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Sunday 19th March 2023 ko 12:15

East of Scotland League – Premier Division


Mair sent off (2nd booking) 38


Att 398

Entry £8

Programme £2

It was in a couple of ways a bruising Scottish Hop. Obviously my wife Robyn’s tumble down the stand at Tynecastle made that statement literal, but the fact that I was driving the advance party around with a dying clutch made it figurative too. I parked up by Penicuik Park, and exhaled. At least on the way home I could to a large extent, stick the car in sixth gear, and forget about the clutch.

Prior to this game, my main recollection of Penicuik was that they’d been an unknowing beneficiary of a few hoppers when we lost the Preston Athletic game back in 2016. The, just south of Edinburgh location was what attracted them back then and was the reason why we set this visit for Sunday on the way home.

We passed by a supermarket on the way to the ground, that is the site of the old Eastfield Park, with the club building their own ground in part of wider Penicuik Park in 2002. The romantic in me loved that, a ground by the club, for the club and their hosting lived up to that ethos.

On any organised hop you manage to the basics, then let each host club put their stamp on things. On this hop all the clubs were excellent, and here like many others it was the little details that endeared. Free teamsheets, kebab pies and an excellent programme may not add up to life and death but get the basics right, and they really do endear and happy hoppers buy more pies. Well they did here, I couldn’t get anywhere those kebab pies!

The game was settled by Joe Viola’s thunderbolt, which in turn had much to with Penicuik having to play much of the game with 10 men, Mair’s dismissal following the hop’s red card theme! That shouldn’t detract, by the way from Peniscuik’s excellence everywhere else.

It was a fitting finale to another excellent Scottish hop, and I know many opined it was the best ever. I certainly can’t think of one that would better it, there were no weak host clubs that’s for sure. With an eye to the future it was also a case of adding to the league’s expertise in these events too. Future host clubs have a quite incredible knowledge base to tap into now, and now there are 6 more club secretaries that can pass on good practice. 

I headed for home more satisfied than I could ever have hoped to have been. Robyn’s bruises weren’t as bad as I’d feared and yes, the car did make it home… just!