Our longest serving Match Reporter for www.raithrovers.net, John Mainland, recently scribed his last report for the club’s official website.
John is moving to France permanently, but will still tune in to Raith TV to keep up with the club’s progress.
John has compiled some of his musings, gathered from many years of reporting:
From the Stranraer to the Wickiculous
Confessions of a Match Reporter
I was years ago asked by then RRFC webmaster Jim F to write away match reports for the RRFC website. Eighty plus reports later I have hung up my pen, spare pen, stop watch, much repaired battered old folder and other spare pen for the last time. No more pitching up early, struggling to get a team sheet and asking hopefully, “Who was that?”
The website match reporter is on a list to get in with much more important people like Scouts, Directors and the Press. No doubt to the dismay of many after getting a team sheet I nearly always sought the chance to re-join my pals in the away support. This often led to me being taken through the bowels of various stands and sometimes around the pitch. Six or seven times I ended up going down the tunnel while players and officials milled around and the smell of Ralgex filled my nostrils. At Arbroath last season I bumbled out onto the pitch side as the Rovers came out to warm up. This was much to the horror of the then Chairman as he saw Murray, Davidson, Mainland and Thomson coming towards him. I suppose it was what a lot of fans dream of but with my lack of fitness, dodgy knee and absolutely no talent I stepped to the right as the players went left onto the pitch.
I never really adjusted to the reverence from host Club staff and volunteers to my being on a list and clasping a clipboard. Some would ask about former players plying their trade at Starks or ex-Rovers now with them. The club officials up at Wick were fantastic and really pushed the boat out, I was introduced to the Chairman and found myself chatting to the Secretary and other staff. I was then ushered to my reserved seat – which due to the heavy rain I took – in time to see that the home Chairman didn’t have a reserved seat of his own!
When the Rovers took the lead one of my new pals tapped me on the shoulder asking, “Who was that?” I replied as I scribbled down notes only to hear a quiet click and the man’s voice come over the PA saying “Raith Rovers scorer, Grant Anderson”. It dawned on me at half time that scorers of any name could be blasted out into the rain but I didn’t take the risk.
At Celtic Park one time the PA man prior to kick off was asking about the formation, choice of Captain and injuries – I told him nothing useful cos I never knew more than the average fan, often less, and if I did I’d never tip off the opposition.
A few times I went ‘full native’ sitting with the Press and getting access to tea and biccies with faces I should probably recognise all of whom the late great Ally Gourlay chatted too like old pals. This came after I did the report on the Scottish Cup Semi Final v Dundee United at Hampden. I eventually arrived no thanks to the world’s most lackadaisical bus driver and an unnecessarily long stop at a Lodge in Hamilton… This meant me legging it for about a mile and having no time to soak up the atmosphere and get ready.
After that for big games I took a press place which meant I did both Ibrox and Celtic Park where I discovered that the Press guys and gals echo with what I thought was my trademark cry of “Who was that?” after a goal or notable chance. I have to say sometimes the professionals – Matthew Elder aside – struck me as much less knowledgeable about the Rovers then you would imagine. A very chilly Tuesday night Cup Replay at Peterhead was the worst for that, I had fingerless gloves, clipboard, pen, hand warmers, spare pen, etc, etc and was surrounded by paid professionals with only a pad and pen. An early goal in the second half had the tea holding pro’s scrabbling as they re-took their seats. Your lowly volunteer was able to provide then with a description, time – 30 odd seconds – and details of who assisted Smith who I then had to identify for them. Early the next morning I was at my real job while they were no doubt still dreaming of a scoop tucked up in their beds.
Anyhoo onto the confessions:
- How often did I say, “Who was that?” Hundreds or probably nearer a thousand times
- Was I ever left penless? Only once but I was able to borrow one.
- When I said “the Raith support were surprised when a free kick was awarded” did I mean it was never a foul? Yes
- Did I really see a Shag sitting on a rock as mentioned in a report at half time from Gayfield? Yes, tho it could have been a Cormorant.
- Did the RaithTV lads and I overdo it at the end of the Wee Cup Final? Yes. Guilty as charged, very, very, very guilty.
- Did I ever forget to start my stop watch? Several times…
- When saying an ex-Rover “filled the bench” or “limited space in the middle of the park” was I implying that he’d put on a stone or two since leaving Starks? No comment.
- Was I surprised people read my reports? Yes, all the time especially those who’d been at the games, which made me try harder to get things right.
- Did other team’s fans seek me out to abuse me via Facebook? Three times, most notably after trialist Neil McCann got Administration struck Dundee a late, controversial and undeserved winner. A second time by a Dundee fan and once by a fan of a west Fife side.
- Did I deserve it? They clearly thought so… Bless.
- When I said, “X will have been disappointed with his effort” did I mean he missed an absolute sitter? Maybe…
- Did I once get ticked off for saying a windblown blue plastic sheet made the best forward move in a dire first half at Airdrie? Yes.
- Was it offside? Probably.
- Did I ever miss a kick-off? Once at Cappielow after huge traffic jams, I heard the whistle from just outside the turnstiles. Thankfully nothing happened in the moments I missed.
- When I said “producing a card to the amazement of the Raith support” was it wrong? Yes.
- Was it retired whistler George Salmond? Probably
- Was a report done via BBC Alba’s live coverage after a breakdown, eventual roadside assistance and rescue? Once
- When I said “despite a huge shout for a Rovers penalty” was it a pen? YES!
- Did I call all the Morton players Alan after their Chairman took to the Cappielow pitch and introduced Colin McMenamin as Alan MuMinamum at five to three? Yes, Alan I did.
- Did I put numerous Italian food references into a report from Livi’s Toni Macaroni Bowl or whatever it was called? Yes, including “can a loanee”
- Did I ever throw in topical or other comment for a particular person in the travelling support? Yes, all the time.
- Did I write things folk will have missed? No doubt, my mind works in silly ways. For example the Arbroath game I did last season was Davo’s 400th for the Rovers, hence if you check that the first letter of each paragraph it spells out IAIN DAVIDSON ROVERS LEGEND. Daft I know but merited: http://www.raithrovers.net/34764/arbroath-1-1-raith-rovers.htm
I have to thank many, many people who have told me who put in the cross or made the tackle as I wailed, “Who was that?” Firstly, the long-suffering Chris H and Alex C who may be glad I’m not doing it anymore! Others include James P, Martin H, Scott C, Paul C, Blair W and many others who’ve not so much helped keep me right but stopped me being more wrong.
Plus, those behind the scenes Shaughan M, David C, Mike M and Niall R. Also, the many who’ve said kind things about my efforts over the years and perhaps more importantly those who were nice enough not to say what they really thought.
Raith Rovers get huge amounts of work, effort, strength and value from volunteers like the match day guys and gals all of whom do much more than I have. They are key to the club, brilliant people and deserve much greater thanks than I can provide but you know who you are……
Finally … at last I hear you cry
After attending Saturday’s Arbroath game I am away.
The fact I am going to live in France is not, I repeat not, me trying to avoid another trip to Dingwall on a Tuesday night or the only mild joy of Berwick in February. Though even the hardiest Rovers fan must have considered such a drastic move during the Anelka period of, erm, management… I’ll return for Finals, so I’ll hopefully see you all again soon.
So ends my time of well-meaning if at times mediocre service. I find it more than a little odd that Val McDermid and Ian Rankin have probably read more of my writing than I have of theirs, which is embarrassingly for me none. This is however something which I will change in the coming months.
As I said when I ended my report on the Challenge Cup Final win, “Supporting your local team is braw, more folk should try it”