke. It took a cup slaughtering this time last year to turn things round. The only bright spot about today would be if it was the springboard to a similar run. Remember, it is less than a year ago since we were beating this lot on their own pitch. There can't have been any rugby on in the Edinburgh area today as rent a crowd Livingston brought a large and noisy travelling support. The Queens support was also at its most vocal for a long time, even when we were six down.
Queens never got into this game, and went 1-0 down early on. In the new Sky way I was doing my Leslie-cam bit at the fist goal. When the move started Leslie was with the number 7 in midfield and watched as he pulled away from him. As he slumbered back he picked up the nearest man to him, McKinnon, and needless to say was easily shaken off to allow ample time for the first goal. I really don't know what hold Leslie has on the club but how he still gets a game I just don't know. Another 10 minutes on I thought Dallas had done us a huge favour when he sent Leslie off, but even this couldn't save us! The incident happened right in front of me but I didn't see a thing, either way, so I can't confirm if Leslie was innocent or guilty, but the Heavy Metal Brothers, who were already expressing their disapproval of Mr Dallas in their usual poetic way, were not impressed by the decision. Queens held on grimly until half time although on more than one occasion they had Hillcoat to thank for saving the day (or the half, as it was to turn out).
What can I say about the second half. I had been wanting Kerr to come on to shore up the midfield. What I didn't want was for him to replace McMillan as Queens, only one down at this stage remember, pressed the panic button and went to a 3-3-3 formation. Surely a forward should have come off and gone 4-3-2, specially with our defence. As it was, it lead to a bloody landslide. I really have difficulty remembering the goals, but although I have listed them above as reported by Ceefax, one was definitely a Kerr own goal and another looked very much like a Rowe own goal. We really were lucky to get away with 7 although once Caldwell was brought on he did manage to cause them a few more problems and Queens might have got a consolation goal in the closing minutes but at least managed to slow down the flow of goals. In the end we were praying for the final whistle to spare us more punishment.
So at least we don't have the distraction of a cup run any more to take away from our campaign to avoid relegation, which also received bad news today as Hamilton won away at Ross County, but I'm clutching at straws now, we really are crap. The most worrying thing is that the tactics are slipping into silliness again. It's not as easy as last year to work out what we can do about it through.
Man of the Match - And this really shows how bad we were today, but I have to agree with the sponsors choice John Hillcoat.
Saturday, 22nd January, 2000 Palmerston Park, Dumfries Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 1,104 Queens 2 Stirling 3 Mallan (3) McQuade (15) Eadie (90 pen) Graham (31) McGrillen (80)
Queens Team : Hillcoat, McMillan, Hodge, Rowe, Robison (Preston), Cleeland, Dickson (Adams), Leslie, Hawke, Mallan, Eadie : unused sub - Davidson
A comprehensive home defeat today to a much superior Stirling side featuring in my opinion the best forward line in our league in the shape of big Ally Graham and the best player I have seen this season, No.8 Paul McGrillen. Contrast this to our number 8, Steven Leslie. Once again I find myself asking the question, Steven Leslie, Why? I made a point of keeping an eye on him off the ball a few times and to be fair, he was finding acres of space, unfortunately we were defending at the time. I said last week I don't think it is a coincidence that we have started winning since Ken Eadie came back, although he had a stinker this week, I also don't think it is a coincidence that Leslie was out for much of that run.
The first half started brightly enough as we carried on our good for of last week by taking the lead in 3 minutes. Steve Mallan took advantage of some poor play by their right back to race clear of the defence and finish in a way that demonstrated the teams new found confidence. Mallan continued to cause problems from his left wing berth for much of the half, unfortunately they had even more success from this source. After 15 minutes Queens were yet again caught too high up the park and McGrillen (I think, it was the other side of the park) found himself away clear of McMillan just inside his half. McMillan chased back gamely but just couldn't get there allowing the winger the time to lay on an inch perfect centre for the inrushing and unmarked McQuad to slot confidently home. 15 minutes later and from the same source Graham did what he does best by heading home from a left wing cross to put Stirling into the lead. The game however at this point was flowing from end to end and at half time the Queens fans, who yet again numbered over 1,000 despite previous gloomy predictions, were not too downhearted as a comeback still looked on the cards.
The half time entertainment this week was in the form of a 'penalty' (from the half way line) shoot out between Queens and Greystone girls, compared by one of the new commercial team, Mungo Brydson. I heard last week that he had asked the program not to advertise the fact that he is a farmer. If this was the case, why was he dressed as he was? May I suggest a new tailor (this is all said with a smile on my face by the way, nothing malicious). The final score in the shoot out was 1-1 thanks to a brilliant display by the young keeper. Anyway, ready steady go and we were ready for the second half (you'll know what I mean if you were there). If I wasn't sure if it was McGrillen tearing us apart in the first half there was absolutely no doubt in the second as, right in front of me, he proceeded to pull Queens apart. He is an arrogant wee git but he has good reason for it. Stirling had also patched up any defensive problems they had in the first half and this, combined with Queens complete inability to pass to a team mate, meant the game was totally killed of. Preston was brought on as sweeper in place of Robison early in the half but made little difference. With ten minutes to go McGrillen put us out of our misery as Rowe miss judged a through ball (although he should have got a call from McMillan who had it covered) and McGrillen went away to score a well deserved goal from a difficult angle. In the last minute, however, Ken Eadie was upended in the box and got up himself to give us hope of a undeserved equaliser in the couple of minutes stoppage time we were expecting, but the ref blew for full time before the game could re start.
Results elsewhere means this isn't a total disaster but the style of our defeat I think means we can forget any thoughts of promotion, although I still think we can beat the lesser teams in the league and easily avoid relegation, I hope.
Man of the Match - I was going to go for number 8 - till I realised he played for the opposition (you didn't think I was going to say Steven Leslie, did you?) so I'll have to go for the girl who played in goals during the half time shoot out.
Saturday, 15th January, 2000 Palmerston Park, Dumfries Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 1,017 Queens 3 Stenhousemuir 1 Mallan (23) McKinnon (71) Watson (o.g. 24) Hawke (27)
Queens Team : Hillcoat, McMillan, Hodge, Rowe, Aitken, Cleeland, Dickson (Davidson), Leslie, Hawke, Mallan (Preston), Eadie (Adams)
Queens kept up their recent good win with a convincing win against a poor Stenhousemuir side to drag us back onto the tails of the pack and actually, despite our terrible form this season, still in with a chance of promotion. I was interested to see how Queens were accommodating Eadie, Hawke and Mallan and it seems they are basically playing 4-3-3 although they seem to take turns at dropping deeper. The new more direct style was also in evidence although its hardly route one Wimbledon stuff.
