March 10, 2009 – Central Park
After the goal feast of Saturday at Airdrie, there was famine at Central Park tonight as Scottish Third Division leaders Cowdenbeath stumbled to a goalless draw at home to Forfar.
As 0-0 games go it wasn’t the worst I have ever seen, with both sides having a few chances to score.
Stalemate was the eventual outcome though, a result which would have been welcomed more by Cowden than their visitors given the way the game went.
Cowden went into the game as league leaders and odds on favourites to win, but they never really seemed to find any fluency in their play.
More than one attempt on the Loons’ goal suffered the ignominy of going out for a throw-in, something of an indictment on the performance of the Cowden forwards.
Sub John Gemmill might have snatched the win at the death but Forfar goalie Ally Brown pulled off a decent save to preserve the 0-0 scoreline.
It has to be said that Forfar weren’t a whole lot better, but they had some joy from long balls with the home defence frequently struggling to properly clear their lines.
They came closest to a goal when Ross Campbell, son of manager Dick, saw a powerful header cannon off the inside of goalkeeper David Hay’s post and fly agonisingly across goal.
With goalmouth action thin on the ground, the other main talking point in the game was the straight red card dished out to Cowden’s Brian Fairbairn, a player a vaguely remember from the Livingston youth side of a few years ago.
I thought his dismissal, midway through the second half, was pretty unlucky as he seemed to win the ball from Forfar’s Tulloch, albeit in a full bloodied, fifty-fifty encounter. I can only assume that the ref maybe saw the studs going in first, but I’ve seen worse tackles go unpunished this season.
That the game was goalless was a letdown, but Central Park is a ground I tend to enjoy visiting so it wasn’t all bad.
Like Ashfield, it’s home to another sport – in this case stock car racing – and rather than being a football stadium, it’s probably best described as a stock car racing stadium with a football pitch in the middle.
The stock car set-up impinges on the viewing experience you get at Central Park, of that there is no doubt.
Nevertheless, the place has a uniqueness and character which has been bulldozed away at many other old grounds over the last couple of decades.
Indeed, there’s talk that Cowdenbeath will be selling up and moving on themselves over the next couple of years. Central Park could soon be a retail park, and what a pity that would be.
An expansive oval, it is open to the elements on three sides, with two of those terraced.
The fourth side contains two stands, the older of which used to run the full length of the field, but was truncated after a serious fire back in the 1990s. In the gap left, Cowden have built a small new stand – a basic effort sporting red plastic seats.
I like to stand wherever possible, so I took in the game from the terracing opposite the stands, which is topped with a food bar and electronic scoreboard, neither of which were utilised for this game.
This section of the ground is relatively well maintained, but is largely unchanged from the first time I visited Central Park, which was during a single season when Cowden and Meadowbank both featured in the Scottish First Division.
I remember quite vividly a 5-1 tanking in our favour early in the campaign, while our second visit that season saw the game played out in the most appalling weather conditions I think I’ve ever experienced in a football ground.
We had a blizzard, high winds and a lightning storm that night and both sides were destined for relegation at the time. No wonder only 160 folk turned up!
Also unchanged from yesteryear is the high mesh fence which rings the track and hinders, very slightly, your view of the pitch no matter where you stand. I’ve never been to the stock car meeting but I assume that the fences are necessary to stop flying car parts from maiming the motorsport fans, which are greater in number than regular supporters of Cowdenbeath FC.
Speaking of which, the Cowden support, which made up vast majority of the 317 crowd were quite some bunch.
Cowdenbeath is a former mining town and the language used by many of the home fans was of the industrial type you might expect to find down the pit.
Personally speaking I am not offended by swearing in the slightest, and am known to indulge myself from time to time, but the sheer volume of profanity literally took my breath away.
It was every second word, and as you might expect the linesman nearest the terracing bore the brunt. Until the Forfar no 3 had the misfortune to be involved in the red card incident at least!
It wasn’t all outright abuse, however, and I chuckled at one Cowden fan who, in expressing his disdain for Forfar boss Dick Campbell delved into his knowledge of Scottish history.
“Where’s the fucking MacDonalds when you need them, Campbell ya cheating cunt!” he spat forth. Priceless.
Also amusing was the juxtaposition of the Champions League half time scores being given over the tannoy at down-at-heel Central Park.
Given that a Scottish Third Division game played on a freezing cold night in central Fife is about as far removed from the glitz and glamour of Europe’s ‘elite’ as you can get, it seemed funny that Liverpool leading Real Madrid merited a mention.
Livingston’s half time lead against Dunfermline was also relayed to the masses and raised a cheer. With only six miles between the towns it would appear that they don’t like anything much related to Dunfermline in Cowdenbeath!
Scoring – none!
Attendance – 317
Admission – £10
Programme – £1.50
Ground – 5/10. Has character but not ideal for football
Game – 5/10. Needed a goal which never came
Overall experience – 5/10. Largely forgettable
Match Report Links
Cowdenbeath FC official website
Forfar Athletic official website