Monday, April 9, 2012

Spotlight on......Forfar Athletic

7th April 2012

Irn Bru League Division 2
Forfar Athletic 1-4 East Fife
Station Park, Forfar

Attendance: 559

I think the last time I visited Station Park in Forfar was as a 6 year old boy for a pre-season friendly between the home side and Aberdeen. I don't actually remember much about the day other than it being a lot of fun, with pretty good food, a very cool, but very cold stadium and Forfar playing in a kit being bluer than a Trinidadian sky in July!

Arriving at the ground, I was immediately taken back to that day and realised I was about to embark on a 90 minutes in a properly old school Scottish football ground.

The Stadium (quirkiness and comfort) 8/10

Saying that, one thing that had definitely changed since the “olden days” is the zero tolerance policy Forfar have for those looking to bring...well...pretty much anything semi-unorothodox into the ground.

No Exceptions!

On entry, I was delighted to discover that the ground allows access to all four sides of the stadium. A half-time walkround – check! The “Loons Direct” club shop, filled with all sorts of treats, sits behind the East Terrace and just to the left hand side as you enter the ground.

Behind each of the goals are open terraces - the aforementioned East Terrace and the larger the West Terrace – with a small, covered terrace running the length of the pitch on the South side of the ground. Opposite sits a very old and traditional looking Main Stand which only covers about half of the pitch. I watched the first half of the match from the comfort of this stand's spacious bench seats.

Due to the fact that Station Park offers the full walkround and, four very differently sized and shaped ends, the ground offers fans many different perspectives in the course of a match, which is appealing. Overall, a good place to watch a game.

Catering (quality and price) 10/10

How many times have you seen a reference to the fact that I’ve never found a pie and a tea combination cheaper than Cappielow? Well...ladies and gentlemen...Forfar have, at last, outdone Morton in these stakes or steaks, if you enjoy a pun. For only £1.60 you can pick up an exceptionally good pie and a perfectly acceptable cup of tea. More than a year has passed since that wonderful day of the £1.80 at Cappielow. I've paid more than £4 on far too many occasions at SPL grounds. I've been physically sick after paying double what I paid at Station Park at Falkirk. At Forfar I even bought local, traditional, Bridie at half time as well...which came in at only £1.50. Brilliant stuff!

Fans (scored on both atmosphere & conduct – sporting behaviour, welcoming nature etc) – 17/25

Firstly, I should say that once again the majority of fans inside the ground were East Fife supporters. The Fifers do seem to love taking a massive away support to an Angus ground. They outnumbered Brechin and did the same to Forfar.

Those Forfar fans who were in situ, were a mixed bag. Atmosphere wise, there wasn't a hell of a lot of it. The fact the Fifers were 2-0 up reasonably early couldn't have helped but even when the home side pulled one back to make it 2-1, the fans up in the stand barely let out an “hooray”.

The Stand was home to the single most polite teenage fan I've ever encountered at a game though. Instead of “You blind b@stard!” he taunted the referee with “you should have a look at the patch on your sleeve, referee, then do what it says!” - obviously making a rare, articulate “Should've gone to Specsavers” quip! The same wee man also decided that instead of giving the visiting goalie a good, old-fashioned “Yer pish keeper!” he dropped the B-bomb............Butterfingers! Who, other than someone's granny, refers to someone as “Butterfingers” when they drop something?

In the second half I moved down pitch side and noticed a lovely wee “Supporters club” cafe-type thing which, I think, may be for season ticket holders to grab a free jammie dodger and a coffee?

The fans down that way were equally mute in terms of encouragement, but a lot more salt of the earth when it came to abuse, reverting back to the more traditional “You're a fud linesman!” and so on.

All round, not unpleasant to be around the Forfar fans, but a little bit nondescript on this occasion. I didn't feel like they energised each other or the players. Getting pumped 4-1 probably doesn’t help!

There was one exception though, a special little fan who appeared to sneak into the ground on the day without paying a fee! Ladies and Gentlemen....a baby bear!

Who's laughing now, Bungle? You big Rainbow pr!ck!

Entertainment on the pitch (quite self explanatory) 13/25

I remember giving Stirling Albion a pretty hard time for their performance when I featured that club. Giving Forfar anything less than the same pelters, I think, would be harsh on Stirling. With the exception of a couple of players, Forfar really were lacking both quality and confidence. Too many defensive errors, too pedestrian in possession and pretty impotent up top, it must be very frustrating to watch the Loons this season. Not a great performance from them at all.

Some home players worth a mention:

Kevin Motion: For some inexplicable reason, Dick Campbell decided to hook this fella on the hour mark. Based on the evidence of this game, he's one of the few with a bit of technique, directness and creativity in the home side. A couple of very decent runs and efforts at goal were a highlight.

Greg Ross: I've not seen much of Forfar this season, so don't know how well her performs normally, be he played pretty well on this occasion. Box to box and fairly dynamic, he seemed to be one of the few trying to add a bit of intensity.

Overall, not a great day for the Loons on the Park, I’m afraid.

Value for money (what you get for your buck) – 16/30

With all that said, Forfar get pass marks, but are by no means one of the better supporter's experiences. On the park, there wasn’t much to write home about and it could be that Forfar don't stay up this season. If they do, I can see another season of pain next year unless there is a serious turnaround at Station Park. Perhaps they could benefit from a drop, ironically.

Station Park is a treat, if you get a chance to go then I’d certainly consider it. The food is tremendous, if nothing else.

Overall Score for Forfar Athletic: 63/100

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