Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Arbroath - Gayfield Park

4th September 1999

Arbroath 2-2 Alloa Athletic

I appreciate I am probably drifting into the realm of “Too Much Information” here, when I share with you the fact I had endured a severe dose of the runs on the morning of my drive to Arbroath.  To the extent that I considered staying at home that afternoon, and not straying too far from the Little Boys’ Room.  But nothing ventured…….., as they say, so up the M90 it was.  

Arriving at Gayfield Park, I decided it would be wise to make my first port of call the Gents, just to be on the safe side, you understand.  However, I was more than a little dismayed to find the public toilets within the ground only seemed to cater for folks who required to stand-up, if you see what I mean.  

Now I am sure there are sitty-down ones in the club buildings somewhere, but apparently, in the eyes of Arbroath FC, it was only players and officials who ever required to shit at Gayfield.  The Great Unwashed, it seemed, just had to hold it in.

No s(h)itting allowed here, apparently.

Gayfield Park itself sits right on the coast, totally exposed to any gale which may happen to be blowing in off the North Sea.  The ground is one of the few in the country which can expect to have at least one game postponed, or even abandoned, due to excessive wind during each season.   There was a stiff breeze blowing on this particular day for the visit of Alloa Athletic, but nothing too excessive.

Wasps !

The visitors had brought with them a dozen or so Wasps who, resplendent in their striking black and amber hooped replica strips had a great old time to themselves behind whichever goal Alloa happened to be attacking that half.  Gayfield, of course being one of the few remaining grounds where fans are able to swop ends at half-time.  

Consequently the Wasps would come to be thankful for being as far as possible from their own goal, where their own ‘keeper Mark Cairns was culpable for both Arbroath equalisers. 

Alloa had gone ahead after 20 fairly uneventful minutes, when Martin CAMERON reached to divert a cross from Ian Little into the net.  But in the 35th minute, Cairns made a hash of dealing with a weak effort from Arbroath’s Paul Brownlie, merely succeeding in setting up Colin McGLASHAN with a simple header.  

Undaunted, Alloa just rolled up their sleeves and promptly regained the lead, James BOYLE heading in a hoofed Gary Clark clearance.  The visitors’ looked likely to hold on this lead until time, but hadn’t quite reckoned on CAIRNS’ next howler, as he somehow contrived to slice a cross into this own net late on.

For a brief period during the second half, I wandered around to the main stand where I stood within listening distance of Arbroath’s celebrity fan, Sye Webster.  He had recently acquired a degree of fame/notoriety as a consequence of a couple of irreverent, if slightly condescending, articles written by sportswriter Graeme Spiers.  

His non-stop potty-mouth invective and half-witted ranting was moderately entertaining for around 90 seconds, after which I edged towards the exit, keen to get away sharp at the final whistle.  

My tummy had just begun to gurgle ominously.

Panorama of Gayfield Park, Arbroath.

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