Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The Highs and Lows of the 42

How time flies when you're having fun, isn't that what they say? Well I've had a complete blast this season and we've managed to squeeze in all forty two grounds with time to spare.

We've travelled the length and breadth of Scotland to manage this, all in just under nine months. We've watched football in the impressive surroundings of Celtic Park, from the prehistoric stand at Cliftonhill and in an almost empty Hampden Park watching Queen's Park play Albion Rovers - only 529 spectators in a ground that holds 52,103.

You might have read our individual highlights from each of the four leagues to visit all the grounds and I thought I should get round to our opinions of the high and lows of the 42.

Top five grounds - Dad

  1. Celtic Park - Celtic

  2. Hampden Park - Queen's Park

  3. Excelsior Stadium - Airdrie United

  4. Palmerston Park - Queen of the South

  5. Stair Park - Stranraer

Top five grounds - Me

  1. Celtic Park - Celtic

  2. Ibrox Park - Rangers (You've no idea how difficult it was to put Castle Greyskull down)

  3. Tynecastle Park - Heart of Midlothian

  4. Borough Briggs - Elgin City

  5. Bayview Stadium - East Fife

Worst Ground

Dad - Cliftonhill, home to Albion Rovers - the ground that time time forgot.

Three sides of this ground have been abandoned which leaves one ancient stand with seats bought from Third Lanark went they went bust and I think that might have been the last improvements they made. The seats are so close together that my dad could only find comfort right at the back of the ground, which meant that we had to view one of the goals through the glass like it was on the television.

Me - Cowdenbeath's Central Park.

I was close to putting down Cliftonhill as my choice for this award but I enjoyed watching Sunnybank put Albion out of the Cup there and the pies were brilliant so I went for Central Park, home of Cowdenbeath .

Sure the seats were more comfortable but that was all it had going for it. Three sides of the grounds are open to the elements and the main stand is really two odd shaped blocks stuck together. The pitch is miles away as a stock car racing track runs around it and there are a fences and tyre barriers that spoil the view. By far the worst thing about Central Park on the night we visited however was the fact they didnae sell any pies!

Goal of the Season - we couldn't decide on an overall top 5 so we picked our own favourites.


  1. Leigh Griffiths - Dundee vs Partick Thistle - A brilliant left foot screamer from 35 yards.

  2. Iain Russell - Livingston v Brechin City. - A first time effort from 30 yards that curled into the top corner.

  3. Kris Commons - Celtic vs Hamilton - A sweet half volley from the edge of the area.

  4. Robert Harris - Queen of the South vs East Fife - Brilliant free kick, curled in to top corner

  5. Paul Emslie - Peterhead vs Montrose - Lobbed the keeper from fully 45 yards.


  1. Jamie Stevenson - Elgin v East Stirlingshire - Cracking 35 yard free kick, straight in to top corner.

  2. Paul Emslie - Peterhead vs Montrose - As above.

  3. Leigh Griffiths - Dundee vs Partick Thistle - As above.

  4. Chris Macguire - Alloa Athletic vs Aberdeen - Volley from the edge of area that lobs keeper.

  5. Kris Commons - Celtic vs Hamilton Academicals - As above.

The much coveted 'Best Pie' in Scotland Award

Although I had some involvement in the eating of a scotch pie or two over the course of the trek, the final points scoring decision was made by my father. Only on one occasion did I feel compelled to intervene - check out the Kilmarnock home game for more info.

In the end my dad rated the scotch pies at three grounds equal first. Those at Aberdeen, Albion Rovers and Raith Rovers all scored 8 out of 10. Each scored highly on it's meaty content, crunchy pastry and value for money.

When I pushed him for his outright favourite he plumped for Albion Rovers and to be honest he got no complaints from me.

We were back at Albion Rovers Cliftonhill ground last month for their play off game versus Annan Athletic. Once we were through the turnstiles my dad made a beeline for the cafe and bought himself two for his pre match supper. Looking back we should have bought a trophy and presented it to them, maybe we'll still get round to it.

Best Game Atmosphere

It was a close run thing with the 'Red Card' game at Dens Park and the Champions League game at Castle Greyskull when Manchester United came calling both coming close. In the end though it was the Heart of Midlothian vs Hibernian in the New Years Day Derby that won it.

Huge came the derby, even more so at New Year, you don't want to start the new year getting beaten by your fiercest rivals.

All festive cheer was forgotten about after 6 minutes when Ian Murray, the Hibs captain, elbowed Ian Black in the neck as both players go for a header. The home fans screamed at the referee to send Murray off, the away fans sang his name and Ian Black lay unconscious on the pitch.

