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Bringing Up Baby - A Different Approach to The Lisbon Lions Challenge.


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The production of youth players from the Rangers squad got me to thinking that it might just be possible with this game to do something that I've always wanted to do, but never been able to achieve. Not only have a squad of all Scots, which I've done and been successful with, but to go a step further and actually raise my own players. Impossible? Perhaps, but I'll probably supplement my attempt by bringing in youths that have been rejected by other clubs.

I have decided to start a new game for this, because of the name bug thing. No offence to anyone who might really be called Chik Lee MacDonald, but I wanted my players to have sensible names.

Running CM 0304, Med DB for speed, Scots DDT, and I have the Scots and Irish League running, because I've decided to skip ahead a year so that the story starts with my first batch of youths. I have taken Forfar for this story, and they have reached Division One with my guy on Hols, after the game started in March 2004. I've taken the liberty of adding some decent youth facilities, and I've given us an all seater 1800 capacity stadium, which, if things go to plan, should be increased at some point in the future. (I've set it with the editor.)

I used Nygreens editor for this, and there are no silly regen names. I hope you enjoy this as much as I intend to enjoy playing it icon_smile.gif

Oh yeah, my other challenge will run to its conclusion, which shouldnt take very long. I hope.

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The production of youth players from the Rangers squad got me to thinking that it might just be possible with this game to do something that I've always wanted to do, but never been able to achieve. Not only have a squad of all Scots, which I've done and been successful with, but to go a step further and actually raise my own players. Impossible? Perhaps, but I'll probably supplement my attempt by bringing in youths that have been rejected by other clubs.

I have decided to start a new game for this, because of the name bug thing. No offence to anyone who might really be called Chik Lee MacDonald, but I wanted my players to have sensible names.

Running CM 0304, Med DB for speed, Scots DDT, and I have the Scots and Irish League running, because I've decided to skip ahead a year so that the story starts with my first batch of youths. I have taken Forfar for this story, and they have reached Division One with my guy on Hols, after the game started in March 2004. I've taken the liberty of adding some decent youth facilities, and I've given us an all seater 1800 capacity stadium, which, if things go to plan, should be increased at some point in the future. (I've set it with the editor.)

I used Nygreens editor for this, and there are no silly regen names. I hope you enjoy this as much as I intend to enjoy playing it icon_smile.gif

Oh yeah, my other challenge will run to its conclusion, which shouldnt take very long. I hope.

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The Billy Buchanan Diaries - 1

I suppose their initial reaction should have been expected. They assumed I was insane. There was no way a club like Forfar could have ambitions to reach the SPL, never mind win it, not in this day and age where money ruled football and less and less people actually cared enough to attend games. To build state of the art training facilities, and create a modern youth academy seemed insane. Until I waved the cheque in their faces.

I'll pay for it all I told them, I'll even help with the stadium, we can rebuild it. We can be successful here, you only have to trust me.

Of course they had no reason to trust me, but money talks, and my only stipulation was that they make me manager. Money talks, and so they did.

That was a year ago, and after guiding the side to the Second Division title, the first fruits of the new youth academy have just begun to ripen. A handful of raw young talent, that will hopefully be moulded and shaped and become first team players at the club. Thats the theory, thats the dream.

I may well be insane, but I do believe I'll be having the last laugh....

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Ok there was a slight problem with the save that meant compo an players histories weren't be recorded, and the players histories were all messed up. I've no idea what caused it, as I've restored the clean db, and then step by step made the minor editings I had done the last time, and it seems to be fine. So I'm starting it again. Its a relatively minor problem, but even so.

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The Billy Buchanan Diaries - 2

They say if the pre-season goes badly, then you're in for a cracking season. Well in many ways, this preason has been an utter disaster, starting with a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Crewe, and ending with Kevin Byers breaking his leg against Forfar Albion, and it looks like he could be out for pretty much the whole season. We'll also be without Martin Maher for a month, and in general things don't seem to be going very well. But we'll just have to roll up our sleeves and get on with it.

Of the youths that have come through, none look ready to walk into the first team, although strikers Steven Murray (16) and Alan MacDonald (15) would seem the best best of the current crop. There a number of transfer's in, probably the most significant of which would be Rangers duo Graeme Smith abd Fraser Coyle, and ex Celtic keeper David Marshall. It may well take the squad time to gel together, and the loss of Byers is going to be hard to take. Our target is to stay up, and if we can do that, we'll have achieved something.

Squad 2004-2005


Mark Brown (24) One of the original squad, a decent keeper who will start out as No1 and the others will have to dislodge.

David Marshall (18) Ex Celtic youth keeper, snapped up on a free.

Graeme Smith (21) £150,000 signing from Rangers.

Craig Samson (20) Ex Killie keeper, comes in on a free and will be the reserve team keeper this season.


Steve Florence (32) Experienced original squad member who should help the younger lads along.

David McClune (21) Another of the original squad, a distinctly average player who will serve as back up.

Ross Forsyth (21) Decent left back who arrives from St Johnstone for £100,000.

Mark Dempsie (23) Former Hibs player, brought in from St Mirren for £18,000.

Andy Jordan (24) Former Hartlepool, Cardiff and Bristol City player, brought in on a free.

Richard Robb (21) £50,000 signing from St Mirren.

Elliot Smith (20) £130,000 signing from Kilmarnock.

David Lowing (20) Decent young left back, original squad member.

Robbie Horn (27) Another of the original squad who has been retained.


Tom Bennett (34) Arrives as a player/coach, and his main duties will be on the coaching side.

Steven Blair (18) Ex Newcastle youth, arrives on a free.

Barry Sellars (28) Fairly decent player, original squad member.

Keith Gibson (23) £200,000 signing from Montrose.

Barry Robson (25) Transfer listed by Dubdee Utd, and arrives at a fee of £100,000. Should be a decent acquisition.

Darren Smith (24) £50,000 signing from Berwick.

Martin Maher (20) Promising youngster, member of the original squad and is being chased by a number of clubs, but hopefully we can hang on to him.

Charlie King (25) £50,000 signing from Queen's Park.

Kevin Byers (24) Possibly the best player at the club when I arrived, but a leg break in a pre season game means he misses out on most of this season, which could be a huge blow for our hopes.


Scott Bannerman (25) £8000 signing from Morton.

Steven Hislop (26) Ex Inverness & Ross County player, signed on a free.

Paul Shields (22) Original squad member.

Blair Sturrock (22) Free signing.

Colin Hodge (19) Decent young striker, part of the original squad.

Paul Tosh (30) Ageing member of the original squad, but remains as a decent back up player.

Under 19 Squad


Cameron Bell (17) Ex Killie youth, brought in on a free as we have no u19 keeper at present.


Alan Paterson (17) Youth academy 04.

Craig Campbell (16) Youth academy 04.

Paul O'Neill (14) Youth academy 04.

Alan Kelly (16) Youth academy 04.

Kevin Scott (15) Youth academy 04.

John Byrne(17) Youth academy 04.

David O'Reilly (17) Youth academy 04.


David Davidson (14) Youth academy 04.

Gary Dunne (16) Youth academy 04.

Scott Adams (17) Youth academy 04.

Christophe Berra (18) Ex Hearts, fee signing.


William Edgar (17) £5000 signing from Edinburgh City.

Steven Murray(16) Youth academy 04.

John Ferguson(15) Youth academy 04.

Alan MacDonald (15) Youth academy 04.

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The Billy Buchanan Diaries - 3

The League got off to a fairly sticky start, as we lost 2-0 at home to Falkirk. It was a bit worrying, but we soon managed to get back on track, althought the early pace was being set by Brechin, and at one point they were seven clear at the top of the table. Our main target of course was survival, but despite the loss to Falkirk, we went unbeaten in the League until the next time we played them, and were sitting pretty in a position to challenge for promotion.

An excellent 5-0 win over Brechin showed our class, and for a short spell we were actually top. A last game of the year loss at Somerset though sees us end the year in 2nd place, 2 points behind Brechin, and three ahead of Inverness at the exact half way point of the League.

The League Cup started well enough, as we overcame Hearts on a penalty shoot out after a 1-1 draw, but in the 3rd round we were overwhelmed 3-0 by Dundee. There was cup glory though as we saw off Hamilton, Ross County, Morton and Stranraer to reach the final of the Challenge Cup, where a Paul Shields goal in injury time brought us our first ever reasonably major Cup, to add to our two Second and one Third Division titles.

On the youth front, there was good news for Steven Murray, who turned 17 in October. Having scored 7 times in 4 games for the youths, he was called up to the side to face Stranraer in the Challenge Cup semi and scored after 12 minutes of his first team debut. He has managed to maintain his place in the first team, and has grabbed 9 goals in 13 league games, won the Scottish First Division Young Player of the month for November, and the First Division Player of the month for October and December. Its been a great period for the youngster, who looks to have a decent future in the game, but he'll need to keep his feet on the ground.

Another youth, 15 year old striker Alan MacDonald has also made it on to the fringes of the first team squad, with 4 starts and three sub appearances and has netted three goals. Without their two best strikers, the U-19's have slipped down to 5th in their league, but thats a price we have to pay, and its probably well worth.

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If one player from each batch makes it into a first team regular, I think that will be success. Its hard to know at first, but some of the current batch are already clearly not going to be good enough. I think Steven Murray can be. So thats one already icon_smile.gif

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Youth is a crapshoot. You just don't know, some peak at 18, some don't have thier heads screwed on right, some are late-bloomers and some actually turn into superstars. Good nurturing, good coaching and good practice facilities will create a decent player out of someone you earmarked as a D3 lifer. icon_smile.gif

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The Billy Buchanan Diaries - 4

There was bad news for the Forfar fans at the start of 2005, as Aston Villa matched Michael Brown's £230,000 release clause, and the was offski. Of course that simply meant former Celt David Marshall now got his chance to establish himself.

The Scottish Cup got underway, and wins over Ayr, by 3-0, and Gretna by 4-0 saw us through to the last eight where we drew Hibs at Station Park. We managed a decent enough 0-0 draw to gain a replay at Easter Road. Paul Shield sent us into a 25th minute lead, but our dreams of a shock were soon eroded as Brown and McManus scored to turn the match around. Just a minute from time though, Barry Robson sent a shot goalwards, that the Hibs keeper really should have saved, but ended up in the back the net, and we had extra time. Hibs though scored the only goal of the extra 30, through McManus and so we bowed out bravely.

In the league, we were blowing hot and cold, as we vied with Ayr, Brechin, Ross County and Falkirk for that place in the SPL. Defeats to Dundee United, Raith Rovers, and incredible 6-4 reversal at Ross County, all did much to keep us tagged back with them, but one by one the other sides dropped off the pace, unil there was just ourselves and Ayr United left it in it with one match to play.

We sat one point ahead of them, with a better goal difference, but as luck would have it, the last match of the season was Ayr at Somerset. All we needed was a draw of course. Just thre minutes into the match, Charlie King sent us on our way to SPL football, but Ayr werent out of it yet, and just after the hour mark they were level. Paul Shields though restored our lead on 72, and three minutes later, Kevin Byers grabbed a vital third, and the title was ours.

The Under 19s ended 2nd in their league, which is decent enough, and we'll have to see just who comes through in the summer. Its going to be tough next season, but hopefully we will be able to survive as we play top flight football for the first ever time.

