Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Forfar Athletic - Station Park

1st August 1998

Forfar Athletic 0-1 Stirling Albion

It is not uncommon for clubs in the lower reaches of the Scottish League to free the majority of their playing squad each May, and start again pretty much from scratch for the following season.  A slightly more cynical version of myself would view this clearing the decks exercise simply as a way of avoiding paying players during the close season.  

Back in the summer of 1998, Stirling Albion had gone through one such purging process following relegation and the departure of manager Kevin Drinkell.  Consequently the first task faced by the new man, ex-Motherwell defender John Philliben, was to scurry around signing players to flesh out the skeleton staff he inherited.

One of those he persuaded to commit to the Bino’s cause was former Scotland Internationalist Brian Martin.  I had first encountered Martin back in 1988, when I had toddled along to Broomfield Park, Airdrie to see the locals take on Hamilton Accies in a New Year Derby match.  

Playing right-midfield that afternoon for the visitors was a very balding, slightly scary looking fellow, whose name I did not recognise.  I have to say I must have watched over a thousand football matches over the last 40 years or so, but I cannot recall seeing one player so dominate a game as Brian Martin (for he was that scary chap) did that afternoon.  He totally ran the show in the first-half setting up all three goals, as even hardened Accies fans were left rubbing their eyes in disbelief as their side turned around three up.  

Martin took out his pipe and slippers somewhat in the second half, as his side took pity on their neighbours and the match finished 4-1 (I think).  OK, I acknowledge this level of football was hardly top drawer, but it was a league match and not some cup-tie mis-match.

I subsequently followed Martin’s career with interest, as he moved onto St Mirren before being converted into a very effective and efficient centre-half at Motherwell, playing the best football of his career.  

He even managed to force his way past Craig Brown’s blinkered Old Firm bias and into the Scotland squad during the mid 1990s, picking up two caps in a meaningless tournament in Japan.  He was never really more than fourth of fifth in line for a place in the team, but he must have felt his big chance had come as central defenders began dropping like flies prior to a Euro96 qualifier with Greece in 1995.

However Craig Brown, in my opinion snubbed Martin by keeping him on the bench, choosing instead to play Celtic’s Tosh McKinlay, a last minute call up to the squad.  Despite his shoddy treatment Martin accepted the decision with dignity, and there was no bleating to the tabloid press as a number of others have done before and since when not selected - step forward Jackie McNamara.

Martin played this particular afternoon, as did seven other debutants in the re-built Albion side who eventually ground out an unconvincing 1-0 win, substitute Gavin PRICE heading in after 66 minutes. 

The players' entrance at Station Park. 

Mr Brian Martin.
Panorama of Station Park, Forfar (1998)

Panorama of Station Park, Forfar (2017)

Forfar Athletic v Annan Athletic (May 2017)

A panorama of Station Park from the West Terracing.

The stand was opened in 1959

View along the East Terracing.

Panorama from East Terracing.

The covered South Terracing runs the full length of the pitch.

The ball just squirms under Forfar goalkeeper Grant Adam from Aidan Smith's 50th minute penalty kick.
This goal pulled the score back to 3-1 after Forfar had lead 3-0 at the break.
Forfar eventually won the match 4-2 to progress to the League One Play-off Final with Peterhead.

View from the grandstand.

Annan Athletic's veteran striker Peter Weatherson (R) contemplates another season in League Two.

The rear facade to the grandstand.

Station Park - Forfar Athletic.

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