PA Position Available

I am STILL in search of new staff to work alongside me as a personal assistant. This is a fulfilling role that gives you the chance to make a difference to someone else’s life. I am looking for someone who is punctual, reliable, a team player and can be flexible. Word processing skills and a full driving licence are ABSOLUTELY essential to help me get the most out of my life. 

There are 19 hours available, plus 4 sleep-ins, although there is the potential for more hours to cover holidays and sickness. This is an ideal opportunity for a student looking to gain experience in social care sector or any empathetic individual who wants to put their time to good use.

I am really trying to make the most of my life and would like to spend time in pubs, restaurants and other social environments. If you feel you have the personal skills required to assist me, then do please get in touch. My staff are paid £10 per hour, which increases to £11 per hour at weekends. The specific hours and days of the week can be discussed at interview, but alternate weekend work is something I am looking for staff to cover.

If you are interested in this opportunity, or know someone who may be, please get in touch via the Contact page, Facebook or Twitter. Good luck.

As you can see from some of the blogs I post, the social care crisis is a UK-wide problem and I am one of many people suffering as a result.  I am not sure what the answer is, but I do know that I am looking for something that is difficult to find – thoughtful and considerate people in an increasingly selfish society.  I am lucky that I have found a strong support team to assist me, but if I am ever to find true happiness and excel in the areas in which I hold ambitions, then I need to find other support staff.

Could you be the person I am looking for?

***

Female Personal Assistant (Sex Discrimination Act Section 7 (2) (b) (ii) applies, Wrexham (0103).

Rate of Pay:

Weekday Flat Rate: £10.00 per hour.
Weekend Flat Rate – £11.00 per hour.
Double time paid on Bank Holidays.

Weekly Hours: To be discussed at interview.

About the employer:

I am a sociable 44-year-old man living in the Wrexham area. I use a wheelchair and live with Friedreich’s Ataxia. Subsequently, I require support to remain independent. I am an author and disabled activist with a good sense of humour. I remain ambitious and adventurous. I enjoy company and I like to go out socialising.

Summary of duties:

To provide support to access various social and recreational activities. You must therefore have a clean driving license. You will need to support with personal care, including toileting, washing, dressing and preparing meals. I am a very creative individual and require support to develop my ideas. Due to my poor dexterity I struggle to type quickly – as a writer this is most frustrating – therefore you should have good word-processing skills.

A full driving license is also required as I often attend meetings throughout the North Wales and North West area.

Support with gardening and household tasks.

The post will include 5.6 weeks paid annual leave (pro-rata)

Police records check funded by the employer will be required.

The person I am looking for:

The ideal person will have a good sense of humour and should also display plenty of energy, initiative and enthusiasm. In addition, applicants should be patient and trustworthy with a flexible and empathetic attitude. A positive attitude and clear understanding of confidentiality is essential. Promoting my independence will be the main focus for any support.

You must be reliable, friendly, flexible and punctual.

 

Groundtastic – Meadowbank Stadium

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, Caledonian Stadium, 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 Meadowbank 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. 

***

On December 4 2006, Edinburgh City Council announced its intention to sell Meadowbank Stadium to private property developers, resulting in the loss of a historic sports centre and the construction of several hundred homes.  The City Council could raise more than £50 million from the sale of Meadowbank, which would then help to pay for a replacement multi-sports complex at Sighthill and a long-awaited refurbishment of the Royal Commonwealth Pool. In addition, sports facilities would be retained in the redeveloped area as part of a blueprint with which potential buyers would have to agree. 

On the face of it such plans seem straightforward enough but these proposals have caused quite a stir in Edinburgh.

Meadowbank Stadium is a multi-purpose sports facility, constructed between 1967-1970 at a cost of £2.8 million, that held the Commonwealth Games of 1970 and 1986. The 16,000 capacity stadium boasts an eight-lane running track that circles a grass pitch. A large, steep grandstand can accommodate 7,500 while uncovered benches and terracing stretch around the rest of the track. There is a large electronic scoreboard at one end of the pitch while the arena is lit by four towering floodlights, which stand in each corner of the ground.

The 25-acre site also includes a vast array of indoor facilities such as squash courts, gym, climbing wall, a sports hall ideal for hosting boxing or wrestling, fitness studio, gymnastics room, conference rooms and a creche. In addition, the sprawling centre is home to three all-weather pitches, basketball courts and one of only two velodromes in Scotland. It is little wonder that there has been such a backlash since the council announced their plans.

Protesters argue that Meadowbank is more than just a sports centre and should be cherished as an important part of Edinburgh’s sporting and cultural heritage. The strength of feeling on this issue seems to stem from the lack of public consultation by Edinburgh City Council before the decision was made to sell a public asset for private profit. As David Baxter of the Save Meadowbank campaign said: “We believe the decision to demolish the stadium is flawed because there was no public consultation. We would like the council to reverse that decision pending a consultation with those who use Meadowbank.”

Edinburgh City Council claim that demolition of Meadowbank is the only option as refurbishment of the outdated arena would not be possible and prove too expensive due to funding criteria laid down by sportscotland. City sports leader Councillor Donald Anderson claimed the cost of refurbishing Meadowbank would be 80 per cent of that of building a new stadium, adding: “We are not magicians, and we don’t have a spare £50 million.”  Yet sportscotland’s Chief Executive Stewart Harris has recently said money could have been made available to refurbish and the decision to sell Meadowbank to developers was the Council’s alone.

Even the planned replacement complex at Sighthill has been criticised. Construction of the proposed athletics and rugby arena was due to begin in January 2009 and be completed in the first half of 2011 and was to include a 6000-capacity sports arena, which can have its capacity raised to 10,000 for major events, as well as two grass sports pitches, an all-weather sports pitch, two sports halls, a gymnastics hall and an indoor running track. In addition, Sighthill has better transport links to the airport, motorway and bypass – but crucially not to the east side of Edinburgh. Opponents point to the fact that East Edinburgh is already set to lose the Pitz football pitches in Portobello, Leith Waterworld, and Portobello Golf Course and cannot afford to lose this popular and well-used public facility.

Bill Walker, a senior coach who has trained dozens of Olympic and Commonwealth stars, said demolishing Meadowbank would risk losing a generation of athletes. He said: “If the centre closes, a lot of young athletes will just give up the sport. People come from all over Edinburgh and East Lothian to use the track. They’ll be left with nowhere to go. We should be encouraging a new generation of youngsters, not taking this away from them. A lot of coaches won’t go out to Sighthill if it moves there. The council aren’t listening to those who use the centre.” In addition, Sighthill would be much smaller than Meadowbank and cater for fewer sports.

A new, but much smaller, community sports centre would be built at Meadowbank on the remaining land. City planners have identified the current site of the stadium as the preferred option for the facility, which is expected to feature a sports hall, a gym and two fitness studios, a martial arts room, squash courts and a floodlit sports pitch. However, protestors seem puzzled as to why this smaller facility isn’t built at Sighthill while Meadowbank is refurbished. This plan would seem to support the council’s leisure strategy, which aims “to make Scotland’s Capital the most physically active city in Europe by 2020”. Surely, this strategy would be damaged with the demolition of Meadowbank?

The ‘Save Meadowbank’ campaign has had much support. Over 3,000 people signed an online petition, which was also backed by MSPs and celebrities such as Edith Bowman and The Proclaimers. Meanwhile, over 600 protestors marched from Meadowbank Stadium to the City Chambers on March 30. Just before going to press it appears that these efforts have been rewarded with the news that Edinburgh City Council has agreed to go back to the drawing board. A working group will be set-up with a brief to “re-open and examine the principle of the sale of the Meadowbank site either in whole or part”. Councillors also agreed that “no parameters are set within which the group must confine its deliberations.”

The motion as it stood clearly continued to pre-suppose the sale of the Meadowbank site,” said campaign spokesperson Heather Peacock. “The amendments broaden the consultation group’s remit sufficiently to address one of our main concerns over the motion. Unfortunately the working group does not include representation from the Save Meadowbank campaign group. Nor does it allow for full public participation in the consultation process. We are also concerned that the working group must prepare an interim report for presentation to the council by 28 June 2007. This seems an incredibly short timescale for such an important debate. Our campaign to save Meadowbank has been successful thus far. But the job is not complete and we will continue to work and lobby until public opinion becomes central to the debate.”

For more information on the Save Meadowbank campaign, visit www.savemeadowbank.org or the campaign blog at http://edinburgh-meadowbank.blogspot.com

***


Groundtastic readers will probably be most interested in Meadowbank Stadium’s use as a football ground.

