As part of my role as Scottish correspondent for Groundtastic magazine I wrote a number of club articles dedicated to a particular stadium. I hugely enjoyed visiting new towns and cities to unearth some architectural gems of the football world. As a roving reporter I visited Tynecastle, Firs Park, Victoria Park, Borough Briggs, and completed a tour of the football grounds of the Highland League to name but a few.
I have recently been watching the vlogs of Footy Adventures, which I would heartily recommend to those of you who are interested in football stadiums and architecture. These vlogs are exactly the sort of thing that I would have been producing if things were different. Sadly, I have been held back by a progressive, genetic disease of the nervous system, the related disability, a lack of technical expertise to produce videos and being in Scotland at the wrong time, with the wrong person.
I suppose what I have done as an alternative is to write Every Silver Lining has a Cloud, which is an autobiographical tour of the Welsh Premier League football grounds. For those who have yet to read it – shame on you. I am happy with my own contribution to the world of football architecture, but I can’t help having feelings of envy and jealousy as I watch the ever increasing body of vlogs produced by Footy Adventures.
I have decided to reproduce the club articles and photographs that I managed to take during my time in Scotland. This was a difficult time for myself as I was beginning to feel the full effects of living with Friedreich’s Ataxia. It would obviously difficult having to rely on trains to get me to my desired destination and the fact that I was losing my dexterity meant that it was increasingly difficult to take decent photographs.
I have been unable to locate some of the photographs that I took while in Scotland. Should you need proof, then you only have to find a copy of Groundtastic to see that I have been credited for taking some photos. For the purposes of this blog about Caledonian Stadium, I have used some of my photographs along with others that I have found on the internet. These photos are of a high standard, and I do not claim to have produced these myself. Where possible, I have included links to the original pages where I found these photos. Simply click on the photos to be redirected to the page where I found the originals.
Overall, I am happy with what I wrote, and hope the following is of interest to some of you.
The front cover of this edition of Groundtastic was actually taken by the fat-fingered heffalump that I used to be married to. We all make mistakes. Although I didn’t take this picture, I was the one who was instructing the photographer on the angle that would work best. I can claim credit as the director with the vision needed.
6092 fans crammed into Caledonian Stadium to watch their heroes secure the First Division championship crown, on the final day of last season, with a 3-1 victory over St Johnstone. However, due to the SPL’s strict ground criteria these same fans will be faced with a 200+ round-mile trip to watch ‘home’ games during 2004-05, when Aberdeen’s Pittodrie will be their base (for more information see Scots Scene).
After a brief tour of the stadium it is clear that – in it’s current state – Caledonian Stadium is not ready to host top-flight football. The ground is dominated by the Main Stand (capacity 2280), which is home to all the club offices, executive boxes, conference facilities and player dressing rooms. This smart looking stand is only partly covered to the rear but gives the best views in the ground. The stand is sandwiched by two floodlights, which hold six lamps each.
The other three sides are almost identical – large flat surfaces with shallow terraces of five steps to the rear. The most popular of these is the West Terrace as, although it is uncovered, it does include toilets and a refreshments kiosk – utilities not available behind both goals. This terrace runs along the entire length of the pitch but is disrupted by a scaffold structure for TV cameras to use. The five floodlights situated on this side of the ground are positioned behind the terrace and do not cause an obstruction. They are simple pole structures, which hold six lamps each.
The South Terrace is given to away fans and is uncovered while the Bridge End Terrace opposite has recently been partly covered and renamed The Kevin Bisset Enclosure, after a local referee whose career was cut short by illness.
This ground clearly has potential and is located in a beautiful setting with views of the Moray Firth, Kessock Bridge and rolling mountains. More importantly there is space for development. Indeed, during 2004-05, Caledonian Stadium will receive an upgrade to ensure John Robertson’s men are only away from Inverness for one season. Two new, all-seater stands will be erected at either end of the ground to bring the seating capacity up to the new SPL minimum of 6,000. The stadium will also be used for reserve and youth games while revenue will also be produced from the Main Stand’s conference facilities.
The fact that Inverness are having to play over 100 miles from home to satisfy ground regulations is clearly an important development in the stadium world. It is not something we want to see happen again and ICT should be commended for going ahead with such a brave move with all the logistical and financial problems it brings. However, with the more reasonable minimum seating capacity of 6,000 in place maybe more clubs will be able to afford to upgrade and develop their grounds – bringing competitive Premier League action to more intimate and varied venues.
Caledonian Stadium Facts:
Ground Capacity: 6280
Seating Capacity: 2280
Record Attendance: 6290 v. Aberdeen 20.02.00. Scottish Cup 4th Rd
A few years after this article was published, I returned to Caledonian Stadium to take a picture of their new all-seater stand at the Kessock Bridge end of the ground. I was incredibly proud of this photograph, which was the last decent picture that I remember talking. It was also used by Duncan Adams on his fantastic ground guides page. Looking back at it now it doesn’t seem particularly good. I also think it might be the other end of the pitch, which suggests either my memory is going, or I cannot find the picture I believed I had taken.
Twenty odd years after I had written the Groundtastic article on Caledonian Stadium, a YouTube vlogger produced the following video as part of his tour around Scottish football grounds. Check out the impressive array of football ground vlogs produced by Footy Adventures by clicking here.