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<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">| Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D.| Pts |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 1st | C | Forfar | | 36 | 12 | 4 | 2 | 41 | 9 | 5 | 8 | 5 | 25 | 24 | +33 | 63 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 2nd | | Ayr | | 36 | 13 | 1 | 4 | 48 | 27 | 4 | 7 | 7 | 22 | 30 | +13 | 59 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 3rd | | Ross County | | 36 | 10 | 2 | 6 | 43 | 34 | 7 | 4 | 7 | 32 | 37 | +4 | 57 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 4th | | Falkirk | | 36 | 10 | 3 | 5 | 32 | 24 | 4 | 9 | 5 | 16 | 18 | +6 | 54 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 5th | | Brechin | | 36 | 6 | 7 | 5 | 22 | 24 | 8 | 1 | 9 | 22 | 31 | -11 | 50 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 6th | | Inverness C. Thistle | | 36 | 9 | 5 | 4 | 30 | 13 | 3 | 6 | 9 | 23 | 38 | +2 | 47 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 7th | | Alloa | | 36 | 9 | 5 | 4 | 26 | 17 | 4 | 3 | 11 | 21 | 30 | 0 | 47 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 8th | | Dundee Utd | | 36 | 7 | 4 | 7 | 27 | 28 | 4 | 6 | 8 | 27 | 35 | -9 | 43 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 9th | R | Queen of Sth. | | 36 | 7 | 9 | 2 | 32 | 22 | 2 | 4 | 12 | 14 | 37 | -13 | 40 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 10th| R | Raith Rovers | | 36 | 3 | 10 | 5 | 27 | 30 | 3 | 2 | 13 | 26 | 48 | -25 | 30 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|</pre>

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The Billy Buchanan Diaries - 5

There was very little transfer activity at Station Park, due to the fact we have very little money to spend. Eventually, just as the season was starting, Alex Williams was flogged off to Kilmarnock for £250,000 and I used £100k of that to bring Andrew Ferguson from Ayr United as his replacement.

The new batch of youngsters came through, but at the moment its hard to say if any of them will make the grade, and so for now we go with virtually the same squad we had last season. I fear we might not be good enough, but we are still a young side and the experience can only do us good.

Pre-season started with a home game against Galatasaray, and we played well enough to run out winners by 2-1. But any thoughts we might have had that we were ready for the SPL were soon pushed away as we travelled to Portugal for a three game tour. Opening against Belenenses, we crumbled 5-1, and it wasn't a pretty sight. We played better against Estrela Amadora, but still went down 1-0, before ending our tour with a 3-1 win over Alverca.

We wrapped up the preseason with two home games, as we held Dutch giants PSV to a 1-1 draw and then saw of Serbia & Montenegro side Zeta by a single goal. Its been a mixed preseason, but hopefully we have just about what it takes to stave of relegation. But I'm still far from convinced.

Squad 2004-2005


David Marshall (19) (3 U-21 Caps) Came into the side after the departure of Brown, and faces a huge test in the season ahead. (21 apps, 21 conceded, 10 CS, 3 MoM, 7.19)

Graeme Smith (22) Only made 1 sub appearance but should have more chances if Marshall screws up.

Cameron Bell (18) U-19 keeper last season, comes up to be 3rd choice for the season to come.

Craig Samson (21)(4 U-21 Caps) Spent the season as the reserve team keeper and remains there in the season ahead.


Steve Florence (33) Decent season, and is looking forward to his first ever season in the top flight, but whether he is good enough we'll soon see. (40 apps, 5 assists, 7.15)

David McClune (22) No appearances at all last season, and that is unlikely to change. Can expect to be sold if any offers come in.

Ross Forsyth (22) Only managed three sub appearances.

Mark Dempsie (24) Fairly average season, doesnt show much promise for the higher level. (25 apps, 2 goals, 1 assist, 1 MoM, 6.88)

Andy Jordan (25) Spectaculary unconvinving season, and is likely to be sold if a decent bid comes in. (26 apps, 3 goals, 6.31)

Richard Robb (22) Only three appearances in which he was utter garbage.

Elliot Smith (21) (2 U-21 Caps) Reasonable unimpressive in his few starts. (7 apps, 3 assists, 6.71)

David Lowing (21) (Capped at U-21 level) Another good season, and as he attracts attention from bigger clubs, it will become harder to hold on to him. (47 apps, 1 goal, 5 assists, 7.28)

Robbie Horn (28) Decent enough season at the back, but can he keep it up in the higher league. (34 apps, 2 goals, 4 assists, 1 MoM, 7.15)

Fraser Coyle (19) Managed to break into the 1st team with six starts, but was pretty woeful. (6 apps, 6.33)


Steven Blair (19) (5 U-21 Caps) Only managed a few appearances, and clearly still has a lot to learn. (11 apps, 2 goals, 6.91)

Keith Gibson (24) Kevin Byers long term injury allowed Gibson a decent run in the side, and showed he is a player with a fair amount if talent. (31 apps, 11 goals, 2 assists, 5 MoM, 7.97)

Barry Robson (26) Good season on the left wing, and will be looking forward to SPL football again. (43 apps, 6 goals, 13 assists, 5 MoM, 7.65)

Darren Smith (25) Didnt get many chances, but filled in well when he did. (4 apps, 1 MoM, 7.75)

Martin Maher (21) (1 U-21 Cap) Good season for another player who is attracting a lot of transfer attention. (40 apps, 7 goals, 3 assists, 1 MoM, 7.28)

Charlie King (25) Surprisingly decent season on the right wing. (46 apps, 2 goals, 8 assists, 4 MoM, 7.67)

Kevin Byers (25) Finally returned from injury in March and scored the goal that secured the title. (12 apps, 6 goals, 3 assists, 2 MoM, 7.75)

Christophe Berra (19) Moves up to the reserve squad, but still not looking like making the big breakthrough.

Gary Irvine (20) Released by Celtic in the summer, but probably a reserve player at best.


Scott Bannerman (26) Only made one start last season.

Steven Hislop (27) Failed to make any appearances at all.

Paul Shields (23) Decent season with a few vital goals. (34 apps, 16 goals, 15 assists, 2 MoM, 7.44)

Blair Sturrock (23) No appearances and is unlikely to ever make any.

Colin Hodge (20) Appearances were few and far between, but didnt dissapoint when called on. (16 apps, 11 goals, 2 assists, 3 MoM, 7.38)

Alan MacDonald (16) Youth academy 04. Made a few first team starts, but clearly still has a lot to learn, and may not be quite ready for the SPL. (19 apps, 6 goals, 4 assists, 6.84)

Steven Murray(17) Youth academy 04. A good season for the youngster who would seem to have a decent future in the game. (34 apps, 12 goals, 12 assists, 6 MoM, 7.44)

Under 19 Squad


Peter Breen (16) Youth Academy 05.

John Murray(16) Youth Academy 05.

Mark Williamson(14) Youth Academy 05.


Alan Paterson (18) Youth academy 04.

Craig Campbell (17) Youth academy 04.

Paul O'Neill (15) Youth academy 04.

Alan Kelly (17) Youth academy 04.

Kevin Scott (16) Youth academy 04.

John Byrne(18) Youth academy 04.

David O'Reilly (18) Youth academy 04.

Robert Hunter (16) Youth Academy 05.

Paul Thompson (16) Youth Academy 05.


David Davidson (15) Youth academy 04.

Gary Dunne (17) Youth academy 04.

Scott Adams (18) Youth academy 04.

Mark Rooney (15) Youth Academy 05.

Paul Thompson (16) Youth Academy 05.

Peter Martin (16) Youth Academy 05.

Martin Aitken (15) Youth Academy 05.

Ross Kelly (15) Youth Academy 05.


William Edgar (18) Seems to be developing, albeit it slowly.

John Ferguson(16) Youth academy 04.

John Morrison (16) Youth Academy 05.

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Thanks guys icon_smile.gif


The Billy Buchanan Diaries - 6

If we were under any illusions about how tough the task ahead of us was going to be, the bookies certainly weren't. We were rank outsiders to win the the SPL, with odds of 200/1 and tbh, I couldn't really argue with that. Still, I was pretty certain we could at least stay up, and give ourselves something to build on.

We managed to attain a level of consistancy, that saw us move into 5th place in the table, and thats where we more or less stayed, and its where we were come the end of 2005. Our first ever SPL victory was achieved in our 4th match, as we went to Tynecastle and overcame Hearts by 4-2 in an excellent performance. We also had a brilliant 1-0 triumph over Rangers in the League Cup, just days after losing to them in the league. The Rangers match also saw a debut for young left back Paul O'Neill, who became the 3rd youth academy player to play for the club, and he didnt let himself down.

Our League Cup dream though ended in the Quarters against Dundee, as corrupt refereeing by Kevin Toner saw them awarded a penalty for no reason with less than 2 minutes left, and we were out. But overall, its been a pleasing first half of the season, and if we end 5th I'll be delighted.

The U19's have been finding it tough after a decent start, and they currently lie 5th in their table. But even so, thats a decent placing, and hopefully a few of them can knock on the first team door by the end of the season....

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The Billy Buchanan Diaries - 7

With no realistic chance of winning the title, our league aims now being to secure a place in the elite top six, our big chance for sucess this season lay in the Scottish Cup. The 3rd round draw though was cruel to us, as we were paired with Aberdeen at Pittodrie, but a decent performace saw us hold them to a goalless draw, and in the replay we turned in one of best performances of the season as we whipped them 4-0.

The 4th round draw saw us overcome Falkirk by 3-1, setting up a quarter final meeting with Morton. Once again, we had to go got a replaty after a 1-1 draw, but once more we were triumphant, this time by 3-0, and in the last four we would meet Champions elect Rangers. Having beaten them in the League Cup, we harboured hopes of a cup double, but it wasnt to be as they abused us by 5-1 and we were out.

Our struggle for a top six place was fading as the players seemed to lose their way, but eventually a win at Dens Park saw us clinch the place we craved. The last five games were crazy as we gained a win over Celtic away, and drew at home to newly crowned Champions Rangers, but lost to Hibs and Aberdeen, and drew with Dunfermline, to end up a very respectable, and actually brilliant, 6th.

There was further good news for us, as Kevin Byers was voted as the Scottish Football Writers Player of the Year, and fantastic achievement for Kevin and the club. And there was further good news as David Marshall was voted the Scottish Players Young Player of the Year, and although its been a struggle at time this season, these awards have made it so special. Finally, along with Byers and Marshall, Keith Gibson was voted into the SPL Team of the Year.

On the youth front, injury to Florence and his decision to retire come the end of the season, opened up the way for two more youths to make their first team debuts. Right backs Robert Hunter and Craig Campbell both had run outs in that position, and will be hoping for more in the future. The U-19 side ended up 6th in their league, which at the end of the day was a decent enough position.

The first season out of the way, we await to see if 6th is good enough for a UEFA Cup spot, and there's a very good chance it will be. Playing in Europe would certainly be a great experience, but out target next season is simply to see more of the youths make the big breakthrough, and to improve on that 6th place.

[This message was edited by Peacemaker7 on 09 February 2004 at 13:31.]

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<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre"> | Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts |

| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 1st | C | Rangers | | 38 | 22 | 6 | 10 | 72 | 49 | +23 | 72 |

| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 2nd | | Celtic | | 38 | 19 | 13 | 6 | 58 | 30 | +28 | 70 |

| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 3rd | | Dunfermline | | 38 | 17 | 14 | 7 | 57 | 32 | +25 | 65 |

| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 4th | | Hibs | | 38 | 15 | 13 | 10 | 50 | 40 | +10 | 58 |

| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 5th | | Aberdeen | | 38 | 12 | 17 | 9 | 53 | 44 | +9 | 53 |

| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 6th | | Forfar | | 38 | 12 | 12 | 14 | 48 | 51 | -3 | 48 |

| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 7th | | Kilmarnock | | 38 | 13 | 8 | 17 | 47 | 54 | -7 | 47 |

| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 8th | | Dundee | | 38 | 11 | 12 | 15 | 67 | 72 | -5 | 45 |

| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 9th | | Hearts | | 38 | 10 | 14 | 14 | 58 | 62 | -4 | 44 |

| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 10th | | Livingston | | 38 | 12 | 8 | 18 | 52 | 76 | -24 | 44 |

| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 11th | | Clyde | | 38 | 9 | 10 | 19 | 61 | 87 | -26 | 37 |

| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 12th | R | Motherwell | | 38 | 7 | 11 | 20 | 53 | 79 | -26 | 32 |

| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| | | | | | | | | | | | |

| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|


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The Billy Buchanan Diaries - 8

Another preseason, with its new influx of youth, the usual transfers in and out, and a pre-season tour of Spain this time, to keep us all going. And we also finally see the completion of out three new stands, which ups our capacity from 1800, to a 7500 all seater. Last season, we were given odds of 200/1 to win the SPL, and although in reality were never came close, our 6th place finish shoed those odds were a wee bit OTT. Yet this season, having done nothing of note, and with virtually the same squad for the 3rd successive season, the bookies have made us 8/1 3rd favourites behind the Old Firm. Utterly insane.

