#4: Lochee Harp (2) – Lochee United (6)

Lochee Harp vs Lochee United
DJ Laing Cup (Group Section)
FT: 2 (Peters 46 pen; Fotheringham 61) – 6 (Grant 15, 21, 50; Gallacher 58, 87; Blackwood 34)
Attendance: 150 (est.)
Saturday 6th August 2011

[PREFACE: I’ve been meaning to write some form of summary of the “structure” of Scottish football and the distinction between Senior, Junior and Amateur levels, but just haven’t had time. I will do at some point, but in the meantime the curious may need to hit Google.]

1. The Clubs

When it came to choosing a fixture for our first foray into Junior football, it has to be said that one stood out over the others in the group stage of the prestigious DJ Laing Cup – the Lochee derby. With the clubs currently sitting two divisions apart in the SJFA East Region (hosts Harp finished 10th in the North Division last season, while Utd finished fifth in the top-tier Super League), the fixture wouldn’t be coming up in the course of the league season.

Lochee Harp FC was formed in 1904 by members of the Irish Catholic community in the Lochee area of Dundee, playing in the Dundee Junior League (champions in their inaugral season, and twenty-time winners between 1904 and 1963!) and subsequently the Tayside Junior League. The Harp were Scottish Junior Cup runners-up in season 1953/54, losing out to Sunnybank FC in front of a crowd of 22,600 at Hampden.

Following a purple patch in the mid 1980’s (two consecutive Tayside Premier Division titles and a couple of cups), silverware has proven harder to come by for the Harp – the club claimed both the Tayside Division One title and the Downfield Cup in 1997/98, but apparently nothing since. The Harp were relegated to the East Region North Division at the end of 2006/07, where they have remained. Historical alumni include Scotland striker Jackie Mudie and 1953 FA Cup Winner (with Blackpool) Ewan Fenton.

We intend to take in a home fixture at Lochee United’s Thomson Park, so will discuss the visitors another day.

2. The Ground

The Harp’s ground Beechwood Park, reported capacity 1,800, is in the North West of the city, located on the edge of Lochee itself and near the Kingsway (West).

As illustrated above, facilities are basic; a small building combining changing rooms, catering concession and pigeon stand on your right upon entry and grassy verges around the pitch for viewing. The peak-roofed building in the background is St Francis Amateur Boxing & Sporting Club. A fairly healthy crowd of (by our estimate) 150 was scattered around the verges. Entry was £5 for adults. The catering was out of my favoured fizzy drink, so can’t comment there.

3. The Game

In what may become a recurring theme, we both missed the start of the game as Mr Lennie managed to get himself lost on the way to the ground by taking a “shortcut” through some kind of dubious industrial estate based “woodland walk”. I headed in first, having just missed United’s first goal, but just in time to see a disallowed goal followed by United’s second, a beautifully taken chip over the keeper that I just didn’t have time to get the camera out for. The run of play was mostly in United’s favour for the rest of the half, with a third goal coming ten minutes before the break. It has to be said, however, that even at that point the Harp kept their heads up and pushed to get back into the game.

Shortly after break Harp pulled one back through a penalty, though within minutes United’s Ross Grant had claimed his hat-trick. A brace from Ross Gallacher completed the scoring for United (one of them trundling in slowly after beating the ‘keeper 20 yards or so out), though Harp did pull another goal back from a poorly defended free kick.

Over the 90 minutes I would say the balance of play was in the favour of United, indeed I’m not surprised that they went on to win their other two group-stage games (4-0 and 4-1) to face Broughty Athletic in the semi-final this week. United didn’t have it all their own way, though; Harp kept at them and had some decent spells in the second half but I don’t recall them making too many chances in front of goal.

Standout player for me was Lochee United’s #21, Ross Browne. Plays in defence, but always keen to push down the right and like Midfielder Ross Grant was involved in a decent chunk of United’s forward play.

4. The Banter

Other than Mike’s poor sense of direction/dubious sense of adventure this was a fairly quiet game, probably to be expected.

5. The Verdict

Certainly an enjoyable game with plenty of goals (something we are a little unaccustomed to at the moment…), though I think it may be useful to see both sides against more closely matched opposition to make any worthwhile comment on their relative strengths. Beechwood Park is basic, but adequate for the task at hand. Given the size and condition of the pigeon stand, however, it may not be the best venue to take in a game in less pleasant weather.

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All images copyright Michael Lambert, 2011.

Michael Lambert

Lochee Harp website: www.locheeharp.co.uk
Lochee United website: www.locheeunited.co.uk

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