In 1974, Ferranti Thistle were admitted to the Scottish Football League and came to an agreement with Edinburgh Council to play their home games at the then state of the art Meadowbank Stadium. When Ferranti had to change their name due to strict SFL sponsorship rules, Meadowbank Thistle we formed. They played at the stadium from 1974 until 1995. During this time, Meadowbank never exactly set the world on fire and despite an encouraging attendance of 4,500 on their home league debut [August 10 1974 v Albion Rovers], this was as good as it got. During their final season, Thistle only attracted an average attendance of 290 – the lowest in the league. At the beginning of the 1995-96 season they played on at Meadowbank under the new name of Livingston, until the new stadium at Almondvale, 15 miles away down the M8, was finally ready in November. 

Meadowbank Stadium is often cited as one of the worst grounds to ever see Scottish Football League action. There were vast expanses of unused seating, with most fans located on one side of the ground. The running track created a great distance between the fans and the pitch. These factors all contributed to a lack of atmosphere in the ground and few will miss Meadowbank as a home for football.

In August 1995 the Council granted Edinburgh City FC permission to hire Meadowbank Stadium for up to 26 Saturdays a season with effect from January 1996. This East of Scotland league club still calls Meadowbank home.

***


One important angle that I do not feel the Save Meadowbank campaign has exploited is the historical value of the site before the current stadium was opened in 1970. The current stadium was built on a large site that previously incorporated a recreation ground (AKA New Meadowbank) and a separate arena that acted as a speedway track and football ground (AKA Meadowbank and later Old Meadowbank).

The highly respected Leith Amateurs Club had previously used Meadowbank for football when, in 1936, former Scottish League members’ Leith Athletic FC began to call it home. The club was not enjoying a successful period on the pitch and coupled with the coming war this gave them little time to develop the enclosure. Meadowbank consisted of a five-acre site with a wide oval track around the playing area but this resulted in a rather distant view of matches. The club built nothing more than wooden dressing rooms, club offices and basic shelter for supporters. During the Second World War, the Army used Meadowbank as a motor transport depot. This resulted in an unplayable ground when Athletic reformed in 1945.

In fact, conditions were so bad that the club had to use the adjacent Corporation owned Recreation Ground from 1946-47. This ground had previously been a velodrome. There were few facilities for spectators around the oval shaped pitch and surrounding track, other than a narrow embankment along the South side and West end. Elsewhere there were only flat standing areas and a Pavilion, which also probably incorporated a small covered Stand, at the East end.

While Athletic used the Recreation Ground, club members began redeveloping Old Meadowbank. Concrete Terracing was provided all around the oval track and the Grandstand from the former Gymnasium Ground of St Bernards was re-erected on the South side. The final capacity was variously claimed between 24,500 and 30,000. Despite Athletics’ problems in attaining a higher standard and attracting better crowds, the supporters continued improving the ground virtually to the end, building a cover for 2,000 spectators on the North side. However, attendances did not improve, finances were tight and the inevitable was never far away. In 1954, Leith Athletic played their last home match at Meadowbank and were officially liquidated in May 1957. For a period following the demise of Athletic, Murrayfield Amateurs used the ground until they faced the same fate as the previous occupants.

Football was not the only sport played at Old Meadowbank. In 1948 the stadium hosted its first speedway meeting. The Edinburgh Monarchs raced here until 1954 when the post-war entertainment tax started to make the sport unprofitable. The entertainment tax was later scrapped, and the sport was reintroduced to Edinburgh in 1960 but the Monarchs were forced to leave Old Meadowbank in 1967 to allow the stadium to be re-developed for the 1970 Commonwealth Games. The Monarchs are now based at the Armadale Stadium, in West Lothian. It is ironic that the stadium has been used extensively for professional sporting activities since 1967, as speedway fans were advised then that the stadium could not host professional sports due to Government funding rules.

***

Glenogle Baths

 

There is a similar campaign being fought in the Stockbridge area of Edinburgh where a Victorian swim centre could be sold off for housing. Refurbishment of Glenogle Baths was originally scheduled to start in January 2006. Instead this has been postponed several times allowing building to deteriorate further. It has come to light that the Council is now considering a plan to ‘redevelop’ Glenogle Swim Centre in partnership with a developer.

Opponents are concerned that any ‘redevelopment’ may lead to the demolition of this much-loved historic building and have made it clear that they will not be softened by promises of a new pool. Rather admirably the main objective remains the preservation of this B-listed building. As stated on the campaign website: “We wish to ensure that the Council fulfils its promise to refurbish and maintain the Glenogle Baths as it has done with the other 4 Victorian baths in Edinburgh.”

For more information on the campaign to save Glenogle Baths visit www.saveglenoglebaths.com 

Letter from DPAC to Helen Whately, Social Care Minister on the current Social Care staffing Crisis

The fact that my search for staff continues, and that the job advertisements has been a sticky post on this blog for eons, is hardly surprising as the whole of the UK is suffering a social care crisis that needs urgent attention from the Government.

I have copied a letter – written by Linda Burnip – that appeared first on the Disabled People Against Cuts website to try to draw as much attention as possible to the sheer scale of the problem.

If you would be interested in helping to solve a small fraction of this problem, by working for me, then please do get in touch.

***

[Letter text by Linda Burnip]

In October 2020 the government promised the House of Lords that an independent report into the ending of free movement and the social care workforce would be completed within 6 months ie. by the end of May 2021.

This has only just been commissioned and will not be completed until April 2022.

Since the closing of the EU Settlement Scheme to most social care workers at the end of June coupled with the impact of the pandemic both individual disabled people who employ PAs and care workers directly as well as care agencies are finding it significantly more difficult to recruit and retain staff. This is leaving many disabled and older people at risk and severely limits the choice that disabled people have over the quality of workers they employ.

It is unlikely that domestic workers can instantly fill this gap leaving potentially disastrous consequences for the lives of Disabled People especially those who need 24 hour live- in support.

None of the current Immigration routes for non-UK staff. who require Home Office permission to work, are available for disabled people to use if they are individual employers whose social care and support for independent living is funded through Local Authority Direct Payments or Continuing Health Care (CHC) funding when they need to recruit new, or replacement staff. Declaring social care a shortage occupation alone would not be enough to allow this group of disabled people to employ non-UK residents.

It is already apparent that an ability for individual disabled people and Care Agencies providing live-in care workers to recruit non-UK social care workers, often called Personal Assistants (PAs), is crucial to prevent a devastating shortage of skilled, qualified social care workers.

This inability to recruit live in social care staff could not only literally put disabled people’s lives at risk but would also increase both pressure and avoidable expense on our NHS and Adult Social Care services. The very real danger to disabled people cannot be over emphasised but can be avoided if prompt action is taken.

Social care and support for independent living is needed by working age disabled people as well as our older disabled citizens. This support allows many disabled people with high support needs to work as well as taking part in society.

As the government claim to be committed to having more than 1 million disabled people in work by 2027 and have boosted the number of Disability Employment Advisors “help disabled people to secure and stay in work” through the ‘Plan for Jobs scheme.’ 1This however will be doomed to failure if at the same time they remove access to a suitably qualified workforce to support disabled people to live independently in the community and by doing so deny them the possibility of working.

While the government has made exceptions for corporations to employ agricultural workers from abroad absolutely nothing is in place to help direct payment recipients who are individual employers to continue to be able to employ the most suitable live-in staff in the future. Supporting Disabled People to live independently in the community and take a full part in society is not only morally essential but also comparatively much more cost effective for the tax payer. The cost of an Adult Treatment Unit placement 2 can be around £12,000 per week, a care home placement for those with a Learning Disability at e.g. Winterboure View an average £4,500 a week3 and a hospital bed £2,500 a week.4

Disabled People who use Direct Payments or CHC funding to pay for their 24 hour, live-in social care is a small and a very specific part of the much larger social care sector. It is a unique employment situation which is not found in any other employment sector.

While the government state that they want social care workers to be paid more individual disabled employers pay PAs all of the budget they receive form LAs or from CHC funding regardless of their nationality. However as the funding for Adult Social Care has been cut by at least £7.7 billions between 2010 and 2019 5it is impossible for disabled employers to follow the government’s empty call for higher pay without funding from Government for Adult Social Care being increased also. Live-in social care workers salaries do not include the value of free accommodation whilst working unlike the Inter- company transfer visa which does. In London a room in a shared house could easily cost around £185 a week or £9,600 per annum.