The players who left were David McClune, who never got a look in, and he goes to Montrose for £28,000. John Bradley and Steven Blair are decent enough players, but its clear they're werent going to get much action very soon, and they have both left. Bradley goes to Clyde for £130,000 and Blair heads to Portsmouth for £120,000. The final sale is Paul Shields to Partick for £425,000, and good luck to him in the First Division.

Coming in the way, we picked up Rangers reject Peter Leven, and Aberdeen reject Michele Lombardi on frees. Promising 15 year old striker Andrew Grant comes from A*rdr*e U*d at £40,000, and the capture of the summer is 20 year old Darren Campbell from Reading for £350,000 which is a club record.

The tour of Spain was a bit mixed, as we beat Cuidad de Murcia and Salamanca, but lost out to Poli Ejido and Badajoz. Not overly impressive, but the main thing is simply to get the squad together and playing again. Back in Scotland, a 1-0 home loss to Brechin was poor, but we rounded off our pre season with a 1-1 draw at home to Feyenoord, and a 2-1 win over Ipswich.

Having made it into the UEFA Cup, our target this season is to once again end up in the top half of the SPL, and mibbe get a cup on the board. The UEFA 1st round draw sess us play Romanian side Gloria Bistrita, and although we are a long way from winning a European trophy, I'm hopefull of a decent run.

Squad 2006-2007


David Marshall (20) (3 U-21 Caps) A good first full season in the SPL for David, that saw him voted as the SPFA Young Player of the Year. (47 apps, 59 conceded, 12 CS, 7 MoM, 7.49)

Graeme Smith (23) No appearances.

Cameron Bell (19) Continues to develope in a decent keeper, and managed to make his first team debut. (1 apps, 1 conc, 5.00)

Craig Samson (22)(Capped at U-21 level) Another decent young keeper, but has yet to make first team start.


Ross Forsyth (23) Has been a bit of a flop, and is transfer listed. (5 apps, 5.80)

Mark Dempsie (25) Hardly got a sniff off first team action and was total garbage when he did (5 apps, 6.20)

Andy Jordan (26) Decent enough when given the chance, but nothing special. (17 apps, 1 assist, 6.82)

Elliot Smith (22) (Capped at U-21 level) Is total garbage and is transfer listed.

David Lowing (22) (Capped at U-21 level) Continues to improve and impress, and is happy to stay despite bigger clubs sniffing around. (42 apps, 5 assists, 1 MoM, 7.21)

Robbie Horn (29) Good enough season. (37 apps, 1 assist, 7.03)

Fraser Coyle (20) Far from spectatcular season, but managed to hold his own, and shows signs of promise. (40 apps, 3 goals, 1 assist, 3 MoM, 6.88)

Craig Campbell (18) Youth academy 04. Finnaly made the breakthough into the first team and although not outstanding in his three starts, he will be hoping to push for the regular right back slot. (3 apps, 6.67)

Robert Hunter (17) Youth Academy 05. Some decent performances at right back, and with campbell also vying for that role, they should hopefully push each other to do better. (18 apps, 2 assists, 6.78)

Paul O'Neill (16) Youth academy 04. Filled in for Lowing at left back, and didnt let himself down, even scoring a goal. A player how looks very promising. (5 apps, 1 goal, 7.00)


Keith Gibson (25) With Byers back, Gibson moved out to the right wing, where he played well enough to win the Forfar Supporters Player of the Year for the 2nd successive season. (44 apps, 8 goals, 6 assists, 4 MoM, 7.43)

Barry Robson (27) Another good season from the left winger. (46 apps, 5 assists, 2 MoM, 7.20)

Darren Smith (26) Continues to back Robson up well. (6 apps, 7.83)

Martin Maher (22) (Capped at U-21 level) With Man City and Villa chasing him, it might not be long before Marin leaves, but as he is just about to sign a new contract, they will have to stump up the cash if they want him. (39 apps, 3 goals, 3 assists, 7.18)

Charlie King (26) The return of Byers saw King pushed to the fringes, but he did well enough when called on. (14 apps, 2 assists, 6.86)

Kevin Byers (26) Excellent season for the clubs star player, which saw him voted the Scottish Football Writers Player of the Year, which is a superb achievement for a player playing for a such a small club that the media dont usually know we exist. (33 apps, 11 goals, 6 assists, 6 MoM, 7.61)

Christophe Berra (20) ****e who will be released soon if no-one else wants him.

Gary Irvine (21) Crap.

Darren Campbell (20) Very promising young winger who has an exciting future in the game, and bringing him from Reading for £350,000 is an excellent deal.

Peter Leven (22) Fairly promising player, released by Rangers but looks as if he can do a job for us.


Scott Bannerman (27)Listed, garbage, and will be freed soon.

Steven Hislop (28) More garbage heading out the door.

Colin Hodge (21) Still hovering around the edges of first team action. (9 apps, 1 goal, 1 assist, 6.56)

Alan MacDonald (17) Youth academy 04. Managed a few appearances, and although still very raw, he didnt let himself down. (14 apps, 4 goals, 2 assists, 6.79)

Steven Murray(18) Youth academy 04. We werent sure how the youngster would go in the SPL, but he made a decent enough go at it, and ended up in the Scotland U-21 squad, although he has yet to make an appearance. (42 apps, 13 goals, 7 assists, 5 MoM, 7.40)

Andrew Ferguson (21) Arrived in late August last season, at a cost of £100,000 from Ayr, but hasnt made too much of an impact. (4 apps, 3 goals, 7.75)

Michele Lombardini (20) Arrives on a free from Aberdeen and should be a useful squad player.

Under 19 Squad


Peter Breen (17) Youth Academy 05.

John Murray(17) Youth Academy 05.

Mark Williamson(15) Youth Academy 05.

Kevin Smart (17) Youth Academy 06.


Alan Paterson (19) Youth academy 04.

Alan Kelly (18) Youth academy 04. 1 first team appearance.

Kevin Scott (17) Youth academy 04.

John Byrne(19) Youth academy 04.

David O'Reilly (19) Youth academy 04.

Paul Thompson (17) Youth Academy 05.

Brian Miller (16) Youth Academy 06.

Pat Kenny (16) Youth Academy 06.


David Davidson (16) Youth academy 04.

Gary Dunne (18) Youth academy 04.

Scott Adams (19) Youth academy 04.

Mark Rooney (16) Youth Academy 05.

Kevin McMillan (15) Youth Academy 05.

Peter Martin (17) Youth Academy 05.

Martin Aitken (16) Youth Academy 05.

Ross Kelly (16) Youth Academy 05.

Alan Mitchell (15) Youth Academy 06.

John Kavanagh (16) Youth Academy 06.

Gary McMillan (16) Youth Academy 06.

David Black (16) Youth Academy 06.

Mark Parker (17) Youth Academy 06.


John Ferguson(17) Youth academy 04.

John Morrison (17) Youth Academy 05.

Scott Gibson (15) Youth Academy 06.

Paul Johnston (17) Youth Academy 06.

Andrew Grant (15) £40,000 signing who looks to be a good prospect.

[This message was edited by Peacemaker7 on 16 February 2004 at 12:28.]

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The Billy Buchanan Diaries - 9

The big thing we were looking forward to this season of course, was Europe. But the bread and butter of any side is the league, and we were to get off to a pretty decent start which saw us go top on week seven, and stay there till week 12. It all started to go wrong, after we squandered a 3-1 lead at Celtic Park to lose 4-3, but come the end of the year, we are still sitting pretty in 2nd place on 38 points from 20 games, way behind Celtic who are on 47. Dunfermline also have 38, with Rangers further back on 33, and the league race, which at one point seemed to be a 5 way thing, has been reduced to a one horse race again.

There was dissapointment in the League Cup as we fell at the first hurdle, a single goal defeat at home to Morton. But the good news came in the shape of three of youth academy products being called up to the Scotland U-21 squad to face Iceland away, a match to which I travelled and was delighted to see Steven Murray, Alan MacDonald and Robert Hunter all make 2nd half appearance, and all three played fairly well, despite the Icelanders winning by 2-0.

And so to Europe as Romanian side Gloria became the first team to play at Station Park in a European tie, and Steven Murray garbbed the only goal of the game on the hour mark, Forfar's first ever goal in European competition. It was a match we dominated, but the Romanian defence proves tough to break down, and we had to settle for a 1-0 win. In the return though we got much more room to play, and a Fraser Coyle penalty on 12 minutes sent us on our way to the 2ns round. Futher goals from MacDonald and Murray, and we had pulled off a fine win.

The 2nd round draw saw us face Viktoria Zizkov, with the first leg away. Alan MacDonald struck after just 2 minutes, but any thoughts we had that was going to be easy were soon disabused and by early in the 2nd half, Zizkov were ahead. Keith Gibson equalized on 69 minutes, and we came away with a very good 2-2 draw. Once again we found it tougher at home, as our visitors just shut up shop and played everyone behind the ball. Steven Murray was the hero once more though, as his strike 20 minutes from time, saw us through to a 3rd meeting with Italian side Roma. That promises to be a fantastic occassion.

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The Billy Buchanan Diaries - 10

There was no real chance that we were going to win the title, that would be crazy talk. And as the year went on, it became clear we were struggling with our form, mainly, we couldnt score, as shown by three successive 0-0 draws. Our Scottish Cup hopes came to an end in the 4th round at Tannadice, as we went down 3-2 and so there would be no silverware at Station Park this season, barring a miracle.

The tie with Roma turned out to be just as tough as we had expected, as we were to go down 2-0 at home, before being turned over 4-0 in Italy, and we had gone out. But although it was painful, its an experience from which we can learn, and it will make us stronger in the long run. Our league form continued to fluctuate, but by the split, we were a respectable 3rd.

Our first three games after the split we drew, but as Dunfermline, who were 2nd, collapsed, so infact it was three points gained rather than lost. A penultimate match 2-0 over Kilmarnoclk opened up the chance for us to snatch 2nd place, but our final match would be at home to newly crowned champions Celtic. At 2-0 down after 20 minutes, our dreams of second were fading, as Dunfermline were ahead at home to Dundee United.

Third place would still be a great achievement, but the players rolled up their sleeves, and by the break Byers and Murray had pulled is level, and with 18 minutes left to play, the great Kevin Byers scored the winner, and we have clinched 2nd place. There will be Champions League football at Station Park next season, and thats something we can all be very proud of.

More to be proud of came in the shape of Craig Campbell becoming the 4th youth academy product to play for the Scotland Under 21 side, and David Lowing had the honour of being the first ever player to play for Scotland whilst at Forfar. David Marshall later joined him in the Forfar capped players league.

On awards night, there were more tears of joy as young Steven Murray was voted as the SPFA Young Player of the Year, with Kevin Byers being runner up in the SPFA Player of the Year, and also winning the Golden Boot for top Scottish league scorer with 23 goals. The SFW decided to pick a Forfar player for their award for the 2nd year running, and this time the honour fell to Keith Gibson.

Its been, when all is said and done, a fantastic season for us, and all that we really lack now is some nice shiny silverware, but I'm sure that if we keep progressing, that will surely come......

