The rumblings from the back rows of the enclosure at Ferguson Park on Saturday suggested those who had witnessed Whitehill Welfare versus Civil Service Strollers had experienced more than they had bargained for.
“He’s given another penalty” or “I don’t believe what’s happening” were the words of utter disbelief in the crowd over an eight-minute spell that even the game’s most ardent fantasist would struggle to comprise.
However, against all the odds, the drama unfolded as hosts, Whitehill Welfare, were awarded three penalties in the space of just 480 seconds of one another during their 6-0 East of Scotland Qualifying Cup second-round victory over Strollers in Rosewell.
The 26th, 28th and 34th minutes were the magic moments for striker Aaron Somerville who converted each kick from 12 yards to make it 4-0 and, effectively, put the game out of reach for their lower league opponents.
Referee David Somers’ decision to point to the spot in quick succession startled the 26-year-old who revealed that he had only assumed penalty duty due to injured striker and team-mate Wayne McIntosh’s omission from the squad.
“Even at any level, I don’t think I have ever come across anything like that before,” said Somerville, who is still trying to comprehend Saturday’s good fortune. “It was remarkable and really quite strange how it all happened. Even to score as quickly a hat-trick as I did, never mind from three penalties, was a strange one to be honest – a bit comical really.
“I’ve been struggling for a bit of form lately so obviously it was good to get on the scoresheet. Normally our penalty taker is the boy (Wayne) McIntosh, but he’s injured at the moment so I had been given the honour but I had no idea how significant it was going to be! I think there is going to be a bit of a debate as to who will be taking the next one when he’s back fit.”
McIntosh, himself, may find it a challenge in displacing Somerville from his perch as the composure shown in front of goal was exemplary – managing to send the goalkeeper the wrong way on each of his three occasions. Although the awarding of the second penalty was contentious to say the least, the initial contact on defender John Hall almost certain to have occurred outside the 18-yard box, there was no deliberation required for either the first or third penalties given.
“Normally I pick a side but it was a strange one on Saturday because their goalkeeper (Paul) Tansey was at the club for a while and I couldn’t remember if he knew where I like to stick them,” explained Somerville. “I usually have my places where I am going but I had to mix them up this time around. I was pretty confident with the first and second but when I was standing over the third, I think that’s when it really caught up with me what was happening. “A few folk were saying after the game to me ‘how did the game go and did you score’? With being a striker and seeing the big scoreline, I expect them to ask that. But when I was telling people what had actually happened, I don’t think they could believe it either.”
The Lowland League outfit, and reigning East of Scotland champions, have struggled to impose themselves on a consistent basis thus far, ending a run of three straight league defeats with victory in the cup on Saturday. – a statistic Somerville, concedes, is uncharacteristic.
He added: “The last few weeks we’ve been a bit of a joke to be honest and it’s been a collective thing. We know ourselves that it’s not been good enough and we need to get our act together. No disrespect to Selkirk (who beat Whitehill 1-0 and are bottom of the table), we could have scored ten that day and it was just another, you could call it, freak game.
“When you’ve won the league the season before, every side will tend to raise their game that ten per cent and that’s something you just have to deal with.”