Up, breakfast, in the van, gone! That was basically our morning in Keith. Straight on to the road, heading east to Aberdeen, via Peterhead, where we were to meet Ian’s brother David to let us in.
Unbeknown to Ian, we had a trick in store from him. David, who had a key, claimed to not have a way in, but, suggested Ian just hop the wall into the ground. With it being so early, who would know? Surprisingly, Ian was up for it. So we hoisted him up the wall. While he was sorting himself for his descent, we quickly used the key, and got in before him!
His face was a fantastic start to the morning.
As we left Peterhead, and headed to Aberdeen, my emotions started gathering. One of the subjects of my Munro challenge, is the memory of one of my best friends, Cammy Smith, who lost his light against Leukemia back in January. Infact, Cammy’s funeral, was the same day as the memorial service for baby Callum, making for a very emotional day.
Cammy was from Aberdeen, and a massive fan. The club had done a lot for him during his illness, and at one point I had to compose myself.
Once in the ground, I was taking a picture of one of Cammy’s pebbles. At his funeral, we were all given pebbles, to take with us around the world, and place them somewhere in Cammy’s memory. The Aberdeen official saw me doing this, and asked why. He knew Cammy, and jumped at the chance to give me the opportunity for a unique picture.
He took us to the trophy room, and brought out the recently won league cup! So Cammy, lifelong Aberdeen fan, had a photo of one of his pebbles, IN the League Cup! I was delighted. A true highlight of the trip, and to be honest, life.
So much had happened already today, and it wasn’t even 9am!!!!!
The sun was out, and it was shaping up to be a good one, as we headed to Brechin. Another reality moment at this ground, as we walked around to the pitch, and saw the strips hanging on a washing line by the stand! The image of football, is a luxurious one, where everything is done for the players, and it was quite humbling to see Brechin going back to basics.
We even had the chance to meet the chairman, who gave us a few moments of his time, having his picture taken with us. He explained the investment in the ground, and, again, it was fantastic to hear small clubs doing what they can to maintain standards.
There was certainly a theme starting to develop between the small community clubs, and the big city ones!
Next was Montrose, where we were all presented with strips for our photos. It was a nice touch from the club, really making an effort to make our visit memorable. The manager, and captain were also present, giving up their time to talk to us.
Anyone for a smokie? Was the cry as we entered Arbroath. Hunger was starting to set in, and we were all craving the famous Arbroath delacicy. Time was starting to go against us though, and after getting lost in the town, we finally got to the ground.
The pitch was open to enter, but we looked about for some life. We found a random couple, who were preparing for some small event. They had no idea what we were there for, but let us carry on with what we needed to do.
Once we did our lad, we were about to leave, and the wee woman came out with some juice and biscuits for us! It was so nice, she obviously ran into the stadium to get what she could for us, and was so apologetic that she did not have any more.
Back into Ratty’s big yellow van we went! Next stop…Forfar. Again, a nice small ground, and one who I have known a few players in recent years. The groundskeeper’s dog was on the pitch, so we had a good time playing with the dog and ball. The dog even tried to get into our group picture.
Outside we caught up on our pies, as we had missed a few…IAN, ONE JOB! We looked to the skies, and the clouds weren’t promising great things! Black clouds were coming in, and we really weren’t keen on jumping in and out a van in the rain…especially in a kilt!
So we entered the city of Discovery, Dundee, and we were waiting to discover what the weather was going to bring.
We got into Dens park, Dundee’s ground, and spits of rain started. We got around the pitch as quick as possible, although, the football fans in us quite enjoyed another traditional old style ground. A lot of work was getting done to the pitch and stand in preparation for their up and coming promotion to the SPL, so it was all a bit hectic.
As we finished our lap, the heavens opened, in true Scottish fashion. It was so heavy, we had to move inside for our photos, where were were joined by some Dundee representatives.
Tannadice was only 100m down the street, but it felt miles away in the current conditions. Some of the team wanted to just go for it, and run to the van in the rain, but by the nature of the shower, I was pretty sure it would soon stop, and the sun would re-appear.
Sure enough, the rain started to ease off, and by the time we go to Dundee Utd’s ground, the sun was out! Only in Scotland eh!
Dundee Utd were not quite as welcoming as Dundee, but still took us through to the pitch. The official tried to make a few jokes, but they just came across a bit rude and cheeky. Safe to say, they lost our support in the cup final, especially after the hospitality given by their opponents St Johnstone.