12 lost Scottish football grounds

Bayview Park, home of East Fife for 95 years between 1903 and 1998. Picture: SNS Group
Bayview Park, home of East Fife for 95 years between 1903 and 1998. Picture: SNS Group
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We take a look at 12 lost Scottish football grounds, from Bayview to Brockville and Cathkin Park to City Park.

Kilbowie Park

Kilbowie had an interesting journey as a football ground, being built in 1939 for Clydebank Juniors (who later merged, albeit briefly, with East Stirlingshire to form East Stirlingshire Clydebank in 1964). Although the merger collapsed after a legal battle, Clydebank entered the Scottish Football League themselves in 1966, and played at the West Dunbartonshire venue until 1996.

In 1977 the Bankies gained promotion to the Premier Division, and built a covered stand with plastic seats funded by the sale of Davie Cooper to Rangers for £100,000. The club installed wooden bench seating to reduce the capacity to 9,950. This meant the ground was just under the 10,000 limit which would have required the club to apply legislation affecting safety in the stadium. The installation of the benches technically meant Kilbowie was the first all-seater stadium in the UK.

But the club slipped into decline in the mid-1990s. The last competitive match at Kilbowie was played in 1996 (a 3-1 defeat to Hamilton) with a testimonial match for Ken Eadie taking place in the summer. The stadium was sold up by its owners, the Steedman family, and the Bankies sought a groundshare arrangement with Morton, at Cappielow, and at Dumbarton’s Boghead Park home.

Land was bought on the Great Western Road with a view to building a new home for Clydebank but plans were never approved and the death knell sounded in 2002.

Clydebank entered administration, and was bought by Jim Ballantyne who relocated the club to North Lanarkshire and renamed it Airdrie United, replacing Airdrieonians who had been liquidated earlier that same year.

Clydebank was eventually reformed as a junior club by the United Clydebank Supporters, and the team plays at Holm Park in Yoker.

As for Kilbowie, Vico Properties bought the site and built a retail scheme and restaurants in its place. A solitary piece of rubble from Kilbowie can be seen in the Scottish Football Museum at Hampden Park.

Douglas Park

Douglas Park was constructed in 1888, and was home to Hamilton Academical until 1994, when the site was sold to make way for a Sainsbury’s supermarket.

As Hamilton packed up their things in preparation for a seven-year stint without a home, Auchinleck Talbot bought the main stand for £30,000 and the turnstiles were sold to Falkirk.

Hamilton held onto the floodlights, however.

Accies didn’t move into their new home, New Douglas Park, until 2011. The stadium is situated right next to the site of the original Douglas Park.

Between 1994 and 2011, the club ground-shared with Albion Rovers at Cliftonhill, and with Partick Thistle at Firhill.

Firs Park

Between 1921 and 2008 - with a brief hiatus in 1964 - East Stirlingshire played their home games at Firs Park, in Falkirk. An Archibald Simpson design, it was built on the site of a derelict factory, after a railway line was built across the club’s previous ground of Merchiston Park.

The hiatus came about after the board of directors controversially agreed to a merger with a junior side, Clydebank Juniors, to create East Stirlingshire Clydebank. The newly created club would play their home games at Kilbowie Park in Clydebank and so Firs Park was closed. But fans challenged the merger and won, with the new club disbanding and East Stirlingshire reformed in 1965.

Unfortunately for East Stirlingshire, the floodlights and a stand roof had been relocated to Kilbowie and so the newly reformed club had to replace the enclosure covering and buy new floodlights.

The club decided to vacate the stadium at the end of the 2007/08 season, largely due to the steep costs of renovating the ground to meet SFA regulations. The last competitive fixture at Firs Park was a 3-1 win for East Stirlingshire against Montrose in April 2008 (although St Johnstone visited for a pre-season friendly in July the same year).

East Stirlingshire currently groundshare with Stenhousemuir at Ochilview. The original plan was to share for five years during which time a new ground would be developed in Falkirk. However, ten years later, the clubs are still sharing, with a deal for a new stadium in the Grangemouth area signed off in 2014.

City Park

Home of current Lowland League side Spartans between 1976 and 2009, City Park also served as a home to the original Edinburgh City (1935-1955), Ferranti Thistle (1969-1974), Hibs reserves from 1970 and Craigroyston, until 1998.

Originally a flat park, embankments were built up around the pitch and a grandstand was added on one side.

Spartans departed City Park in 2009, moving a short distance down the road to the Ainslie Park complex where they currently play. City Park was sold for housing despite fierce opposition from locals.

Love Street

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

On the flightpath to Glasgow Airport just three miles away, the club faced a problem in the 1950s, as plans for 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 some pilots that one pylon was confusing their approach to land - so there was an eight-month black-out until the newly floodlit Love Street could be added to aviation charts.

Scotland played one match here in 1928 - a 2-0 win over Wales - while it was used as a venue for many schoolboy, under-21, under-23 and women’s internationals were held at Love Street.

Fierce rivals Morton played their home matches at Love Street in 1949, and St Mirren’s last match at the ground was against Motherwell in January 2009 before the Buddies moved to the current Paisley 2021 Stadium.

Muirton Park

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

At one stage, the pitch boasted the largest playing surface of any league ground in Britain, although the venue was not used exclusively for football.

