Hearts

Groundtastic – Scots Scene – Summer 2003

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 2003 and it will be evident to ground enthusiasts and football fans just how much has changed from the era in which it was written…

Enjoy a short step back in time.

GT

Dundee and Dundee United have joined forces with the University of Abertay to build a joint football academy costing £5 million. The two clubs have submitted a bid for £1 million in lottery funding to sportscotland while a further £450,000 is being sought from the Scottish Football Partnership.

Plans for the 42-acre site include 8 full-size pitches, two of which will boast synthetic, all-weather surfaces and four of which will include floodlights. In addition, the academy could be home to an indoor sports hall, fitness suites, media and press centre and kitchen, dining and laundry facilities – the clubs would be based at the academy for training and administrative purposes. However, such a centre is a long way off as the plans are only at the application stage.

Sports Administrator Alex Stuart who played for Dundee and United has been working on the scheme for past 3 months. He said, “Dundee United and Dundee deserve huge credit for coming together on the bid. They’ll always be massive rivals on the park but off it they’ve realised that by pooling strengths and expertise they can both be stronger We could see the project off the ground within 12 months.”

 

 Hearts’ plans to move to a new ground at Braehead on the outskirts of Edinburgh have been ditched. The 30,000-seater ground was to have been built on an area of land between Braehead Quarry and Turnhouse Golf Course. The Jambos have decided to look elsewhere – focussing on the western side of the city – for a suitable ground location. The club is moving because Tynecastle will be too small for European football in seven years time. New regulations concerning pitch sizes will come into force from UEFA in 2010 and the Gorgie Road site does not allow for expansion to meet them.

 

Livingston are looking at ways to help solve the problems encountered by their disabled supporters who have complained of a lack of protection from the elements in the West Stand at Almondville. The club is currently looking at a mirror image of what they already have in place within the East Stand. By removing a number of seats from the front row of block A3 and C2 we would be able to allow a carer to sit beside each wheelchair.

Livingston are also looking at other stadiums and how they accommodate wheelchair supporters.

 

The First Division title went to Falkirk, but will promotion to the SPL follow? By the time you read this you’ll know which division Falkirk will be playing in next season. Top-flight football will only be granted to The Bairns if SPL bosses decide to allow Falkirk to share New Broomfield Park with Airdrie United until their new all-seater community-stadium at Westfield is ready.

Mowlem Construction have been awarded the contract to build the new ground which will include 11 5-a-side pitches, a fitness centre and conference facilities. Meanwhile, Falkirk have auctioned off parts of Brockville, which staged its final game against Inverness Caledonian Thistle on May 10, and was due for demolition in early June to make way for a Morrison’s supermarket.

Falkirk chairman Campbell Christie said, “The demolition of Brockville will be a time of mixed emotions for fans. The ground holds precious memories for thousands of people and we will all be sad to see the stadium go. But it does mean that a new and exciting future is opening up for the football club – and for the Falkirk community as a whole”.

 

Asda is still in negotiations with Inverness Caledonian Thistle over the purchase and redevelopment of Caledonian Stadium, allowing ICT to relocate to a purpose-built ground in the Bught area of the city. Such a move would enable the Highlanders to meet strict SPL ground criteria but reports suggest Asda may be considering moving to the neighbouring travelling people’s site instead and sharing ICT’s car parking facilities.

 

Since St Mirren were relegated from the SPL in 2001, the club has struggled financially. The situation is now so critical that The Buddies are being forced to sell their Love Street ground and move to a new custom-built stadium in Paisley. The proposed relocation to the Ferguslie area hinges on the local council granting planning permission for a retail development at Love Street with supermarket chain Morrisons thought to be waiting in the wings.

 

Buckie Thistle, of the Highland League, is appealing to their fans for funds needed to upgrade Victoria Park’s ageing floodlights. Thistle’s President Mark Duncan said; “The existing lights were erected way back in 1978 so they are now 25 years old and although they have lasted well, they are now beginning to show their age with repairs now being regularly required. A total upgrade of all of the lights is now required and this will cost a figure of around £15,000. The existing floodlight pylons are still in good condition and it is only the lights themselves that need replacing.”

The club is hopeful of raising enough funds to have the new lights in place by the end of the season. Meanwhile, the Main Stand at Victoria Park has received a facelift. The cost of these improvements was paid for in full by Buckie’s main sponsor Planwell Roofing Supplies and include the installation of new front cladding, new lightweight shutters, new signs and a new flagpole, all of which now make the stand wind and watertight for years to come.

