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Ray Clemence and Des O’Connor

I was sad to hear of the death of Ray Clemence, one of the best goalkeepers of my lifetime, with a medal haul it would be difficult to surpass. About the only one misssing from his collection was a World Cup medal. Had it not been for the presence of Peter Shilton as a contemporary his total of 61 international caps would have been substantially higher.

England goalkeepers have not habitually been prone to error but Clemence is probably best remembered in Scotland for exactly that. In a game against Scotland he misjudged a weak Kenny Dalglish shot, allowing it through his legs for a goal. I noticed that his obituary piece on the BBC news featured a clip of that incident. Perhaps the compiler was a Scot with a sense of irony.

Judge for yourselves:-

Raymond Neal Clemence: 5/81948 – 15/11/2020. So it goes.

A day earlier, Des O’Connor, butt of many jokes from the mouth of Eric Morecambe, had passed away. O’Connor first came to my attention via his chart success with Careless Hands and I Pretend, not songs to my taste. His comedy was perhaps on the bland side and, contrary to Morecambe’s jibes, which he took in good part, even playing up to them, his singing was perfectly acceptable. He made a successful career out of them in any case and the attention from Morecambe may in fact have boosted it.

Desmond Bernard O’Connor: 12/1/1932 – 14/11/2020. So it goes.

Serbia 1-1 Scotland (aet 1-1; 4-5 pens)

Euro 2020, Path C, Final Play-off, Rajko Mitić Stadium, Belgrade, 12/11/20.

Well this was nail-biting stuff.

I hadn’t watched Scotland live for a very long time before this game. For one thing it wasn’t really worth it, for another the games were behind a pay wall and I’m not temperamentally happy with companies charging you for access and bombarding you with adverts for the privilege.

Anyway, Scotland were surprisingly on top in this game – not at all what you’d expect from an away tie. Serbia looked all-but toothless for most of the match. There was a mystifying graphic during the first half which stated that Serbia had had 55% of possession. It hadn’t looked like it. Scotland only really had one effort on goal for all the good play, John McGinn’s shot which the keeper parried to ground but at the other end David Marshall hadn’t much to do.

Second half we dominated Serbia for the first part. When Andy Robertson was set up by Lyndon Dykes it ought to have been 0-1 but Robertson somehow managed to balloon it well over. I thought then that it wouldn’t be our night. It wasn’t long though till Ryan Christie scored a magnificent individual goal, dragging the ball from behind him, side-stepping a defender then cutting it back through his legs in off the post.

Even though Serbia began to push (they had to) it wasn’t till very late they threatened our goal.

Then came the substitutions, taking off our two main attacking threats and midfield driving force. I couldn’t see us creating much from then on and it seemed as if coach Stevie Clarke had decided to hold out for the win.

Their goal was typical Scottish stuff, conceding late. The momentum swung then and there. As did the emotions.

Extra time we weren’t in it. Glorious failure once more beckoned. Still, David Marshall had a very good save indeed from a long range effort. But the boys dug in and took it to penalties.

And what a performance they were. Five banged in all but perfectly. And David Marshall’s apotheosis with the save of Serbia’s last. Cue bedlam.

History made. First qualification through a play-off. First major tournament in 22 years.

We can all relax now for the months until June. (Except there are two games to come in the Nations League on Sunday and Wednesday.)

Bastion Road, Prestatyn

Home of Prestatyn Town FC.

From Hawarden we took a wee trip along Wales’s north coast and stopped at Prestatyn to see friends.

Near the seafront on, erm, Bastion Road, I spotted the local team’s football ground. (I see from Google Maps the ground is actually named Bastion Gardens.)

Ground from northwest:-

Bastion Road, Prestatyn

From west:-

Prestatyn FC's Ground, Bastion Road

Prestatyn FC, Bastion Road

Racecourse Stadium, Wrexham

On the way back out of Wrexham I made sure to stop to photograph the Racecourse Stadium (formerly the Racecourse Ground,) home of Wrexham FC, which I’d spotted on the way in. I see from the link above it’s actually Wrexham AFC.) The club has recently been the subject of feverish speculation due to interest in it from some Hollywood actors.

Southwest corner:-

Racecourse Stadium, Wrexham, Southwest Corner.

Main Stand from west:-

Racecourse Stadium, Main Stand from West

Main Stand. Stitch of two photos:-

Racecourse Stadium, Main Stand

East Terrace:-

East Terrace, Racecourse Stadium, Wrexham

East Terrace, part of Main Stand, North Stand behind:-

Racecourse Stadium, Wrexham

Main Stand from east:-

Main Stand Racecourse Stadium, Wrexham

Part of North Stand, seen through gap between East Stand and Main Stand:-

Part of North Stand, Racecourse Stadium, Wrexham,

Art Deco, Wrexham Town Centre (i)

We made a trip from Hawarden to the nearby town of Wrexham as we’d never visited there before.