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SPL Final Table 2007

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">

| Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts |

| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 1st | C | Celtic | | 38 | 22 | 6 | 10 | 65 | 39 | +26 | 72 |

| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 2nd | | Forfar | | 38 | 19 | 12 | 7 | 68 | 40 | +28 | 69 |

| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 3rd | | Dunfermline | | 38 | 20 | 7 | 11 | 61 | 54 | +7 | 67 |

| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 4th | | Rangers | | 38 | 19 | 8 | 11 | 75 | 43 | +32 | 65 |

| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 5th | | Kilmarnock | | 38 | 16 | 8 | 14 | 60 | 57 | +3 | 56 |

| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 6th | | Dundee Utd | | 38 | 14 | 10 | 14 | 53 | 52 | +1 | 52 |

| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 7th | | Dundee | | 38 | 14 | 9 | 15 | 64 | 63 | +1 | 51 |

| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 8th | | Hearts | | 38 | 14 | 6 | 18 | 72 | 76 | -4 | 48 |

| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 9th | | Hibs | | 38 | 12 | 11 | 15 | 50 | 57 | -7 | 47 |

| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 10th | | Livingston | | 38 | 11 | 13 | 14 | 55 | 63 | -8 | 46 |

| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 11th | | Aberdeen | | 38 | 12 | 7 | 19 | 31 | 49 | -18 | 43 |

| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 12th | R | Clyde | | 38 | 3 | 7 | 28 | 33 | 94 | -61 | 16 |

| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| | | | | | | | | | | | |

| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|


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The Billy Buchanan Diaries - 11

Despite the inconsistancies, in the end, we can't really complain about the season. Being runners up is a remarkable achievement, and I feel we are not that far away from bringing some silverware to Station Park. The club is financially solid, with no outstanding debt, and £7M in the bank. Raising your own players is expensive its true, costing roughly £7500 per player per year, but its a damn sight cheaper than simply buying in foreign rubbish.

A few players have left the club, including one or two of the youths who simply haven't made it, but the only sale of any note is Craig Samson to Tottenham for £70,000. Only two new players arrive, defender Kirk Broadfoot at £500,000k from St Mirren, and striker Lee Miller at £1.5M from Tottenham, the first ever £1M player at the club. Miller will hopefully act as a decent foil for Murray or MacDonald, allowing them to score more and also hopefully improve their game.

The preseason went well, as we saw off Inverness 4-0, Genk 3-1, and Genoa 1-0, and gained a respectable 0-0 draw with Bayern. The bad new is, Stephen Murray picked up an injury that sees him miss the first two months of the season. The Champions League 3rd qualifying round draw - isn't it incredible to see Forfar in the Champions League icon_biggrin.gif - sees us face Albanian side KF Tirana, and we have to be confident we can progress to the group stages. A word of caution though. This side destroyed Marseille on a 6-3 aggregate at this stage last season, although they went on to lose all their group matches.

Its shaping up to be the most exciting ever season for Forfar Athletic, and I can only hope we can deliver on the expectations....

Squad 2007-2008


David Marshall (21) (1 Cap) Another solid season for David, that saw him get the Scotland cap he so richly deserves. (48 apps, 52 conceded, 18 CS, 3 MoM, 7.02)

Graeme Smith (24) No appearances.

Cameron Bell (20) Only 1 sub appearance.


Mark Dempsie (26) Once again, totally failed to impress and will be sold to the first club that wants him. (16 apps, 2 assists, 6.31)

Andy Jordan (27) Again far from spectacular but remains as back up. (12 apps, 6.42)

David Lowing (23) (4 caps) Another excellent season at left back, which saw David become the first ever Forfar player to be capped for Scotland whilst at the club. This season he will be asked to move inside to the left centre back position, which will allow Paul O'Neill to take up the left back rule. Its a role I'm confident David can aspire to. (48 apps, 1 assist, 1 MoM, 7.21)

Robbie Horn (30) Reasonable season, but feels the refs are victimizing him and has requested a transfer which has been granted, As a result, will spend the rest of his time with us in the reserves. (38 apps, 2 goals, 1 assist, 6.92)

Fraser Coyle (21) (6 U-21 Caps) Average season, but he did manage to break into the U-21 squad, so he cant be that bad really. (34 apps, 6 goals, 2 assist, 6.76)

Craig Campbell (19) Youth academy 04. Has pushed out Robert Hunter to claim the right back slot. A player who is really coming on well, and has made it into the U-21 set up. (32 apps, 1 goal, 5 assists, 7.25)

Robert Hunter (18) (3 U-21 caps) Youth Academy 05. Found himself edged out by Campbell, but still very much an important member of the first team squad. (17 apps, 1 assist, 6.82)

Paul O'Neill (17) Yet another who managed to break into the U-21 set up. Most of his appearances last season were as subs, but he should get hios chance in a big way this time, and much is hoped for from him. (8 apps, 6.38)

Kirk Broadfoot (23) Good solid defender acquired from St Mirren at a cost of half a million pounds, who will hopefully form a good partnership with Lowing in the centre.


Keith Gibson (26) Another absolutely superb season on the right wing, that saw Keith voted by the Scottish Football writers as their player of the year. (44 apps, 8 goals, 5 assists, 6 MoM, 7.68)

Barry Robson (28) Good solid consistant season. (45 apps, 1 goal, 14 assists, 2 MoM, 7.33)

Darren Smith (27) Continues to back Robson up well. (10 apps, 7.00)

Martin Maher (23) (Capped at U-21 level) Continues to be one of the more under sung heroes of the side in the holding midfield role. Still a very good player, and we're delighted he is still at the club. (36 apps, 6 assists, 7.08)

Charlie King (27) Still very much a fringe player, but is a decent back up. (4 apps, 7.25)

Kevin Byers (27) Another brilliant season saw Kevin voted into 2nd place by his fellow pro's and won him the Scottish top league scorer award, not a bad achievement from midfield. Also voted player of the year by the Forfar supporters. (42 apps, 23 goals, 3 assists, 12 MoM, 7.76)

Darren Campbell (21) (2 U-21 caps, 2 goals) Had a very good season considering most of his appearances were as a sub. (23 apps, 5 goals, 2 assists, 6.87)

Peter Leven (23) Failed to make the impact expected, but remains a useful squad player. (23 apps, 1 goal, 3 assists, 6.96)

Andrew MacDonald (20) Picked up in January after being released by Dundee, a decent looking young player, but has failed to make a start yet.


Colin Hodge (22) Has failed to make any impact at all, and is now transfer listed.

Alan MacDonald (18) (3 U-21 caps) Youth academy 04. His goals to games ratio is horrendous for a striker, and he really need to pull his socks up tbh. Might be worth dropping him back into midfield. (31 apps, 7 goals, 7 assists, 6.74)

Steven Murray(19) (3 U-21 caps, 2 goals) Youth academy 04. Much better scoring rate than last season, and hopefully the arrival of Lee Miller will be a great help to him. Won the SPFA Young Player of the Year award, wuperb achievement. (45 apps, 21 goals, 9 assists, 8 MoM, 7.62)

Andrew Ferguson (22) Found it hard again to make any impact, but remains a useful squad player. (6 apps, 2 goals, 7.00)

Michele Lombardini (21) Failed miserably to make any impact and is likely to be moved on. (3 apps, 1 assist, 5.67)

Lee Miller (24) (3 caps, 1 goal) Having failed to make it at Tottenham, despite scoring 8 times in 8 games in his first season, we were delighted to make Lee the first ever million pound plus player at Station Park, and we're sure he will help the young strikers in their development.


Scott Adams (20) Youth academy 04.

Under 19 Squad


Peter Breen (19) Youth Academy 05. Moves up to the reserve squad, and listed for loan. Hes a reasonable keeper but we need to see him in first team action, and he's unlikely to get that here for a while.

John Murray(18) Youth Academy 05.

Mark Williamson(16) Youth Academy 05. Still very young, but signs are good that he can be a decent keeper.

Kevin Smart (17) Youth Academy 06.

Jimmy Ross(15) Youth Academy 07.


Alan Kelly (19) Youth academy 04. 1 first team appearance.

Kevin Scott (18) Youth academy 04.

Paul Thompson (18) Youth Academy 05.

Brian Miller (17) Youth Academy 06.

Pat Kenny (17) Youth Academy 06.

Gordon McDonald(15) Youth Academy 07.

Steven Hamilton(16) Youth Academy 07.

Andy Russell(15) Youth Academy 07.

Alan Lynch(15) Youth Academy 07.

Chris Watson(15) Youth Academy 07.

Andy MacDonald(16) Youth Academy 07.

David Barker(14) Youth Academy 07.


David Davidson (17) Youth academy 04.

Gary Dunne (19) Youth academy 04.

Mark Rooney (17) Youth Academy 05.

Paul Thompson (18) Youth Academy 05.

Peter Martin (18) Youth Academy 05.

Ross Kelly (17) Youth Academy 05.

Alan Mitchell (16) Youth Academy 06.

John Kavanagh (17) Youth Academy 06.

Gary McMillan (17) Youth Academy 06.

David Black (17) Youth Academy 06.

Mark Mitchell (15) Youth academy 07.

David Martin (16) Youth academy 07.

Colin Gray (15) Youth academy 07.


John Ferguson(18) Youth academy 04.

John Morrison (18) Youth Academy 05.

Scott Gibson (16) Youth Academy 06.

Andrew Grant (16) £40,000 signing who looks to be a good prospect. The player we signed from Airdrie is wanted by Wolves, so he must be a decent prospect. We want be rushing him into the first team though.

Andrew Reid (16) A £50,000 signing from Stranraer.

Youths who didn't make it

Alan Paterson (20) Youth academy 04. Is never really going to be good enough at this level, and moved to Johnstone Burgh for £1000.

John Byrne(20) Youth academy 04. released when his contract expired, and still hasn't found himself a new club.

David O'Reilly (20) Youth academy 04. Moved to East Fife for £1000.

Martin Aitken (17) Youth Academy 05. Contract not renewed and has been released. Still without a club.

Mark Parker (19) Youth Academy 06. Left the club, and is now plying his trade at Dundalk where he had played 10 games with a rating of 7.30.

Paul Johnston (18) Youth Academy 06 Left out of contract and has gone to Huntly.

We wish all our former youths well in the future.

[This message was edited by Peacemaker7 on 14 February 2004 at 11:53.]

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Billy Buchanan Diaries - 12

We had expected great things in the league, but the truth was, we simply couldn't find the consistancy we needed in the early part of the season, and although by the turn of the year we had only lost two matches, both to Celtic, we had seen far too many draws.

At one point we had been down as far as 7th in the table, and when I had admitted in a radio interview that I might be interested in the Hearts job should Craig Levein be given the sack, which seemed inevitable, the fans, and the Chairman were none too pleased. Fans I can accept, becuase 99% of football fans are morons. But the Chairman seems to think that we should be challenging for the title, and quite frankly thats a ludicrous assumption.

Of course I didn't move to Hearts, even though I was offered the job. I would ride out the storm of discontent here, and when we finally did deliver that silverware, the same people who were calling for me to be sack for no good reason, would be calling for me to be knighted. Such is the way in football, and its just something you have to live with.

Slowly but surely our form did rise, and with the rest of the SPL, apart from runaway leaders Celtic, unable to put a decent run together, we ended the year once again sitting in 2nd place. In my opinion this is a remarkable achievement, and some of the other people around this club need a serious reality check.

The SPL table is tight, as Celtic, who have started to show signs of cracking, sit on 36 points after 19 games, we have 31, Dundee 30, St Johnstone 28, Aberdeen 28, Livingston 26, Rangers 26, Dunfermline 24, Kilmarnock 23, Hearts 19, Hibs 18, Dundee Utd 15. If we can just peg Celtic back, this could be the most exciting title race ever seen in Scotland.

One piece of silverware that want be coming to Station Park this season, is the League Cup. We had drawn Raith Rovers at home in round three, and with 6 players who had come through the academy in the side, we didn't quite look the polished article, and went out on a penalty shoot out. The League Cup though, although it would be nice to get our name on something, is in my opinion a waste of space anyway.

But the real focus of our season of course would, hopefully, be the UEFA Champions League. We had however, to get passed Albania side KF Tirana to get there, and despite some of the nonsense in the press, I was expecting a tough match. Just after half time in the home leg, Kevin Byers sent us into the lead, and with just 20 minutes left, a double salvo inside a minute from Byers and MacDonald set us up with a comfortable lead to take to Albania.

Which was just as well, as the Albanians proved to be stubborn, well organised, and a 50th minute strike from Gjerji gave them a win on the night, but amidst scenes of great joy, we had done enough to clinch our place in the group phase of the Champions League, and feat that really is totally incredible.

