Thursday, November 10, 2011

Spotlight on.....East Stirlingshire

9th November 2011

Irn Bru League Division 3
East Stirlingshire 1-3 Berwick Rangers
Ochilview Park, Stenhousemuir

Attendance: 310

“Rub his vagina, referee! That’s obviously what’s wrong with him!”…said a home fan as a Berwick player laid broken on the ground....

One of the many quite outstanding bits of banter on offer from the home punters at this match. In fact, I could write a whole blog post about their chat alone and, if the Ode to the Wee Red Book’s ‘Best Supporter Experience’ award was based on the entertainment value provided by the supporters….we’d stop the competition right now.

More on that later though. Let’s not get side tracked from the actual business of comparing East Stirlingshire’s supporter experience with that of all the rest, across the same categories.

The Stadium (quirkiness and comfort) 8/10

In terms of the stadium, I’ve actually reported on this before, back in February, as East Stirlingshire currently ground-share with Stenhousemuir. For those who haven’t read that post, a brief run down – two sides are completely empty with one of the ends a ready-to-go terrace (also not in use). Those at games housed in the Main Stand (also known as the Norway Stand).

Something I hadn’t spotted previously was the Ochilview Bar in the far left corner of the ground. No matter how I tried, I couldn’t quite work out how the hell you actually got into it? Entrances from all sides appeared to be blocked?

I wonder if the route in is via an underground tunnel that can only be accessed in the club shop. I say shop….but I actually mean tiny, black, club shed (pictured below) – which was real Tinpot stuff - the poor b*gger behind the counter even had to light his way around the merchandise using what looked like a paraffin lamp.

Catering (quality and price) 9/10

I remember the food being pretty good when I visited Stenny, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised that at the same ground, the scran was very decent indeed. For a pie and a tea it was only £2.40 – an absolute bargain.

Fans (scored on both atmosphere & conduct – sporting behaviour, welcoming nature etc) 25/25

My friend, Martin, who joined me on the night seemed to concur that the scran did the job. I also hope that he agrees with my praise of the home fans who were truly superb fun, creating a top notch atmosphere.

Five examples:

  • The referee hurts himself and starts to limp around the park. The home fans sympathetically give it: “Run it off referee! Fitba’s a man’s game!”
  • The Berwick Rangers goalkeeper was a rather portly fella, wearing a green top, green shorts and…you guessed it…green socks. The home fans took great pleasure, everytime he took a goal kick in shouting: “Ho Ho Ho! Green Giant!” 
  • Just as the second half kicks off, and East Stirling gain a bit of rare territory, two fans have an out-loud discussion among themselves which goes something like this: 
A)       “Come on Shire, this lot are a pub team!”
B)      “Aye….but a very good pub team mind you”
A)      “Aye…okay….perhaps more like a Bistro team”

  • After awarding Berwick a rather controversial penalty, the home fans decided that some questions needed asked of the referee, including “Referee….could you tell us how long it is that you’ve lived in Berwick?!” and “Is this the last result on your accumulator, referee?”
  • And finally, a song. We all love a song don’t we? Well, to find out more…check out the caption under the video clip below...

Overall, I’ve given East Stirlingshire fans an unprecedented full marks. The atmosphere they created was a pleasure to be a part of, was the right level of passionate, noisy and funny. Absolutely tremendous stuff.

Entertainment on the pitch (quite self explanatory) 16/25

In terms of match entertainment….argh….honest to god if East Stirling could play….I think they may well have pipped Alloa into top spot for Best Supporter Experience with every other box well and truly ticked. Unfortunately, they continued their record of being pumped in every game this season bar one and, don’t look like rectifying that anytime soon.

I don’t think they are a bad side. I was expecting a horror show. In fact, they have some talented boys who just look low in confidence. This was best evidenced by their nervousness around set pieces. A couple of wins on the bounce, I think, would see the Shire start moving up the table again.

Pre-match, I was lucky enough to get some Twitter banter from a Shire player – Brett Molloy – who is a seriously top man. He said before the game that he expected Bradley Coyne (son of former Motherwell and Celtic legend, Tommy Coyne) to score and score he did with a rocket of a free kick as seen below

….”He’s big…….he’s bad……..he’s better than his Dad……..Bradley Coyne! Bradley Coyne!!”

Other than Coyne, a couple of other home players worth a mention:

I really liked the boy Lewis Horner in the centre of midfield for Shire. He seems very comfortable on the ball, has superb spatial awareness, can put in a challenge and seems to be a box to box type midfielder. Had he been full-time on the books of East Stirling, I would've expected a January transfer for the lad. Turns out he's on a month's loan from Hibs - you can tell! The Shire will be hoping they can hold onto him for a bit longer.

Also impressive was the home side’s number 3 – Scott Maxwell. A solid left back with quick feet and excellent distribution. He seems to have a serious engine on him too. Had a good game.

Value for money (what you get for your buck) 23/30

Overall value for money at East Stirlingshire is very good. I only paid £10 to get in which I think, is the cheapest rate to get into a league game in Scotland. Some would argue that £10 is logical, with the Shire being the “worst” team in the country, however, the fans were worth the entrance fee alone and the footie, although not great, was very enjoyable. Food and catering factored in, East Stirlingshire offers a fantastic supporter experience and although just short of Alloa’s 85 due to the quality on the pitch, I would certainly not dissuade anyone from heading along either for a one off or as a season ticket holder.

Overall Score for East Stirlingshire: 81/100


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