Blantyre Victoria v Rutherglen Glencairn, Saturday 23rd October 2021, 2pm

Jen and I were up in Glasgow for a Billy Bragg gig. We’d seen him two days previously at Sage in Gateshead and that was a very good show but his performance at Barrowlands was another level up. It may have been due to what he termed a ‘proper Saturday-night crowd’ or it may have been the all-standing venue, but he got great feedback and singing along on the songs that benefitted from it and silence on those ones that should be listened to without a sound. An excellent night.

In a nod to old age I bought a tea-towel at the merchandise stall. I also got myself a Billy Bragg tee-shirt to replace the one that I wore out in ’85, traipsing around Europe. This one is probably a size or so larger than that one but that’s the way it goes.

On the afternoon before the gig Jen and I stopped off at the KG Stadium at Blantyre on the outskirts of Glasgow for a game in the Premier Division of the West of Scotland Football League. It’s the sixth tier in Scotland and provides the opportunity of promotion to the Lowland League, but as a consequence of a recent restructuring a more likely drop into the seventh tier as seven teams will be going down this season.

It was seven quid in and as I’d taken longer to find somewhere to park the car than I’d intended we arrived just as visitors Rutherglen Glencairn were putting away a third minute goal. The bloke on the turnstile called me a jinx.

I had a chat with one of the home supporters and he was able to tell me that Blantyre had gone into the game second from bottom of the table. He reckoned that they had lost a few of their players to better paying clubs and revealed that the current team were on between fifty and a hundred quid a game.

This quite surprised me as the standard was pretty poor, certainly no better than Wearside League, although I’ve no idea what players at that level receive.  For anyone interested Blantyre were in blue with Rutherglen in black and white.

It got worse for Blantyre when a wild tackle reduced them to ten men after only twenty minutes and Rutherglen added a second goal before half time. We were sat in a small covered stand behind the goal and despite having lived in Scotland for a total of around ten years I could barely understand what the people around me were saying. I used to work with a bloke from the Hebrides and had to have someone translate for me. I suspect if I ever moved to Blantyre it might be the same.

At half-time I got myself a Scotch pie. I should have known better really as having taken the pastry from the top the inside resembled the sort of cheap burger that I wouldn’t give to a dog. Very tasty, though.

Rutherglen added a third goal in the second half for a well-deserved victory.

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