Groundtastic – Scots Scene – Autumn 2003

Groundtastic – Scots Scene – Autumn 2003

I watch a lot of YouTube videos in bed at night in an attempt to lull myself to sleep. I have mixed results with this tactic. It sometimes works if I am in the mood to listen to some soft rock, but most of the time I opt for punk rock bands of the 70’s or Britpop anthems from the 90’s. These tracks only serve to energise me, but last night I found myself having to make the conscious decision to turn off my tv in the wee small hours of the morning. I had been watching the vlogs of Footy Adventures, which I would heartily recommend to those of you who are interested in football stadiums and architecture. 

I stopped watching one video where our knowledgeable guide was visiting all 42 football league grounds in Scotland. I did not want to switch this off, but if anyone needs their beauty sleep then it is me. 

These vlogs reminded me of a series of articles that I was sharing with my blog readers, back in 2015/16.

Between 2002-2008 I was Scottish Correspondent for the wonderfully professional Groundtastic – The Football Grounds Magazine. I cannot speak highly enough of the editors and contributors to this glossy magazine that is jam-packed with interesting information and photographic gold.

I haven’t been a subscriber to the magazine since my marriage imploded in 2008 and I was forced to leave Scotland. Since then, my dexterity has deteriorated to such an extent that I now find it impossible to simply thumb through a magazine.

Imagine my excitement then when I visited the Groundtastic website to discover that they now have a digital edition available   I’ll definitely be subscribing.

Anyway, over the next few months I will be sharing several articles that I penned during my time North of the Border, including my regular Scots Scene news round-up of potential football ground developments and improvements. The following is from Autumn 2003 and it will be evident to ground enthusiasts and football fans just how much has changed from the era in which it was written…

To view the previous Scots Scene articles that I wrote in Winter 2002, Spring 2003 and Summer 2003, click here.

Enjoy a short step back in time.


HEARTS and HIBERNIAN are discussing plans for the two clubs to ground-share a new £20 million stadium on the outskirts of Edinburgh at Straiton. The 40-acre site is set to be donated free of charge to the clubs by the land-owning consortium behind the proposals.  The consortium includes Hibs multi-millionaire owner Sir Tom Farmer.

The plan would enable the rivals to sell Tynecastle and Easter Road and clear their substantial debts.

As you would expect, fans from both sides of Edinburgh are opposed to the plans and do not want to leave their spiritual homes in Gorgie and Leith. However, the finances of both clubs dictate that they must move if real progress is to be made.

“If we can clear all our debts, move to a new stadium and have money in the bank, it is certainly worth considering carefully” said Hibernian chief executive Rod Petrie.

“We can therefore focus our efforts on being able to put the best possible team on the pitch. I fully appreciate the great attachment our fans have for Easter Road, but I want them to give this proposal fair consideration” added Petrie.

His counterpart at Hearts, Chris Robinson, stressed a move away from Tynecastle was imperative if the Edinburgh clubs ever want to challenge Old Firm supremacy.

“One of the reasons we need to move is because the trackside area [at Tynecastle] is not compliant with UEFA regulations. In two years, we may not be able to consider playing European games at Tynecastle.”

HEARTS fans will still be watching their team at Tynecastle next season – though not from certain areas of Section N in the Main Stand.

Initially, Hearts decided to close the whole of Section N after badly behaved supporters caused several security and safety concerns.

However, following objections from season ticket holders, the club decided to keep a large portion of the area open while closing the section where trouble has been prevalent.

Section N supporters were informed of the club’s decision via letter, which was published on the club’s official website. The letter warns: “The Club is determined to eradicate the behaviour of the small section of so-called supporters who have given rise to serious security and safety concerns. We do reserve the right at any time to close the whole of Section N and relocate season ticket holders as appropriate”.

WHEN UEFA decided that Germany should host Euro 2008 instead of the doomed joint bid submitted by Scotland and Ireland, they also condemned ABERDEEN’S planned move to Kingswells. However, the club still wants to leave Pittodrie, and their hopes have been raised by the local council’s plans to build a municipal stadium next door to the Dons current home.

