Sunday, 17 September 2017

Trophy back in Police Custody!

We remarked in a previous post about the missing Scottish summer and the biblical rain we have endured for the last 5 months. Well, once again today just like this fixture over the last four years, the sun shone on the righteous as Starks Park, Kirkcaldy was bathed in glorious warm sunshine for the fifth meeting of a Police Scotland select and their Fire & Rescue Service colleagues, competing for the coveted Ben & Finlay Challenge Cup.

The Police line-up had been hastily assembled and despite early fears that we were not going to be able to fulfil the fixture, we ended up with a burgeoning squad of 21 on the day. No wonder there are no bobbies on the beat these days! Our opponents suffered the opposite and a number of late call offs created some anxiety in their management team ahead of kick off.

A change of kit this year saw the Police side wearing red and white striped shirts a la Atletico Madrid, however the early minutes were far from the ruthless efficiency of the Spanish side.

Fears that a depleted squad may hamper them seemed unfounded as the Fire Service, resplendent in canary yellow, made the early running, zipping passes across the lush green manicured turf. Their midfield domination paid early dividends as they raced into a two-goal lead through clinical strikes in the 9th and 18th minutes by Andy Paul and Ryan Brocklebank respectively.

The Fire Service were playing a really high line, which was effective in snuffing out the Police threat as each foray forward was thwarted by an offside whistle. We then seemed to click and before the Fire Service could respond and revise their tactics, star striker Barry Tillier fired an incredible four-minute hat-trick with goals in the 29th, 31st and 33rd minutes, each one thumped into the back of the net with more ferocity. What a comeback!

Understandably this seemed to suck the life out of the Fire Service and it could have been worse had a strike by Mark Buist in the 36th minute not been incorrectly ruled out for offside.

The half-time whistle came with the Police leading 3-2. The Police then unveiled their shadow side and replaced every position except the effervescent ex Par Andy Tod who strolled through the 90 minutes despite having come straight from his work.

We were delighted to welcome Davy McQuade onto the park as he sought to exorcise the demons of two years ago when he suffered a horrific leg break in this same fixture at the same venue.

These changes and fresh faces allowed the Police side to take an early second half stranglehold on the midfield whilst the Fire Service’s smaller squad meant they began to wilt a bit in the heat.

Big Graeme Dursley passed a late fitness test and almost added a fourth when his head met a fine cross from the left. Unfortunately, his downward header bounced down then up agonisingly over the bar. This gave the bold Durs an extra spring in his step and alas he tried too hard to roll back the years as he galloped forward pinging his groin and succumbing to an early substitution.

The Police side were delighted to introduce young Duncan Muir as a half time substitute, he actually looks like a player! The year one probationer made an instant impact frightening the life out of the tiring Fire Service rearguard with his searing pace.

It was only a matter of time before Dunc’s boundless energy would make a difference and six minutes into the second half, he outran the defence and made it 4-2 to the Police side. This gave the Police some breathing space and their growing confidence was demonstrated by some good possession.

Alec Raeside was having a fine time in goal, the highlight being a commanding demon punched clearance from a whipped in cross.

Fresh from his role in Broadchurch, DI Stevie Fell came on for big Durs and quickly made it two goals in two appearances when he met the erstwhile Eddie McKnight’s spear like square ball from the left.

Dunc Muir was terrorising the Fire Service and threatened each time he got the ball. He doubled his tally in the 73rd minute and made it 6-2 to the Police side.

Player Assistant Manager Ross Bennet was itching to get on for his annual cameo and almost made the perfect entrance as he met a square ball in the six-yard box only to have his dream goal prevented by a point blank save by the keeper. Ross will tell you he hit it sweetly although there is a slight suspicion of a sclafff!

The Fire Service’s misery was complete in the final minute when Dunc Muir bagged himself a hat-trick and ensured the Ben & Finlay Challenge Cup was returning to Police hands again this year.