Queens didn't start well and Stenhousemuir were the better team in the first 20 minutes without ever threatening a more confident looking Queens defence. After about 20 minutes Queens had their first real chance when Eadie headed down for Mallan but he and Hawke got in each others way a bit and the shot was sliced wide. Queens best five minutes of the season however was just starting as a couple of minutes later a corner was headed rather harmlessly towards goal but landed at the feet of Stevie Mallan about a yard out to slam home one of his 'only scores marvellous' goals. A minute later came evidence that Queens luck could finally be turning when Leslie chased through what looked like a waste cause to hound the keeper from a pass back. The keeper panicked and waked the ball right of the napper of a defender and could only watch as it rebounded into the net. Three minutes later a long ball put Hawke through as clear of a defence as I have ever seen anybody and he remained cool to slot home number three. Confidence was now flowing and Queens proceeded to play the best football seen at Palmerston this season for most of the game. Hillcoat was a spectator, McMillan and Hodge (by the way, my mate wants to know if they are the tallest full backs in Scotland?) went forward at every opportunity and either of them could have been man of the match, Rowe and Aitken looked confident again, Dickson looked to get on the ball and run with it, Leslie and Cleeland bossed the midfield, Mallan and Hawke looked lively and Eadie, even although he has so pace left, looked a total class apart, winning headers all over the place to set up chances for his fellow forwards. Queens cruised through to their well deserved standing ovation at half time.
Things should have been quickly sown up in the second half. After three minutes, Mallan, to use a basketball term, drew the foul, inside the box for a penalty. He was up like a shot to chase the ball to make sure he got to take the kick, at least he doesn't lack confidence, but for the umpteenth time his shot was easily saved by the keeper. Queens continued to dominate without actually threatening too much, until a slip in the box allowed Stenhousemuir the chance to pull one back. There then followed a nervous ten minute spell before Queens got back on top again to easily see out the rest of the match, indeed Hawke should have iced the cake near the end but sliced wide in front of an open goal.
The Clayholers did us no favours by loosing to Hamilton to keep us bottom although it does mean that we are now only nine points behind them in third place. Three more weeks and we'll be past them!
Man of the Match - OK, I admit he can do no wrong in my eyes, but as I said earlier, Ken Eadie looked a class apart. (Even although the idiot sponsors gave it to George Rowe, only kidding, I know the guys who picked him)
Saturday, 8th January, 2000 Links Park, Montrose Scottish Cup, Round 2 Attendance : 497 Queens 3 Montrose 1 Eadie (40) O'Driscoll (55) Hawke (75) Adams (76)
Queens Team : Hillcoat, McMillan, Hodge, Rowe, Robison, Cleeland, Dickson, Kerr (Leslie 75), Hawke, Eadie (Adams 70), Mallan (Weir 84)
Queens third win in a row took them through to a 3rd round home tie against Livingston, and while I hate to say I told you so, and I haven't actually seen any of these games, I don't believe it can be a coincidence that Ken Eadie has also played 3 games in a row. Looking forward to my first game in ages next week.
Monday, 3rd January, 2000 Stair Stadium, Stranraer Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 708 Queens 2 Stranraer 1 Hawke (4) Harty (53 pen) Eadie (21) Aitken (Off 52)
Queens Team : Hillcoat, McMillan, Hodge, Rowe, Aitken, Cleeland, Dickson, Davidson, Eadie (Adams 74), Hawke (Strain 90), Mallan
Queens stormed to their second win in a row at the expense of our high flying rivals from the Clayhole at the Stair Stadium (as my boss, a Stranraer fan, likes to call it) to pull ourself within 3 points of Hamilton at the bottom of the table. I have been to the Clayhole at New Year before and it is not an experience I plan to repeat so I wasn't there. I haven't been to a game since 27th November and only 2 since 16th October and I am actual starting to miss it. Sorry by the way if you went to Stanraer, I ment to post my message about what a dive it is before the game but didn't get round to it, still, I'm sure you enjoyed the game.
I would now like to claim the aclaim which I truley deserve. Did I not tell you the answer to some (not all) of Queens problems was sitting on the bench in a suit. Two games for Mr Eadie, 2 wins, need I say more.
And that's this weeks report. ANd I didn't even mention the milenium once. Shit, that's blown it. By the way, I don't care if that is how you spell milllllennniummmm cause I won't be seen the bloody word for 1,000 years. Yipee!!
Saturday, 18th December, 1999 Palmerston Park, Dumfries Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 837 Queens 1 Arbroath 0 Mallan (14) Kerr (Off 89)
Queens Team : Hillcoat, McMillan, Hodge, Rowe, Aitken, Cleeland, Kerr, Trialist (Alan Preston) (Eadie 40), Dickson, Hawke, Mallan : Unused subs - Strain, Robinson
Woke up this morning still suffering from this flu which has been doing the rounds (actually, I think I am the carrier, Sorry!) and no intentions of venturing to Palmerston, special as I had to be in Kirkcudbright by 7:00 for the work night out so I was actually quite glad to see the snow start to come down at about noon to cancel the game. Kept checking Ceefax but they were doing there usual slow job of updating. Had one last look at about 3:20 only to discover that not only was the game being played but Steve Mallan had given Queens the lead. Fortunately, my taxi driver was able to give me a brief description of the game so here is what I know.
Warne Hawke has been signed from Morton (£30,000.00?) and played along with ex St. Johnstone and Dundee United Alan Preston playing as a trialist. Taxi Driver reckons both played well through Preston had to come off before half time with a suspected broken arm/rib? Ken Eadie proved he does read this page and take notice!! by at last making his first appearance of the season as the substitute. The game was played out in the farcical conditions but Queens got the result they so badly needed so who cares? Alan Kerr was sent of near the end for taking a dive, allegedly.
Saturday, 11th December, 1999 Stirling Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 534 Queens 0 Stirling 3 McQuade (53) Whiteford (78) Donald (90)
Queens Team : Hillcoat, McMillan, Hodge, Robison, Aitken, Kerr (Cleeland 60), Dickson, Strain, McLean, Paterson (Stewart 78), Weir (Mallan 60)
On the bright side, Queens did twice as well as Aberdeen and much better than Albion Rovers. On the down side we're doomed! I now call for a chant of "Eadie Get Your Boots On" at the next home match!
Saturday, 27th November, 1999 Palmerston Park, Dumfries Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 862 Queens 0 Ross County 2 Boyle (Off 80) Kinnaird (48,65) Fraser (Off 80)
Queens Team : Hillcoat, McMillan, Hodge, Rowe, Aitken, Cleeland (Mallan 60), Dickson, Boyle, McLean, Adams, Paterson : Unused subs - Strain, Robison
Queens continue to sink fast, loosing their 6th game in a row today to sink 8 points clear at the bottom of the table. As I write this I am still not back on the Internet and I hope all my loyal readers haven't lost patience by the time I am. I'm afraid I now have to say out loud what I have been thinking for some time. The Rowe Eadie partnership isn't working. I have heard people with more knowledge than me, although I can't remember who it was, that co-managers don't work and unfortunately they are being proved right. A decision has to be made now by the new Chairman. Either bring in somebody with a bit more experience or give either Rowe or preferably Eadie, the job on his own. Nothing particularly against George Rowe here, I just don't think a player/manager is what Queens need in their current position. To be fair to them, they did a great job at the end of last season but, and I know I didn't actually say this, I always saw it as a short term solution. The fact the the back-bone of the team has been lost for the second season running obviously hasn't helped. Today Queens came up against a professional (i.e. boring old pros who push the rules to the limit) side who taught them yet another lesson. The question I have to ask is, even although they will probably do well this season, would you really want to watch them every week:? You have to admit, when Queens do play well they are good to watch, the problem is they are very much a confidence team and that commodity is at nil just now.