The draw wasn't overly kind to us, but then to be honest, it never was going to be. We were paired with Levski Sofia, whom we had to fancy we could take something from, Stuttgart, whom we probably wouldn't, and the mighty Real Madrid about whom we would probably end up having nightmares. But the truth is, it wasn't about winning this year. It's all about experience, and just seeing us run out in the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid for our opening game brought a lump to my throat.

But the occassion turned out to be simply too much for us, goals from Figo, Raul and Fernandez in the first 13 minutes left us reeling and shellshocked, and pretty much close to tears. We were being totally ripped apart and there was little we could about it. Slowly though we managed to find out feet, and although Ronaldo added a 4th on the 35th minute, we did well in the 2nd half and didnt lose another goal, and in the end, although it was at times a very painful experience, we came through the fire without too much damage to fight another day.

Having been mauled in Madrid, our first home game was against German side Stuttgart, who had thrashed Levski 3-0 in their opener in Germany. This would be another tough test for us, but its one we came through well, and we could proud at the end to come with a 0-0 draw, our first ever Champions League point. Our third group match was at home to Levski Sofia, and to be honest, we needed to win this if we were going to have any chance of reaching even the UEFA Cup. Just seventeen minutes in, Steven Murray had the honour of scoring our first ever goal in the Champions League proper as the crowd went wild with delight.

We were playing well enough, but we failed in front of goal, and a minute after the break Sofia were level. The Bulgarians seemed happy to take a point, and with ten minutes to go I finally got fed up with Lee Miller, who has been woeful for us since he came, and sent on 16 year old Scott Gibson, who had been doing well for the youths and had impressed when coming on a sub against Hibs.

Gibson was barely on the park, when Kevin Byers cut in from the right, thundering a shot at goal, which the keeper could only parry, and there was Gibson with easiest of tap ins, and what an incredible way to mark your first ever senior goal. Two minutes from time, Fraser Coyle sent a ball for Murray to chase, and he flicked it across to Gibson, who advanced into area, thundered the ball home, and even Roy of the Rovers couldn't have had a better script.

The win against Sofia was delightful, and even more so seeing Scott Gibson bag the goals that got us the points. Now we knew that if we could get even a draw in Bulgaria, we would be guaranteed UEFA Cup football. This of course would be no easy game, but with just eight minutes gone, we won a penalty which Paul O'Neill netted and we had a valuable lead. The Bulgarians did threaten on occassions, but they seemed to lack something, and with 13 minutes left, Steven Murray added a second and we had 7 points from 4 games to Levski's none. We had reached the UEFA Cup.

Game five saw Real Madrid arrive at Station Park, as we battoned down the hatches in fear of another hurricane. Yet we started brightly, our fear and awe gone, and with 22 minutes gone, Barry Robson skimmed Figo on the left, sent over a delightful cross, and there was Kevin Byers to clip the ball into the net, and Forfar Athletic were leading the mighty Real Madrid.

Of course it couldnt last, and in fact it lasted less than a minute before Raul pulled the Spanish giants level. But we continued to match our far more illustrious opponents, and we cane away with another very respectable draw. That left us tied on 7 points with Stuttgart, which meant we could actually reach the 2nd round. If we won in Germany. And we put up a brave fight, taking the Germans all the way, before finally an injury time goal from Landon Donovan ended our dreams.

But even so, I felt it had been a quite a remarkable first stab at the Champions League, and we had come out of it with a lot of respect, and a UEFA Cup 3rd round place. The draw for which saw us paired with - Kilmarnock!

On the youth front, things are going well. The U-19s and reserves both top their top their tables going into the new year, and Scott Gibson, John Ferguson, Kevin McMillan and David Barker have all made varying appearances for the first team, as we finally start to see the fruits of our policy begin to pay off.

On the transfer front, Rangers made a £1.5M bid for Lee Miller, which was what we paid for him, and as he's been pretty poor, I decided to accept it, and he moved on Januart 1st. His departure allows Gibson and Ferguson the chance to stake a regular first team slot alongside Murray.

Its been an exciting first half of the season, and we can only hope the players havent been worn out as we push to make another appearance in the UEFA Champions League next season...

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Billy Buchanan Diaries - 13

If we were going to bring any silverware home this season, then to my mind the best bet we had was the Scottish Cup. The third round draw had pitted us away to struggling First Division side St Mirren, and it took a Keith Gibson hattrick to see us squeeze through by three goals to two. The 4th round saw us away again, this time at Albion Rovers who put up a spirited fight to gain a 2-2 draw, and we had to go to a replay. But they had no answer to us at Station Park as we triumphed 6-1.

The draw for the Quarter Finals saw us away once more, at Motherwell, and this was the day our dream ended, as failed to reach the heights we had set for ourselves and crashed out by 3-1. It was hard to take, and now we would just have to pick ourselves up for the rest of the League campaign as we looked to clinch Champions League football once more.

It was a bit strange playing a UEFA Cup tie against a fellow Scots side but it didn't seem to affect the players as we raced to a 3-0 half time lead in the home lead. The second half wasn't so good, and a late Killie goal gave them a glimmer of hope for the second leg. It was however, only a glimmer, and three minutes into the second leg at Rugby Park Scott Gibson shattered Killie hearts. An own goal from Tom Hutchison, and a double from Keith Gibson saw us run out 4-1 winners, and a seven one aggregate and we would play Parma in the last sixteen.

The first leg in Italy came hot on the heels of our Scottish Cup exit to Motherwell, and although we put up a brave performance, two second half goals from Johnnier Montano gave Parma the cushion they needed for the 2nd leg. We had a mountain to climb if our European adventure was to continue, and eight minutes into the second leg, Parma were ahead and it was all over. Scott Gibson grabbed an equalizer on 45 minutes, but as we pushed to grab a winner on the night, Parma hit us with two late strikes and were well and truly beaten.

All that was left was the league, and we entered the closing stages, it had come down to 2 horse race between ourselves and Celtic. With seven matches left to play, we had an excellent four point lead at the top of the table with 62 points to Celtic 58, but as we could only manage a no score draw at Dunfermline, Celtic won easily 2-0 against Livingston and with one game till the split, the gap was just two points.

This was going to be a real test of nerves for our youngsters, as we travelled to Tannadice in the final game before the split, knowing that any slip ups would hand Celtic the advantage as they were at home to Aberdeen, a match they easily won by 3-0. Despite young right winger Kevin McMillan sending us into a 12th minute lead, United were level by the break, and we could see our title hopes slip away. But suddenly we found an extra level, hitting five second half goals, and running out six two winners and the dream was still alive.

The first game after the split for us was a home match with a Rangers side whose own title dreams had been shattered already, and who came to Station Park on the back of 5-1 humping at Rugby Park. With Celtic not playing till midweek, we had a chance to open up a five point gap and pile on the pressure, but we knew Rangers would be hurting after the Rugby Park fiasco and would be out to salvage pride.

However there was to be no pride for the Gers today as the fruits of our youth academy put them to sword, handing out the message that the future for Forfar was very bright indeed. Paul O'Neill started it all with a 6th minute penalty, and on 36 Steven Murray helped end any linger nerves with a fine second. In the second half, Rangers simply gave up as they fell apart, and another goal from Murray, one from Scott Gibson and a great double from Kevin McMillan saw us pull of our biggest win under my charge as we destroyed Rangers by an incredible 6-0, every single goal straight from the youth academy.

We now had a precious five point lead, but in midweek Celtic easily beat Dundee 3-1 to stay in touch, and the pressure was mounting. It was Old Firm say at Celtic Park, as we took on Aberdeen at home. We really needed to Rangers to find some pride and do us a favour, but they simply couldnt do at, and we struggled to a goalless draw, Celtic's 2-0 win pulled them level on points, although we had afar superior goal difference.

The pressure was really starting to tell now as we travelled to Dundee in midweek, needing to win to keep the pressure on Celtic. A 5th minute strike from Scott Gibson was exactly the start we needed, but as the match wore on, so nerves took hold, and with 20 minutes to go, Caballero snatched a draw for Dundee. We led the table by a point, but of course now Celtic had game in hand.

Understandably there were more than a few tears in the dressing room after the Dens Park match, as the players coulf feel the title slip away, but we simply had to pick ourselves up and get in with it. With Celtic not playing till the Sunday, we went to Dunfermline knowing we couldn't afford any more slip ups or the race was over. And from kick off you could tell our players were determined that if Celtic were going to win this title, they would have to work for it, and in the end we ran out easy 6-0 winners.

The following day, Celtic went to Pittodrie and lost spectacularly by four goals to nil, and we now sat four points clear, with our final match against Celtic at Celtic Park. We only needed to go there and gain a draw and we would be crowned champions, and I dont think anyone got a wink of sleep in the build up to arguably the biggest game Forfar had ever played.

You could feel the tension all around Celtic Park as the title was at stake. Last season we had beaten Celtic in our final game to end just three points behind them and making the title race seem closer than it really was, but this was a whole different ball game, and it showed. Twenty five minutes in, Ulrik Laursen plunged a knife into Forfar hearts, and when Hersi made it 2-0 three minutes from half time, our dreams were lying in tatters.

It was a quiet dressing room at half time, players with white faces, realising that we were 45 minutes away from throwing away our biggest ever triumph. All we could do was go out and fight for our right to be crowned Champions, and on 66 minutes, Kevin McMillan fired in a stunning goal, and we had hope. But time was running out, and as the match entered injury time, a terrible mistake from David Marshall allowed Maloney to nip in, and Celtic had the title by the throat. As the match moved to an incredible 96th minute Barry Robson netted us a second, but it was too late. Way too late.

It was hard not to feel totally shattered and depressed, but the fact was we were still leading the SPL, and Celtic had to go to East End Park and win their game in hand. We could still be Champions, but could we endure the pain of watching the game? We were 90 minutes away from the title still, but there was absolutely nothing we could do about......

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*will have no nails left by the time PM posts the result of celtic's final game*

this is an excellent effort PM, and it must be really rewarding to see the likes of Murray and Gibson come through the ranks and succeed (especially the manner in which gibson announced himself) hope you can keep this going and complete the challenge icon_smile.gif

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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by glamdring:

Sounds like my non-story game where Celtic farcically played their final game of the season the week after the official last day!<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Yah I think it was becuase of their UEFA Cup semi, but all the last games were played all over the place.

Terk: Its pretty amazing, eight of the squad to play Celtic were youth products, and one was out injured. And theres a couple more coming through I hope, so its looking good icon_smile.gif

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The Billy Buchanan Diaries - 14

The West of Scotland dominated media were in an uproar. Neither Old Firm side had been in the League Cup Final, with Hibs beating Dundee United to win in. And neither Old Firm side had been in the Scottish Cup Final, which Motherwell beat Hearts to win. So as Celtic travelled to East End Park, anything less that a win would mean that the Old Firm had failed to win a domestic trophy. You had to go right back to the 1954/55 season for the last time at least one of the Old Firm sides had failed to win a domestic trophy. In a an Old Firm biased media, such a scenario was a nightmare.

It was no surprise therefore that media were willing Celtic on to beat Dunfermline. For the good of Scottish football. Utter tosh. But such sentiments didn't bother me, and I hoped they wouldnt bother a Dunfermline side who would end 4th in the SPL whatever todays outcome.

Dunfermline had already gotten a draw at home to Celtic this season, and had won 2-1 at Celtic Park, but this was surely different. With the title at stake, Celtic would not slip up, but all we could do was watch and pray. It was out of our hands now, but whatever happened here today, it had been an utterly brilliant season for Forfar, and I was sure things could only really get better for us.

But we had to get through evening, and it was going to be the longest 90 minutes anyone associated with Forfar had even known. We settled down to watch the game on TV as a squad, as of course, it was live. After all, it was Celtic's big day.

I didn't force any of the players to attend, but they all did anyway. Somewhow, we still clung to this crazy dream, this hope that we might still be crowned Champions, a crowning we really believed we totally deserved. And so here we were, a squad who had overcome the odds, and now we waited to see if the gods would smile on us.

