Saturday, 28 November 2009

Celtic Park (Celtic v St Mirren)

For more pictures of Celtic Park see this post (v AZ),this one (v FC Utrecht) and this one (v Rangers).

Today I went to Celtic Park to see Celtic take on St Mirren. This was a short trip for me, 30 minutes on the bus from my house, then another 30 minutes to walk from Glasgow city centre to Celtic Park.

Initially St Mirren gave Celtic a good game until a Chris Innes own goal in the 39th minute. I had really hoped for a 0-0 half-time score but unfortunately it was not to be. Only three minutes later Samaras scored a second. Luckily Higdon scored one for the Saints just before the half-time whistle. However any hopes Saints had to gather something from this game were dashed by Scott McDonald's 61st-minute goal.

St Mirren goalie Paul Gallacher also saved a late Scott McDonald penalty. Innes had blatantly handled Barry Robson's corner and was shown a yellow card and then immediately a red one. Referee Steve Conroy had wrongly thought he already booked Innes earlier in the match. The St Mirren player had already left the pitch when the referee realised his mistake and the player was called back.

To be honest I had not noticed this incident. My seat was on the second row in the away section, tucked away in a corner between the Lisbon Lions Stand and the South Stand. I had a ticket with an 'unrestricted view' but it was by no means a great seat. Also after every goal stewards and policemen surrounded the pitch, completely blocking my view, with particular focus on the well-behaved St Mirren support. I am not sure it was the best method of crowd control I have ever seen. I had been looking forward to this game but I had a better time at Stirling Albion and Annan Athletic recently although I must admit today's result probably had something to do with it.

Approaching Celtic Park.

The Lisbon Lions Stand.

The Jock Stein Stand.

The South Stand after the final whistle.

The North Stand.

The Lisbon Lions Stand. Also a few people making sure you are not entering the pitch...

Saturday 28th November 2009
Scottish Premier League
Celtic 3 St Mirren 1
Celtic: Innes (og) 39, Samaras 42, McDonald 61.
St Mirren: Higdon 45.
Att: 41,000

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Madison Square Garden (Florida Panthers at New York Rangers)

No football this time! Last week my wife and I spent a few days in New York, our first visit to the States. Of course I wanted to see a few sports grounds as well. The Major League Soccer season had finished so I could not see the New York Red Bulls (formerly known as the MetroStars) in action. They are playing in New Jersey as well (in the Giants Stadium and from next year in the newly-built Red Bull Arena) which is not very easy to get to if you are staying in Manhattan for only a few days. NFL team New York Giants also played at home during this weekend but they also play in the Giants Stadium as you may have guessed. The baseball season had finished as well. This meant I could choose between the juicy NBA fixture NY Knicks v Boston Celtics or the NHL tie between NY Rangers and the Florida Panthers.

I preferred the NBA game but my wife is quite fond of ice hockey. Since both the Knicks and the Rangers play in Madison Square Garden I did not mind seeing the NHL game either. 'The Garden' is of course a legendary venue. The current arena opened in 1968. It holds 18,200 for hockey games and 19,763 for basketball matches. According to the ESPN site there was a capacity crowd but it was definitely not full. We had bought our tickets through which is the official way for season ticket holders to sell seats for games they will not attend. We had bought ours for only $43 each in September and there were still hundreds available when I checked a few days before the game. The absent season ticket holders may be an explanation for the inflated attendance figure.

It was my first ever ice hockey game and I thought it was quite entertaining. Unfortunately New York lost 3-2. They had taken the lead in the first period but Florida managed to get a 2-1 lead in the second period. In the third period the Panthers scored a third. Rangers could not turn the tide despite scoring a second goal late into the final period.

Approaching Madison Square Garden.

The stands before face-off.

It took a while for the stands to fill up.

The national anthem.

Action shot during the first period.

New York take the lead (1-0).

Litte Rangers during the intermission.

Rangers get back 3-2 after trailing 3-1.

After the game.

Myself after the game.

Saturday 21st November 2009
National Hockey League
New York Rangers 2 Florida Panthers 3
Att: 18,200

Monday, 16 November 2009

The 2009 Scottish Football Hall of Fame Inductees Dinner

No football ground this time, but still a football-related post. I was invited through my work to the Scottish Football Hall of Fame dinner at the Hilton in Glasgow. This annual dinner has been held since 2004. Every year a few legends are inducted to the Hall of Fame which is located at the Scottish Football Museum at Hampden. The induction of Maurice "Mo" Johnston had already been announced in the press. Other inductees were Steve Archibald, Bertie Auld, Jimmy Delaney, Alan Gilzean, Paul Lambert, Willie Maley, and David Meiklejohn. Graeme Souness had already been inducted in 2004 when he had other commitments but he accepted the induction tonight.