Queens took the first half on points by a mile. McLean, the new centre forward on loan from Inverness, looked promising early on against his Highland cousins and came close with a spectacular volley which went just over, whoever, and I must point out that I am a Scarlett Adams fan, Charlie was having another stinker, and the big Highlanders soon had McLean controlled. Queens best chance came in the bizarre category when Geoff Paterson, making his debut today I think, blocked an attempted clearance on the edge of their box and Henry Smith/Nicky Walker (whichever one it was) only just got across to turn the ball away for a corner. Queens continued to play well for the rest of the half but the signs were there when Hillcoat had to make a good save from about their only decent attack and then Boyle had to head the resultant corner off the line.
Queens started the second half in their usual style, throwing away all their good work to a soft goal. They failed to take a couple of chances to clear the ball allowing former Clay Holer Paul Kinnaird to nip in an miss cue a header to loop weekly past Hillcoat into the top corner. Queens then brought of Cleeland, who incidentally bottled a couple of good chances at the end of the first half which I forgot about, and brought on Mallan. What the point of this was I don't know and what our formation was after this I don't know but it wasn't long till it was all over, and this time there was nothing soft about it as Kinnaird fired home a free kick from the edge of the box. The same Kinnaird then ensured he would be the least popular man in Palmerston when he went down in a heap following an admittedly nasty looking Adams challenge, stayed down for a while till he realised he was getting nothing so leapt to his feet and carried on with not a thing wrong with him. Professional, as I said! The game effectively came to an end when Boyle tangled with one of their men on the far side of the park. I couldn't really see what happened but they were both sent off. The game then drifted to a finish and the few of us who were still left in the worryingly small crowd were very glad to hear the final whistle.
Man of The Match - For keeping trying from his left back slot, Sandy Hodge
Saturday, 20th November, 1999 Palmerston Park, Dumfries Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 1,462 Queens 1 Partick 2 Aitken (28) English (12) Lyle (70)
Queens Team : Hillcoat, McMillan, Hodge, Rowe, Aitken, Cleeland (Kerr 80), Dickson, Boyle, McLean, Adams, Caldwell (Strain 76) : Unused Sub - Paterson
My first game in over a month, and boy, have I missed it. Well, no actually, and today was my first really cold one of the season, god, the next four months are going to be great! Specially if we keep playing like this. To be fair, the overall performance today wasn't too bad but we shot ourselves in the foot twice yet again to hand Thistle victory. In the news section I have laid down my game plan to save us from the drop this season but today showed up 2 things in particular for me which need to sorted now.
1. A team in Queens position shouldn't be getting caught on the break as often as we are. We should build a strong formation, maintain a back four through out the game, not push 3 of them forward, and have a midfield man sit behind the ball at all times. This way we might scrape out some draws or 1-0's and at least steady the ship.
2. We need to make better use of the car park. More on this later.
The game started fairly evenly until Queens shot in the foot number one. Rowe, under pressure, tried to play a cute back pass, but, not for the first time this season, only succeeded in giving the ball to a grateful Partick forward and Thistle were one up. This is were the car park comes in. This ball was begging to be put there, after all, if the pass back had gone to the keeper, he would only have put it there, so why try to be fancy. HOOF THE BLOODY THING! Minutes later, Hillcoat came to our rescue as he saved one on one after the defence crumbled once again. It didn't look good at this point. However, Queens came back well and from a corner after Hodge's long ranger was tipped over, Andy Aitken rose high to head home his first goal for many a day in his one hundredth match. The rest of the half was pretty even but unfortunately Adams was having a nightmare, as was Caldwell down the right and Rowe in the centre of defence which meant they edged the chances.
Thistle came out with all guns blazing for the second half and Hillcoat saved us twice before 5 minutes were up with 2 excellent saves. He looked surprisingly confident for a man who had lost 8 goals in his last 2 games and played really well today. He could do nothing however about Thistle's winner. Andy Aitken under pressure, tried to play a cute back pass, but, not for the first time this season, only succeeded in giving the ball to a grateful Partick forward and Thistle were one up. This is were the car park comes in. This ball was begging to be put there, after all, if the pass back had gone to the keeper, he would only have put it there, so why try to be fancy. HOOF THE BLOODY THING! Hang on, this all sounds very familiar. Have I lost the place in my notes. No, we really did do it twice! Queens best chances to pull it back came from a Rowe knock down which our new centre forward blasted past and in the last minute when we threw everybody forward for a free kick but got in each other's way a bit. In the end, Partick just deserved the win which leaves us 6 points clear at the bottom.
So here we are, 6 points adrift and in deep stuff. We need to turn this around quick. I have my plan, but whether I'll be able to post in time (see news) I don't know. Of the new guys today, the right back looked steady, Dickson looked like he wanted to get forward and didn't like right midfield and the centre forward held the ball up well but didn't get much help from Sarlett.
Man of the Match - John Hillcoat.
Tuesday, 9th November, 1999 Broadwood, Cumbernauld Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 857 Queens 0 Clyde 3 Mallan (Off 77) Woods (60) McClay (82) Carrigan (87)
Queens Team : Hillcoat, Trialist, Kerr (Adams 84), Rowe, Aitken, Cleeland, Dickson (Strain 65), Leslie, Caldwell, Mallan, Robison : Unused Subs - Stewart
Queens went bottom following their second big defeat in 4 days in this game which was switch to the Tuesday to avoid clashing with the Scotland-England Euro 2000 play off. Looks like I'm not going to have much to celebrate this week then! Reports are we played much better than Saturday till Mallan got sent off.
Saturday, 6th November, 1999 Palmerston Park, Dumfries Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 1,052 Queens 0 Stranraer 5 Roddie (52, 56) Johnstone (70) Ronald (80, 81)
Queens Team : Hillcoat, Stewart, Hodge (Weir 52), Rowe, Aitken, Cleeland, Dickson (Adams 52), Leslie, Caldwell, Mallan, Mallan, Robison : Unused Subs - Kerr
Luckily, I had to pick my mother-in-law up from Glasgow Airport today and so missed our most humiliating defeat in years. Luckier still, I thought better of my plan to turn up for the second half, which I got home in time for, as all five goals came in this period.
Saturday, 30th October, 1999 Larbett Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 820 Queens 1 Stenhousemuir 2 Dickson (80) Hamilton (83) Graham (87)
Queens Team : Hillcoat, Stewart, Kerr , Rowe, Aitken, Cleeland, Dickson, Leslie, Adams (Strain 69), Mallan, Weir : Unused Subs - Hodge, Robison
According to the papers, Queens were the better team, took the lead through new signing Dickson with 10 minutes to go, and lost! Things don't look good.
Saturday, 23rd October, 1999 Arbroath Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 851 Queens 2 Arbroath 5 Caldwell (71) McGlashan (7,57,85) Rowe (87) Arbuckle (28,65)
Queens Team : Hillcoat, Stewart, Hodge (Kerr 62), Rowe, Aitken, Cleeland, Dickson, Leslie, Adams (Strain 62), Mallan, Weir (Caldwell 56)
We was stuffed. Fortunately, I wasn't stupid enough to go.
