Groundtastic – Scots Scene – Winter 2005

Groundtastic – Scots Scene – Winter 2005

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 can not 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 a number of 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 Winter 2005 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, Summer 2003, Autumn 2003, Winter 2003, Spring 2004, Summer 2004, Autumn 2004, Winter 2004, Spring 2005, Summer 2005 and Autumn 2005, click here.

Enjoy a short step back in time.


Two supporters escaped serious injury when they were hit by a piece of light fitting at ABERDEEN’s Pittodrie Stadium. The man and women were watching Aberdeen v Motherwell on October 1 when they were struck. They were checked over by medics and were able to watch the rest of the clash. The club will carry out a probe into the incident.

CELTIC have applied for planning permission to build a training academy in Lennoxtown, on the outskirts of Glasgow. The club who lost £38m over the last five years will solely finance the facility by exploiting as many new commercial markets as possible. Chief Executive Peter Lawwell said: “Our training facility in Lennoxtown will be a world-class facility and we hope to have it open in time for pre-season training in 2007.”

FALKIRK are to use the University of Stirling as its new training camp. Chemical company Innovene had earlier moved to prevent the club from returning to the Little Kerse training ground after the death of Craig Gowans. The teenage player was killed in July, when training equipment he was carrying connected with an overhead power cable. Managing director George Craig said: “The facilities are tremendous and it’s great to have our own training base again.”

HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN seem set to remain at Tynecastle but it is still not clear whether the club will rebuild its Main Stand or rotate the stadium site 90 degrees and erect a completely new stadium. Chairman George Foulkes said the club hoped to make a decision in November – after we went to press. Whichever option is chosen Hearts will have to play elsewhere while work is underway, with Murrayfield the favourite to be their temporary home. Easter Road and East End Park have also been mentioned.

HIBERNIAN have taken a significant step towards establishing its own training base within Edinburgh. Council officials have identified a site for Edinburgh’s “Centre of Football Excellence”, which would double-up as a training base for Hibs.  The project has arisen through the Scottish Executive and sportscotland’s desire to improve sporting facilities in Scotland and will boast a mixture of synthetic and grass pitches. At present Hibernian players, live a nomadic existence, training at a variety of sites throughout Edinburgh including Wardie, Edinburgh Academy, Duddingstong and, more recently, at Pinkie Playing Fields in Musselburgh after Hearts vacated them in favour of their purpose-built academy at Riccarton. However, it is thought the project may not be completed for a number of years.

RANGERS have been granted planning permission by the city council for a £120m casino and hotel complex beside Ibrox. The club has predicted that it will create about 2,000 jobs and help to diversify the Rangers brand. The UK Government plans to allow one regional or “super” casino, which can install Las Vegas-style machines with the potential for unlimited prizes. Glasgow council wants the regional casino to be built in the city, with Blackpool also in the running. The Rangers project, which includes flats, a community sports facility and a health care centre, has been given outline permission by the council’s planning committee. A council spokesman stressed it did not automatically follow that if Glasgow won the right to host the regional casino, it would be located at Ibrox as it will then be up to the city’s licensing board to consider applications to run the complex. Rangers have entered into a partnership with Las Vegas Sands Inc. At the centre of the development is a 168,000 sq ft leisure and entertainment complex on land beside Ibrox and the nearby Albion car park. Rangers chairman David Murray said: “If we were fortunate enough to be given it, then it would be a big revenue earner for us. We wouldn’t actually build or run the casino – we would use our ground for the casino to operate on and they would pay us”.

Meanwhile, the Gers are investigating the possibility of increasing the capacity of Ibrox by adding up to 4,000 seats. Chief executive Martin Bain said: “There has been a feasibility study going on for a couple of months and I hope to have a proposal to put to the board by Christmas. We’re looking at lowering the pitch and adding another couple of rows of seats. Fans want an area to enjoy a few beers before games so we could take away the corporate boxes at Argyle House instead, making it a beer hall and adding more seats.”

