Season 2006-07

Season 2006-07 was, unfortunately, another case of what might have been for Vale. Failure to gain promotion was particularly galling given the poor standard of the East of Scotland First Division, with only winners Dalbeattie Star standing out among a bunch of mediocre or inconsistent teams. Despite posting some impressive results, Vale collected maximum points from home league fixtures on only four occasions out of ten – a factor which contributed to the Innerleithen side passing up their best chance of regaining a Premier Division place since relegation three years previously.

The squad was virtually identical to last season’s, with striker Rory Mair lining up for the first two months of the season before joining the Marines. Ross McManus was missing the same amount of time while filling a soccer coaching position in USA, while Scott Johnston and Lewis Montgomery missed a significant chunk of the action due to injuries. Gary Whitehead, Darren Combe and Mark Malone, who had all taken part in games toward the end of the previous campaign signed on, as did new faces Greg McBeth and Stephan Wilson, while ex-Craigroyston goalkeeper Ross Combe replaced Colin Garvie. Assistant manager Jocky Taylor was almost like signing a new player – expected to be used only as emergency cover, he became a regular in the side at sweeper after some outstanding performances during pre-season friendlies.

The most significant pre-season game came against a Motherwell Under-21 side. Basing themselves at Peebles Hydro, they played the newly formed Peebles Football Club – a merger of Peebles Rovers, Peebles Thistle and Peebles Sports Club – at Whitestone Park and then Vale the next evening. With first team manager Maurice Malpas looking on, ‘Well followed their 3-0 win the previous evening with a 6-2 victory at Victoria Park as superior fitness levels proved the difference in the second half. Vale took the lead twice through Lewis Montgomery and Mark Malone, only for John McGeough and David Gormley to equalise for the visitors. After the break, the SPL side forced the pace of the game up a notch and scored four goals in a nine minute spell. Another strike from Gormley was followed by a brace from the impressive Jamie Murphy and Craig Gupwell completed the scoring.

The East of Scotland League Cup, which gained sponsorship in the shape of Colin Campbell Sports, again provided the season’s curtain raiser. A slightly changed format saw groups of three arranged along roughly regional lines playing each other home and away. Vale’s group games – and the season – got off to a superb start with a victory in the home match against Preston Athletic. The Premier Division team opened the scoring in the 17th minute as centre-half Craig Scott headed home a corner. Vale’s equaliser also came from a corner as Darren Combe’s flick on found Greg McBeth at the back post, who controlled the ball superbly before drilling it home. In the second half, Vale dictated the pace of the game and scored what proved to be the winning goal ten minutes into the second period when a quick break caught Preston out, leaving Rory Mair to round the keeper and slot home. But this proved to be the only three points of Vale’s League Cup campaign, as three straight defeats followed home and away to Easthouses Lily and in the return at Pennypit Park.

The East of Scotland League had also attracted new sponsorship – Tyreman, providers of software solutions to the tyre & exhaust industry. Vale got off to a good start with maximum points from their first two games, but lost ground to fellow promotion hopefuls Coldstream and Edinburgh Athletic. First Division pace-setters Dalbeattie arrived at Victoria Park with a 100% record after six matches and a goal difference of +21, only to return home having suffered what would turn out to be the only defeat of their league campaign.
Holding onto a lead seemed to be a problem though. A Mark Brown double put Vale in the driving seat against Kelso United, but strikes from Gary Mabon and Alan Tait clawed a point back for the Tweedsiders, who could well have gone on to win. Discipline was a major factor at Netherdale as a Mike MacKale goal gave Vale the lead, who looked good for the points until midfielder Raymond Fleming got himself needlessly sent off for dissent. Encouraged by their numerical advantage, Fairydean pressed forward with Jay Wilson hitting the equaliser before Welsh Curran wasted a late opportunity to win the game for Gala. The visit to Fernieside saw Vale race into a three-goal lead by half time, but were left clinging on as the improving Tynecastle side pulled two goals back in the second period. Seven days later, Peebles FC made their first visit to Innerleithen, and the game looked to be heading for a 0-0 draw until Greig Shortreed popped up in injury time to net the winner for the visitors.

In the Scottish Qualifying Cup, Vale could hardly have been handed a better First Round draw – at home to Newton Stewart, generally regarded as the weakest side in the competition. Vale went ahead courtesy of an early penalty converted by Scott Johnston, and Greg McBeth touched home a Robbie Clark cross on the half hour mark to double the lead. The Creesiders got a boost just before half time as David Hislop scrambled home a goal, but found themselves reduced to ten men in 63 minutes as Danny Hair received a second yellow card. Robbie Clark wrapped things up for Vale, smashing home a free kick in 72 minutes.

