Saturday, 31 October 2009

East End Park (Dunfermline v Dundee)

After having visited the Cowdenbeath v East Fife derby, which had kicked off at noon, I took the 14:22 train from Cowdenbeath to Dunfermline Town. After less than 10 minutes on the train I arrived at East End Park well in time for kick-off but decided against shelling out another 16 quid and just took a few snaps from outside, including a few peeks inside thanks to a couple of friendly stewards.

Of course as far as visiting the 42 Scottish Football League grounds is concerned this one does not 'count' so I will have to go back here on a later date but from what I have seen it looks like an impressive First Divsion ground.

Outside the North Stand.


Turnstiles leading to the Main Stand.


Dundee fans queueing outside the North Stand.


The East Stand housed the Dundee fans.


The Main Stand.


The Norrie McCathie Stand.

Central Park (Cowdenbeath v East Fife)

Panorama view of Central Park.


Today I went to Cowdenbeath in Fife to see the derby match against East Fife. I took the train to Haymarket (a 45-minute journey from Glasgow Queen Street) where I had to change for the train to Cowdenbeath, which took another 40 minutes. It had turned out a nice and sunny day after the previous night's pelting rain. Central Park, Cowdenbeath's ground, is very close to the station, I would say less than five minutes on foot. I walked to the ground first to take a few pictures and with about 45 minutes to spare I then strolled up the town's High Street looking for a pub.


The only entrance to the ground. There was no segregation in place.


I had a quick pint in the Old Cross Guns Inn which is at the top of High Street, around five minutes from the ground. It was quite a friendly place. At about 11:45 I started walking to the ground. This may sound early but the kick-off was scheduled for noon for unknown reasons. This suited me fine as it meant I would be back home nice and early.

The ground itself is quite unusual. There is a tarmac circuit around the pitch and stock car races are staged here every Saturday night according to one ad near the ground (for more information click here). Also there are two main stands. Apparently the old stand burned down partially and a new one was erected next to what remained of the old stand. I got the feeling most Cowdenbeath fans were in the stand. I watched most of the game from the South Terrace which is quite a large terrace but most fans on it seemed to be East Fife fans. There was no segregation in place today and there was not a hint of trouble. Because of the race track you are quite far from the pitch but especially annoying is the high fence erected around the track to protect spectators at the motor sports events.

The game itself was quite entertaining but all three goals where scored in the opening 15 minutes when I was too busy taking pictures at this unusual ground. A fellow groundhopper saw me taking pictures and it turned out he was a postman from Manchester who was on strike today which gave him an opportunity to visit two grounds in one day. Dunfermline were playing Dundee at 3pm today. Dunfermline is about five minutes on the train from Cowdenbeath and I was annoyed I had not thought of this myself. I decided to go to Dunfermline after the game anyway to take a few pictures of East End Park on a match day however I had not budgeted for the £16 to get in so I decided against visiting the game and took the train back to Glasgow at 3:30pm.


Before the game I had a quick pint in the charming Old Cross Guns Inn.


First class facilities at Central Park.


The South Terrace.


The East Terrace.


John Robertson scores what turned out to be the winning goal for Cowdenbeath.


The Main Stands. Note the German flag hanging upside down.


Again the South Terrace.


The fence around the pitch obstructed views.


The Main Stands seen from the West Terrace.


Saturday 31st October 2009
Scottish Football League Second Division
Cowdenbeath 2 East Fife 1
Cowdenbeath: Fairbairn 2, Robertson 14.
East Fife: Crawford 12.
Att: 733

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Forthbank Stadium (Stirling Albion v Clyde)

Today I took the bus from Glasgow to the city of Stirling to pay my first visit to Forthbank Stadium, the ground of Stirling Albion FC. Just like two weeks ago when I went to Fort William I made use of the Sunday Mail offer (return to anywhere in Scotland for a fiver) but the train costs only a fraction more. The bus station is adjacent to the railway station and it takes about 20 minutes to walk to the stadium (using the newly built pedestrian bridge over the railway tracks). Stirling is a great place to visit of course but the weather was horrendous today. Torrential rain made me worried that this game would be postponed again however it turned out it went ahead as planned.