 ST JOHNSTONE may have left Muirton Park in 1989 but they still own land in the Muirton area that used to be home to the Club car park and training area. This land in Florence Place is now subject of a planning consent wrangle. If councillors grant planning permission for 42 flats to be built on the 0.9 acre site, the Saints will be able to sell the land for a handsome sum that would be ploughed into the infrastructure at McDiarmid Park. “This is an important planning application as far as the football club is concerned. We have held onto the land for all these years after relocating to McDiarmid but now the stadium requires investment to maintain the high standards that have been set since it opened in 1989,” said club chairman Geoff Brown. “While the stadium was state-of-the-art all those years ago, we must plough money into the facilities. They require upgrading to ensure standards don’t lapse. It’s not just on the football front. The stadium plays a big part in the economic well-being of the area, whether it’s a Jehovah’s Witnesses Convention, international rugby, Dunfermline’s UEFA Cup match last season or Scottish Women’s football, with Perth now the centre for their World Cup games,” continued Brown. “We have sat on this site but now money raised through its sale would go a long way to upgrading McDiarmid Park. The steelwork requires attention to the tune of £100,000-plus and the floodlights will need replacing. We took them from Muirton and technology has changed massively. We are faced with £150 a bulb and each pylon has 42 of them”.

RAITH ROVERS owner Colin McGowan has threatened to close the club and sell Stark’s Park unless a buyer for the club can be found. Cue Chancellor Gordon Brown, a lifelong fan, who has persuaded some of his celebrity friends – such as Iain Rankin and Nick Hornby – to back a bid to buy the club and secure the future of the ground.

Meanwhile, Brown has also shook hands on a deal that will see Coldplay play a benefit concert at Stark’s Park. The group’s bassist, Guy Berryman, was born in Kirkcaldy and is a Rovers fan. Raith have not been officially approached as yet. Commercial manager John Drysdale said, “This was first mooted last year but nothing came of it. We, of course, would be delighted to host Coldplay. It would be a marvellous occasion for everyone connected with the club and the wider community.”

Frank Meade has been named as the new chairman of ALBION ROVERS. Meade appears to have big plans for the club including proposals for a new stadium to replace the decaying Cliftonhill.  Details are sketchy as negotiations with developers are at an early stage, but Meade has pointed to North Lanarkshire Council’s commitment to improving sports facilities in general in the hope that they will be receptive to his proposals. Meade has stated that Rovers may be playing at Cliftonhill in its current form for a further two seasons after 2005/06.

Meanwhile, the club have appealed for a bricklayer to build two dug-outs on the opposite side of Cliftonhill from the stand. Manager Jim Chapman issued a plea for help in October as he would like to view games from the opposite side of the pitch.

Travellers are causing chaos after camping next to EAST FIFE’s Bayview Stadium in Methil, Fife. The club’s players have been told not to retrieve balls landing near the travellers’ caravans. Club chiefs fear the travellers’ dogs might bite their players. East Fife chairman Derrick Brown said: “We are looking for as much assistance as possible from the local council and police.”

Ayrshire Junior club AUCHINLECK TALBOT have finally opened a new stand at its Beechwood Park ground after eight years work and many headaches. The construction has left four Talbot fans £10,000 in debt. Jim McAuley, David Gibson, Malcolm Dunnachie and Eugene Crummie have spent almost a decade moving seating from HAMILTON ACADEMICALS old Douglas Park ground and reconstructing it at Beechwood Park. However, they now owe East Ayrshire Council £10,000 after problems dogged the project and costs spiralled out of control. “It truly has been the building project from hell. From the beginning, everything that could go wrong has,” said Jim McAuley. “Finance has been difficult, and we took a £10,000 loan from the council. They are now looking for their money back. I’m not sure how we are going to pay. We had fans who said they would buy a seat, but it has taken so long to build that a few of them have died. The project was cursed – even the cost of the foundations tripled,” continued Jim. “When we brought in cranes for the steelwork, they sank into the ground when it rained. We planned to save thousands by using 800 seats Rangers donated. But they were destroyed accidentally in a fire. Looking on the bright side, our rival fans at Cumnock always said the cathedral in Barcelona would be finished before our stand, but we’ve proved them wrong.” Although, the loan was given to the club, Jim, Malcolm, David and Eugene accepted responsibility for its repayment. The stand was opened on October 9 at a friendly with Ayr United.

Highland League outfit KEITH have spent the Autumn investing heavily in their Kynoch Park ground. The changing rooms have received a total make-over and have been installed with a new shower system, new piping, new hot water tanks, new floor tiles and new urinals. The traditional home and away dugouts have been removed and replaced with Perspex structures while the Pie Shop has also been refurbished. The transformation continues with drainage of the playing surface and the application of a special fertilizer while the club also paid £2000 for 300 sky blue seats from Coventry City’s old Highfield Road stadium. In addition to all of this Kynoch Park now boasts a new sponsors lounge, an extended boardroom and a new referee’s room with showers. The ambitious Highlanders are also planning future ground developments including the installation of a new toilet block for supporters and the replacement of safety barriers around the perimeter of the pitch.

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