Inverness Caledonian Thistle – Saturday February 21st 2009 (346)

Whilst planning a family holiday it’s only right and proper to incorporate a new ground into the itinerary, which is why I find myself some 450 miles from home walking with my 10-year old son the mile or so from Inverness town centre to the Caledonian Stadium this windy February afternoon.

Most of my Scottish forays tend to incorporate a Berwick Rangers away fixture but with the ‘Wee Gers’ at Stenhousemuir – a mere 150 miles to the south – I reason that I should take advantage of my proximity to a ground that the struggling Black & Gold aren’t liable to visit anytime soon.

The effectively three-sided Caledonian Stadium – there is scaffolding-style seating along one side which i presume only comes into play when the Big Boys are in town – sits in the shadow of the suspension bridge over the Moray Firth. I drop in on my way into town to buy tickets and am directed to a prefab in the car park which doubles as a Club Shop. This proves to be a good move as the queue nearer kick-off time is considerable.

Our seats are in the family enclosure which is cheaper (kids DO come in useful!) and before taking our places there’s time to check out the veggie food situation. Macaroni Pies (like a scotch pie but full of pasta & cheese) are advertised but are not on sale. So it’s chips or nowt. I choose nowt. The programme is a hefty £2.50 but is a reasonable read and for some reason I buy three.

Before the game I explain to my lad that his usual job of fielding the ball when it’s kicked out of play won’t be happening today as this is a bigger ground than we usually frequent and there’ll be a hundred kids beating him to it. Sod’s law that the first wayward wind-affected punt from an ICT forward cannons off two crash barriers, pinballs between several rows of seats and sails neatly into his arms!

I have three questions about Scottish football. 1. Why is extremely bad language – including the C word – tolerated by Scottish stewards and the ‘Polis’? 2. Why are Scottish Linespersons allowed to field stray passes to enable the game to resume, when their English counterparts steadfastly refuse to budge even an inch when they’re the only living thing within 40 yards of a dead ball? 3. Why does the Hibs striker Derek Riordan wear the number 01 on his shirt? I think we should be told…..

Just over 4,000 are at this Scottish Premier fixture and most of them are rewarded by a resolute ICT display which carries the game 2-0 and takes them to within a point of second-bottom Falkirk. Hibs are mid-table and this type of result sums up exactly why the Big Two are head & shoulders clear of the rest of the division.

Incidentally, there’s no funny picture today as my i-phone shows me the white screen of death on my approach to the ground. I fix it when I get home.

Floodlight Pylons: Here’s an oddity – nine of them! Two big ones and five little ones on the uninhabited side, with two little ones on the Main Stand side (plus lights on the roof but they don’t count).

Parakeets: Not a chance, just plenty of hovering Shite-hawks using the players for target practice.

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