I decided to support Clyde today as a I have a bit of a soft spot for them. Also because they were the underdogs against league leaders Stirling Albion I took a seat in the East Stand. The ground, which opened in 1993, is small but the capacity of 3,800 (2,500 of which are seats) is more than adequate for Stirling. The West Stand is slightly bigger than the East Stand. There are terraces behind both goals as well but it is my understanding that they are seldom in use. Although I would normally prefer a terrace over a stand the fact that these are uncovered means I would not have opted for them anyway.

The game was an entertaining affair. Albion unsurprisingly had the better chances in the first half but were unable to find the net and Clyde were lucky to have not conceded a goal by half-time. It was the Bully Wee however who opened the score when Willie Sawyers found the net in the 57th minute. Stirling frantically looked for the equaliser but it looked like this was not their day, particularly when they had a goal disallowed for offside. However substitute Liam Corr scored the deserved equaliser in the 88th minute.


Approaching Forthbank on a miserable day.


Picture taken before the game outside the ground with the Wallace Monument in the background.


Panorama view taken from the East Stand.


The East Stand.


The South Terrace, which was not in use today.


The West Stand housed the home supporters.


The North Terrace was not open either.


Saturday 24th October
Scottish Football League Second Division
Stirling Albion 1 Clyde 1
Stirling Albion: Corr 88.
Clyde: Sawyers 57.
Att: 764

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Broadwood Stadium (Clyde v Man Utd XI)

Today I went to Cumbernauld to see Clyde take on a Manchester United select in a friendly at Broadwood Stadium. After an 11-minute train journey from Glasgow Queen Street I got off at Croy. From there it is a 20-minute walk to Broadwood, a modern ground that was opened in 1995. An interesting bit of trivia is that Broadwood is the highest ground in Scotland (in terms of altitude). The capacity is about 8,000 divided over three stands. There is no stand at the northern end of the ground, and it looks like there will never be one either as a leisure centre has now been built at this end. There does not seem to be a need to expand the ground anyway, only 663 witnessed the Bully Wee losing 3-1 to Peterhead yesterday.

There were a few more in attendance today but still by far no full house. There was a sell-out crowd when Clyde entertained the Red Devils in July 2005. Today however it was not Sir Alex's first team showing up but Ole Gunnar Solksjaer's reserve squad. Nevertheless the Reds proved much too strong for the Scottish part-timers who counted themselves lucky to be only 4-0 down when the referee blew the final whistle.


Approaching Broadwood Stadium.


Queues at the turnstiles.


The South Stand.


The West Stand remained closed today.


The Main Stand.


Rafael da Silva with the 'Advance Construction Scotland Trophy' and he seemed really pleased with it.


Sunday 18th October 2009
Friendly
Clyde 0 Manchester United XI 4
Goals: Stewart (o.g.) 22, Brandy 29, Da Silva 59, Eikrem (pen.) 89.
Att: 2,365

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Claggan Park (Fort William v Wick Academy)

Today the journey went to Fort William to see my first Highland Football League game. The Sunday Mail had another offer of a Citylink return ticket to anywhere in Scotland for a fiver and I decided to go for Fort William as the pictures I had seen of the ground looked stunning. The bus journey itself is attractive as well. It took us about two and half hours to reach Fort William bus station, making it by far the easiest Highland League ground to get to from Glasgow.

What is unusual about the Scottish football pyramid is that it does not look like a pyramid at all. The four top divisions are clear, however clubs cannot get relegated from the SFL Third Division. Below the lowest 'professional' division there are three 'senior' leagues that are not interconnected. One of them is the Highland Football League. Founded in 1893 the Highland League is often considered the strongest league under the SFL and all Scottish papers publish the results and league table on Sundays and Mondays. Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Ross County, Peterhead, and Elgin City are all former Highland League clubs who joined the SFL in recent years. At present there are 18 teams in the Highland League.

Fort William FC were founded in 1984 and joined the Highland League in 1985. It has not been a success story. They have never ended a season in the top half of the league and they were bottom of the table ten times in the last thirteen seasons. The Fort had won their first league game in two years last week (2-0 at Turriff United) so I suppose everyone was hoping they could keep the momentum going against Wick Academy. However when the players left the pitch at half-time Fort William were already 3-0 down. In the second half the men from Wick took their foot of the gas but Fort William were not able to bring back much suspense, their only goal scored only minutes before time.


