Inside the wacky world of Junior football with Glaswegian hack and Johnstone Burgh goalkeeper Fraser Wilson
THINGS are about to really hot up on the junior scene this month – not least at Benburb and Dunipace who both saw their social clubs burn to the ground last week.
Honestly, I know things can get a bit fiery at our level but those two incidents brought a whole new meaning to the phrase heat of the battle.
We travelled to Pace on Saturday and our League Cup hopes went the same way as that old lounge – up in smoke – thanks to a late winner.
Now we’re left trying to salvage a late promotion push from the embers of a disappointing season so far.
But luckily for us, and most other sides across the junior scene, the pressure on the 2011/12 campaign is about to be cranked up a notch.
Next week brings the start of midweek madness with the most successful clubs, and those who were hit worst by the winter weather, forced to squeeze in two or three games a week until the end of the season.
It’s the ultimate test of squads as injuries and suspensions kick-in. And it can be the making and breaking of champions.
The professionals who have the cheek to complain about facing too many games while still pocketing their full-time salaries might think again if they see the frantic schedule we have to combine with the day jobs at this stage of our season.
At its worst a few years ago I remember playing four matches in the six days between a Saturday afternoon and the following Friday night – only for it to end in tears as we tumbled out of the first division.
It’s the adrenaline of the non-stop action, a few paracetamols and gallons of deep heat that get you through – which must make for tremendous viewing for fans as the fixtures come thick and fast.
The stakes are high for so many Glasgow sides across the divisions. Petershill are looking to close out their push for a first Premier League championship, while at the other end Pollok desperately try to scrap their way out of relegation.
One division down and Thorniewood United are edging towards a remarkable second straight promotion that would take them into the top flight for the first time but it’s not so rosy for Rutherglen Glencairn who sit just inside the four relegation spots.
Drop down another tier and Glasgow Perthshire have all but wrapped up the Central First Division title. Fellow city sides St Anthony’s, Yoker, Shettleston, Benburb and Cambuslang Rangers all still hope to force their way into the promotion mix.
And in the bottom rung Maryhill and St Roch’s are very much in a five-way battle for three promotion spots – and we’d love to go on a run to make it a six-team fight.
Talk about red-hot action, I’m just glad we’ve got three firefighters in our squad.
This weekend Petershill’s title bandwagon rolls on into Largs and Thorniewood have a crucial home game with Ardrossan in the first division.
Glencairn know three points are a must as they travel to bottom-dogs Dalry and, in the Central Leagues Cambuslang face Vale of Clyde at Somervell Park.
Finally, on-form St Roch’s might fancy an upset when they host top-flight Ashfield in the quarters of the West of Scotland Cup.
Match of the day: Large Thistle v Petershill, Stagecoach Premier Division, Barrfields Park, 2pm
Team of the week: Thorniewood United cemented their position in the Superleague first division promotion spots with a 4-1 victory away to fellow candidates Whitletts. The Ayrshiremen may have had two men sent off in the first 15 minutes but it was a crucial result for the 'Wood regardless.