A REPORTER’S NIGHTMARE – TWO TEN-GOAL THRILLERS IN A ROW
The old saying used to be “Firhill for Thrills” as people praised the Maryhill Magyars style of play. Well, back in 1984, it could well have been “Brockville for Goals”. In two consecutive Saturday home league games, the Brockville fans were treated to not one- but TWO – ten-goal thrillers when it seemed to be raining goals at the old ground. It was a neutral’s dream, but a reporter’s nightmare as copy had to be written, re-written and then phoned in. In the days of the Saturday Night Sports papers, the Stop Press was full of late goals from Brockville. The odds on that happening again must be beyond calculation.
Goals had not been in short supply in the early league games and Falkirk got off to a good start with a 4-2 win at Bayview against newly-promoted East Fife. There was another six-goal affair at Brockville, but this time it was a case of honours even when Meadowbank earned a point in a 3-3 draw. Brian Irvine looked a class act in defence, but the results were mixed. Gerry McCoy was signed to add some punch to the attack and he was sharp in the early matches. Few gave Falkirk a chance in their League Cup tie at Ibrox, but they were outstanding before conceding a 73rd minute goal from Davie McPherson. Falkirk had their chances and McAllister had given John McClelland an uncomfortable evening. The Bairns well deserved their standing ovation at full-time.
League form was still erratic, but few could have predicted the events that followed. In the first match of October, McCoy hit a hat-trick at Glebe Park and was the scorer of the Falkirk goal in a 3-1 defeat at Rugby Park to bottom-of-the-league Kilmarnock. Had it not been for keeper George Watson, the score could have been really embarrassing. The next visitors to Brockville were Forfar Athletic on October 20th. The Angus side had beaten East Fife 1-0 at Station Park on the previous Saturday and were sitting fifth top of the league.
Saturday October 20th 1984 At Brockville Park
FALKIRK 4 FORFAR ATHLETIC 6
It’s not often you get to see a ten-goal encounter and yet come away from the game less than pleased. Only the few Loons fans and any neutrals in the sparse crowd would have enjoyed this. It was Falkirk’s third home defeat of the season and the team never recovered from a disastrous opening period. The Bairns found themselves 3-0 down after only 11 minutes play and looked all at sea. Billy Lamont seemed to have picked a strange combination with Andy Nicol in midfield and young John McCormack was being deployed as an attacking wing-back. The experiment was disastrous and huge gaps were appearing in the home defence. The three central defenders were pulled all over the place trying to cover and Forfar took full advantage. The first goal came after six minutes when JIM DEMPSEY only succeeded in turning Scott’s cross from the left past a stranded Watson and the gap at full-back should have been an early warning of what was to come. Three minutes later JIM LIDDLE added a second after Lorimer had hit the post. The home supporters were not happy at the lack of cover in their side. A quickly-taken free kick gave KENNY MacDONALD a chance and he hit a great dipping shot into the net with Watson a few yards off his goal-line. The boos rang round the ground and yet the big discovery was that Forfar’s defence was just as porous as the home one.
In 17 minutes, McCormack’s right wing cross was missed by Irvine, but ANDY NICOL was well up with play and slotted home from close range. There were signs of encouragement, especially after GERRY McCOY added a second goal when the visitors’ defence failed to clear a McCulley pass and the striker hit a low shot under Kennedy’s legs. Falkirk’s endless charity continued when RONNIE SCOTT made it 4-2 for the visitors after another quickly-taken free kick. PETER HOUSTON scored two minutes before the break, thumping a volley high into the roof of the net, after a whole crowd of players had missed McCulley’s corner from the right. Forfar led 4-3 at the break and there were loud boos as the crest-fallen Bairns trooped off.
Surely, the manager’s half-time talk would lead to an improvement? When RAY LORIMERmade it 5-3 with only 50 minutes played, many had seen enough and sought escape by whatever exits were available. The crosses were raining in from the left and the Forfar striker was in oceans of space.To be fair, Falkirk did rally and DAVIE BELL made it 5-4 when he headed home an Irvine cross. For once, Falkirk looked capable of coming back into the game and McCoy was causing the Forfar defence all sorts of trouble. Any hopes of a comeback were dashed when JOHN CLARK strode forward as the Falkirk defence disappeared like the proverbial snow from a dyke, and left Watson helpless with a powerful 20 yard shot.
This time, there was no way back and despite dominating for the final 15 minutes, there was no more scoring- much to the relief of the reporters in the press-box. It was a shocking display of defending- from both sides- and the defeat sent Falkirk down into 10th place- only two points ahead of bottom club St.Johnstone.
FALKIRK: Watson, Nicol, Kemp, McCormack, B.Irvine, Dempsey, McCulley (s.Wilson), Houston, A.Irvine, McCoy, Bell (s.Russell)
FORFAR: Kennedy, Bennett, McPhee, Brown, Brash, Bell, Liddle, Lorimer, Clark, Scott, MacDonald
A 2-0 defeat at Somerset Park didn’t do much for confidence, and the next visitors to Brockville were Hamilton Accies.
Saturday November 3rd 1984 At Brockville Park
FALKIRK 6 HAMILTON ACCIES. 4
Brockville resembled a mud-bath for this match and yet again the defensive frailties were laid wide open. The game bore many similarities to the Forfar game with defences all over the place and attackers given the freedom to shoot on sight. Falkirk won due to the strength of their midfield, where Dempsey and Baptie were outstanding. Crawford Baptie had been signed from Baillieston and he looked a tremendous signing, especially with his strong running in the second half.
It looked ominous when Falkirk conceded an early goal- in the first minute. Watson was to blame when he failed to gather from Phillips and the ball broke to PAT McCURDY who fired home into the roof of an empty net. Hamilton looked the better side in the opening period, but Falkirk equalised in the 27th minute through JIM DEMPSEY whose 25 yard effort skidded over the muddy surface past Ferguson. It was a well-balanced contest, but Falkirk equalised five minutes before the break through JIM DEMPSEY who back-headed a Houston corner past the keeper. A 2-1 interval lead for Falkirk gave little indication of the goal-feast to follow.
Accies drew level in the 49th minute through GERRY PHILLIPS, after a scramble in the box. Falkirk’s strength in midfield started to tell and it was a great surging run from Baptie that set up Houston who laid on an ALAN IRVINE strike into the far corner of the net.
Accies equalised when an error from Baptie set up GERRY PHILLIPS, and a few home supporters feared the worst.CRAWFORD BAPTIE made amends for his slip when he scored his first Falkirk goal from 12 yards out to make it 4-3. Back came the visitors and STEVE CLARKE was lucky to score after his shot took a wicked deflection off a defender to leave Watson stranded. It was looking like a case of “Next Goal’s The Winner” as both sides served up an exciting game in terrible conditions. The introduction of substitute Bobby Russell proved a shrewd move and he had a role in both of Falkirk’s goals. JIM DEMPSEY scored with a downward header from Alan Irvine’s chip into the area. Could Falkirk hold on with seven minutes left for play? They did and indeed added a sixth and final goal when GERRY McCOY scored after Russell crossed low and hard.
Dempsey grabbed all the head-lines with his hat-trick, but most fans came away singing the praises of the new signing- Crawford Baptie.
FALKIRK: Watson, Nicol, Fraser, Burnett, B.Irvine, Dempsey, Houston, Baptie, A.Irvine, McCoy, McCulley (s.Russell)
HAMILTON ACCIES. Ferguson, Wright, Mitchell, Forsyth, McDougall, Hamill, McCurdy, Clarke, Phillips, Turnbull, McGachie.