Muirton also hosted hockey internationals, Highland Games events, cattle sales, donkey racing and at least two re-enactments of the Battle of the Clans.

The Bradford City fire of 1985 saw Muirton Park’s North and Centre stands closed for safety reasons, but with St Johnstone unable to meet the costs of renovating the ground, the club’s future looked bleak until Asda stepped in and offered to buy the site and fund the construction of a new all-seater stadium on the outskirts of Perth - McDiarmid Park.

A crowd of 6,728 filled Muirton for the last time in 1989 when St Johnstone hosted Ayr United.

Annfield Stadium

Annfield served as the home of Stirling Albion between 1946 and 1993. Prior to World War II, Stirling’s main football club had been King’s Park FC, but their Forthbank Park ground was destroyed by the Luftwaffe and after the war, a group of local businessmen headed up the creation of a new team - Stirling Albion - that would play at a new venue.

In the early 1980s, cash-strapped Albion sold the ground to Stirling Council and rented it back from the authority to avoid insolvency. A safety inspection in 1984 resulted in renovations being carried out but the council decided that the stadium should be replaced entirely, and it closed its doors at the end of the 1992/93 season. Stirling Albion then moved to the newly-built Forthbank Stadium, and Annfield was demolished for housing.

Bayview Park

Bayview Park was opened in 1902, originally named Town Hall Park and was home to local junior outfit Leven Thistle.

However, the foundation of East Fife in 1903 as a new senior club to represent the area led to the demise of the junior side, as East Fife took over the stadium and renamed it Bayview Park, reopening under its new guise in August 1903.

East Fife made it into the Scottish Football League in 1921 after several attempts, and grand plans were made to renovate the ground. A new main stand was opened in 1922, but held just a third of the 3,000 spectators it had been planned for. Promotion to Division One in 1930 resulted in further improvements and the Scottish Cup win in 1938 led to even more redevelopment by the late 1940s, to the extent that a record attendance of 22,515 packed in for a local derby against Raith Rovers in 1950.

But the club’s relegation in 1958 sparked a decline and by the time the late 1970s came around, attendances had plummeted and the cash-strapped club began to struggle. In 1995 the club agreed to sell the town centre site to developers in a deal that would provide the club with a brand new, all-seater stadium to be built near Methil Docks.

East Fife eventually left Bayview in May 1998 at the culmination of the 1997/98 campaign and moved into New Bayview after 95 years at the original Bayview in time for the start of the 1998/99 season.

Broomfield Park

Airdrieonians ended their 102-year stay at Broomfield Park when they sold their ground to supermarket chain Safeways. This was despite not having another stadium ready to move into, and for four years they groundshared with Clyde at Broadwood, before moving to the Excelsior Stadium, dubbed “New Broomfield.”

Built in 1892, the most distinctive feature of Broomfield Park was the corner pavilion, constructed in 1907. During the 1920s the club put together a formidable side that finished runners-up in the league for four successive seasons and won the 1924 Scottish Cup. To deal with swelling crowds, the club added a new main stand.

Broomfield was built in a hollow in Airdrie, and the narrowness of the stadium created such a claustrophobic atmosphere that visiting teams often felt intimidated when playing at this particular venue.

Boghead Park

When it closed in 2000, Boghead was the oldest stadium in Scotland in continuous use.

Dumbarton had played there since 1879, enjoying the glory days when they shared the inaugural Scottish League Championship with Rangers, before becoming outright champions the next season.

Just before World War I, the pitch was rotated 90 degrees, and construction of a tiny 80-seater main stand - nicknamed “The Postage Box” - was completed.

A record crowd of 18,001 took in a Scottish Cup tie against Raith Rovers in 1957 but latterly, the ground fell into disrepair and the capacity had fallen to below 3,000 when Dumbarton moved to their current home.

Boghead famously appeared in Robert Duvall’s film A Shot At Glory (starring Ally McCoist) as the home of the fictional Kilnockie FC. Ironically, the production crew had to make their own improvements to the ground for filming.

Cathkin Park

Perhaps the most famous of Scotland’s lost football grounds, the remains of Cathkin Park still exist in Cathkin municipal park, a sombre 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, the stadium was originally named Hampden Park until the Spiders moved to the current Hampden. Third Lanark then took up the lease and named it New Cathkin Park.

Two-time Scottish Cup winners and winners of the league on one occasion, the Thirds were long-standing top-flight members until their rapid decline in the 1960s.

Just six years before their collapse, a 6-1 victory over Hibs 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 returned to Cathkin, and play in the Glasgow Amateur League. The club clinched the Division One title in 2012.

Brockville Park

Brockville was home to Falkirk from 1885 until 2003, when the site was sold off and eventually became a Morrisons supermarket.

It was also the venue for the first televised floodlit match in Scotland, when the Bairns hosted Newcastle United in a friendly in 1953.

However, the ground gradually began to fall 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 house both home and away fans.

On numerous occasions, promotion to the top flight was denied because of the stadium’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 rules precluded it. Brockville was demolished that same year and Fakirk spent one season sharing with rivals Stenhousemuir before moving to the newly-built Falkirk Stadium.

An old turnstile can be seen outside the supermarket to mark the site of Brockville.