Subs: Haig, Lewicki, Pipkin, Proctor
Goals: Morrison, McGinty, Munro (2)
For a lot of people, the magic of football is dying. Watching clubs turn into companies filled with accountants instead of football people is soul destroying. Having your own history and culture sold back to you by people who see it’s value only in pound signs. The dream of a team of local boys done good trying to win a league or a cup for their home town is gone – at least in football’s upper echelons.
Down here in the grassroots, with the dingy changing rooms and the parks that look like World War One battlefields, the old passion burns strong. Every Saturday and Sunday thousands of men and women take to the field to try and live out their footballing dreams. My vision of Tantallon has always been to build a club that let guys get even a tiny taste of what it might have been like to make it. A club that people cared about and felt affection for and not just those who played for it. I always said I wanted a club that people would feel proud to have played for when they hung up their boots.
Most of the time under my tenure, the club struggled to even survive never mind anything else. This season Jan and Marky have led the guys to a cup semi final and mounted a challenge for the title that in the end will lead to a promotion. The progress that’s been made has been huge and enormous credit goes to the two guys and to every single player who has played for the club this season. Even Ross.
The last game of the 2013-2014 season saw The Tally travel to Westwood looking for a point to secure promotion (pending ratification at the league AGM and the stars being correctly aligned and Jan and Marky doing the special “Can We Have Promotion Dance” on the steps of Hampden Park in loincloth thongs). Westwood themselves were still in the hunt for second place and needed a typical Tally calamity to help them leapfrog us.
Tantallon took to the field in their yellow and green away kit without our talismanic striker Richie McQuade who’d got himself booked six times due to his concerns about potential injury ahead of his big money summer move to West Bromwich Albion. Keys took the number seven shirt and was deployed supporting our big fugging ginger number ten, Mo Morrison who was plowing a lone furrow up front. Williams and Devlin were the wide men in a midfield four with McGinty and Paul “The Panther” Munro while Joe Neeson came in for Rab Martin who was suspended for being an Aston Villa fan.
The match kicked off and within minutes it was clear there was to be much drama with both sides showing their determination to get a result. Morrison had the first real chance of the match driving into the box with a shout for a handball against the Westwood defender. He played to the whistle though and his left foot shot with the outside of his boot went just past the far post. It was just after this that Dave from Castlecroft phoned me so I got a bit distracted. Was good to get a wee catch up with him and we were talking about them maybe finishing fourth. Stuff was happening in the game and I assume it was exciting cos lots of people were shouting and stuff. I’d a can of Irn Bru in my pocket so I sparked that and chatted to Dave for a bit. There was more drama and shouting and appeals for something that wasn’t given then some grumbles and more shouting and I was still having a laugh with Dave and can’t remember what was happening. So nothing new there.
Tally took the lead fairly early on through Morrison with a headed goal from a cross from wide right guiding the ball into the corner of the net. Westwood soon replied with a goal from their number nine before taking the lead. The pressure was on.
We were hitting the bar, the post and when Scott Keys tried shots, the corner flags. We’d probably the better chances over the course of the game up to this point. We needed a goal to get back into it. So against the run of play Westwood of course scored one of the best goals I’ve ever seen in the flesh with a drive from outside the box that a Russian T-72 tank would have struggled to stop. 3-1 down. A few weeks earlier we’d missed out on reaching a final. After that we’d a wee wobble that saw us lose a couple that put us out the title race. At that moment when Westwood were celebrating that goal how many might be thinking “is it over?”. I gubbed half a bottle of valium to try and collect my thoughts.
This is the bit where we talk about your dreams when you take to that field on a Saturday. This is the bit where you fold or you stand up and be counted. This is the bit where someone playing in a public park, with their mates, for fun, cos they love football, cos they love their club does something that makes them a real football hero. Not for money. Not for fame.
This is the bit Chris McGinty finally scores a goal for The Tally.
A corner kick. Floated into the back post. McGinty has already leathered the bar with a half volley. He’s there and unmarked and heads it home from five yards. A glimmer of hope.
Jan had been consulting “The Ladybird Book of Football” and his 1962 Panini Sticker Album and decided the best thing to do was to swap Keys and The Panther. Haigy was put on for Gav who had run his socks, shorts, shirt, boots, shinpads and He-Man y-fronts off and the game opened up a bit with Panther running the channels and pulling the home defence AOTS.
Morrison picked up the ball about 30 yards out (roughly at the halfway line considering the size of the park) and rode a couple of challenges before squaring a ball to the back post. There was The Panther who bundled the ball home for the equaliser. All we had to do was hold on and we’d have the point we needed to go up (subject to the correct application of any relevant rules and procedures and votes).
I wonder what Paul was thinking then when soon after he wrote himself into the pages of Tally history when he sent a fizzing drive into the back of the net to make it 4-3. I’d like to think he realised that not just around that park in East Kilbride but hundreds of miles away people were celebrating that goal. That it meant something to them. That a proper football dream was happening. That it brought some joy to peoples’ lives. That for that fleeting second he was a hero just like his heroes. That’s what The Tally, and grassroots football, is about.
The final whistle. We hadn’t won a trophy but as a group of players we’d achieved something. For most of the time the club has been going we’d never have thought we’d have a season like this one has been.
This is my last season running the club. Everything I’ve seen this season lets me leave it knowing it’ll continue to be the same club with the same ethos. It’ll be fun. We’ll laugh at ourselves. We’ll have a good bunch of guys. We’ll be pally with other teams and try and help each other. We’ll try our best to deliver some success for those who support us. We’ll celebrate being Glasgow’s Biggest Black Country Club. We’ll love our West Brom fans. We’ll share our journey through the parks of the West Of Scotland with people across the UK and beyond.
Cos as football at the top level becomes more and more about money it’s up to us grassroots clubs – ammys, juniors, women, non-league – to show what the game was always supposed to be about.
Every team in the world started as a bunch of folks who bought a set of strips and found somewhere to play there games. Your club and efforts are worth as much as any others. Never forget that.
Thanks to everyone who’s made running this team so much fun especially to those who have stuck their hand in their pocket to sponsor it. I don’t need to say please continue to back Jan and The Tally cos I know better than anyone that once it’s in your blood it doesn’t come back out. I will always be a Tally supporter and there will always be a Tally.
Want a club that’s a bit different to play for next year?
You’ve found it.
Yours in football.
Tantallon Victoria AFC