Mar 192017
 

By Red Fin Hall.

The match against ‘they who were once contenders’ before Robbie Neilson jumped ship to go to MK. Dons and the young statistician took over, was a game where nothing short of a Dons win would suffice; not just to make it nine home wins in a row, but to rectify a poor recent record of results versus Hearts.

Aberdeen reverted back to the usual suspects in the team fielded, with Mark Reynolds still out injured, Anthony O’Connor retaining his place, and Jayden Stockley back on the bench.

It was a fine but sunny-ish day, with the rain, thankfully, staying off. Hearts won the toss, and decided to kick off towards the Merkland Stand. The match referee was Steven McLean.

The Dons started off in a positive manner, winning two corner kicks in the first minute. Hearts got theirs five minutes in when O’Connor and Esmael Goncalves were involved in the first real tackle of the game.

8 minutes in the home team were awarded their 2nd free kick, a pattern which was set for the whole of the game.

Kenny McLean continued on from the last game, being involved in almost everything that happened on every part of the field. However, he was an unwilling participant in the first booking of the game, when he was chopped down by Alexander Tziolis.

Aberdeen were well at the top of their game, and even this early in the proceedings there was some pretty fine football being played. But, Hearts being Hearts, they interspersed trying to make a game of it with their trademark fouling.

Aberdeen were nearly hit with a sucker punch as the visitors progressed upfield, but some calm defending meant that the shot from Arnaud Djoum never troubled Joe Lewis, and the ball sailed over the bar for a goal kick.
 
Leonard Sowah was the next player to concede a free kick for a foul on Ryan Jack.

With 23 minutes elapsed we saw the best move of the game when Andrew Considine and Niall McGinn showed some skill in passing and possession, with the latter firing a perfect cross from the left side into the 18 yard area to find Shay Logan running across the front of goal and heading the ball into the back of the net.

1-0

McGinn was the executor of the next chance a mere 4 minutes later when he fired a good ball in for Adam Rooney. Rooney couldn’t quite make contact with it and it fell perfectly for Graeme Shinnie. Alas, the best we could get was a corner, which, when taken was too long for anybody.

Next, left back Considine passed forward an almost perfect ball for Hayes, but he wasn’t expecting it and failed to control it.

Hearts found themselves having the ball for a good bit of play until their work was broken up by McLean, who was then fouled for his trouble.

within the first 2 minutes Rooney had the ball in the net

Playing to his usual high standard, Shinnie collected the ball on the edge of the opposition box, turned swiftly and chipped the ball in.

It went over the bar though.

The Dons were a joy to watch, and the goal had obviously knocked the stuffing out of the men from Edinburgh, with Goncalves seemingly giving up on chasing loose balls down to easily.

Meanwhile, McGinn showed again why there may be top clubs after him in the summer, when he aimed for Rooney with a superb ball in from the sideline. The Irish striker was just unable to reach it. Still looking dangerous though.

Sam Nicholson, despite not having a game of the standard you might expect from him, tried running at the Dons defence looking for an equaliser before half time, but his finish was poor and the ball was inches away from clearing the roof of The Merkland Stand.

Just on half time Hearts had another possible goal failing by poor shooting, this time by Goncalves. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway, as the player was adjudged to be offside, although he didn’t know it at the time.

Half time 1-0.
 
The second half kicked off with The Dons attacking, and within the first 2 minutes Rooney had the ball in the net, but the whistle had been blown for offside.
 
57 minutes had passed when Logan took a throw in to Hayes, who passed to McLean who is not shot shy, but couldn’t find the second goal.

Don Cowie, the Hearts captain was booked for a foul on McLean. The free kick went no further than the wall though.

There next followed a catalogue of errors by Hearts starting off when McLean stole the ball off a Hearts player in midfield, but then after getting it back, the Dons forced a slack pass back from Anastasios Avlonitis. Before Hearts’ keeper Jack Hamilton could get to the ball, Jonny Hayes nipped in and collected it.

The keeper made a timing error when he dived at the feet of the onrushing Hayes, missing both the ball and the attacker, making it easy for him to kick the ball into an empty net.

2-0.

The second half continued in such a fashion, with the Dons pushing high upfield and Hearts fouling, mainly McLean, with Jamie Walker getting a yellow card for doing so just after 80 minutes had passed.

Just before that, however, Rooney was substituted and Jayden Stockley came on. The tall forward is more often than not, proven to have a crucial effect on games when he comes off the bench. Today was no different, but time it wasn’t so good. The Hearts players couldn’t quite handle him, and as he tried to break upfield with minutes left to play Krystian Novak, in an attempt to stop him, was pulling him back.