Saturday, 16th October, 1999 Palmerston Park, Dumfries Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 1,027 Queens 3 Hamilton 2 Adams (55 pen) Ferguson (18) Mallan (70) N Henderson (20) Harvey (81) Reid Off 55 Ferguson Off 90
Queens Team : Hillcoat, Stewart, Hodge, Rowe (Kerr), Aitken, Cleeland, Harvey, Boyle, Adams (Caldwell), Mallan, Weir : Unused sub - Strain
Queens chalked up their second win of the season, against the same team as we gained the first one against. The difference this time is that for the first half of this game Hamilton were a much better team and who knows what would have happened had it not been for yet another excentrict refereeing performance today, although, to be fair to the wee man, he must have had difficulty seeing over some of the higher blades of grass. I arrived earlier than usual today to be greeted by the site of Queens warming up by playing a very energetic game of one touch football within an enclosed area. Some of them were really diving in, we were lucky no one got injured although it obviously took until half time for some of them to get their breath back!
We were absolutely and totally routed in the first half. Hamilton went in 2-0 up and we were lucky to have 0. Queens were woefully short of confidence as nothing came of and deservedly went behind when their left back, who looked like a good player, got into the penalty area to cut the ball back for their big number 9 to score. Minutes later they got away down the right and again finished well. And from a Queens point of view, that was the first half. Half time brought the news that Partick were 2-0 up and Queens where heading for the bottom of the table.
Queens were a much better team in the second half, but they were greatly helped by the referee, Tom Thumb. The incident that turned the game came when Mallan was brought down in the penalty area. Nothing too controversial about this, or the penalty which Adams eventually put away after some hesitation deciding who would hit it. The real drama came when Adams and Mallan tried to retrieve the ball but the keeper wouldn't give them it. Adams knocked the ball out of his hands and chased after the ball as it ran away. The keeper, rather foolishly, tripped him and probably deserved a booking at worst, but the referee went straight for his red card and sent him off. And so the game turned. To be fair, it was more to do with Queens gaining confidence from this than anything else as I think if they had played like they did against the 11 men and a full time goalkeeper they would also have won. The first chance came when Boyle, Mallan and Adams went through 3 on 2 but Boyle miss directed his pass. Queens then won a corner on the left but played it short rather than swing it under the bar. The keepers weakness was shown soon through when Mallan got onto a long ball to head home easily but the referee gave a free kick. Weir and their right back then got in a tangle right in front of us, and the referee. I promise you, Weir did nothing, and I'm not just saying that, while the Hamilton boy through a pretty decent right hook. The ref however, booked them both. When Queens did equalise, it had little to do with their artificial advantage. Boyle played a brilliant ball to Weir, Weir crossed beautifully to the back post were Mallan slide in to score. The winner came when Queens were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box and our new free kick expert, Harvey, who had come close with one in the first half and was to come close with a later one, curled it into the stand in keeper's top right hand corner, giving him no chance, and I doubt if any keeper would have got there. Queens then held out more than looked for another goal but were rarely troubled and Hamilton lost another player when their centre forward was booked for diving, and I assume he had already been booked as the red card followed the yellow.
So Queens get a valuable victory and have now gone 3 without defeat. Hopefully our confidence will now come back and we can play like we did in the second half. Partick managed to through away their lead for a 2-2 draw and so we have pulled further away from them and so we had a very happy ending.
Man of the Match - I'll go for Denis Boyle, he does so much good work covering back in midfield, something usually sadly lacking from the guy he replaced. Close was a guy who I haven't mentioned much this season but is much improved from the player I used to criticise so much last season, Marc Cleeland.
Saturday, 2nd October, 1999 Dingwall Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 2,293 Queens 1 Ross County 1 Boyle (17) Wood (39)
Queens Team : Hillcoat, Stewart, Hodge, Rowe, Aitken, Cleeland, Harvey, Leslie, Adams (Strain 82), Mallan, Boyle
Queens continued operation stop the slide in what looked like possibly their toughest game to date, but we now have to be asking, is it enough? By all reports, Queens should have had the game sown up at half time but in the end were lucky to escape with a point. As you will probably have guessed, those of you who thought I would make the trip to where ever the hell Ross play to wright a report were wrong but we got quite good reviews in all the papers. Unfortunately, we continue to drift of the pack at the bottom of the league, while the leaders, including the apparently much improved Hamilton, start to bunch. So we really need to get back to the form that saw us thump Hamilton earlier on in the season in 2 weeks time against Hamilton again. Let's hope so, I don't want another season like last year.
Saturday, 25th September, 1999 Palmerston Park, Dumfries Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 1,038 Queens 3 Stirling 3 Rowe (12) Graham (7 pen, 18) Mallan (57) McGrillen (13) Harvey (68)
Queens Team : Hillcoat, Stewart, Kerr, Rowe, Aitken, Cleeland, Harvey, Leslie, Adams (Strain), Mallan, Caldwell (Boyle) : Unused sub - Bailey
An exiting game at Palmerston today saw the fans leave happy after a second half fight back saw Queens get a share of the points. However, I can't help remembering that Stirling were the worst team I saw last season and they didn't really look all that good today. This really was a game that Queens should have won comfortably and they certainly had the chances. The forwards didn't have the usual excuse of a lack of service today.
The game started with a bang and the first 15 minutes were the most exciting I have seen for a long time. However, when the dust settled, Queens had somehow managed to conjure up a 3-1 deficit. Queens went straight onto the attack and Mallan soon showed that their defence hadn't improved much when he got past the last man only to blaze wildly wide. Soon after their keeper made a hash of a cross but Caldwell scuffed his shot allowing a defender to get back and clear. Queens were soon made to pay for this when from a corner Martin, at best, 'exaggerated a fall' in the penalty box, and the ref, not for the last time, fell for it hook, line and sinker and gave the penalty which was easily scored. Queens however hit back quickly when Adams first timed a poor pass back but the keeper saved brilliantly. However, from the resulting corner George Rowe rose above the defence to score the equaliser. This was short lived however as Andy Aitken decided it was his turn to give away a goal this week as he was woefully short with a back pass and allowed the cheating little swine number 8, McGrillen?, to round Hillcoat and make it 2-1. I refrained from accusing Martin of diving earlier on but I am not going to this time. Their number 8 dived all over the place and the ref fell for it every time. They were both a disgrace. Back to the football, at this stage I commented to my mate that this could finish 12 all, and I turned out not to be too far out. However, soon after this we feared it might actually be 12-1 as Graham turned a cross from the right back into the far corner. The first half however fizzled out a bit after this as Stirling went into full 'East Fife' mode and dived and time wasted all over the place to keep Queens out.
Queens continued to press in the second half and still looked capable of turning the game around. The first goal didn't come however until after the first substitution, Strain coming on for Adams for his first competitive game and he went on to look quite lively. Leslie also took this opportunity to change his boots which prompted a wag in the crowd to ask if he had been wearing 2 left boots! From the free kick at the left back position, the ball was floated into the box. Mallan, for the umpteenth time since I started watch him, let the ball drift over his left shoulder so he could take it left footed on the volley. However, on this occasion it came of and the ball smacked into the roof of the net. Take a mental note of this one for goal of the season. Queens then managed to equalise in time to give them a run at them for the last few minutes. For one of the few times in the match, the ref gave us a free kick, on the edge of their box. Fortunately for those on the terracing, Leslie stepped over the ball, and fortunately for the rest of us, Harvey flighted the ball beautifully over the wall and into the net of the post. Queens tried hard for the winner but in the end seemed quite happy to settle for a draw.