The need to have 24 hour live-in care is a necessity without which Disabled People risk dying or at best being hospitalised. It is not a choice and normal Supply and Demand rules are not applicable.

The huge degree of responsibility is involved in providing live-in social care support for independent living, the lack of any peer supervision and the importance of a personal relationship make this a role not suitable for those without some degree of confidence and maturity and definitely not for all. While social care is provided in individual service users’ homes all those who need 24 hour live-in care have high support needs many of them medical in nature. Tasks include eg. being hoisted in and out of bed, assisted with personal care needs, sometimes involving manual bowel evacuation and assistance with bladder functioning, managing diabetes, having medication, drinks and food provided, supporting the use of Bipap and Cpap machines for breathing, as well as being supported to work and take part in society.

The provision of quality care is important to the mental and physical wellbeing of a vast swathe of the UK’s disabled and older people – who are often denied rights and opportunities many non-disabled people take for granted. We are deeply concerned about a dramatic worsening of their quality of life, and loss of freedom leading to many becoming imprisoned in their own homes without the support needed to live independently.

The complex intersection of various aspects of being disabled are often difficult for people without lived experience to navigate which is why we believe input from disabled people and our DDPOs is so crucial to the development of any long term strategies that will impact on our lives.

With regard to the lack of any useable immigration route for individual disabled employers of social care staff we agree entirely with Association of Directors of Adult Social Care that a sector specific route is needed which must be a non-sponsored route that can be used by individual employers.

Although the available statistics are limited we estimate that there are as few as 100,000 to 135,000 disabled people who need live-in social care so as such these numbers would not make any real change to migration levels nor would it allow unfettered freedom of movement. Simply we are asking for a non-sponsored route similar to the Frontier Worker scheme which does not allow any right to settle in the UK as most PA/ live-in social care workers simply want to come and work here for a limited period of time then return home.

Of equal concern looking at the social care sector as a whole GMB union estimate that care home and domicilliary care will face a shortfall of 430,000 workers. We know that United Kingdom Home Care Association (UKHCA) have also written to you to emphasise the current difficulties their members are facing with recruitment and retention of staff. Disabled employers of PAs and social care workers often rely on being able to use care agencies in emergencies when without staff so this too is of enormous concern as it means that no back up is available.

The Prime Minister has stated that only 5% of the social care workforce are not UK residents yet for live-in social care agencies that figure is in fact much higher. Last year Independent Living Alternatives said that 60% of their live-in workforce were not from the UK and similarly PA Pool had 50-60% of their live-in workforce from outside of the UK, mainly from EU countries. Since January PA Pools recruitment has plummeted from 280 new available PAs down to only 84 in June 2021.

We believe urgent action must be taken by the government now to ensure the safety of disabled and older people who need social care and support.

Urgent and immediate policy changes needed

1. Revise migration policy urgency by introducing a non-sponsored sector specific route allowing PAs and social care workers to be recruited by individual disabled employers from countries outside of the UK.

2. to avoid a staffing crisis in other related social care sectors such as live-in care agencies, domicialliary agencies and care homes adding social care workers in these sub sectors to the shortage occupation list.

3. Reducing the salary threshold for immigration in social care sectors and also allowing the value of free accommodation to be included for live-in staff.

4. Allow exemption from quarantine for live-in careworkers arriving in the UK from outside the Common Travel Area, provided they are double-vaccinated, PCR-tested, and without symptoms of COVID-19. It is important to balance the risk of infection with that to the safety and well-being older or disabled people with high support needs being left without social care. There is already a very lengthy list of occupations which are exempt.

5. Recognise legitimate vaccination certificates of careworkers from outside the UK, in addition to those supplied by the NHS.

6Currently once working here live in social care workers get free PCR tests twice weekly but have to book and pay for tests on day 2 and 8 before travelling here. These initial test should also be made free.

7. Increase funding for social care so that disabled employers can afford to pay their staff a real living wage. Over £8 billion has been cut from Local Authority budgets since 2010 and in many parts of the country people can earn more working in hospitality or as cleaners than they can earn working in social care.

 

2 Cygnet Health Care

3 https://www.mencap.org.uk/sites/default/files/2016-

08/Winterbourne_View_the_scandal_continues_0.pdf

4 NHS figures

Groundtastic – Millburn Park

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, Caledonian Stadium, 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 Millburn Park, I have had to utilise photographs 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.

With regards to my trip to the home of Vale of Leven, I remember that I had made arrangements to meet someone from the club to show me around the famous old stadium. Unfortunately, the person in question never turned up, and I had to take pictures from the outside of the ground. This limited the quality of photos that I could take, but for some reason I didn’t walk right around the ground. I simply hung around the main gates, but from these pictures published below, it seems that I could have got many more photos from different vantage points on the other side of Millburn Park. It was an unsatisfying way to spend a Sunday morning. 

Overall, I am happy with what I wrote, and hope the following is of interest to some of you. 

 

***

Ten teams competed in the first Scottish League campaign back in 1890-91: eventual champions Dumbarton (Boghead Park), Rangers (Ibrox I), Celtic (Celtic Park), Cambuslang (Whitefield Park), 3rd L.R.V (Cathkin Park), Hearts (Tynecastle), Abercorn (Underwood Park), St Mirren (Westmarch), Vale of Leven (Millburn Park) and Cowlairs (Gourlay Park). Of the ten venues used in  the new league competition, only two survive and regularly host competitive football – Tynecastle and Millburn Park.  As is outlined in Scots Scene, Hearts are about to kick off their final season at Tynecastle, which will leave Vale of Leven’s Millburn Park as the only surviving ground used during the first season of Scottish League football.  Nowadays, Vale play Junior football in Central League Division One but their historic ground, which was once compared to Hampden and Ibrox I, is falling apart around them…

The Vale of Leven lies 20 miles north-west of Glasgow and consists of five Dunbartonshire districts – Alexandria, Balloch, Jamestown, Renton and Bonhill – but home for the Vale’s footballers has always been Alexandria.  Cameron’s Park, Doctor’s Loan (1872-73) and North Street Park (1873-88) were used during the club’s halcyon days but on May 25 1888 work began on a new ground at the South end of Alexandria.

According to a report in the Scottish Umpire newspaper, construction of the new venue cost £700, which included the re-erection of the North Street pavilion and grandstand. The pitch measured 120 yards by 75, encircled by a 15 feet wide cinder track, which broadened to 20 feet on the North side. The ground was christened Millburn Park after the nearby Millburn Quarry. A large mill in the quarry discharged water, the overflow of which ran down the burn and ended up in the Leven, near Turnbull’s or Trummel’s Loan. This area, including the ground, was owned by Mr Turnbull and became known as Millburn.

The following extract, from the Scottish Umpire, suggests the finished ground was well-received:

The Vale of Leven committee have made a splendid virtue of a rude necessity in preparing such a handsome, compact, well-furnished ground; and Millburn Park will hereafter be bracketed with Hampden and Ibrox in point of comfort and finish, although it has not the capacity of either… At a distance you are reminded of Ibrox Park. It lies perfectly flat, and is enclosed with the same corrugated iron which is so distinguishing a feature of the Rangers ground. The enclosure is oblong in shape, closely following the shape of the quarter mile track which surrounds the well-laid 120 by 70 pitch. The stand and club house – the self-same that adorned the discarded ground, although wonderfully improved by contact with the painters brush – is on your left on entering… The pitch is in wonderful condition for it’s age, a remark which also applies to all within the vast enclosure. The track is at yet only in the rough, but when finished and banked will be at least equal to any in Scotland – 16 ft wide with a 27ft wide finish.”  

 

However, the success that Vale had enjoyed in the 1870’s was now only a distant memory and a steep decline was about to begin – not helped by the crippling financial costs involved in the move to their new ground. Poor attendances and the legislation of professional football further hindered their chances of survival. Only two seasons were spent in the Scottish League (1890-1892) before they were forced to resign their membership and the Millburn Park albatross finally squeezed the life out of them in 1894. The subsequent years saw several attempts to reform and restructure but although they regained Scottish League membership they never returned to the top flight and lay dormant between 1928-29 and 1938-39 with the exception of occasional friendlies and cup matches. It was at the beginning of the 1939-40 season that Vale of Leven reappeared in it’s current guise as a Football and Athletic Club and Millburn Park has staged Junior football ever since.

