Parish Cup Final
Delting 1, Whalsay 0
IT MAY not have been the beautiful game in its purest form, but last weekend’s final between Shetland’s big two was “truly special” for Delting captain Kevin Main as he and his team-mates overcame Whalsay in one of the most tense Parish Cup clashes in recent years.
For some, the Parish Cup may seem like just another trophy but try telling that to the players and spectators who gathered at Seafield on a bitterly cold Saturday evening. It wasn’t a game for the neutral but luckily, there weren’t many to be found as a partisan atmosphere put paid to claims that the tournament has lost its prestige in recent years.
While both teams have dominated the local scene for the past decade, boasting an array of county players and countless cup wins (Delting would go on to secure the GS Flooring Premier League with a 4-0 victory against Ness United on Wednesday – see p.55), it’s the first time they’ve met in the final since 1999. Whalsay took the spoils 4-2 back then but a resolute Delting rearguard and Fraser Hall strike ensured that wouldn’t be the case nine years on.
Despite the occasion and blustery conditions it was an open start to the game. Delting with the wind behind them found it easier to dominate in the middle with Brian Duncan, in particular, dictating the game with strong tackling and effective distribution and Peter Peterson making dangerous runs on the left wing.
Whalsay initially struggled in clearing their lines and were guilty of giving the ball away too easily. Alan Duncan nearly benefited early on. A cross into Whalsay’s box wasn’t dealt with properly but the Shetland midfielder couldn’t keep his effort down from just inside the box.
Despite this, Whalsay looked dangerous when going forward. Good movement from Laurence and Keith Pearson stretched Delting’s defence.
After 15 minutes, more concentrated pressure came from Delting and was eventually rewarded. First, Peterson crossed for Brian Duncan whose shot was blocked by Grant Thomson in Whalsay’s goal. Duncan was involved in another chance as he supplied an intricate pass for Hall to latch onto.
Unfortunately for the striker, his curling effort lacked the venom to trouble Thomson. Peterson was then unlucky with a fine volley from the edge of the box that went through a ruck of players but hit the post. A goal would come soon enough though. After winning the ball in Whalsay’s half, Delting started up another attack. The ball eventually bounced up nicely for Hall but he still had a lot to do from 20 yards out and the diminutive striker’s execution was perfect, the ball looping into the far corner of the net and leaving Thomson with no chance.
Whalsay had to respond and upped their game accordingly. It took brave defending from Delting defender Nathan Macdonald to halt one of Laurence Pearson’s charges towards goal and county keeper Craig Dinwoodie had to react quickly to produce a double save and also come out bravely for some of Whalsay’s deep deliveries into the box.
Delting now looked to catch Whalsay on the break with Ross Macdougall and Hall’s pace, but suffered a blow just before half-time. Brian Duncan’s studs caught on the turf, meaning his game was over so manager John Jamieson moved Peterson to central midfield and took on Lee Balfour on the left. With Duncan and Peterson being Delting’s most effective players in the first half, the test would be whether this would disrupt their flow in the second.
With the wind now in their favour, Whalsay began the second half with a more frantic pace. Gary Jamieson saw his a long range effort go close and a Poleson free-kick almost sneaked in at the back post but Delting’s experienced midfield trio of Ross Jamieson, Alan Duncan and Peterson maintained possession well and their defence resolutely restricted clear cut chances.
Strong tackles were coming in and approach play was decent for both teams but no great chances were created till later in the half. Laurence Pearson blazed an effort over from close range then Dinwoodie had to come to his team’s rescue, diving at full stretch to tip Jamieson’s top corner bound header round the post.
Dinwoodie was Whalsay’s scourge again, this time coming out to stop Laurence Pearson when his power and pace had put him ahead of Delting’s back three.
As the game came to a close, the play became stretched as Whalsay searched for the elusive equaliser but a combination of fine defending and lack of a quality final ball from both sides kept the score the same. Delting hung on and as the final whistle blew could celebrate their 12th Parish Cup victory.
While Delting had the edge, captain Main paid tribute to his opponents, saying he had never been so nervous before a game. “This is always a tremendous event – we had to really give respect to those guys and it’s always an honour to play in these finals.”
Dinwoodie deservedly won man of the match for his display but other notable players were the experienced Main and Peterson for Delting, while Richard Arthur and John Simpson stood out for the Bonnie Isle.
Parish Cup President Iain Smith paid tribute to both teams for the respect and good behaviour shown and thanked referee Mark Goodhand and officials Robbie Goudie and David Ferrier as well as everyone who helped make the tournament run so smoothly.
Speaking of the tournament as a whole, he said: “The Parish Cup is still the most important in Shetland football. Not just to the teams taking part but to the communities too. It’s a great thing to see people from North and Whalsay coming through for this and that’s what it’s all about. It’s a credit to the players today and the support we have from everyone that the coverage and interest it creates is still going strong.”