None of the officials saw this, but they did see Stockley foolishly react by swiping back at the player with his hand, making contact with Novak’s face. The Hearts player, unsurprisingly, went down over dramatically. The Dons player was correctly shown a straight red card for his part in the incident.

Dying the time that Novak was being treated for the gentle tap on the face he received, both Shinnie and Hearts substitute, Malaury Martin, were yellow carded for pushing and shoving like petulant schoolboys.

Ryan Christie and Frank Ross both got very minimal run-outs in the last few minutes. The fourth official indicated that three minutes stoppage time would be played, which passed without further incident. The full time whistle went, and Man Of The Match, Kenny McLean must continue to ponder what he has to do to get back into the Scotland squad.

Full time 2-0

Next game is away to Dundee on the last day of the month, before Inverness Caledonian Thistle pay a visit on 4th April.

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Mar 172017
 

With thanks to Martin Ford.

In an initiative by Aberdeenshire’s Democratic Independent and Green councillors Councillor Martin Ford is asking Aberdeenshire Council to ‘give consideration to the feasibility of creating a significant visual arts, museum or other cultural facility as part of its redevelopment of the Harlaw Road site in Inverurie’.

Cllr Ford’s call comes in a notice of motion he has submitted for debate at the next meeting of Aberdeenshire’s Education and Children’s Services Committee on 23 March.

It has only been possible to submit notices of motion for debate at Aberdeenshire Council’s policy committees since 27 January this year when the Council’s new scheme of governance was introduced (previously notices of motion were restricted to Area Committees and full council).

Cllr Ford’s notice of motion says:

“Aberdeenshire Council shall give consideration to the feasibility of creating a significant visual arts, museum or other cultural facility as part of its redevelopment of the Harlaw Road site in Inverurie. The consideration process shall include seeking public views, establishing what external funding sources might be available and discussions with potential partners who may want to be involved (e.g. the local universities).”

Committee chair Cllr Alison Evison has confirmed Cllr Ford’s notice of motion will be included on the agenda for next week’s Education and Children’s Services Committee meeting.

Cllr Ford said:

“The motion doesn’t commit the Council to anything beyond an exploratory process. But it’s an exploratory process we should do, and we need to do it now before the site is master-planned.

“Essentially, the motion asks the Council to think about the possibilities, and have discussions with others. Why would it not do that?

“The motion is deliberately not prescriptive about the kind of facility. That needs to be discussed and a decision emerge from consultation and dialogue.

“Personally, I rather like the idea of an ‘Aberdeenshire Museum’, but that’s clearly just one possibility. I want to see what comes out of the discussion and consultation that I hope results from the motion I have tabled.

“The point is, who would have predicted the V&A going to Dundee? Someone had to suggest it, against all reasonable expectation, and it happened.

“There is certainly room on the Harlaw Road site.

“A major cultural facility would bring significant benefits for the Aberdeenshire economy and tourism. It would also contribute to the quality of life for residents and raise the profile of the area.

“Clearly, funding will be an issue – which is why the motion asks the Council to look at external funding possibilities and open discussions with potential partners as part of an initial exploratory process.”

Cllr Paul Johnston said:

“This is a good idea. At this stage, agreeing the motion does not commit the Council to expenditure, it only opens the door to exciting possibilities.

“The Council should be keen to hear the public’s views.”

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Mar 122017
 

By Red Fin Hall.

A quick return visit from the manager-less Steelmen, but a harder match was to be expected than the 7-2 drubbing we handed out to them on the previous occasion.
Being AFC Community Trust day, a large contingent of children and first timers were in attendance.

The club had said that the Merkland Stand had sold out, but there were enough empty seats to nullify this claim.

With Captain Ryan Jack back from injury, but Andrew Considine joining Mark Reynolds on the injury list, changes were inevitable. Graeme Shinnie slotted into the left back position, whilst Jayden Stockley continued in his up front position with Andrew Rooney.

After a rainy night and morning, it dried up, but it didn’t do anything to help the already sodden pitch.

Referee Euan Anderson blowed whistle as The Don’s kicked off towards the King Street end.

The first free kick of the game was awarded to the home team when Chris Cadden deliberately pulled down Jonny Hayes. Niall McGinn’s free kick was palmed away by keeper Craig Samson.

A good ball from Ash Taylor was received by Adam Rooney who was in plenty of space and had seemingly plenty of time, but the striker unnecessarily rushed the shot and the ball went out for a goal kick.

