Scotland Record Record Win!
On a typical Scottish Spring day (it rained, then it snowed, then it was sunny, then it rained a little more) those who turned out at the Sportscotland National Centre in Largs witnessed a not so typical Scottish football performance. The Cerebral Palsy Scotland Squad romped to a 12-1 victory over Northern Ireland in Sunday's fixture.
From the onset Scotland were the quicker, stronger team and set about breaking down their opponents. The first goal came after 5 minutes of relentless pressure down the left side. Joe Devine, who was solid in defence and imaginative in attack all game, slotted through to Barry Manson who curled a right foot shot over the helpless goalkeeper into the top right corner of the net. Ireland fought hard showing the kind of brave camaraderie usually associated with our national heroes but couldn’t maintain possession in the manner CP Scotland did. An onslaught of attacks culminated in four more goals in the first half despite the heroic efforts from the Irish Man of the Match, goalkeeper Andrew Francis. Keith Gardner’s first time finish on the turn found the net and Joe Devine notched himself a stunning goal chipping over the keeper from an angle just outside the box.
The second half saw much of the same taking the home team only 30 seconds to score their seventh of the game, and the third of five for striker Scott Douglas. Gary Brown scored two carbon copy goals by charging down the right wing, cutting in and finishing well under the keeper. And the tally was complete when 19 year old John Wardrope sent a thundering shot off the outside of his right boot crashing low into the net.
Northern Ireland replied with one goal half way through the second half from David Crothers. "You’d think we had just won the World Cup," laughed Irish manager Alan Crooks in a speech after the game referring to his team's goal celebration, "but that’s what footballs all about… enjoyment, and we’ve certainly enjoyed our time here this weekend. I’m very proud of my lads."
In recording their first victory on home soil, Scotland manager Stuart Sharp described the game as "an excellent stepping stone for the future".
The game followed the team’s half time appearance at Hampden during the Scotland v Switzerland game earlier in the week. Some of the full national team players were reported in the press to have been disappointed with the turn out and atmosphere for their game, but CP Scotland captain Craig Gray couldn’t have been happier with the crowd's reaction to his squad's half time demonstration. He said: "It was an amazing night for us and the fans in the North Stand, who we were playing in front of, gave us an amazing reception."
Mal Donaghy, ex-Manchester United and Luton town player, himself a Northern Ireland Internationalist, is assistant coach for the CP Northern Ireland team. His sister has spent the last 40 years in a wheel chair due to Cerebral Palsy. Mal believes he is privileged at having the chance to work for a cause which he says is understandably ‘very close to (his) heart.’ His team played at half time during the Northern Ireland v Portugal game and they also got a great reception from fans. When asked if he thought his name would bring some much needed attention and media coverage for the team he replied he hoped so but "most of the lads in the team are too young to know let alone care who I was in football. I like to drop it in at training once in a while though!"
Northern Ireland will host Scotland in May for the return leg of this tie.
Ger Harley (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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