Hearts controlled the game, Hibs came for a draw and almost got it but in the 87th minute Kevin Kyle sent one half of the city home happy and the other have miserable.

Most Seen

Now when we started talking about doing this trek around the grounds I was convinced that we'd take the opportunity to watch our respective sides, Kilmarnock & Aberdeen, as often as possible. It was not to be however as we watched both Hibernian & Greenock Morton five times each.

Greenock at least provided some entertainment and against Stranraer they scored a barrow load of goals. Hibernian on the other hand were poor against NK Maribor in the Europa League qualifier, played a brilliant second half to come back and beat Motherwell, were truly awful against St.Mirren, unlucky against Hearts and spanked by Dundee United.

Most Entertaining Comment

No need for a top five here as I'll watch football for a long time before I hear another gem like the Dorothy comment at Dumbarton. A Greenock Morton defender had on red boots and a young punk from the Dumbarton end shouted - "You're not in Kansas now Dorothy, this if fu*king Dumbarton!".

Most Entertaining Division

Division 3 - We had the most fun on our visits to the bottom division, where the football wasn't always the greatest but the passion the fans of these so called wee teams have for their teams was heartwarming. My dad found his Player of the Season watching Stranraer a few times, Armand One (pronounced On-ay).

Least Entertaining Division

Division 1 - At the start of this season it looked like this would provide the most entertainment as there were four sides in with a decent shot at the title and passage to the SPL. In the end the fact Dundee's 25 point deduction, Steven 'Elvis' Pressley's poor Falkirk side and Raith fell away meant that it was Dunfermline that got promoted. When we saw them at home it was the only scoreless draw of the forty two games and it wasn't even an entertaining draw. That summed up the league for us, dull.

Scottish Cup Merit Badge

Dad - Beith Juniors, who were robbed of a fourth round slot by Airdrie's Paul Lovering who rolled around in apparent agony after a 50-50 ball and got the Beith player sent off. He then jumped to his feet ran free of pain in to the Beith penalty box and headed the resultant free kick in to the net.

Me - Sunnybank, for their defeat of Albion Rovers and the fact they had more fans at the game than the home team and they sang from start to finish.

Biggest Rip Off's

  1. Inverness Caledonian Thistle for their ticket prices £25 for me and £20 concession, phantom toilets and the time it takes to get out the car park.

  2. Livingston also get a mention here for their minging £2.00 scotch pie, charging £5 to park at the ground and for letting vuvuzela blowing idiots in to the ground.

Most Disappointing Performances

My dad went for the most of referees & assistant referees around Scotland. I, unfortunately, went for Aberdeen's dreadful season.

Supporters of the Season

Dad went for the East Stirlingshire supporters who we witnessed at Elgin and Annan following their side. Did you know they have a loyal band of Norwegian fans who travel to games?

I went for the four coach loads of Greenock Morton fans for their fancy dress outfits at Stranraer, where at half time they dodged the one Policeman on duty and had a game of headers and volleys with an imaginary football at half time.

Most Surprising Moments

The way a quick email to the Edinburgh Evening News snowballed into us appearing in the national press and to my dad being interviewd for local radio in Kilmarnock, more on that next time, and finding out at the end of all of this that my dad has written a book on the forty two.

Hopefully we'll find a way to combine my blog and his stories, find a publisher, make a bit of money, get sponsored to do this next season around Europe, write another book, it gets noticed by noticed and the movies out before you know it. Watch this space, ha ha.

That about sums it up from the forty two and what can I say, we'll I'd recommend you all get out there and take a look. Next time your team have a week off, jump in the car and head to the nearest game as you never know what awaits you. Hopefully I'll get the opportunity to vist a few of these grounds with my old man next season.


Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Scottish League Division Three Highlights

Our visit to Gayfield Park on Saturday was the final visit of the forty two grounds. This also meant we finished up our trek round the lower league of Scottish football.

We've been to such exotic places as Annan and Elgin. We managed a stop off at the National Stadium to watch Queen's Park play Albion Rovers.

I'll be honest and admit that the football on offer isn't always the greatest, but the passion and banter has meant that I've enjoyed watching football at this end of the spectrum way more than the top league in the country.

I'm sure we'll be back for some of the play off games later in the season, until then here are the facts from Division 3.

Money spent on tickets:

Adult: £105.00
Concession: £ 48.00

This is the price that it would have been for all the games but due to the kindness of Duncan Ferguson, we were given tickets for Arbroath and Montrose.

Money spent on programmes: £18.00

Attendance: 5,431

Money spent on pies: £14.20 - This is using the one per person per game ration. I may have had more than this however on a few occasions.

Goals scored: 33

Total mileage: 1,973

Top three pies: Albion Rovers 8/10, East Stirling & Montrose 7.5/10.

