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Saturday 28th December 2013 ko 13.30

Scottish Junior FA West Region, West of Scotland Superleague, Premier Division

KIRKINTILLOCH ROB ROY 2 (McGeough 71 Sawyers 90)

CUMNOCK JUNIORS 1 (Maguire 26)

Att 219 (head count)

Entry £5

No Programme (the club normally issue, but editor away on holiday)

Bundle of old issues-complementary

Club bar scarf- complimentary

I’m coming round to the idea that the best groundhopping trips are the one you have to work on. The plan was to be at one of Benburb’s last games at Tinto Park, but that was unlikely to be called one way or the other until we’d long since started heading north on an unusually quiet M6. Benburb fell to a waterlogged pitch when we were just north of Tebay Services, but with Kirkintilloch having the foresight to tweet that their game was definitely on we decided not to dip into our pool of 3G “Insurance” grounds, and took a minor detour to North East of Glasgow.

The town of Kirkintilloch can trace its roots right back to Roman times, the town was a northern outpost of Roman Britain, and the Antonine Wall ran through the centre of what’s now the town centre. In more recent times the town grew from the textile industry, but was also noted for being where the distinctive British red post-boxes and K2 -K6 phoneboxes were made. Famous people hailing from here include singer Moira Anderson and current Celtic and Scotland midfielder Charlie Mulgrew.

Adamslie Park lies on the Glasgow Road on the north-west of the town. Originally the home of Kirkintilloch Harp, Rob Roy (named after the Scots warrior, and formed in 1878) moved here in 1926. The ground has hosted Highland Games too. The Wikipedia entry for Kirkintilloch describes the club as, “…. a small junior football club,” and that does the club a massive disservice. The club play in the top-level of Junior football in the area, and have won the Scottish Junior Cup three times.

It is of course worth noting that there is nothing remotely Junior about the Scottish Junior ranks. A better title would be Scottish alternative football, as until recently the Junior clubs never played against their senior cousins. Even now just 4 clubs are now invited to join each season’s Scottish FA Cup and there’s a potential route to the Scottish Leagues via the newly formed Lowland League, and the long established Highland League. Whether clubs would want to switch is at best unclear, just look at what a club like Rob Roy has where it is.

There’s no great travelling, the clubs play in regions, and only cross borders for the SJFA cup. There’s no need for floodlights, kick-offs reflect the light available, and crowds tend to be healthy. Why swap that for a trips to Peterhead and Elgin?

Adamslie Park is the quintessential Scots Junior ground, with is large covered enclosure and curved terraces. There’s the added bonus of the art deco changing rooms; the feel of the entire facility is one of tradition and solidity. The tragedy of it all is that at the end of the season Adamslie will be no more, flattened in favour of a close of houses. Already the stand that once stood at the far side has gone, with just a few park benches as temporary replacement, as the houses creep ever closer to the pitch. Here’s some footage which includes the lost stand.

There’s a silver lining to this story though, the club will be moving to a purpose-built facility in the centre of town. It’ll feature a 4G pitch, a stand, terracing, and a social club. Importantly for the next generation of Rabs players they’ll be a seven-a-side pitch too. From my perspective it gives me the perfect excuse to sit in a car for 5 hours and pay them another visit, because they were, and are a delight to visit.

Every so often I hear about hoppers getting short shrift north of the border. Here’s the thing, understand that you’re the visitor, and the culture in the Juniors and you’ll find the welcome fulsome. For the record, programme production isn’t compulsory, so if you’re the kind of person that a paper-based souvenir is more important than a beautiful slice of Scottish history, prepare to miss out on some exceptional grounds with exceptional people. Rob Roy were a case in point, the scarf was a wonderful gesture, and gents it’ll get worn this Hogmanay and I hope this article pushes a few more followers through the turnstiles; you deserve it.

It was a decent game, typical of the fayre seen in the top flight of the SJFA, roughly of a standard of the SPFL League 1. Cumnock are one of the big guns of the West Region, their derby with Auchinleck is visceral event, and they opened the scoring, Stephen Maguire dancing through the home defence to slot home into the bottom right corner.

For a long time that looked to be the extent of the scoring. The tackling was ferocious, and a clash of heads between Rob Roy’s Gerard Watt and Cumnock’s John Johnson, saw both unable to continue. Eventually Paul McGeough’s looping header got the Rabs back into the game, but the finish was dramatic as Willie Sawyers turned in a corner from the left for his 23rd goal of the season. His Dad stood in front of me couldn’t have been more pleased. And you know what? So was I, sometimes a club just gets under your skin…. It goes without saying that any self-respecting football fan should head to Adamslie Park before its too late.