Today Morton travel to Livingston in West Lothian to take on the Black and Amber.
West Lothian was the site of Scotland's first oil boom in the late 19th century. Shale oil extraction left the county dotted with mounds of spoil, and although most have been recycled down to nothing, the Five Sisters Bing remains on permanent display as a protected industrial site.
This is the beginning of the second quarter of the SFL schedule. After a lacklustre August in which they earned two points and were knocked out of the Scottish League Cup and Challenge Cup, Morton got their mojo back with a perfect September and ended the first quarter with five wins, three draws and one loss, and a goal difference of +7, good for third place.
Livingston's record in the first quarter was three wins, three draws and three losses, and a goal difference of 0, good for sixth place.
If Dunfermline and Livingston both lose today, Morton will move into second place. [Livingston and Morton play to a 2 - 2 score. Both Morton goals by Archie Campbell. Dunfermline win and take over first place again. Morton remain third.]
Morton leads the Reserve League with six wins in six starts.
On Wednesday Busan beat Pohang 2 - 0 in K-League action.
Last night was the end of the League of Ireland Premier Division schedule. UCD and Shelbourne tied 1 - 1. UCD finish the season with 7 wins, 8 draws and 15 losses, good enough for a 9th place finish, slightly worse than last year.
Montreal Imact have completed their first MLS season, finishing seventh in the East, not good enough to make the playoffs but miles ahead of Toronto FC, which is the main thing. Vancouver Whitecaps finished fifth in the West and face LA Galaxy is the Western play-in.
If you're nostalgic for the Austro-Hungarian Empire, this is the hockey league for you. The Erste Bank Eishockey Liga (EBEL) includes twelve clubs, eight of them from Austria, and one each from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, and Croatia. It's the top pro ice hockey league in Austria, and perhaps three of the other four countries, though certainly not the Czech Republic. The name comes from the league's chief sponsor, Erste Bank.
I haven't found an explanation of the current system, but if things run as they did last year, the clubs will each play 40 games, and then the league will split into top and bottom halves and the teams in each half will play a further ten games. The six top half teams make the playoffs, plus the two teams from the bottom half that have the best record after the split.
Austria has been crowning hockey champions since 1923.
The clubs are:
Dornbirner EC. The Bulldogs were founded in 1992, and this is their first season in the EBEL. Their rink is the 4,270-seat Messestadion. Colours: black, yellow and red. Dornbirn is in Vorarlberg, right next to Switzerland.
Graz 99ers. Founded in 1999. They play at the 4,000-seat Eisstadion Graz Liebenau. Colours: black and gold. Team sponsor is Moser Medical, a name that would fit right in on Coburg Road in Halifax, NS. Graz is in Styria, not too far from the Croatia/Hungarian border. [Yomas Vanek of the Buffalo Sabres has signed with Graz.]
HC TWK Innsbruck. Short for HC Tiroler Wasserkraft Innsbruck. Also known as Die Haie, The Sharks, because they live, you know, so close to the ocean. Innsbruck is in the Austrian Tyrol and has hosted the Winter Olympics twice, in 1964 and 1976. Die Haie play at the 7,212-seat Olympiahalle. Team colours are red, white and blue. This club fills a void left by the demise of Innsbrucker EV, who won the Austrian championship seven times. [Andreas Nödl of the Carolina Hurricanes has signed with Innsbruck.]
EC KAC. Eishockey Club Klagenfurter Athletiksport-Club for long. This is the most successful club in Austrian hockey history, having won 29 championships including 11 in a row. Their colours are red and white, and their team crest appears to have been modeled on the Kit Kat logo. Klagenfurt is in Carinthia. Stadthalle Klagenfurt holds 5,500 fans. [Sam Gagner of the Edmonton Oilers and Andrew Cogliano of the Anaheim Ducks have signed with Klagenfurter.]
Black Wings Linz. These guys should play Malmö Redhawks for the championship of the sounds-like-an-NHL-team-name world. Black Wings Linz were founded in 1992, and wear a early-Nineties colour scheme of black, teal and orange. They are the current EBEL champions. They play at the Keine Sorgen Eisarena Linz (capacity 3,800). Linz is a city in Upper Austria, not too far from the German/Czech border.
Red Bull Salzburg. Part of the Red Bull sports empire that brought you the dive of Felix Baumgartner, Red Bull Salzburg have been Austrian champions four times this past decade. And they won the 2010 IIHF Continental Cup. They wear red, white and blue, and play at the 3,200-seat Eisarena Salzburg. Salzburg is right on the Bavarian border. [Tobias Enström of the Winnipeg Jets, David Clarkson of the NJ Devils, Johnny Boychuk of the Boston Bruins, and Derick Brassard and Derek Dorsett of the Columbus Blue Jackets have signed with Salzburg.]
Vienna Capitals. They play at the 7,000-seat Albert Schultz Eishalle in the capital city of Vienna. Albert Schultz was a politician. Founded in 2000, they were Austrian champions in 2005. Colours: red, black and yellow. This club hopes to fill the large shoes of 14-time champs Wiener EV, who went out of business at the end of the last century. [Corey Potter of the Oilers has signed with Vienna Capitals.]
EC VSV. The Eagles are six-time Austrian champions. They play at the Stadthalle Villach (which seats 4,800) in Villach, Carinthia, near the Slovenian/Croatia border. Team colours are blue and white. [Michel Rene Grabner of the Islanders has signed with Villacher.]
The four non-Austrian clubs can be EBEL champion, but not Austrian champion, and are allowed to participate in their own national championships, depending on their national rules. It's complicated.
HDD Olimpija Ljubljana. Olimpija, aka The Dragons, date back to 1929. They were Yugoslav champions 13 times before 1991 and 12 times Slovenian champs after. Green, white and black. [Jan Mursak of the Detroit Red Wings has signed with Olimpija.]
SAPA Fehérvár AV19. Founded in 1960, SAPA AV19 are 13-time Hungarian champions. They entered the EBEL in 2007, but still participate in the Hungarian playoffs. Colours: blue and white. Their rink is the Ifjabb Ocskay Gábor Ice Hall in Székesfehérvár in Central Hungary. It holds 3,500 fans.
KHL Medveščak Zagreb. Klub Hokeja na Ledu Medveščak Zagreb (The Bears) also wear blue and white. They were three-time champions of the Yugoslav league, and have dominated the Croatian league, taking 16 titles. They list two home addresses: the 6,400-seat Dom Sportova, and the 15,024-seat Arena Zagreb. They have expressed interest in joining the Russian KHL. [Dustin Jeffrey of the Pittsburgh Penguins was to have played with Tilburg Trappers of the Dutch league, but instead has signed with these guys.]
Orli Znojmo. More Eagles (Orli), but these ones are Czech. Orli Znojmo date back to 1933, but for the first sixty years they were Falcons (Sokol). They joined the top tier Czech Extraliga in 1999, but in 2009 sold their membership to another club. After two years in the second tier they departed for the EBEL. They play in the 5,500-seat Hostan Arena. Colours: red, white and black. Znojmo is a Moravian royal city near the border of Austria. [Bryan Bickell of the Chicago Blackhawks has signed with Orli Znojmo.]