Top three goals:


1. Paul Emslie. Peterhead vs Montrose. From forty yards out, Emslie lobbed the Montrose keeper.

2. Jamie Stevenson. East Stirling vs Elgin City. A cracking thirty yard free kick that curled in to the top corner. The keeper had no chance.

3. Darren Gribbin. Berwick Rangers vs Stranraer. Gribben latched on to a fantastic ball before turning and twisting past the static Stranraer defence before slotting the ball in to the corner.


1. Jamie Stevenson. East Stirling vs Elgin City. As above. I think this gets my vote as Goal of the Season.

2. Paul Emslie. Peterhead vs Montrose. As above.

3. Mick Jack. Annan Athletic vs East Stirling. A curling right foot effort from the edge of the box for Annan. Annan were three up after 19 minutes, all three goals came within a four minute blitz.

Worst ground: Cliftonhill (Albion Rovers)

Special pie league mention: Best pie in Scotland Contender - Albion Rovers

Most witnessed side: East Stirling & Stranraer, 3 times each.

Best game atmosphere: East Stirling vs. Buckie Thistle - Scottish Cup game. Buckie Thistle got a bloke sent off after he punched one of his team mates. Mental.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The Final Ground - Day Forty Two: Arbroath (Gayfield Park)

Arbroath v Queen's Park
Saturday 16th April
SFL Division 3

So it's with a tear in my eye that I write the final blog on what has been a most excellent adventure. Ground forty two of the forty two home grounds in the SPL and the SFL grounds. A journey that started way back on the 24th July 2010 with a trip to Balmoor Stadium in Peterhead to watch the home side thump Montrose 5 - 0 now ends with the slight chance that we could witness Arbroath win promotion to Division 2.

A few months ago, Emma and I were at a 30th birthday party for our friend Paul. At this party we were introduced to Stuart Malcolm, Malky to his mates. Malky, who just happens to be the Captain of Arbroath FC, was informed of my journey around the grounds and was intrigued to hear that our final scheduled ground was at his home ground. Unfortunately for him he had pulled his hamstring during the game earlier in the day but he promised to look out for us on arrival for the Queen's Park match.

For the first time this season I'll be doing the driving. As previously mentioned I got a new motor recently and it felt only right that I took on a journey to break it in and to give my dad a chance to enjoy the view out the window.

He still gets to decide what time we leave however and so I'm requested to meet him at Cramond at 12pm.

Yet again a huge thank you to Duncan Ferguson at Glenford Motors in Forfar for getting us tickets for the game. This time he's got us tickets for the Board Room at Gayfield Park and I'm intrigued to see what's on offer as I've been informed it's a strictly shirt and tie affair. No jeans. No trainers.

As is only fitting for the last of our trips I decide to rock up a good fifteen minutes later than the pre-arranged time. The idea is I'll manage to control the speed and we won't arrive with loads of time to spare.

Unfortunately once out on the open road the temptation to put the foot down in the new car is too strong and before you know it we're already north of Dundee and it's only 1.15pm.

Tam & Stuart's radio show has been shortened this week as both are off to Hampden to support their teams - Tam is a Motherwell supporter and Stuart's the St.Johnstone fan - in the Scottish Cup semi-final. The topics on discussion are Rangers FC, - their cash flow problems and their sectarian male voice choir - and the pitiful attendance at the aforementioned semi-final - only 11,000 odd tickets sold.

By the time we make our way along the seafront at Arbroath, Motherwell are well on their way to setting up (fingers crossed) a final against Aberdeen as they lead St.Johnstone three nil after the first half.

We find a parking space right on the seafront next to Pleasureland, the amusement arcade, and a wee pitch n putt course. Tempted by neither the 2p coin waterfall, (Emma's favourite by the way) or trying his putting on the miniature links course, my dad decides we'll wait in the car for a bit before heading over to the ground

We're interrupted from staring out the window at the great view of the North Sea in the sunshine by a call from Emma, wondering if we've made our way into the ground yet. When I tell her we're going to hold fire until half two she informs me that Malky has been on the hunt trying to find us as he's got a few memento's for us.

We lock up the motor and head over to the ground. With our Board Room tickets shown we're ushered in through the Player & Officials gate, up the stairs into the main stand and in to the Board Room. We're one of the first to arrive and straight away an old gent in his Club blazer appears and asks if we want a drink. Seeing as he has been released from the chore of driving my dad wastes no time and heads straight for the single malts. As I'm today's designated driver it's just an OJ for me.

Malky appears moments later and he explains that he thought we were in Hospitality and he presents us not only with a signed programme but also a signed football. Before I have the chance to get him to pose for a photo with my old man he explains that although his hamstring injury hasn't healed in time for him to play today he's got to get down and finish taking the players through their warm up.

