The last time we attempted to travel north to Peterhead we encountered torrential snow blizzards before the match was called off just several miles from our destination. Today there was never any danger of inclement conditions affecting our journey as the three of us and regular guest Groundhopper Jimmy set off in the early morning sunshine. The fixture, Peterhead v Arbroath, was a repeat of the game we had watched back at Gayfield in January when Peterhead ran out comfortable 4-1 winners albeit aided by a dreadfully incompetent refereeing performance.
The four hour drive went reasonably quickly although I did experience an odd moment when we stopped off at a Perth petrol station and several dozen Celtic fans were there heading in the opposite direction to Glasgow – an almost symbolic moment of the current feelings I have for my team. There was a slight directional mishap on arrival in Aberdeen when Kieran’s trusty iPhone suggested a short cut which had us going round the one way system of the city centre before he got us back on track. However we still managed to arrive at Peterhead with an hour to spare before kick-off. The town is hardly the most welcoming with a huge power plant and a supply depot along with the prison dominating the area; but past that is the more aesthetically pleasing expansive harbour and marina.
We stopped off for a quick pint at the local Wetherspoons which seemed to be filled with either expectant mothers or large families, perhaps an indication of the lack of outdoor activities available in the area. Peterhead’s Balmoor Stadium is a small but not unattractive ground – consisting of two stands which each seat around 500 fans and open areas behind either goal rather than any terracing. Despite a rather limited menu the mince pie and Bovril we each had was a tasty and more importantly hot antidote to the increasingly biting wind drifting in from the North Sea.
Prior to the kick-off we were treated to the wonderfully bizarre sight of the home team’s mascot – a seagull who was continually tripping up over itself and clearly couldn’t see out of the costume (hence being led round by a young girl) – if it had been on Rolf Harris' Animal Hospital it would’ve been given the last rights. The match itself began at a reasonable pace with both sides creating an opportunity – Arbroath's Stevie Hislop hitting the side netting when he may have done better and then the home side’s Paul Emslie unleashing a fine drive which keeper Darren Hill tipped away. It was Peterhead who took the lead in the 13th minute when Peter Bruce headed home a Daniel Moore cross and Arbroath struggled thereafter to gain any sort of foothold in the first half. Indeed Peterhead could've doubled their advantage before the break but Paul Emslie’s shot hit the post.
Arbroath made two changes at the start of the second period in hope of turning the game and perhaps should’ve been level 5 minutes in but Hislop was denied again, this time by some fine goalkeeping. From then on they huffed and puffed and offered very little threat and Peterhead wrapped up the three points with a quick Martin Bavidge double near the end. Firstly he superbly glanced home another great cross from the superb Daniel Moore and seconds later drilled a low shot through the keeper and into the net to emphatically seal the win.
Journey - 6
Pie - 8
Bovril - 8
Ground - 6
Game – 5