Panorama shot showing the stunning scenery.


The club house was open from 2pm.


The stand can be seen on the opposite side.


You are quite far from the action as a spectator at Claggan Park but the location of the ground is very impressive.


The stand is probably the best way to watch the game but is also quite far from the action.


The 3-0 came from a penalty just before the half time whistle.


The entrance to the ground.


Saturday 10th October 2009
Scottish Highland Football League
Fort William 1 Wick Academy 3
Fort William: Hewitt 88.
Wick Academy: Weir 26, Allan 33, MacAdie (pen) 45.
Att: less than 100

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Links Park (Montrose)

For pictures of a Montrose game at Links Park see this post.

After the game in Arbroath was cancelled yesterday afternoon I decided to make the most of my day so I took the train to Montrose. Montrose were playing Queen's Park in the Scottish Third Division. It took about fifteen minutes on the train to go to Montrose and it was a ten-minute walk to Links Park, home of Montrose FC. I had not really prepared this trip of course but the ground was easy enough to find. Unfortunately however I soon found out that this game was cancelled too. And I was not able to get inside the ground either so all there was left was taking some pictures holding my camera over all kinds of walls and fences.


The Main Stand.


The Main Stand seen from the side.


A panorama view of Links Park. From left to right the roofed Welling Street End terrace, the Union Street Side, the Beach End, and the Main Stand.


They like building things near the water in these parts...I now had to wait till 17:13 to take the train to Glasgow, or so I thought. A tree had fallen on the tracks near Stonehaven and all trains between Aberdeen and Dundee were affected. Eventually my train arrived at about 19:30. I spent the time in between cancelled trains in The Picture House, a large modern pub near the station.


This was the end of a long day with two new grounds but without any football.

Gayfield Park (Arbroath)

Yesterday I took the train to Arbroath, a journey of one hour and 40 minutes, to pay my first visit to Gayfield Park. Arbroath were playing Clyde in the Scottish Second Division. I had never been to Arbroath before but had already seen on Google Street View that it was a town worth visiting and had been looking forward to it for a couple of weeks. I arrived at Arbroath railway station at around 13:20, which me gave a bit of time, but not too much, to explore the town.


The first thing I noticed were the ruins of Arbroath Abbey so I walked up there to take a few pictures. I did not have time to visit the museum and to get on the actual premises so I just took a few snapshots from outside. There was a nice blue sky and it looked like a nice day for a football game, even though it was a bit windy. I remembered reading on Wikipedia the night before that 'sadly, excessive health and safety concerns in recent years, have meant more frequent cancellations in recent [years] due to excess wind, frost, snow, fog, rain.' Surely it was not that bad today?


After having visited the Abbey I walked to the shore. I have to say it was very windy here and I struggled to keep my camera still. After having taken a few pictures I walked back into the town to have something to eat.


I had already seen on the internet that there was a JD Wetherspoon's in Arbroath as well, The Corn Exchange, so I went there for a quick pint and something to eat. However I almost choked in my spicy tomato pasta when I saw on Sky Sports News that the Arbroath game had been postponed. I was obviously quite annoyed to have made this journey for nothing now but I decided to make the most of it anyway. Going back to Glasgow immediately was no option as I had an advance ticket for the 17:29 train. I remembered nearby Montrose were playing Queen's Park so I walked up to the station. I had just missed the 14:22 train to Aberdeen and the next one was at 15:22. If I took that one I would arrive at Links Park in time for the second half, better than nothing. It also gave me some time to walk up to Gayfield Park and take some pictures there before heading for Montrose.


It was a short walk to the ground. It was very windy indeed and I struggled to keep the camera still in order to take a half-decent picture. Luckily the gate was open and I could take a few pictures inside as well.


The Harbour End.


The East Terrace.


The Seaforth End.


The Main Stand.


Another view from outside. Supposedly Gayfield Park is the closest to the sea of all stadiums in Europe. I am not sure if this is true but it is very close! After having taken these pictures it was back to the train station to take the train to Montrose.
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