IJsmutsen Veterans Tournament
27 January 2008 Oss, Netherlands

Scottish Thistles travelled to Oss for a social weekend, taking part in the IJsmutsen Veterans Tournament for the second year in succession on the Sunday. The original plan to travel with a full squad was dashed first by Ben Johnson (on loan from Wales over 60s) being called offshore at the last minute and by goalkeeper Guy Leighton's broken wrist, sustained in a club match just two days before the team was due to travel. As a result, neither illness nor injury was acceptable as an excuse for not playing.

The goalkeeping problem was overcome with some European assistance, Johann Herbert of Alliance and Adrian of Oss stepping in until the final fixture, when 87 year old George Dunbar heroically volunteered to put on the goalkeeping kit.

Scottish Thistles squad Oss January 2008

Back Row: George Dunbar, Mitchinson, Cassell (C), Aird, Downie, di Rollo, Philip,
Front Row: Conkie, Tucker, White, McIntosh, Adrian (stand in goalkeeper from Oss), Forster

There were two friendly matches against Oss on the Saturday, both closely matched encounters. The first ended in a 1-0 defeat and it looked as if Thistles had gained revenge in the second match when Johann in goals stepped over the ball, believing it had not been touched by an attacker in the circle. Unfortunately, the umpire did not share his view and gave the goal, equalising Mitchison's goal for Scottish Thistles.

The second pool of the IJmutsen tournament contained two mini leagues of three teams. Scottish Thistles faced NHC, the touring team of Netherlands over 65s and Rapidity VSOP, a team with a number of much younger veterans. Rapidity, the eventual winners of the tournament, proved much to speedy for the Scots and ran out 4-0 winners, but Thistles qualified second when Dave McIntosh scored the only goal of the game against NHC to win 1-0.

The over 60s teams then took things into their own hands. Rather than subjecting themselves to inevitable heavy defeats for tired over 60s against younger opponents, Alliance persuaded the organisers to allow the three older teams to play off against each other. Alliance and Scottish Thistles drew 0-0 in an 'exciting midfield battle' in which both sides found it difficult to create any clear cut chances. This was followed by a penalty shoot out (the purpose of which was never made clear) in which Alliance triumphed by 2-1. Finally, in the last match of the day, Scottish Thistles again took on NHC. The Dutch seemed to have recruited some fresh legs and in no time were 3-0 up against a Thistles team which seemed to have left its spirit in the bar. However they stuck to their task and thanks to goals from Dave McIntosh and Colin Tucker they almost clawed the game back - final score 2-3.

Enjoying the hospitality of the tournament winners

Thistles were such good company that Rapidity VSOP handed over their prize, a bottle of the local schnapps. They were even better company after that. Sadly, this was the last match for Jim White (2nd from the left above), who died before he could play in the European Championships two months later.

George Dunbar at 87 tripping the light fantastic at Oss

George showed the rest of the Thistles that there is life in the old dog even well into your ninth decade.