Cheers for the gifts mate.

I leave my dad in the safe hands of the Arbroath board and head back to the car with my prize possessions. Before making my way back up the stairs I pop in to the Club shop to pick up one more pin badge for his collection.

By the time I get back to the Board room my dad is on to his second dram.

I accept the offer to buy a ticket or two for the half time draw in the hope that today will be the day I win big at the football.

We get chatting to a few of the other fellas in the room, two of whom are younger than myself and have been coming to Arbroath for as long as they can remember. One of them tells us that if results go there way today - i.e. Annan, Albion Rovers & Stranraer all lose and Arbroath win - they could get promoted today and we'll need to storm the pitch with him to celebrate.

Shortly before the game kicks off my dad informs me that he's starving so we decide that once we find seats in the Directors Box I'll nip off in search of for a pie. This will be the final chance for a team to break the hearts of those at Aberdeen, Albion Rovers and Raith Rovers for the Pie of the Year Award Season 2010/11.

As soon as I've purchased it I can tell it's going too be a dud. The topping is a totally different colour from the rest of the pie and it feels to moist, I like a crunchy pastry you see. Mine is so bad I can't finish it and I'm tempted to wrap it up in the napkins I have and dump it under the seat.

My dad on the other hand seems right into his and before I know it he's telling me not to throw mine away as he'll have it.

This is why, ladies and gentlemen, he has been the main scoring judge behind the Pie League this season. Only he can give even the pie the respect it deserves, he wants to taste the good, the bad and the ugly.

Only once this season have I had to over rule a points total and that was at his beloved Kilmarnock when he reckoned it was an 8.5 out of 10.

It wasn't.

As we take in the view off the pitch from our seats the stadium announcer welcomes 'David & Arnold Pattison to the ground as they make Gayfield Park their final stop on a visit to all home grounds in Scotland this season'.

He hopes we bring them luck.

I'm thankful he doesn't point us out just in case things go tits up and folks think we're a jinx.

There's a fair size crowd in for the game and both sets of fans are in good voice straight from the whistle. A section of the away support have come dressed for the weather as there is a mass of Hawaiian shirts and beach shorts on show.

Paul Sheerin, Arbroath Player-Manager, and the injured Stuart Malcolm, take their seats a few rows in front of us.

Both sides have early free kicks around the opponents penalty box and both are hit straight at the wall. Gavin Swankie, Arbroath, has the first real attempt on goal after ten minutes but his shot is saved easily by Adam Strain in the Queen's goal.

First comedy song of the day is sung by the Arbroath fans with 'We only sing when we're fishing'.

Just before twenty minutes a quick throw in by Queen's leads to a long pass to Daryl Meggatt and his left footed shot from twenty five yards goes just wide.

Swankie then tries his luck mid way through the half with a free kick that grazes the top of the crossbar.

Looking across to our right we can see that there a few folks in the hospitality seats who seem to have indulged heavily in the pre match entertainment as they're up on their feet to shout praise / abuse at whoever they think deserves it. We're even treated to the sight of a young bloke pulling his trousers down to show his mates his new tattoo on his arse cheeks. and the bloke fast asleep a few rows down. He already looks worse for wear.

A Martin McBride free kick for Queen's Park is floated in to the box where it's flicked goal wards Jamie Longworth and it takes a great diving save from Darren Hill to tip it round the post for a corner.

The goal does come however moments later when an Arbroath defender only kicks fresh air in an attempt to clear the ball, it bounces directly in to the path of Craig Smith, who from twenty yards out cracks a shot in to the bottom right corner.

Sheerin, although not very noisy, is raging and he's soon on his way down to bark instructions to the dug-out. Malcolm on the other hand shouts words of encouragement to his team mates.

He too might have had a few choice words to say minutes later if Longworth had managed to beat the keeper from the edge of the box. Hill, in goal, did well though to race out and narrow the angle.

The Queen's Park Directors are upset with the in-experience shown by Ricky Little as he chopped down a Arbroath player in a dangerous position five minutes before the half time whistle. You can only imagine how much more they're upset when the resulting free kick is met by the unmarked Keith Gibson to head downwards and through the keepers legs to make it one all.

Half time.

Making our way back in to the Board room we're delighted to see the spread on offer from Arbroath. Not only do we have plenty of tea, coffee and pies, we also get sausage rolls, sandwiches and a brilliant selection of cakes & pastries. Sorry Emma but the healthy eating plan went out the window when faced with such tasty snacks.

Catching the half time scores on the box and it looks like the other games are going in the home sides favour. It also transpires that Queen's Park with a victory today could join in the hunt for a play off place. It's all to play for in the second half.