 

Unfortunately, through Vale’s troubled history Millburn Park has been neglected. A historical structure that should have been embraced, cherished and celebrated is now nothing more than a dilapidated ruin haunted by ghosts of the past. That the ground has suffered from the passage of time is obvious from the tired exterior. The corrugated iron enclosure fencing is rusted and is crying out for a lick of paint but – as Dave Twiddle asks in Volume 3 of his Rejected of Scotland series – is it too fanciful to consider this as the original? To the right of the main entrance you can also see where the old turnstiles have been concreted over in a rudimentary manner with no thought of preservation.

This venue – which once held over 10,000 for a Scottish Cup replay against Clydebank in the mid-1960’s – is now limited to a capacity of 2,000. It is standing room only for the average 125 fans that turn up to watch their amateur heroes in action while shelter is limited to one of the two decaying terraced sections. The barrel shaped roof appears to be constructed from corrugated iron but this is missing from the similar skeleton structure that sits beside it.

Opposite this sits the barbed wire covered pavilion that was opened in 1983. The occasion was marked with a challenge match against Celtic after vandals celebrating Guy Fawkes Night in 1981 burned the original structure to the ground.  Eleven single poles that hold one – sometimes two – lamps act as uninspiring floodlights.

As for the future? The ground is now owned by the Millburn Trust who hopefully have a historical appreciation of the park although there are no plans as yet for any improvements or restoration. Let us hope action is taken sooner rather than later.  For more information on Vale of Leven go to www.valeoflevenfc.co.uk 

***

Although not played at Millburn Park, Vale of Leven was also involved in the first match in Scotland played under floodlights. On October 25 1878, Vale met Third Lanark R.V at Cathkin Park in an ‘electric light match’ but the experiment failed to impress, as the following extract from the Glasgow News illustrates:

“The arrangements…were by no means suitable for the prosecution of a skilful game of football…Only one light was employed, and the result was that a third of the field was always in total darkness.”

A reflector intended to spread the light failed to arrive from the continent in time for the match and a less effective one had to be used. Further experiments took place over the next couple of years but it was not until the 1950’s that floodlights gained belated success.

 

Millburn Park Facts

 

First Game: 2-2 v Dumbarton, August 18, 1888

 

Record Attendance: 10,000+ v Clydebank, mid-1960’s, Scottish Cup replay

 

Current Capacity: 2,000

 

Vale of Leven

 

Founded: August 20, 1872

 

Reformed: 1896

 

Folded: 1939

 

Reformed: 1939 (As Junior club).

 

Honours: Scottish Cup Winners: 1877, 1878, 1879

***

Twenty odd years after I had written the Groundtastic article on Millburn Park, 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.

 

Groundtastic – Scots Scene – Autumn 2008

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 Autumn 2008 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, Autumn 2006, Winter 2006, Spring 2007, Summer 2007, Autumn 2007, Winter 2007, Spring 2008 and Summer 2008, click here.

Enjoy a short step back in time.

***

ABERDEEN will plough ahead with a feasibility study into finding a site for a new 22,000-seat stadium despite the fact that their partners, Aberdeen City Council, are facing a cash crisis. The Dons will therefore underwrite the city council’s share of the business case and concept design stages of the study. It is hoped that the feasibility study for the £50m stadium will be completed early next year. Kings’ Links and Loirston Loch are the two designated sites being considered for the new ground, which could be built by 2012. Speaking on the club website, Aberdeen managing director Duncan Fraser said: “There is a very strong feeling amongst the fans, business leaders, sports organisations and the general public that Aberdeen needs to have a community stadium. The redevelopment of Pittodrie is not an option, so it is absolutely crucial that we continue to look at the deliverability of these two sites.”

 

Innovate Cowdenbeath Limited are the new owners of Scottish third division COWDENBEATH and have outlined plans to see the club relocated into a new stadium boasting an all-weather pitch, office space, sports related therapy facilities and business and education related facilities, all of which will be available for community use. The process of sourcing a site for the relocation has identified four potential sites but the preferred location is directly off the A92 and negotiations are ongoing with the landowner to secure the site. James Methven on behalf of Innovate said: “Naturally the part of the deal that helps facilitate the project is the redevelopment of Central Park. As most people have heard, another company who had been interested in the site pre Innovate’s involvement had made an outline planning application to get a change of use on Central Park. Their approach was completely against normal procedure and the application was finally retracted at Innovate’s request prior to going to the planning authority. Innovate have now made formal representation to Fife Council’s Mid Fife Local Plan through the proper channels to have Central Park rezoned for a mixed use development. It has to be said that to date Fife Council have been hugely helpful whenever there has been a need to contact them. Timescales wise, Fife Council have issued a key milestone schedule outlining their road map for the local plan process to adoption. In general, it is anticipated that by Spring 2010 there will be an adopted plan. This fits in with Innovate’s target programme, in that we hope to have the new stadium under construction by 2010. Innovate are currently interviewing design teams and hope within the next four weeks to appoint an Architect and Engineer who will begin designing the new stadium facility. The proposal is to create a design committee and an invitation has been extended to the Supporters Club to appoint a representative to the committee so that they have an active involvement in the design process.

 

After GRETNA entered administration and dropped out of the Scottish Football League it was feared that football in the town would be no more but the newly formed Gretna FC have now been admitted to the East of Scotland League. However, the new team will not be able to play its games at Raydale Park, the traditional home of the club. It will play its home matches at the Everholm, in nearby Annan, after negotiating a deal with Annandale and Eskdale Sports Trust.

 

Ross County have launched an appeal for assistance in raising the necessary fans to build new floodlights for Victoria Park.  It is estimated that a total of £90,000 will be required to build and install the floodlights so that the clubs ground will meet the new SFA guidlines, which allows the club to compete in the Scottish Football League and Scottish FA competitions. Subsequently, supporters were asked to chip in a minimum of £50 towards the cost of replacements for the current lighting rig. County chairman Roy MacGregor said: “I am pleased to say that our investment over the years has set us up to meet all the SFA and SFL ground criteria but for our floodlights which fall below the required lux levels. We therefore have no choice but to upgrade.”

 

We wrote a while ago about Ross County’s appeal to their fans to help meet the cost of replacement floodlights for their Dingwall ground. As ever, the fans have rallied to the cause and the club are nearing their £90,000 target. The bulk of the donations have come from those close to Victoria Park but Staggies fans travel far and wide and have dug deep to help their club with fans from Lincolnshire and Sussex sending cheques.

Ranald Gilbert, Ross County’s Head of Administration, said: “We were absolutely inundated in the first few days following the call for help. Cheques were coming in from people left right and centre – far exceeding our expectations. What was particularly heartening is some of the stories that have come along with the donations. We’ve had contributions from Season Ticket Holders, Lottery Agents and Shareholders who already support the Club in various different ways but we’ve also had letters come in from across the country – people who left Ross-Shire a long time ago but still have a soft spot for the Club. I think that what is really nice for these people is that not only are they helping Ross County, but their support will be marked at Victoria Park on the memorial plaque to those making contributions to the fund.”

The club hope to have the floodlights in place before they kick-off their league season against Dundee on 2 August. There is still time to send a donation or hand in some cash at the friendly game against Crawley Town or the Challenge Cup match against St Johnstone due to be played at Victoria Park on 19 and 26 July respectively. If you are sending a contribution to the appeal by post mark your letter “Floodlight Appeal”. All contributors paying the minimum £50 will receive a place on a memorial plaque and entered into a prize draw with prizes including Corporate Hospitality for 8 people in the Victoria Suite, 2 East Stand season tickets and a new 2008-09 home shirt signed by the First Team.

 

Highland League football club Clachnacuddin has renounced the lease it held for Grant Street Park in Inverness as it tackles debt problems.

Highland Council, which owns the park, has agreed to examine arrangements for the team continuing to play there.

The authority said it was committed to working with the club to ensure a “robust business plan” was developed.

Clach has made a commitment to repay its outstanding debt to the council’s Inverness Common Good Fund.

 

COVE RANGERS will quit Allan Park for a multi-million pound ground by August 2009.

The ambitious community-based facility at Calder Park, Redmoss will be the cornerstone of the Highland League champions’ bid for entry to the SFL.

A delegation from the SFL will visit Allan Park tomorrow to scrutinise Cove’s application.

But club chairman Keith Moorhouse insists the main thrust of their bid will be Calder Park, which has been given the all clear by the Scottish Executive.

Moorhouse said: “The proposed new facility has been approved by the Scottish Executive.

