Bellshill Athletic v St Roch's

2pm  12 November 2016

SJFA West Region, Central League, Division One
Bellshill Athletic 1 St Roch's 2 (att 125)

My reasons for choosing a particular fixture, or even an area of the country to head towards, can vary week to week. This time it was primarily the weather forecast; a band of heavy rain was due to have cleared the Glasgow area by early morning, and no matter how torrential it was I had several back-ups on artificial pitches.

A few games did succumb to the conditions, but not my first choice, which went ahead on grass at Rockburn Park in Bellshill.

Bellshill have been nomadic in recent years - this is third home ground I've seen them on - and after a period away only moved back into the town itself last season. Rockburn Park is basic for a West Region junior ground, but I gather it's intended a temporary venue until a permanent home is completed.

Basic it may be, but Bellshill Athletic are well organised and put plenty of effort into turning the ground into an acceptable venue for this grade of football.

A sturdy fence encloses the ground, allowing the club to take a gate, while potential free views are obscured by the use of sheeting attached to the fence. The pitch is roped off along the areas available to spectators, with the far end and most of the far side out of bounds.

Like (almost) all Scottish junior grounds there's a decent snack bar, part of a building behind the near goal that also houses the changing rooms, and a match programme adds to the feel of a proper football club.

On the pitch Bellshill, relegated last season, are again having a tough time. Visitors St Roch's, on the other hand, are on an upward trajectory, and did their promotion challenge no harm at all by collecting all three points.

It wasn't an easy afternoon for them though, despite the cushion of a fifth minute lead and Bellshill having a player sent off with over an hour to play.

Although they were second best, Bellshill looked capable of equalising despite their numerical disadvantage. They did so with just seven minutes left, but their joy was short-lived as St Roch's found time to get a winner before the end.

It was an enjoyable and at times feisty encounter, albeit one that threatened to boil over as the players returned to the changing rooms after the final whistle. By then I was outside the ground heading back to my car, so it was hard to tell what happened. As usual though, Scottish junior football is very competitive, and well worth the journey north.

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