With the football season over prematurely due to the Coronavirus Pandemic I’m in the unusual position of actually having this blog up to date! So to keep the content coming, and for something to do, I’ll do some old grounds and games where there’s a story to tell.
Saturday 31st January 2009 ko 15.00
Scottish League Division One
GREENOCK MORTON 0
ST JOHNSTONE 0
Entry £16 (seat- main stand)
Can I be honest with you? I wasn’t intending to write about Greenock Morton but such was the reaction from the Ayr United article that I feel honour-bound to put something together, because so many people agree with me, if you want two great Scottish League grounds you head to Somerset Park and to Cappielow Park.
Like Ayr I don’t think anyone goes to Greenock for tourism, although here’s a silly story- I actually did for both. I was staying at a chalet at the former Butlin’s holiday camp near to Ayr and spotted a band playing that evening in Greenock. I phoned the venue, bought the tickets and worried about finding Greenock Civic Hall on the way there!
The history of the football club’s unusual suffix is unclear although the best guess is that the club was named after ‘Morton Terrace’, a row of houses next to the original pitch. They’ve been at Cappielow Park since 1879 but part of the charm of visiting here is that the ground is by Greenock Docks in the centre of it’s fanbase. The cranes form part of the backdrop of a game here, in the a similar way they do at another iconic ground – Glentoran’s Oval Ground.
But the atmosphere isn’t just about the docks. I hadn’t remembered taking the first photo of the set below but isn’t that the classic old school football ground shot? It was handy that the car park is a raised area behind the near goal! In fact we were lucky to make kick-off as we’d been at the ground opener at the oh-so-dull New St Mirren Park, that had kicked off at 12.00 and the sight of 4 middle-aged groundhoppers half waddling, half running to my strategically parked car to make our getaway!
But how could you not love a ground with a main stand with a pitched roof, a cowshed on the “Pop” side, and a “Kop” end. In fact the real oddity of the ground is the “Wee Dublin” end, so named as many of the Irish immigrants working at the docks. It’s an open terrace with bench seating. Morton actually bought a stand from St Mirren from the demolished Love Street in 2008 in order to cover that end, but twelve years on it still hasn’t been erected, presumably because the end isn’t actually used that often. Now if Morton ever made the Premier Division…..
The game was rather a non-event despite the efforts of Jody Morris for St Johstone. The rather wayward former Chelsea midfielder ran the show to for the visitors but neither side had any fire-power up front and the nil-nil draw looked inevitable from fairly early on.
These days St Johnstone are a well-established Scottish Premiership club while save one blip Morton remain in the second-tier, now styled the Championship. That I suspect is handy if like me you love Cappielow in its current state, and wince a what some other Scottish Premiership clubs have built to give themselves compliant stadia.
Maybe the likes of Cappielow are the last of a dying breed. If that’s the case than please do seek out these gems and for my part I’m please to have been able to capture them while they’re still there.