Vale knew they faced a far stiffer test in the Second Round, with Edinburgh University the visitors to Victoria Park. The students had not qualified for the Scottish Cup since 1973, and, with a strong squad at their disposal, felt that this would be their year. Jamie Redman put the capital side in front on 20 minutes, heading home a cross from the impressive George Nikolaidis and Steven Maxwell increased their lead 15 minutes later, shooting home from a tight angle. Vale, badly missing influential midfielders Craig Dickson and Scott Johnston, seemed completely overwhelmed by the movement and organisation of the students, who appeared far more motivated than their hosts. Five minutes into the second period, University notched a third when Vale lost possession to the veteran Neil Irvine, and his quick ball into the box was met by the unmarked Andy Howat, who steered his header into the net. It was a richly deserved victory for ‘Burgh, and their first Scottish Cup campaign in 33 years proved them to be fantastic ambassadors for East of Scotland football, defeating Highland League side Keith 2-1 in the First Round, before putting up a good show in defeat against SFL team Cowdenbeath in the Second Round.

The first league fixture of the new year was to prove significant in Vale’s promotion ambitions. Coldstream sat in second place nine points ahead of Vale, who had a game in hand. The windy conditions at Home Park had a big influence on the game, in which Coldstream took the lead through David Brown in the 13th minute. Craig Dickson equalised for Vale on the hour mark, but a minute later the home side re-took the lead as a goal mouth scramble ended with Darren Gillon forcing the ball home to loud appeals from the Vale players that the decisive touch had been with his hand. As if the controversy surrounding the goal wasn’t enough, a group of Coldstream players celebrated victory at the final whistle by taunting their opponents. Vale manager Stuart Robertson, an ex-Coldstream boss and a great believer in always showing respect for opponents no matter the result, later made clear his disappointment at the Streamers lack of sportsmanship in the local press.

The Image Printers Cup draw paired Vale again with Scottish Qualifying Cup opponents Edinburgh University. Vale once more failed to perform on the day, as ‘Burgh repeated their Qualifying Cup victory scoreline with ease. A Michael Hazeldine penalty in the 9th minute set them on their way, and Vale suffered a major blow to their game plan five minutes later as Craig Dickson was red-carded for raising his hands to an opponent. Further strikes from James Hair and Jack Beesley sealed the victory.

Vale faced a fascinating First Round tie in the King Cup – a home tie against Peebles. With Peebles having taken the honours in the league meeting a couple of months previously, it was an early chance for revenge and a pulsating derby saw Lewis Montgomery open the scoring for Vale in the 20th minute, and Greg McBeth double the lead shortly after half time. It looked as if Vale were comfortably heading for the next round, until ten minutes from the end of regulation time when Peebles were awarded a penalty, camly converted by Gavin Tainsh. A grandstand finish saw Kevin Brocklehurst head home the equaliser for Peebles, but Vale substitute Laurie Flynn, recently recruited from Hawick Royal Albert, couldn’t have chosen a better time to score his first goal for the club, firing home three minutes into injury time.

The win set up a Second Round meeting with Lothian Thistle – the first time Vale had been drawn away from home in a cup tie since facing Kelso United at Woodside Park over two years previously. On that occasion, the Vale line-up featured players Mel Graham and Neil Ewart, both of whom had since joined the Saughton outfit. Graham had started the season at Berwick Rangers, but had been released in January after an injury ravaged six months and had expressed a desire to return to Vale. But, thanks to a phone message not being passed on, no agreement was reached and the big midfielder joined Thistle. Ewart stayed on the bench as Thistle gave some fringe players a chance, but Graham played a significant part, firing home the opener. Vale equalised against the run of play just before half time through Ross McManus and took the lead in the second period as Mark Brown curled in a superb free kick. But within a couple of minutes Phil O’Neil had brought Lothian level and a penalty awarded after Darren Combe had felled Stephen Clee in the area was inevitably dispatched by Graham.

