TWO weeks ago I played in a game that was bizarre in the extreme.

We defeated Ayr United 4-1 in a match that quite literally had everything and more. Five goals, four penalties, two of which were missed, two sendings off, a last minute replacement for the original referee, a switch of referees at half-time to let the appointed official take charge and a last minute goal from myself, all of which you’d think would make it live long in the memory. However, when I look back on the game the only thing that will probably stand out for me is the performance of our right back, Mark McCulloch.

The man we call ‘Buff’ has plenty of experience in the game, playing for Ross County, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Partick Thistle and the Pars, and even captaining the Inverness side that won that famous Scottish Cup tie against Celtic, 3-1 at Celtic Park.

Even so I doubt even he would have experienced the pre-match routine he went though that Saturday.

Our journey to the game was disrupted when a car accident meant the Friarton Bridge on the way to Dundee was closed.

It needed an immediate change of travel plans from our driver, Jamie Bishop, as we diverted through Perth and hit the country back roads in order to get to Station Park just after 2pm, half an hour later than scheduled.

When we arrived there were only four other players there, no referee and Ayr had begun their warm up. It was soon decided to delay the kick off for 15 minutes to allow everybody to get there.

Eventually everyone arrived except for Mark and, with time running short, gaffer Dick Campbell read out the team with Buff’s name on the sheet.

This was no big deal for the guys. Buff’s a big player for us and, as he is employed as a policeman, he is often slightly late coming to the games after one of his shifts.

This time though, traffic jams on the Tay Bridge meant he was later than usual and as the minutes ticked by to kick off his number two shirt was still hanging on his peg.

The warm-up came and went with no sign of him and eventually we were called back in for final preparations.

The manager was just finishing off his team talk and the boys were all looking around to see who he would draft in as an emergency right back when the door creaked open and in walked Mark in his police uniform to a loud chorus of, “Nice of you to make it Buff.” A quick 30-second change later and he was in his strip walking up the tunnel with the team, ready to play, no warm-up, no-preparations, just “I’m here, let’s go”, as if he was walking out with his mates to play in the public park.

Never before had anyone ever seen anyone play a game without event the hint of a warm-up.

It was a testament to his fitness and ability that Mark then played like he’d been there preparing since 1.30pm as normal as he cruised through the game.

It was just one of those days.