On the way in from the west we passed Glyndwr University (some Art Deco styling) and the Racecourse Ground but I didn’t stop to photograph those till we were on the way back.

In the town centre I found more Art Deco.

Wrexham’s Burton’s has that company’s classic Art Deco style.

Upper part:-

Burton's, Wrexham

Lower portion:-

Wrexham Burton's

Side view:-

Side View, Burton's, Wrexham

Wrexham Victoria Centre, 13 Hill Street, is minor deco; mainly in the pediment:-

Maybe Deco, Wrexham

McDonald’s occupies a strongly Art Deco building. Strong horizontals and verticals, flat roof, corner window.

Art Deco, McDonald's, Wrexham

Balmoor Stadium, Peterhead

Balmoor Stadium is the home of Peterhead FC.

I visited it for the first time when Sons played up there in August last year.

From access road:-

Balmoor Stadium, Peterhead From Access Road

The photos below take you on a clockwise circuit of the interior.

East Stand from northwest:-

East Stand, Balmoor Stadium

Main Stand from north-ish:-

Main Stand, Balmoor Stadium

Main Stand from northeast:-

Main Stand, Balmoor Stadium

East Stand:-

East Stand, Balmoor Stadium

North end:-

North End, Balmoor Stadium

East Stand from north:-

East Stand Balmoor Stadium

East Stand from south:-

Balmoor Stadium, East Stand

Main Stand from southeast corner:-

Balmoor Stadium, Main Stand

South end and part of Main Stand:-

Balmoor Stadium, South End and Main Stand

Galabank

Just in case you (and I) had forgotten what a football ground looked like, these are pictures taken at Sons’ first game of last season, the League Cup tie at Galabank, home of Annan Athletic FC.

Ground as seen from road from town centre:-

Galabank As seen From South

Entrance:-

Entrance to Galabank, Annan Athletic FC

Annan Athletic Club Logo on Galabank’s gates:-

Annan Athletic Club Logo

Galabank From North. Ground is in background beyond gates at the left of the picture:-

Galabank From North

Pitch at Galabank, from northeast:-

Pitch at Galabank, From Northeast

From northwest corner looking south, showing pitch-side stand:-

Galabank From Northwest Corner Looking South

Northwest corner:-

Galabank From Northwest Corner

From southeast:-

Galabank From Southeast

From southwest corner:-

Galabank From Southwest Corner

Looking north:-

Galabank Looking North

South enclosure:-

Galabank South Enclosure

Jack Charlton

So, with the passing of Jack Charlton, another of that select group, English footballers to have won a World Cup, has gone.

Not the most cultured of players, unlike his brother Bobby, Jack was said to have thought when he learned of his England call-up that they’d picked the wrong Charlton. His position at centre-half though, has not historically been the preserve of the cultured. In his club career at Leeds United he had big shoes to fill, taking over from the Gentle Giant, John Charles, after his transfer to Juventus. In all he appeared for Leeds 629 times – a club record unlikely to be surpassed.

As a manager I remember him leading Middlesbrough to promotion to the top flight before spells at Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle United but it was as manager of the Republic of Ireland international team that he made his greatest mark, taking them to a World Cup quarter-final in 1990. Four years later they had a famous 1-0 win over Italy (who went on to reach the final) in New York.

John (Jack) Charlton: 8/5/1935 – 10/7/2020. So it goes.

Leaving Leningrad

Or leaving St Petersburg (as it is again.) I liked the alliteration though.

I snatched these through the coach window on the way back to the ship’s berth.

An old bridge over a waterway:-

An Old Bridge, St Petersburg

This one I realised later is on the corner of Nevsky Prospekt at the Anichkov Bridge over the River Fontanka and I had photographed it from the street:-

Palace, St Petersburg

A Fire Station:-

Fire Station, St Petersburg

This is the bridge almost hidden behind the building under construction I photographed from the ship’s prow:-

Bridge, St Petersburg

And this is the one between the ship and the Zenit Arena (aka Krestovsky Stadium) – see same link above:-

Bridge in St Petersburg

Bridge and Krestovsky Stadium:-

A Bridge  + Krestovsky Stadium, St Petersburg

Krestovsky Stadium/Zenit Arena plus part of the bridge, also two blurred birds:-

Krestovsky Stadium, St Petersburg (Zenit Arena)

Season’s End

Well, no.

But today’s the day that would have been. Sons were due to play Montrose at home but of course have not played at all for eight weeks.

Goodness knows when we’ll see a Sons team on a pitch again.

It won’t be in July, as is normal for a pre-season, that’s for sure.

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