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Saturday 19th March 2022 ko 19:45

East of Scotland League- Premier Division

HILL OF BEATH HAWTHORN 3 (Connelly 19 49 Allum 90p)

LINLITHGOW ROSE 1 (Sneddon 34)

Att 584

Entry £7

Programme £2

Perhaps it’s the floodlights but there’s always a sense of heightened expectation associated with the final game on the Saturday on the Scottish Hop. For one thing the league always schedules us an excellent game and this time round we’d spent the whole event with programme editor with Dave Edler and it was clear that both he, and the club had thought deeply about what was going to happen that evening. That started by the way with Dave’s programme, one of the best we’ve ever seen on one of these events. 

This isn’t the original Hill of Beath side, this iteration dates from 1975 and have built up Keir’s Park from little more than a pitch. We made sure we parked up so as to take in the statue to Scotland, Rangers and Sunderland legend Jim Baxter who was born here. It’s fair to say his footballing genius was flawed, two liver transplants due to alcoholism and a gambling addiction are testament to that.

The statue is unsurprisingly lit in blue at night, which did make me wonder what might happen if a statue were raised to the town’s other famous son Scott Brown. Would folks agree to green and white lighting even if Baxter was well-known for eschewing all notions of sectarianism?

The ground has been built up almost organically by the club; it is incredibly spic and span and it is obvious that all concerned are mighty proud of all they’ve achieved. It is an ongoing project too, there are plans for seats, and the floodlights are new, with the old set apparently destined for Oakley United- our destination for the next day. 

But this was an evening where the compromise that is an organised groundhop was, once again examined- and that is always a good thing. The fact is that groundhoppers made up less than half of the attendance here, so the conversations we had here were always going to be very different from those I’d had at say Sherborne Harriers. I did smile at the club’s reaction to our suggestion that any club who sold anything other than pies would do well out of the move.

The comment was “What do they think we are? A f—- restaurant?” No and the stovies were an inspired move too.  I fully accept that Hill of Beath are unlikely to go to the lengths that Sherborne did to provide catering. The traditions and point of compromise are completely different, and the benefit is that you see clubs, leagues, and even countries put their unique stamp on how they host. 

The point is that conversations like this are vital, the compromises should be tested and are. If you are from a Scottish non league club are you’re reading this, then I’d advise you when we’re organising in England the challenge is to get clubs to think beyond burgers! And Hill of Beath did do at least 6 types of pie. Maybe that’s part of where the compromise lies in Scotland? 

Either way I watched the evening’s entertainment both on an off the pitch with no little pride. The fact is though planning and cooperation nearly 600 people watched a high quality game in the sixth tier of Scottish football. It was an important win too, with Hill of Beath fighting relegation and so the win was celebrated with gusto. 

I managed to catch up with the hipster TV crew from BBC Scotland who’d fitted in to the whole ethos of the day with enthusiasm. They were strolling around the pitch like old retainers, and I was sorry to see them depart just after the final whistle. I think we were all pleased with what they produced, and typically my wife Robyn managed to have the final word!