8 minutes into the match, McGinn collected a pass really well on the right side of the pitch. He then executed a perfect cross for Rooney, but his header was just off target. A minute later Motherwell were awarded the first corner of the game.

The centre pairing of Taylor and Anthony O’Connor were caught napping, but fortunately Motherwell were incapable of cashing in on the error.  

The first booking of the game saw ‘Well defender, Ben Heneghan shown a yellow card for coming back onto the field without permission – after being on the sidelines getting treatment for a head injury.

The pattern for the afternoon was set for Rooney when he managed to steal the ball from Zak Jules and Carl McHugh, then had a shocking ‘un-strikerlike’ attempt at goal.

This bad luck / carelessness continued in the 18th minute, when, not for the first time this season, he attempted to find the back of the net with an overhead kick. This time he didn’t even manage to make contact with the ball.

With Shinnie taking over the left back slot, we were missing somebody at this juncture who could put their foot on the ball in midfield and hold play up for a moment or two to try and alter this tousy game.

Jules, in the spirit of their tactics, conceded a free kick when he clattered Stockley to the ground

Midway through the half, good interplay between Shay Logan, McGinn and Stockley saw Rooney taking the final touch. This time his sharp shot was much more positive, but still couldn’t find the net, the ball going marginal over the bar.

Ryan Bowman became the second player to be booked for deliberately taking down Shinnie after the defender had ran back 30 yards to tackle the ball away from ‘Well number 12, Cadden, who had broken away.

The defence was called into action next when O’Connor took the ball off of  Scott McDonald as he was lining up to take shot. The ball was then worked forward to McGinn whose shot was on target, but well saved by Samson.

Motherwell seemed to have came with a plan to stop the Dons building a rhythm to the game, and it was working successfully. Jules, in the spirit of their tactics, conceded a free kick when he clattered Stockley to the ground 30 yards out.

The half drew to a close with Hayes, McGinn and Stockley nipping away and trying to break down the resilient Steelmen to no avail.

Half time 0-0.

With both teams unchanged from the first half, it was Motherwell who, within 4 minutes of the second, had the first attempt at breaking the deadlock when Scott McDonald, from just outside the goal area, chipped the ball over the defence. However, Joe Lewis was perfectly placed to catch the ball in his arms.

Good persistent play from Stockley saw the tall Englishman winning a corner. The end play from the set piece saw the ball enciphered at the feet of Taylor in a well forward position. The tall defender struck the ball from the left side of the goal mouth at a diagonal angle, going narrowly beyond the far right post near the crossbar.

Kenny McLean was having a really strong game, being involved in most moves. One minute bang in front of the goal winning a corner, next back helping with the defence.

21 minutes into the second half, the visitors made the first change of the game with Ryan Bowman being replace by Jacob Blyth, who was introduced I presume to add some spirit to the Motherwell play.

McLean was in action again in the 62nd minute when he slotted a great ball towards the far post which, with Shinnie just unable to make contact, went over for a goal kick. McLean had another unsuccessful attempt at goal just a minute later .

The final booking of the game, the sixth for the visitors, went to Cadden

Stephen Pearson became the next Motherwell player to fall foul of the ref when he was booked for holding back the pacy Jonny Hayes the Dons winger sprinted goal-ward.

Motherwell were content to waste time and settle for the draw.

Their fourth booking went to Hammel, Captain for the day, who chopped down McGinn.

In the 73rd minute Rooney was replaced by Ryan Christie. Soon after, Hammel was substituted as Elliot Frear came on for Motherwell.

Meanwhile, in between these two substitutions, yet another Motherwell booking was given. This time it was David Ferguson who was the recipient, long overdue, for time wasting.

Stockley received a yellow card with 7 minutes to go. At the same time O’Connor was replaced by Miles Storey as Derek McInnes was determined to get a win. The Dons never-say-die attitude was needed now as time was ticking away.

The game was held up for a while as Stockley and Ferguson received treatment, the 2 players having cracked their heads together in a challenge.

The final booking of the game, the sixth for the visitors, went to Cadden who refused to release the ball for The Dons to take a throw.

It was looking like an undeserved draw was on the cards when fourth official Scott Millar indicated there were 5 minutes of time to be added on.  

In the first of these minutes, Jonny Hayes shot the ball across the area from the left, to the right. McGinn ran into the ball and swept it into to the back of the net, shattering the hardworking but poorly skilled visitors, and sending the home fans into raptures as AFC move 9 points clear in second place.

1-0

The match sponsors bemused the crowd by awarding McGinn the man of the match, whilst ignoring the best player on the pitch, McLean.

Final score 1-0.

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Mar 062017
 

By Red Fin Hall.

