Saturday, 23 January 2010

Stark's Park (Raith Rovers v Greenock Morton)

Today I went to Kirkcaldy to pay my first ever visit to Stark's Park, the home of First Division side Raith Rovers, who were taking on Morton. The journey from Glasgow Queen Street to Kirkcaldy took about an hour and 20 minutes by train, changing at Edinburgh Haymarket. I arrived in the town with some time to spare and I had a couple of pre-match pints in the local JD Wetherspoon's, The Robert Nairn. From there it was a fifteen-minute walk to the ground.

Stark's Park is an unusual ground and not as modern-looking as I thought it would be. The Scottish Ground Guide gives an all-seater capacity of 10,104 (meeting the old SPL requirement of 10,000) however the Railway Stand has fallen into disrepair and apparently has no safety certificate and can therefore no longer be used. Even most of the seats have been removed now as you can see in the pictures. The two stands at both ends of the grounds are very modern and have a capacity of just over 3,000 each. The most interesting stand is the Main Stand which runs for less than half the length of the pitch but extends around the southeast corner of the ground. The total capacity now is about 8,100 (which meets the current SPL requirement of 6,000).

This was my second Morton game in five days after last Tuesday's cup game against Celtic. Today the men from Greenock were the deserved winners. Peter Weatherson (who else?) scored the two Morton goals. Kevin Smith's 79th minute penalty brought back the suspense and ensured an entertaining finale however Raith were not able to salvage a point.

First a couple of pre-match pints in The Robert Nairn in Kirk Wynd.

Approaching Stark's Park.

The facade of the Main Stand.

The North Stand housed the Morton fans. My seat was in the South Stand, which looks almost identical.

The Railway Stand is no longer in use. The stand does not have a safety certificate and most of the seats have been removed.

The Main Stand, which runs less than half the length of the pitch.

The South Stand.

Kevin Smith's penalty gave the Raith fans hope again.

The South Stand after the game.

Saturday 23rd January 2010
Scottish Football League First Division
Raith Rovers 1 Greenock Morton 2
Raith Rovers: Kevin Smith 79 pen.
Morton: Weatherson 33, 52.
Att: 1,702

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Cappielow Park (Greenock Morton v Celtic)

Last night I visited Cappielow in Greenock for the fourth round Scottish Cup match between Morton and Celtic. The tie was originally scheduled for 9th January when I was unable to go because I was in Frimley Green for the darts during that weekend. However the match was postponed, at first to 12th January and then again to the 19th because of a frozen pitch. This enabled me to witness a capacity crowd at Cappielow, a rare sight.

As I work in Greenock travelling was no problem. After a few pre-match pints in the James Watt, the local JD Wetherspoon pub, we started the two-minute journey from Greenock Central to Cartsdyke railway station, which is adjacent to Cappielow Park. The stadium is an old-fashioned ground with lots of character. I had visited Cappielow only once before, a 9-1 thrashing of Forfar when Morton were still playing in the Second Division a few years ago. The Grandstand looks like a standard main stand, however the Cowshed is a more unusual construction with seats at the front and terracing at the back. The terrace behind the goal at the Sinclair Street end of the ground is an uncovered terrace for the home fans. The opposite end, called the Wee Dublin End was allocated to the Celtic fans tonight. This end has wooden benches but fans are usually standing here as well. This stand is normally only open during the bigger games, such as the game last night.

Celtic have been struggling lately so there was an outside chance of an upset. A draw would have been attractive as the replay at Celtic Park would have taken place tonight. In the first 35 minutes the over 10,000 in attendance witnessed an even contest. However after Nial McGinn's goal it never looked as if this was going to be Morton's night.

For more pictures of Cappielow see this post.

A packed Cowshed.

The Celtic Supporters in the Wee Dublin End.

Unfortunately for Morton no cup shock tonight.

The Grandstand.

The Sinclair Street End.

The Sinclair Street End after the match.

Looking towards the Wee Dublin End.

The Grandstand.