Another really enjoyable day was had by all despite the scoreline. Everyone enjoys the opportunity to play on a professional side’s pitch like this. Big thanks are due to Raith Rovers FC for permitting us to use their excellent facilities.

The game of course would not have been possible without a referee. Thank you to Dave MacKinnon who managed the 90 minutes with considerable ease, no mean feat when controlling such determined opponents.

Huge thanks to our opponents today and especially their organiser in chief, Mark Napier, who is an excellent supporter of Ben and Finlay. We’re sure that they’ll come back stronger and determined to atone for this when we meet again next year.

Thanks too to our Shug Pearce who provided the strips and to his wife who has the unenviable task of laundering them!!

It wouldn’t be a true Scottish football match without the opportunity for supporters to purchase a savoury accompaniment to the match in the form of a Scotch pie. The pie shop was open and the healthy crowd seemed to relish the chance to tuck into this delicacy. We were delighted when the fine fellow running the pie stand approached us after the game and gave us his unsold pies and half of his monetary proceeds from the day. Such a kind gesture, thank you so much!

Aaron Bennet had the difficult task of selecting the Man of the Match and he strugggled to chose between the two hat-trick heroes. He plumped for youth over experience and chose Duncan Muir who went home clutching the MoM trophy and a base of Budweiser that was almost bigger than he was! Each of the winning team was given a medal to recognise their victory. Many thanks to Ross Bennet for organising these.

The purpose of the game was to raise funds towards Ben and Finlay’s ABA program and we are delighted to report that we raised nearly £900, quite incredible. Massive thanks to everyone who contributed!

What a great day, the trophy will go back to the Police cabinet for now!

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Te extranamos Puerto Pollensa!

This has been the worst summer ever, rain, rain and more rain, constant reminders on tv, radio and social media of how sunny and warm it's been in the south yet we've had the heating on, we haven't put away the winter duvet and the boys are sleeping with socks on. Bah!!! Today has been yet another reminder of how dreadful it's been, it's poured all day. Oh how we miss Puerto Polllensa!
We returned to reality a few weeks ago (seems like an eternity already) after a wonderful week of warm sunshine in paradise! The boys were transformed by the climate and opportunity to swim morning, noon and night. Friends on social media will have seen daily updates of our exploits and shared in our joy at our ability to take the boys to such a far flung destination.

Those who know us well and understand our situation will also truly appreciate that such an adventure is not simply a case of packing up the luggage and jauntily striding up the stairs of the aircraft. Each aspect of the trip was scrutinised in advance to identify potential pitfalls and problems and plans and supports were put in place to mitigate them and smooth the experience for the boys and consequently us.

We went clutching all manner of behavioural supports from pictures of the aeroplane so that the boys knew what was coming next to precision packed hand luggage to cater for every eventuality to back-up iPods and iPads in case of delays and drained batteries.

That was even before we considered the boys' diets. Yes, they have come on leaps and bounds since the single slither of chicken two hour stand off at Skybound in 2013 but their diets are still restricted and this is a clear challenge when venturing abroad. As a result our luggage comprised two thirds food for the boys and one third their clothes meaning Mum and Dad sat on the plane in seven days worth of underwear!!

The holiday was not a frivilous luxury but a necessary break from the daily pressure and demands of looking after two little boys who have the most challenging diagnoses. They thrived in the sunshine, they smiled, they giggled and they swam and they swam. Of course there were difficulties and problems and yes, you always put the best bits on social media, but so does everyone else.

Most families in our situation take an entourage of support with them to help with the airport, the driving, the cooking, the shopping but we don't have such an entourage, there's just the two of us but we coped, we always do and we are rightly proud of our efforts.

We chose a resort that Mummy knows well, she used to work and live their in a former life as holiday rep so we had our very own tour guide and she was an excellent driver!!

We'll now bore you with the detail!

We were up at 4-30am and off to the airport by 5 where we were met by Edinburgh's wonderful special assistance team who made check in and baggage drop a breeze. They then whisked us through fast-track security to avoid the endless snaking queues. We were soon in the departure lounge and the boys marvelled at the giant aeroplanes parked right outside the window.

