Result: Edinburgh City 1-1 Cowdenbeath (SFL League 2)
Venue: Meadowbank (Commonwealth) Stadium (Saturday 8th April 2017, 3pm)
Despite always intending to visit Edinburgh on this trip, I have to be honest and say that Edinburgh City’s Meadowbank wasn’t always the intended target. In fact, when I bought the tickets to head up to the Scottish capital, my mind had been set on a different ground, namely Hearts’ Tynecastle. This was due to the old Main Stand there being due to bite the dust soon. But then I discovered that a whole ground on the opposite side of the city was soon to fall and so my sights were set on Meadowbank instead.
Having been kindly given a lift into Manchester to avoid the rail strikes affecting much of the North, I was soon on my way up to Preston, though this trip was far from ideal, with me standing for the journey, alongside one of the most annoying, arguing families I’ve encountered on my travels. Now that may sound judgmental, but if you were there…well, you’d see where I was coming from.
After a short hop up to Lancaster, I was soon heading onwards through the Northern English countryside, before crossing the border into the most Northern country of the British Isles. After seeing a number of hills and sheep, we eventually began to encounter civilisation once more, rolling into Edinburgh at just before 12.30pm. By now I was rather parched and so was keen to find a drinking hole rather quickly. Luckily, the Half Way House pub was located just outside the station, half-way up the steps leading to the old town and it was to there I set off.
The place was pretty full and decorated with a large amount of railway-themed decor. It was also really loud, with the early arrivals well into their day by now. I decided to indulge in Tennent’s, which hit the spot for the moment, but I soon decided it was time to head up to the old town for a bit of an explore. Next stop was the Scotsman and, rather unsurprisingly when you see the name, there was many an old rhyme regarding the fights for independence of years gone by. Nope. Nope. Not touching the recent stuff! Anyway, another Tennent’s was had while sitting at a barrel before I headed off up towards the castle for a spot of sightseeing.
After spurning a few other pubs on the way up, I dodged numerous tours, a floating Yoda and a Yeti before arriving in the square at the foot of the castle. It certainly was grand, but with the time now gone 1pm, I had little time to admire the architecture or history before I was heading down through Prince’s Street Gardens and past the Scott Monument en-route to the new town. Here I came across a full-looking bar by the name of Milne’s and reckoned I’d go along with the masses and plump for one in there.
Milne’s was a sort of privateer ‘Spoons outfit, with a decent number of ales and beers on offer. Despite this, I didn’t feel too adventurous and so stuck with Tennent’s before settling in to watch a bit of the Spurs-Watford game. After only being sat there a few minutes, a guy approached and asked if he could take the other seat. After giving no objections, we soon got talking about the game and it turned out he was a Norwegian by the name of Chris, who’d come over to Edinburgh to re-celebrate having been married there a few years back. After sharing surprise of the weather that’d greeted us and stories of White Hart Lane visits, I left Chris to watch in peace and headed off towards the ground.
With a 40 minute walk ahead, I decided I could squeeze in one more before the game. This came in the shape of the Hanover Tap, named after the road it’s located on. The Tap is your quintessential tap house bar, but I reckoned I’d stick on the lager-beer and went for the Italian Menabrea. It was pretty decent too, though I did think I’d tried it before somewhere, though I could be very much mistaken. Who knows? Anyway, pint drunk and with the clock getting ever closer to kick-off, I headed for Meadowbank. Properly this time.
Everything was simple enough. Follow the road and take the third right. Tick. But it quickly became apparent something was awry as I found myself on Easter Road and within sight of Hibernian’s ground. Yes, I was lost. Well, not quite as I was soon directed by a kindly couple on the best way to the ground and I finally arrived, via a jog, with five minutes in hand to find a pretty large queue outside. After paying my £12 entry, I went off in search of a programme, though was soon informed by a steward that they’d gone, to the best of his knowledge. This was soon confirmed by the guy manning the shop, Kevin. Gutting!
However, Kevin then had an idea and called to another guy stood nearby at the food bar. This fella was clad out in shirt and club tie attire and assured me he’d probably be able to source one from hospitality and to meet back at the shop at half-time where I would hopefully get my hands on an issue. It later turned out that this was the City chairman, James, who’d go out of his way to find one and bring it down and I duly thanked both for their efforts in going out of their way for a sad bastard like me!
With programme issues sorted, I quickly purchased a steak pie for £2 (not bad) and headed up to the seats. The game had just got underway and the crowd looked to be in decent number for this clash between these two relegation-threatened clubs. Meadowbank itself has something of a European-feel to it. Built for the Commonwealth Games of 1970, it went on to host the Games of ’86 too, becoming the first venue to host them on two separate occasions.