“Everything is in place, although there is one small detail that our lawyers are smoothing out.

“We expect to have that resolved within the next few days, then the move to a new facility will be 100% signed, sealed and delivered.

“Our target is for the new ground to be in place by August 2009.”

The £5million development would be among the most impressive in the Third Division should their bid to join the league be accepted.

But Spartans, who are ready to move into a £3.5m ground, Annan Athletic, Preston Athletic and Edinburgh City stand in the way of senior football.

“The new facility will have a fourth generation artificial surface,” said Moorhouse.

“A further number of full-sized floodlit artificial pitches will also be built, which will be available for community use.

“There will also be five seven-a-side pitches, a full sized badminton court and an indoor sports hall.

“These facilities will not only add to the SFL but also the local community.”

After tomorrow’s SFL visit, Cove will present a final presentation to the 29 member clubs at Hampden on Thursday, July 3.

At present, Allan Park does not meet SFL specifications, although a dedicated team are working tirelessly to improve the ground.

“A lot of work will have to be done to upgrade Allan Park, and that is part of our plan,” said Moorhouse.

“We have a squad of people working at the ground.

“A lot has still to be done but we believe we can achieve that by the start of forthcoming season.”

Spartans are viewed as favourites to secure a step up to senior football.

But Moorhouse insists Cove’s application is stronger.

He said: “There are clubs who have put themselves in the front-running, but it comes down to the presentation.

“Cove Rangers realise that we have stiff competition, and by no means are we classed as favourites.

“But we have as good a chance, if not better, than most of the other clubs.

“It all comes down to the presentation on the day where you have to convince the member clubs that we are the right option to go forward.

“From a football perspective, I believe that Cove have more to offer than the other applicants for entry to the SFL.

“We are realistic but if we do succeed we are not going into the Third Division just to make up the numbers.

“We want to win it which will mean strengthening, and our manager John Sheran and I have already had discussions about what we need to do to achieve that.”

 

 

Groundtastic – Scots Scene – Summer 2008

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 Summer 2008 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, Autumn 2006, Winter 2006, Spring 2007, Summer 2007, Autumn 2007, Winter 2007 and Spring 2008, click here.

Enjoy a short step back in time.

***

Groundsharing in the Scottish Premier League is unlikely to be approved in future following this season’s problems between GRETNA and MOTHERWELL at Fir Park. The Fir Park pitch deteriorated with the two clubs using it every Saturday and the poor weather led to a number of postponements. A statement from Motherwell chief executive Ian Stillie, on the club’s official website, said: “Investigations involving third-party experts concluded that the particles meshing with the clay-based soil have hardened around the undersoil heating pipes and created an impermeable layer below the root zone surface. That has made natural drainage of the pitch difficult and the problem was exacerbated by the record rainfall of the past three months. At present the short-term work appears to have overcome the identified issue. The drainage process is a short-term fix to potentially fulfil our remaining SPL fixtures at Fir Park. Simultaneously, with this remedial action, we are assessing the scope of work for a permanent solution to this issue during the summer.” In addition, crisis club Gretna, who are in administration and have been relegated, were forced to play their home fixture against Celtic at Livingston’s Almondvale on March 23 to help the Fir Park pitch recover. Gretna lost the match 0-3 in front of just 3,561 fans.

 

Meanwhile, GRETNA have set an unwanted record for the lowest-ever SPL attendance. In October they first broke the record when only 1,096 saw Inverness Caledonian Thistle beat them 0-4 at Fir Park but this record was beaten when just 501 watched Gretna host Dundee United and lose 0-3 on March 6. It got even worse on April 5 when only 431 fans bothered to turn up as visitors Inverness Caledonian Thistle beat Gretna 1-2. Four days later the Dumfries strugglers recorded a third attendance below 1000 when they tempted just 751 fans into Fir Park to watch a goalless draw with St Mirren.

 

HAMILTON ACADEMICALS have won the Scottish First Division title and will play Scottish Premier League football next season. As a result the club have scrapped plans to lay a new artificial surface at New Douglas Park and will revert to grass while installing undersoil heating at a later date. The Accies have played on a synthetic pitch since 2004 and were seeking special dispensation to keep the pitch but club secretary Scott Struthers said they were not 100% convinced the SPL would grant approval so shelved the idea… Club chairman Ronnie MacDonald was not particularly happy, he said: “With the way the weather is changing in Scotland, I think artificial pitches will be in vogue everywhere in 15 years. To me, going back to grass seems like a step back because the advances with artificial pitches are just spectacular and we all know the lack of facilities in Scotland is pathetic.” Dunfermline Athletic were forced to tear up their artificial surface when the SPL ruled against its continued use in 2005. Meanwhile, a new 600-seater stand is being constructed that will bring New Douglas Park up to the SPL’s stadium criteria.

 

Supermarket giants Tesco are to end their lease agreement with QUEEN OF THE SOUTH and “gift” the site of one of their former stores back to them. The site – positioned next to Palmerston Park – has been sitting empty since Tesco opened new premises at nearby Cuckoo Bridge in 2004 but was still owned on a long lease by the supermarket firm. Club chairman David Rae said the deal was not yet official but hoped the land could be used to generate extra income. Among the uses being considered are for indoor training facilities, ten-pin bowling, office accommodation or storage space, which should generate more than the fixed £50,000-a-year lease payments from Tesco. The Dumfries club have reached the Scottish Cup final and are assured of a UEFA Cup spot as their opponents Rangers will qualify for a Champions League place through the league.

 

Councillors in Edinburgh have voted to demolish Meadowbank Stadium and replace it with a smaller arena. The ruling Lib Dem/SNP coalition was supported by the Conservatives, as 39 councillors voted in favour of the proposals. Under the plans, the 16,000-seater stadium will be replaced with a 5,000 capacity arena, and some of the land will be sold to housing developers. Money from the housing development will be used to help pay for the new £25m stadium, along with grants. The Save Meadowbank Campaign said the council’s decision went against the wishes of the electorate. Campaign spokesman Kevin Connor said: “The current facilities are hugely popular and need to be increased to cater for demand – but instead the council has decided to reduce capacity. The plans presented today include no provision for outdoor football pitches. There is no throwing area, no warm-up area for athletes and no athletics storage facility. As for the cyclists, they have been told to get on their bikes.” For more information on the Save Meadowbank campaign, visit www.savemeadowbank.org

Groundtastic – Scots Scene – Spring 2008

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 Spring 2008 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, Autumn 2006, Winter 2006, Spring 2007, Summer 2007, Autumn 2007 and Winter 2007, click here.

Enjoy a short step back in time.

***

First Minister Alex Salmond has revealed that a feasibility study will take place regarding the possibility of Scotland hosting Euro 2016. Salmond said that initial exploratory talks had taken place with the Scottish Football Association. Scotland would require new or significantly upgraded stadia to meet UEFA requirements for the tournament, and if the number of teams involved rises from the current 16 that could pose difficulties.

 

Discussions are ongoing regarding the construction of a community stadium for Aberdeen, which could be built in Cove. The possible development near Loirston Loch would include a new home for ABERDEEN Football Club. The Arena project team of Aberdeen City Council and AFC will present an outline business case for a stadium and ask councillors to promote Loirston. Officers recommend a 22,000-seat stadium, potentially rising to 30,000 depending on financial backing. The whole project is expected to cost about £53m. If councillors give approval for the project to move forward the stadium could be built by 2012.

 

FALKIRK have been given the green light to construct a South Stand at the two-sided Falkirk Stadium. The new seating area will accommodate approximately 2000 fans – raising the over capacity to over 8,000 – and will be modelled on the existing North Stand. Funding has been secured after discussions with the Bairns board and a local private business investor. Work on the new development should begin in April 2008.

 

GRETNA were given special dispensation by the Scottish Football Association to play their Scottish Cup fourth round replay against Morton at Palmerston Park – home of Queen of the South. Gretna have been ground-sharing with Motherwell at Fir Park but both teams postponed home games following the death of ‘Well captain Phil O’Donnell in December. In conjunction with the bad weather that hit Scotland this led to a backlog of fixtures and special dispensation was granted. Gretna eased their fixture congestion a little by losing the rearranged game 0-3. 

