Edinburgh City
Meadowbank Stadium

Ground No. (TBA)
Visited - Saturday 6th February 2010
Result - Edinburgh City P-P Preston Athletic
Competition - East of Scotland League, Premier Division

If there’s one big fear of being a football supporter, then it’s making a long journey to an away game only to be confronted with closed turnstiles and the match having been postponed. There have been a few stories over the years of long trips endured for nothing, but having decided to head to Edinburgh thanks to a cheap train fare, then waking up at 2:45am for a 700 mile round trip means you’re going to be pretty annoyed to arrive at the ground and find the above!

I’d been considering visiting Meadowbank for some time since Edinburgh council announced its plans to sell off the site and build a more modern facility in the east of the city. The stadium had been built in 1970 for the Commonwealth Games, and with 40 years on the clock was beginning to show its age, however since the plans were announced in 2006, then the recession and opposition to houses being built there seems to have put the project on ice, with no recent news on how much longer it’s likely to be around for.

The site has long been used for sports, with Leith Athletic’s former ground of the same name standing just to the east of the present stadium, hosting league football when they were members of the SFL between 1936 and 1954, however the new and old grounds never overlapped, the old Meadowbank standing roughly between where the hockey pitches and cycling track is today, well beyond the far end of the present stadium. After Leith had disbanded, it wasn’t until 1974 when football would finally return to the site when Ferranti Thistle were elected to the SFL to replace Third Lanark. Changing their name to Meadowbank Thistle and moving from the insufficient City Park, the club spent 21 years at the venue before their controversial move to Livingston in 1995. It’s fair to say that it was never a popular ground for fans, with only the Main Stand being used for most games, that in itself being more than large enough to accommodate the Thistle crowds, which rarely broke the four figure barrier. On their departure though, Edinburgh City, themselves once owners of City Park, took advantage to move to the venue, which they’ve called home ever since.

Setting off early, I’d been looking forward to the match, even if it would be at an athletics stadium. Whilst unliked by football fans, the ground has its own history, being the only venue in the world to have staged two Commonwealth Games when the 1986 championships returned there, and with a capacity of 16,500, then it’s the largest all-seated non-league venue in UK football.

Depending on which way you come into Edinburgh, you can usually see the tall floodlights from the train as it makes the approach into Waverley station, so not being able to spot it at all should have been a warning sign really, the thick cloud of mist making visibility quite poor on a miserable winters day. Still, after spending a few hours in the city centre, then I made my way there, not expecting the game to be called off, with the snow and ice that had been wreaking havoc on the fixture list of 2010 seeming to have finally disappeared. Arriving early though, about 45 minutes before kick-off, then as soon as I got to the ground it was evident something was wrong, with no one out on the pitch warming up, and only a few other bemused fans hanging around the closed turnstiles. After checking in the sports centre next door, it turned out that the only message had been left with the receptionist there and that the game wouldn’t be going ahead thanks to a waterlogged pitch. Annoyed, but undeterred, then after taking a few pictures from the outside, I quickly made my way back up London Road and off to Easter Road, where thankfully Hibs were at home to Montrose, meaning the day wasn’t completely wasted, ticking off that ground as the Hibees comprehensively beat the Third Division side 5-1, themselves having denied Edinburgh City the chance of a local derby by beating them in the previous round at Meadowbank.

It was a good job that not only Hibs were at home, but that Easter Road is so close. The two grounds are barely half a mile part, visible from each other as the panoramic at the bottom shows, both standing in the shadow of Arthur’s Seat, although even that wasn’t visible thanks to the poor conditions. Meadowbank Stadium itself is dominated by the Main Stand which borders the London Road side of the ground. A covered prop-cantilevered stand, it holds 7500, with an indoor running track underneath the seats, stretching the whole length. From the outside it’s a classic late 60s/early 70s building, with the concrete looking quite drab compared to what we expect of modern grounds these days. The other three sides are small banks of open terracing that had bench seats added later on after Thistle’s move. A huge scoreboard dominates the near end, with the surrounds landscaped with trees and grass banking to add a more quaint feel than you might expect at most football grounds.

Whatever the future holds for the stadium remains to be seen, although judging by the amount of people going in and out of the adjacent sports centre, then it’s a well enough used facility, albeit way too big for City’s needs. To quote Arnie… I’ll be back!

Welcome to Meadowbank

Rear of the Main Stand

Rear of the Main Stand

(probably never to be used again)

The Scoreboard End

The Main Stand

The Far End

The Far Side

The Main Stand

Meadowbank Stadium Panoramic

From Easter Road (left) to Meadowbank (floodlights far right)

1 comment:

  1. It is more like a entertainment center than stadium. Because the way that it was design but I and pay per head call center friends like more that kind of design.