Making our way back to our seats and the first thing we notice is that both sets of supporters have only gone and swapped ends. To do this they must have walked right through one and other and all without any trouble. It really is much more relaxed watching football in these lower divisions.

The blokes from the Hospitality Lounge are really slow to emerge and the game's kicked off before they all take their seats.

Two minutes in to the half and Josh Falkingham has a shot on target brilliant blocked by a Queen's defender. Two minutes later though and the home side go two one up through a scrambled effort inside the box when Craig Wedderburn lashes the ball home from five yards.

Arbroath almost gift Queen's Park the equaliser as a defenders clearance hits the back of a team mate and bounces back towards goal and Hill has to race from his line to beat Longworth to the ball.

Longworth went close on the hour mark with a shot that goes just wide.

The away side almost went a further goal down with some comedy defending, the keeper tried to punch a cross clear but only managed to smack it straight in to a team mates face and it rebounds goal wards and it takes a goal line clearance to spare the blushes.

With twenty minutes to go the home fans are outraged when Lee Sibanda is booked for what looked like a clean challenge. Some of those in the seats to our right are on their feet unhappy with the referee's performance and a jobs worth steward is on to them in a flash demanding that they return to their seats and keep the noise down. Honestly, he asked them to keep the noise down. At a football match.

The impressive Swankie breaks free from his defender and cut in of the wing on to his left foot and his curling shot is well saved by Strain.

Whispers go round the ground that Annan Athletic & Stranraer are both losing. If things stay the same Arbroath will be going up.

Queen's Park through a spanner in the celebrations with twelve minutes to go. A quick ball out of defence is played down the wing to substitute Ian Watt, his ball in to the middle looks a cert to be taken by the Hill, in goal, but inexcusably he bottles the challenge with Longworth and all he manages to do is drop the ball at the strikers feet. Longworth can't believe his luck as he strokes the ball in to an empty net.

Sheerin is raging.

The bloke sat beside us states it's the only mistake the keeper has made all season, what a time to make it.

Right at the death Kieran McAnespie nearly sneaks the three points for the home side but it finishes two all.

All in all it's the fair result. The Arbroath faithful around us don't seem too upset and we soon learn that this result means that they will now have the chance to win promotion and the title next week when local rivals 'Scumtrose' - that's Montrose to you and I - come to town.

We decide not to head straight back down the road and head back up for a final word with the blokes in the board room. My dad indulges in another wee dram and I help myself to some more cake. We say our thanks to the Arbroath staff and head back into the sunshine and back to the car with the journey of forty two grounds now complete.

Outside the ground I come over emotional like and offer my hand to my father and thank him for a great season. Couldn't have and probably wouldn't have done it without him.

Dad just wanted to sat thanks for putting the plan together, for doing almost all of the driving and for making this season such a great advenutre.

You've taken me to watch football for as long as I can remember, you sacrificed going to watch Kilmarnock to drive me to watch Aberdeen in the 80's and to watch Scotland. We've seen some great games across the years including the Scotland v Argentina game, with a fresh faced 17 year old Diego Maradona playing and the two cup finals that year when Aberdeen beat Hearts and Hibs 4 -1 in the Skol and Scottish Cup - that was such a good year to be an Aberdeen fan in living and going to school in Edinburgh.

I hope we get the chance to extend our number of grounds visited for years to come. How's that schedule for next season's European Derby's coming on?

The Statistics:

Ticket: Adult £15, Concession £8

Programme: £1.50

Attendance: 912

Pie: £1.40

Pie marks: 6.5/10

Mileage: 141 miles

Final Score: Arbroath 2 v Queen's Park 2

Man of the Match: Dad - Gavin Swankie (Arboath) Me - Gavin Swankie (Arbroath)

Fascinating fact of the day: Gayfield Park is the closest football ground to the sea anywhere in Europe.

Finally after some deliberation I've decided to wait until the play-off's come around for SFL 2 & 3 to see if I'll go to another game this season. My dad on the other hand is off to watch Stenhousemuir at home on Saturday plus he's another three Kilmarnock home games to go to.

If not there's still our Divison 3 highlights to come, the break down of the highs and lows of season 2010-11 and of course we'll be naming our Top Pie of the Year winner.

Thanks for your support and comments over the last ten months.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Scottish League Division Two highlights

Our visit to Somerset Park on Saturday allowed us to mark all grounds in Division 2 as completed. It's a journey that started with a trip to Peterhead v Montrose on the 24th July in the Alba Challenge Cup 1st round.

As it turned out it was a great day; culminating in a five goal humping for Montrose as Peterhead romped away with it. Paul Emslie scored a contender for goal of the season in the second half with a brilliant lob from forty yards.

