DCSIMG

Nine bygone Scottish football grounds

Airdrie's Broomfield ground made way for a Safeway. Picture: Contributed

Airdrie's Broomfield ground made way for a Safeway. Picture: Contributed


ONE became a Morrisons supermarket. Another was turned into a housing development and a third made an appearance in a Hollywood film.

Some of Scotland’s football stadiums are no longer with us. The likes of St Johnstone’s Muirton Park, and Love Street - home of St Mirren - were demolished and new stadiums built elsewhere. Others, like Cathkin Park, were left to the elements and over time have become overgrown and partially hidden, with terracing and crash barriers a sad, nostalgic reminder of the ground’s hey day.

Here are nine of Scotland’s more prominent bygone grounds.

Annfield (Stirling Albion)

ANNFIELD was built by coal magnate Thomas Fergusson in 1945 to accommodate the new football team, Stirling Albion – and to replace the old Forthbank Park, which was destroyed during World War II by the only Luftwaffe bomb to fall on the town. Initially, Fergusson’s coal lorries were used as grandstands. The first match played there was against Edinburgh City, which Stirling won 8-3.

Struggling financially and on the brink of bankruptcy, Albion sold Annfield to the local council in 1981, then rented it back.

In 1984, the ground was the scene of the Scottish Cup’s record 20th Century score when Stirling defeated Selkirk 20-0.

When the council decided that a traditional grass pitch was not profitable, a synthetic pitch was installed so, in 1987, Stirling Albion v Ayr United became the first senior match in Scotland to be played on an artificial surface. Around the same time, the main stand was demolished, as it was considered unsafe.

With the cost of upgrading the ground prohibitive, Albion moved to their new Forthbank Stadium in 1993 and Annfield made way for a new housing development.

Boghead Park (Dumbarton)

AT THE time of its closure in 2000, Boghead was the oldest stadium in Scotland which had been in continuous use.

Dumbarton had played there since 1879 and enjoyed the glory days when they shared the inaugural Scottish League Championship with Rangers, then became outright champions the following year.

In 1913, the pitch was turned by 90 degrees, shortly followed by the construction of a tiny main stand nicknamed “The Postage Box” which contained only 80 seats.

A record crowd of 18,001 saw a Scottish Cup tie against Raith Rovers in 1957. Latterly, the ground fell into disrepair and capacity was below 3,000 when Dumbarton moved to what is now the Bet Butler Stadium. Ironically, when Robert Duvall used Boghead as the home ground of his fictional team, Kilnockie FC, in the movie A Shot At Glory, featuring Ally McCoist in a prominent role, the film crew had to make improvements to the ground.

Brockville (Falkirk)

BROCKVILLE was the venue for the first televised floodlit match in Scotland when Falkirk entertained Newcastle United in a friendly match in 1953.

Having housed the club since 1885, however – and posted a record attendance of 23,100 for a match against Celtic, also in 1953 – the ground fell into disrepair. When part of the Watson Street end was closed after being denied a safety certificate, the Hope Street end was divided into two sections to segregate home and away fans, separated by a metal “cage”.

On several occasions, promotion to the Premier League was denied Falkirk because of Brockville’s inadequacies, most recently in 2003 when, having anticipated winning the First Division title – which was duly achieved – the club searched for a groundshare option, only to be denied again because SPL rules precluded it.

Brockville was demolished that year and Fakirk spent one season sharing with nearby Stenhousemuir before moving to their new Falkirk Stadium.

A Morrisons supermarket now stands on the site and displays a range of memorabilia, including an old Brockville turnstile which stands outside.

Broomfield (Airdrieonians)

After selling the ground to Safeway in 1994, Airdrieonians ended their 102-year stay at Broomfield Park. This was despite not having another stadium ready to move into.

Built in 1892, the most distinctive feature of the ground, the corner pavilion, was constructed in 1907. During the 1920s the club put together a formidable side, featuring Scotland international great Hughie Gallacher, that finished runners-up in the league in four successive seasons and won the 1924 Scottish Cup. To deal with the swelling crowds, the club added a main stand opposite the existing enclosure and adjacent to the pavilion.

Broomfield had been built in a hollow in the town, a fact noticeable by the visibility of trees hanging over the roof of the enclosure. Combined with the narrowness of the stadium – from the main stand to the enclosure it was 67 metres – it created a claustrophobic atmosphere that visiting teams often felt intimidated when playing at this particular venue.

For four years Airdrieonians were forced to groundshare with Clyde at Broadwood before moving into the Excelsior Stadium, nicknamed New Broomfield.

Cathkin Park (Third Lanark)

THE remains of Cathkin Park football ground – large areas of terracing to three sides and a number of forlorn crush barriers – still exist in Cathkin municipal park in Glasgow, as a nostalgic but sad reminder of the glory days of Third Lanark, a once-prominent club which became defunct in 1967.

Initially the home of Queen’s Park, who rented the ground from 1884 to 1903, it was named Hampden Park until the club moved to the current National Stadium. Third Lanark then took up the lease and named it New Cathkin Park.