The game had only just gotten started, when Mark McGarty hit a superb strike from the edge of the area which ended up in the net, and Dunfermline were ahead. As the Celtic fans were stunned into silence so the players lounge at Station Park erupted in a bedlam of noise, and suddenly, we really did start to believe.

Half time came, and Dunfermline were still ahead, and if anyone had any nails left by now, they were the lucky ones. Two minutes into the second half, Derek Young headed Dunfermline two ahead after a quite superb Dunfermline move, and they could now start engraving our name on the SPL trophy.

Despite the commentry team urging Celtic on, they simply ran out of ideas, out of steam and out of the title. Long before the final whistle sounded to mark our superb triumph, the Champagne was flowing at Station Park. We had been crowned Champions of Scotland in the most dramatic of circumstances, and although the press would inevitable whimper on about Celtic blowing it, we had the most points, and were deserved Champions. It was a dream come true, but in my mind, this was only the start of the great things to come.......

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<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre"> Pos Inf Team Pld Won Drn Lst For Ag G.D. Pts

1st C Forfar 38 20 14 4 76 30 +46 74

2nd Celtic 38 22 7 9 66 40 +26 73

3rd Rangers 38 17 9 12 58 64 6 60

4th Dunfermline 38 15 13 10 68 53 +15 58

5th Aberdeen 38 13 14 11 42 40 +2 53

6th Dundee 38 14 10 14 62 57 +5 52

7th St. Johnstone 38 13 11 14 51 47 +4 50

8th Kilmarnock 38 9 14 15 50 62 12 41

9th Hibs 38 9 14 15 44 58 14 41

10th Livingston 38 9 12 17 44 59 15 39

11th Hearts 38 9 10 19 51 76 25 37

12th R Dundee Utd 38 6 16 16 56 82 26 34


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The Billy Buchanan Diaries – 15

The most significant news of the pre season was the boards decision to take advantage of the relaxation of the all-seater rules, and add a section of terracing that would allow a further 3750 people to watch our games when it was completed, and also appeases those fans who have demanded to right to stand. There was further big news on the coaching front, as we had a major shake up, and the appointments as Assistant Managers of former Brazilian International, Rivaldo, who will take charge of the reserve side, and Newcastle coach Tommy Craig, who will take charge of the U-19 squad, made front page headlines. Our attempts to further push the Old Firm off the Scottish footballing maps were successful as we lured three Rangers coaches, Tommy McLean, George Adams and Jan Wouters to Station Park, along with Celtic’s Willie McStay.

The pre season was mixed as usual, but the main plusses were the performance of young keeper Mark Williamson, who put in a claim for a regular first team start, and one or two more of the youths look to be good prospects to play a bigger role this season. The bad news on the youth front though is that we failed to see anyone come from the Academy this season. Hopefully that will simply be a minor glitch, and normal service will resume in the years ahead.

As we are trying to integrate even more of our youths into the team this season, it cannot be expected that we will the SPL again, and I just hope the fans have the intelligence to realise this. Gaining a top six place, coupled with another good run in Europe will satisfy me, as we take another step nearer to having a totally home grown side, bucking the trend of silly foreign imports and making a stance on ‘Made in Scotland’. It promises to be another exciting season at Station Park.

Squad 2008-2009


David Marshall (22) (7 Caps) IMO not such a good season from David, and he sold the goal which let Celtic beat us in the final game of the season. He has however established himself in the Scotland squad, but we’ll be looking for one of the youths to challenge him this season. (55 apps, 53 conceded, 21 CS, 2 MoM, 6.71)

Mark Williamson(17) Youth Academy 05. Will have the opportunity to challenge for the No 1 jersey over the next few seasons, as potentially the best young keeper we have.

John Murray(19) Youth Academy 05. Likely to be 3rd choice, but might find it tough to get a start yet.

Peter Breen (19) Youth Academy 05. Looking as if its unlikely Peter will make the break through for us, and we’ve reluctantly decided he can leave if we get a sensible bid.

Graeme Smith (25) No appearances. Contract is up a the end of the season, and it won’t be renewed.

Cameron Bell (21) No Appearances. Again, his contract will be up at the end of this season, and won’t be renewed.


Andy Jordan (28) Only managed one appearance and when his contract expires at the end of this season, it won’t be renewed.

David Lowing (24) (9 caps) Showed his versatility as he moved between the centre back, left back and the midfield holding role. (55 apps, 1 goal, 5 assists, 3 MoM, 7.25)

Fraser Coyle (22) (capped at U-21 level) Has two years to run on his contract and we’ll see how things stand next season when it comes to looking to renew it. A vital squad player at the moment. (29 apps, 2 assist, 6.93)

Craig Campbell (20) (5 caps) Youth academy 04. A player whom the coaching staff didn’t believe was good enough for us, and yet had shown how utterly stupid they are as he hasn’t just established himself at right back, but also becomes the first academy product to play for the full Scotland squad. (54 apps, 1 goal, 8 assists, 7.22)

Robert Hunter (19) (4 U-21 caps) Youth Academy 05. Spent most of the season in the reserves and managed only 1 first team start, but is still a valuable squad player.

Paul O'Neill (18) (2 U-21 caps) Youth Academy 04. Has managed to hold down the left back role, and although he still has a lot to learn, he is developing nicely. (41 apps, 5 goals, 2 assists, 6.88)

David Barker(15) Youth Academy 07. Great season for the youngster, who has already established himself as a key figure in the back four, and was runner up in the SPFA Young Player of the Year. (34 apps, 1 goal, 4 assists, 7.18)

Kevin Scott (19) Youth academy 04. Perhaps hasn’t quite developed as we’d hoped, but has an outside chance of remaining at the club long term.

Alan Kelly (19) Youth academy 04. A player who is at make or break time, but will find it tough to break into the 1st team with a lot of competition in the places he plays.

Kirk Broadfoot (23) Has actually been very poor and will be sold.


Keith Gibson (27) (1 cap) Voted by the Scottish Football Writers as their Player of the Year for the 2nd year in a row, and also finally gained his first cap for Scotland. Will remain at the club meanwhile, but may have to step aside more often to make way for the promising Kevin McMillan. (51 apps, 11 goals, 9 assists, 8 MoM, 7.65)

Kevin McMillan (16) Youth Academy 07. A player who has broken into the first team with great effect, and has a promising future at the club. (21 apps, 7 goals, 6 assists, 1 MoM, 7.29)

Barry Robson (29) (4 caps, 2 goals) Another who has broken into the Scotland squad, and has been a great servant for the club. However, his contract is up at the end of the season, and we’ve decided not to renew it. (46 apps, 7 goals, 15 assists, 2 MoM, 7.33)

Scott Adams (21) Youth academy 04. Has continued to develop in the reserves, and now looks ready to step into Robson’s boots.

Darren Smith (28) Continues to back Robson up well. (5 apps, 1 goal, 2 assists, 1 MoM, 7.80)

Martin Maher (24) (Capped at U-21 level) Another great season, but in the last year of his contract, and it will depend how the youth prospects go as to whether it will be renewed. (44 apps, 1 goal, 2 assists, 6.98)

Charlie King (28) His days at Forfar are over as he finds himself on the transfer list.

Kevin Byers (28) Won the Goal of the Season award, another good season for Kevin. (51 apps, 16 goals, 8 assists, 9 MoM, 7.65)

David Davidson (18) Youth academy 04. The possible successor to Byers, who will be given his chance to shine in the season ahead.

Peter Martin (19) Youth Academy 05. Spent three months on loan at St Mirren, a player who is a mibbe to replace Maher, but still has a fair bit to prove.

Ross Kelly (18) Youth Academy 05. Another player in line for the Maher role, and can also fill in at left back. Played in the final league game against Celtic and did ok.

Darren Campbell (22) (capped at U-21 level) Dissapointing season and its clear he doesn’t have a future at the club an is transfer listed. (6 apps, 6.00)

Peter Leven (24) Another player who finds himself on the transfer list. (2 apps, 6.50)

Andrew MacDonald (21) Only managed 2 starts as he fails to make an impression.


Alan MacDonald (19) (3 U-21 caps) Youth academy 04. Seems to be struggling as a striker, and ended up back in the U-19’s but will be hoping to re-establish himself in the season ahead. (31 apps, 7 goals, 7 assists, 6.74)

Steven Murray(20) (4 U-21 caps, 5 goals) Youth academy 04. Finally seems to be becoming the striker we all hope he can be, as he ends as the clubs top scorer, and became the first ever Forfar player to be voted as the SPFA Player of the Year. (42 apps, 25 goals, 15 assists, 5 MoM, 7.76)

Scott Gibson (17) Youth Academy 06. Made a spectacular breakthrough into the first team, and has more than held his place in the team, and looks to be set for a great career at the club. (33 apps, 18 goals, 10 assists, 3 MoM, 7.64)

John Ferguson(19) (1 U-21 cap) Youth academy 04. On the fringes of the first team and looks like he could be decent squad player in the future. (16 apps, 4 goals, 3 assists, 2 MoM, 7.06)

Andrew Ferguson (23) Still not making an impression and will be allowed to leave at the right price. (4 apps, 1 goal, 1 assist, 6.75)

Under 19 Squad


Kevin Smart (18) Youth Academy 06.

Jimmy Ross(16) Youth Academy 07.


Paul Thompson (19) Youth Academy 05.

Brian Miller (18) Youth Academy 06.

Pat Kenny (18) Youth Academy 06. Managed 4 first team starts, but looks a bit short of being a regular.

Gordon McDonald(16) Youth Academy 07.

Steven Hamilton(17) Youth Academy 07.

Andy Russell(16) Youth Academy 07.

Alan Lynch(16) Youth Academy 07.

Chris Watson(16) Youth Academy 07.


Mark Rooney (18) Youth Academy 05.

Alan Mitchell (17) Youth Academy 06.

Gary McMillan (18) Youth Academy 06.

Mark Mitchell (16) Youth academy 07.

David Martin (17) Youth academy 07.

Colin Gray (16) Youth academy 07.


John Morrison (19) Youth Academy 05.

Andrew Grant (17) Hasn’t really impressed and will be allowed to leave.

Youths who didn't make it

David Black (18) Youth Academy 06. Made a £9000 move to Lossiemouth in the summer.

John Kavanagh (18) Youth Academy 06. Made a £10,000 move to Fraseburgh I the summer but is certainly good enough to be playing in SD2 or SD3.

Andy MacDonald (17) Youth Academy 07. Didn’t make it with the club and has since quit football to become a pimp, where he makes a decent living in Dundee.

Gary Dunne (20) Youth academy 04. Released in the summer but still not found a new club.

Alan Paterson (21) Not doing so well at Johnstone Burgh, and is currently in their reserve squad.

John Byrne(21) Youth academy 04. Has signed for Pollock, but has been nothing special for them.

David O'Reilly (21) Youth academy 04. Hasn’t had a great time at East Fife where he currently resides in their reserves.

Martin Aitken (18) Youth Academy 05. Has signed for Bo’ness and is trying to establish himself there.

Mark Parker (19) Youth Academy 06. Has been doing quite well for himself at Dundalk.

Paul Johnston (19) Youth Academy 06. Has moved to Clachnacuddin after being freed by Huntly.

Coaching Staff

Manager : Billy Buchanan

Assistant Manager Reserves: Rivaldo

Assistant Manager U-19’s: Tommy Craig

Goalkeeping Coaches: Phil Harrington; Malcolm Thompson

Defensive Coaches: Mark Gavin; Eamonn Bannon; John Philiben; Billy Kirkwood; Tony Docherty; David O’Neill; David Bowman

Mid/Attacking Coaches: Chris McAllister; Mark Watson; Craig Kennedy; Karel Lukes; George Adams; Eddie May; Tommy McLean; William McStay; Jan Wouters; Mario Stanic; Fran; John Ritchie

Physios: Brian McNeill; Alistair MacFie; Hugh Allan; Jim Fallon; Paul Greene; Mark Graham; Jim Peacock; Don Hutchison; Michael Watson

[This message was edited by Peacemaker7 on 16 February 2004 at 13:18.]