As I said, I don't think Stirling are a very good side and this a a game we really should have won. The failure to do so confirms that we are more likely to be fighting a battle against relegation this season than look to go up. Even Andy Aitken isn't looking good although it is noticeable that this has been most noticeable since we lost half our defence. It's easy to look silly if you are trying to mark 3 players at once. At least the display was quite good today so maybe there is still some hope.
Man of the Match - He still tends to take his first step backwards when he gets the ball, but at least Paul Harvey is beginning to play some nice passes and got a good goal today.
Saturday, 18th September, 1999 Stair 'Stadium', Ireland Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 710 Queens 0 Stranraer 1 Smith (76)
Queens Team : Hillcoat, Stewart, Kerr, Rowe, Aitken, Cleeland, Findlay, Leslie, Bailey (Adams 67), Mallan, Caldwell : Unused subs - Harvey, Robison
Like I already said, I couldn't be bothered to make the trip along the dirt tracks to the Clay Hole so I spent the afternoon catching up after my holidays and watching Sky and listening to West Sound. And yet again bad news was delivered as Queens yet again failed to deliver the goods. Queens have now slumped to 2nd bottom and the word crisis now has to be sneaking to the top of the pile.
The Courier are once again advocating buying our way out of trouble. As I have said in the past, Queens should not be a buying team, they should be finding new talent. Any money in the bank will be required to keep the team going, it is a fantasy to think that just cause we sold a couple of players we are now loaded. There is no way you can tell me Queens are financially viable without these sales. Having said all that, I have to agree that the the one thing we need more than anything is a return to some kind of full time set up, if even only for the younger players. If we are really going to be a club who produces talented young players we need to do this on a full time basis.
Although I haven't seen the last 3 games I will stick my neck out and predict that it was a lack of creativity from midfield which cost us most. The Courier seems to want to blame Stevie Mallan, and while I have to admit that he does get despondent quite easily, what can he do without the service? And another thing, what has happened to Mark Weir? To me he was our most promising youngster but he seems to have disappeared.
My summary, and remember, I am the guy how saved us last year! We need a left back and a midfielder who can actually pass. Then we'll be OK.
Saturday, 11th September, 1999 Palmerston Park, Dumfries Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 928 Queens 0 Stenhousemuir 3 Hamilton (12) Graham (55, 64)
Queens Team : Hillcoat, Stewart, Kerr (Leslie 60), Rowe, Aitken, Cleeland, Harvey, Findlay, Bailey, Adams (Mallan 60), Caldwell.
As I may have mentioned elsewhere, I've been on holiday to the sunny Costa Del Sol for the last 10 days and so missed the last two games. And while I was away having fun dodging the Time Share Salesmen Queens seem to have been dodging nothing as they took one point from these two home games. Actually, I have to admit that I didn't leave till the Sunday after the Clyde game but I wasn't feeling well and the prospect of watching Clyde and risking making myself worse for my holidays didn't really appeal. It sounds like he usual boring game. And as for the Stenny game, ask me if I would rather have been at Palmerston last Saturday or in Gibraltar as I was and it will be a very easy one to answer. And that's all the report you are getting!
Saturday, 4th September, 1999 Palmerston Park, Dumfries Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 1,186 Queens 1 Clyde 1 Bailey (78) Keogh (80)
Queens Team : Hillcoat, Kerr, Hodge, Rowe, Aitken, Cleeland, Harvey, Findlay, Bailey, Mallan (Adams 68), Caldwell : unused subs - Weir, Robison
Saturday, 28th August, 1999 Firhill, Glasgow Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 1,959 Queens 0 Partick 2 Elliot (5) McKeown (76)
Queens Team : Hillcoat, Stewart, Hodge, Rowe (Robison 45), Aitken, Cleeland, Harvey, Leslie (Findlay), Boyle (Bailey), Mallan, Caldwell
Oh, oh! I hate to be the profit of doom but this was the performance and result which I had feared was on the cards right from the beginning of the season. Queens lacked any direction or forward thrust as they failed to capitalise on a greater share of possession and never really looked capable of scoring, apart from a couple of early second half chances. The passing was as bad as I have seen and our only hope now is to either get Billy Findlay fit or get somebody into the team who can actually play a 2 yard pass. The formation looked strange from the start, last weeks trialist Hodge dropping in to left back to replace the injured Kerr, Stewart in as a straight replacement for Lilley (of to Aberdeen) and Boyle in to the left side of the midfield (still no sign of Charlie Adams). Harvey, however, also started down the left, although he seemed to have licence to drift and ended up back on the right pretty quickly.
What a boring first half. Queens had their usual large Firhill travelling support but they were finding it difficult to muster much enthusiasm as the game coasted along at break nothing speed. Hodge at left back was seeing an awful lot of the back but he doesn't look like the best playmaker in the world although to be fair to him his colleagues weren't exactly giving a lot of options. Mallan was having his second stinker in a row and Caldwell, despite the build up he has been getting in the local press, is still not the finished article although he does show much promise. Harvey was having another off day, although I was at the game with a couple of Clydebank fans, who say he was a very streaky player when with them, but when he played well was about as good as Davie Cooper! I'll look forward to that then! Partick scored a typical Thistle type goal after 5 minutes. They got space down the right and as the Queens defence tried to move across to cover switched back to the left were Elliot came in to send a shot from 20 yards into the far corner. The only other chance of the half again fell to Thistle but Hillcoat saved well after a man was aloud through on his own. The half time whistle blew while we were still waiting for the action to start.
Queens did a Manchester United at half time, the Japp Stam of the second division , George Rowe, failing to reappear to be replaced by Robison and soon afterwards the David Beckham of the second division, Steven Leslie (Copyright Andy Murray!), was replaced by Billy Findlay. Findlay then almost repeated his trick of 2 weeks ago when he went forward with the ball, appeared to hold it too long, before chipping a shot from the edge of the area which the keeper did really well to turn over. His partner in crime from 2 weeks ago, Lee Bailey, soon followed him onto the pitch for the ineffective Boyle and he also almost did his favourite trick as with his first touch he turned the Thistle defence inside out but having done the hard bit proceeded to shoot wide. Mallan had a chance between these 2 but his bad day continued as he shot over from 2 yards after Partick failed to deal with a corner, but that, despite dominating the possession, was it as far as chances for Queens was concerned. Just to confirm that we weren't going to get anything out of this game a left wing corner was allowed to pass along the front of the goal to leave Des McKeown a tap in at the far post which he celebrated with great joy for a Queens fan!
Queens were not undeservedly, booed of the pitch at the end, and the 2 Clydebank fans assessed that they had just seen 2 pretty poor teams play each other. We were in no position to argue. At least results else were mean we don't loose much ground and if we can somehow win our next 2 games, at home to Clyde and Stenhousemuir, we should still be in pretty good shape. However, we have definitely dropped in standard from last year and I think that will be a struggle.
