Saturday 12th March 2016 ko 20.00
EDINBURGH CITY 1 (Paterson 68)
EAST KILBRIDE 1 (Hastings 24)
Of the six grounds on this years Lowland League Hop, this one was the one I was looking forward to the most. That sense was heightened when we travelled the short distance from Ainslie Park, and as the sun set, and we travelled slowly along the A1 London Road, the towering floodlights seemed to beckon us in. The sense of history seeped from the concrete buttresses too….
My immediate need was food. With the catering at the first three games being exclusively pies, and Meadowbank Stadium doing the catering and not the club, I looked at the McDonald’s opposite the ground, and thought about dashing over… I thought better of it, and bought a pie…. If you are what you eat I’m sure a few hoppers now have a puff pastry crust now!
Meadowbank Stadium was opened in 1970 for the Commonwealth Games. It replaced Old Meadowbank Stadium, which hosted amongst others Leith Athletic, who now use a 3G pitch beyond the stadium’s eastern end. Old Meadowbank also hosted the Edinburgh Monarchs Speedway team, and tragically World Champion Peter Craven lost his life here, following a crash in 1963.
The stadium was refurbished for the 1986 Commonwealth Games, including the scoreboard, which although now broken first saw service at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984!
These days New Meadowbank is best known for being the home of Meadowbank Thistle from 1974-1995, the club changing names from Ferranti Thistle as Scottish League rules forbade overt sponsorship of teams. The club moved to Livingston in 1995, becoming Livingston FC in the process, disappointing many of their fans in the process.
The injustice of that, whether real or supposed, is what drives Edinburgh City today. The original Edinburgh City were set up in 1928 as the Scottish capital’s version of Queens Park, an amateur team very much based on Corinthian principles. They were elected to the Scottish League in 1931, and played at City Park, later home to The Spartans. They found League football too tough, and left the league in 1949, and folded altogether in 1955 when the local authorities refused to renew their lease on City Park.
The current incarnation is a 1986 rebrand of Postal United FC, with the club moving in to Meadowbank straight after Meadowbank Thistle’s departure. Their principle is clear, they see Livington as taking an Edinburgh club’s Scottish League place, and they aim to return it to the city. They’ve applied twice for Scottish League membership twice, losing out to Gretna in 2002, and to Annan Athletic in 2008 when Gretna went bankrupt.
The issue they have now is that Meadowbank is a crumbling edifice, far too big for football and far too rundown for major athletics events. It will be demolished in June 2017, a smaller ground will be provided on the site with a 500 seat stand and a 3G pitch, but that will only be suitable for Lowland League, not the Scottish League. Given that they won the Lowland League last season but lost to Brora in the Lowland/Highland League playoff, and look favourites to win the league again this season, that uncertainty must grate.
In terms of quality this was the best game of the hop. Two high quality teams with the visitors having had a quite wonderful Scottish Cup run, only ended when they met the Glasgow behemoths, Celtic. Two goals cancelled each other out, and while the end result was fair, the point I suspect in the mix-up will suit Edinburgh City nicely.