24th September 2011
Irn Bru League Division 1
Raith Rovers 0-1 Ross County
Starks Park, Kirkcaldy
A visit to Starks Park was something I had been looking forward to for a while. After last season's adventures took me to a couple of matches featuring Raith, I was massively impressed with their supporters and thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment on show. What lay ahead was a mixture of delight and disappointment.
The Stadium (quirkiness and comfort) 7/10
The walk to the ground from town is extremely pleasant. Lots of nice houses on one side and the tremendous Beveridge Park on the other - recommended as a place to perhaps drop off a spouse and child as you take in some football...!
That said, those visiting for the first time could easily be confused by what they see as they approach the ground. Firstly, you are met by the sight of an impressive looking new stand (obviously one of those behind the goal) and in the distance you can see its twin sitting opposite. However, you then catch glimpse of an utterly bizarre but fantastically quirky main stand which only runs about half the length of the pitch and, I presume, dates back to before Scotland joined England in unifying the crowns!
Having a look around the outside of the stadium was also good fun. The club shop, for instance, sits within the South Stand and is actually filled with some decent merchandise although not only merchandise...oh no....it also sells match programs....not programmes like most other grounds!
Paying my way into the Main Stand, I found the "Raith Suite" which, like Dumbarton's mystery grey door offered intrigue as to what could be behind it. Unlike Dumbarton's mystery grey door....this one remained firmly shut.
Undeterred, I continued up the stairs to find myself met by a fantastic sight.....the backless seat! I absolutely love a backless seat. The leg-room afforded in grounds with backless seats cannot be scoffed at. Did I hear someone scoff?
Taking a look around, I noticed that the stand opposite (picture 1) was not in use - even the seats had been removed. To my right was the North Stand (picture 2) and to the left the aforementioned South Stand (picture 3)
Catering (quality and price) 7/10
Next stop, of course, is always the food. Raith's offer of a pie and a cup of tea for £2.70 was pretty good. The pie was as good a pie as you'll taste. The tea...worryingly....came without a tea bag.....and with milk already in it. Unfortunately, it also didn't really even taste like tea!
The fella serving me (pictured below) did, however, look like an absolute lunatic.....hard as nails....nuggets......I mean Chuck Norris style hard looking. There was no question of a refund.
Fans (scored on both atmosphere & conduct – sporting behaviour, welcoming nature etc) 18/25
As I said previously, the Raith fans had made a couple of games extremely enjoyable in the past and I arrived at Starks extremely hopeful of more of the same. In the end, I need to be sympathetic because in all honesty, the home side gave their punters very little to cheer about indeed.
A very poor home performance meant that the fans were given little opportunity to enjoy the fixture. Despite that though, they didn't give their team too much of a hard time, were extremely patient and sportingly acknowledged the quality on show at times from their Highland visitors.
With that in mind, it's difficult to score particularly highly on the atmosphere within the ground, but I will give the fans credit for their overall conduct and to the club as a whole for ensuring that the singlle most grumpy fan in Scotland was at the game. Brilliant stuff from the old chap next to me including a particular gem of: "We can't even blame the ref for making the terrible today, this is bloody dire. I'd sooner watch the ants on the floor than this pish!"
Entertainment on the pitch (quite self explanatory) 12/25
I guess from the previous chat and the above score you can tell that Raith performed very poorly indeed. The lack of fluency and ability to make simple passes should be extremely concerning if you are a home fan. At times, the full backs seemed to lack the necessary confidence to even play a 5 yard ball to their wide midfielder, instead happy to balloon a wasteful long ball up to the forward pairing of Graham and Baird. The latter, who I know is of decent quality, was given no service whatsover.
Very difficult to watch at times and a real shame after last season's highs.
The only home player worth a mention this week was Raith's Man of the Match - goalkeeper David McGurn who made a string of very decent saves to keep his team in it. He couldn't have done much about the goal they conceded either, with County defender Scott Boyd scoring a well weighted looping header over the top of the Raith no.1. Short clip below evidencing one such save.....this time from a County free kick.
Value for money (what you get for your buck) 15/30
Despite the stadium being quirky, the catering being decent and the fans being as nice as always, I feel that my £17 entrance fee didn't offer value for money. The entertainment level which, ultimately is key, was as poor as i've seen which not only surprised me but did disappoint somewhat. I have heard from Raith fans that the side plays better away from home and, based on some of the results this season, this seems quite probably. Unfortunately, for the purposes of this experiment which is to find the best supporter's experience at a home league ground in Scotland....Raith haven't done too well at all.
Overall Score for Raith: 60/100