Groundtastic – Scots Scene – Winter 2006

Groundtastic – Scots Scene – Winter 2006

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 2006 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, Autumn 2005, Winter 2005, Spring 2006, Summer 2006 and Autumn 2006, click here.

Enjoy a short step back in time.


DUNFERMLINE ATHLETIC have taken the first steps towards creating a local academy of sport at their training base at Pitreavie Playing Fields. The football club, in partnership with the local business community, have bought a 50-year lease on a five-a-side site operated by Powerleague PLC and, through the Pars Trust charity, the club hopes to improve the facilities and their community use. Manager Jim Leishman said: “From aged three to first-team, that’s the plan.” The existing Pars Community Programme will transfer to the trust, while coaching will be provided in a newly-enhanced partnership with the Scottish FA and Fife Council. “Even as they stand, our training facilities are excellent and I am looking forward to seeing the development progress over the year,” said Leishman. “The fact that the plans cover all ages, boys, girls and other local clubs will see a real community project emerge and hopefully also some quality players for our first-team squad.” Dunfermline have stressed that the commercial operation of the all-weather pitches and the hire of the grass pitches to the public and local organisations will continue as normal. The aim is now to establish a development programme, which will gradually upgrade the facilities to a standard that will match the best in Scotland.

The Federation of HEARTS Supporters Clubs has given its backing to once again staging the club’s European matches at Tynecastle. It says fans would be willing to pay higher ticket prices if it meant an improvement in atmosphere. The club played their European games at Murrayfield this season, with some fans unhappy with a lack of atmosphere. FHSC secretary John Borthwick said: “People said to me they would pay an extra £5 or £10 on their ticket price.” Despite beating Siroki Brijeg in a Champions League qualifier, Hearts went out to AEK Athens in the next round followed by a UEFA Cup qualifying exit to Sparta Prague, with home defeats crucial in both ties. “We’re stating the obvious here, but Tynecastle is probably too small to hold all the people who want to go and watch the games,” said Borthwick. “However, the other side of the coin is that Murrayfield is too big. “I think the vast majority of Hearts fans would support the idea of having future UEFA Cup games at Tynecastle.” Hearts have not been drawn on where next seasons home European legs will be played, should they qualify. A club spokesman had said: “This is a matter for discussion at board level. “Both venues are currently on the agenda for next season, although no decision will be made in the immediate future.”

HIBERNIAN have been granted planning permission to begin work on a proposed new training complex. The Edinburgh side agreed the purchase of 36 acres of farmland in, East Mains, East Lothian in May. Hibs hope to have the facility up and running in time for pre-season training in 2007. The site will eventually include up to 10 full size grass pitches, a gym, treatment area, an indoor synthetic pitch and specialist training areas. Hibs will pay £636,000 for the land, which is a twenty minute drive from their Easter Road Stadium.

The Scottish Football Association (SFA) has welcomed proposals for a new £17m national academy. Former Celtic director Willie Haughey is part of a group seeking planning permission to build an academy in Bothwell, Lanarkshire. SFA chief executive David Taylor said it could give Scotland an academy similar to those in Italy and France. “We have been banging on about it for a long time and we have to be positive about a proposal like this,” he said. The SFA chief executive said nothing had been agreed, but stressed the need to improve the country’s football facilities. “Obviously, it’s now in the hands of the appropriate planning department and, until they make their decision we cannot make any firm plans,” Taylor added. “The French have Clarefontaine, the Italians and the Dutch also have their academies and it’s obvious what the benefit has been for them from it. There are a lot of get-togethers for our teams at every level and the main priority for this facility would be as a permanent base for the international squads.”

ST MIRREN manager Gus MacPherson has branded the standard of training pitches in Scotland as “hopeless”. MacPherson said: “Clubs are scrambling about on public parks. Facilities in this neck of the woods are nothing better than hopeless. “What can little St Mirren do about it? It’s a club’s responsibility to get better training facilities, but you have to work with the council.” MacPherson took his squad to Austria during pre-season and was hugely impressed by the training facilities and wonders why Scotland does not follow suit. “In Austria, the facilities were unbelievable,” he said. “Is Austria a bigger nation than Scotland? I don’t think so but they have eight training camps as well as other facilities. Ours are very poor. We do not have a set training area and have to move around. It’s not an excuse, it is so frustrating. The SFA have said they would want priority on this new facility while clubs are scratching about. Other SPL clubs are in the same situation to us. It’s a real problem.”

SNP Shadow Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill has launched a new paper, which shows that Scotland lags behind its neighbour Norway in providing all-weather pitches and in sporting development. MacAskill said that there are significant health and social benefits to be had from increasing participation in football, and called for Scotland to learn the lessons from across the North Sea and invest in all weather facilities so that our national game is not a victim of Scottish winters, and can be played all year round. “In this day and age with the technology for all weather pitches there’s no reason why we can’t play our national game all year round and in all conditions. The days of games being cancelled regularly for frozen or waterlogged pitches could be behind us if we embrace this technology. Norway has shown the way forward – they have invested heavily in state of the art facilities and as a result they have far more people, especially children, playing football. Norwegian society then reaps the health and social benefits, and thousands of people can enjoy playing football all year round. We must learn from Norway’s example, and invest in all weather pitches so that the people’s game remains just that,” continued the Shadow Justice Minister.

GRETNA have been given approval to turn Raydale Park into a 6,000-seat stadium. Councillors gave the go-ahead after making a site visit. The bid was put on hold throughout the autumn following local concerns about the traffic impact of the plans. Agreement on the £3.5m project was unanimous but a residents’ forum will be created to tackle future concerns. The move enables the Borderers to bring their ground up to SPL standards, which will involve the building of two 3,000 capacity stands at either end of the ground.

HAMILTON ACADEMICAL have expressed delight at UEFA choosing their artificial surface to host the 2008 Champions League final. The Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow uses the same fieldturf as New Douglas Park and Accies secretary Scott Struthers said: “It’s very pleasing for UEFA to give this surface its highest accolade with a Champions League final.”  Accies were the first in British league football to install fieldturf on their main stadium pitch back in 2004 before the use of artificial surfaces became a contentious issue in recent seasons. Dunfermline Athletic were forced by the Scottish Premier League to reinstall grass after a different surface to Accies’ was much-criticised at East End Park. Hamilton also point out that two Champions League games were played on the Moscow surface last week while Blackburn Rovers also played on an artificial surface in a UEFA Cup tie in Salzburg.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

A man has been fined £150 for stealing the goalposts from EAST STIRLINGSHIRE’s Firs Park ground. Mark Rice, 37, of Ladysmill Road, Falkirk, admitted carrying off both sets of metal posts in August. Prosecutor Eilidh Smith said a woman living near the ground phoned police after seeing unemployed Rice tying them on the roof of his car. Ms Smith said: “He told officers he had found them lying on a scrapheap.” Rice’s lawyer, Lynsey Maclean, said he appeared to have given East Stirlingshire a bit of a boost. She said: “Since the posts were stolen they’ve started moving up the league.” At the time of writing, East Stirlingshire are second bottom of the Scottish Third Division. Ms Maclean added: “The posts were lying on the ground – he didn’t have to dig them up.” Rice had intended to sell the posts for scrap. Leaving court, he refused to comment on his crime but he did make the following plea to reporters: “Don’t say I’m an East Stirlingshire supporter, because I’m not.”

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