Dec 24 2008 Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
THE last Saturday before Christmas poses a real dilemma for football fans.
Should they give in to family pressure to join the madding crowds on the high street or instead opt for the sometimes more serene pleasures on offer at the nation’s football stadia?
I’m afraid it’s no competition for me – especially when it involves a trip to one of my favourite away grounds.
Montrose’s Links Park is a model SFL stadium to which all clubs at this level should aspire.
It has a state-of-the-art stand with great, unobstructed views of the game for those who believe that football spectating is a sedentary occupation.
However, it also features terracing around the remaining three sides of the park for the traditionalists who prefer to stand and get close to the action.
The stadium, like Cliftonhill, is located within walking distance of the town centre making is easy to get to for fans who prefer not to drive to matches.
And Rovers could do worse than follow this blueprint when it comes to designing their own new stadium.
Montrose may have their house in order as regards their playing facilities but the same can’t be said on the team management front.
In the preceding week caretaker manager David Hannah was sacked leaving Director of Football and major benefactor Kenny Black to take over.
Pre-match intrigue was raised another notch by the presence of former Coatbridge favourite Jamie McKenzie in the opposition dug-out.
It’s unclear if he has been given the vacant manager’s post but he certainly seemed to be directing things on the park and, true to form, even managed to get involved in a bit of handbags with Bobby Barr.
The course of the game itself was determined after just seven minutes when the ‘Mo were reduced to 10 men.
Although they scored from the resulting free-kick, it was always going to be difficult for them to survive.
Rovers came out all guns blazing following the break and went in front with a quick one-two.
After this, the game opened up and it was end-to-end stuff with Rovers just holding out to take a very welcome three points.
Much credit for the victory must go the manager whose judicious substitutions ensured that Rovers finished the game with 11 men.
The match officials were obviously looking to even things up and both Alan Reid and Michael McGowan were in danger of being dismissed.
Former Rovers boss Jim Chapman was fond of saying that he wanted to prove that it was possible to get out of the third division by playing good football.
League leaders Stenhousemuir for example, like Berwick a few seasons back, are proving that a more fruitful route is to pack your side with “uncompromising” defenders and tall strong target men.
It may be effective, but it’s not pretty to watch.
Martin’s Rovers embrace the Chapman philosophy and do try to play good football. At times this season, they have been a joy to watch.
However, a bit of grit is required at times and maybe Rovers are a bit short in that department now that Todd Lumsden has finished his loan spell.
Once again, the management team have not been slow in bringing in new faces to improve the side and Mark McCusker, especially, has impressed so far.
Although we now sit seven points from a play-off place, there’s still plenty of optimism among fans that we can improve on our current placing over the festive period.
Six points from two home games against sides that currently sit above us would go a long way to doing just that.