Well, Christmas is over, the champagne went flat after the result of the Grimsby match at the Bank and you’ve decided to pack your case and see in the New Year in Scotland, or Hogmanay as the Scots describe it (and when in foreign parts it is best to learn some of the local expressions!). Which match to go to on the second of January is the problem (there are no matches on New Years Day in Scotland and the second of January is a Bank Holiday). Of course if you are in Edinburgh or Glasgow you may be able to pick up a local game as Hibernian are playing Hearts at Easter Road and Rangers are playing Motherwell at Ibrox (Celtic are away at Dunfermline).
What if you have decided to go to a more remote area in Scotland?
Let’s start in the East and for those who will be sipping the malt on Speyside or staying in the Grampian area, why not try Dundee United v. Aberdeen?
Dundee United is currently sixth in the SPL and Aberdeen ninth, so this should be a fairly well balanced match. Dundee United plays at Tannadice and is managed by Peter Housden, who was previously Assistant Manager at Leicester City. The team experienced a 5-1 drubbing at Celtic Park early in the season but recent better form has helped them climb the SPL. Their top scorer is Ryan Gauld. Ryan is 17 and has come through the club Youth system, has a lot of skill and can shoot with both feet. One of the most active Scottish Supporters Trusts is the Arab Trust at Dundee United. Why is it called the Arab Trust? Aberdeen is managed by popular ex-Scotland national team boss, Craig Brown. Number 10, Darren Mackie, is the club’s all time highest scorer, although he hasn’t played many games this season and this is his testimonial year after thirteen years for the club. But look out for Declan McManus who is one of the top SPL scorers this season. If Tannadice is your choice, expect to join a crowd of about 10,000.
Too far to travel to Tannadice? Then why not look in at Inverness Caledonian Thistle v. St. Johnstone? Inverness CT is a recent (1994) club formation by amalgamating the old Inverness Thistle and Inverness Caledonian clubs. They have had a mixed history with probably their most memorable press report being 8th February 2000 when 400 fans travelled to Celtic to watch their team play a Scottish Cup game. The result was a 3–1 win for Inverness CT which was said to be the biggest Scottish football shock in 30 years and coined the famous Sun headline “Super Caley Go Ballistic Celtic Are Atrocious”. At present Inverness play at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium with crowds of about 4,000. They are managed by Terry Butcher, one time captain of England, but are having an indifferent season being near the bottom of the SPL. Their top scorer is Adam Rooney, an Irish international who formerly played in England with Stoke City. They have a Supporters Trust website which recently encouraged members to travel to an away match at Ibrox with the promise “free chips at Auchterarder on the way home”. Is this something Impstrust should match? The St. Johnston team travel from Perth – the club name comes from the ancient name for Perth, Saint John’s Toun (sic) of Perth, and was formed in 1884 by members of a local cricket club. Manager, Steve Lomas, has experience as Norwich Youth team manager and manager of the reserve team at West Ham. He made 111 appearances for Manchester City and played 45 times for Northern Ireland. Steve’s hard work has meant the team is currently fourth in the SPL. Top scorer is Liam Craig, a Scottish international formerly with Ipswich Town.
If, however, your New Year is to be spent on the west coast of Scotland then I regret that you will be in Highland League country and they will be playing on December 30th. Take another sip of Laphroaig and watch the SPL highlights on television later.
To complete this Scottish New Year tour, why not celebrate Hogmanay in the South West of Scotland and take in Queen of the South against Hamilton Academicals? Armed with my trusty AA Road Atlas I searched the index with no success, only to learn Queen of the South is actually based at Palmerston Park in Dumfries and nicknamed the ‘Doonhamers’. Good one for the pub quiz! Why is it called Queen of the South and Doomhamers? Queen’s Trust is a very active trust and has had a lot of success in raising funds for the club. It has to be said that QoS and the Accies are at the wrong end of the IRN Brew Scottish First Division, but what the heck when you’ve had a few at the New Year. Queen of the South was formed in 1919 (another local, but not related, Dumfries team at the time was Queen of the South Wanderers whose most notable player was David Calderhead, who went on to manage the Imps between 1900 and 1907, and Chelsea from then until 1933). The current QoS manager is Gus McPherson, whose football career started at Rangers, he had a loan spell at Exeter City, a number of seasons at Kilmarnock and finally ended his career at St Mirren. QoS leading scorer is Scotsman Kevin Smith who played for Notts County last term, with five goals in the present season. Hamilton Academicals were formed in1874 by the Rector and pupils of the local school, hence the name. The Accies were in the SPL until they were relegated last year and they appear to be finding it hard to find any form this season. They are managed by Billy Reid, who has been boss at the club for the past six years, being PFA Scottish manager of the year in 2008. The Accies leading scorer is Mark McLaughlin. He’s been with the club since 2004, with 204 appearances and six goals this season thus far.
So, enjoy your New Year, wherever you are. If you want a challenge after all this information, try to recite “I’m a Hamilton Academical and I live in Clachnacuddin” three times after each sip of Glenfarclas, Hic! However, aware that I am writing on the Trust website I would recommend that you drink responsibly, whatever the challenge.
Happy New Year