Saturday, March 29, 2008

Football Stadia Tour 8: Firhill

Between 26th January and 4th March this year one clash appeared on the schedules 4 times that was the Jags from Firhill, Partick Thistle, against the team who were once the Jags from Edinburgh, Livingston, formerly of course Meadowbank Thistle.

The first clash scheduled for Firhill was in the league and was called off, according to an official statement from Partick Thistle, due to one of the staff of the Glasgow Warriors Rugby Club who groundshare at Firhill, forgetting to tun on the undersoil heating. So on the 2nd February the two teams met at Almondvale in the 5th Round of the Scottish Cup, although it was a 0-0 draw Livingston had the better of the match and were unlucky not to proceed on the day. However, the replay on the 12th is the next stop on this tour of Football Stadia of this fan.

The season in the cup has not been a good one for visiting unfamiliar grounds. In the Challenge Cup we went to Cappielow to face Morton. In the CIS Cup we hosted Ayr before going to Dens Park for a thiller decided after 14 penalties all on target of which 3 were saved. The in the Scottish Cup we'd hosted Alloa Athletic, and Cowdenbeath before another trip to First Division opposition.


Firhill is not in the Partick district of Glasgow but in nearby Maryhill where they moved into Firhill in 1908. it is easily accessed from off the M8 providing neither of the old firm especially Rangers are also playing at home on the same day. However, the coaches do park up a steep hill behind the ground, and as the police were over officious on our trip there for the cup made some of the elderly and disabled members of our coach party walk up the hill to resume their seats after it being pre-arranged that they could be picked up outside the gate after the ground had emptied.

The Ground

Firhill is one of the SPL complient ground in Division 1 as they played there as recently as 2003-4, before facing the humilation of two seasons of relegations to end up in Division 2 before we both met up again for the first time since 2004 in Division 1 they as newly promoted we as newly relegated.

The Current capacity of the ground could be as much as 10887. However, the oldest part of the ground the Main Stand which has 2900 seats has not been in use since January 2006 due to the high cost of maintainence and stewarding of this area.

Opposite the Main Stand is the Jackie Husband Stand which can hold 6263. It was built on the site of the old enclosed terracing known as the shed in 1994. And now houses the home support.

The North Stand is the newest part of the Firhill built in 2002 to meet the old SPL criteria of 10000 seats and paid for by selling off land behind it to build student accomadation. This houses the visiting support. Opposite to the south is the now demolished terraces which the club had looked to build into a new stand but which Glasgow City Council never gave permission to be developed.

The Atmosphere

It was a cup tie to both sets of fans were well up for this. Sadly for visiting fans to Firhill the vast majority of their vocal support prefer to sit in the southern end of the Jackie Husband Stand and therefore well away from the visitors. However, there are pockets of home fans who do sit near the north stand and get involved in banter back and forth between the two sets of fans. As this match went to penalties which were taken in front of the North Stand the crowd in Jackie Husband did tend to filter over towards us making the atmosphere at that point of the evening quite intense.

Some of the younger Livi supporters were up for this and were Samba-ing around the stands at times. The noise got very loud especially towards the end of normal time in the extra time that followed.

The Programme

The Jags Programme is produced by the same company as Livi's costs £2.50 and is a full colour glossy paper production. A Cup Tie against Partick does have an added sence of history for Livingston as Partick are the only team to have faced the club in all three of its guises as Ferranti Thistle, Meadowbank Thistle and Livingston, and this was looked into in the programme on the night.

Pie and Bovril

Having been waiting outside the stand for a good 20 minutes before getting into the match many of us headed straight to the concession stands to warm up. There are also hot dogs on sale at £2.50 should you desire. The bovril was lovely and warm and a welcome heater on what was to end up being a long night. Cost Steak Pie £1.90 and Bovril £1.50 total £2.40.


Admission £15 (concessions on this night were £5, but under 16s were allowed in for free for the league fixture a few weeks later and are for the rest of the season)
Programme £2.50
Mince Pie and Bovril £2.40
Total £19.90

League Table of Cost
Morton £17.90
Stirling £18.10
Queen of the South £18.60
Partick Thistle £19.90
Clyde £20.60
Dunfermline £21.50
Dundee £21.60
St. Johnstone £21.90

Match Report

Sadly the match was played on a pitch which could hold up the ball better than having 17 players behind the ball at time. However, having been the better side in the 0-0 draw at Almondvale Livingston started lively and the Jags Northenr Irish Under 21 goalkeeper Jonathan Tuffey time and again kept his side in the game making saves from point blank positions. He was finally beaten just before half time by Graham Dorrans.

Dorrans, Robert Snodgrass, Steven Craig all had chances to seal it up for the lucrative tie in the next round. But Tuffey earned himself a deserved man of the match awards between the stick. I counted at least 20 times he came to their rescue.
However, the only other goal came from the head of Partick's Mark Twaddle late in the game re-igniting the Jags support.

Into extra time and Craig James scooped one just over the bar for Livi, but the only Livingston substitution used was Steven Wier on for Snodgrass. The Partick defence looked dead on their feet. We had speed in youngsters Keaghan Jacobs and Leigh Griffiths on the bench. But still be plodded on in what was becoming an almost static game now.

Then the dreaded end onf extra time and penalties. First up was Craig James who scored, but that was cancelled out by the first Partick kick. Graham Dorrans who'd been looking tired throughout extra time stepped up hit a well struck penalty to the keeper right post but it was saved, Colin Stewart though was about to do the same for Livi. 1-1 after two each. Liam Fox calmly put Livi's next one away, but so did the Jags. Then Steven Weir makes it 3-2. The Partick lad under pressure misses the target. Livi's regular penalty taker Dave MacKay steps up, we're all hushed but the ball instead of ending up in the net is parried by my mate Laurie stood beside me.

However, it's not over yet as Simon Donnelly has to score Partick's 5th or they are still out. Sadly he does. Experienced head Lee Makel is up next for Livi and makes it 4-3. Rowson then matches that for the Jags. Allan Walker steps up and places it wide beats the keeper but it richochets off the post. Then Alan Archibald steps up to win it with the last kick of the game for Partick.

Final Score Partick Thistle 1 Livingston 1 (P (Partick: Twaddle 83, Livingston: Dorrans 41)

Next up we have the final away leg of this season's travels when we journey to Hamilton's New Douglas Park.

Previous Stadia Dens Park, East End Park, Cappielow, Broadwood, McDiarmid Park, Palmerstone, Forthbank

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