I do not usually go to events like this so I took my camera with me. It was a great night!

With Graeme Souness, the former manager of Rangers (and a few other clubs!).

With former referee Hugh Dallas.

The induction of Dundee and Tottenham Hotspur legend Alan Gilzean.

The induction of Mo Johnston. Johnston was the first high-profile catholic to be signed by Rangers. Since he was also a former Celtic player it was a very controversial signing made by Graeme Souness. Johnston is currently the manager of MLS side Toronto FC.

Former St Mirren and Celtic player Paul Lambert. The current Norwich City manager is also the last Scottish player who has lifted the European Cup (with Borussia Dortmund).

With Mo Johnston.

With SFA chief executive Gordon Smith, looking upbeat despite Scotland getting humped 3-0 in Wales the day before...

With Ian St. John and John from my work.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Galabank (Annan Athletic v Elgin City)

Today I went to Galabank in Annan to see Annan Athletic take on Elgin City in the Scottish Third Division. It is a two-hour train journey from Glasgow Central to the town near the Scottish-English border. The Galabankies only entered the Scottish Football League last season. They were admitted to the league to fill up the vacant spot that was left by the demise of Gretna FC, a club that also hailed from the region of Dumfries and Galloway.

Galabank has recently been upgraded to make it fully compliant with all SFL requirements. The Social Club is a welcoming place for a pre-match pint. Regular admission is only £9, making it the cheapest SFL club I have been to. There is only one stand, the rest are standing areas. There was no segregation in place today, in fact I did not see any Elgin fans.

The weather today was horrendous once again and I was expecting many games in Scotland to be cancelled today. It had been raining all night but I was adamant that I was going to visit a new ground today. I wanted to go to Annan but in case of a postponement I would be going to either Alloa or Dunfermline. Before getting my train tickets I had phoned the club and I was told the game was on. However it was only 11:30 and it was still raining. When I was walking from Annan station to Galabank I was sure the match was going to be cancelled but I was pleasantly surprised when I was informed it was definitely on. Miraculously the rain stopped minutes before kick-off and it stayed dry throughout the match. It turned out only one game was postponed in Scotland today (Livingston v Albion Rovers).

The game was quite entertaining with chances on both ends but no goals before half-time. The BBC website mentions David Niven as the scorer of the first goal only three minutes after the interval. Annan seemed a bit toothless, even more so after Peter Watson was dismissed for picking up a second booking 15 minutes before the end. Kyle MacAulay ensured a valuable away win for Elgin with a deflected shot in the 88th minute.

The new turnstiles seen from inside the ground with the clubhouse on the left.

The main stand before kick-off.

The very low parameter wall meant many balls ended up outside the ground. Take care driving past Galabank on match days!

The Annan dugout.

The rain stopped and we were even treated to a few rays of sunshine. It looked warmer than it actually was however.

The main stand after the game.

Saturday 14th November 2009
Scottish Football League Third Division
Annan Athletic 0 Elgin City 2
Goals: Nive 48, MacAulay 88.
Att: 416

Monday, 2 November 2009

Firhill Stadium (Partick Thistle v Dundee)

I have visited Firhill Stadium only once to see a Partick Thistle match. That was some time ago now, during the 2002/03 season. The Jags were playing Dundee and both teams played in the Scottish Premier League at the time. My friend Marco from Holland visited me for a long weekend and we went to Celtic Park the next day (Celtic beat Hibs 3-2). I cannot remember much of any of these games to be honest and I do not think I took any pictures. Our seats for this match were in the Jackie Husband Stand.

The pictures below were taken by my friend Martijn during a First Division game against Ayr United, a game I did not attend. The ground has not changed much since the time I visited it. The only difference is that the terrace at the southern end of the ground has been removed and has been replaced by a grass bank. The terrace was not in use when we visited the ground.

Turnstiles leading to the North Stand.

Ayr United supporters on the North Stand.

The Jackie Husband Stand.

The grass bank behind the goal at the southern end of the ground was an open terrace when I visited the ground almost seven years ago.

The Main Stand.

The Main Stand seen from outside.

Firhill is now also the home of the Glasgow Warriors, one of only two professional rugby union teams in Scotland. I have also visited a couple of rugby games at Firhill. The Warriors play in the Magners League. Since there are only two Scottish pro teams they always qualify for the Heineken Cup as well. Performances in both competions can be described as inconsistent at best and attendances are generally lower for Warriors games than when the Jags are playing.

Pictures I took at a Glasgow Warriors rugby match at Firhill can be found here.

Saturday 1st March 2003
Scottish Premier League
Partick Thistle 1 Dundee 3
Partick Thistle: Buchan 31.
Dundee: Milne 15, Mackay 26, Novo 78.
Att: 4,599
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