Auchinleck Talbot, Beachwood Park, Juniors, Kirkintilloch, Rob Roy, Scotland, Scottish Juniors, West Region
Saturday 27th February 2016 ko 13.00
Scottish Junior FA, West Region Superleague Premier Division
AUCHINLECK TALBOT 2 (Hyslop 17 53)
KIRKINTILLOCH ROB ROY 0
The day after this I paid a visit to the Scottish Football Museum, in the Main Stand at Hampden Park. It’s a fascinating place, well worth the £8 entry, but its coverage of the Juniors is disappointing. All there is a corner with a video on loop and the display explains the SJFA as being “Junior” in standard to the “Seniors” rather than in terms of age. I wondered if whoever put that display together had ever seen the likes of Auchinleck, or Kirkintilloch play?
Yes, the top teams do play in the Seniors, but sides like Auchinleck could easily play in SPFL League One, perhaps better and its their parallel existence to the Seniors that makes them fascinating. Because with the introduction of the Lowland League and with it a route into the SPFL Division there’s two visions of how a club could progress.
Now you could argue I’m biased, in two weeks I’ll be in the midst of the Lowland League Hop, as deputy organiser, and to English footballing eye, the pyramid system is one that the southern non-league enthusiast is familiar with. But put yourself in Auchinleck’s position for a minute. They’re at the pinnacle of their region, with most of their rivals such as Cumnock, Glenafton, Kilbirnie and Irvine Meadow a short journey away. Crowds are healthy, and games and ground gradings are designed to suit clubs. It is little wonder that despite being invited, not one Junior club has opted to jump to the Seniors.
You could argue that Auchinleck are the Arsenal of the Juniors. They’ve won the league championship on 14 occasions (eleven Ayrshire League, three West of Scotland Super League Premier Division), the Scottish Junior Cup 11 times, and they’ve never been relegated. It’s all quite remarkable for a small pit village just south of Mauchline, Ayrshire. The unusual name, “Talbot” comes from Lord Talbot de Malahide who donated Beechwood Park to the club in 1908, for a rent of £5 a year which he never collected, so long as the ground was used for recreational purposes. What makes the story even more remarkable was that at that time he was in the process of selling up and moving back to the family seat in Dublin, having married into the Boswell family, who’d made their money from the bank that later became Barclay’s.
The most striking part of the ground is the main stand, that was transported brick by brick from Hamilton Academical’s old ground Douglas Park, while the seats are newer having first seen service for Bristol City in the South Stand, Ashton Gate. But this is a ground of nooks and crannies, a place to find your favourite spot, lean on a barrier, and enjoy the action.
They’re a friendly club too, from Club Secretary through to the ladies in the club shop, the welcome was fulsome. On the pitch they were too good for a talented Rob Roy side, with visiting keeper Jordan Brown keeping the score respectable.
I was fortunate to be invited for a drink and a pie in the social club after the game (you really should try the soup by the way!) and it was a pleasure to talk football in all its shapes and forms. And yes, you can take it as read, I’d love to bring a couple of coachloads of hoppers here!
Lovely stuff again and a super selection of pictures as usual. I thought Frogpool and Cusgarne was a great name for a football team but not much beats Kirkintilloch Rob Roy!
John Holroyd said:
It’s a pity that because of a family bereavement I wasn’t there to have the programme and memorabilia hut open – the best of it’s kind in Scotland. I had a stall at Dalbeattie at last year’s hop selling some of the stock. We’d love to have the groundhoppers up here, trouble is the WJFA who are the traditional dinosaurs of football administration – as you’re well aware. If you ever do get here on a hop the shop will most definitely be open!
Stewart Hec Walker said:
i was at that dalbeattie game an if can mind rightly there was abt 350 hoppers that were entertained to the only game edinbrugh city lost in league last year
I remember doing the crowd count, and trying to not get 400 exactly!! I failed. That was a great two games actually, Dalbeattie and Threave, but now imagine that crowd plus Auchinleck’s normal home attendance!!
Have to say I spoke at length to the Edinburgh City people and were mighty impressed by them. Looking forward to seeing them in just under 2 weeks on this year’s hop.
Firstly my condolences on your sad loss. As for the WJFA, if we, and enough clubs see what’s happening in the Lowland League Hop, then hopefully minds can be changed.You coming to the hop again this year? We’d love to see you http://www.granddaysoutnetwork.co.uk/footballweekends.html
Great article Lawrence, it’s a pity you couldn’t have seen the memorabilia shop big John runs. I am part of the regeneration committee who’s remit is to upgrade and modernise Beechwood Park, big John’s shop contributes to that. We are just about to open new toilet facilities for all, disabled, ladies and gents, you might have seen the the units at the ground. I could have opened all these places up for you. Next time get in touch if John is unavailable and I will accommodate. Email me, or find me at the stand, I was one of the guys stewarding at the top of the steps. Would love if Beechwood was part of the Hopper’s scene. We are very proud of our wee ground and the continuing improvements will be done in such a manner as to keep the character. Met a guy who came up from England at the Cumnock Scottish tie, he loved it, big crowd and great atmosphere, he suggested he would be back and bring a few mates, think he was a hopper of a sort.
Will look out for your other reports to see if there are any interesting grounds to visit.
Many thanks Eugene.
There will be more articles, many more, and I’d love to write another about Auchinleck, entitled “The day two coachloads arrived”
Thanks for reading and commenting
Another excellent set
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