The pie was rank rotten though.

The week after will always be remembered for the best heckle of the season; Dumbarton and Greenock Morton, who happen to be local rivals, were playing in the same competition. A Morton defender, can't remember his name unfortunately, was wearing bright red football boots and a bloke sitting just in front of us shouted the immortal line "You're not in f**king Kansas now Dorothy, this is Dumbarton!!" - priceless.!

Here's our breakdown of Division 2.

Money spent on Tickets:

Adult - £114. This would have been the full price. Thanks, however, to Duncan Ferguson at Ford Motors in Forfar for the tickets for Brechin & Forfar and my Uncle Raymond for the tickets to Ayr United.

Concession - £66. As above.

Money spent on Programmes: £16.50

Money spent on Pie's: £28.10. - I'm being generous here as this averages as one pie each per game and I know I've had more than that on most occasions.

Attendance: 8,604

Total goals scored: 33 not including the seven penalties we saw in the Dumbarton v Morton game.

Mileage: 1,255

Top 3 Pies: Forfar 7.5/10 Brechin City, Dumbarton & Alloa Athletic all scored 7/10

Favourite Goal:


1. Iain Russell - Livingston v Brechin City. A first time effort from all of 30 yards past keeper in to top corner

2. Paul Emslie - Peterhead v Montrose. Lobbed the keeper from 40 yards.

3. Joe McKenna - Brechin City v Dumbarton. For his hat trick.


1. Paul Emslie - As above.

2. Chris Maguire - Alloa Athletic v Aberdeen. The young Aberdeen player catches the ball sweetly on the half volley from 25 yards and it lobs the keeper but dips under the bar.

3. Iain Russell. As above.

Most witnessed side: We saw the following sides twice - Brechin City, Dumbarton, East Fife, Airdrie United & Alloa Athletic. (Editor's note: I have been advised that East Fife have been watched 3 times; at Methill, Dumfries and Ayr)

Best Atmosphere: Airdrie United v Beith Juniors in the Scottish Cup

Biggest Cheat: Paul Lovering of Airdrie United for his rolling around on the floor after losing a 50-50 ball and getting a Beith Juniors player sent off. The fact that he sprung to his feet, ran into the box, scored an undeserved goal and then sprinted to celebrate in front of the away dugout did not help either.

Finally my dad would like to share his disappointment that Forfar Athletic inexcusably run out of, what could be considered one of their towns most famous inventions, the Forfar Bridie at half time.

He'd also like to point out his disbelief that no-one thought to walk the 250 or so yards down to the local Bakers who supply them and herd a load back up with them.

This has been duly noted and Forfar won't be to far far from the bottom of the Pie League when we round it up at the end of the season.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Scottish League Division One Highlights

Well, after 10 months we have now visited 41 of the 42 league grounds in Scotland. Here's what we thought about those in Division 1...

Money spent on tickets: -

Adult: £162.00 -

Concession: £101.25

This is the price it would have been for all 10 games but we were lucky enough to be the guests of my brother-in-law Alan in hospitality for the Stirling Albion (thanks again Alan) and we were both given tickets outside the ground at Dunfermline by two unconnected gents who had a extra season tickets going spare.

Money spent on programmes: £22.00

Attendance: 23,019

Money spent on pies: £14.35

Goals scored: 18

Total Mileage: 1,080

Top three pies: This was an extremely close run thing (apart from Cowdenbeath!!). Top of the leader board was Raith Rovers with 8/10, closely followed by Dundee with 7.5. Hot on their tails were 4 teams with 7/10; Falkirk, Greenock Morton, Ross County and Stirling Albion.

Top Three goals:


1. Leigh Griffiths - Dundee vs. Partick Thistle. Nicky Riley skins two Partick defenders before playing the ball to Griffiths who takes one touch to set himself up and then unleashes a left foot screamer from 35 yards.

2. Paul Burns (hat trick) - Queen of the South vs. East Fife. None of the three were stand out goals but you deserve some sort of recognition for scoring three goals.

3. Robert Harris - Queen of the South vs. East Fife. A brilliant free kick from the edge of the area that had pace a wicked curl to find the top corner.


1. Leigh Griffiths - Dundee v Partick Thistle. As above.

2. Robert Harris - Queen of the South v East Fife. As above.

3. Paul Burns - Queen of the South v East Fife. As above.

Worst ground: Central Park (Cowdenbeath)

Special pie league mention: Badge of shame - Cowdenbeath due to the fact there were NO PIES & a mobile outside catering van

Most witnessed side: Dundee x 4, Greenock Morton & Partick Thistle x 3.