Back in the league, a difficult trip to Dalbeattie was made all the more difficult as the team were denied the services of several key players. Craig Dickson, Greg McBeth, Mike MacKale and Stephan Wilson were unavailable, while Darren Combe had fallen victim to shingles, Jocky Taylor a knee injury and captain Robbie Clark found himself sidelined with one of football’s less conventional injuries after having been bitten by a dog. Among those that did make it, several had been laid low all week with a virus, and not surprisingly, it took Dalbeattie all of 35 minutes to finish the match, goals from Jack Steele in the 17th and 23rd minute followed by a Paul Cook strike as Star found their way through Vale’s scratch side with ease.

What had seemed like a lost cause suddenly got interesting as Coldstream began to wobble in their quest to gather the points that would ensure them promotion – a draw against Eyemouth United was followed by losses to Peebles, Gala Fairydean and Edinburgh Athletic. For Vale, wins over Eyemouth, Kelso and Edinburgh Athletic were countered by a stalemate at Peebles and once again throwing a lead away to draw with Gala Fairydean. This meant that Coldstream went into their final match needing at least a point against Tynecastle, who were ending the season in a rich vein of form. As it turned out, they got the win that sealed promotion and rendered Vale’s last two matches meaningless.

Despite the chance of promotion now gone, Vale handed out their second 11-0 thrashing of the season to Hawick Royal Albert to secure third place. Four goals from Mark Brown helped the midfielder finish not only Vale’s top scorer, but top scorer in the East of Scotland League.The goal rush also contributed to Vale ending the season the highest goal scorers in the First Division – and level on 62 goals with EoSL champions Annan Athletic, although the Premier Division side had played two league games more.

2006-07 Results
Tyreman East of Scotland First Division
16/08/06 Ormiston
(A)
2-1
Dickson, Brown
26/08/06 Tynecastle
(H)
2-0
Herbert, Brown
09/09/06 Coldstream
(H)
2-3
Mair, Johnston (pen)
14/10/06 Edinburgh Athletic
(H)
2-3
Ron Fleming, Brown
21/10/06 Dalbeattie Star
(H)
3-0
Brown, Dickson, Ray Fleming
28/10/06 Kelso United
(H)
2-2
Brown 2
04/11/06 Eyemouth United
(A)
8-1
Dickson, Ray Fleming, Whitehead, Brown 3, MacKale, Malone
18/11/06 Gala Fairydean
(A)
1-1
MacKale
02/12/06 Tynecastle
(A)
3-2
MacKale, og (M. Scott), Dickson
09/12/06 Peebles
(H)
0-1
16/12/06 Hawick Royal Albert
(A)
11-0
MacKale 4 (1 pen), McBeth 3 (1 pen), Brown 2, Dickson, Clark
27/01/07 Coldstream
(A)
1-2
Dickson
03/02/07 Eyemouth United
(H)
6-1
Dickson 2, MacKale, Wilson, Brown 2 (1 pen)
17/03/07 Peebles
(A)
0-0
31/03/07 Kelso United
(A)
3-2
McBeth, Flynn, Montgomery
07/04/07 Dalbeattie Star
(A)
1-3
Malone
14/04/07 Edinburgh Athletic
(A)
3-2
Montgomery, Dickson, Clark
21/04/07 Gala Fairydean
(H)
2-2
og (Dunn), McBeth
03/05/07 Hawick Royal Albert
(H)
11-0
Dickson 4, Brown 4, MacKale 2, Montgomery
09/05/07 Ormiston
(H)
1-2
MacKale
Tennent’s Scottish Qualifying Cup (South)
First Round
16/09/06 Newton Stewart
(H)
3-1
Johnston (pen), McBeth, Clark
Second Round
30/09/06 Edinburgh University
(H)
0-3
Colin Campbell Sports East of Scotland League Cup
Round One – Section 5
12/08/06 Preston Athletic
(H)
2-1
McBeth, Mair
19/08/06 Easthouses Lily
(A)
1-2
Johnston (pen)
02/09/06 Preston Athletic
(A)
1-3
og (Costello)
23/09/06 Easthouses Lily
(H)
0-3
Section 2 Table
Played
0Won0
Drawn
0Lost0
0For0
Against
0GD0
Points
1
Easthouses Lily (Q)
4
3
1
0
10
5
+5
10
2
Preston Athletic
4
1
1
2
8
8
=
4
3
Vale of Leithen
4
1
0
3
4
9
-5
3
Image Printers East of Scotland Qualifying Cup
Second Round
17/02/07 Edinburgh University
(H)
0-3
King Cup
First Round
24/02/07 Peebles
(H)
3-2
Montgomery, McBeth, Flynn
Second Round
10/03/07 Lothian Thistle
(A)
2-3
McManus, Brown
2006-07 Tyreman East of Scotland League First Division – Final Standings
Pos
Team
Played
Won
Drawn
Lost
Goals For
Goals Against
Goal Difference
Points
1
Dalbeattie Star (Champions)
20
16
3
1
62
18
+44
51
2
Coldstream (Promoted)
20
12
4
4
52
29
+23
40
3
Vale of Leithen
20
10
4
6
64
28
+36
34
4
Gala Fairydean
20
10
4
7
43
33
+10
31
5
Tynecastle
20
8
6
6
35
31
+4
30
6
Edinburgh Athletic
20
8
3
9
28
37
-9
27
7
Peebles
20
6
7
7
30
30
=
25
8
Kelso United
20
7
3
10
28
24
+4
24
9
Eyemouth United
20
7
1
11
27
58
-31
22
10
Ormiston
20
5
5
10
26
36
-10
20
11
Hawick Royal Albert
20
1
1
18
17
89
-72
4
2005-06 Full Results
C’strm
DalSt
EdAth
EyeUtd
GalaF
HRA
KelUtd
Orm
Peebs
Tyne
VoLĀ 
Coldstream
2-2
0-0
1-1
2-4
11-0
1-0
3-1
3-1
1-1
2-1
Dalbeattie Star
4-0
4-0
3-0
1-0
6-2
3-1
2-1
4-0
3-0
3-1
Edinburgh Athletic
3-2
2-2
2-0
3-2
1-3
2-0
1-1
2-1
1-0
2-3
Eyemouth United
2-6
0-7
3-1
2-1
2-1
0-3
5-3
1-0
1-4
1-8
Gala Fairydean
1-2
1-4
3-1
5-2
3-1
2-1
4-2
3-3
0-2
1-1
Hawick Royal Albert
1-4
1-5
1-2
2-4
0-5
0-1
0-2
3-3
1-2
0-11
Kelso United
0-1
2-3
2-1
3-0
0-0
4-0
0-1
0-1
1-2
2-3
Ormiston
1-4
0-3
1-0
1-1
1-2
5-0
0-3
2-2
0-2
1-2
Peebles
2-0
0-1
4-0
1-2
3-2
3-1
0-1
0-0
3-3
0-0
Tynecastle
2-5
2-2
3-1
1-0
0-2
4-0
2-2
1-1
2-2
2-3
Vale of Leithen
2-3
3-0
2-3
6-1
2-2
11-0
2-2
1-2
0-1
2-0
Goalscorers 2006-07
Total
Player

