January 31, 2009 – Penicuik Park
Once upon a time I visited Penicuik Athletic’s old ground, Eastfield Park, for a pre-season testimonial involving Meadowbank Thistle.
That must have been the thick end of two decades ago now, and a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then.
Meadowbank controversially became Livingston of course, while for the Cuikie, the sale of Eastfield for a supermarket development forced them out of the game for over ten years.
Happily, they managed to get themselves back in business a few years back when the local Council granted them a section of the local park, which they fenced off to form a neat new enclosure.
Since then there’s been steady progress, with the club now pushing for promotion to the East Region Super League.
Located some eight miles south of Edinburgh and several miles from the nearest junior club, Penicuik have been successful in building up support from the local community.
The amount of perimeter advertising at the ground indicates an enterprising and industrious committee, as does the well put together but ad-heavy match programme.
In terms of punters through the paybox, they compare well with most of the East Region, with home crowds usually well into three figures.
I didn’t attempt a headcount but this game must have attracted around 150, very few of whom seemed to be backing the visitors from Fife. A week before, a Junior Cup tie with Lanark, attended by Fitba Daft saw well over 300 attend.
In clear but cold weather conditions, the crowd was treated to a typically meaty junior clash, which was a good advert for the grade.
The goalless first half saw Penicuik assert themselves, but with very little end result.
Thankfully the goals began to follow in the second half, with Penicuik netting twice in quick succession to put the game beyond the reaches of a workmanlike but limited Oakley side.
To their credit the Fifers never gave in, hitting back with an outstanding 25 yard strike, but Cuikie responded with a third to put a lid on any hopes of a comeback.
In the final minute the scoring was rounded off with a scrambled second goal from Oakley.
A player for whom the phrase diminutive was coined, Bryan was a promising youngster in the Meadowbank reserves when I was a much younger supporter, where his tricky wide play was always entertaining to watch.
He eventually broke through into the first team and got a few appearances under his belt, before returning to junior level, where he seems to be an influence on proceedings, even well into his late Thirties.
The tea bar contains the usual fare, although I wasn’t too impressed with the scotch pie on offer.
To be fair though, that, and a fixed odds coupon which was burst by 3.15pm, were the only downsides to an decent afternoon out in deepest Midlothian.
Scoring – 1-0 Barr, 2-0 Moonie, 2-1 Lammie, 3-1 Moonie, 3-2 Lammie
Attendance – 150 est
Admission – £5
Programme – £1
Ground – 6/10. One of the better grounds at this level.
Game – 5/10. Hotly contested but the result was never in doubt.
Overall experience – 6/10. With the weather favourable, a good day out.