After the most one sided, losing game Aberdeen have had for ages, if not ever, against Hamilton last week, The Dons return to Pittodrie to face Partick Thistle in this cup game.
The visitors are on a good winning run at the moment, whilst Aberdeen have lost only 2 of their last 12 games.

It was inevitable Derek McInnes had to change the starting line up for this tough match as the home side have injury problems, with Mark Reynolds out for a good few weeks, as is Ryan Jack.

But Jonny Hayes makes a return, as does Jayden Stockley. Both started the game, as did Peter Pawlett.

It’s been 96 years since the Glasgow club won the cup, whereas it has been 27 years since it came north to Pittodrie. Too long for a team of Aberdeen’s stature. Hopefully this game, their 400th Scottish Cup game will seem them take a step closer to rectifying this statistic. And having lost only one of their home games in all competitions this season, and with all the home teams getting through, they were the favourites to do so.

The pitch was not in great condition as the referee, Craig Thomson got the game under way.

Partick had most of the possession in the first couple of minutes, with Andrew Considine having to be sharp to turn the ball out for the first corner of the game.

From the forthcoming goal kick, the ball went upfield to Stockley, who has scored against the visitors in the last two games. This time, however, he was sufficiently blocked from getting a third. Within the next minute he was back in defence clearing a corner.

Moments later the Dons were on the attack with a good run from Graeme Shinnie. He found Adam Rooney who tried to curl the ball into the top corner, only for it to be saved by Tomas Cerny, with Pawlett running in. 

Abdul Osman was the first player to be penalised after a deliberate body check on Hayes. 

Thistle were awarded a free kick in the 12th minute, When Kris Doolan went down under pressure from Ash Taylor just shy of the home corner flag. Although it was clear to all that the defender never touched him.

McGinn had as shot for goal in minute 14, but it went more than marginally over. Aberdeen were beginning to get more into the game now, but still needed a bit of calmness to break the deadlock.

With just about a quarter of the game gone, a thunderous shot from Niall McGinn from the edge of the box was turned round for a corner by the keeper.

A wild McGinn effort ended up stuck on the roof of The Merkland Stand

A clever move from McGinn after receiving a pass from Shay Logan saw him put a low ball into the box, with Stockley and Adam Rooney lurking, but it was well cut out by Cerny.

The game was stopped in the 32nd minute when Pawlett and Liam Lindsay went down after a clash of heads. Fortunately both were able to continue.

McGinn was causing problems for the Thistle defence, winning a corner after some good link up play with Stockley. From the resultant kick, Rooney headed just over. A minute later the same player headed just over again after The Dons were awarded a free kick for a deliberate hand ball.

Chris Erskine had his name taken by the ref for high feet when he caught Logan on the head during another physical challenge.

A wild McGinn effort ended up stuck on the roof of The Merkland Stand just a few minutes before half time. Some poor touches from Aberdeen players, on a pretty atrocious surface, which has a greater percentage of mud over grass, doesn’t help the game flow.

Just on 43 minutes, a move from Stockley to McGinn, then a neat ball to Shinnie, Captain in the absence of Reynolds, on the edge of the D, saw him receive the ball with one foot, turn and fire the ball low into the net with the other.

1-0.

With no further scoring in the one minute the referee had added on for stoppages, the half time score remained 1-0.

No changes were made by either team as the second half commenced.

The half was barely a minute old when Pawlett was body checked and a free kick was awarded to the Dons. From the kick, Considine got on the end of the ball, stretching out his foot, but the keeper, who was having a good game, made another brilliant save.

it was the Partick Player who came off worse and had to receive treatment

A fantastic touch by Stockley in the Partick box, to an in-running Pawlett, saw the Aberdeen number 16 shoot into the side netting. The tall English striker went down with an injured shoulder on minute 53, but after some treatment he was able to rejoin the play.

The Home team were fair stepping up to the mark now, to try and put this game to bed, and some excellent work by Pawlett saw Rooney having another effort on goal.

A great longish pass from Logan to Rooney on the right wing, saw the forward try to dribble the ball along the bye-line. A corner was his only reward, and Ash Taylor could only head the ball over the bar from the corner kick.

A great run from the unusually quiet Hayes on he left side, saw his ball eventually reach the ever keen Stockley. He gathered and turned quickly causing Cerny to get down and prevent the relatively soft shot from ending up in the back of the net.

With 59 minutes having passed the visitors made the first substitution when Erskine left the field of play and Ade Azeez joining in.