EoSL
First
Division

Scottish Qualifying Cup
EoS League CupĀ 
Image Printers
Cup
King Cup
18
Mark Brown
17
1
13
Craig Dickson
13
11
Mike MacKale
11
8
Greg McBeth
5
1
1
1
4
Lewis Montgomery
3
1
3
Robbie Clark
2
1
3
Scott Johnston
1
1
1
2
Raymond Fleming
2
2
Laurie Flynn
1
1
2
Rory Mair
1
1
2
Mark Malone
2
1
Ronald Fleming
1
1
Neal Herbert
1
1
Ross McManus
1
1
Gary Whitehead
1
1
Stephan Wilson
1
3
OG
2
1
2006-07 Player Appearances (Sub Appearances) Mark Malone Mid 4 (8)
Graeme Markham
Def
3 (4)
Mark Brown
Mid
28
Raymond Fleming
Mid
18 (4)
Greg McBeth
Fwd
18 (7)
Robbie Clark
Mid
24 (1)
Ronald Fleming
Def
13 (5)
Ross McManus
Def/Mid
18 (1)
Darren Combe
Def
27
Laurie Flynn
Fwd
4 (7)
Lewis Montgomery
Fwd
14 (5)
Ross Combe
Gkpr
18
Colin Garvie
Gkpr
8
John Sanders
Def
14 (1)
John Cooper
Def
1
Neal Herbert
Mid
3 (3)
Jock Taylor
Def
17
Jack Diamond
Fwd
(2)
Scott Johnston
Def/Mid
11 (1)
Gary Whitehead
Def
21 (2)
Craig Dickson
Mid
20 (3)
Michael MacKale
Fwd
14 (7)
Mark Wilson
Gkpr
1
Stuart Duncan
Gkpr
2 (1)
Rory Mair
Fwd
7 (1)
Stephan Wilson
Mid
12 (5)