Scottish football has great roots on the Islands.

Driving into Back, just north of Stornaway on the Isle of Lewis you pass a modern sports complex that also houses Back FC. On reaching where we were staying I looked up Back FC to find that in 20 minutes time they were playing in the Jock Stein Cup final. I was off, but realised that they would not be at home so on checking it was Goathill Park Stornaway bound. Luckily the game was delayed by a few minutes with a queue of people at the gate.

Inside a crowd of getting on for 300 had made it a great feat considering that Back’s opponents were Ness FC an hour and a half away right at the Northern tip of the Outer Hebridies. I spoke to a Ness supporter who filled me in on who was who and that Back were favourites having beaten Ness in a recent Highland Cup game.

Back and Ness play in the Lewis and Harris League.

Back are a volunteer run community club playing at the local Community Centre which along with their grass pitch has a community gym, indoor sports hall, 3 G pitch and golf range. The football club runs teams of all ages and abilities. The club have been going since 1933 and won numerous cup and league titles.

Ness FC were formed in the same year and have perhaps a more successful past winning many trophies.

Back FC 3 Ness FC 1

Friday 19th May 2023 19.00 pm

Goathill Park, Stornaway, Lewis. Jock Stein Cup Final.

Back FC, Yellow shirts blue shorts, Ness FC, White shirts and shorts with light orange stripe down shirt sleeves and side of shorts.

My was car abandoned in a side street, like everyone else’s. I rushed to the ground for my first ever Scottish football match. The teams kicked off as I found a space on the perimeter fence at Goathill. The ground is on top of a hill as the name says and the moist wind blew across the pitch. Grey clouds scuttled past with the wind moving them on quickly so each rain burst was only small. The grass had been cut very short but still some daisies poked through and overall the playing surface looked good with a slight slope from end to end.

Back were off to a fast start watched by a lone soaring seagull who seemed like a drone filming the game. It was no surprise when after 8 minutes they went ahead when some skillful running òn the left by Joel Martin produced a cross goal ball that was deflected in off a Ness defender, Cailean Macleod. They kept up the pressure playing some slick, quick passing and dribbling.

The referee and linesmen were miked up and well on top of the game. The referee stood for no swearing or arguing and even blew up for a foul throw, something you so rarely see even though it happens more than once in most games I watch.

There were no more goals by half time and a large contingent of children invaded both ends for shooting practice into the goals.

Rain greeted the start of the second half but again only in small showers as Ness seemed to be getting stuck in more. Their tenseness of the first half had disappeared but the game drifted into a dull midfield battle. The Back forwards were still getting themselves into good positions but their shyness to shoot and Ness’s very competent goalkeeper kept the score at 1 nill.

The pressure started to build on the Ness goal and on 68 minutes Back went two ahead when a corner from the right was expertly met by Chris Macleod as his bullet header hit the net.

Ness now tried hard to get back in the game and after Back’s goalkeeper, Peel, had made two point blank saves Ness were awarded a penalty.
Unfortunately for Ness, Lee Johnson’s penalty was saved. This didn’t stop their pressure and with 10 minutes left of the game they had their reward when a through ball was miss headed backwards over the advancing keeper for an own goal, this time to Ness.

Their efforts came to nothing though as Back wrapped the game up on 88 minutes with a goal fro Joel Martin. Joel Martin had looked quick all night and ran past a defender on the left cut inside and slammed the ball home for a deserved 3.1 win.

This was a great game of football, competitive to the end with some really good skills on show.

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