The development will be part of a centre for sporting excellence on the city’s beachfront and would enable Aberdeen to lease a 20,000-seat stadium, sell Pittodrie and clear its debts.

The proposals are a result of collaboration between local universities and neighbouring councils and would include a new rail link and centre for sporting excellence. However, these plans still must be approved by the local government.

Aberdeen chief executive Keith Wyness – who hopes the plans could become reality in eight years’ time – said “These are tremendously exciting plans for a whole range of sports and leisure facilities.”

In the meantime, Aberdeen has applied to Aberdeen City Council for permission to use their 9,551 sq metre car park for a Sunday market. This would help generate funds for the cash-strapped club though local residents are not happy due to the prospect of another day of noise and disruption. .

DUNFERMLINE ATHLETIC has begun work on installation of a revolutionary plastic pitch. The East End Park club won approval from the SPL member clubs and will run out onto the UEFA-approved astroturf for the first time against Hibernian on September 20.

The last game to be played on grass at East End Park was against Celtic on August 9 after which the famous turf was sold to supporters.

UEFA awarded a £130,000 grant to Dunfermline to help pay for the pitch which is thought to cost around £300,000.

This is not the first experiment with plastic of course but fans will be relieved to hear that they are much more impressive than those tried out by Stirling Albion, Oldham, Luton and QPR in the eighties. The astroturf gives a more natural bounce and opens up a wealth of commercial opportunities for Dunfermline.

“It’s a very exciting time for the club. It will not only bring revenue to the club in the form of concerts and other events but will mean the team will be able to train on the pitch throughout the week.” revealed club chairman John Yorkston.

RANGERS are the latest club to cash in by selling engraved bricks. For £40 you will be able to buy a personalised brick to be placed in panels situated in the Govan Stand. All panels will be uniquely named after Rangers legends and will stand no higher than 6 feet 6 inches. Bricks can be ordered through the Rangers Brick Hotline on 0870 600 1928 though the supply of bricks may have already been exhausted.

After months of argument and legal battles, FALKIRK will kick off the new season in Division One after the SPL refused to sanction their proposed temporary ground-share with Airdrie United. SPL officials were not satisfied that Falkirk would have the necessary priority rights of occupancy to New Broomfield while they wait for the completion of their new ground at Westfield. The Bairns did not take the decision lying down and lodged an appeal with the SFA, which was rejected and have now made a complaint to the Office of Fair Trading.

“We believe that it is in the best interests of Scottish football, particularly for Clubs aspiring to play in the SPL, that there is an independent investigation into how the SPL conducts its affairs” said Falkirk chairman Campbell Christie.

This issue is set to run and run…

In the meantime, Falkirk will play their home games at Stenhousemuir’s Ochilview this season, but supporters have already encountered problems with their temporary home. Hundreds of fans were left fuming after being refused entry to Ochilview for the Stirlingshire Cup clash with Dumbarton because there was no safety certificate in place for the terracing.

Campbell Christie assured fans that “all the work [on Ochilview] has been done with only some stress testing to be carried out and everything will be in place soon”.

Officials of INVERNESS CALEDONIAN THISTLE are eagerly awaiting the results of an inquiry, which will determine if bids by Asda, Sainsbury, Morrisons or Tesco to merge with Safeway are in the public interest.

If the bids are deemed acceptable, and Asda complete a merger with Safeway, it is likely that Asda’s plans to buy and redevelop Caledonian Stadium will be consigned to the dustbin of history.

There are already two large Safeway superstores in Inverness, and it seems unlikely Asda would want to build a third if their merger plans are successful.

Allan Sellar, chairman of the ICT Stadium Trust, said, “There’s not much else we can do at this time but sit and wait – although we have given Asda an assurance that we will not enter into an agreement with any other developer over the sale of the football ground.”

ALLOA ATHLETIC’s plans to sell Recreation Park to German supermarket Giants Aldi could be ruined if plans are approved for a railway line just yards from their current home.

Wasp’s chief David Murray went as far as claiming the club faced extinction if the sale did not go through.

“This issue is crucial to the club’s future,” said Murray.

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