Previously playing host to Meadowbank Thistle FC (now Livingston FC), Meadowbank’s all-seater Main Stand dominates the ground and is the only part of the ground in use. The rest of the stadium is surrounded by run-down concrete terracing, which was populated only by ball-boys and officials today. Also, the floodlights are pretty majestic as you will see from the pics. With that quick overview out the way, here’s a bit of background about Edinburgh City FC…
The original Edinburgh City was founded in 1928 and joined the Scottish Football League in 1931. They went on to compete in the Lothian Amateur League during the years of WWII, but were only admitted to the SFL’s ‘C’ Division come the end of hostilities in 1946. Leaving the SFL in 1949, the club switched from Amateur to Junior status and played in the Edinburgh and District Junior League through to 1955 when the club ceased to exist after the council refused them a new lease on their then home: City Park.
A club by the name of Postal United FC was formed in 1966 and this club took on the name of Edinburgh City in 1986, following approval from the Social Club of the same name (and former club) to use the title. They applied to join the Scottish League in 2002 following the bankruptcy of Airdrieonians, but Gretna got in ahead of City. Applying again after Gretna’s 2008 demise, they again fell short, this time to Annan Athletic.
Between the two applications, the club went on to win the 2005-’06 East of Scotland League and became founder members of the Lowland League after the reformation of the Scottish footballing system. This proved a good move for City, as they went on to lift the league title in both 2015 & 2016 prior to them finally gaining a place in the newly named Scottish Professional Football League via a 2-1 aggregate defeat of East Stirlingshire (who I saw on my trip to Gretna this season) in the promotion/relegation play-off. City currently sit in 8th position in the SPFL League 2.
To be honest, the game wasn’t the best. Not that this came as much of a surprise, with both teams looking to give nothing away to their rival in the fight against the dreaded drop and both lacking something of a cutting edge in the first place, hence why they are in the position they find themselves in. This was highlighted by Cowdenbeath, who fairly dominated the first half, with them seeing a header go just wide and a drive from inside the area be sliced wastefully off target.
They were made to regret these misses in the 27th minute when Edinburgh’s Josh Walker’s free-kick from the left evaded everyone and flew over the ‘keeper and into the net to give the home side the lead. The kids drumming away at the rear of the stand from the beginning were given even more impetus to continue now! Interestingly, Walker has recently joined the club from Indian side Bengaluru. Hipster. I discovered that in the programme as I did something that amused me. The names of the two assistants were Mr Willie Conquer and Mr David Mc(the)Kniff. Great names lads!
Cowdenbeath’s day looked to be getting better when they were awarded a penalty as the striker was bundled over in the area. Up stepped Dale Carrick, but his spot-kick was well saved by City ‘keeper Calum Antell down low to his left. That was pretty much that for the first half and at half-time, I set off back down into the concourse/indoor running track and to the club shop where James indeed reappeared with programme in hand. £2 later and it was truly in my possession. Cheers guys!
With the second half underway, I hoped there would be more to get excited about on the pitch. Alas, this didn’t prove to be the case and it was probably worse than the first half. Edinburgh had the likes of Craig Beattie up front (he’s played in two of the three games I’ve seen in the Scottish league’s now, along with playing for Stirling Albion at Berwick), but he was largely ineffective. It was pretty much the story for the rest of the players on the field too.
Edinburgh even introduce d the likes of Derek Riordan to try to secure the points, but it was to be late drama down the other end that was to liven up the day. With the last kick of the game, Kris Renton drilled the ball beyond the despairing Antell and into the bottom corner to spark scenes of jubilation from the away end and the ‘Beath players on the field. Full-Time arrived upon the resumption, with the sides sharing the spoils, but the result doing little to help either side in the greater scheme of things.
At the close of the game, I set off back towards the station, with the intention of popping in both “Malone’s on the Mall” and the ‘Spoons nearby. However, I’d completely forgotten about the Grand National running, though arrived just as One For Arthur navigated the last and streaked away from the field to take the win and send the Scots (who’d backed him anyway) wild! I decided I would have ‘One For Arthur’,though not a Guinness, sadly, (he’s apparently named Arthur after the brewer of the famed Irish beverage) and plumped for a Three Hops lager for an extortionate £5. Though it was out of a plastic glass, the party atmosphere and sun made it all the more acceptable. This didn’t go for the £4.95 Punk IPA I had in the station. The Beer House is in my bad books, so much so that I didn’t take a picture. Yeah.
On the train back I was asked by the guy opposite me how Macclesfield had gotten on in their game. My answer of “lost 4-1” didn’t make him too happy. Macc fan David happened to be up in Edinburgh as “tour guide” for Natalie who’d travelled over from the Ukraine. This obviously transformed from talk about the city to talk about Ukrainian football and about Shakhtar’s ground. As you do. God knows what the woman set with us must have thought about her decision!
Anyway, David and Natalie proved good company for the 3hr-plus trip back down to Manchester, whereupon I bid them goodbye as they headed onwards. As for me, a quick switch onto the buses back signalled the final leg of my journey back from the Scottish capital. It had been a great day for a first experience of Edinburgh and I truly enjoyed my quick tour of the city. I look forward to heading back soon. The game was a bit meh, but it was good to get the ground done before it’s lost. Next up is the action packed Easter weekend. The pocket doesn’t enjoy it….
Value For Money: 8