There was a vertical downpour last Sunday on the campus of Stirling University. I mean vertical. Straight up and down! So quite unlike home. But it didn’t do our boys any harm. I, along with parents, supporters and others, had gathered for the final of the Loch Lomond Soccer Tournament featuring Luncarty Boys Club, from rural Perthshire, and a strong Shetland team ably captained by Martin Stevenson.
The boys had come through an under-17 qualifying group, winning 5-1 twice and drawing 1-1 once. So we looked forward to the final with a keen sense of anticipation … and nerves. I am not great at watching any of my kids perform. The temptation to roar is usually too much.
But as luck would have it Ally had a dead leg from the earlier match so missed out on all but the last minutes of the final. That meant I could walk up and down the touchline in the rain, pushing the pram while offering sage, level headed and considered advice to the Shetland boys, as opposed to contributing rather more directly from the halfway line.
I am pleased to say the team carefully ignored my observations and got on with the matter in hand which was winning the game. And win it they did with a strong display of running, passing football that had been a hallmark of their performances over the three days of the tournament.
A considerable vote of thanks to the organisers and sponsors of the event. But the biggest vote of thanks goes to the long suffering coaches Alan Graham and John Scott. I wouldn’t have fancied looking after that lot after they had won. To say that they were high was an understatement. It was like the Champions League final. Well like the Champions League final but without the tickertape, the champagne, 70,000 spectators and TV crews … but you get my drift.
Coaches have a tough task in every sport. Parents and observers gather on the far side of the pitch, pontificate about team selection, news about the formation and dissect the tactics. And that’s just Eric Graham! In Eric’s defence he was a dad going through the agony of watching junior Graham play for the other Shetland team in one of the younger age groups. They appeared to have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and finished with a 9-1 win in a “friendly”. Every goal was described to me in considerable detail as we waited for the rain to ease during the senior final.
So many congratulations to the coaches. And while on the subject of coaches, I need to put one small issue to rest. There was some interest as to why the new baby has been called Archie?
“Not after Archie McPherson?” queried one. “No, no, someone much more famous than that – Archie Constable!” suggested another.
Neither of these cheerful explanations is, alas, true but they enlivened proceedings as we all observed the beautiful game being played well by winning Shetlanders. It’s difficult to beat a day when you see a Shetland team winning. Well done.
Tavish Scott MSP