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  • Graeme McIver


Gala Fairydean Rovers 2

Heats XI 0

A crowd of just under 500 witnessed Gala Fairydean Rovers lift their first piece of silver-ware as the triumphed over a young Hearts XI. Captain Billy Miller lifted the inaugural Alfie Conn Memorial Cup after his side won by two goals to nil. The game was arranged to pay tribute to Alfie Conn, a legendary figure at both Tynecastle as a player and Netherdale as a player and manager.

Gala got off to the perfect start when in just 5 minutes Jack Hay slammed a shot beyond Kelby Mason in the Hearts goal following good work by Scott Main down the left side of midfield. This early set-back galvanised Jon Daly’s young charges and they began to exert sustained pressure on the Fairydean Rovers goal. Alistair Roy flashed a shot just wide of the post before Gala’s trialist keeper Mark Walters made a superb save to deny Andy Irving. The youngster looked odds on to score but the big keeper somehow managed to palm the ball onto the bar. Minutes later the keeper was beaten by Bulgarian Alex Petkov’s drive but last season’s young player of the year Ben Herdman managed a last gasp goal-line clearance.

Steven Noble’s men knew they were lucky to still be in front at half time but they emerged after the interval determined to hold onto their lead. Billy Miller thought he had scored against his former club just after the hour but Petkov cleared his looping header that had evaded the hearts keeper. Substitute Ashley Langford sealed the win for the home-side in 77 minutes when he was quickest to react in the 6 yard area after his initial drive from a Hagen Steele cross had been blocked by the Hearts defence.

Following the full-time whistle the new silver trophy was presented to the victorious Gala team by guest of honour Alfie Conn Junior, himself a famous Scottish footballer and International who had spells at both Old firm clubs, Tottenham Hotspur and Hearts. The cup will be played for each time Hearts send a team down the A7 to Netherdale.

Speaking after the game Hearts Director of Football Craig Levein stated, “Alfie Conn is a famous name in Hearts folklore and when we were asked to play for a cup in honour of Alfie we gladly accepted. This is our development team but with all the changes in Scottish football lately like the loan system and the inclusion in senior cups they need to be able to play against teams like Gala Fairydean Rovers.”

A delighted Steven Noble said, “We want to build a team here that will regularly compete and win trophies so this isn’t a bad start to the new season. I thought the performance was much better than the previous week when we lost to Airdrie. Our back three and our goalkeeper were excellent and I thought our midfield put in a great shift to contain a really good young Hearts side.”

Gala Fairydean Rovers: M Walters, L Stephen (R Clapperton 46), s Main, M Allan, G Windrum, B Herdman, D Smith (D Sutherland 59), B Miller, S Noble (A Langford 59) J Hay (H Steele 71), K Collins (G Robinson 59).

Heart of Midlothian: K Mason (trialist 46), J Brandon, A Reid (C Hamilton 68), D Baur, K Smith (L Jones 46), A Petkov, I Smith (R Young 59), H Pato

n (Y Vladislav 68), R McLean, A Irving (M Leonard 73) A Roy (J Gillan 68).

Picture by Raymond Hume

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