Man of The Match - Hodge, looks ungainly but tried very hard and couldn't really be blamed for not having anyone to pass to.
Saturday, 21st August, 1999 Palmerston Park, Dumfries Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 1,204 Queens 1 Alloa 1 Caldwell (43) Cameron (47)
Queens Team : Hillcoat, Lilley, Kerr (Robison 63), Rowe, Aitken, Cleeland (Findlay 63), Harvey, Leslie, Hodge (Bailey), Mallan, Caldwell
First of all, lets start with Queen's Scene, Andy Murray's, verment defence of Steven Leslie in the program. First, let me say that although I give Grasshopper some stick on this page once he is on the pitch I do not raise my voice against him and I agree with Andy that we should get behind the players on the pitch. The rest of it, I'm afraid, indicates that he is on something. I quote : 'His distribution and precision passing were seldom equalled by any player in the Second Division', This season, wearing the skipper's hat, he has been immense', If the second division has its David Beckham, then he is Steven Leslie'. Come On! I don't deny that he is a good hustling midfield player, but he can't pass. Look out for David Beckham on your doorstep! And as for Captain Marvel, he has been convicted of assaulting a woman, not usually the best of credentials for a team captain. Afraid I have to disagree with Sceny on this one.
And so to the game, another dull affair against Terry Christie. As one spectator remarked to him near the end, his tactics are useless and he spoils the game every time he is at Palmerston. Well, his tactics are actually very good, but he does spoil every game he plays at Palmerston. They were slightly more adventurous than usual, playing a 7-0-3 formation for much of the match, but it has to be said look a good team and were more than worth their point. Queens team was virtually unchanged, only trialist Hodge in for Adams on the left side of midfield in the way of any change.
Alloa dominated the first half and were actually quite attacking, which must have displeased Christie and was something he managed to sort out at half time. Their best chance fell to their big centre forward as Queen's, not for the first time, lost several 50-50 balls on the edge of their own box allowing him through 1 on 1 with Hillcoat but Queen's goalie stood up well to block the shot. Then with half time approaching, Queens scored against the run of play. Stevie Mallan, who had a stinker today, set up Caldwell on the left edge of the box and his cross shot went nicely into the corner to send us on our way.
As I said, Christie got his men sorted out at half time and they were rarely seen as an attacking force in the second half as Queens camped out in their half. First, however, Queen's managed to make their now customary early second half cock up to once again leave their centre forward 1 on 1 with Hillcoat and this time he made no mistake. After that, Queen's pushed forward looking for a winner but rarely showed enough to suggest they could break down the massed ranks of the Alloa defence, Bailey coming closest after he came on, but as I said, Mallan was having a stinker and a lot of the moves broke down their. I the end the draw was a fair result.
A win today would have pushed us right into the promotion battle this early but as it is the draw means we haven't lost too much ground. I don't think Arbroath, Alloa and Stenny can keep it up and see Ross County and possibly Stranraer as our main rivals. I'll probably be totally wrong again.
Man of the Match - Yet again I agree with the sponsors, Brian Caldwell.
Wednesday, 18th August, 1999 Palmerston Park, Dumfries CIS League Cup, Round 2 Attendance : 5,180 Queens 1 Hearts 3 Leslie (16) Jackson (46,85) Severin (70)
Queens Team : Hillcoat, Lilley, Kerr, Rowe, Aitken, Cleeland, Harvey (Findlay 72), Leslie, Adams (Bailey 72), Mallan, Caldwell : unused sub- Robison
Well, we weren't hammered, but it was nearly so much better. Queens biggest crowd since ..... Sunday (The filming of 'The Cup', which I didn't go to by the way so you won't be getting a report here), although it has to be said that the rumoured sell out of the Hearts end was a bit of a damp squid as it was only about half full. Still, it just shows that there were around 4,000 Queens fans at the game. Queens brought back Lilley and Rowe from Saturday but apart from that the team was unchanged in staff and positions. This type of game suits Cleeland and Leslie, were their job is to harass their midfield opponents, and they did this superbly, however, I still think we'll struggle against teams we have to dominate as we still have nobody to make the play, although Harvey is coming on and so is Findlay when he gets on. Queens gave Hearts a hell of a scare as they chased an challenged for every ball but in the end Hearts Premiership class and full time fitness showed as they found their way through this tough tie.
After a fairly even opening, Queens stunned Hearts after 16 minutes when Leslie burst through. Their big defence had already shown signs of not liking to be turned, and indeed, Andy Aitken, who had a host of scouts to show of to, looked a much better player than the much vaunted Paul Ritchie. Queens took full advantage of this when Harvey and Caldwell combined down the right to send Grasshopper away through the middle. Little Stevie nipped through Kevin James' legs (exaggeration!!) and, as the residents of Terregles Street ducked, coolly slotted the ball left footed past the advancing Rousset like he did this every week. Queens continued to play well for the rest of the half but the signs were there that Hearts would be just too good in the long run as McSwegan twice found too much space in the box to hit the inside of the post and we were lucky when J.R. Dallas decided to book Colin Cameron for diving rather then give him a penalty. I must admit I though it was a penalty but Dallas did have a better view. And so Queens went of to rapturous applause ringing in their ears and dreams of an upset.
Hopes were soon dampened in the second half. Darren Jackson, who didn't get the welcome he deserves when he came on at half time (he used to get a hotter reception when he played for Meadowbank!), took advantage of Queens shooting themselves in the foot within a minute of coming on to bring Hearts back level. I couldn't really see the corner of the pitch where Hillcoat sliced his clearance to, but I thought it was Kerr who made the cock up, however other reports seem to indicate he was inocent. Whatever, the ball was soon back in the box and Jackson still managed to fall on his arse before scoring the equalising goal. Queens through didn't give up and Stevie Mallan soon had the ball in the back of the net, but I'm afraid I have to agree with Dallas that he clipped Pressley's heel on the way through and it was a free kick. Strait away, Queens defence had another disaster. A free kick from the left midway inside our half was missed by everybody allowing a wee boy to come in unchallenged at the back post to score. Queens still didn't give up and Leslie got clear down the right and Rousset did well to parry his shot from a difficult angle and then our best chance fell to the very man we would have picked, Stevie Mallan, but he chocked his close range volley and sent it wide. Queens then did the double substitution trick they tried on Saturday but this time I think it was a mistake as it made us weaker on the right side of the park. Hearts then brought on Fulton and he soon exploited this space and the tiring Queens defence to surge through and set up Darren Jackson to trickle one in from 20 yards.
And so Queens came out of their toughest game for years defeated but with honour upheld. As I said through, I think this type of game suited them and I'm not so sure how they will get on against teams they have to dominate. I feel it is now time for my beginning of term report card. I think we still lack in a couple of key positions but hopefully the position isn't too bad. Hillcoat looks a good shot stopper but his kicking and cross taking don't exactly inspire confidence. However, as long as we come up against teams like Hamilton every week, he will do until Mathieson comes back. The right and centre defence look good but the lack of experience showed against Arbroath when Rowe was out and old head Tam Bryce caused big problems. Kerr at left back can play solid for 89 minutes but seems to suffer from 'excentricism'' on occasions to our expense. Hopefully will settle in through. We still lack a midfield playmaker although Harvey is looking better and Findlay looks like he could come on. It is also nice that there is now competition for midfield places and the same goes up front were we are not too bad. So, all in all, I think the team might just be good enough for this division although it would need to be improved if we were to move up.