Pawlett was taken out of the game by Daniel Devine for a free kick to Aberdeen on the 67th minute, but and a yellow card. At the same time Osman left the field after falling awkwardly too. Both players were able to continue though.

Niall Kewon for the visitors was the next to get treatment after bashing into the back of Stockley’s head, and suffering a nose bleed. Partick, playing the hard physical and game, were suffering more than the victims of their tough challenges.

Aberdeen made their first change in the 74th minute when the lively Pawlett was replaced by Anthony O’Connor, perhaps with a view to just seeing the match out and ensuring that their name is in the hat for the semi final draw.

With 13 minutes left, McGinn, despite getting pulled by number 15, managed to get a decent cross over, which Cerny got a hand too.

Thistle made another change, when Kevin Nisbet replaced Doolan.

Loan signing, Ryan Christie replaced McGinn

Aberdeen followed suit, by taking off Rooney, who wasn’t at his best, and the more pacier Miles Storey took over in the second forward role.

He immediately got on the end of a pass from Hayes and earned a throw in to the Dons, which Logan took, just in line with the away 18 yard line.

Osman was finally given a yellow card after cynically chopping down Hayes. From the free kick, a magnificent one, O’Connor headed the ball onto the crossbar. So close to number 2.

With minutes to go, Aberdeen, who got the toughest of the 4 quarter final games, are content to just keep the visitors at arm’s length.

Loan signing, Ryan Christie replaced McGinn with just 2 minutes left to play. This happened during the stoppage for Partick to take a corner that Logan had needlessly conceded. Joe Lewis made crucial save to snatch the ball out of the air to set up another Abereen attack.

Five additional minutes to the game were signified by the fourth official. With only one of them gone, Thistle were awarded a free kick just outside the Aberdeen box, on the left side.

Osman headed just over the bar, much to Aberdeen’s relief. But the away fans, plenty of them, thanks to their club providing free buses for them, must be disappointed that it took so long to have a proper effort on the goal.

Devine was then shown the red card when he bundled Stockley into the hoardings. 

Referee Thomson blew for full time just as Hayes was chasing the ball that was hoofed upfield towards the empty Thistle net, because all the away players, Cerny included, were up in the Dons box trying to get the equaliser.

It certainly wasn’t a pretty game, but AFC march onto the last four of this ancient cup competition, and deservedly so.

Final score 1-0.

Shinnie was awarded Man of the match. His elder brother got the same yesterday for Hibs in their win over Ayr United.

Celtic, after beating St Mirren earlier on today, and The Rangers, who romped to victory over a hapless Hamilton yesterday, made up the other three teams in the draw
which ended up with Celtic v The Rangers and Hibs v Aberdeen. Ties to,be played 22nd April.

Next home game v Motherwell, next Saturday.  11-03-17.

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Mar 022017
 

With thanks to Guy Ingerson.

This weekend Scotland learned that the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, and possible future contender for Labour leader, thinks the Scottish Independence movement is on par with the rise of far-right nationalism across Europe and the election of Donald Trump.

While the war of words in both the press and social media raged on, Aberdeen Greens grappled with being lumped in with the likes of the BNP.

Aberdeen Branch Co-Convenor and candidate for George St/Harbour ward Guy Ingerson said:

“Waking up of a morning to see Sadiq Khan compare pro-independence parties like ours with Donald Trump was frankly baffling and enraging. We Greens have been leading the fight against Trump and people like him since our inception. We seek to build bridges between communities, not burn them.

We call for Aberdeen Council and Labour leader Cllr Jenny Laing to clarify if she agrees with Sadiq Khan? Does she really thing pro-independence voters are bigots?”

Branch Co-Convenor and prominent independence campaigner Myshele Haywood said

“The vast majority of the independence movement has been internationalist and opposed to racism. We want an independent Scotland in order to be an example to world of what a sustainable and socially just society can look like. The movements Sadiq Khan is comparing us to are the polar opposite.”

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[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

Mar 022017
 

Aiblins – New Scottish Political Poetry. Reviewed by Duncan Harley

Conceived on the back of the September 2015 post-referendum conference Poetic Politics: Culture and the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum, One Year On at the National Library of Scotland, Aiblins is an anthology of recent work by a diverse range of poets all with connections to Scotland.

Co-edited by Katie Ailes and Sarah Paterson the publication presents as a snapshot of the myriad issues concerning Scotland’s poets today.

The poems are written in many styles and address topics as diverse as Indyref and the decaying remnants of Empire.

With a foreword by Professor David Kinloch and an after-word by New Generational poet Robert Crawford, the collection is firmly book-ended. While David reflects on the contribution Scottish poets are making to the “tumultuous, rapidly evolving nature of contemporary Scottish politics” Robert presents the bard’s dilemma: No poet should be obliged to engage with politics. All poets should be free to do so.

