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Saturday 19th March 2022 ko 11:15

East of Scotland League First Division- Conference B

GLENROTHES 3 (L Schiavone 5 Bell 35 Cargill 64)


Att 410

Entry £6

Programme £2

With all due respect to Caledonian Braves I felt we were moving back to traditional Scottish Hop territory. The fact was that at Bothwellhaugh we’d added roughly 200 to a crowd of 219, from now on that 200 or so would be added to local support and that would test the compromise that is every single organised hop.

For the club the compromise is playing at an odd time and doing things (like a programme) that may not be their normal practice. For the hopper it’s cramming as many games into a weekend as possible, and accepting that these games are a fundraiser for the clubs. For the league it’s surrendering the control of the fixtures to outsiders for a weekend. Get it right and the clubs get a massive payout, the hopper gets multiple grounds to tick off and the league gets a boost to its profile.

Scotland simply doesn’t have the history of the organised hop that England and Wales does. It is only 7 years since that first hop started at East Kilbride and Chris Berezai and I remember all too well the work that went in since that first phone call I had with Jamie McQueen a year earlier, and all the miles spent on the M6 meeting people who could help us make these events happen. 

I am all too aware that there is still resistance amongst some Scottish traditionalists to “A bunch of English groundhoppers.” This might surprise you but I do have some sympathy with that view, we are visiting each ground just the once after all, so inconveniencing a club and their regular patrons isn’t something we do lightly- the compromise has to work for all parties. The upshot of it all is that Chris and I do take a fairly dim view of anyone or anything that takes our host clubs’ hospitality for granted; that hospitality is hard earned. 

As the Advance Party, Craig Dabbs, my wife Robyn and I arrived half an hour before the coach and set up at the Warout Stadium at one side of the stand, with the cash turnstile. We distributed our packs of prebooked tickets and programmes, with a camera crew from BBC Scotland covering the day for “A View From The Terrace.” They were affable, if the most hipster four young men I’ve ever met, but I did feel the additional pressure of being watched. 

Glenrothes is one of Fife’s post-war New Towns, being built to service a colliery industry that never took hold. The town’s estates are named after the farms that once sat where the houses now replace them, and the Warout Stadium harks back, in terms of its name to that agricultural past.

The stadium is a classic piece of Eastern European inspired brutalist architecture, although the nearest place I’ve seen to it is the Nobel Stadion, in Karlskoga. That is in decidedly non-Eastern Sweden but is similarly municipal in nature. Here there used to be a huge wooden railway sleeper bowl, and half the fun of Warout is imagining the place in the 70’s when Glenrothes FC moved in.

I must admit I do have a little history with Glenrothes, I saw their final game as a junior club away at Whitburn in 2019 and they looked at a low ebb back then. Of course they won away at Easthouses Lily on October’s hop so enjoying a tea with their officials at half-time I could at least claim they get better each time I see them! That, by the way should include their hosting, they were wonderful; its not often I have a pie for breakfast!

All the thanks in the world should go to Kinnoull, the Perth-based club must have had an early start to fulfil this early kick-off, and while in my opinion the better side won the game, at least we can promise them a hop game to host in due course. 

But in any hop game my aim for any club above and above any financial or hospitality matters is to enhance their reputation. There can be no doubt that Glenrothes managed that in spades; all the best to them.