Recently I have found myself poring over my old photos from the fitba. Mostly because Wee Man has been constantly telling me he has been missing it, so it was a bit of reminiscing with him. To add to this I have also been reading a lot of old Scottish fitba books which have shown great old pictures of stadia up and down the country. Inevitably it has made me realise how much I am missing it now. As I started this piece I should have been in the Letzigrund in Zurich watching Grasshoppers v Winterthur(followed the next day by Neuchatel Xamax v Lugano). Instead of an Alpine adventure I find myself in my man cave/fitba room listening to podcasts writing stuff once Wee Man hits the hay every night. On top of my Swiss trip hitting the skids, I have lost out on a further twelve new grounds thus far. These missed turnstile clicks range from Scotland to England to Italy and evidently Switzerland . It’s been a kick in the nuts that’s for sure. A large proportion of these grounds have been in the Scottish lower leagues, my favourite place to find my football fix. From Girvan to Dundonald Bluebell to Gala Fairydean Rovers to Glenafton Athletic, I have missed out on a hefty amount of ninety minutes, with more to come in the next week.
I have been heading round the country to grounds from a young age, predominantly to watch Aberdeen. I used to travel all over the country with my cousin in my youth. To the extent that only ground in the Premier that managed to pass me by in this time was Almondvale and is still on the to do this(along with New Douglas Park which came along while I was playing on a Saturday). In all honesty though, I got my kicks when a friendly or Scottish Cup tie at places like Boghead, Glebe Park or Recreation Park were thrown into the mix, it was the perfect extra added bonus that I more than appreciated. In terms of appreciation up with the Station Parks and Gayfields were the occasional Highland League games we used to attend for a change when the Dons were away. Peterhead, Cove, the Broch etc, they were fantastic too and were unbeknown at the time a large factor in paving the way for my future endeavours. I love the old historic grounds (I think this clearly shines through below). The reason behind this was most likely because when I started following fitba a lot of grounds had already been remodelled and I was kept away from the golden oldies somewhat. Pittodrie erected the Dick End in my third season but the lack of terracing killed the nostalgic element before that. In the league with the Dons there was Tannadice, Rugby Park, McDiarmid (on and off), Fir Park, ibrox, parkhead grounds that have renovated and a lot of the history had gone. There were a few still a few with old main stands and/or some terracing, East End Park and Starks Park (on and off) Tynecastle, Firhill and there were the dilapidated untouched beauties like Dens Park(which was upgraded as time went on) and Brockville(which was obviously demolished). I always appreciated the relics more and I definitely still do. I believe this also has a big part to play in the fact I get so much enjoyment out of what I get up to these days for my fitba jollies. I do however realise that some people might think this is a strange list, and they would have celtic park , Hampden and the bigger grounds. Or the grounds with the atmospheres or the best day out and what have you. But those places are not for me, I cherish the oddities, the antiques, the terracing. It’s all about prerogative at the end of the day and this is how I see a good ground.
To pick my favourites now could be interesting in say two seasons time. With me being fully dedicated to the cause of ground bothering with Wee Man I’m sure this list will change. If you think your clubs midden would make it into my list then I am more than open to invites. But for now…………………
In regards to the photos, be warned I am no Don McCullin so the quality is what it is. Also * does not indicate a 3/4 photo. It indicates I had no/rubbish photo and nicked it. There’s not many though
Kynoch Park, Keith – Keith FC
Brilliant Bricks in Banffshire
Ground-These grounds are in no order but I have deliberately placed Kynoch Park first. The reason being it triggered what has now become a passion/obsession for visiting grounds up and down the land. The best place to start is the gem of a main stand or the Sandy Stables stand as it is now known after Club legend who passed away in 2018. It really is a wonderful step back in time. The high concrete wall and elevated viewing area that sits on top of the changing rooms makes for a fantastic piece of architecture. The front row must be 8-9 foot from the pitch level. On a match day this is capable of three hundred and seventy punters. I have to say this is up there with my favourite stands in Scotland and is well and truly part of the draw of Kynoch Park. Another great thing about this old girl, it has shutters for when not in use. A nice quirk. Opposite the grandstand there is a corrugated standing enclosure with a few steps and a concrete slope. This runs for around a third of the length of the wing equidistantly each side of the half way line. Behind the goals there are gravel/grass standing areas as with each side of the stands.