Groundtastic – Scots Scene – Winter 2002

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 2002 and it will be evident to ground enthusiasts and football fans just how much has changed from the era in which it was written…

Enjoy a short step back in time.

GT

THE SCOTTISH Executive has decided to launch a public enquiry into Aberdeen’s proposed 30,000 seat stadium on farm land at Kingswells. Local residents have complained about the proposals, which – they claim – breach green belt policy and other planning rules. The inquiry is expected to delay the final decision by at least nine months and puts a question mark over Aberdeen’s inclusion in Scotland’s joint application with Ireland to host the 2008 European Championships, of which Kingswells is a part.

Meanwhile, Aberdeen has launched a new personal food service for its vegetarian supporters at Pittodrie. The meat free options available in the Richard Donald and Merkland Stands are now provided in the South and Main Stands. What’s more, supporters can phone or e-mail their order for a vegetarian snack, pay for it over the phone and collect it at half-time.

 

SPL clubs are not permitted to share grounds but Dundee and Dundee United have applied to the league bosses for special dispensation. The Tayside pair are looking to share a stadium as part of Scotland’s and Ireland’s joint Euro 2008 bid.

 

WORK has begun on a Football Academy for Heart of Midlothian at Heriot-Watt University. This exciting project jointly funded by Hearts and the university – along with a £1 million award from the Lottery Fund – will be completed in just under 12 months time and include a floodlit synthetic pitch, an indoor pitch, new changing rooms and offices for the Hearts coaching staff. In addition, there will be a major refurbishment of the main competition pitch, which will also be floodlit.

 

SPL NEWCOMERS Partick Thistle are doing well in their first season back in the top division and this could lead to redevelopment of Firhill, as discussed at the AGM. Chairman Brown McMaster said that if The Jags live to fight another season in the top flight, the intention is to extend the North Stand to its conclusion. This would result in 600 extra seats, which would cover any loss suffered if the club is forced to close their wooden Main Stand – surely only a matter of time. McMaster added that the Board of Directors would also consider development of the south end of the ground – depending on Thistle’s fortunes.

 

WORK IS complete on Arbroath’s new main stand, which was open for the home match against Falkirk at the beginning of October. The club has also installed a new PA system, with loudspeakers in all the enclosures and improved toilet facilities. To help pay for the improvements, supporters are being invited to make a lifetime reservation of a seat in the home section of the redeveloped stand. For just £250 they will be guaranteed use of ‘their’ seat for every match for the rest of their life.  The Gayfield Sign, which was displayed above the tunnel for many years, has also been auctioned on the club’s website. The 6ft x 2ft sign was eventually sold for £250.

 

AYR UNITED’s future plans were dealt a blow when planning permission was denied for a new stadium at Heathfield. This means The Honest Men will have to settle for an upgrade of their current home at Somerset Park – very much a second choice option.

 

PLANNING PERMISSION has been granted to build a supermarket, petrol station and access roads on Brockville – home of Falkirk. The Bairns now need to ratify their plans with the council before they can push ahead with the planned 7,000 all-seater Community Stadium at Westfield, which will fall short of the 10,000 seat criteria for admission to the SPL. Falkirk hope to prove that this rule is flawed due to a decrease in attendance’s throughout Scotland but are prepared to build a 3,000 seat temporary stand should SPL bosses fail to see reason.

 

INVERNESS CALEDONIAN THISTLE are locked in talks with a supermarket chain regarding the possibility of selling Caledonian Stadium. The Highland club is currently pushing for promotion to the SPL, where ground criteria stipulates the provision of at least 10,000 seats. Caledonian Stadium can currently only boast a capacity of 6,500 (2,200 seats) and as a result ICT would be barred from entering the top flight. Subsequently, the Caley Jags can either sell it’s ground and relocate to a purpose built, all-seater stadium – possibly in the Bught Park area – or develop the area around the ground and redevelop their current stadium. At the moment, the former seems the more likely option.

 

ST MIRREN are ANOTHER club poised to sell its ground to an English supermarket chain and wipe out the majority of their crippling debts. This news has come as a shock to fans of the Paisley club as the facts have only just been revealed, with a deal seemingly imminent. If this move comes off – the only stumbling block appears to be getting planning permission from Renfrewshire Council for development on Love Street – then St Mirren will probably find themselves playing at a still to be confirmed venue in the heart of Ferguslie Park.