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Saturday 17th March 2018 ko 11.00

East of Scotland League


Kinnaird sent off (violent conduct 77)

Galloway missed penalty 84

PRESTON ATHLETIC 2 (Binnie 38 Grotlin 62) 

Att 166

Entry £5

Programme £2

Brave ancient isle, thy praise if I should sing,
The habitation of a Pictish King,
Dreftus, who made against the Roman strokes,
Forth’s snakie arms thee to enclose with rocks,
They often pressed to vanquish thee with fire,
As Macedon did the sea embordering Tyre,
But thou didst scorn Rome’s captive for to be,
And kept thyself from Roman legions free. 

I was sat at breakfast at the hop hotel in East Kilbride contemplating a Lorne Sausage. All was right with the world, the coffee was warm, and the world outside looked frost-free and bright, but then a flurry of snowflakes blew across, shattering my illusions. 5 minutes later I aimed for the hotel’s revolving door, and once outside the cold stopped me and others in our tracks. 

We crossed over the new Forth Bridge, the third such bridge, and I imagined the fun when the fourth Forth bridge inevitably gets built. We entered Fife and soon reached the small town of Burntisland.

The origins of the name are unclear, and it is pronounced as the two individual words. The most romantic of the explanations involves Pictish fishermen burning their boats and huts as an attempt to stave off a Roman invasion. An alternative is the local volcano, The Binn erupting and the lava burning everything below.

The town grew, through firstly the herring fishing industry, then the shipbuilding industry in Victorian times. It was of course the shipyard, that begat the club in 1919, the workers paying a weekly subscription to fund the facilities. They were unashamedly an amateur club, playing regular friendlies against Queens Park, and it’s that amateurism only renounced late last year that kept them out of the Juniors set-up. The club is probably best known for its runs in the Scottish Cup including a memorable fixture against Celtic in 1939 where the Glaswegian behemoths won 8-3 in front of what must have been a packed 3,000 spectators at Recreation Park.

Sadly an attendance of that magnitude was never likely here. It was obvious that the cold and snow had put people off attending and for good reason. We’d had two people who’d booked the full weekend including coach and accommodation decide against coming and there were a few ticket and programme packs that were never collected. If even the most committed hoppers were put off then it was of little surprise that malaise extended to the locals too. I recognised the vast majority of the crowd here. That said, even with the awful weather we still managed to triple their normal attendance.

The crying shame was that Shippy were superb hosts, and like many others I was pleased they had a good stock of woolly hats for sale! Their catering was excellent too, I enjoyed my corned beef hash, and the stovies looked to be selling well too. Whilst the attendance was lower than we’d have wanted, the club certainly made the best of the opportunity given to them.

It was a pleasure to catch up with Lesley Birrel and all at Preston Athletic. They were wonderful hosts and gave last year’s hop a real kick-start even if the hop coach did deposit a fair amount of diesel in the street outside Pennypit Park! Whilst noone was happy to see them relegated from the Lowland League last season, this stint in the East of Scotland League has allowed them to regroup and I and many others will hope to see them push for promotion next season.

They won this tie, but I suspect even Lesley would admit the draw would probably been a fairer result. There were so many factors that could have changed things. Would better weather have helped? Then there was the missed penalty, and the sending off too. I’m sure there was a fair amount of frustration felt amongst Shippy’s players and management. I hope that all at Burntisland will look at the revenue raised and feel slightly better about their day.

We started to warm up as the coach departed, but the coach climbed as we left Burntisland. Could our next destination be any colder?