April 8, 2009 – Saughton Enclosure, Edinburgh
With the junior midweek games still a week away, I dashed into Edinburgh to fit this game in, and in contrast to my last taste of East of Scotland football when I endured a soaking at Heriot Watt University, I’m glad I made it.
Saughton Enclosure is handy given that it is in the west of the city not far, unsurprisingly enough, from Saughton Prison home to some of Scotland’s worst criminals.
Situated, I would say, in Stenhouse rather than Saughton itself, it’s a ground I last visited years and years ago, probably back in the early 1990s. Since then it hasn’t changed a great deal.
Lothian’s enclosed pitch is part of a bigger sports complex, owned by the local council, who thankfully take a bit more care of the place than they do of Meadowbank Stadium across the city.
It has a number of grass pitches, together with a couple of floodlit ‘3G’ surfaces which were busy on this pleasant and sunny Spring evening.
Lothian’s pitch is also lit, allowing this game to kick off at 7.30pm and continue until well after dark. There are a total of ten pylons, an unusual number, but required to cover fully the six lane running track which circles the football field.
Unlike Meadowbank and Gateshead, where viewing is miles away from the park, the track doesn’t have quite the same impact here, with any spectators still relatively close to the action down the touchlines.
There’s no getting away from the fact that it’s a very basic venue, however, as many in the senior East of Scotland League tend to be.
There’s no cover and only grass standing areas – although when the players tend to outnumber the crowd it’s not exactly surprising.
My £4 admission money was taken at an impromptu entrance table. I hoped for a programme as a souvenir of the game, but alas there was none produced for this game, despite the fact that Lothian are known to put one together.
I anticipated a lack of food at the ground, and had a disappointing fish supper at the chip shop at nearby Stenhouse Cross. Perhaps I should have known better given that Edinburgh chippys are notoriously poor, but having gone straight from work the choices were somewhat limited.
Once it got underway in bright sunshine the game itself was quite entertaining, allowing me to forget all about my dreadful excuse for a dinner.
Visitors Dalbeattie Star led the East of Scotland Premier Division going into the game but by all accounts were understrength thanks to the work commitments of some of their players.
As far as travelling distances go this was just about as long as it gets in this league – 125 miles or so each way – so it maybe wasn’t surprising that the visitors were missing a player or two.
They have two teams with a reserve side competing in the weaker South of Scotland League, and on this particularly evening they shuffled their resources to field both sides simultaneously, with the second string at home to Threave Rovers (they lost 3-1).
The first team were given an early helping hand, so to speak, when Lothian’s number five got himself sent off inside the first ten minutes for striking out at an opponent.
I was on the opposite side of the field and there didn’t took to be too much in it, but when players raise their hands there is usually only ever one outcome.
The decision didn’t go down well with the Lothian bench, which contained at least six people who could have been the manager (see picture). What is it that they say about chiefs and indians?
For the remainder of the game the multitude on the sideline developed a tiresome persecution complex similar to the one that afflicted the Edinburgh City manager at Heriot Watt a few weeks back.
I can’t figure out what the problem is with the managers and coaches at this level, but had I been the ref I wouldn’t have put up with their inane backchat.
Despite losing a man, Lothian gave as good as they got throughout the game. They seemed to have some useful players, including Johnny Harvey a striker I have seen playing for Bathgate Thistle at junior level in the past. He had one very near thing in the first half, and kept the Star defence on their toes throughout.
In the visitors ranks I liked the look of Redpath, wearing the number 8 and Sloan, the number 7 who I am sure I saw just after Christmas in the East of Scotland Select team game against Linlithgow Rose.
It was another of the Star attackers who scored, Scott Milligan poking a shot away with about ten minutes of the first half remaining.
Lothian could have scored a barrel load in reply having a header cleared off the line in the first half and shots off the post and bar after half time.
Dalbeattie played the second half on the break and always carried a threat. Before the end they should have tied up the win with a penalty, but the otherwise impressive Sloan sent his shot from the spot off the post.
Despite a final grandstand finish, Lothian failed to find an equaliser. The defeat was probably harsh on them but in football it’s goals that count.
Scoring – 0-1 Milligan (34)
Attendance – 20 (h/c)
Admission – £14
Programme – none
Ground – 5/10. Very basic venue
Game – 6/10. A decent show which should have produced more goals
Overall experience – 6/10. Not bad…
Match Report links
Edinburgh Evening News