Best game atmosphere: Dundee vs. Partick Thistle (aka 'The Red Card Game')

All things considered I'd have to say I was disappointed with the standard of football on show in Division 1. Dundee are easily the best footballing side in the league and would be the only side who look like they could hold their own in the SPL. It's just a shame then that they can't manage their finances a little better.

Day Forty One: Ayr United (Somerset Park)

Ayr United v East Fife

Saturday, 2nd April 2011

SFL Division 2

The penultimate ground is upon us. Forty one down and only one to go.

Ayr United's Somerset Park is today's destination and once again we'll be joined by my dad's brother, Raymond. Uncle Raymond to me. He happens to be the Ayr United Scout for Ayrshire and through this we will be getting free tickets for the game. All in we've done no bad with the free tickets over the last ten months. To all who have facilitated this, we Thank You.

Emma's off out in our motor at early o'clock this morning as she must be at her friend Susie's for 8am. They're making up flower bouquets for Mother's Day tomorrow you see. They got twenty three orders and a fair few more than initially anticipated; hence the early start.

As this is the case my dad comes to pick me up at the flat which was nice of him as it saved me that horrible mid-day bus journey across Edinburgh. True to his word he arrives bang on 11.45am as stated he would. Maybe this punctuality trait of his will eventually rub off on me. Doubt it though.

The idea is we'll drive through to Kilmarnock, pick Raymond up and drive on to Ayr. Traffic across Edinburgh is light and we're out on to the M8 in no time. Tam & Stuart keep us company as ever, guests in the studio this week include David Hay ex- Celtic player and manager, and Willie McGuire, who was an Airdrie legend in the 70s & 80's, apparently. Topics on discussion were Subo's 50th birthday party and what Rangers would be called if they went bust. Personal favourites were Cash in the Attic FC & Del Boy FC.

Passing the Pyramids on the M8, you know that bit just beyond Livingston, I was pleasantly surprised to see loads of sheep with red woolly coats running about. Nice.

We decided to go straight through Glasgow rather than around via East Kilbride only to regret that decision the moment we passed the final turn off. We sat in a traffic jam from junction 11 to 18 and travelled less than 5 miles in about forty minutes.

We had to phone Raymond and inform him that we didn't have time to stop in to pick him up before the game and still make kick off. He agreed and said he'd meet us at the Club Shop in front of the main stand.

Driving in to Ayr I had to turn the radio off. I couldn't listen to that muppet Jim Traynor harp on a second longer about whether or not the Rangers Chairman nodded or not. He was getting properly stuck into Chick Young and some reporter from the Telegraph and it turns out he wasn't even in the room when the nod supposedly took place. Richard Gordon had to step in from time to time to stop the argument escalating.

We parked up a short walk from the ground and wandered over to meet Raymond. We buy a programme but decline the offer of the half time draw ticket and my dad draws the line at buying a pin badge from the shop. He's a Killie fan remember and Ayr are their traditional rivals and there is no way he is giving them any money. His words not mine.

Raymond tells me I've just missed the Ayr Panda mascot and if we wait a minute he'll nip back and get him and he can join us for the pre match photo. I kindly decline and tell him I'm more than happy for it to be just me and him.

Photo taken we're off inside the ground via the players entrance and we nip up the back stairs and appear just beside the pie stand. It must be fate. We get a couple, and take them up towards the stand.

You've got to watch the seating at Somerset Park as there are several pillars to block your view and for someone as tall as my old boy you can only really be comfortable in the back row with its extra leg room.

A colleague of Raymond appears, and after quick introductions they break into discussion about the side the manager has put out. There a few quiet grumblings bit none I'd want to put in print.

The pie is disappointing, it's soggy on the bottom and bone dry topside. My dad finishes his and sticks another £3 in my pocket and I'm sent off to get two more just in case these two are a from a bad bunch. The second effort doesn't fair much better.

Raymond pipes up with another hidden gem regarding him and my dad watching football when they were younger. Earlier this season he enlightened me with the knowledge that my dad was once a Hibs fan and now he tells me that during the late 50s and 60s when Kilmarnock were playing away from home they'd both come down here to watch United.

Still I'll let him off as he's been Kilmarnock through and through since then.

The sun is shining brightly in Ayr and here's hoping we get an entertaining game. Things start off in a positive motion when Ayr run out to Back in Black by AC/DC.

The game kicks off.

Both teams start brightly and it's the visitors who score first after only seven minutes. East Fife win a corner and from Bobby Linn's delivery Matthew Park has a free header at the back post and scores with ease.

The home fans are not happy whereas the small band of supporters for the Fife side are delighted. Raymond and his mate comment on the poor marking and how such and such would have done a better marking job in that position.

