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Following last weekends victory at Longside in the GA Engineering Cup Andy Finlay sat down with General Manager, Mark Johnson as the big Scottish Junior Cup Quarter Final approaches.

A good win up at Longside in the G A Engineering Cup, what are thoughts on that ?

It may seem daft with the Talbot game getting ever closer but last weekend was a big game for the club. At the start of the season I sat down with the manager and we looked at targets , the main priority, as always, was staying in the Super League but just behind was winning the G A Cup. It’s a local competition that we should be looking at getting to the latter stages of every season. With the draw already being made we knew that if we were to beat Longside, we would set up a home Quarter Final against Jeanfield Swifts, if we were to then win that, we would be at home again in the Semi Finals to Stonehaven or Forfar West End. We have completed part one, now on to part two.

The manager made some changes, rotating the squad but it was still a dominant performance

Yes it was but for me the highlight was the return of Jamie Robbie and above all Ryan Roche after long term injuries. Both guys have suffered over the last few months and Jamie especially has been itching to get back between the posts, both players did well and it was unfortunate that the weather put paid to the video highlights as the big mans strike to put us in the lead was really special.

Moving on, this is a massive week for the club with the Junior Cup Quarter Final against Auchinleck on Saturday

Without doubt this is the biggest game for the club for many years, living across the water in Fife means I lose track of what’s going on in the town but everyone tells me that there is a real buzz in Carnoustie about the game, that is backed up by the numbers booking hospitality etc. Planning for the game started as soon as the draw was made, well after I had picked myself up off the floor, we are expecting a massive crowd so we had to put contingencies in place, extra catering, extra facilities as well as a traffic plan so we don’t disrupt the town too much. We have had a great deal of assistance from the East Region of the SJFA, Carnoustie Panmure Community Football Club, D J Laing Group and Police Scotland, touch wood, everything has dropped in to place nicely.

As well as being a chance for the club to make history, there must be a financial benefit.

Definitely and don’t worry there is no truth in the rumour that our Finance Director, Mike Bell has gone on holiday to Egypt on the back of it. Seriously a game of this magnitude is an absolute god send to us as a club, yes we have to split the gate with Auchinleck but all the add-ons mount up as well, such as food, programmes and raffle. It also gives the club a chance to show itself off to the people of Carnoustie that wouldn’t normally come to the games.

You spoke about the financial benefits of this game and it couldn’t come at a better time, however, other clubs don’t have a Scottish Junior Cup Quarter Final and are struggling due to the bad weather, this has led to calls for a move to a summer calendar, what are your thoughts on that ?

We are a forward thinking club and acknowledge that the game has to change if it is to continue and evolve, however, I am a traditionalist, I believe that football is a winter game and where possible should be played on grass. I know that some clubs have moved to artificial surfaces and others are looking at it to increase the flow of money but I believe that games should be contested on grass. I was brought up in a time where games were played on mudbaths, I went to a game where the penalty spot had to be re-painted as it had disappeared but that’s when it was a working mans game and TV revenue etc was irrelevant. This has carried down to our level too, Summer football in my opinion is not the answer, when I was at St Andrews United we looked at the pro’s and con’s of a summer calendar and I spoke to clubs in Wales and Ireland where leagues had switched to summer and the results were far from positive. Impact injuries were up, knee injuries were up, the condition of pitches deteriorated rather than improved because they were so dry, games had been postponed because pitches were flooded after heavy rain showers on hard pitches. When would these pitches be worked on to improve them ? we spend a month every year where our pitch at Laing Park is worked on during the summer, how would we do that if the “closed season” was November to March ? No Summer football is not for me, however, we do need to evolve the game and that’s what our governing body should be looking at doing and helping the clubs.

Finally, a prediction for Saturdays game ?

I don’t do predictions but I hope everybody enjoys the game and a positive result for The Gowfers would be very nice thank you

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