Downfield JFC vs Broughty Athletic
East Region Premier League
FT: 2 (Scott 71 pen; Cox 82) – 3 (Dailly 5, 60; Tweed 30)
Attendance: 70 (est.)
Saturday 3rd September 2011
1. The Clubs
With no senior league football in England or Scotland in the first weekend of September due to international fixtures, the Non League Day campaign was started in 2010 to encourage football fans to take the opportunity to visit a local semi-pro club. Though primarily an English phenomenon, we here at No Train to Brechin see no reason not to take part in Scotland too!
My original choice was to see Scone Thistle, the club based in my childhood home village, but they were not scheduled to play at home and there’s now some question over whether or not the club has gone into abeyance. Instead I opted for Downfield JFC, based a five minute walk from my flat.
Downfield Junior Football Club was formed in 1906, but much more biographic information than that is hard to come by! The Spiders have been reasonably successful in local cup competitions over the years. In recent years the club had been playing in the East Region North Division, emerging as last season’s champions and gaining promotion to the Premier League.
The opposition on the day came from local rivals Broughty Athletic (another derby!), themselves North Division champions in season 2009/10. Though Ferry dwellers may not like it, I’ve decided Broughty Ferry counts as Dundee for the purpose of this blog, so we’ll be visiting them at a later date.
Both sides were going into the game having lost their opening league matches, and both fell at the sword of finalists Lochee United in the recent DJ Laing Cup.
2. The Ground
Downfield Park is not, as it’s name misleadingly suggests, a public park. I never thought that it was, not for one minute. Honest.
The ground is a decent set up, there’s a social club running about half the length of the pitch on one side with cover for standing under, a good sized pigeon stand on the opposite site and “grassy” verges behind each goal. I’m pleased to report there was an additional two-on-one kickabout on the go for the full duration on a bit of grass in the opposite corner to us. Catering is provided from a portakabin near the entrance to the ground, offering a selection of pies, sausage rolls, burgers and soft drinks.
Entry was £5 for an adult, I assume this is standard for a league game. To get there by bus take the no. 22 (Downfield/Craigowl) from the City Centre, get off at the Downfield Hotel and follow the roundabout to the right down Balgowan Avenue. By car the directions are fairly similar, follow the Strathmartine Road beyond the Kingsway up to the Downfield Hotel.
3. The Game
Somewhat amazingly I was actually in the ground prior to kick off, an otherwise unheard of feat in our (admittedly short) history of covering Junior games. This meant that, for once, I saw the opening goal. Broughty’s Graeme Dailly lobbed Downfield keeper Gary Thain from 20-25 yards out. It looked like Thain got his fingertips to the ball, but it wasn’t enought to stop the ball going into the net.
Broughty looked marginally the stronger of the two sides in the opening stages, forcing a good save from Thain and generally hassling the Downfield defence – unfortunately for Broughty, they were regularly caught offside throughout the game.
The visitors scored their second after the half-hour mark when former Hibernian, Stoke, Dundee and Montrose defender Steven Tweed headed home from a corner. Downfield started to come into the game more before the break, putting a shot wide, while Thain managed to save a second lobbed shot.
The second half saw a much stronger performance from Downfield, though they did fall another goal behind on the hour, with Dailly slotting home into an empty net after a neat one-two and only the keeper to beat – the Downfield defence were caught well short.
Downfield’s fortunes started to change when they were were awarded a penalty ten minutes later when Kevin Scott was brought down in the box, the striker sending Broughty keeper Alan Cormack the wrong way to start the fightback.
The home side’s second came when defender Callum Cox fired in from a poorly defended corner during a period of strong pressure from Downfield.
The hosts, however, had the bar to thank when a Broughty shot into an open goal battered off the underside and back out, keeping the scoreline as it finished at 3-2.
While a draw would have been a fair result, Broughty couldn’t be grudged their win. Downfield were ultimately punished for a slow start and some weak defending. That said, they do look like a decent side and should be able to cope at the higher level if they can tighten up collectively at the back. Broughty seemed a well organised side, containing Downfield for much of the first half and showing some threat in front of goal.
For me, Spiders defender Chris McKaig was a standout player in the second half, making tireless runs down the right wing.
4. The Banter
Mike was otherwise engaged so I was joined by our associate correspondent Johnny for his second NTtB outing. Though a smaller crowd than at Lochee Harp, they made up for it by seeming quite a bit more vocal. A contentious second half decision by the ref even provoked a bit of bustle on the touchline from the visiting coaches and fans.
We are delighted to (exclusively?) report that internationally renowned recording artiste Kenny Rogers is a fan of the mighty Spiders, joining the crowd quietly late in the first half.
Good to see a big name out in support of Non League Day, though he’s no Francis Duku.
The only hostility encountered in an otherwise enjoyable visit came from a local Bee that had snuch under my jacket and stung my finger just as the second half kicked off. It’s still sore now. Big thanks to the staff at the food hole who managed not to laugh at me pulling the stinger out.
5. The Verdict
Another entertaining game, with goals for both sides in what was a relatively even match. Downfield Park is a nice little ground in decent shape, and although on the outskirts of the city shouldn’t be too tricky for interested parties to get to. Given that Downfield are my local team I will be looking to get along again in the future.
All images copyright Michael Lambert, 2011.