Today's game was point in proof. For starters, there was the beautifully sunny day that beckoned in the start of our Easter holidays: a portent of doom if ever there was one. Then there was the fact that I decided to bring along the Bay Tricoleur for its first outing since it had witnessed one of our previous defeats. I had decided to give it a rest for a while. Today, my thoughts were riddled with sentimentality and Maltese visitor, David Hall's disappointed, and suntanned face, when I didn't have it at Hillheads. We had also arrived early; having purposefully given ourselves time for a drink before kick-off. All basic errors. From changed routines to meteorological features: we just didn't read the signs!
|Tubes and Wells - sort of identical?|
In fact we had barely finished attaching the aforementioned French flag to the railings when the yeti-like Jack Wells in the Celtic goal confidently collected a cross into his area before launching it upfield. The Whitley defence obligingly parted to allow a Celtic striker to curl a shot past the stranded Flynn into the top right hand post. The discussion after that between the Boy Mark and Whitey seemed to centre upon how similar Soccer AM's Tubes resembled the Celtic number 1. It showed how much impact the goal had had on our little pose as we tried to blot it out of our memory. Unfortunately, having spent the last seven football years organising girls' teams I was unable to join in with this debate so returned my attention to the pitch.
Fortunately, things picked up for the Bay. First Shanks tore down on goal before expertly skying his shot - rugby-style - over the crossbar; but between the posts! Next, not to be outdone, Ash was then put clean through on goal and he too hit the top of the netting behind the home goal. Shooting practice would seem to be a priority for Chan?
Conversation returned to Tubes / Wells and his extra-long socks that extended over his knees - a no-no in our footballers' appearance rule book. - This was interrupted when Shanks deftly controlled a ball over his shoulder before coolly slotting past the advancing Wells. Wells' response was to yell at anybody and everybody he could: always nice to see as an opposition fan. But there was more to follow as a perfectly weighted corner found its way to the back post where the Shankster headed gleefully home! Great! There was still a scare when Flynn had to tip a super effort over the bar but, after fighting back from a goal down, the lads were looking good for their goal lead.
Since it was Easter....and it was lunchtime (12am kickoffs force us to take desperate measures) we decided that it would be rude not to invest in a bit of WAC's refreshments. I ordered a cheeseburger and chips (skinny fries apparently) without the cheese. I was most appreciative of the chips which had a hint of barbecue sauce to them...McCain's?
|Sun is shining! What could go wrong?|
Then it all went seriously wrong. Was it because I forgot to put the flag out again or was it the growing number of injuries faced by the team as Ash was withdrawn at half time, joining Bramley and Anderson on the sidelines. Every Whitley play seemed to be slumped on the ground at some stage or other in the second half. The only plus point seemed to be the form of Tom Flynn as he leapt all over the shop to keep the home team at bay. When the Bay did get possession, their desire to constantly launch the ball forward meant that it kept returning in their direction, assisted by a strengthening breeze / wind. Wells / Tubes was extremely quiet as he watched the play: an interested spectator. The tactic of firing the ball forward in the hope that Shanks could out-leap his eight-foot marker really needs to be looked at, I think.
In between the action, an increasing number of children ran onto the pitch in front of us to retrieve their balls as they ignored the action on the pitch to have a number of kickabouts on the expanse of pitches behind us. I also found myself being stared out by a toddler, complete with Dummy, followed by a six year-old girl who demanded I move out of the way of her scooter as she circumnavigated the pitch. It was all getting tense on the terraces.
Not surprisingly, on the pitch, the constant home pressure finally paid off. A great passing move in the Bay penalty area ended with the equalising goal. This all happened while the Bay's Munroe was off the pitch. He eventually limped back on but it was obvious that the full time whistle could not come soon enough. A collision between substitute Craig McFarlane and the brick wall that is Richard Flynn also added to the injury concerns. Just when it looked like we could escape with a point, Celtic scored the winner with a brilliantly worked freekick. The home team's outpouring of joy would have been great to witness, as they rushed to congratulate each other, if you weren't a Bay fan.
Leaving the ground, there was a furious discussion between two unhappy Bay fans: one of whom was intent on explaining away the defeat by the number of injuries. His friend, on the other hand was having none of it as he shouted at his friend:
"Excuses win nothing! It was a must win and that's all that mattered!"
The most impressive part of all this was that his badly fitting hat stayed on his head throughout his tirade. Here's hoping the Bay manage to keep their heads as the pressures grow.
Shields on Monday? Oh good!