League champions once and Scottish Cup winners twice, the Thirds were long-term top-flight members, until their rapid demise in the 1960s.

Just six years before their collapse, a 6-1 victory over Hibernian at Cathkin secured third place and 100 goals scored for the season. But following a Board of Trade enquiry, amid a fierce power struggle and allegations of corruption, the club went bankrupt. The final game at Cathkin was a 3-3 draw with Queen of the South.

In recent years, a reformed Third Lanark have returned to the derelict ground and play in the Glasgow Amateur League, winning Division One in 2012.

Logie Green (St Bernards)

SITUATED in the Powderhall district of Edinburgh and named after a local mansion house, Logie Green Park is the only venue outside Glasgow to stage the Scottish Cup final.

The two finalists that day in 1896 – Hearts and Hibs – had previously played some home matches there before St Bernards, then a major third footballing force in the city, took up occupancy in 1889. Indeed, the club had been Scottish Cup winners the year before hosting the final and had lost to Hearts in the semi-final.

A new grandstand had been built in 1894 and a temporary one was erected at the north end especially for the final.

Logie Green, however, was a controversial choice. With a believed capacity of 23,000, fears were raised over a dangerous crush in an estimated attendance of more than 24,000. Hampden Park was hosting a rugby international on the day, but Hibs petitioned for an alternative Glasgow venue, preferably Ibrox. Though Hearts’ cheeky request for Tynecastle was turned down, the SFA Council voted 10-3 in favour of Edinburgh.

In the event, the match, which Hearts won 3-1, was played in front of only 17,000 fans who paid a shilling for admittance. Although St Bernards later returned to their previous home, the Royal Gymnasium Grounds, Logie Green continued to be used for football, Leith Athletic being one of its occupants.

However, it was eventually paved over to create a car park for Powderhall greyhound and athletics stadium, which itself is now long gone.

Love Street (St Mirren)

THE site of a former brickworks and a favourite spot for circuses to set up their Big Top, Love Street became St Mirren’s fifth home in 1894.

On the direct flightpath to the airport at Renfrew three miles away, the club faced a problem in the 1950s as plans for installing floodlights had to be approved by the Ministry of Aviation, the Air Ministry and the Admiralty. They ended up with roof-line lights and two squat, 40-foot pylons which were less than the height of the stand, to light the corners of the pitch. Even so, there were complaints from pilots that one pylon was confusing their approach to land, so there was an eight-month black-out until this new “landmark” could be added to aviation charts.

One Scotland match – a 2-0 defeat of Wales in 1928 – and numerous schoolboy, under-23, under-21 and women’s internationals were staged, and Morton played home matches there in 1949.

World flyweight champion Benny Lynch fought a non-title fight on the ground in 1938 and it was also briefly the home of Paisley Lions speedway team.

St Mirren’s last game at Love Street was against Motherwell in January 2009.

Muirton Park (St Johnstone)

THE former home of St Johnstone, Muirton Park hosted its first match on Christmas Day 1924, when a crowd of almost 12,000 saw the Saints defeat Queen’s Park 2-1.

At one time, the pitch was the biggest playing surface at any league ground in Britain, although the venue was not used exclusively for football. Muirton also hosted hockey internationals, Highland Games, cattle sales, donkey racing and at least two re-enactments of the Battle of the Clans.

The North Stand and the Centre Stand were closed following the tragic fire at Bradford City in 1985. It was considered that such structures containing a high volume of wood were too dangerous.

With the cost of bringing Muirton Park up to the standard required of a top-flight club too great for St Johnstone to bear, the future of the club looked bleak, until supermarket giant ASDA offered to buy the site and bear the cost of building a new, all-seater stadium on the western outskirts of the town.

In 1989, when visitors Ayr United won 1-0, a crowd of 6,728 watched the final match at Muirton before St Johnstone moved to their current home, McDiarmid Park.

Shawfield (Clyde)

ALTHOUGH it is still a sporting venue, Shawfield is no longer a football ground, since Clyde FC, who resided there for 87 years, moved out in 1986.

As Scotland’s only National Greyhound Racing Track still in use, its only fuction is to host two race meetings per week.

Originally a trotting track, Clyde took over the stadium in Rutherglen in 1898 and, in order to bring in extra revenue, allowed it to be used for athletics and boxing, in addition to football. Greyhound racing arrived in 1932 and when Clyde hit financial difficulties, the stadium was bought by the Greyhound Racing Association two years later, with Clyde staying on as tenants.

When the GRA planned to redevelop the site, Clyde departed and, although those plans were never fulfilled, they never returned, settling at the new Broadwood Stadium.

Instead, Shawfield welcomed Glasgow Tigers speedway club, who had spent a year exiled in Workington, and they remained for ten years, with the exception of one season when Scottish Monarchs raced there.

The crumbling terracings from the football era remain, but only the main grandstand is now used by spectators.

 

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