Our flight was on time but alas we had to take a bus out to the stance but the boys coped well. They took their seats on the plane and were buckled in and in no time we were airborne and the twin adrenalin junkies were giggling at the thrust of the engines!

As the plane made its ascent in time honoured fashion, Ben depressed the 'toilet' button on his proloquo2go and after several pleas to wait, decided to ignore the fasten seat belt signs and make a dash for the loo. The stewardess tried to thwart us and warned us of the risks of not being belted in but we had ro respond that the risks of Ben not getting to the toilet were much worse!

The remainder of the flight was trouble free, we got that whoosh of warm air as we emerged from the door on arrival. Despite the gloomy reporting about passport control, we sailed through without any queue. The boys really enjoyed the moving travelators! Our luggage was waiting for us, no queue at car hire and we were off!

We found our little villa just outside the old town of Pollenca without too much trouble despite the instructions telling us to look out for a small unmade track! The villa was nestled at the base of the Puig Maria. The pool was sparkling blue and so inviting. Even it had been specially researched to find a pool that was small and not too deep for the boys to enjoy. A villa may sound extravagant but this really was tiny and we need our privacy given our circumstances.

The challenge of the villa was that it only had two bedrooms so either the boys were going to have to share or we were going to have to each sleep with one of them. This was all we could afford so we had to make it work. The boys haven't slept in the same room since Wales in 2013 when blankie thief Finlay prevented all of us from getting to sleep and the boys performed synchronised trampolining on the beds.

Our tactic to overcome this worked though, we simply exhausted the boys through the day then put them to bed later than usual so they just conked out each night. It worked perfectly, they slept all night, every night and whilst our sleeps were lighter than usual listening out for them, we did relax more as the week wore on. We had our baby monitor with us so we could hear the boys if they woke for the toilet as they are not able to take themselves during the night.

Each day had a structure and a plan as at home, the boys need this routine. We always had a morning dip in the pool then ventured to the beach where each day Finlay made it his mission to swim to Menorca! The boys loved the water and the warmth but hated the sand blasted onto their feet as they scurried back to their towels.

We tried a few beaches, our favourite being Cala Molins at nearby Cala San Vincente despite the jellyfish warnings. It was funny watching Mummy hopping around, with muffled shrieks as the fish nibbled her feet. Finlay did his best to steal someone's lilo as they lay on it! Ben did what Ben enjoys most, bobbed about in the water.

Just like home we were always in a supermarket trying to find things for lunch and searching for the elusive sweet potato (batata!). The boys coped really well with this and showed their approval by eating the Lidl burgers we bought there, which really amazed us!

We spent the afternoons by the pool, Finlay trying out the various inflatables bought by us and left by previous guests. Ben enjoyed darting and jumping about in the water, grinning widely.

Readers will know that we like a challenge and this holiday was no exception. We were determined to get the boys to visit their first ever waterpark and on the Monday took a wee trip to the Hidropark at nearby Alcudia. We got there at the back of ten and astonishingly were still there four hours later!!! The boys loved it, it was throbbing with people yet the boys loved it. They enjoyed the various pools but espcially loved the multi-coloured slide where the four of us careered down to a plunge pool side by side. We even managed to avoid being charged for our sunbeds, quite a feat!

We ventured out for dinner a couple of times, trying new restaurants. We haven't yet conquered getting the boys to eat from a menu and we've still to tackle the waiting associated with fresh food being prepared so we always take the boys food with us. Fortunately this is never a problem, the boys, like us, enjoyed watching the world go by.

Granny's pocket money stretched to buying two refurbished iPods, which we loaded with the boys' favourite videos, which meant that they were occupied and entertained and we could enjoy our dinner or the occasional drink in a bar overlooking the sea.

