2019/20: An Incredible Journey. Match Day 2 – Saturday 03 August 2019: Barnsley v Fulham

Matchday programme cover

So Match Day 1 saw me get to see one of my ‘must watch teams’ this season, Stenhousemuir, ticked off the list and as fate would have it, the first game of the English season throws up Barnsley versus Fulham just down the road. So I get an immediate opportunity to tick another team off my list, that being the Cottagers, Fulham FC.

I’ve seen Fulham on a number of occasions, the last being the first game of the 2016/17 season versus Newcastle United. The most memorable by far though is the Boxing Day game (actually played on 27 December) at Stamford Bridge in 1976 in the old Second Division. I went with my Dad and cousin David, the crowd was 55,003 which I will always remember as I like to think we were the three! Anyway on the pitch that day for Fulham were Bobby Moore, George Best and Rodney Marsh and Chelsea had the last of the old guard, Peter Bonetti in goal, and the new generation with a 20 year old Ray Wilkins captaining the side. Chelsea won 2 – 0 and went on to be promoted that season.

View from Beckett Stand.

Back to Match Day 2, Oakwell, the home of Barnsley is a new ground for me, and I was really looking forward to the game and got a tingle as I walked down Belgrave Road with the stadium coming into view at the bottom of the hill. Walking to the ground has always been a highlight for me, it probably goes back to that first game. I get goose bumps as I approach the ground and the crowds begin to swell the closer to the stadium you get. I was in the front row of the Beckett Stand, which is slightly below pitch level which meant that the view was a good one from the corner of the ground.

It was a typical first game of the season with both teams testing each other out, but not creating too many clear cut chances. Barnsley scored early on and it didn’t look as if either team would add to the scoresheet.

Two games down, two new grounds and both teams on my list losing….The beginning of season didn’t bode well for ‘my teams’.

Saturday 03 August 2019

Sky Bet Championship

Barnsley 1 (Thomas 12’) Fulham 0

Venue: Oakwell Stadium

Attendance: 14,823

Barnsley: Sahin-Radinger, Sibbick, Diaby, Anderson, Cavare, McGeehan, Mowatt, Thomas (Chaplin 86’), Bahre, Wilks (Thiam 90’), Woodrow (Miller 90’)

Unused substitutes: Collins. Williams, Halme, Styles

Fulham: Bettinelli, Odoi, Mawson, Le Marchand (Christie 33’), Bryan, McDonald, Johansen (Knockhaert 65’), Cairney, Kamara, Mitrovic, Cavalero (Ayte 74’)

Unused substitutes: Rodak, Kebano, De La Torre, Rui Fonte


Steve Blighton

2019/20: An Incredible Journey. Match Day 1 – Wednesday 24th July 2019: Hearts v Stenhousemuir

Cover of match programme

I have always been a Chelsea fan since that fateful day in August 1969 when I saw my first ‘live’ game, although previous to that I had occasionally seen them on the tv, but back in the day there weren’t the limitless channels showing football from around the globe. Match of the Day was well past my bedtime, so it was the Big Match on a Sunday afternoon for me, and fortunately we lived down south which tended to have a southern First Division match as the featured game, so often giving me my fix of watching my beloved Blues.

With my Dad being in the Air Force we moved around a bit, so I have always followed the teams local to where he was stationed. As a result, I have a soft spot for the Italian club Napoli, from when we lived there in the mid to late 1960s and my Dad used to go to watch Gli Azzurri from time to time. Half of our family were Chelsea fans and the other half were Fulham fans, and we used to go to alternate matches from time to time – if Chelsea were at home, Fulham were away and vice versa. So Fulham are another team I have a soft spot for too, despite the West London clubs being viewed as rivals. I also lived in Lincoln for 10 years and went to watch the Imps regularly in my teens, and now my home is Huddersfield, so have adopted the Terriers too. So these are “my” teams and I was determined to see each of these this season.

If you’re around my age you will probably have a Scottish team as well as your own team, unless of course your first team is Scottish and then you’ll probably have an English team! Whilst I was at school everybody chose either Celtic or Rangers, however, always wanting to be different I looked at the Scottish league tables and right down the bottom were Stenhousemuir, nicknamed Stenny or the Warriors – interesting name I thought. I read up about them a bit and their history, when without the luxury of the internet, research was done down at the local library and so Stenny became my Scottish team.

Why this story? Well, during my summer holidays in 2019 with my daughter we were up in Scotland, doing a bit of a tour and we ended up near Edinburgh and fortunately Stenhousemuir were in town too at Hearts. So we did a bit of shopping and sightseeing in Edinburgh during the day and made our way to Tynecastle for the evening kick off. On our way to the ground we got talking to a couple of young brothers who were also going to the game and had a really good chat about Scottish football in general, and discovered they also watched Edinburgh City who play in the lower echelons of the Scottish pyramid.

View towards Roseburn Stand and Stenny fans.

The ground wasn’t fully open, as it was a Wednesday night in July and a group game in the early stages of the Scottish League Cup, so hardly one to pull in the punters. Our seats were perched on high in the Gorgie Family Stand with the 100 diehard Stenny fans stationed at the opposite end of the ground. As you’d expect between a top tier and fourth tier team, Hearts were dominant from the start. However, incredibly Stenny made it to half-time with the game goalless. Into the second-half and it was more of the same pressure from Hearts with the Stenhousemuir ‘keeper, Graeme Smith, proving to be the Man of the Match. At one point he pulled off a stunning triple point blank save in the second period to thwart the Hearts attackers. The game was played entirely in the Stenny half, and more dangerously in an around the box. But wait….the Warriors breakaway and Mark McGuigan scores with just thirteen minutes remaining in the game, Hearts of Midlothian 0 Stenhousemuir 1. It was now sitting on hands time as there are a lot of very irate Hearts fans around us, but it was easy to spot the Stenny fan in the stand! Was a cup upset on the cards?

Sun sets as cup upset fades

It wasn’t to be, and Hearts eventually broke the Warriors rear-guard action levelling on eighty-two minutes from Craig Halkett. With Stenny hanging on, disaster struck as with just three minutes remaining, Halkett got his and Hearts second to clinch a 2-1 win for the home team.

Despite the result it was a decent game, Stenny had battled hard, and having seen them on a number of occasions previously, the final result wasn’t a surprise. No complaints though, but a good game to start the season off.

Wednesday 24th July 2019

Betfred Cup Section A

Hearts of Midlothian 2 (Halkett 82’, 87’) Stenhousemuir 1 (McGuigan 77’)

Venue: Tynecastle Park

Attendance: 7,299

Hearts: Zlamal, M.Smith, Souttar, Bozanic, Clare; Washington (Keena 59), Walker, MacLean (Ikpeazu 55′), McDonald (Mulraney 55′), Halkett, Hickey

Unused substitutes: Doyle. White, Dikamona, Irving

Stenhousemuir: G.Smith, McIlduff, McKernon (Watters 83′), Marsh, McGuigan, Hopkirk, Cook, McLaughlin. M Munro (Halleran 63′), Scullion (Andreson 90′). A Munro

Unused substitutes: Marley, Luke, Daramola


Steve Blighton