Points of Note-When watching a game under the floodlights it seems they are at the absolute minimum allowed lumens required to host a game in the dark. I noticed this on both occasions I visited, one being a December 15.00 kick off which descended into darkness and a midweek game. Behind the far goal(from the turnstile) is under complete darkness when its night time. An unusual part of the ground which I picked up on, usually when there is a groundsman’s shed/garage its hidden in the corner out of sight. Not at Keith, they have a double garage attached to the Main Stand. Something you don’t see much, if at all. A friendly club in a friendly town it has to be said.
Glebe Park, Brechin, Brechin City FC
Brechins Bit of Everything
Capacity – 4083
Pitch – Grass
Ground – Glebe Park has it all. It has a definite appeal about it.Every side has a structure of such. The best one to highlight first is obviously the natural and most famous one. The Hedge.What a awesome sight which has to be one of the most famous things in Scottish fitba. I have seen bigger (Tayport and Coupar Angus) but this one is known far and wide. The ultimate oddity in Scottish fitba? When I say Glebe has everything by this is mean it has the old, new and simple. The main stand although not old in the grand scheme of things(1981). Old as in its an old design that could have been built many a year before, 290 bums can find seats in here. The Cemetery End is a enclosure that’s been chucked up for shelter for the spectators who chose to view the match from the shallow few rows of terracing . No frills corrugation. The opposite end, the “new”, The David H Will Stand is strangely positioned behind the goal its a rarity(this coming from someone who has looked at the Richard Donald Stand for 27 years might sound daft). Its a rarity on the whole but after being given a lottery grant it was the only area of the ground where the stand could be accommodated as the hedge impeded any erection on the wing. This stand is a bit of overkill size wise, as it holds around 1200 supporters. There are various uncovered standing points throughout the ground too.
Points of Note – The changing rooms are not in the Main Stand but a separate entity on the left (as you face). There is a certain charm to this in my eyes. In the numerous visits to Glebe that I have made I have always found the stewards, pie stand workers etc to be really friendly. You never go short of a blether.
Newlandsfield Park – Glasgow – Pollok FC
The Gem of Glasgow
Opened – 1928
Capacity – 4000
Pitch – Grass
Ground– Only one area of Newlandsfield is covered which is the Cowshed. This runs a good chunk of the far wing form the turnstiles. It gives the place a real old school feel. In here the atmosphere is boisterous, the “cairyoots” flow. This is the busiest area of the ground, the craic is worth watching the game from here. Pollok are one of the best supported clubs in the
Junior ….WOSFL set up so there will always be a good number of fans in Newlandsfield no matter who the opponents are.The view from the shed is good. A few pillars but there is enough room to stand where there is no obstruction. The remaining three sides of the ground are made up of a few steps of slabbed terracing, with the Newlandsfield Road end being home to the clubhouse and changing rooms. I would love to have seen this place in days gone by when multiple thousands have been in attendance. One of Scotlands unheralded icons and the best ground in Glasgow(since Hampden was murdered).
Points of Note -If the Cowshed gives an old school vibe , the toilets out the back add to it. No roof and basically peeing on a wall. The steak pies are a delight here. So much so, I had two. My favourite quirk of the place are the Birness Road high risers towering over the far end of the park. A famous view from this old ground
Tynecastle Park, Edinburgh, Heart of Midlothian FC
The Capitals Classy Newbuild
Opened – 1886
Pitch – Grass
Ground -The scene of my first ever away game with Aberdeen in 1995. A lot has changed since then, the reconstruction had started with the Wheatfield Stand already in place. Since then it has morphed into the best (new builds) in Scotland. This being in my opinion but I know it is other peoples too. The Gorgie Stand and the Roseburn Stand followed then the most recent construction was the 7000 seater Main Stand. The design of the ground is what makes it. Its symmetrical without being bowled. Its aesthetically good. But the main detail they have got right is the steepness and the feeling of being on top of the play. I have sat in three of the stands (Roseburn the exception) and have never been disappointed with the view and when full the atmosphere seems to get trapped as well. As I have touched on earlier I am not a fan of newer grounds but as far as Scotland goes Tynecastle deserves to find its place in this. All squeezed into a tiny footprint as well imagine that.
