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Crowdfunding Sons

In these dark days of no football and nothing to light up (or darken) Saturday afternoons, thoughts can easily turn to gloom.

This is especially so since there is a real prospect that without an income stream for what would have been the remainder of the season many clubs – Sons included – could struggle to survive.

In a generous gesture the staff and players have already agreed to defer half the wages they were due, which will go some way to ease the financial pressures on the club.

However that was always unlikely to be enough. To enable fans to play a part in (with hope) tiding the club over scary times, a crowdfunding page has been set up for them – and others – to contribute towards helping Dumbarton FC as a club through a difficult time.

Yes, I have already donated.

Spotland Stadium

Home of Rochdale AFC. The stadium is known as the Crown Oil Arena due to sponsorship.

View from Willbutts Lane:-

Spotland Stadium, Home of Rochdale AFC

Pearl Street stand:-

Spotland, Pearl Street Stand

From bend in Pearl Street, Pearl Street stand to right, main stand to left:-

Spotland From Bend in Pearl Street

Turnstiles at Sandy Lane stand and turnstiles for Main stand west:-

Spotland, Turnstiles at Sandy Lane Stand

From Sandy Lane:-

Spotland from Sandy Lane

Willbutts Lane stand from main stand:-

Spotland, Willbutts Lane Stand

Pearl Street stand from main stand:-

Spotland, Pearl Street Stand

Sandy Lane stand/enclosure from main stand. This end is terraced rather than containing seating:-

Spotland, Sandy Lane Stand/Enclosure

Main stand from Sandy Lane End:-

Spotland, Main Stand

Rochdale AFC’s mascot, Desmond the Dragon, with young fans:-

Spotland Desmond the Dragon With Young Fans

The Game’s a Bogey*

I’ll have a worry free afternoon tomorrow now that Scottish football has been suspended till further notice.

(It would have been worry free anyway since we were all but safe from relegation.)

Who knows what will happen now though?

The coronavirus outbreak apparently won’t peak for weeks yet -long after this season ought to have finished. How will the clubs at our level manage without the income they would have derived from their remaining home games? (In our case four.) Could we even see clubs folding? Most players’ contracts run out at season’s end in May; could they be asked to play on beyond their terms? Footballers also tend to take their holidays in May and June will they be available to play then? (Mind you they might not be able to go on holiday if countries are in lock-down.) What will be done about promotion and relegation? Will the season be declared null? How fair would that be on teams expecting promotion? Will next season even start on time? These are utterly unprecedented times.

But public protection must be the over-riding consideration. Large gatherings of people are certainly to be avoided for the moment to prevent any possible transmission that might have taken place.

*For any non-Scot reading this an explanation of this post’s title is at the online Scots dictionary.

Links Park, Montrose

Links Park is the home of Montrose FC. Its entrance is at the end of Wellington Street, just off a park with the same name as the ground:-

Entrance to Links Park, Montrose

Southwest Corner:-

Links Park from Southwest Corner

Stand from southwest:-

Links Park Main Stand from Southwest

West Terracing:-

West Terracing, Links Park, Montrose

Links Park from northwest corner, showing main stand:-

Links Park from Northwest Corner

From northeast corner:-

Links Park from Northeast corner

Stand from northeast corner:-

Main Stand, Links Park from Northeast Corner

Stand:-

Links Park Main Stand

Stand from southeast corner:-

Main Stand, Links Park from Southeast Corner

West and north terracing from southeast corner:-

West and North Terracing Links Park from Southeast Corner

Lifted Over the Turnstiles by Steve Finan

Scotland’s Football Grounds in the Black and White Era, D C Thomson Media, 2018, 257 p. With a foreword by Chick Young.

 Lifted Over the Turnstiles cover

Annfield, Bayview, Boghead, Brockville, Broomfield, Cathkin Park, Douglas Park, Firs Park, Love Street, Muirton, New Kilbowie, Shawfield, Telford Street, Kingsmills. Names to conjure with – and all gone to dust (or housing, or supermarkets.)