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Very well done on winning the league. icon14.gif

Great the way u've brought in and r still bringing in so much youth. U'll dominate the league for years to come. icon_biggrin.gif

I'm gonna start keepin track of this, fantastic stuff.

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The Billy Buchanan Diaries - 16

As the season wore on, the biggest thing in the press was about how badly both halves of the Old Firm were doing. At one point, with Rangers sitting 6th, and Celtic 10th, and with both teams being humiliated in the Champions League as they finished bottom of their groups, there was of course the usual outcry about a 'crisis' in Scottish Football in the Old Firm biased media.

Yet by the end of 2009, the Old Firm had slowly gotten their acts together, now they were out of Europe, and had moved up to 5th and 6th respectively. Still not brilliant, but the prospect of one of them actually being relegated - heaven forbid - had for now been dissipated. What the Old Firm were up to though was of no concern to us. We had our own worries to deal with.

The League Cup, the least of our priorities of course, started with a 3rd round humiliation of Ayr United at Somerset, as we blasted eight goals past the hapless First Divsion outfit to move into the Quarter Finals, where we would face Celtic at home. A Celtic side who were struggling badly in the League, but there was no way we could take them lightly.

After a goalless first half which we totally dominated, Scott Gibson, who hadn't been quite so impressive this season in terms of goals, although his play had been good enough, fired us ahead. But our joy was short lived as Celtic hit back straight away. Extra time seemed to be on the cards, when, with eight minutes left to play, Adams sent Scott Gibson free on the right, and with Steven Murray totally unmarked, Gibson found him with a perfect pass and we were ahead. But Celtic it seemed hadn't learned their lesson, as this time Maher sent a diagonal pass to Gibson again on the right, and although Murray had two Celtic men on him, he still managed to bullet a header into the net, and we were surely into the semis. Yet as Celtic pressed forward, young Campbell robbed Ryan Giggs on the right, launched a ball to Gibson, who outpaced Crainey, sent in a cross to Murray, and he we had a hatrick of goals and assists. If only those two could play like this every game, we'd be laughing.

Our priority as ever was the league, and although we weren't playing brilliantly, we nevertheless arrived at Pittodrie on the 6th December unbeaten, and top of the table. Sadly, all things have to end, and we couldnt go on unbeaten forever as we collapsed 1-0. A final game of the year loss at Easter Road, in which we played quite poorly to throw away a 2-1 lead and lose 3-2 saw us end the year still top of the SPL, by some 7 points from Hibs at the halfway stage. It might seem strange then to realise that I wasn't overly happy with the way we had played in a lot of games, and I couldn't help wondering if we were only top because the Old Firm had been so utterly woeful. But then I came to realise, thats their problem.

And so to Europe. As the Scots co-efficient rises, so we now have three teams in the Champions League and we found ourselves straight into the group stages this season. The draw though wasnt kind as we found ourselves up against Anderlecht, Newcastle, and for the second year in a row, Real Madrid. But it would give us a fairer indication, I felt, of just how this young side was progressing.

Our opening match was in Belgium, and although we played well, and it might tell you something that Steven Murray was man of the match, we went down by a goal to nil, a slightly dissapointing start. It was a similiar story at home to Newcastle, as we played well, and Keith Gibson gave us the lead on 7 minutes. But at this level you really have to take your chances and my youngsters were given a harsh lesson as Hugo Viana struck 10 minutes from the end to rob us of a famous win, and now we were in trouble with a double header against Real Madrid.

Yet Real weren't doing so hot themselves as they came to Station Park on the back of two draws. When Scott Adams gave us a sensational lead after 25 minutes, I held my breath before celebrating too much. After all, we had taken the lead against them last year and they had hit back immediately. Perhaps it shows the growing maturity of our side that this time we didnt let them do that. Indeed, we were playing out of ours skins, and a minute from half time, David Davidson made it 2-0 and we were in dream land.

Real though would be furiuous, and we could expect them to come out and have a right go in the second half, and so they did. On 67 minutes, Ronaldo finally got them their way back into the match, but we hung on for dear life, and when the game ended, we had pulled of a stunning and fantastic victory.

In Spain, we could expect a hot reception from a Real team not only out for revenge, but fighting for their Champions League lives. We put in another brave show, but a Raul goal 13 minutes from time gave the Spanish giants the win, and now our own involvement in the latter stages was hanging by a thread. A fantastic 3-0 home win over Anderlecht, a brace from David Davidson and one from John Ferguson, meant that we were guaranteed UEFA Cup football as we headed to Newcastle. But we also knew that if Anderlecht beat Real, we would be into the last 16 of the Champions League.

In Newcastle, we couldn't have gotten off to a worse start, as Bellamy sent them ahead after just 12 minutes, but we settled down, and by half time we still only trailed by the single goal. Over in Belgium, news came through that Real were leading by a goal to nil a minute from half time, but in injury time Anderlecht equalized, and if it stayed like this, we would be into the 2nd phase.

Nine minutes into the second half though, Real took the lead in Belgium, and it seemed we would have to be content with the UEFA Cup once more. But my players had other ideas. On 67 minutes, Adams and Murray combined on the left, before Adams set up Ferguson with a great chance and we were level. Yet with Real leading, a draw actually wouldn't be good enough, and as Newcastle relaxed, thinking they had done enough to go through, so we kept pressing forward. Just four minutes later though, O'Neill sent Murray clear on the left, and his cross was volleyed into the net by Scott Gibson, in a mirror of the three we had scored against Celtic and suddenly, the dream was on again.

Not only that, but Newcastle suddenly realised that if Real or ourselves scored again, then they would be out, and they started to press for an equalizer. We had to endure a fair bit of pressure, before Steven Murray waltzed through the Newcastle defence and sent us three one up, and as things stood, it was now ourselves and Real who would make the last 16. But as the match moved into injury time, as Newcastle pressed desperately for that goal they now needed to give them hope, Murray again broke clear as we hit them on the counter, and he unselfishly set up Scott Gibson with an easy chance, and Forfar Athletic were into the last sixteen of the Champions League. There are no words that can decribe such a scenario.

For Newcastle, having been totally humiliated by a bunch of kids, there was good news in the end, as a late Anderlecht strike saw Real edged out into the UEFA Cup. The draw for the last sixteen sees us face Lazio, and its simply a delight to be there.

On the youth front, one or two players have now been freed as we look to the future and hope that we will get a fresh bunch of talent in the summer to keep us going. We can now safely field a team of 11 youth academy products, although this doesn't happen every week of course, but it has happened and will in the future. I have to single out keeper Mark Williamson for praise. Its often tough to put a young keeper into the side, but the fact he has played every game so far, and has been magnificent at times is a huge bonus as we look to the future. My biggest worry though at the moment is that we simply dont have enough squad depth, and the rigours of so many games may have worn some of the youngsters out. Its something we'll have to keep an eye on, and I might have to look to bring in a couple of players just to extend the squad a little, but we'll see.

The new terracing has now been completed, and we can now entertain 10,575 supporters at Station Park, which is probably reaching the limit of our pulling power anyway. The board are 'absolutely thrilled' with the level of my commitment. Well I've got news for them. I love this club, and I aint going anywhere else. Not for a very long time........

[This message was edited by Peacemaker7 on 18 February 2004 at 15:56.]

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The Scottish League Cup Final

Forfar Athletic v Aberdeen

Sunday 15th March 2009

Hampden Park, Glasgow. (52,473)

A 3-0 win over Dundee on a wet Wednesday night at Hampden in February saw through to our first major Cup Final, which would be against Aberdeen. The League Cup may not me the most prestigious of trophies, but it gave us the chance to achieve something really special. Win with a starting line up of home grown talent.

In the build up to the game though, we suffered a huge set back, as keeper Williamson picked up and injury that ruled him out of the match. That meant a choice of using one of the back up, or ruining our chance of winning with a home grown 11. In the end, I took the risk and opted to start with 16 year old Jimmy Ross in goal. He had never played for the first team, but now was as good a time as any.

Aberdeen line up (4-4-2)

Ryan Esson (28); Russell Anderson (30), Markus Heikkenen (30), Phil McGuire (29), Kevin McNaughton (26); Diego Gavilan (29), Fergus Tiernan (27), Richard Foster (23), Marko Babic (28); Paul Heffernan (27), Andrew Bagshaw (20)Subs: David Preece (32), Craig Craig (18), Alexander Diamond (24), Stephen Sproule (23), Billy Quinn (19)

We still didn't have a large enough group of academy players to fill the bench, and so Kevin Byers became the interloping, but unless we were losing badly, he would have no chance of playing. And so the line up that we hoped would make history for us by winning our first major cup final was: (4-4-2)

Goalkeeper Jimmy Ross (16) Having played 14 times for the Under 19's/Reserves this season, Ross is thrown in at the deep in, and this will be an incredible day for him. (Never played for the 1st team).

Right Back Craig Campbell (20) The only full international in our side, I dont even believe he is our best player. But he is nevertheless a very good full back and has had an excellent season for us. (131 1st team apps, 3 goals, 19 assists, 1 MoM, 7.29 (season ave Rat 7.44))

Right Centre Back Pat Kenny (19) Still has a lot to prove and is very much the weakest link in the side. Hasnt been great, but we're trying to give him his chance to prove he can make it. (21 1st team apps, 1 assist, 6.50 (season ave rat 6.56))

Left Centre Back David Barker (16) Despite his young age, he is already a key part of the team, and now has 2 U-21 caps to his name. A player who is coming on in leaps and bounds, and has a great future in the game. (69 1st team apps, 2 goals, 6 assists, 7.26 (season ave rating 7.33))

Left Back Paul O'Neill (19) The U-21 international is having is best season yet for us, and is showing signs of becoming a very good player. (95 1st team apps, 10 goals, 13 assists, 2 MoM, 7.02 (season ave rat 7.29))

Right WingerKevin McMillan (17) In my opinion Kevin is the most exciting player we have at the club, with a great future in the game. A player who can turn games when he's in the mood, in the mould of old fashioned wingers like Jimmy Johnstone and Davie Cooper. (50 1st team apps, 9 goals, 15 assists, 3 MoM 7.22 (season ave rat 7.17))

Creative Center Mid David Davidson (19) Had the daunting task of taking on the role of fans favourite Kevin Byers, but he certainly hasnt let anyone down. He may not quitre have the flair of Byers, but nevertheless a player who has a lot to offer. (27 1st team apps, 10 goals, 5 assists, 2 MoM 7.36 (Season ave rat 7.36))

Holding Centre MidPeter Martin (20) Playing in the role that is often under undervalued, but has had some decent games as he looks to make that role his own. (32 apps, 3 goals, 5 assists, 1 MoM, 7.09 (season ave rat 7.19)

Left WingerScott Adams (22) The oldest first team regular at the moment, he has taken a fair while to break into the side, mainly because of the performances of Robson. But the wait is proving to be well worht waitiong for as he has had a brilliant season. (39 1st team apps, 6 goals, 11 assists, 7.45 (season ave rat 7.45))

Right StrikerScott Gibson (18) After his sensational debut season, it was always going to be hard for Scott this time around. He has plyed very well, but needs to up his goals to games ratio. Im sure that will come though. (70 1st team apps, 31 goals, 21 assists, 8 MoM 7.63 (Season ave rat 7.63)

Left StrikerSteven Murray (21) A player who just gets better and better each season, and after a slow start, is finally starting to get the goals his talent and play expect. The most experience academy product in terms of playing time, and it surely cant be long before Steven gets his call up to the full Scotland side. (198 1st team apps, 96 goals, 55 assists, 32 MoM, 7.62 (season ave rat 7.86))

Subs: John Murray (GK) (20). Kevin Byers (29), Alan MacDonald (19), Ross Kelly (19), Mark Mitchell (16)

The match had barely gotten underway, when Gavilan was, perhaps rather harshly, booked for a trip on O'Neill. That booking was to become significant after 11 minutes, when he pulled back Steven Murray as he went through on goal, and was shown another yellow, and Aberdeen were down to 10 men.