Points of note – Controversial statement when talking about Hearts,I have still to visit Easter Road in its full rebuild as some people tell me it is better . Last time I was there it was jut the three stands up. So I need to give it a bash. Anyway, Tynecastle’s exterior façade of the Main Stand is the only let down for me. It resembles an old academy or an office block rather than a stand. But this is me being pernickety. An added bonus to Tynecastle is, it is the best smelling ground I have set foot in with the North British Distillery next door.
Beechwood Park, Sauchie, Sauchie JFC
A cracker in Clackmananshire
Opened – 1970
Capacity – 5000
Ground – As far as non league grounds go Beechwood Park is up there with the best. A tidy set up. The Jimmy Millar stand (erected in 2003) is the main event and is as good a stand as you would find in the Juniors/Pyramid leagues. Sitting high with the social club and changing room below I can imagine a great view available from the 200 seats that are found there. The opposite side there is a covered standing enclosure which can hold a decent amount of spectators. The metalwork for the enclosures were purchased from Falkirk after Brockville was demolished(as were the floodlights and dugouts). Behind one goal the there is another enclosure which nowadays seems to acting as a garage for the grounds mans equipment and training gear. Beechwood also has ample space to stand and watch at all sides of the ground. There cant be many tidier grounds at this level.
Points of note – I am a sucker for ground entrances and Sauchie welcome you with a urban artwork graffitied corrugated iron fence with the team name spelled out. This followed by “Beechwood Park” in iron lettering perched on the perimeter wall . The setting of the ground is also good on the eye with it being enclosed by trees. The only void in the trees is where the stand and the carpark have been built. This opens up a great view from the enclosure side as it gives the great backdrop of the Ochil Hills. This place will always have sentimental value as it was Wee Mans fiftieth ground and what a superb wee ground to have celebrated the milestone at
Claggan Park, Fort William, Fort William FC
Beauty at the Bottom of Ben Nevis
Opened – The Fort took up residency 1974 when the club was formed. The Park it self dates back aeons
Capacity – 1800
Pitch – Grass
Ground – As you walk in to Claggan Park there is this wonderful feeling of walking into another world. You are immediately in awe of the views of the foothills of Ben Nevis that surround the ground. There are other picturesque stadiums in our great land (Dumbarton springs to mind) but none have made me gasp at the beauty. The ground is set over a huge expanse of grass(the pitch can turn 90 degrees). Behind the goal the social club is found on the left which sits next door to the changing room block. On this wing the two new stands are found. These house 400 people. The opposite wing is home to the old stand which is now in state of disrepair and out of use to the public. Not much to look at but that is not what Claggan is about. The allure of the surroundings make this place the place an incredible theatre to was a match. Stunning doesn’t cover it and its a great tribute to the fantastic country side nature blessed us with in Scotland. A must for anyone who has not been.