Man of the Match - I can't can I? I think I'm going to have to. Whisper it - Steven Leslie.
Saturday, 14th August, 1999 Firhill, Glasgow Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 630 Queens 3 Hamilton 0 Caldwell (19) Findlay (80) Mallan (89)
Queens Team : Hillcoat, Stewart, Kerr, Robison, Aitken, Cleeland, Harvey (Findlay 79), Leslie, Adams (Weir 63), Mallan, Caldwell (Bailey 79)
A much better result today, indeed, this must be our best away result since .... you tell me? But before we get carried away, I have to point out that Hamilton were a very poor team indeed. There has been much talk that with only one team going down this year there is usually somebody gets isolated at the bottom and this will take the pressure of the rest. After Tuesday night I was worried that Queens could be this team but on this form Hamilton must be hot favourites. I took the chance to 'take the wife shopping' again to make one of my rare away trips, and its as well that Queens had there usual healthy Firhill following or there would have been no crowd. The atmosphere was much more subdued than normal at Firhill, even the Queens fans finding it difficult to motivate themselves to create an atmosphere. This was no classic match or performance despite the score. The result was particularly pleasing however when you look at the makeshift defence, the omens did not look good before the match. Mathieson is now a long term injury (See News) and Lilley and Rowe joined him on the sidelines through suspension. Stewart came in at right back with Robison at Centre Back and they did a very good job without ever really being tested. Charlie Adams showed what a good squad player he is by doing a very effective job at left midfield and Brian Caldwell partnered Mallan up front.
The 1st half was quite even until Queens scored after 19 minutes. Caldwell took on half their defence in the box then seemed to hesitate and it looked like the chance was gone. However, he took them on again and this time coolly slotted into the bottom corner. Queens then comfortably controlled the game until half time and both Mallan and Caldwell had good chances to put us further ahead. And that's about all I've got to say about the first half.
The worrying thing is that a very poor Hamilton dominated most of the second half but they had absolutely nothing up front to test the young Queens defence. The closest they came was a cross shot which scrapped along the bar and out to safety. Queens struggled to get any possession and the introduction of Weir made little difference to this. The double substitution after 79 minutes which seen Bailey and Findlay come on certainly did make a difference. Within a minute Bailey had brilliantly turned the defence and chipped the keeper, only to see the ball come back of the bar. As Hamilton stood and watched fellow sub Findlay strolled through to coolly tuck the ball into the net. 9 minutes later Bailey produced an almost action replay, right down to the hitting of the bar, and this time it was Mallan who did well to get enough power in the header to beat the keeper and put Queens into easy street, much to the delight of his brother sitting in front of us in the stand who is his absolute double!
So, we have made our best start to a league campaign for 2 years (not difficult) and can now look forward to the Jambos. The question has to be, 'Can we avoid a hammering'. The answer I think, with Rowe and Lilley both due back, has to be yes, in which case we have a good chance of pulling off an upset.
Man of the Match : A good team performance today in which no one really stood out. Until the last 10 minutes that is, when Lee Bailey came on and turned the game and so earns my award.
Tuesday, 10th August, 1999 Berwick Scottish Challenge Cup, Round 1 Attendance : 366 Queens 1 Berwick 4
Queens Team : Hillcoat, Lilley, Kerr, Rowe, Aitken, Findlay (Cleeland 52), Harvey, Leslie, Bailey (Adams 52), Mallan, Boyle (Strain 63)
Ye, when I can be bothered!
Queens dreams of repeating their Challenge Cup success of 3 years ago went up in smoke as they were humiliated by 3rd division Berwick in what must go down as our worst defeat in years. Both the Courier and George Rowe report that we were lucky to get away with 4 as it could easily have been 7.
Saturday, 7th August, 1999 Palmerston Park, Dumfries Scottish League, Division 2 Attendance : 1,118 Queens 2 Arbroath 3 Weir (18) Crawford (29) Mallan (52) McGlashan (31) Devine (53) Lilley (Off 41) Devine (Off 54)
Queens Team : Hillcoat, Lilley, Kerr, Stewart, Rowe, Aitken, Cleeland, Harvey (Findlay 62), Leslie, Bailey, Mallan, Weir (Adams 60) : unused sub - McDowall
Despite the score line, this was much more like it today as Queens pummelled the Arbroath goal and were incredibly unlucky not to score a barrow load. However, the inexperience at the back showed without George Rowe as while both Aitken and Lilley are good players they need experience in there with them. Queens also moved towards another fine for poor discipline with a sending off and numerous bookings but maybe the S.F.A. should look at the standard of Referee they send to Second Division games when they are dishing out these fines?
Weather conditions were much more favourable for football today, much cooler although a bit windy at times. I was interested to note the crowd was up by over 100 on last week, despite the Dumfries Show. Just goes to show, we don't actually have any farming fans! Queens started brightly and deserved to go into the lead when Tam Bryce mis directed a midfield header to Steve Mallan. Steve then released Mark Weir on the left and he surprised me by coolly side footing home to give Queens a deserved lead instead of putting the ball onto Terregles Street as expected. Soon after Mallan and Bailey, who looked good together early on, combined to set up Leslie, but he surprised no one as he did hit Terregles Street. Queens then let their strangle hold on the game go and before we knew it were 2-1 down. The frailties at the back were exposed when the big number 6 was given too much time to bring down a left wing cross and fire home, although it must be said he took it well. Minutes later confusion in the Queens defence saw an Arbroath player get by the keeper and squeeze home from a tight effort despite a valiant effort by Kerr (I think). Uproar followed soon after as Tam Bryce again exploited the inexperience of his old mates to burst through. Lilley came across and looked to have put in a good tackle but the ref decided to give a free kick and send Lilley off. To be fair to Tam, despite the barracking he received from the Queens fans, he did not try in any way to con the ref. Lilley's tackle naturally took him down after the ball was away and it wasn't his fault that the ref didn't have a clue.
Queens came out for the second half with all guns blazing having gone to 3 at the back and after a number of early chances Cleeland put Mallan to coolly equalise. At this point, despite being a man up, Arbroath were struggling at the back and looked there for the taking as they were panicking badly. Queens however soon shot themselves in the foot as Kerr tried to shepherd the ball out for a goal kick only to be dispossessed and allow Tam to lay on a sitter for Arbroath to retake the lead. I don't think anybody in the ground thought this would be the last goal, especially as Arbroath's number 10 received a second yellow card to even up the numbers and Queens went into hyper drive. Mallan had two shots brilliantly saved before he went through on the keeper. As he knocked the ball past him Stevie went to the ground although I wasn't sure the keeper touched him. When the ref blew his whistle I wasn't sure if it was to send Stevie off for diving (he had already been booked) or for the penalty. Fortunately, the penalty was given and so it was the keeper who had to go. Or according to the rules anyway, the keeper had to go but the rules didn't seem to matter to this ref and so he only booked the keeper who of course then went and saved Stevie's penalty. When Stevie headed wide from 5 yards minutes later it was becoming clear we were not going to score again and so it proved as Arbroath held out for the win.
