East Kilbride were relegated from the West of Scotland League Super League First Division last season and like ourselves, were involved in a very tight relegation battle that went right down to the wire. Indeed if it hadn’t been for goal difference we could have found ourselves two divisions apart today instead of playing each other!
The visitors had spent the previous four seasons in the Super League so we haven’t played them for a while, they have been relatively successful with three top half finishes in that spell. The “other” Jags have had a miserable season but have picked up a bit lately starting with a 5-1 win at St Roch’s.
About East Kilbride Thistle:
Ground: The Showpark, The Village, East Kilbride
Managers: Brian McMillan & Mark Wilson
Home colours: Black and White stripes
Away colours: All Red
Scottish Junior Cup 1983
Central League Division 1 1992-93
West of Scotland Cup 1973–74
Central League champions 1974–75, 1975–76
Central League A Division winners 4 times
Sectional League Cup: 1974–75, 1982–83, 2002–03
Evening Times Cup Winners Cup: 1982–83
Although East Kilbride Thistle are a relatively new club to the juniors, they have done what many others have failed to do in lifting the highest honour in the junior game. Their proudest moment came as recently as 1983 when they beat Bo’ness 2-0 in the Scotish Cup final at Ibrox.
East Kilbride are currently campaigning to get South Lanarkshire Council to approve plans to redevelop the Showpark into a “community sports hub”. The ambitious plans include 7 and 11-a-side 3G parks as well as a 500-1000 seater stand in the main park. Part of the plan is for Clyde to relocate there and share the ground.
East Kilbride squad:
East Kilbride were relegated last season from the Super League First Division and have found life just as tough in this division, losing all but one of their 16 games so far. They have been on the wrong end of some bad defeats, the worst of which was our 8-0 away win in the first game of 2013. They did a bit better in the Scottish however, travelling north to Ellon to take on the Aberdeenshire side and came back with a great 2-1 win before losing to Kinnoull in the next round. They also managed a win in the Euroscot Eng Central League Cup against Benburb, the only meeting so far between the sides this season.
Thistle improved their chances of promotion on Saturday – without even kicking a ball. Two of the games involving other contenders finished in draws and only Lanark among the chasing pack managed to get a win.
Tonight however will be a tough test and although Bellshill have nothing to play for in terms of the league, they will be only too pleased to scupper our push for the Super League. The Jags have had an up and down season but the one consistent factor is our failure against our local rivals. Of the seven games we have played so far against Lanarkshire teams other than the doomed East Kilbride – Lesmahagow, Carluke, Lanark and Bellshill we have only manged a single win and have lost five of them. Indeed if we had only won half of the derby fixtures we would be going for the league tonight instead of scrambling for the remaining promotion spot.
Tonight is probably our biggest game of the season and a win would put us in a really strong position with only three games left, against East Kilbride and the double header with Port Glasgow.
There’s a new team photo from the 60s that Hugh uncovered, we’re missing a few of the players names if anybody wants to chip in.
Click here to see the photo
Thistle have a day off today but there are two games being played that are vital to our promotion chances. Local rivals Lesmahagow take on leaders Greenock at home while Benburb face St Anthony’s in the Govan derby.
Incredibly, there are still eight teams who could still win the league and out of these the Gow still have most points to play for other than leaders Greenock so must be seen as serious contenders for a promotion spot. A win today would keep up the faint chance of somebody overhauling the long time leaders. A win for Greenock today would see them take the title.
Benburb also have a lot of games to catch up but they could blow the race for the other spot wide open with a win against the Ants today. A defeat today would see St Anthony’s chasing a maximum of 48 points with only one game left to play.
In the day’s only other fixture with a bearing on promotion, Dunipace who can still go up take on Neilston. The Pace still have an outside chance but have eight games left and they would need to be considered rank outsiders.
We go into the last five games of the season still withan outside chance of promotion, although there are a good few teams still in the shake-up for the two places. Greenock are all but up, although St Anthony’s, ourselves, Shettleston, Lesmahagow and Benburb could all mathematically overtake them. In the night’s other fixtures, Lesmahagow should move closer with a win at East Kilbride while something has to give at Shettleston where they play host to St Anthony’s.
The Bens will be very difficult opposition given the fact that they beat us very convincingly in March, albeit we were reduced to nine men through a couple of very dubious refereeing decisions. (See match report here) Thistle have had problems with reduced squad numbers in the last few weeks with injuries, suspensions and holidays all taking their toll but it was good to see JP Grant back pulling the strings in the middle of the park on Saturday.
The winner of this game will stay in the running for the promotion places but for the loser it will probably be a bridge too far.
On Sunday 14th April the Thistle ground will host the semi-final of the Under-13 Scottish Youth Cup between Larkhall team Burnhead Colts and Hamilton Accies Boys Club, 1pm kick off. The game was originally due to be played on Sunday 10th but was postponed a couple of times.
It is the first time for quite a few years that a local team have reached the semis so come along and give them your support.
We are holding a Sportsmans dinner in the Community Centre, Montgomery Street on Saturday the 27th April. Speakers are current Forfar manager Dick Campbell – one of the best speakers on the circuit – and Willie Young, ex top grade referee and lawyer who has some great stories from his days as a Grade 1 and FIFA referee.
Tickets are priced £25 and include a 3 course meal. 7:00pm start for 7:30pm.
For Ticket details contact any of the following:
Stevie Johnston 07523153713
Chris Lenson 07878468937
Hugh Kerr 07746875347
Thistle played St Roch’s in November last year and despite the loss of a player “The Candy” proved to be a very tough nut to crack, the Jags eventually running out 4-2 winners. St Roch’s were on a poor run of form at that point, our win being their sixth game without a win, having lost five of them.
After that game however, things became even worse for them with the loss of players and management having a devastating effect on their fortunes. They have lost all seven league games since, among them going down 7-1 at Lesmahagow and 7-0 at home to Neilston as well as 4-goal losses against Lanark and Benburb – both at home.
Worst of all however was last Saturday when things reached a new low with a 5-1 home defeat to East Kilbride, the visitors’ first and only points of the entire league campaign.
Our own form of late has been a bit hit or miss with excellent wins at the likes of Greenock and Neilston being cancelled out by poor performances at Carluke and Benburb. Despite our opponents toiling at the wrong end of the table nobody will be taking the win as a foregone conclusion and anything gained from the game will have to be hard-won.
There has traditionally been a bit of an edge in games between the teams over the years, going back to the early 70s when they met in the now infamous Scottish Cup ties. St Roch’s see this as a game they would love to win to start their fightback against relegation so despite the current form we can be sure of a hard game against a team that will be fired up and fully committed to getting a much needed win.
Here’s hoping for a good sporting encounter where the football is the only topic of after-match conversation.
Thistle’s next two league fixtures have been announced, this coming Saturday 6th April we are away at St Roch’s and the following Saturday 13th April the Jags are at home to Shettleston.
Today’s league match with Port Glasgow at Parklea has been postponed due to the weather, next scheduled game is home to Bellshill on Saturday.
Larkhall Thistle travel to Govan today to take on Benburb in the league. The Jags are aiming to continue their recent run since the defeat at Carluke and extend their winning streak to three league games in a row for the first time this season.
A win or draw would see Thistle move up a place to third in the league if Lanark lose today at Bellshill, a Lanark draw would also do the Jags if we can win today.
Benburb themselves are probably sitting in a false position at fourth bottom as they have a lot of games in hand and could move up with a couple of wins. There is the problem though of having to cram a load of games in at the end of the season so it is a bit of an unknown quantity.
Good luck to Thistle today, here’s hoping for three points.