Monday, 2 May 2011

Ayr United - Somerset Park

5th August 2000

Ayr United 1-0 Ross County

Every so often we see a football club take a bit of a gamble and throw silly amounts of (usually somebody else’s) money into the pot allocated for players’ contracts, in the hope of reaching some generally out of reach Promised Land.  The venture invariably ends in tears. 

One such punt took place at Ayr United during the summer of 2000, when the club decided to embark on a bit of a spending spree in order to attempt to end their then 22 year absence from the Scottish Premier League.  

Three ex-Hibernian players (John Hughes, Paul Lovering and Michael Renwick) were enticed to the club, as were former Dundee strikers James Grady and Eddie Annand.  Consequently, big things were expected of Ayr United during season 2000/01, especially so following a comprehensive 5-1 pre-season win over Chesterfield.

Approaching Somerset Park from Back Hawkhill Avenue.

Uncovered terracing runs along one length of the pitch. The grey building which houses 
hospitality boxes actually sits outside the ground looking in over the perimeter wall.

A larger than usual number of Honest Men pitched up at Somerset Park on this, the opening day of the season to hopefully witness Ayr dispatch anticipated lambs to the slaughter, newly promoted Ross County.  And whilst United did eventually wind up taking all three points, this certainly was no stroll in the sunshine.  

What turned out to be the only goal of the match came after 20 minutes, when visiting centre-half Brian Irvine downed James Grady in the box.  A penalty probably, but for the ref to send Irvine off did seem harsh.  But even after Eddie ANNAND converted the spot-kick, Ayr still spluttered and stuttered against the ten men.  Ross County, to be fair, never looked much of a threat, but the home fans clearly were expecting much more for their pennies than this expensively assembled side were able to muster, and there were more than a few boos amongst the cheers at time-up.

One outcome of the increased attendance, was that I could not find any programmes on sale before the match.  Consequently, I had to do that embarrassing thing after the game, of pretty much begging folks to sell me their copy.  I eventually found some little urchin willing to part with his copy, but only after I had been forced to offer £5, with all the negotiating going on under the suspicious eye of his burly Dad.  

All very humiliating.

Panorama of Somerset Park, Ayr.

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