 

HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN have submitted plans for a new 10,000-seat Main Stand to include a hotel and flats. The whole project will cost the Jambos over £50m when the club is already estimated to be £30m in debt. Hearts hope the project, which would increase stadium capacity to 23,000, will begin in the summer and be completed by 2010. Chairman Roman Romanov said: “Today’s submission of the planning application is a major step forward in realising our aim of providing a first-class football stadium in Scotland’s capital city. Our plans will bring great benefits to both Hearts and the city of Edinburgh. As such, we are hopeful that our submission will be looked on favourably given the added value and economic benefit that it brings. In our mind, the result will undoubtedly lead to Edinburgh being home to one of the country’s top football stadiums. It will also offer benefits to those that live and work in the surrounding area. We are very focused on delivering a truly spectacular development for our players, supporters, sponsors, partners and neighbours. The newly-developed stadium will ultimately lead to the creation of over 300 new jobs and provide an economic boost of at least £1.2m per season to both the immediate area and the wider city economy.”

 

MOTHERWELL will rename their main stand after former captain Phil O’Donnell, who collapsed and died of heart failure during a match against Dundee United at Fir Park on December 29. Club owner John Boyle said that the stand would be renamed for next season.

 

RANGERS have revealed that they are currently considering a number of plans for the development of Ibrox. A Rangers statement said: “The club would like to inform its fans that it is currently assessing a number of proposals for the development and regeneration around Ibrox. At present, we are analysing three strategies, which would enhance the development of the existing outline planning proposals for the Hinshelwood area to the south of the stadium. One of the strategies includes the total rebuilding of Ibrox Stadium while retaining the brick facade, the tradition and the integrity of the Bill Struth Main Stand. The club stresses that, at this time, it is assessing these proposals and no decisions will be reached imminently. Further details will be announced at the appropriate time.”

 

ST MIRREN will have to seek permission from the Scottish Premier League to move into their new stadium halfway through the 2008-2009 season after initially hoping to have their new home built for the start of that season. Buddies chairman Stewart Gilmour informed the club’s annual meeting that the new 8,000-seat ground at Greenhill Road would not be complete until November 2008. Barr Construction started work on the new stadium in January.

 

COWDENBEATH’S plans to move to a new stadium as reported in GT #51 have gone up in smoke after local councillors blocked plans to build houses and/or a Tesco supermarket at Central Park – the Blue Brazil’s current home. The club had agreed to sell Central Park to McCartney Homes in a £2m deal but after the council insisted leisure facilities must be kept on the site of the old ground they quickly pulled out of the agreement. It seems the ‘Fife Maracana’ will be around for a while yet.

 

Edinburgh Council has agreed to an SNP/Liberal Democrat motion to proceed with a full refurbishment of the Royal Commonwealth Pool ahead of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and to call for a further assessment of the options for Meadowbank Stadium. Labour and Conservative councillors said they would prefer to demolish Meadowbank and return to the previous administration’s plan for a new stadium at Sighthill but the SNP/ Lib Dem motion at least implies a commitment to attempt to find a solution that does not involve any sell-off. For more information on the Save Meadowbank campaign, visit www.savemeadowbank.org

 

Highland League outfit CLACHNACUDDIN may be forced to leave their council owned Grant Street Park ground after failing to pay rent for the last three years. Debts due to unpaid rent are now thought to be five figures. As a result council officials have drawn up a report and invited club chairman David Dowling to explain the situation at an Inverness City Committee meeting on February 4 – after we went to press.

#SaveWILG – Neverending Story…

Unbelievably, I am writing an update for the #SaveWILG campaign – something that I have been working on since November 2016. After highlighting the campaign on national television, newspapers, radio and across social media, I was delighted when the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services visited my comrades and I back in February 2019, to announce the Welsh Government’s decision to protect former recipients of the ILF throughout Wales.

I felt that my tireless activism had been worth it. Countless visits to the Senedd, a meeting with Shadow Chancellor John McDonell in Westminster, pushing through a motion at the Welsh Labour Conference in April 2018 where I also met Jeremy Corbyn, working closely with the Petitions Committee at the Senedd and a whole host of other events, such as an art exhibition at Theatr Clwyd and an awareness day in the centre of Wrexham, had resulted in an opportunity to meet with an independent social worker instead of having to rely on unscrupulous local authorities, who were more concerned with the bottom-line than the welfare of disabled people.

It felt like I had achieved something, but I am still waiting to find out what the future holds, while I am stuck under a cloud of uncertainty. I have had my final reassessment with ICS – the independent company appointed by the Welsh Government to reassess former WILG recipients – but I am waiting for a final meeting with ICS and WCBC.

It is true that the pandemic has caused problems in arranging this meeting. I wanted to wait until we could set up a face-to-face meeting, rather than struggle to hear and be understood over video-conferencing. I also wanted to wait until I had had both of my Covid vaccinations. I had my second vaccine at the beginning of May, and I have finally set up a meeting with ICS and WCBC for July 16th.

This cannot come quickly enough. Unfortunately, my progressive disability is weakening my body at a rate of knots, meaning that I cannot achieve the goals I have set myself, without the adequate support. There is so much that I still want to achieve in life, but I am having to spend all my time and energy on fighting for nothing more than a level playing field for disabled people in Wales.

The problem as always, is money. I will never stop believing that people should come before profit…

***

It is not only me that finds themselves in such a situation. Indeed, I am probably one of the lucky ones (!), as I have a team of advocates and supporters around me. I know other WILG recipients who are being pushed tot he edge by hostile local authorities. I cannot help but notice that the people who are being punished at this stage, are the passionate people who were determined to see justice served, and proved a nuisance for having the audacity to stand up against the Welsh Government and local authorities.

***

Independent living is a problem for disabled people across Britain. Please see the letter below and consider signing and sharing the petition, plus composing an email to your MP. Solidarity and best wishes to John Abrams.

Dear Friends,

Thank you for signing the petition to Scrap Social Care Charging.

Please can you write to your MP to fix social care which is unfair and a post code lottery. The first step is to urge the government to introduce free home care and scrap care charges.

Take action today and email your MP here Act Now – Scrap care charging and introduce Free home care – Action Network

Thanks,

Jon Abrams

***

I would also like to draw your attention to the following blog, published by Blueannoyed, which concerns the continued struggle of disabled people, striving for their rights. 

Groundtastic – Scots Scene – Winter 2007

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 2007 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, Autumn 2006, Winter 2006, Spring 2007, Summer 2007, and Autumn 2007, click here.

Enjoy a short step back in time.

***

CELTIC have unveiled their new training facility in Lennoxtown. Constructed on the former Lennoxtown Hospital site over the past two years, the 50-acre centre reportedly cost £8million and is nestled in Campsie Fells, around 12 miles from Glasgow in East Dunbartonshire. It boasts natural grass and artificial pitches, an indoor training hall, a modern fitness centre, sports science department, media facilities and a hydrotherapy pool. Celtic will move almost their entire footballing operation to the new premises, including the medical and sport science staff. It means that the club’s players will now only visit Celtic Park on match days. In addition Celtic Ladies, a new team launched in June, will play their home games at Lennoxtown.

 

HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN have revealed plans for a £51m redevelopment of Tynecastle, which will increase its capacity by nearly 6,000 to 23,000 and include a new 10,000-seat Main Stand, hotel and leisure facilities. The Edinburgh club are “at an advanced stage” in negotiations with City of Edinburgh Council about land adjacent to the stadium and have now entered a consultation process with the local community.  The project also includes proposals for a gym, a club shop and a restaurant. If planning permission is granted, Hearts will demolish their current 4,500-capacity Main Stand, which was constructed in 1914, next summer, with a view to the new stand being open by the end of the 2009/2010 season. In addition, the club insist that it will be possible for them to continue playing at Tynecastle during construction despite a reduction in capacity. Jambos deputy chief executive officer, Pedro Lopez said: “Playing at Tynecastle is a 100 per cent realistic option in terms of possibility. We can play there with three stands, but at the same time we need to look at the other options available and make up our minds. We wouldn’t rush to a conclusion; we’re looking at every component, not only economical but also emotional for the fans. There are several options we are considering and at this moment we’re not writing off any.”

Meanwhile, there is much confusion about how Hearts will finance the redevelopment as the club is in severe debt to the tune of £28m in debt. However, Lopez insists club owner Vladimir Romanov’s business empire will provide funding: “Of course, the vision for this club is for the club to be self-sufficient and self-funding in the future,” said Lopez. “That is why we are investing in facilities and the playing squad, so the team can succeed on its own. There are parties interested in financing this project and we are speaking with them. But you need to get the money from somewhere to make an investment. We are looking at our options, but it’s likely to be a loan.”