With the extra man, we looked to make it pay, and on 15 minutes we won a corner. Adams took it short to Murray, who gave it back to him, and the left winger sent a beautiful cross into the box that Scott Gibson headed home, and we had the early lead we wanted. It would, hopefully, be a long way back from here for the sheep. Down to 10 men, and trailing, it seemed they had no idea what to do as we dominated the first half, and young keeper Ross didnt have a save to make.

At half time, I decided to make a change at the back, and took off Pat Kenny who had picked up a minor knock. Ross Kellly went on, and that meant a bit of a reshuffle as he went to left back, and that meant Barker and O'Neill had to move across one. Yet even with our reshuffled defence, Aberdeen were posing no threat, and ten minutes into the second half. McMillan threw in a cross from the right which Adams thundered against the Aberdeen keeper, and Davidson nipped in to snap up the rebound.

Aberdeen, who had never really gotten started, were finished, as we played out time, and its a sad testiment to them that they didnt have a single shot on target, and only 2 efforts on goal in the whole game, both of which sailed harmlessly over the bar, giving Jimmy Ross the easiest debut he could ever have hoped for.

It was an achievement that was quite remarkable in the modern game, all 12 players who appeared for us in the final had come through our youth academy. Having bagged the league cup, we noew of course stood on the verge of the domestic treble, which would be some achievement. And if we could keep this team together, and if they kept maturing, there was no reason why we couldn't dominate Scottish football for years to come. And who knows, possibly even Europe icon_smile.gif

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The Billy Buchanan Diaries - 17

Going into the new year seven points clear at the top of the SPL, I certainly wouldn't have said the league was a foregone conclusion. There was still a lot of football left to be played, and it remained to be seen whether our very young squad could last the distance. Yet any fears we had seemed to be without foundation as Rangers came to the revamped Station Park, and 10,544 people saw a wonder show from Steven Murray as he banged in four goals, John Ferguson got two and we trounced the fallen giants by 6-0. Again.

It wasn't all plain sailing though, and a 2-1 loss at Clyde showed we were far for the finished article, and helped to root out any complacency that might be creeping in. Despite that minor set back though, our push to the title was relentless, our young stars knowing no fear. Yet when we did finally clinch our 2nd successive SPL title, it was once again without kicking a ball, as on the 5th of May Hibs, who were 2nd, could only manage a 1-1 draw at Pittodrie, and the title was ours.

In the Scottish Cup, we started with a derby tie in the 3rd round at home to Brechin, and although Adams and Davidson had us two ahead after just four minutes, to their credit Brechin battled back and made a fight of things. It wasn't till the 54th minute, when Scott Gibson added a 3rd, that our place in the 4th round was assured.

Hearts would be our opponents at Station Park, and just 10 minutes had gone when John Fergsuon gave us the lead. The key point of the match though was the 21st minute when, clean through on goal, David Davidson was brought down by McKenna, and the referee awarded us a free kick right on the edge of the area, and McKenna found himself red-carded. TV evidence later suggested that the infringement was actually inside the box, but that mattered not as Paul O'Neill blasted his free kick into the net anyway. Seven minutes later we did have a penalty which O'Neill scored, and we went on to add a further three goals, and eased into the Quarter Finals, and a home tie with Aberdeen.

Yet again we had to play against a team whose hacking buggers couldn't stay on the field, but by the time Barry Hutchinson was shown the red card on 65 minutes, we were already 3-0 up, and thats how it stayed as we reached the semis. The Old Firm were drawn together in one semi, and that left us to play shock troops Morton. Yet if we thought this was going to be easy, in front of just 14,000 people at Hampden we were in for a shock, as Morton defended resolutely to hold us to 0-0 and we needed a replay. Once again, Morton put up a brave battle, but goals from Murray and Adams were enough to give us a hard fought 2-1 win, and a place in our first ever Scottish Cup Final, which would be against Rangers.

In the Champions League, Lazio came to Station Park and shut up shop to go away with a 0-0 draw that made them red hot favourites to reach the Quarter Finals. As indeed, they should be. Fourteen minutes into the second leg though, the Stadio Olimpico was in stunned silence, except for the small band of Forfar players, as Steven Murray sent us into a sensational lead. The Serie A giants were dumbounded, and there was worse news for them eight minutes after the break as Murray made it 2-0, and now Lazio needed three. And it was three they were never going to get, despite some incredible pressure, that resulted in them pulling a goal back with 21 minutes left. But they had left themselves with far too much to do, and Forfar Athletic had astounded Europe once more.

The Quarter Final draw paired us with Spanish side Celta Vigo, and having beaten Lazio, we saw no reason why we couldn't over come a team who surely were no better than they? With the first leg at home again, we were left reeling after 34 minutes as Celta took the lead, but two minutes from the break, Steven Murray equalized. This was proving to be a hard battle for us, but on 66 minutes Davidson sent us ahead and that should have been that. But Celta clearly hadn't read the script, and three minutes later, they were level. Travelling to Spain, it was now going to take an awesome effort to get through, but whatever happened, we had done ourselves and our country proud.

Perhaps though Celta hadn't looked at the videos of our wins in Newcastle and Rome, and it certainly seemed that way, as Steven Murray nipped in to send us ahead after just 15 minutes, and we were again winning away from home in the Champions League. On 27 minutes though, Celta had a penalty, Anders Frisk feeling the need to help out the bigger side. But Williamson senationally saved Jandro's spot kick.

Four minutes later though, Edu pulled Celta level on the night, and of course ahead now on the freaking stupid away goals rule. Yet we were far from giving up this tie, and in first half injury time, Scott Gibson, who knew a thing or two about scoring in the Champions League sent us back into the lead, and the away goals was now nothing to worry about.

The match was enthralling now, and it could have gone either way. But on 66 minutes David Davidson rounded the Celta keeper to give us a third and surely now we were into the Semi Finals. With seven minutes to go, as Celta pressed for the impossible goals they needed, David Lowing, standing in for the suspended O'Neill, grabbed what might well be his last ever goal for the club, and that was that. Or not quite. The Spanish had simply given up now, totally humiliated and beaten, and with three minutes left, Scott Gibson added a glorious fifth, and we had pulled off one of the best ever results of any Scottish side of foreign soil.

As the draw for the last four was made, we had the options of Juventus, Milan or Manchester United. And as luck would have it, the draw paired us with the mighty Manchester United. It was going to be an incredible experience, and if we win this, I think I'll be applying for a saint hood......

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Manchester United verus Forfar Athletic

The UEFA Champions League, Semi-Finals

Wednesday 22nd April & Wednesday 6th May 2009

Old Trafford, Manchester/Station Park, Forfar

In many ways this was the biggest match we had ever played. To have reached the Semi Finals is an incredible achievement, not only with an all Scots team, but also for the most part with a team who have all come through the Forfar youth academy. And indeed, in both legs of this tie, all the players both starting and on the bench, were youth academy products.

It was, in many ways, a bit scarey to travel to a club like Manchester United. Newcastle, Lazio and Celta are big enough clubs, but Old Trafford was something else. Of course, we had already twice been to a far more illustrious club in Real Madrid, but even so, there were bound to be a whole lot of nerves on offer, and if we could come back to Station Park with our pride intact, I would be more than happy.

Thirteen minutes into the first leg, we received a huge blow, when Steven Murray had to go off injured. Fortunately, it was nothing serious, but it certainly didn't help our cause on the night. Nine minutes later, we feared the worst as Kleberson sent United ahead. Yet stubbornly we resisted the red tide, and even created some chances of our own.

There was no doubt that United had dominated the match, but as the final whistle went, we had only lost by 1-0, and that as far as I was concerned was a very respectable scoreline. It did of course mean that we would need to score twice at home without reply, and I honestly couldn't see that happening. We tried bravely, and on the night we matched United in our play, but couldn't quite find the luck in front of goal, and it ended 0-0. We were out of the Champions League.

It ended in tears, as the young lads couldn't contain their emotions of coming so close. But there is no need for tears here. We have done superbly well, and my young team has done me proud. We have come a long way, and we can only improve in the future, and I really do believe that in three or four years time, we will be able to lift that magnificent trophy. It may the dream of a mad man, only time will tell....

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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Simon English:

V.Well done PM, I wish I could get my youngsters at Hibs to do so well<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

The Hibs players who start are pretty good imo.

Thanks all.

Cept HD icon_razz.gif

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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Peacemaker7:

Originally posted by Simon English:

V.Well done PM, I wish I could get my youngsters at Hibs to do so well<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

The Hibs players who start are pretty good imo.

True the forwards are, i kno the team is youthfull, the ones im really trying to encourage are the 16-20s (including ones ive brought in, not just the ones that start there)

May b its just me icon_frown.gif

However, the tales of the youths at forfar have inspired me to triumph with my lot so a bit more hard work and extra time on the training pitch, and the rite tactic of course, perhaps the young hibees can emulate forfar icon_smile.gif

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The Scottish Football Association Challenge Cup Final

Glasgow Rangers versus Forfar Athletic

Saturday 23 May 2009

Hampden Park, Glasgow (52,466)

The Scottish media bods were in heaven. Finally, they had one of their precious Old Firm back in with a chance of winning something. It had been a horrible season for them, as Celtic had finally finished 4th and Rangers 6th in the SPL, both teams missing out on the Champions League. But today would surely put matters rights. After all, no team outside the big two has ever won the domestic treble, and thats the way it would stay.

Rangers had a star studded line up, we had a team of youths, it was no contest really. WE would win easily. Although thats not exactly what the media were saying, but having beaten better teams than Rangers this season, the match held no fears for us. All the pressure was well and truly on Rangers, we could honestly go out and enjoy ourselves. After all, we were the best team in the country.

Rangers (4-4-2) Stefan Klos (37); Zurab Khizanishvili (27), Craig Moore (33), Stephane Gruter (23), Michael Ball (29); Fernando Ricksen (33), Stephen Hughes (26), Stuart Duff (27), Mike Zonneveld (28); Moses Ashikodi (22), Tommy Bechmann (27) subs: David MacDonald (18) (GK), Lee Miller (26), Steven Hammell (27), Andrew Jack (19), Steven MacLean (26)

But the fact was, we had a serious crises. With Pat Kenny having been playing so badly, we would be having to use Kevin Smart, a goalkeeper, at centerback. But Kevin had player there a few games now, and had played decently enough. Our real problems though were up front. Steven Murray was out, and although Scott Gibson was able to claim a place on the bench, he could only be used in a dire emergency. That meant we had to go with the largely untested John Morrison, and the largely ineffectual Alan MacDonald.

Forfar(4-4-2) Mark Williamson (18); Craig Campbell (20), Kevin Smart (19), David Barker (16), Paul O'Neill (19); Kevin McMillan (17), John Ferguson (20), Peter Martin (20), Scott Adams (22); John Morrison (20), Alan MacDonald (20) Subs: Jimmy Ross (16) (GK), Scott Gibson (18), Mark Mitchell (17), Ross Kelly (19), Pat Kenny (19)

MacDonald has found it hard living under the shadows of Murray and Gibson, and there really is no reason I can think of that he shouldn't be up there challenging them for a starting place. Its not that MacDonald is a bad player, and in training he can bang in the goals for fun. But when it comes to the real thing he is hopeless, and with only 5 goals in 19 starts and 20 sub appearances, his ratio is appalling.

Yet today was his chance to finally prove to the Forfar support that he could do it, and just 13 minutes in he gave us the lead, and suddenly you could see confidence rise. Eight minutes later, it was MacDonald again, making it two and Rangers were reeling once more. ON 32 minutes, the youngster completed a fabulous hattrick, and even if he goes on to achieve nothing else in his career, he can tell his grandchildren that he scored a hattrick against Rangers in the Cup Final, to clinch the treble for Forfar. And thats no mean feat.

Two minutes from the break, Ashikodi pulled a goal back for the beleaguered Ibrox side, but they simply couldn't find the other goals they needed as the second half fizzled out, and we had created so many pieces of history, it was impossible to count them all. We had won the treble, and our time of domination had now surely arrived.....

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