We are members of a Facebook page of like minded souls who live or holiday in Port de Pollenca so we posted in advance of our trip asking if anywhere there sold diluting apple juice because the boys won't drink water without a drop or two of juice. We were overwhelmed by the help and support we got in our quest (apple juice is not very popular in Spain) and were delighted when Louisa from the Al Fresco Deli in the Port messaged us to say she had bought us some suitable juice that she'd found in a small Spar supermarket. She has a nephew with autism so understood our plight and was more than happy to help. She wouldn't even take the money for them. This saved us a big search and shows the power and helpfulness of social media.

The same friendly bunch helped pinpoint the local parks so that the boys could enjoy a shot on the swings.

We sat by the marina on a couple of occasions, the boys mesmerised by the rows of little white boats bobbing up and down in the sea. Most importantly, we enjoyed a sense of relaxation that we don't encounter very often, away from the pressures of home, of running a home program, of endless meetings with professionals.

We did have a couple of minor issues, Ben's left eye succumbed to a gust of wind one evening whilst walking along the Pine Walk whereby he got some grit in it and rubbed it and rubbed it just like children do. He struggled all the way home and the next day he couldn't open his eye. Fortunately, his eye improved over the next few days just in time for Finlay to take a header on the smoothest pavement in the whole resort whereby he skinned both his knees. He then tried to rub off the marks on the wall only making them worse. He couldn't have done it in a better place though, right outside the pharmacy where we had been with Ben about his eye the previous day. A little rub with some antisceptic wipes and some Mummy cuddles helped ease his pain.

The end came with a jumbo storm on our last day, it had been brewing for a few days as the temperatures were in the 90s all week and it was very humid. Despite the fork lighting and biblical rain (just like home), Ben still wanted to go in the pool!

The journey home was flawless, the airport wait helped by the soft play area in departures at Palma. The flight was on time and the boys were angels.

We had the best of times, the boys were happier than at any other time, we only wish we could enjoy a climate like that as we truly think it would make a difference for all of us. Their behaviour was impeccable but readers should not underestimate the many supports that were needed each day and in each activity to make this possible. The research, the planning over years not just the weeks before hand really paid off, it's just a pity it was all over so quickly.

We could never have dreamt that a foreign holiday would be possible when those who diagnosed the boys warned us about the difficulties we would face as a family. We started doing ABA with the boys to give us all hope and commitment to and application of its principles have opened up opportunities we never thought would be possible. We work damned hard to make these things possible and to keep afloat in every day life, we are entitled to a holiday like everyone else and boy did we all enjoy it!!

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Management Team Meeting!

Ahead of Sunday's crunch fixture against the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service fresh (hopefully not) from being crowned British champions at the 999 Cup at the prestigious St George's Park National Football Centre, the Police management team had a high level meeting this evening at the Eastern Buffet in Dunfermline to discuss tactics, team selection and how best to deliver 'playstation' football.

Dad and Ross pondered individual performance based on a number of criteria including opta stats, body mass index, TOIL balance and outstanding workloads in deciding upon Sunday's starting line up. The final selection was composed on a restaurant napkin which was unceremoniously whisked away at the end of our fifteenth course by the highly efficient staff. We then realised that we were the only ones left in the place and we were clearly keeping them from their beds.

The only problem with our selection criteria is that our squad of twenty was quickly whittled down to just seven starters, a bit like the buffet!

The starting line up will be kept under wraps until the last possible moment, which should give us enough time to remember what it was.

Dad then continued with his management duties by doing a late night supermarket sweep at Tesco, dashing round the aisles to get the week's shopping and ultimately to the alcohol before 10pm. A case of finest beers was bought for our MoM on Sunday and just as Dad scanned it with the doofer, a red light unexpectedly started flashing on the device and the display was lost. He scurried to the checkout fearing the unit was about to self combust as he had got too close to the 10pm deadline for buying alcohol. Devastation soon hit him when he was informed by staff that the battery in the unit had run out and he would need to go to a checkout and unpack all the shopping he had so professionally scanned and packed, load it onto the conveyor belt and then pack it all again. Such fun!

The pressures of management....roll on Sunday........COYP!

