Irvine Meadow XI 0-2 Beith Juniors

Irvine Meadow smallApril 20, 2009 – Meadow Park, Irvine

Conscious of the fact that my travels hitherto haven’t included many West Region junior venues I hope to visit a few in the closing weeks of the season.

The barrage of midweek games to end the season started here for the clubs in the West so I was keen to take another step on the road to my century target.

Originally, I planned to visit Lochburn Park to see Maryhill against Benburb, but with a little more time to play with than planned, I ventured further south to the North Ayrshire coast.

I can’t recall ever setting foot in Irvine before this trip but armed with the handy Google Maps feature on my phone, I didn’t anticipate too many problems in navigating my way to Meadow Park which isn’t far from the town centre.

Travelling on the 18.00 from Glasgow Central, I got to Irvine about 25 minutes before kick-off, and after working out that the Riverside Shopping Centre actually spanned the river, was safely in the queue to get in by about ten to.

There’s no ‘Welcome’ sign at Meadow Park’s main entrance (although there is on the side of the stand).  Instead fans are greeted by a rather large ‘NO ALCOHOL’ sign.

Perhaps this is a prerequisite in the occasionally volcanic world of Ayrshire junior football, but as it turned out it was ignored anyway, with one group of Irvine jakies polishing off a plastic bag full of cider and Buckfast with some gusto at one side of the stand.

'Welcome to Meadow Park'

'Welcome to Meadow Park'

The big attraction for attending this game, aside from visiting a classic junior football ground, was that Irvine Meadow and Beith occupied the top two places in the Super Premier going into the evening.

Meadow held pole position pre-match, hoping to take a step forward to a league championship which would provide some sort of return for their (allegedly) large investment in players.

Rumour has it that Meadow pay some players up to £300 per week.  That’s more than some full time professionals earn at the bottom end of the SFL First Division!

A much smaller club traditionally, Beith seem to be more of a title dark-horse than either Meadow or defending champions Pollok.

They impressed when I saw them play against Rutherglen Glencairn in a friendly back in February, but it was difficult to gauge their true standard that day.

The Meadow Park stand

The Meadow Park stand

For this game they were followed by a good contingent of fans, numbering around 150.

In what was a first for me in any junior match, there seemed to be a self-segregation policy in force, with the Beith faithful congregating almost to a man on the open terrace opposite the stand.

Meadow’s fans, meanwhile, lined the stand side and the area behind the goals closest to the entrances.

Meadow Park is dominated by its stand, a wonderful red brick building that straddles the halfway line and runs to around 30 yards long.

To Meadow’s credit, they seem to have taken care of the stand down the years.  The pitched roof looks relatively new and all the steelwork appears to have been recently renewed in Irvine’s royal blue colours.

'Meadow XI F.C.' sign above the 'tunnel'

'Meadow XI F.C.' sign above the 'tunnel'

The seating area consists of basic wooden benches and sits high above the field, offering a good vantage point.  Below there is plenty of standing space, which is well populated for this game.

The stand contains the dressing rooms and a bar too, although a sign suggested that it was open to players and officials only.

That was a disappointment because I could have murdered something to drink. Especially when it became apparent that there were no refreshments on sale at all within the ground – something which surprised and disappointed me in equal measure.

The lack of a pie and bovril was probably the only thing I could complain about, because otherwise Meadow Park is a very decent place to watch football and one I would recommend for a visit.

Inside the stand

Inside the stand

I decided to sit in the stand during the first half, which Meadow started particularly well, main striker Richie Barr hitting the post and putting another excellent chance past the post in a bright opening.

Beith soon got themselves into the game, though, and shortly before half time opened the scoring with Derek McCulloch scoring a decent header.

A first half exchange as seen from the stand

A first half exchange as seen from the stand

The second half – which came after a very short break – wasn’t a great spectacle. Meadow huffed and puffed but overcooked possession time and again. 

Their best chance of an equaliser came when Richie Barr broke clean through on goal, but rather than pull the trigger early he hesitated, allowing Beith ‘keeper Keith Ross to save.

As the game drew to a conclusion, Meadow got increasingly desperate, throwing numbers forward to try and salvage a draw.  But it was one of those nights where it was just never going to happen for them.

