April 29, 2009 – Paties Road Stadium, Edinburgh
Situated in the leafy Edinburgh suburb of Colinton, the modest, council-owned Paties Road Stadium has hardly changed since I last visited more than a decade ago.
The same can be said for the incumbant tenants Edinburgh United who continue to plod on unremarkably as the Capital’s only representative in Junior football.
Paties Road is possibly as far removed from the traditional heartlands of Junior football as is possible.
Whereas many clubs and grounds exist in communities which were once dependent on mining and other heavy industry, it sits in a quiet corner of one of the most privileged areas of Edinburgh.
It’s flanked by large and expensive detached houses and one of Scotland’s most exclusive private schools, Merchiston Castle School.
According to their website, the School can cost almost £24,000 a year to board at for a year, probably about as much as it costs to run Edinburgh United for a season.
Given their haughty locale, it’s maybe not surprising that United struggle to attract people through the gates.
To be fair, they share that difficulty with most of the city’s small senior clubs, for example Lothian Thistle who I saw play in front of twenty punters a few weeks back.
There was a better turn out for this game than that, but the majority were supporting the championship chasing visitors from West Lothian.
Paties Road benefits from better facilities than the pseudo public parks which host East of Scotland League senior football.
There’s a small stand although it is angled slightly away from the field. Whether this is deliberate is unclear!!!
The dressing rooms are situated within the base of the stand, and at the back there is a refreshment kiosk selling the usual fare, staffed by an old deaf guy who must have been eighty if he was a day.
The stand also contains a private nursery, so there is the somewhat odd sight of kids painting and craft activities plastered all over one side. This is the only substantive change since my last visit, and a bizarre one at that.
Is this is the only stand / nursery in the world of football? Answers on a postcard please!
With the weather favourable I opted not to sit in the stand, which given it’s slant doesn’t offer a great view.
Instead I stood directly opposite, where two brick built dugouts accommodate the respective managers.
Both managers were well within earshot, although much to my disappointment the Armadale boss Jim Henderson was much more subdued than usual.
His opposite number Raymond Carr gave me a chuckle when he delivered the following assessment of one of his players with superb comic timing: “Sometimes his touch is absolutely brilliant… but most of the time it is fucking shite!”
There was one flashpoint in the second half between one of the Edinburgh subs and their ‘club linesman’. The No 12 seemed to take exception to something the committee man said and from there on in a heated exchange took place.
“Who dae ye think you are talkin’ tae, ya cheeky wee cunt,” fired off the linesman, eventually winning a climbdown from his adversary.
Other incidents of note included one of the United subs taking a sneaky piss behind his own dug-out, while current Hearts striker Calum Elliot could be seen doing laps of the pitch with a dog, a pram and what I assumed to be his girlfriend.
I also spotted that there were flags marking the halfway line, something you don’t often see these days. And the ref changed from a day-glo yellow kit in the first half to a red one after half time.
On the field, as you may have gathered, the game wasn’t all that exciting.
United put out a much younger and less experienced team than Armadale but for the most part they were the equal of the league leaders.
The ‘Dale did come closest to a first half goal when they cracked a shot off the underside of the bar, but it took them until the final stages to eventually wear down the energetic United side and squeeze out the victory.
The breakthrough first goal didn’t come until 15 minutes from the end, No 10 finding the net with a fine header, a trick he repeated for the second before time up.
The win strengthened Armadale’s push for the South Division championship and the solitary promotion place to the Premier League.
Scoring – 0-1, 0-2
Attendance – 59 (h/c)
Admission – £4
Programme – none
Ground – 6/10 – Tucked away and well maintained
Game – 6/10. Never really sparked
Overall experience – 6/10. Nice change of scenery
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