Hugh McMillan’s September 2014 neatly summarises the pro-pre-referendum atmosphere:

‘I am the only person here,
this heady day,
And I am balancing the sun
on one finger,
holding everything at bay
for a dream.

And, in what may be post-referendum mode, The Chair by Glasgow playwright Chris Boyland, reflects on:

‘this little girl who’d sat on the chair and
gone around in it, wherever it went.
But no-one could recall her face or,
when we thought about it, who she was
or even if she’d really been there at all.

My personal favourite is by Orcadian Harry Giles: All the verbs from Glasgow City Council’s New Proposed Management Regulating Public Parks … An Elegy. Even that Glasgow Dreamer, Ivor Cutler, couldn’t have made it up.

Intended to reflect on and record tumultuous events which have taken place alongside our borders in recent years, Aiblins is, says contributor Stewart Sanderson,

“Like Scotland, slightly synthetic and in a state of indecision.”

The reader alone will decide whether the collection is truly worthy of the publisher’s claim that it captures the importance of the arts in shaping modern politics.
Aiblins reflects a wide diversity of views expressed in English, Scots and Gaelic but not in Doric.

Indeed, apart from Mandy Macdonald’s Overheard on a bus in Aberdeen, it’s almost as if the North east portion of Scotland has silently drifted off into the North Sea.

Aiblins (130pp) is published by Luath Press at £8.99   ISBN: 9781910745847  

Words © Duncan Harley , Cover image © Luath Press. First published in the February 2017 edition of Leopard Magazine.

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Mar 022017
 

David Innes reviews ‘The Wren and The Salt Air’ – a new E.P. release by Jenny Sturgeon on Fit Like Records.

In September 2016, commissioned by The National Trust for Scotland, Donside’s own Jenny Sturgeon visited the abandoned North Atlantic Hebridean archipelago, St Kilda, to derive inspiration for a musical release to commemorate this wilderness’s thirtieth anniversary as a World Heritage site.

The Wren and The Salt Air, a four-track EP, inspired by the island’s bird life and history, is the impressive result.

Maintaining the distinctive writing and performance style of recent release From The Skein, Ms Sturgeon imbues haunting Celtic melodies with her trademark natural imagery and unobtrusive, custom-fitted arrangements.

‘Seabird’ is a word painting describing the majestic movement of the colony’s thousands of birds in flight, and at rest, in almost architectural terms, and the title track takes on the vibe of an ancient folk tale, as the juxtaposition of unforgiving weather and the frailty of a tiny St Kilda Wren paints a vivid picture of the stoicism of living creatures “where salt air pinches skin”.  

The bird life of St Kilda assumes co-billing with Jenny, Jonny Hardie and Pete McCallum, to the extent that on the final segment of ‘St Kilda Set’, after some fine, evocative blue-edged Hardie fiddle-led tunes, the local Kittiwake and Leach’s Petrel are given a featured ninety-second solo spot. The St Kilda Wren’s urgent song too, provides unusual but fitting counterpoint to the melody of ‘The Wren and The Salt Air’

With 10% of the profits of the CD sales going to support conservation work on St Kilda, The Wren and The Salt Air is even more worthy of your small investment.

JENNY STURGEON
The Wren and The Salt Air
Fit Like Records

This review was originally posted on the reviewer’s own website www.bluesandmoreagain.com where the old fool gamely attempts to be some sort of tastemaker.

 Links:

www.jennysturgeonmusic.com
www.fitlikerecords.com
www.nts.org.uk/seabirds

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Feb 262017
 

By Red Fin Hall.

It only seems like a few weeks ago that we played Ross County in the Scottish Cup, well funnily enough it was.
That hard fought game is sure to be replicated today.

The last time we played them here, the Dons finished with a 4-0 victory.

Aberdeen’s starting line up was their strongest one – the same players who started the eight game run before Graeme Shinnie was suspended.

It was a glorious and sunny day, but the pitch was anything but ideal when referee, Willie Collum, got the game underway with the visitors kicking off.

Couple of moments into the game when Shay Logan crumbled when bundled to the ground by a Ross County player. A throw in was given.

Great attacking play from the Dons followed when Logan and Hayes linked well, with the latter juggling the ball in the opposition box before utilising an overhead kick to Adam Rooney who couldn’t get high enough to get much purchase on the ball, which went straight into Scott Fox’s arms.

Ross County, playing 5 at the back, we’re working hard as the home team had attempt after attempt, including a chip in by Shinnie, which was easily held by Fox.

