Wow – two MORE grounds for the price of one!
Just like two weeks ago when I got to see two Scottish games in one day, I can do it again today, and this time it’s even easier with both St Mirren and Greenock Morton easily reached by rail. I don’t bank, however, on a blocked line and a cancelled train at Glasgow Central which sets my schedule back by 25 minutes or so. Fortunately I bump into a fellow footie fan, an Irish guy called Ken who takes an interest in my ground-collecting passion and reckons he might know of my blog. He also points me in the right direction when I eventually get to Paisley.
This substitute train isn’t going to Paisley St James – the station right next to the new St Mirren Park – so I have a ten-minute power-walk to collect my ticket (which should have been mailed to me but the ticket office fouled up) before getting into the ground with ten minutes to spare. The stadium isn’t very interesting. It’s one of those grounds that – if you were buying from Stadiums-R-Us – it would be in the cut-price section. Four very square, very ordinary stands with no frills. No scoreboard or clock, no Big Screen, just a ground.
Before the game kicks off I check out the snack bar and am thinking about buying a cheese and onion pie when the shutters suddenly power down. People are in the process of being served, and stand there bemused as the serving staff – food and drink in hand – disappear from view.
The game kicks off and the Celtic fans – here in numbers – belt out a song which seems to incur the wrath of the home fans. No doubt it recalls some historic battle or other, long forgotten by most of the UK. The game is reasonably entertaining but you get the feeling that there will only be one winner. A cracking solo goal by Paddy McCourt sets the visitors on the way, and despite St Mirren upping the ante in the second half, a second by Moloney seals the points. I head out of the ground just in time to catch my train at Paisley St James.
Within 25 minutes I’m stepping out at Cartsdyke with a few minutes to spare until kick-off at Cappielow Park. I make the mistake of diving into the first set of turnstiles I come to and end up crammed into one corner of an ancient stand. Too late I realise I’ve gone into the away fans section, and am doomed to spend the whole match cramped into inadequate wooden seating, drooling at the site of the lovely terraces opposite, and behind one goal. Behind the other goal is a curious arrangements of what looks like rows and rows of concrete plinths designed to be sat on. Surely they can’t be comfortable! We’ll never know, because this end is roped off. Presumably only Celtic and Rangers ever get the pleasure.
There’s a mobile burger van just outside the stand and I run the gauntlet of the flesh-eating locals by asking if they’ve got anything without meat. Actually they have – the seemingly-popular Tatty Scones, which don’t look that appetising but are better than a kick up the botty.
This game between Morton and Airdrie – two struggling teams – looks on paper as if its going to be a non-event and for the first half and much of the second it is. The home team’s tactic seems to be use their long ball man and his mighty throws cause havoc amongst the visitors defenders. Unfortunately they also cause havoc amongst the home attackers, so no harm is done. I’m thinking of how I might sum up the game and the thought occurs to me that not only is there no end product, but there’s very little middle product either! Suddenly Morton score and we get ten minutes of urgency from the visitors, to no avail. I vacate my cramped seat, thinking if it had been on a plane I’d have had DVT before leaving UK airspace.
There’s only one place now to finish this latest trip north of the border. You guessed it, my customary pint in the Pot Still before the train journey home.
Programme: St Mirren – £2.50 good value – on sale right outside the ground. Morton (away end) – £2 a bit thin – on sale just inside the main stand
Floodlight pylons: St Mirren – a boring four. Morton – two pylons on one side and three gantries on the roof of the main stand opposite
Club Shop: St Mirren – Main stand, accessed from outside of the ground. Morton – couldn’t see (in the wrong bl**dy end!)
Toilets: St Mirren – underneath the stands. Morton (Away end) – just inside the turnstuiles
Tannoy music: St Mirren – stirring classic rock. Morton – some indie stuff which sounded good
Parakeets: not a sqwuark!
Players with the quirkiest names: St Mirren’s John ‘Harry’ Potter (had to be!) & Morton’s Carlo ‘Monte Carlo’ Monti