Tuesday 19th January 2010
The Active Nation Scottish Cup Round 4
Greenock Morton 0 Celtic 1
Goal: McGinn 35.
Att: 10,191

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Recreation Ground (Aldershot Town)

Last Saturday I took these pictures around Aldershot Town's ground, which is now officially called 'The EBB Stadium at the Recreation Ground'. My wife and I stayed in nearby Frimley for four days to see the darts at the Lakeside Complex in Frimley Green during the last four days of the BDO World Darts Championship. I had already planned to visit Aldershot Town's stadium before I headed off to England and I had initially meant to take a train. However with the excessive snow in this part of the country there was no train service between Frimley and Aldershot so I took the bus instead.

After about 30 minutes I got off at Aldershot bus station and started the short walk to the ground. Unfortunately I was not able to get inside the stadium so I was left with taking some pictures from the outside.

The Shots have played in League Two since last season. Founded in 1992 Aldershot Town were founded after the old Aldershot FC went out of business. It took several promotions and sixteen years for league football to return to Aldershot. The compact Recreation Ground has a capacity of 7,100 which includes 2,000 seats. Last season the average attendance was 3,276.

I cannot wait to visit a proper football match again...hopefully Morton v Celtic will go ahead this Tuesday!

The East Bank seen from outside the ground. This is the away end.

Again the East Bank.

The North Stand stand seen through the snow-covered trees.

Turnstules leading to the away end.

A closer look at the turnstiles.

The club office and home turnstiles.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Croke Park

I had planned to go to Dunfermline today for the Fife derby against Raith Rovers. Unfortunately the game was called off in the morning. I then decided to visit Hampden for Queens's Park against Albion Rovers. However also this one was called off late meaning all Scottish Football League fixtures scheduled for today were postponed. Therefore a short post on my visit to Croke Park over two years ago...

In 2007 I spent about two months in Dublin for my work, travelling back and forth to Scotland every weekend. I was staying in the Park Plaza hotel in Tyrrelstown, which is about 45 minutes on the bus from Dublin city centre, and I did not have much time to do any sightseeing in Dublin. I decided to take one Thursday off and set off to Croke Park on 25th October 2007.

Croke Park is the principal stadium and headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). Since 1884 the site has been used mainly by the GAA to host Gaelic Games. The All-Ireland Senior Football Championship and the Senior Hurling Championship are the most important events. Since 2007 Croke Park has also hosted a number of football (or 'soccer' as they say in Ireland) and rugby games whilst Lansdowne Road has been undergoing a redevelopment. This was controversial as the GAA previously did not allow GAA venues to be used for 'foreign' sports, i.e. football, rugby, and cricket. Until the early 1970s a member of the GAA could even be banned from playing its games if found to be playing football, rugby, or cricket.

The tour was interesting and a visit to the museum was part of it. Definitely recommended if you are not able to attend any games. The stadium is very impressive if only for the sheer size of it. Croke Park is the fourth largest stadium in Europe with a capacity of 82,300. As I took the tour on a weekday in October it was not very busy. There was only a guy from Tipperary and a family from England on my tour.

The pictures below were taken by my friend Martijn who took the same tour about a week or so before me.

Approaching Croke Park.

The entrance to the museum. This is also where the tour started.

The Nally Terrace and Hill 16. These are normally terraced stands however temporary seats were added to comply with UEFA regulations. Around this time the national football team were playing Euro 2008 qualifiers against Germany (on 13th October, 0-0) and Cyprus (on 17th October, 1-1).

The Cusack Stand.

The Davin Stand.

The Hogan Stand.

Again the Hogan Stand.

The museum was interesting even for someone like myself who does not know anything about Gaelic games.

The dressing room with Kerry shirts on one side. Kerry had won the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship in 2007.

On the other side Kilkenny shirts. Kilkenny won the Kilkenny Senior Hurling Championship in 2007.

The pressroom all ready for the Euro 2008 qualifiers.

The Cusack Stand.

The Canal End (the Davin Stand).
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