Saturday 2nd October 2021 ko 19.45
East of Scotland League- Premier Division
NEWTONGRANGE STAR 2 (Robertson 27 37)
TRANENT JUNIORS 2 (Wring 31 Stevenson 62p)
Pie- Steak & Gravy
We doubled back from Easterhouse to reach Newtongrange’s New Victoria Park, we ended up parking along the Newbattle Road we’d driven up 3 hours earlier. The climb up to the ground does enhance the sense of anticipation even if I made a beeline for the turnstiles with their unusual gatehouse , and by-passed the clubhouse. Many others didn’t, Robyn included!
Nitten have played here since 1994, and sadly the former Victoria Park is now under a close of houses. You cannot help but be struck by the covered terrace to your left as you enter the ground, it reminded me of terraces I used to frequent visiting Football Leagues in the 1990’s and under lights; it has character by the bucketload as rain threatened the majority of the crowd sheltered there.
I had two reasons to get in the ground quickly. The first was to take a couple of pictures; Kenny and Davey from the league decided to surprise GroundhopUK’s Chris Berezai with an memento to mark 10,000 spectators at Scottish Hops. I must admit we’ve never kept a running total, nor realised the number was anywhere near that high! Certainly the gesture greatly appreciated, although I’m now thinking ; has another organised hop ever attracted a similar level of support?
My second reason for being early was that I’d been given a tip-off about the catering. I knew Nitten were doing Chilli con carne and given the Scottish game’s propensity towards pies I reckoned it would sell well just by being different. It did as did the home made soup, I got one of the last helpings and ended up going back for a pie nonetheless! Future host clubs should take note, a lot are losing out on a real money-spinner!
The excellence in hosting rather hid the fact that the hosts were struggling on the pitch with most there predicting a fairly straightforward Tranent win. It became abundantly clear very quickly though that Nitten were prepared to dig deep and in the end it took a penalty for the visitors to take just the one point.
It was a hugely enjoyable end to our day. Any organiser well tell you that for a good hop game you look for one out of a good ground, a good game and good hosting. Here we got all three which reflects beautifully on all at Newtongrange Star. I headed back to our accommodation in Falkirk exhausted, but satisfied.