Irn-Bru League Division 1
“See that Blonde ‘hing up there? – she’d get it!"
The words of a steward (who looked an awful lot like the taller of the two villains in Home Alone) at Forthbank Stadium, Stirling. The poor guy’s patter so was rotten than he was even sent away by his colleague to patrol an area of the East Stand in which no fans sat.
This was tougher than you’d think actually as the travelling Pars fans filled the vast majority of the away end at Forthbank. Decent for a Cold Tuesday Evening in Division 1.
A quick note on the stadium - two seated stands, on either side of the pitch and a small terrace at either end generally unused. West stand for home fans, east stand for travelling support. No Pigeon Stands though...
So, arriving at the ground pressed for time, (standard for all evening games I’ve ever been to in my life) I paid my £16 entry. Starving, I thought to myself “quick pie, cuppa and seated by kick off” – aye…that’ll be right!
Very few things in life upset me but the top three, in no particular order are:
Thank you Forthbank Stadium for an atrocious piece of planning I deem anti-logic. Whoever decided to put up two completely unnecessary doors to “channel” the fans into a TINY room where the catering was being served is officially a disgrace.
Perhaps if, once in, you were served in a quick, efficient manner, it’d maybe not be so bad.
However at Forthbank, it appears they employ people that go back into caves at nighttime, instead of real, bona fide human beings with catering experience.
Needless to say, you can probably tell I was late for kick off…but only just.
There also appeared to be some form of mystery associated with the purchase of steak pies. I was told they weren’t ready, yet soon after sitting down, streams of people started coming back with two and three pies at a time. For the first fifteen minutes of the game, I also noticed people walking back and forth to the pie stand checking texts….then coming back again with stacks of pies. Steak pies.
The only logical explanation I can come up with is that Stirling Albion have a sophisticated Argos style “pie alert” system where fans get a text message when their pie is ready for collection, and I missed the announcement due to my late arrival?
“Fan 608, your meal deal can now be uplifted from collection point B”
Obviously disgruntled with this set up was a rather cuddly big man who decided to get up from two seats away, walk out onto the pitch side…during the game….stroll all the way round to the opposite stand and sit in with the home fans instead of the travelling support. Clearly he fancied his chances of being served faster when up against a home support of 13 as opposed to a travelling support of 700+
Anyway, there WAS a football match played and it was a good one at that.
Having watched Raith (league leaders) some weeks earlier at Dens Park, I wanted to see what their main rivals for promotion were like – Dunfermline.
Early doors the Pars were particularly impressive. Andy Kirk put them 1-0 up within 5 minutes and like his teammates, then went on to set some kind of record for the most chances squandered by a team in 90 minutes.
Despite the best efforts of the insanely talented Joe Cardle on the left wing, the Fifers couldn’t double their lead. Stirling’s poor Right Back Michael Doyle was given such a going over in the first half that he decided a swift boot would sort Cardle out! I don’t think he banked on the red card and early bath that soon followed. Central midfielders, David Graham and McDougall played extremely well for the away team. Likewise, Higgins and Keddie at centre back also looked very solid. It looked like a no-brainer that Dunfermline would romp this one.
Stirling did very little in the first half to impress, other than their stunning equaliser scored by Ryan Borris on the stroke of half time. All square, but with Stirling down to 10 men and Dunfermline well on top. Expectations were that the Division’s bottom team would simply get a spanking.
Absolutely not! Stirling were superb in the second half. Inspired in fact. They even got a couple of shots on goal!
Dunfermline on the other hand seriously buckled under the pressure that comes with chasing a title, missing chance after chance - I counted a total of 20 potential scoring opportunities that they passed up one way or another. All square at full time too, credible draw for the Albion, poor result for the Pars.
This was my first experience of an evening game for a while, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Decent turn out, a cold but dry night, floodlights – that’ll do me.
This was also my third experience of Division 1 and while not as enjoyable as Dundee v Raith, still entertained. Similar in atmosphere and quality to that of Matchday 1 but without the goals.
One thing I’ve noticed from visiting a lot of these grounds and sitting in with a lot of different groups of fans, is that unlike at the bigger clubs (and I’m not just talking Old Firm here, I’d say even Edinburgh teams, United…Aberdeen etc) there isn’t the same level of attachment to the players. What I mean is that at Dunfermline or Stenhousemuir, at Albion or Morton…the fans refer to the players by their First Names. They encourage them and slate them as such. At the “bigger” clubs, there doesn’t seem to be that same sort of naming convention. Or is this just in my experience?
So again, does the critique that there exists a disconnect between fan and club just apply to those in the upper echelons of the SPL, and do our media once again generalise about football in this country based on their limited experience of a few “elite” teams?
One to think about I suppose..
Oh and that "blond 'hing"....she's no Kenny Deuchar's wife, but she's no bad!
Star Man: Joe Cardle (Dunfermline)
Time for the judge's scores:
Atmosphere: Okay. Home fans low in number. Travelling support decent. 6/10
Facilities: Comfortable. Modern stand. 7/10
Catering: Decent once received, a struggle to be served. £2.80 for a tea and a pie - 7/10
Quality: Stirling are a Division Two team, in Division One. Gap between them and the Pars was vast. Dunfermline are a good side, pass it nicely, prone to lapses in concentration at the back but a team that’d sit nicely in the top Division - 8/10
Access: Fairly easily, but possibly one you’d be better driving to. If you get a train it’s Stirling, so well connected to the whole of Scotland. Once there, you’d either need to get a taxi or a bus to the ground, as otherwise you’re looking at a 35-40 minute walk - 7/10
Recommendation: If you’re looking for a game to go to, Forthbank isn’t a bad day out. Especially next season when Stirling are in Division Two!