Points of Note – The midges. The west of Scotland has the reputation for having pestilence sized swarms of them. I found out for myself that night. Note the hat in the picture, that night was a warm and humid spring night, What started off as t-shirt and jeans turned into heading back to the car for a hat and jacket to protect myself from the plague of blood thirsty demons. Why cant they just admire the view or watch the fitba instead
Somerset Park, Ayr, Ayr United FC
Antiquity Appeal in Ayr
Capacity – 12128
Pitch – Grass
Ground – One of the Scotland’s most fantastic “relic” grounds. Somerset Park is possibilly the finest examples of the dying breed . The types that are being replaced with glorified out of town bike sheds. As soon as I walked in through the turnstiles at the Main Stand I was could feel the delight building up inside me. What a place. The Main Stand its self is another of the old fashioned raised well above pitch level types with standing space in front. This dates back to 1924, well a large portion does as the stand was lengthened in 1989 meaning 1450 seated spectators can be accommodated. From here the ground is fully standing. To your right you can find the Somerset Road End which is a fully covered . If you carry on round clockwise you will find yourself in the open terrace which runs the length of the touch line and continuing round concrete bowl you will end up in the Railway End which is similar to its opposite Somerset Road End but has the roof painted in the clubs black and white, which is the part of the ground I have always remembered from when I was a nipper and saw it on the box. The Railway End then morphs into a smaller open terrace which takes you back to the Main Stand.You don’t get much more old school than this place and people should embrace this fantastic old girl. Long live Somerset Park in all its glory
Points of Note – At the back of the open terrace there is a block that pokes above. I had always wondered what this was. It turns out it is the “prawn sandwich” hospitality box. I was glad to see its named after the late great Ayr and Scottish fitba legend Ally MacLeod
Bellslea Park, Fraserburgh, Fraserburgh FC
The Brochs Benched Beauty
Capacity – 3000
Pitch – Grass
Ground – Bellslea Park makes it in for similar reasons to Kynoch Park in Keith. I am a man for a classy grandstand and the Broch have one of the best in the in the country. The Jim Adams Stand.Its classical look is good on the eye, it still has benched seating, its the old raised design I like(as you have probably noticed) ,it also has multiple support beams at the extreme front of the stand in a style you don’t see much often (another similarity with Kynoch Park) and its in the HFL ground with the best support(obviously this being my opinion). Fraserburgh FC are one of my most visited Highland League teams throughout the years and I always enjoy a trip in that corner of Scotland for a game(need to get Wee Man up). The support helps but obviously the ground does too. The Main Stand is the only structure with the rest of the sides being grass verges but that doesn’t take away anything from this quality wee ground. The fans are right on the action from the standing areas as the are about a metre from the touchline. I can see why many HFL players say its their favourite to play at.
Points of Note – There is a peculiarity at Bellslea, there is the gable end of a house backing on to the pitch just up from the dugouts. The perimeter wall of the ground stops to accommodate this Its strange because I cant ever remembering seeing this anywhere before. At the Jim Adams side of the park there is the Fraserburgh South Kirk looming over the ground. Quite the imposing structure and adds another quirk to the place. Also worthy of a mention, the last couple of times I have been up the road I have found the pies to be excellent. There is one other thing I really like about Bellslea. The flag. This is the flag they raise to signify the match is on. If its up game on, if its down game off. Not a huge detail but a wee thing I appreciate. (This broke for a period last season, there must have been a lot of Brochers missed games)
Hannah Park , Shotts, Shotts Bon Accord
Hannah’s Humungous Rug
Capacity – 4000
Pitch – Grass
Ground – Hannah Park is ace in terms of non league. As you enter the turnstiles you are met with the changing room/board room block. This is connected to the snack bar, toilet blocks etc which run up the back of the stand. The stand is unique and actually looks like it could close when not in use . You maybe have to see it to understand what I am getting at. It is a beige/brown colour that I can safely say I have ever seen any stadia before.The rest of the ground is made up of a few steps of terracing circling round the pitch in an enormous bowl. This terrace is found behind an aging brick wall which has seen better days but adds to the character of this great old ground. There is then a track between the grass and the wall. Something about the place immediately made me develop a fondness for it. It is by far my favourite junior ground as its has a lot of elements that make it unique……….WOSFL I mean.
Points of Note – Hannah Park boasts the biggest playing surface in Scotland which is quite the claim to fame. Basically it is pushed to the limits of dimensional legality. This surely must be a leg up for the BA every other week.Its something to marvel at when you see it in the flesh. The snack bar, Bonny Bistro also deserves a mention as it one of the best stocked food outlets at a fitba ground. It puts some Premier League grounds to shame with its choices.The ground was named after local man James Hannah. Mr Hannah was part of the volunteer team who built the ground who unfortunately contracted thrombosis during construction and died as a result.
