I am almost certain that on the eve of his ill-fated expedition to the South Pole, Captain Scott would have allowed some doubt and trepidation into his mind of the journey ahead. And so, on Friday evening with half the country exposed to the wintry conditions and further blizzards forecast for the North East; the Groundhoppers faced the difficult decision of whether to brave the elements and go ahead with our long cold trek to Peterhead. Collectively we agreed that try as it might, no snow flurry would stop the march to our 23rd ground this season.
The next morning we packed our hats, gloves, scarves and various layers of clothes and set off at 9am. Jamie was the driver for the day which I was somewhat relieved at given the already hectic schedule I had endured that week. Conditions were fine for the first couple of hours although we were glued to the radio for match postponement updates and it seemed the south of the country was the worst hit area. Onwards we went with further game updates intermittently breaking up the festive tunes but still no word on Peterhead. Then we hit the snow. The roads began to worsen as we drove past Aberdeen and then heartbreakingly, just like Captain Scott, our hopes were dashed so close to the finish line as we heard the game was off - we were just 8 miles from our destination.
Fortunately we had a back up plan - Aberdeen. One expertly manoeuvred 180° turn later and we were soon on our way to the Premier League match between Aberdeen and high flying Hibs. By the time we reached the Granite City the snow had relinquished so we just had sub zero temperatures, a bracing wind and icy paths to deal with. After a quick pit stop for a pre-match drink at the desolate funfair we trekked across the snow to Pittodrie. I have been to this ground many times and despite the normally arctic conditions it is a stadium which usually delivers a red-hot atmosphere. We were seated in the two tiered Richard Donald stand, the newest part of the stadium and inside there is an impressively large concourse with plenty pie stalls. We all genuinely appreciated the steak pies and bovrils (so much so we went back at half time for further hot snacks) - if nothing else it brought some feeling back into our frostbitten cheeks.
A crowd of almost 10,000 had braved the weather and the hardcore Aberdeen fans, The Red Ultras, even opted to take their position in the uncovered corner of the ground. A brief, but torrential, blizzard just seconds before kick off gave us a moment's worry but it disappeared as quickly as it arrived and the match kicked off. The home side, despite their depleted defensive frailties', started the brighter, playing some neat triangles of passing on the deck and Mackie went close with an acrobatic effort after 8 minutes. Aberdeen continued to press with McDonald going close with a shot and the wonderfully erratic Hibs keeper Ma-Kalambay kept out a Mulgrew free-kick and a deflected Mackie cross. Typical then that Hibs were to snatch the lead five minutes before the break. The lively Zemmama threaded a pass through to Stokes who didn't pass up the opportunity.
Aberdeen came out with real intent in the second period but were again caught out just ten minutes with Stokes poking home from close range. Some rather disheartened Aberdeen fans took that as their cue to leave, perhaps to go Christmas shopping as cheekily suggested by the delighted away fans. Aberdeen could've dragged themselves back in but McDonald's shot was blocked and Considine's header cleared off the line. Ma-Kalambay also did his best to assist the opponents with some wayward kicking but Aberdeen again passed up their opportunities. Truth be told they weren't helped with a dreadfully inconsistent refereeing performance from Dougie McDonald which culminated in Lee Miller being rather harshly sent off ten minutes from the end to further compound the home side's misery. Hibs now 12 games unbeaten and breathing down the necks of the Old Firm.
By the time the final whistle had blown we had lost all feeling in our legs and were delighted to get back to the warmth of the car to begin our journey home. It had been brutal, it had been baltic and it had been a battle but we survived and all thoughts can now turn to a busy January period. Peterhead will have to wait for another day.
Journey - 5
Pie - 8
Bovril - 8
Ground - 7
Game - 6