Aberdeen, whilst not playing at their best, were intent on trying to get the opening goal, County, were sticking well to their task and thwarting them.

The first booking came in the 22nd minute when Michael Gardyne had his name entered in the referees, book for a foul on Kenny McLean.  A minute later, Dons were another free kick a on the other side of the park which was taken by McGinn, but he totally wasted it and it ended up going for a throw in to the visitors.

A call for a penalty was, rightly, ignored by Collum, when McLean went down in the box.

In the 24th minute County were awarded their first corner, but thankfully, nobody was sharp enough to stick a foot out and it went behind for a goal kick.

Mark Reynolds was the next player to be booked when he fouled Alex Schalk, but when the free  kick was taken by ex Aberdeen player, Paul Quinn, it was totally wasted.

Aberdeen were finding it hard to get to the top of their game, as highlighted when a poor cross by Shinnie was easily intercepted by Gardyne. The Lightning start to the match where the fans were anticipating  a few goals, was replaced by hard graft and team work. They were however finding an out for every ball, as all the men in red were keen to get involved.

A sharp effort was equally matched by a sharp save by Lewis.

35 minutes had passed when Aberdeen were awarded a free kick just inside the opposition half facing towards the Merkland Stand. Taken by Hayes, the ball reached Reynolds who headed it forward to Rooney. His overhead kick however ended up security in the arms of Fox.

Never despairing despite the tight attention of the men from Dingwall, McLean was the next player to try and find away through the stuffy defence. But his fierce and low shot from 20 yards out forced Fox to dive and save.

County had their first real chance of the game when Jason Naismith beat Reynolds and his shot bobbled in front of Joe Lewis who held it at the second attempt.

With 5 minutes left of the first half, Hayes took a free kick on the left side, just 2 ft from the corner post. The goalkeeper punched it clear, and the ball was still in play, but the South Stand linesman had his flag up for offside.

Three minutes after that the ball was up in the Dons’ area and the Highlanders were awarded a free kick just on the edge of the 18 yard line. A sharp effort was equally matched by a sharp save by Lewis.

Just before the half time whistle went, Aberdeen should have been ahead. A fabulous long pass from captain Ryan Jack to Hayes, who shrugged off the challenge of Quinn. He then passed to the usually deadly Rooney, who found himself practically on his own in front of and open goal.

The simplest task to just tap it in seemed to allude him, and instead he fluffed the shot, and if contact was made, it must have been surely marginal, as the ball stopped just 18 inches the other side of him and was a sufficiently simple task for the defence to deal with.

Half time: 0-0.

The second half got underway with Ross County making a change, one that the stadium announcer failed to notify the crowd. Quinn was replaced by number 28, Kenny van der Weg, as manager, Jim Hamilton went to a more traditional four across the back.

It gave them a fair lift, as they started this last 45 much stronger looking.

Ever the master tactician, Derek McInnes decided it was time to make the first change

Although Hayes and Rooney were still a thorn in their side, the visitors were the first to try and break the deadlock just 3 minutes after the resumption of play when Schalk had a go from 25 yards out, forcing Lewis to make a decent save. Hayes was then penalised for tripping that same player shortly afterwards.

Although there wasn’t too much great quality on show, it was a busy game, with first Gardyne, then Hayes shooting wild and wide.

Ash Taylor, who is improving with every game, pulled off a crucial defensive header to cut out a cross from the County sub.

At this juncture the visitors were winning the midfield battle, and still crowding out the middle of the pitch, so something needed done.

Ever the master tactician, Derek McInnes decided it was time to make the first change. Jayden Stockley, the sub who has come on it the preceding two games and scored, was not available today. Whether the omission was tactical or as the result of a chest infection due to getting a draft when his shirt was ripped last week, I am unsure.

Anyway, Miles Storey was the player that came on. He replaced Mark Reynolds. Thus the team was altered to play three at the back, with Hayes and McGinn acting as attacking wing-backs. Storey added another option up front, and his pace was useful.

The Dons were awarded a corner in the 71st minute, and the determination of McLean in the aftermath of that set piece proved crucial. His determined play and his low powerful shot, coupled with slack defending from captain Andrew Davies, meant it was a simple task for Rooney to touch the ball into the net for his 17th goal of the season and, what ended up being the winner for Aberdeen.

1-0

That was the signal for Ross County to ring the changes, with Tim Chow and Craig Curran being substituted and Jim O’Brien and Milan Lalkovic taking to the field.