Cliftonhill, Coatbridge, Albion Rovers FC
Character and Charm in Coatbridge
Opened – 1919
Capacity – 1572
Pitch – Grass
Ground – Lets not beat around the bush, Cliftonhill has seen better days. Folk hate and folk say there is no place for it in the league set up. I say they are full of it. Cliftonhill is ace. Character? The place is oozing with it. As you turn up you are greeted with an explosion of red and yellow. The gates, the rear of the Main Stand, the big Albion Rovers sign. Once you are in you have to ascend the stairs up and round to the front of the old Main Stand. This stand is small and a bit weird. There has been some sort of refurbishment at some point. I am still trying work out. Maybe it was just a roof extension out the front of the stand and nothing more. Kind of looks like it was something was started but not finished. Opposite from there is the Albion Road Stand which unfortunately is now closed to fans due to safety fears. Its a shame as it probably was the most boisterous area of the ground in years gone by. This is fully standing and loaded with crush barriers. One goal has nothing behind and the opposite end has shallow terracing. The place just has personality and will have many tales to tell. Something about the place has the kind of appeal that makes me love the whole “ground bothering” adventure, give me Cliftonhill over most grounds in the SPFL
Points of Note – The MC is a top man. He had a conversation with us and then over the mic introduced us to the crowd and welcomed the youngest person in the ground Wee Man who got an applause from all present. Then when we were walking away he said over the mic “oh and don’t forget, this is Coatbridge, I hope you locked your car” . Quality humour. A random fact , the floodlights are actually the ex service floodlights from Cardiff Arms Park
Barrfields, Largs, Largs Thistle FC
Long viewing in Largs
Opened – 1930
Pitch – Artificial
Ground – The area of land that Barrfields takes up seems strangely colossal. As you walk in the turnstiles you have the clubhouse and board rooms on your right. From here its a struggle to see the opposite goal. The reason for this being the terrace is made up of a shallow 4 or 5 steps in an oval all the way around the pitch. Due to this shape there is excess turf behind the goals creating a huge void between the terrace behind the goal and the goal its self. (Think Hampden). Its a long view from the terrace to the far goal. The town side of the pitch is home to the only stand and seated area of the ground which seats around 800 and traverses the full touchline and its corrugated frame is decked out in the amber and black of Theesle .I have found at Pollok, it has the odd tinnie here and there being devoured by the thirsty locals.The stand is unusual as it resembles some sort of tunnel. Its almost reminiscent of a bunker or a something you would find on a piggery. But I like it. Its definitely distinctive. This is filled with benched seating and is the busiest area of the ground on a match day. Long way from home but well worth the visit, there’s just something about it
Points of Note – The pitch is artificial, a pet hate of mine but I get why clubs at this level install them. They are worth a fortune to a club like Largs Thistle. Still don’t like them. I talked about the void behind the goal. Void is not quite true as there are actually five-a-side pitches and more filling these gargantuan”voids”. It really is a idiosyncrasy that adds something to the Barrfields experience. Cant say I remember ever so far from a goal when behind it before.
Cappielow Park, Greenock, Greenock Morton FC
Cranes and Cowsheds
Opened – 1879
Capacity – 11589
Pitch – Grass
Ground – Another of my all time favourites anywhere and not just Scotland. The Grandstand is an all seated stand with wooden floors and rarely seen roof mounted floodlights(which blew up when we were there, showering the park with glass). Opposite you will find the area of choice for the more vocal local Greenockians(?). This is the Cowshed, which also has the roof mounted floodlights. The set up of the stand is offbeat, its terraced but has once upon a time had a wee revamp where seats have been added to the front. A bit unconventional . Speaking of strange, behind the goal at the Clyde side you will find the Wee Dublin End which is fully benched and uncovered (brave idea in a wet place like Greenock). It looks like it should not be there as it doesn’t really fit into the aesthetics of the ground but I have a soft spot for it. There is no other end in Scotland like it. I am guessing it was a terrace at one point and have had the benches added. Behind the other goal is the Sinclair Street end which is a small open terrace. Like Somerset Park this one of the few remaining classic grounds
Points of note – The famous Cappielow landmark, the James Watt Dock crane looms over the Wee Dublin End. This Titan crane is probably the most famous thing about the ground to most non Morton fans (Dean Windass scoring 4 in extra time for me). Its quite the sight and dominates the view. As we were in the Main Stand we entered via the Sinclair Street turnstiles. Once you are in you are welcomed by a fantastic mosaic on the deck under the stand. An impressive piece of art. (A slip hazard on a wet day however) I will also mention all kids get in for a quid. Which should be encouraged throughout our game. Well played Morton