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Ben & Finlay Challenge Cup 2017

We are delighted to have secured Starks Park, Kirkcaldy, home of Raith Rovers FC to host this year's Ben and Finlay Challenge Cup. This will be the fifth annual fixture between a select band of Police Scotland mercenaries and their colleagues from the Fire Service of Scotland in support of the wee fellas' ABA program.

The game kicks off at 2-30pm on Sunday 17 September 2017. There's no clash with an international weekend this time around so no excuses for not turning out to watch. The originator of the fixture, Jim Graham, is busy crafting this year's poster and we'll get it out there as soon as it's off the printing press.

The series currently sits at 3-1 in the Police side's favour but followers will recall the thumping meted out by the firemen the last time the two sides met at Starks Park in 2015. It's therefore all to play for in seeing who will get their hands on the coveted trophy at the end of the ninety minutes.

Here is the first draft Police squad, an eclectic mix of jouneymen, old sweats, toilers and youthful exhuberance! We say first draft as there are always casualties before we even kick off! Delighted to see Davy McQuade making a return after the horrific injury he suffered in this game in 2015.

In no particular order - 

1. Stevie Harley
2. Paul Cochrane
3. Shug Pearce
4. Des Kene
5. Martyn Hayward
6. Andy Tod
7. Steve Fell
8. Pat Callaghan
9. Russell Taylor
10. Eddie McKnight
11. Colin Potter
12. Barry Tillier
13. Eck Raeside
14. Kieran Johnston
15. Davy McQuade
16. Stuart Campbell
17. Craig Reid
18. Stewart McDonald
19. Mark Buist
20. Duncan Muir

The squad will be managed by Daddy and his trusty assistant Ross Bennet, who is currently doing his UEFA Pro Licence. We might just make a wee cameo appearance ourselves!

Thank you so much to everyone who is prepared to give up their Sunday family time in support of our wee boys. Biggest thanks go to Raith Rovers for allowing us to use their facilities and especially their ladies' team who moved the time of their fixture that day to accommodate us.

Please come along and enjoy what has traditionally been a hard fought encounter with lots of quality football and decent goals.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Never, Ever Give Up!

Truth! Sometimes interventions/therapies that aren't helpful now, end up working later on down the road. That's why it's so important to never, ever give up! Progress can and does happen well into adulthood.

Monday, 7 August 2017

The first Strictly Come Prancing contestants have been revealed...

It's that time of year again, rumours are flying around as to which local celebrities will be hitting the ballroom in Coaltown of Balgonie for the latest version of popular dancing show Strictly Come Prancing and now the first contestants for the upcoming show have been officially confirmed.

Taking to Twitter to announce the news, the show revealed former winners Barry Soap and Old Spice are the first confirmed contestants.

Speaking about the news, the feather footed father and son duet said, "We are huge fans of Strictly Come Prancing so we can't actually believe we are lucky enough to be asked back and taking part in it again this year! We’re literally so excited to learn Latin and ballroom dancing, and of course we can't wait to get into the sequins too!"

The duo added, "It's going to be a lot of hard work but we’re ready for the challenge."

The team first shot to fame when they took the event by storm last time around and promise an even more sparkling performance this time!

Despite Barry and Old being the only celebrities to be confirmed for the new show, a lot of other famous faces have been rumoured for the show.

The likes of Ross Kemp, Matt Goss, Alexandra Burke and fitness blogger Joe Wicks have all been named as possibilities for the new show which takes place on Saturday 21 October 2017 (sic).

The show will be hoping to continue its success despite head judge Morris Methven leaving the judging panel. Morris appeared on the first show but recently announced it would be his final.

New judge Clive Allan has been brought in to replace Morris, with a troupe of brand new professional dancers also joining the show.

The show with hosts Graeme (Brucie) and Yvonne (Tess) Trevis is set to land on Saturday 21 October, with more celebrities expected to be confirmed in the coming weeks.

Tickets are now available from the Trevis family and include a hog roast (vegetarian option available on request), pudding and guaranteed entertainment followed by a disco! It’s also BYOB!!