To Scottish football fans of a certain age (which I am) this book is a magnificent nostalgia fest. It features 41 of the historic grounds of the present day SPFL football clubs, plus two more, Shielfield (at time of publishing Berwick Rangers were still in the SPFL,) and Firs Park. The only ones missing are Peterhead’s former ground at Recreation Park and Annan Athletic’s Galabank. The criterion for inclusion in the book was that a photograph had not been widely published before or else illustrated some quirk of the ground concerned. (I was somewhat disappointed that only one photo of Boghead, former home of the mighty Sons of the Rock, appears; but I have my own memories to savour.) And of course for Inverness Caledonian Thistle you get two former grounds, Telford Street and Kingsmills. In the course of following the Sons I have visited most of the stadia here in their heydays, excepting only those belonging to the ex-Highland League clubs (though I have walked past Telford Street Park several times and even been to Clachnacuddin’s Grant Street Park in Inverness for a game – a pre-season friendly they played against East Fife; in 1976, while I was in the town.) I have frequented many over the years since.

The book is a delightful celebration of the history of the beautiful game in Scotland – and also a memorial to what has been lost. Cathkin apart, all of the grounds on the list above have been replaced by bright(ish) new(ish) stadia but most of those have yet to invoke the glories of these now mouldered (Cathkin again) or vanished (most of the rest) temples to Scotland’s abiding sporting obsession. With only one exception, Hampden, the book tends not to delve as far back as pre-World War 2, hence the absence of even longer gone grounds such as the Gymnasium, home to St Bernard’s FC, of which photographs would in any case be vanishingly scarce.

There is a 1930s, Art Decoish-looking, building in the pictures of Shawfield that I don’t remember from my only visit there and which I assume was demolished years ago. My favourite old ground, Firs Park, is shown in the days before that huge concrete wall was erected at one end to stop the ball going on to the access road to the retail park beside the ground; before, even, the office building that overlooked that end of the park in the 1970s. That other redolent relic, Cliftonhill, is shown lying in a natural bowl perfect for siting a football stadium.

The text is studded with various titbits of arcane information. Glasgow had at one time three of the biggest football grounds in the world in Hampden, Celtic Park and Ibrox. And there were plans to extend Shawfield’s capacity to add to that list of superstadia. The world’s first penalty kick was awarded against Airdrieonians (away at Royal Albert in a charity Cup match) and was scored by a James McLuggage. (Not from a penalty spot, that had yet to be invented; from any point along a line twelve yards from goal.) A WW2 pillbox was constructed at Borough Briggs with slit windows/gun ports all round (those sly Germans could after all have attacked from any direction) and remained in place till Elgin City joined the SFL in 2000. It was Ochilview which hosted the first ever floodlit match in Scotland. Falkirk once held the world record for the highest transfer fee and Brockville was the venue for the first televised floodlit game. Rugby Park used to be ‘mown’ by a resident sheep – three in total over the years. Hampden’s square goal posts now reside in St Etienne’s museum as they were held by that club to be responsible for their defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich in the European Cup Final of 1976 since two of their team’s efforts rebounded out from the goal frame instead of scraping over the line. Les poteaux carres is still used as a phrase for bad luck in the city.

Attending football matches is no longer as economical as it was back in the day. One photo shows a 20 p entrance fee at Firhill in 1970. After inflation that 20p would equate to £3 in 2018. Try getting into even a non-league ground for that now! Some things definitely were better in the good old days.

Pedant’s corner:- “the current club were established” (was established,) “the club were on the up” (the club was) sprung (sprang, x2.)

Glebe Park, Brechin, Addendum

From the path to the park which contains Brechin’s War Memorial there is a good view of the reverse of the beech hedge which forms the western boundary of Glebe Park. You can also see the David Will Stand in this photo:-

Beech Hedge, Glebe Park, Brechin

The following two photos were taken of Sons new strip for 2018-19 (now superseded again) at the game on 25/8/18, a game we should have won.

Sons New Strip for Season 2018-19

Sons New Strip 2018-19 Close Up

Martin Peters

The football player who was “ten years ahead of his time” (at least according to Alf Ramsey) and one of a select few – English footballers to have won a World Cup – has died.