Paul Stewart made his debut at right back and looked quite good going forward although his distribution, to start with at least. Having said that, I think the crowd who barracked him should give him a chance but I especially think that Captain Marvel, Steven Leslie, should encourage rather than criticise And one final point which I forgot to mention last week. What's the extending dug out all about? Especially as the clock doesn't have any hands!
Man of the Match : With a bit of luck, Stevie Mallan would have scored 5 today.
Saturday, 31st July, 1999 Palmerston Park, Dumfries CIS League Cup, Round 1 Attendance : 928 Queens 1 Arbroath 0 (a.e.t.) Bailey (106)
Queens Team : Hillcoat, Lilley, Kerr, Rowe, Aitken, Cleeland (Adams 82), Harvey, Leslie, Bailey (Robison 117), Mallan, Boyle (Findlay 82)
Great value for money in the first game of the season today, 2 hours of tedium for the price of 1 1/2! At least we got of to a better start than last season as we scraped to a game against the Jambos on the hottest day of the year by miles. Both teams struggled in the heat but in the end Queens just deserved to go through.
At least the first half gave us plenty of time to catch up with old friends as there was very little action on the pitch to hold our attention. Mallan had the keeper scrambling across his goal to clear a shot and Boyle hit a right footer from the edge of the box which the keeper held easily. Apart from that Arbroath had the better of the first half, but for any Arbroath fans reading this, that isn't really saying much! Queens had Hillcoat in goals, don't know much about him but he looked a bit uncomfortable coming for through balls and didn't like to kick the ball but apart from this did a solid enough job and made himself a hero late on. Read On. No disrespect however, but the good news is that the talk is that Mathieson is hoping to be back next week. The other new boys, Kerr at left back and Harvey on the right of midfield, both looked solid enough but look like they need a few more games to get to an acceptable level of fitness. Findlay came on for extra time and I liked the way he looked for space and the ball in midfield but again he looked like he had some way to go to achieve full fitness. The big talking point of the first half was 'Who's the nutter in the enclosure with the slippers on!". I'm afraid I have to admit it was me! I had been shampooing a carpet before I came out and forgot to change my shoes before I left. I would like to thank Gordon Harper for pointing this out to everybody!
Queens had the better of the second half but only produced one really good chance late on when Lee Bailey beat the off side trap from a corner knocked back into the box but took the ball far too quickly on the turn with acres of space to bring it down and put it wide. Steve Mallan worked hard and had a couple of half chances but there weren't really many other chances worth mentioning.
And so, on the very day I was in a hurry to get away for a barbecue, the game went into extra time. Queens continued to have the better of the game and finally made the break through when Mallan got away fro the defence. The keeper did well to get to the ball just in time to block Steve's shot but the ball rebounded to Scarlet Adams who tried a left foot lob from 35 yards out. Arbroath had 2 men back on the line by now who would have cleared but fortunately for us the keeper got their first but all he could do was palm it into the path of Bailey to gleefully tuck away his second goal for the Queens and move into macho man celebration mode. A couple of minutes later it looked like all this would be for nothing as their dangerous looking no. 11 was given too much in midfield to thread a ball behind George Rowe who hauled down the forward who had managed to get goal side of him for a penalty. This through is were Hillcoat came into his own as he dived to his left to turn away the not too badly hit spot kick. Queens then held on till the end to book our place in the next round.
Man of the Match - The sponsors gave it to David Lilley but I though Andy Aitken took over from where he left of last year.
1998/1999 Season Review
This was a season that started with so much promise as the team, largely unchanged from the the one that went so close last season, went through there 7 pre-season friendlies undefeated. The changes from the previous year were Charlie Adams and Lee Bailey in and Robert Conner, Tam Bryce, Des McKeown, David Kennedy, Craig Flannigan, oh hell, just see the Partick Thistle team sheet, out. The bookies made us 4th favourites and it looked like it would be another season challenging for promotion.
This illusion , however, was short lived as we were crushed in our first competitive game, 4-1 at home to Inverness in a League Cup game. My opening line for the report on this game really summed up what was to come the rest of the season, That's Shocking Alexander! At least he got his worst tactical decision of the season out of the way early by playing Denis Boyle at right back. Our first league game of the season, away to Clyde Juniors, was a sign of what was to come as 10 man Queens went down 2-0. And really these first few sentences sum up our problems in the first half of the season, no discipline, no width from full back, no creativity in midfield and little punch up front. When we went to Glasgow to draw with Partick Thistle in the best game of the season so far we moved of the bottom of the table for the fist time and equal with Livingston. 3 defeats in a row then followed by the time we finally got our first win of the season, taking Forfar apart in a 3-0 win at Palmerston. The struggle continued until the middle of November when high flying Inverness came to Dumfries and were lucky to get away with a 2-2 draw in the best game at Palmerston so far. Lee Bailey scored his only goal of the season in this game but it gets my vote as goal of the season. The pattern continued until the beginning of January when the shinty rejects from Ross came to town for a cup game and a very ordinary looking team with one player, ex Pet Shop Boy Neil Trannet, tore us to pieces. This was the final straw and Chairman Norman Blount took the brave step of giving Alexander his jotters at this point. I know I had been calling for his head all season but I wouldn't have liked to be the guy who actually had to do it. Alexander, however, did himself no favours with his refusal to accept any blame and the bad publicity he brought just before his sacking was probably the final nail.
I'll start a new paragraph now, but it should really be a new chapter as that's what the rest of the season proved to be. For the record the table at this point, with 19 games played, was :
Livingston 44 Inverness 38 Clyde 33 Stirling 29 Alloa 27 Partick 26 Arbroath 25 East Fife 19 QUEENS 14 Forfar 10
Ken Eadie and George Rowe took over and in their first game Queens won their 1st away game of the season, rather luckily at East Fife. This was the start of the run that saved us as, after a blip were we drew at home to Alloa and lost to bogey team Forfar and Inverness, we went on a record breaking run of 6 wins in a row, starting of with a brilliant win at Partick, including a win at Livingston, and only brought to an end yet again by bogey team Forfar. This however was only a temporary blip again as Queens won 2 and drew 2 of their last 4 games to secure safety and indeed prove the bookies right by finishing 4th. The final table was :
Livingston 77 Inverness 72 Clyde 53 QUEENS 48 Alloa 46 Stirling 44 Arbroath 44 Partick 43 East Fife 42 Forfar 31
The table in the 17 games since Alexander's departure looked like this :
QUEENS 34 Inverness 34 Livingston 33 East Fife 23 Forfar 21 Clyde 20 Alloa 19 Arbroath 19 Partick 17 Stirling 15
So, at least we can look forward with optimism as we look back on the second half of last season and dream of what might have been.
My Own Awards : Player of the Season : Andy Aitken Goal of the Season : Lee Bailey v Inverness (14/11/98) Game of the Season : Partick Thistle at Firhill (20/2/99 3-1) Palmerston Game of The Season : Stirling (6/3/99 3-0) Man of the Match Awards : Derek Townsley 3 Steve Mallan 2 Gary Russell 2 Ken Eadie 2 10 others each had 1 award. Site Player of the Season : Derek Townsley : 11 Votes George Rowe : 9 Votes