A midday kick off at Albyn Park in this one meant I was able to put together a pre-season ‘double’, this being the first game of the day.
Albyn Park has recently undergone a transformation and as well as a substantial pavilion building, a seven-figure investment from Broxburn United Sports Club, West Lothian Council and Sportscotland has seen a floodlit 3G artificial pitch installed.
There are still remnants of the old Albyn Park around. The old dressing room building still exists, tucked away behind one corner of the ground.
The bigger of two covered enclosures has also survived, although the new pitch configuration means that it now offers a more distant view than it did previously.
Happily, it still provides good shelter from the weather, no bad thing here in West Lothian, where the rain never seems to cease, even during the ‘summer’.
Predictably, there were a few spots of rain when this game got underway, although it brightened up later.
After years in the doldrums, Broxburn seem to have taken a lift from their ‘new’ surroundings and are a good side these days.
Last season saw them very nearly gain promotion to the East Region Super League for the first time, though they were eventually denied by a single point.
Their superiority over South Division opponents Stoneyburn was apparent from the earliest stages of this game.
With the perfectly flat artificial pitch to play on every other week, Broxburn have developed the kind of passing game that isn’t often seen in the long ball dominated junior ranks.
Less experienced but with plenty of enthusiasm, Stoneyburn are more typical of this level, their main tactic to lump the ball into the channels for their strikers to chase.
With contrasting styles on view, the game was an interesting watch.
Broxburn got their noses in front after nine minutes, but were pegged back by a long range strike from Stoneyburn winger Gary Bonnes.
Parity didn’t last, with Athletic edging ahead before half time and going on to add some gloss to the scoreline in the second half, which they largely dominated.
One point of interest in the second half was the appearance of a black trialist up front for Broxburn. This might not seem noteworthy to readers from south of the border, in particular, but non-white players at this level of the game are still comparatively rare in Scotland.
It will be interesting to see how these two local sides fare when the real action gets underway in a few weeks.
Broxburn still have some team-building to do, but they look like being a force in the East Region Premier League again, especially with the advantage of their pitch.
Stoneyburn had a decent campaign last year, and although well beaten on this occasion, look capable of finishing top half in the South Division.