Monday, 8 August 2016

Meadowbank Stadium – Edinburgh City

Edinburgh City 2-3 Forfar Athletic

6th August 2016

It used to be the case that the Scottish League was pretty much a Closed Shop.  During the first 35 year of my life, for example, there were but two new admissions: Meadowbank Thistle in 1974 and Clydebank in 1966.  Although one could, if one wished, raise this number to three depending upon one’s view of the E.S. Clydebank fiasco of season 1964/65.

But since the arrivals of Caledonian Thistle & Ross County in 1994 that trickle has become, well, a bit less of a trickle.  To whit:

Livingston (1995)
Peterhead (2000)
Elgin City (2000)
Gretna (2002)
Airdrie United (2002)
Annan Athletic (2008)
Rangers (2012) 

Once again arguments could be made for suggesting that two of the above named were not new clubs at all, but simply opportunistic re-branding exercises associated with some particularly murky monkey business (allegedly).  And that is without touching at all upon the whole Sevco Scotland Limited sleight of hand.  

Fast forward to 2016, and we have a  new addition to the family: Edinburgh City - although once again things may not be quite as they seem.  For, as made clear in the programme produced for this match, the current administrators are taking the stance that this is in fact the same football club who competed in the Scottish League in the 1930s and 1940s, and that it has merely been sleeping for a while, then simply biding it’s time in the minor leagues.

The club’s argument being that, as the entity The Edinburgh City Football Club Ltd (Social Club) was never formally wound up, the fact they did not field a football side for thirty years was irrelevant, and this team operating under the name Edinburgh City forms an unbroken line with the previous.  This is patent nonsense, of course, and is like suggesting that as The Third Lanark Rifle Volunteers still run a social club in Rutherglen or somewhere, then Third Lanark FC still exist.  But as fantasies go, I suppose, it is a relatively harmless one.

What the current side can certainly do is trace their history back to the formation of Postal United - the former works team of the Edinburgh Post Office – back in 1966, and this outfit’s subsequent rather fractious dragging under the Edinburgh City umbrella two decades later.

Meadowbank Stadium, Edinburgh

A queue to get in.

The concourse beneath the stand

What is totally uncontestable though (although I shall probably be proved wrong on this) is that this afternoon’s match represented the return of Scottish League football to Meadowbank Stadium for the first time in almost 21 years: since October 28th 1995 in fact, when Livingston lost 1-0 to Arbroath just prior to decamping to their newly completed home at Almondvale.

And I doubt very much if Meadowbank has changed at all since that day, or indeed has seen much upgrading since it was opened for 1970 Commonwealth Games.  The unforgiving plastic seats certainly look like they are the originals.

Edinburgh City v Forfar Athletic - August 2016

Former Scottish Internationalist Craig Beattie kicks off Edinburgh City's first/latest Scottish League campaign.

Jimmy Lister - Forfar Athletic

Craig Beattie & Forfar captain Stuart Malcolm

Joe Mbu - Edinburgh City

Grant Adam - Forfar Athletic

Forfar boss Gary Bollan (R)

Edinburgh City v Forfar Athletic - August 2016

Someone, one assumes at City's request, had chosen to narrow the pitch, shaving a metre or so off both touchlines.

And so to this afternoon’s match wherein the new boys lost 3-2 and, whilst the final result possibly flattered them a touch, they at no point looked out of their depth.

After a cagey opening few minutes proceedings sprang into life when Forfar’s Gavin “A’ve scored two goals against the Rangers” Swankie thudded a shot back off the crossbar before, in the ninth minute, Forfar were awarded a decidedly softish penalty kick.  There was certainly a shove by Chris McKee on Danny Denholm, but it is really dispiriting how little contact it appears to take these days to make a grown man tumble over whenever he happens to be on a football pitch.  Had he been walking down the street Denholm would, I am sure, have barely noticed the contact.  

David Cox's penalty kick

Anyway, ref Graham Beaton was heedful and David COX did the needful from the spot.  Undaunted, City were level within 10 minutes, Craig BEATTIE capitalising on an error by the visiting right-back.  No shirt removal this time, I noted.  However, it was Athletic who took a slightly undeserved, I felt, lead into the break when they sprung the City offside trap for Lewis MILNE to score on 41 minutes.

The second half certainly saw Forfar enjoy the better of things, Swankie pulling the strings from midfield – although some of his dead ball distribution was woeful, and had a pair of Loons in front of me spitting feathers in frustration.  A well-worked free-kick just nine minutes from time saw Jimmy LISTER make the score 3-1, and that sort of looked that.

But in a move remarkably similar to Forfar's second strike, Ross GUTHRIE pulled one back for the home side in the 89th minute.  Cue encampment on the Forfar goal; a series of corner kicks were punched away or flapped at by visiting keeper Grant Adam, before a further effort was deflected onto the crossbar and over.

For the final push, home keeper Calum Antel wandered up the park for one more corner, but this one flew over everyone to safety, and the ref immediately blew for full-time.  The sound of the final whistle appeared to irk a number of members of both sides, and we were all treated to a playground-style pushing ‘n’ shoving session by a dozen or so players, which broke out at the edge of the six yard box and ended up in the back of the Forfar net.  

When things had settled down a touch the referee somehow decided Joe Mbu and David Cox were the worst offenders and presented both with red cards.  Great fun.

Calum Antel juggles.....

.....whilst Grant Adam is more of a puncher.
Another corner late on

Post final whistle silliness #1

Post final whistle silliness #2

Post final whistle silliness #3

547 folks in the stand - minus me who had snuck out to get this pic.

This had, I felt, been a fine afternoon’s entertainment for the 547 who had pitched up.  Although, as I was leaving, I overheard a few irate City fans discussing the antics of those visiting supporters who had been seated close to them.  “They behaved worst than Rangers’ fans", one middle-aged woman indignantly spluttered.  

Wow, I thought – she knows how to hurt and leave no mark.

Edinburgh City v Forfar Athletic - August 2016

Panorama of Meadowbank Stadium, Edinburgh

Panorama of Meadowbank Stadium, Edinburgh

Panorama of Meadowbank Stadium, Edinburgh

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