Monday, 18 October 2010
Day Eighteen: Inverness Caledonian Thistle (Caledonian Stadium)
Inverness Caledonian Thistle v St.Johnstone
Scottish Premier League
Saturday 16th October
My presence has been requested at my dad's house for 11am for the drive up north to Inverness. It was supposed to be a family occasion today but both my mum and my girlfriend have decided last minute to stay at home. It's a 3 hour drive to Inverness, so we should arrive around 2pm.
For the first time this season however my dad's desire to leave plenty of time for the journey pays off. We get stuck just this side of the Forth Road Bridge for about 20 minutes in road works and further up the road at the Bridge of Earn in a huge tail back as the main road from Perth to Dundee has been closed due to an accident. What should have taken us fifteen minutes takes us nearer an hour; we're then stuck behind caravans, lorries and 'Sunday drivers'. By the time we drive over the hill and into the town of my birth it's almost 2.30pm.
As such, we don't have time for our pack lunch or even to take in the beautiful scenery around the stadium. For those of you that haven't been Caledonian Stadium can be found on the banks of the Moray Firth adjacent to the Kessock Bridge. The picture above is taken from inside the ground.
It's the end of the month and I'm a little skint so after last night's begging phone call my dad is buying my ticket today. Admission price comes in at £45 for the two of us and he informs me that his has wiped out his funds so it's just as well I brought £15 otherwise I'd be doing this blog without the 'Pie Report' and a programme.
We enter the ground just five minutes before kick off and seeing as we've been unable to tuck into the sandwiches it's straight to the Pie Stand for us. We take our nourishment and find our seats just as the teams run out onto the pitch. The pie on offer is piping hot but suffers from a crumbly bottom and therefore 'points are deducted for its collapse-ability'. I think my dad might just have invented that word but he's the expert so who am I to judge.
It's a nice wee ground they've got at Inverness; with covered seating on three sides of the ground and a small uncovered seated area opposite the main stand. I would, however, recommend that if you do come to watch a game on a sunny afternoon that you bring a cap or sun visor with you as you'll find the afternoon sun shining straight in your face. Another thing I'd like to mention is that in the area we were sitting in there is a staircase leading down to the sign-posted toilets. Don't let this sign fool you though as there are no toilets at the bottom of the stairs, I mentioned this to the steward on my way back to my seat and she told me that 'the toilets don't actually open until the game kicks off'. What kind of a system is that? You have to hold on for the game to start before you can go to the toilet - weird.
It's the Saints who are first on the attack with a header just over the bar in the first two minutes. The already vocal Saints fans are in fine form and they are in fine voice and they have even more to sing about after 9 minutes Alan Maybury's long cross field ball is inexplicably left by the home defence and Colin Samuel runs on to it to stroke the ball into the far corner away from the dive of Esson.
They should have been two up after 20 minutes when Sam Parkin was through on goal only to shoot straight at the keeper. What a let off for Caley!
The away fans taunt their opposite number with a rendition of 'Caley, Caley sing us a song', but they get no response. Their next little ditty is 'going bust, they're going bust Dundee's going bust' which is a reference to the current troubles faced by their local rivals.
Liam Craig is next to try his luck for the away side as he unleashes a thunderbolt with his left foot that must have just scraped past the post.
Inverness are absolutely shocking, they can't string two passes together and show very little in attack. It takes until injury time at the end of the half for them to muster any threat. A Duff corner is knocked back across goal and lands at Rooney's feet but like his more illustrious namesake his form deserts him and he fluffs his sides only chance so far.
Terry Butcher is going to have to give his players the full hair-dryer treatment at half time as they have shown so little in the first half.
At half time we're 'entertained' by some bloke who does keepy-uppies for the full ten minutes. My dad informs me that this same bloke was at the Kilmarnock v Dundee United game last weekend, and the best bit was when he was running along with the ball perfectly balanced on his head one of the Dundee United subs sneaked up behind him and swiped the ball off his forehead. Nae such luck here and I'll be honest I was more than a bit bored watching him perform. As my dad said 'he obviously has no actual skill with the ball as a player just a show man'.
St.Johnstone have a great chance to double their lead a minute into the second half when Jackson beats two defenders and sends a beautiful ball across the six yard box, any touch would have signalled a goal but to the home fans relief no touch is forthcoming.
Inverness seem to pick things up after this and only a crunching challenge from Mackay stops Caley from firing in a shot. The defender gets booked for his troubles and he would have been pleased to see the resulting free kick smashed straight into the wall. Grainger is next to booked for the Saints, although this is a harsh booking as he clearly wins the ball and its only an over the top dive that fools the referee into thinking it's more serious.
Saints sub Haber almost makes the perfect start when his forceful run into the box results in a cut back to Liam Craig who really should have done better that smash the ball high over the bar from ten yards.
The Saints fans have not stopped singing for the entire match and take the awards for the most vocal fans we've heard yet, they even offer to sing a song for the Caley fans.
Adam Rooney should have made them eat there words moments later when a cross ball was headed into his path only yards from the goal but Graeme Smith made a fantastic save to keep the ball out. Moments later however and Inverness did get the equaliser. Captain Richie Foran played a perfect ball into the feet of striker Hayes, he sold the out rushing keeper a wee dummy and stroked it past him into the empty net. The keeper in his attempt to save the ball caught the striker with his out stretched leg and was booked for his troubles. Hayes celebrated his goal lying prone on the six yard box and needed treatment before he could continue.
From being totally outclassed and outplayed in the first fifty minutes, it's Inverness who are now on top and from a Duff corner, Munro went very close with a header to giving them an undeserved lead and moments later Rooney also went close with a header.
The home fans are screaming for blood with about five minutes left when Grainger chopped down an Inverness player who was at warp speed on a run into the Saints half. Grainger definitely took a booking for the good of his side there as the Inverness player was bearing through on goal. A tactical booking no less.
The fourth official signalled three minutes of injury time but there were no more chances at either end and the game finished one each. Derek McInnes, the Saints boss, will surely feel that his side should have made their superiority in the first half count more as Inverness will feel this is a point gained as they really were awful for most of the match.
After the game it takes us a good thirty minutes to get out of the car park and back on the road. We decide on a quick visit to see the house I grew up in which is situated just outside Inverness. It's amazing how much smaller it looked than I remember it but the view over Inverness and the Moray Firth towards the Black Isle is breathtaking and I will be back to visit before too long.
Next week we're off to watch Albion Rovers v Sunnybank in the next round of the Scottish Cup if you're interested.
Finally I'd like to dedicate this blog to my Uncle Walter, who we were going to visit after the match in Inverness. He's in hospital at the moment and I, as well as my dad, wish him a speedy recovery.
Ticket: Adult £25, Concession £20
Pie Marks: 6.5/10
Man of the Match: Dad - Eric Odhiambo (Inverness Caledonian Thistle) Me - Liam Craig (St.Johnstone)
Final Score: Inverness Caledonian Thistle 1 v St.Johnstone 1
Mileage: 312 miles
Fascinating Fact of the Day: Caledonian Stadium has the widest pitch in professional football in Scotland
Next Game: Cliftonhill (Albion Rovers)