Sunday, December 23, 2007

Football Stadia Tour 5: McDiarmid Park

After a week of freezing fog i the central belt some Livi fans were recollecting a previous trip to McDiarmid Park when the game was abandoned in the 80th minute after fog made it impossible for play to continue. We were glad when we arrived that although the car park was frosty that the lights in the houses on the hill to the south were still clearly visible.


The only league side in British Football to contain the letter J does not come from somewhere called St. Johnstone, nor should it be mistaken with Johnstone in East Renfrewshire. It is the team of the Fair City of Perth on the River Tay.

It is conveniently located just off the City's by-pass to the west of the City on land donated by local farmer Brian McDiarmid after whom the new stadium is named.

The Ground

Opened in 1989 it is deemed to be the first of the modern football stadia, with 4 covered seated, single tier stands holding a maximum on 10,673. There are no obscured views from any seat. Three of the stands are of equal height with the Main Stand to the West being a little higher. The South Stand is the Ormand Stand named after Willie Ormand the teams most successful manager to date. However, in recent years only the main and east stand are opened for league games due to attendance levels unless a big match is being hosted. For our visit we were seated in the Northern half of the Main Stand which is accessed half way up from the raised level of the car park on that side of the hollow in which the ground sits.

In the North East corner is an electronic scoreboard, which can keep excited and nervous fans updated of the scores elsewhere, and brought the news after full time in Perth last year that Gretna with a late, late goal had sealed promotion to the SPL instead of the Saints.

The Atmosphere

The atmosphere was cracking as every at McDiarmid Park, and although we didn't have another fan run unto the pitch our fans kept singing for most of the game. Which when you get to the match report you'll find all the more surprising, especially if you've ever been to Almondvale.

The Programme

Cost £2.50. As expected not a match to last week's zenith, but still a worthy programme. 32 pages and this week featured an early St. Johnstone versus Johnstone game in a little bit of history. The opening notes commented that Colin Mcmenamin had yet to score on his return on loan from Gretna, and predicted that he didn't expect last season's top scorer in Scotland's maiden strike to be long in coming. He proved to be better than Mystic Meg 14 minutes into the game.

Pie and Bovril

£1.10 for hot drinks with the water steaming out of a tap in front of you from the servery counter. £1.30 for a steak and gravy pie. Mine was fine but one of my neighbours said theirs was cold on the inside.


Admission £17 (most expensive of the season)
Programme £2.50
(Bacon Butty) and Bovril £2.40
Total £TBC

League Table of Cost
Morton £17.90
Clyde £20.60
Dunfermline £21.50
Dundee £21.60
St. Johnstone £21.90

Match Report

Well it was pantomime season and I had jested with one Saint's fan on Pie and Bovril the Scottish Football forums, when he asked surely we couldn't beat them again, responded with oh yes we could, before laying a few conditions, based on our inconsistent showings thus far.

Well the game certainly started looking like oh yes we could. Livi started strong and started to dominate. Time and again getting into danger areas. Before Colin McMenamin got his head on the end of the ball and guided it into the back of the net. The old chant of his name at last resounded from the Livi choir in goal celebration, me very joyfully as I have the Livi number 9 in the sweep from the coach trip up.

However our joy was all too short lived. St Johnstone started to find their feet on the hard pitch and too often the Livi players started to lose theirs. Andy Jackson after some applied pressure got what was a deserved equaliser, but from the starts we were getting more and more anxious about the amount of space and opportunity that we appeared to be giving another team for the second game on the bounce. We were hoping for a goal ourselves, possibly from our other striker Steven Craig. When a Craig scored though it was Saint's defender Liam scoring his first goal for the club in the 41st minute. So for the second week on the trot we conceded a cheap but inevitable goal just before half time.

Livingston came out with a little renewed vigour at the start of the second half but it was soon snuffed out when Rocco Quinn burst through the non-existent defence to grab a third. Things then went from bad to worse and time and again the Livi players were leaving gaps on the park and two and sometimes three Saint's players had time space and no real challenge as they advanced.

We were just hoping there wasn't going to be a fourth goal from the home team. Livi have been in 8 games this season where 4 goals or more have been scored by one team, winning three 4-0, one each 5-0, 4-3 and 4-2, we have also been on the wrong end of 4-0 and 4-1 defeats. However with 18 minutes remaining Jackson scored again making it 4-1 followed 6 minutes later by a fifth from Peter MacDonald.

As I said before the fans were still singing backing their team and when chants of we want six appeared to be misconstrued by some of the players the chant was swiftly changed to '6-5 we're gonna win 6-5'. Just before the fifth goal Tam Pesir came unto the field and started to show the bit we'd been lacking for most of the game it was he who concluded the scoring more or less bang on the 90 minutes, sadly the ref didn't allow any additional time for us to attempt to get the three goal we still needed to draw level the spoilsport.

Final Score St. Johnstone 5 Livingston (St Johnstone: Jackson 22, 72, Craig 41, Quinn 56, MacDonald 78. Livingston: Colin McMenamin 14, Tomas Pesir 90)

Effect on the relative teams' positions. Morton didn't need asking two weeks in a row their draw at Firhill lifted them back above Livingston who dropped back to 6th and it could have been worse if Clyde's pitch hadn't been frozen causing an abandonment. St Johnstone on the other hand benefited from Morton's result leapfrogging Partick into 3rd spot. Winning their game in hand over the top two to bring them within 13 points.

Next time its the third of three consecutive road trips as we head South to Dumfries and Palmerston.

Previous Stadia Dens Park, East End Park, Broadwood

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