Much was said and shouted about the tactics and substitutions of manager Chris Strain (none of it complimentary) as the game entered it’s death throes. I seem to recall him getting similar criticism when they scraped through against Ashfield in the Junior Cup a couple of months back.

On that occasion there was a happy ending for Meadow at Saracen Park, but this time it was Beith who had the last laugh with a late second goal to tie up victory.

The Beith contingent

The Beith contingent

A swift counterattack saw Kenny McLean race upfield before sliding the ball low into the net – topping off a good night for the Beith contingent on the open side.

The final whistle came almost immediately on the restart, giving me my cue to race back to the train station for the 20.59 and the start of a lengthy journey home via Glasgow and Edinburgh.

As long a trip as it was, I glad I made the effort to add another new ground to the list I have visited.  Hopefully I will manage a few more before the season wraps up in five or six weeks.

In brief
 
Scoring – 0-1 McCulloch (37), 0-2 McLean (90)
Attendance – 450 approx
Admission – £5
Programme – none

Ground – 8/10. Good junior set-up, lovely stand
Game – 6/10. Tight contest won by the better side
Overall experience – 7/10.  Long trip midweek but enjoyable
 
Match Report Links
Irvine Herald

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4 thoughts on “Irvine Meadow XI 0-2 Beith Juniors

  1. Hi … Just a few words firstly to say what a cracking wee blog this is and secondly to thank you for taking time out to visit Meadow Park recently. Unfortunately for myself it was a bad result on the night but for a neutral I guess it would have been a good game to watch. It’s a pity you visited the ground on the very first night in memory the snack bar was closed. I have never been happy visiting any ground, especially midweek when sometimes you have to travel straight from work, where there is no pie stall. I don’t know the reason why it was closed that night (and has been for the following two midweek games) but I would guess that perhaps the people who usually run the stall have had previous planned arrangements for those nights. Remember that junior football doesn’t have a season long (or anything like that) fixture list and at this stage of the season we are being swamped with fixtures (3 a week even though we have already played more games than our rivals). The other bone of contention is the bar area under the stand. At the start of the season a sign always appears stating that the bar is open to players and officials only. This rule usually lasts for a couple of games, fans protest then the bar is opened to everyone. Unfortunately the sign doesn’t get taken down and anyone unfamiliar with the club will think they are not welcome. I will try to remember to bring the issue up at the next supporter’s club meeting and make sure if you visit Meadow Park again you enjoy a refreshment or two.

    Anyway, keep up the good work. I have bookmarked the blog and will be back.

    Regards … Jimmy

  2. Hi Jimmy, thanks for your comment.
    In spite of the pie situation I really enjoyed my visit to Meadow Park. It’s definitely one of the best kept grounds in the juniors.
    One other thing that I find strange amongst the big junior clubs like Meadow is why many don’t bother with a regular programme. I would have thought with a bit of advertising they could be a nice little earner.

  3. Hi again,
    As far as I’m aware Meadow have been producing programmes for Saturday games as usual this season although midweek games seem to be a bit hit and miss. This seems to be quite common among junior clubs (in the West region anyway) and I think it must be down to time constraints. I have actually witnessed the guy who does the programmes sitting in the club on a Saturday still folding and stapling the programmes an hour before kick off. We have had about half a dozen midweek fixtures at Auchinleck in the last 3 seasons and not once has a programme been available. I remember commenting on how strange it is that such a big club weren’t producing a match programme which makes me think that Meadow must have been doing the midweek one at some stage. Anyway, hopefully you will manage a Saturday trip to Irvine sometime in the future.

    Regards …. Jimmy

    PS. I went along to the Kilwinning Rangers v Annbank game on monday night and even though the crowd looked to be less than 50 for an end of season, bottom of the league clash, the club did produce a programme and had a well stocked snack bar open. Good game for a neutral it was as well despite the horrendous weather. Anbank won 4-2, both teams got a penalty, one player red carded, game stopped for 5 minutes when what felt like a tornado hit the ground. We were subjected to ferocious winds and giant hailstones for a few minutes which really did threaten the game. Well worth a fiver though 🙂

  4. Pingback: Game 84: Crook Town 2-2 Team Northumbria | Dave's Football Travels

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