When is a visit to a new ground not a visit to a new ground? That is the question. I was actually here at the Meadowbank Stadium about 36 years ago. Then a team called Meadowbank Thistle was in existence but the club moved and changed their name to Livingston. I had not seen Edinburgh City play or have a home programme in my collection, so in my own mind I had to go back. Maybe a bit hair splitting, but there you go. I still do not think I am like a few anorak ground hoppers who do not include a visit to a new ground unless a goal is scored! At least I am not that bad. It was a nice easy train journey up for this one to Edinburgh Waverley. I walked across the road from Princess Street and took a short ride on a number 26 bus. It’s great what you can find on goggle these days. In years gone by how I got to some grounds I never know. I suppose it was just the old-fashioned method of asking someone in the street. Maybe it’s a bit more than just clicking on your I pad these days?
On the bus I could see the floodlights of Meadowbank in the short distance and when I looked to the right was the home of Hibernian just a short distance away. You could probably walk the distance in about 10 minutes between the two.
There was a Edinburgh City around from 1928-until the 1950’s when it folded. However a team called Postal United was founded in 1966 and 20 years later they adopted the name Edinburgh City. The club had tried to join the Scottish Football league but was pipped at the post by Gretna then Annan Athletic. However the club achieved their dreams last season when they beat East Stirlingshire in the play-offs to become the first ever team to be promoted this way. The club has had a bit of a nomadic existence. They played their first games at Lothian Thistle in a ground sharing agreement. They have also played at Patties Road, City Park and Fernieside before moving to the Meadowbank Stadium in 1996. Oddly the Paties Park ground (yes, been there) is the home of Edinburgh United. You do not get many City teams ground sharing with a United do you?
I got to the ground about 2 O’clock to realise that Lothain Thistle are situated right next door to the Meadowbank and a match had just finished. If I had known I would have come up early and gone to that one as well. There was only a trickle of people going to the match and you had to search around for an open turnstile. I got talking to one bloke who had been on the road from Warwick since 7am that day and two blokes from Sunderland/Newcastle up for the weekend.
The ground is a Athletics Stadium was originally built-in 1970 for the Commonwealth games. It also held the games again in 1986 to be the frost stadium to hold the games twice. Meadowbank Thistle played here from 1974-95. The ground has served many purposes over the yeas such as music events, Rugby Union, basketball, track cycling, boxing and Taekwondo.
The Stadium has capacity for 5,000 but today the 302 hardy souls were all in the one and only main Stand. There is concrete and empty terracing around the rest of the stadium but no cover at all there in these areas. The ground was like a run down Gateshead International stadium. The running track set you back from the pitch and i hate grounds like this. The seats were orange, grubby and weather worn. They did have good old-fashioned floodlights like you used to see at all the league grounds. Four large and tall pylons in each corner with many spotlights.
The game kicked off with the home side playing for some reason in their away colours, yellow and black. Their usual strip is black and white. Clyde played in all blue.
The first half was pretty dire with hardly a chance on goal from either side. It was like watching paint dry. I could have stayed at home and visited family and screaming kids running around or taken the wife to Asda. No, I would rather offer my face to chop sticks on than those options. This was still markedly a preferable option for a Saturday afternoon. The teams went into the break with no score.
There was a decent following of Clyde fans who were separated by stewards and a bit of tape. A bit unnecessary really as everyone mingled in the concourse at half time without any problem. Clyde are in currently in the lowest tier of the Scottish league. It was hard to imagine they won the Scottish cup three times over the years and once finished third to Rangers/Celtic in the league. I bitterly regret missing Clyde when they played at Shawfield which Clyde moved from in 1986. That ground is still used for dog racing.
The second half had a limited number of better chances to break the deadlock but no-one could score. Those little flutters of excitement on seeing a goal where enough to verify my reasoning for travelling today. It was not to be as the game remained scoreless. Never mind I had achieved my aim. I might yet be back again to see Lothian Thistle in the Lowland league. Their 3G pitch is right next to the Meadowbank Stadium. I am in my mid 50’s now so I do not think somehow I can afford to leave it for another 36 years though.
The days of this Stadium may be numbered as there are plans to demolish the site. The possible plans are to replace it with a smaller stadium and build housing as well.