February 7, 2009 – New Petershill Park
A week of snow, ice and freezing temperatures severely restricted spectating options, with only one competitive junior game going ahead in the south of Scotland.
Troon managed to get their pitch playable for the visit of Muirkirk, but other commitments meant that I couldn’t quite spare the time to make it down the Ayrshire coast.
Edinburgh City’s home game with Preston Athletic in the East of Scotland League didn’t really tickle my fancy, which left this hastily arranged friendly as my best option – a first visit to Petershill’s new(ish) ground, complete with a 3G artificial pitch.
The game had been provisionally arranged in the event of Beith’s visit to Vale of Clyde and Glencairn’s trip to Ashfield both being postponed. Despite the icy conditions which prevented either of those games going ahead, conditions were excellent at Petershill.
The ground itself is part of a larger leisure centre with indoor facilities and several smaller five-a-side areas, all part of a ‘regeneration’ of the local area, which, to be kind, isn’t one of Glasgow’s most salubrious neighbourhoods.
It’s handy for transport though, with both Springburn and Barnhill stations just a bye kick away from the park. Springburn has the better service and can be reached in little over five minutes from Queen Street.
Entry to the ground for this game was free, and rather than going through the turnstiles, which I assume would be in use for Petershill home games, access was through the leisure centre entrance which contains a bar and cafe – handy for half time.
Built into the side of this building is a rarity in Scottish junior football – a seated stand containing something like 400 red plastic seats. I took in the first half from this vantage point, although viewing wasn’t helped by bright sunshine shining right into the stand.
The first action wasn’t long in coming with Beith – playing in their red away kits – getting their noses in front after just seven minutes. Given that they are two divisions above Glencairn in the West Super Premier I expected them to run right over the top of their opponents but it didn’t turn out that way.
Most of the rest of the first half was pretty even with Glens arguably having the better chances. After a couple of near misses they deservedly got back level just before the half time interval, which was restricted to a five minute breather for both sides.
I moved round to the opposite site of the park for the second half by which time the sun been obscured and the air had turned decidely chilly. Whereas the area behind the goal to the right of the stand is laid with red ash, the area down the touchline has three steps of concrete terracing, offering a good close-up view of the play.
In contrast to the first half, Beith dominated the second period and got themselves in front quite early on. Although Glencairn got a second equaliser, two quickfire goals later on saw the Ayrshire side run out pretty comfortable winners in the end.
For me it was a deserved victory for a side with ambitions of Scottish Cup glory this season, but Glens looked decent and by my reckoning they should be good enough to continue their good first half of the season and win promotion from the Central District league.
As for ‘new build’ Petershill Park, I was impressed with the facilities all round, which are at a much higher standard than any other junior park I’ve been to. I generally like to stand and the ground offers the option of sitting or standing, both with a decent view of the game.
The artificial pitch is a plus point too, although I can understand why most players prefer grass. The thing about Scottish lower league football is that very few grass pitches are kept to the standard where they can withstand the poor winter (and sometimes summer!) weather we get.
I’d argue strongly that the Petershill model is one for other junior clubs to try and emulate. Plastic pitches and seated stands are expensive to put in place, but who’s to say that partnerships can’t be set-up with local councils and the Scottish Government to help towards the cost?
Given some of the paddy fields I have seen posing as football pitches over the past few months, it’s got to be worth further investigation.
Scoring – 1-0 Spence (7), 1-1 McGladrigan (41), 2-1 Spence (52), 2-2 Dickson (60), 3-2 McLean (70), 4-2 McLean (75)
Attendance – 75 est
Admission – £NIL
Programme – none
Ground – 8/10. This could be the future of junior football?
Game – 6/10. Decent fare given it was a friendly.
Overall experience – 7/10. Good way to beat the big freeze.