 

HIBERNIAN have begun a process that will eventually lead to the construction of a new East Stand at Easter Road. Speaking at the club’s AGM, chairman Rod Petrie said the board had already begun the procurement process “to obtain costings to see whether in the cold light of day an economic case can match the emotional desire to complete the stadium. It is likely that construction could take place during 2008. Optimistically, work could be completed in time for the start of season 2008/09 but although that is desirable, it is not a prerequisite nor is it essential.”

 

GRETNA are in talks with the Scottish Government over the development of the country’s first so-called Eco Stadium. The proposed stadium would be constructed on a site on the outskirts of Gretna and should alleviate the concerns of local residents about previous plans to redevelop Raydale Park.

 

A mystery consortium has bought AIRDRIE UNITED’S Excelsior Stadium promising to safeguard it for the football club. Speaking on the club’s official website, chairman Jim Ballantyne said: “We were effectively running [the ground] on behalf of the owners, Airdrie Stadium Ltd, a company controlled from Jersey. Unfortunately, however, Airdrie Stadium Ltd got into financial difficulties at the turn of the year, which resulted in control of ownership transferring to an offshore bank based in the Caribbean. This left the club in an exposed position as a full liquidation of the owners, Airdrie Stadium Ltd, would have put our tenancy in great jeopardy. As a result, we have been working extremely hard to rectify the position and we have been in detailed complicated legal negotiations for over six months to bring the ownership of the stadium back to Scotland. We are happy to confirm that this has now been achieved after we put together a consortium of ‘Airdrie friendly’ individuals to fund such a move. We have set up a separate company, Airdrie FC Stadium and Events Ltd, which will operate the stadium on a day-to-day basis and future profits from that company will be used to subsidise the football club operations. The individuals of the consortium wish to remain anonymous and this will be respected by all those involved in the club.”

 

Edinburgh amateur side LEITH ATHLETIC claim BRECHIN CITY have forced them off a school training pitch. Athletic thought they had use of the Firhill High School land on Monday nights but it has been booked by the Glebe Park club.

 

DEVERONVALE of the Highland League are planning to become the first in Britain to power its stadium floodlights with wind energy. The club hope to build wind turbines on top of two floodlights at Princess Royal Park. Those behind the project hope the whole stadium will eventually turn green. A feasibility study of the site has shown that two moderate sized turbines would not only power all of the floodlights in the ground, but also supply all the stadium’s energy needs. When the football season is at an end, the club said the turbines may even be capable of supplying electricity to surrounding households and businesses. The estimated cost of the project is thought to be about £400,000, most of which is expected to come from energy grants. However, a Deveronvale official warned that the initiative was dependent on Tesco gaining planning permission to build a store next to the stadium. The club said the move would release cash promised by the supermarket giant for local community projects.

 

 

Memory Match – 27-09-72

Over the past few months, I have watched with interest as Hollywood superstars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney have taken control of the club from the hapless Wrexham Supporters Trust. I am hopeful that things will improve under the new ownership and I am excited that I may soon be welcomed back to the Racecourse to enjoy a game of football alongside my fellow fans. Indeed, the new era that is slowly unfolding at the Cae Ras has given me the impetus needed to continue writing my Memory Match articles that I hope to put together to create my third book.

It would be great if I could synchronise the release of my book with the reincarnation of the club I love. There is much hard work ahead of myself and the new owners, but there is a new sense of hope and expectation in the air, so maybe now it is time to believe in a brighter tomorrow. 

I now only have three Memory Match columns to write, before having completed the Football League Years, 1921-2008. I will soon start thinking of book publishers and former Wrexham players who could write a forward for the proposed volume. Maybe I should also consider an electronic edition that would be available on Kindle and other devices? 

***

27/09/72

Wrexham v FC Zurich

European Cup Winner’s Cup Round 1 (2nd leg)

Racecourse Ground

Result: 2-1

 Wrexham: Lloyd, Mason, Fogg, Davis, May, Evans, Tinnion, Sutton, Ashcroft, Kinsey (Mostyn), Thomas

Goalscorers: Ashcroft (63), Sutton (73)

 FC Zurich: Grob, Heer, Stierli, Zigerlig, Bionda, Brunnenmeier, Schweizer, Martinelli, Kunzli, Konietzka, Jeandupeux

Goalscorer: Martinelli (48)

Attendance: 18,189

Third Division Wrexham made their European debut against FC Zurich at the Stadion Letzigrund in Switzerland. The match finished all-square with Albert Kinsey scoring our first goal in Europe, just a minute after Fritz Kunzli had opened the scoring for the home side.

The Swiss Cup winners were involved in their seventh European campaign. In 1964 they had reached the European Cup semi-finals, and four years later they made the last eight of the UEFA Cup. Their team included four Swiss internationals and their player-manager Timo Konietzka, was a former West German international. The return leg at the Racecourse would certainly be a test.

18,189 supporters were on hand to watch a scintillating display by the Town. The players were certainly up for the challenge and proceeded to hammer away at their opponents’ goal throughout the opening period. Brian Tinnion put a chance, made by Dave Fogg and Kinsey, over the bar. Stuart Mason chose to shoot from an impossible angle, after a breath-taking run, Kinsey was narrowly wide with a diving header and Zurich goalkeeper Karl Grob, made the save of the match when he went down to a rasping drive by Billy Ashcroft. Zurich offered little in response.  

During this eventful first half, both Kinsey and Ashcroft had to have attention on the side-lines for injuries. Ashcroft recovered, but Kinsey failed to return for the second half and was replaced by Roger Mostyn.

The second half continued in a similar vein with Mel Sutton hitting the bar. Surely it would be only a matter of time before our pressure paid dividends?

Suddenly, out of nowhere, Erwin Schweizer sent over a long centre from the left and Rosario Martinelli dived head-long to stun the entire Racecourse. Instead of letting their heads go down, John Neal’s men simply turned up the pressure. No team could hope to survive such an onslaught and it came as no surprise when Wrexham equalised in the 63rd minute.

Tinnion sent over an inviting corner-kick that seemed certain to be met by Eddie May’s forehead – until he was blatantly pushed in the back. This was a glaring case for a spot-kick, but the referee failed to react. Mickey Thomas chased the loose ball to the by-line and crossed perfectly for Ashcroft to thump his header home.

Zurich were clearly rattled and foul followed foul, as desperation set in. The inevitable happened after 73 minutes, when Sutton headed past Grob from a Micky Evans cross.

There was still plenty of incident left in this game. Thomas saw a rocket rebound off the crossbar, and the visitors regained some composure to carve out an opportunity. Thankfully, Gareth Davis was on hand to prevent Kunzli from levelling the tie.

Speaking after the game, Wrexham skipper Eddie May said “Zurich played better in this match than in the first game. I was a bit sick when they scored, but we showed great character in not getting in a panic. The crowd were great. Even when we were behind, they were behind us, it was tremendous.”

 

***

It was interesting to read a letter in the Wrexham Leader, from a club director responding to a supporter who previously wrote that her “blood boiled” at the thought of Wrexham FC directors travelling to Zurich free of charge.

In his defence, the unnamed director writes that “Early this year, the directors advanced to the Football Club £20,000 in cash for six months free of interest charges.

“If your ‘blood-boiling’ correspondent cares to work out the saving to the Football Club at current interest rates, she will discover that the cost of the Zurich trip was covered three-times over”.

 

***


After exerting ourselves in European competition, we failed to progress very far in the domestic cups. We did manage to record our first victory in the League Cup for four years, with a 4-0 demolition of Crewe Alexandra. Unfortunately, this was followed by a 2-0 defeat by Second Division Middlesbrough at Ayresome Park.

The FA Cup campaign began with a 1-1 draw against Darlington at Feethams. The replay at the Racecourse ended in a resounding 5-0 victory for the Town, with promising young striker Dave Smallman bagging a hat-trick. This caught the attention of a host of top clubs, with bids being turned down from Birmingham City and Everton. Any dreams of a trip to Wembley were shattered in the second round of the competition, when Port Vale beat us 1-0 at Vale Park.

Any thoughts of a return to European competition were halted in the Welsh Cup fourth round by Chester. The trip to Sealand Road ended in a 1-0 defeat, six players were booked, Chester’s Dave Kennedy was sent off and Chester goalkeeper John Taylor managed to save a last-minute penalty from Gareth Davis. This encounter also saw the debut of a certain Joey Jones.  

Groundtastic – Scots Scene – Autumn 2007

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 Summer 2007 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, Autumn 2006, Winter 2006 and Spring 2007, click here.

