Jim Duffy: What would Elton John think of Airdrie’s burgers?

Sir Elton John is a national treasure but Jim Duffy was less than impressed by the catering at his Airdrie show. Picture: Robert Perry
Sir Elton John is a national treasure but Jim Duffy was less than impressed by the catering at his Airdrie show. Picture: Robert Perry
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This will indeed sound surreal – Elton John playing his Scottish gig as part of his world tour at Airdrie Stadium.

Well he did last weekend and he started off with these words: “Good evening Airdrie. Well, I never thought I’d ever be saying that!”

Being stiffed by the catering or bar inside the venue – it’s a racket

And to be fair, neither did I. But he did and it was a magnificent concert. Typical Elton John; the full array of his old classics with some new stuff thrown in. I have no doubt that this guy is a national treasure and worth every penny. But one thing did not sit well with me or others who attended, having paid the £85 ticket price – the price of the catering.

How many times have you paid a fair bit of cash for concert tickets, only to be stiffed by the catering or bar inside the venue? It’s a racket and it has to stop.

Having been scanned with a hand scanner, a quick body search and my tickets checked, I headed into the venue with Lucy-Rose, my partner and had a quick check of where we were seated. Just outside the 18-yard box in front of the stage. Nice one!

Having recced this, we though it best to get a quick drink and a burger of sorts. First we headed to the bar. It was pretty basic offering a choice of about eight to ten drinks. A tiny wee bottle of wine poured into a plastic glass was £5. This price being what you would pay in a supermarket for a proper bottle of plonk. Then a plastic glass of Prosecco for £6. Again, Prosecco is on sale at six quid a bottle in the supermarkets right now! Okay, I thought it’s a one-off and let’s enjoy it. But, only with a burger.

So we headed out to the array of burger vans that were situated on the outer concourse. The full gamut of healthy food was there to be sampled; fish and chips, chips and gravy, chips and cheese, pizza, haggis balls, chocolate muffins, hotdogs and of course burgers.

We both opted for the “stag” burger. I noted that this was retailing at £5. It was labelled in big gold letters up the side of the Winnebago catering-style van as choice veal with rich seasoning in a brioche bun. Yummy yummy, I thought.

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“Two stag burgers please, with onions,” I said as we got to the front of the queue. “Di yi want onions?” “Yes, please.” A good start, I thought. Then I looked at the stag burgers that were lying in the silver heating trays. These things looked like they had been pre-cooked two hours ago.

They had a grey hue around them with that dried-out look. You know exactly what I mean right? “£10 please love.” I parted with another brown note and was handed my stag burgers. But that was not a brioche bun. We opened the burgers to stick on some ketchup. Nothing in or on the bun – no butter, marg and only three small slivers of onion. This was going to need a fair bit of ketchup. Thank God that was free.

Off we trotted to find a ledge in the inner concourse where we could camp out and eat our stag burgers. Now I want you to imagine the worst burger you can think of, that has never seen a stag in its life, with a dry burger bun. Yep, that was it. And to me that is unacceptable.

Why do we have to accept this style of catering at venues when we pay good money already for our tickets? And this is not a new problem. Big football clubs had this issue for years as they peddled cold stodgy pies with boiling hot Bovril. But they have moved on, with very decent catering options for fans who want more.

When attending a big international rugby match at Murrayfield, the catering vans on the outer concourse are really good. Yes, they are pricey, but the quality of the product reflects this. But, it would appear that Airdrie Stadium or indeed Elton’s representatives did appear to have this one cracked.

There’s a big non-sequitur between the world-class quality of Sir Elton and his band and the third-rate catering offered to Joe Public paying to enjoy the man.

Just one man’s opinion and I’m not sure Sir Elton will ever find out…

• Agitator and disruptor Jim Duffy is head of #GoDo at Entrepreneurial Spark

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