Had Wolfgang Weber not scored for Germany in the last minute of normal time Martin Peters would have been known as the man who won that World Cup as it was he who put England into the lead in the 78th minute.

As it was, Ramsey told his players, “You’ve won it once. Now you’ll have to go out there and win it again,” but it was team mate Geoff Hurst who grabbed the late glory.

All in all Peters had not a bad footballing CV.

Martin Stanford Peters: 8/11/1943 – 21/12/2019. So it goes.

Reminiscences

Back when I was young I used to have an order for Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly.

Buchan had been a football player in the 1910s and 1920s – most notably with Sunderland. His career was interrupted of course by the Great War (in which he served and won the Military Medal.)

His eponymous monthly magazine (started in 1951) was the first dedicated to football.

One article I strongly remember (though I forget most of the details) was about the longest FA Cup tie ever played, which went to several replays before finally being resolved.

However the magazine stopped publishing in 1974. When my newsagent pointed this out to me I told him (being well into SF by that time) that I had in any case decided to transfer my order to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (aka to us aficionados as F&SF.)

I forget how many years I kept the order – probably till around the time I got married. I still have all those issues in a cupboard somewhere, though, despite several house moves since.

Though I was never much into the fantasy side of F&SF I did remember with some fondness stories written by Phyllis Eisenstein about one Alaric the minstrel who had been born with the ability to teleport merely by thinking. As a bit of nostalgia I have bought and am now reading a novel featuring Alaric (Born to Exile – see my sidebar for the moment.) I wonder how it will stand up.

If it does there’s a sequel titled In the Red Lord’s Reach which I may then purchase.

Ainslie Park, Edinburgh

Home of The Spartans FC (and, temporarily, of Edinburgh City FC.)

This is only the second Scottish ground I have been to at which my younger son* has seen a game before me. He took in a Lowland League game a couple of years before the Sons made their first ever visit here for the 0-0 draw in the League Cup in July 2018 which is why I was there. That result more or less signalled the demise of Stevie Aitken as Sons manager. The chop finally came a few months later.

(*The other ground was McDiarmid Park.)

Ainslie Park approach from car park:-

Ainslie Park, Edinburgh

Entrance Sign for “The Spartans Community Football Academy”:-

Ainslie Park, Edinburgh, Entrance Sign

Administration and changing room block. Ground entrance to right:-

Ainslie Park Changing Room Block

Concourse and Stand:-

Ainslie Park Concourse and Stand

From southeast corner:-

Ainslie Park From Southeast Corner

Pitch looking north:-

Ainslie Park, Edinburgh, Pitch Looking North

From southwest corner:-

Ainslie Park, Edinburgh from Southwest Corner

Looking east from northwest corner:-

Ainslie Park Looking East from Northwest Corner

From northwest corner:-

Ainslie Park from Northwest Corner

What’s the Question?

So Tottenham Hotspur have appointed Jose Mourinho as manager after sacking Mauricio Pochettino.

Really?

Granted Spurs haven’t been doing well in the league this season and are well off the top four – much nearer the relegation spots in fact – but they’re well placed to qualify out of their Champions League* group even though they got gubbed 7-2 at home against Bayern Munich. And the players surely are as accomplished as they were last season. If it is true they may be a little stale that can be laid at the foot of the club’s hierarchy, notoriously unwilling to make the outlays necessary to attract players to the club. (Okay, the new stadium’s costs are a factor in that.)

But Pochettino has surely outperformed his resources and is still young in managerial terms. Will his sacking come to be seen as a huge mistake?

Given Spur’s traditional style of play Mourinho’s pragmatism seems an unlikely fit – as it was at Manchester United – and will inevitably lead to dissatisfaction among the fans, and probably quite quickly at that.

This may be a hostage to fortune as it is possible (if unlikely) that Mourinho (whose best days seem to be behind him) will lead Spurs to a Champions League win this season. But.

If Jose Mourinho is the answer to Spurs’s problems what on Earth is the question?

*So-called

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