Enjoy a short step back in time.

***

 

CELTIC are to pay KILMARNOCK a total of £20,000 for damage caused to seats during the Rugby Park fixture when Gordon Strachan’s side clinched the SPL title last April. About 1,500 seats were broken in the Chadwick and Moffat stands. Celtic also paid for damage caused by some fans at Rugby Park in 2004. The SPL then introduced rules to ensure clubs responsible for damage at away grounds paid for the repairs. The contractors aim to have Rugby Park fully repaired for the beginning of the 2007-08 season. 

 

FALKIRK have unveiled plans to build two new stands to complete their ground. News of the work on the south and east stands came as the company which owns Westfield was given another two years to start repaying its £6million debts. The rescue deal was struck when Falkirk Community Stadium Limited (FCSL) unveiled a series of proposals including the club erecting a third stand on the south side of the ground and bringing in developers to start work on an east stand. That will be in addition to building a hotel and fitness centre either side of the north stand and offices at the other end of the pitch. The agreement also allows FCSL to phase repayments of an additional £500,000 loan to the council between now and 2012. The company first negotiated a rescue package when it ran into cash-flow problems two years ago. It was agreed then that repayments on its borrowing of just over £5m would be met by the council until December this year. The debt is now nearer £6m but the company is still not earning enough to start paying it back. However, council chief executive Mary Pitcaithly said the involvement of developers Terrace Hill could change that dramatically while also outlining the difficulties facing the council in considering how the debt should be handled.  She said: “There is a risk involved in the council agreeing to the debt reprofiling requests that the debt is not repaid or not repaid in full. Equally, there is a risk an inflexible approach brings the company into immediate financial difficulty – putting at risk the entire venture.” The request for a further two years to make the repayments was deemed justifiable by the council’s finance director Alex Jannetta. Council leader Linda Gow said: “The council went into this as partners to deliver not only a ground for Falkirk FC to play on but a top-class facility for the community to enjoy. However, the money being used belongs to the people of Falkirk and there is no way developing the stadium can become a tax burden on our citizens.”

 

GRETNA have kicked off the 2007-08 season playing their ‘home’ games at Motherwell’s Fir Park ground despite the protests of Dunfermline Athletic and St Mirren who challenged their right to be promoted to the SPL at all. Both clubs wrote to league chiefs arguing Gretna had failed to provide assurances they would create a 6,000 capacity stadium by 2008/09 but the complaints were rejected as SPL secretary Ian Blair announced that Gretna have until 31 March, 2008 to satisfy the league that they will be playing in an SPL compliant stadium for season 2008/09. Gretna chief executive Graeme Muir said he was confident Gretna would be able to move to a refurbished Raydale Park in the future. “We are fully aware of the criteria for March 2008,” he said. “If we don’t fulfil that then there might be problems but knowing Gretna I think we will. We plan to have 6,000 seats by August of next year. Planning permission is there for the stadium at Raydale Park.”

Meanwhile, Muir is optimistic that ground sharing with Motherwell will be a success. Fans of the Black & Whites face a 130-mile round-trip to Lanarkshire to watch ‘home’ games in the SPL. And Muir told BBC Sport: “We were forced into this by the rapid success of our first-team and we need to get back down to Gretna within a year. But ground sharing has some distinct advantages and we have a great working relationship with Motherwell.” The club averaged home gates of just under 1500 in Division One last season but Muir remains optimistic. “The travelling is obviously a disadvantage. But, overall, it works out well for Gretna,” he added. “If we had a 6,000 seat stadium in Gretna, we would allocate 3,000 to the likes of Celtic and Rangers. But these clubs can have as many as they want at Fir Park.”

 

A man has been sentenced to 200 hours’ community sentence and a three-year football match ban after staging a sectarian protest at Ibrox. Sean Gallagher ran on to the pitch during a European match between RANGERS and Maccabi Haifi, last November. Midway through the game’s second-half, Gallagher – draped in a Palestinian flag and wearing a Pope T-shirt – jumped out of the 45,000-strong crowd and ran onto the pitch. He managed to get to the goal at the Broomloan Road end where he tried to handcuff himself to a post. Gallagher shouted “Tiocfaidh Ar La”, meaning “Our Day Will Come” – the unofficial slogan of the IRA – at Rangers fans. They were “extremely annoyed” and had to be restrained. The game was eventually restarted after a four-minute delay. Earlier in court, Ross Yuill, defending, said Gallagher had been forced to move from his home in the city’s Woodlands due to death threats.

 

ALLOA ATHLETIC have installed an artificial surface at Recreation Park. Work started on June 3 at the ground and was due to be completed in time for the start of the new season. “This is an exciting opportunity for the club to work with the community to further build the links which will see us secure our future financial position and hopefully grow our fan base,” said a statement on the Alloa website. “The club can also confirm that we will be financing the pitch ourselves with no grant funding. We are satisfied that the business case for this decision will justify our action and believe that this will also assist our football development, with our five youth teams having the opportunity to access the new pitch with an outstanding playing surface.” Third Division Stenhousemuir have installed a similar surface and offered their ground to Alloa for pre-season training and practice matches.

 

ALBION ROVERS have praised the community response to a sharp rise in vandalism at Cliftonhill. The Third Division outfit suffered thousands of pounds worth of damage after seats were ripped up and the stadium was sprayed with graffiti. But director Pat Rolink said the local community were helping. Local companies have offered to repair the damage for free – and protect the ground from further vandalism. “You can imagine how I felt when I got to the ground and more seats were damaged, and there was further graffiti on the walls,” Rolink told the Daily Record. “It looked even bleaker than before, but I’ve been inundated with calls that have given me hope and faith in people also. People have really got off their backsides to help us. It has been fantastic.” Rolink had previously said that the Coatbridge community risked losing their football club, as it could not sustain the repairs. Replacing the broken seats alone would have cost £4,000. But a statement on the club website added: “Alfred McAlpine is to install CCTV cameras, Swift Cars have pledged £1,000, the stewarding company employed on match days are sending in guards with dogs to patrol the ground. ROK of Motherwell pledged to help out with clearing up, painting and other things. They have already turned up at Cliftonhill and made things much more presentable.”

 

Details of Glasgow’s plans to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games have been unveiled.  Glasgow has promised a “compact” and “green” Games, which would make the most of its existing sports venues. Celtic Park would be the venue for the opening ceremony and Hampden would be transformed into an athletics arena. Rangers’ ground at Ibrox has been named as the venue for the seven-a-side rugby tournament. The cost of the Games is estimated at £288m, with 80% paid for by the Scottish Executive and the remainder funded by the local council. Organisers also said that the Games would see significant brownfield sites in Glasgow brought back into constructive use. Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dr Lesley Sawers welcomed the next stage in the bid. She said: “The handing over of the official 2014 bid document suddenly brings the reality of the Commonwealth Games so much closer. Anyone who reads this document can be left in no doubt that, although the Games are seven years away, we are well advanced in our preparations – both in terms of organisation and of the actual venues that will be needed.” A Games village would also be created with more than 1,000 homes built on the banks of the Clyde at Dalmarnock, which would eventually be available for sale and social housing after the event. A final decision on the 2014 Games venue will be made in November.

 

The Scottish Premier League is seeking a meeting with ministers to discuss a plan for lifting the ban on alcohol sales in Scottish football grounds. SPL secretary Ian Blair said he would raise the issue with the Scottish Executive at the earliest opportunity. The call comes after the ban was reviewed as part of a trial for certain rugby internationals at Murrayfield. Mr Blair said he was eager to see a similar pilot up and running before the end of the coming football season. A ban on the sale of alcohol in sports grounds was introduced after violent clashes during the 1980 Scottish Cup Final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park in Glasgow. Blair claims there is little reason for bars at Hampden to be open for pop concerts but closed for football games. He said: “Essentially, the message that we are trying to get across is that we have come a long way since the ban was first introduced. Given the changes that we have seen, we think it reasonable to see a pilot put in place. We will be seeking some sort of trial to begin as soon as possible. I would ideally like to see that happening before the end of the upcoming season.” Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has said that he is not opposed to the idea in principle, previously stating: “I have made clear that I will consider any representations made by football clubs as long as they have discussed the issue with the police and licensing boards and have their support.” Scottish Football Association chief executive Gordon Smith said he was also in favour of challenging the current ban. But Mr Smith has warned that it was important to assess whether the issues that led to the drinking ban still existed.