"We want folk in 30 to 40 years to still be talking about the forthcoming Rangers game in a similar fashion so they can tell their grandchildren where they stood that day in 2018 when the famous Glasgow Rangers came to Bellslea." The words of Fraserburgh Chairman Finlay Noble in 'The Press & Journal'. There's little doubt that this is by far and away the biggest game in the 108 year history of Fraserburgh FC and as far as the town itself is concerned the only time that the general vibe has approached anything like the current buzz was in 1992 when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II visited for the celebration of the founding of the town's 400th anniversary.
Much has been said among Rangers fans about the scarcity of tickets for the game with Rangers receiving an allocation of just 360 but lost in that debate is the fact that Fraserburgh FC earned the right to play and to ergo host Rangers on the field of play and whereas moving the game down the road to Peterhead or Aberdeen may well have resulted in a bigger pay day there never any serious possibility of it being moved. While the Bellslea Park may be both pretty compact and basic it really isn't any worse than many of the grounds we visited on the journey up through the leagues. The stand is called the Jim Adams Stand after the former Chairman who was a founder of the town's largest employer Gray & Adams, no doubt at some time or other you'll have been stuck in traffic behind one of their refrigerated trailers or even had the pleasure of a ride in their prisoner transfer vans. Sadly Jim is no longer around but rumour has it the Fraserburgh players would like his daughter Marieanne Adams to give them one of her famous group hugs!
Fraserburgh the town is referred to locally as "The Broch" and its inhabitants as "Brochers"; however I don't consider myself as a Brocher having only emigrated the 17 miles up the road from Peterhead 33 years ago and as everyone from Peterhead knows they aren't Brochers anyway they are in fact Puddlestinkers. The name Fraserburgh stems from 1592 when King James VI granted a charter to Sir Alexander Fraser and what was known as Faithlie became literally the burgh of Fraser. The name Broch coming from an old iron age tower that stood in the town but now long since gone.
Among the local places of note are Fraserburgh Golf Club, a links course which is the 5th oldest in Scotland and the 7th oldest in the world. The Museum of Scottish Lighthouses at Kinnaird Head and the adjacent Heritage Centre. Not forgetting the harbour to which the town owes its existence and enjoying something of a renaissance after decades of decline due to the EU's Common Fisheries Policy. New boats have once again become a regular feature although sadly no longer being built in Fraserburgh itself since the boat yards have long closed.
Famous Brochers include Thomas Blake Glover who emigrated to Japan and helped found what became the Mitsubishi conglomerate, Charles Alfred Jarvis the recipient of the first Victoria Cross awarded in World War I, Bill Gibb the fashion designer and of course one Dennis Nilsen the serial killer.
The game itself takes place on the 48th anniversary of the Duchess of Kent lifeboat disaster on which 5 of the 6 volunteer crewmen lost their lives going to the aid of the Danish fishing vessel Opal, the men who perished that day were John Stephen, Fred Kirkness, William Hadden (my wife's uncle), James Buchan and James RS Buchan with Jackson Buchan being the sole survivor. Ironically the Duchess of Kent was a replacement lifeboat for the John and Charles Kennedy which capsized in the harbour entrance with the loss of 6 of the 7 crewmen in February 1953. Also another disaster befell the town in 1919 the lifeboat Lady Rothes capsized a mile from port with the loss of 2 lives.
It would be remiss of me not to mention that on 28th of April 1970 Jock Stein took his Celtic team to Fraserburgh to play a game in aid of the lifeboat disaster fund the week before their European Cup Final defeat at the hands of Feyernoord.
Now onto the game itself, whilst the original game was postponed due to the cold weather, the club are hopeful tonight's re-match (still live on Sky TV) will go ahead this time despite further weather warnings for snow on the higher ground of various parts of Scotland.
Team-wise where do we start? Will Cummings, Goss, Murphy or Martin continue their introductions into the team? Will Halliday, Dodoo or O'Halloran feature on their return from being frozen out? Probably the only player we have with previous experience of the Bellslea is Ryan Jack who's unlikely to recover from injury and may be out for the rest of the season apparently. Tav and new signing Greg Docherty also both miss out.
We all know what Cummings is capable of as we've been on the receiving end of his skills often enough and his first Rangers goal at the weekend was typical of his confidence. Meanwhile Goss looks a decent tidy player with good delivery especially from dead balls. Murphy knows what its all about and has looked pretty good so far as well, given us some much needed balance on the left hand side. I'd like to see us start with both Cummings and Morelos up front as there's absolutely no reason to play just one up top in this match. We should be going for it and getting the business done early in the game. As such, the only question for me is will it be 4-4-2, 4-3-3 or 3-5-2? In saying that, with a game against Hibs at Ibrox on Saturday, perhaps one or two fringe players may come in.
There's no stand outs in the Fraserburgh team: all being almost local to the north east with a fair amount of Bears (and a few of them) in the side. One Bryan Hay whose last minute penalty secured qualification for Fraserburgh in the last round away against Spartans will no doubt give his usual wholehearted no frills display. I saw him play for Fraserburgh U20's against Rangers U20's at Auchenhowie a few years back and he played well until his sending off (somewhat harshly on that occasion). A few of the Dave Smith Loyal have been trying to get odds on him seeing a red card again on Sunday! One player in the Fraserburgh ranks who has previously been on the victorious side against Rangers is the manager's brother Dean Cowie (one of them) who was in the Peterhead side that beat Rangers 1-2 at Ibrox almost 5 years ago. Let's hope such a shock isn't on the cards tonight!
Possible team (4-4-2 Diamond):
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