Ayr are level within ten minutes through Alan Trouten. William Easton made good progress down the left wing and he cut into the penalty and attempted a cross. This was deflected up behind Trouten who, with a casual flick of his boot, sent the ball over own head and beyond the reach of Michael Brown in the Fifers goal.

Five minutes later and East Fife should have retaken the lead when another Linn cross into the box is met by Ryan Wallace. From only six yards out he managed to some how sit on the ball and the danger is cleared.

Easton then had a ping at goal which had the keeper beaten but unfortunately for the home side it went just wide.

The impressive Trouten then skipped past three or four challenges as he ran fifty yards in to the heart of the away sides penalty box and whilst we were all screaming at him to shoot he chose to pass to top scorer Mark Roberts. He surely must score. He fluffs his shot and it goes so slowly the keeper almost dives past it before he collects it comfortably. A huge groan emits from the terracing.

Five minutes before the break Steve Hislop has a great chance to put the visitors two one up but after finding space in the box his shot was straight at the keeper.

Then right on the stroke of half time Scott Durie's clumsy tackle on Mark Roberts is punished with the award of a penalty. Roberts picks himself up and places the ball on the spot. He steps back a few paces, runs up and hits the softest penalty I've seen in a while straight down the middle at the keeper. I managed to get a photo of it as you see above.

You can see the lads confidence is down and Raymond tells me it's been a while since Roberts has scored and while he isn't scoring the goals aren't coming from around the team. He goes on to tell me he had Roberts playing for him in the Kilmarnock School Boys teams throughout his teens.

Half time.

We decide against a third pie but I do troop off down the stairs to visit the gents. Got to be one of the smallest toilet facilities we've seen so far and surely could do with a wee revamp.

The second half kicks off and Ryan McCann almost scored with a cheeky lob moments after the whistle.

Park almost scored his second of the game when he met a knock down from a corner and struck a fierce shot on goal that Alan Martin did well to hang on to.

Ayr then had a period of sustained pressure but were guilty on more than one occasion of trying to walk the ball in to the back of the net. Plenty of those home fans sat around us were screaming for one of them just to take a bloody shot!

With just under half an hour to play Ayr were denied a second penalty. This one looked like another stone wall penalty as Trouten was clearly pushed in the back as he went for the ball. To the disgust of the home fans in the terracing behind the goal the referee waved play on.

Seventy five minutes in and Bobby Linn tries a speculative shot that curls past the post.

Michael Moffat then had a great long range effort from all of thirty five yards. The ball was headed clear from a corner by the East Fife defence but it was met on the half volley by Moffat and the away keeper had to make a very smart save down to his right.

In the final stages great work down the right wing by an Ayr player (couldn't see his number - editor's note: it was Andy Rodgers) who beats three players on his way to the goal line led before cutting the ball back to Trouten but his shot was deflected clear.

Inexcusably with only minutes remaining Emma phones me up on her mobile. Thinking something must have happened I answer in a flash. She asks "What are you up to?" and I have to reply "Only the same thing I've been doing for the past ten months or so at 4.30pm on a Saturday afternoon, watching football"'. She quickly gets the message and tells me she'll call back later. Good girl!

There is no more excitement on the pitch and the referee blows for full time. Ayr will look a this 2 points dropped and rightly so. They had plenty of chances, missed some easy opportunities including that penalty and will now be looking over their shoulder to see if Forfar have closed the gap on that fourth and final play off spot up for grabs in Division 2.

We thank Raymond for the tickets as we all walk back to our cars and I promise to get the blog up asap.

Well that's almost it. Only one ground left. Gayfield Park, Arbroath on Saturday 16th April.

The statistics:

Ticket: Adult £15, Concession £8

Programme: £2.00

Attendance: 976

Pie: £1.50

Pie marks: 6.5/10

Mileage: 163 miles

Final score: Ayr United 1 v East Fife 1

Man of the match: All - Alan Trouten (Ayr United)

Fascinating fact: In the 1927/8 season Ayr player, Jimmy Smith, set a British record which still stand today when he scored 66 goals in only 38 games to help his side win the Second Division Championship

Next & Final Game: (Arbroath)

SFL Division One Photo Gallery

Here are some more shots from our trip around the twelve grounds from Division One.

Starting from top to bottom we've got...

1. The Three Stooges at Stirling.

2. Dingwall, home of Ross County, in the sunshine.

3. The home terrace at Queen of the South.

4. A Dundee free kick flashes wide.

5. The welcome mat at Greenock.

6. Empty seats at Dunfermline.

7. A wet, muddy and cold night in Maryhill watching Partick Thistle.

8. The sun sets over Grangemouth in the distance.

9. Action shot at Raith Rovers.

10. Check out the size of those tyres at Cowdenbeath!