Shortly thereafter McGinn went off and Anthony O’Connor went straight into defence when he came on, and with only 4 minutes of regulation time remaining, Hayes was taken off and Peter Pawlett came on to help run the game down.

There were three minutes added on at the end, and the only thing of note was that Rooney made a good breakaway and slotted the ball to Storey, but his ball was high, wide and anything but handsome.

Full Time: Aberdeen 1 Ross County 0

Next home game is the Scottish a Cup Quarter Final v Partick  Thistle on Sunday 5/02/17 when, incidentally, the latest edition of The Red Final goes on sale.
Before that however there is an away trip to Hamilton to contend with on Tuesday.

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Feb 242017
 

With thanks to Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP.

Tory councillors in the North-east of Scotland have rejected plans to offer businesses rates relief for the second time in under a week – after the Tory-led Moray administration recently threw out an SNP amendment encouraging the Moray Council to follow Aberdeenshire’s lead in offering local business rates relief.

SNP councillors in Aberdeenshire last week passed a budget allocating £3 million for a local business rates relief scheme, to help those that have seen larger rates revaluations and are feeling the effects of the downturn in the north east economy.

SNP councillors in Moray had tabled an amendment to the Tory-led budget in Moray suggesting a similar scheme, but this was rejected by Tory councillors, including part-time-MSP-come-referee-come-councillor Douglas Ross.

On the same day as Ruth Davidson has reportedly stated that businesses are “staring down the barrel of a gun” due to changes to business rates, the actions of Tory councillors clearly demonstrated they are more interested in opportunistic soundbites rather than providing firms with meaningful support when they have the powers to do so.

Commenting, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, Stewart Stevenson, said:

“This is quite astonishing from the Tory-led administration in Moray. They have not stopped criticising the Scottish Government for the changes to business rates, yet they refuse to use the powers that they have at a local level to provide firms with meaningful support.

“It is clear that Ruth Davidson’s Tories are only interested in scoring political points rather than actually providing any support to the businesses they have claimed to support in recent weeks.

“Voters across Moray and Aberdeenshire aren’t daft, and they’ll have seen Douglas Ross and others leading the chorus against changes to businesses rates, before he voted today to prevent businesses from receiving substantial support. Their opposition has been proven to be nothing more than crocodile tears.

“The Tories ought to be ashamed of themselves – and their actions won’t be forgotten by voters in Aberdeenshire, Moray and beyond when they go to the polls in May.”

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Feb 242017
 

With thanks to Martin Ford.

Aberdeenshire Council should not hand public money to billionaire Donald Trump to reduce his tax bill.

That is the view of Aberdeenshire Green candidate Richard Openshaw (pictured), who is standing in the West Garioch ward at the Council election on 4 May.

Mr Openshaw is concerned because, following rates revaluation, Aberdeenshire Council has set aside up to £3 million for a business rates transitional relief scheme, and the ‘hospitality sector’ has been identified as particularly in need of assistance.

Although he no longer administers it, President Trump, self-proclaimed billionaire, has retained ownership of Trump International Golf Links and the associated hotel at Menie, a business that could potentially receive some of this relief .

“I strongly support the proposal for a business rates transitional relief scheme for Aberdeenshire,” said Mr Openshaw.

“There is certainly a need for a scheme of this kind. But the Council must target its help towards those genuinely in need, the cases where the revaluation is resulting in hardship.

“It would surely be completely inappropriate for Aberdeenshire Council to distribute public money to Mr Trump, who certainly doesn’t need or deserve it,” said Mr Openshaw.

No details of Aberdeenshire’s rates relief scheme are yet available so it is not known what criteria will be used to decide the distribution of funds, nor which Aberdeenshire businesses might benefit. Council officers are working up proposals to put before the full council meeting on 9 March.

“Whatever scheme Aberdeenshire comes up with, the Council should not be helping out Mr Trump with his tax bill,” Mr Openshaw said.

“I do not believe public money should be used to subsidise a billionaire, especially given that paying business rates is one of the very few economic benefits the UK has ever got from Mr Trump.”

Mr Trump’s dislike of paying taxes is well known. During a presidential campaign debate with his Democrat opponent Hillary Clinton in September 2016, he claimed that not paying federal taxes “makes me smart”. Indeed, Mr Trump does not pay corporation tax on his businesses in Scotland.

“Very few people would see Mr Trump as a deserving recipient of public money from Aberdeenshire Council,” said Aberdeenshire Green councillor Martin Ford.

The Sunday Herald newspaper reported its view that Mr Trump is unlikely to benefit from the rates relief scheme which it says Aberdeenshire Council is designing to target assistance to small businesses.

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