Matchday images (15) https://picasaweb.google.com/footballgroundsinfocus/JohnstoneBurghFC
Sadly, for many groundhoppers who found the site of immense value, Jamie Wire’s website Non League Scotland is no more. It has disappeared into the ether, leaving only memories of an inspirational effort that inspired many a ground visit to a distant part of the Juniors’ empire.
I remember vividly the photos posted of Johnstone Burgh’s ground, taken if I am not mistaken by my friend Steve Broughton. With the vast oval ground, the steep grass banking and the magnificent barrel-shaped roof on the far-side terraced enclosure I had long aimed to visit Keanie Park.
Not that that was an easy task especially last season; countless were the times the Burgh had home games called off, even surviving a period of six months without staging a game at their ground due to water-logging problems. Many lesser folk would have given up the ghost and packed in, but the committee and supporters here are clearly built of
sterner stuff. They worked hard on the drainage problems over the summer and were rewarded in staging this league game despite a week of considerable rainfall.
Johnstone is a small town in Renfrewshire about three miles west of Paisley and twelve miles west of Glasgow city centre. The town was created in the second half of the 1700s as a planned community by the local Laird, George Ludovic Houston who held an estate in the town. Coal mining developed here, so too thread-making and cotton weaving and the town grew in size. These days it serves largely as a commuter town for Paisley and Glasgow.
Football has an interesting history here. An original club, Johnstone FC (formed in 1878) had two separate spells in the Scottish Football League either side of the First World War between 1912 and 1926. Their Newfield Park ground was later built upon after the club folded in 1927.
Johnstone Burgh were only formed ten years or so after the Second World War and were based at the present James Y Keanie Park, named after the builder who donated the land. It’s a magnificent ground, entered through a narrow turnstile block off Auchenlodment Road with a distinctive red and white painted building at the main road side that
incorporates the dressing rooms, committee room and tea bar. In front of this building is a small cover, without any back or sides, where the bulk of the home fans gathered.
Once inside the ground opens out into the vast oval, with a fence around the playing area. The grass banks are steeply built and lovingly maintained. The distinctive barrel-shaped roof over the far end terrace that I remembered from Jamie’s site is the main feature of a stunning ground. The playing pitch was heavy in parts but had stood
up the recent rains well, so hopefully the Burgh’s ground problems are a thing of the past.
Twice winners of the Junior Cup Burgh now find themselves in Central Division Two; their opponents Vale of Clyde from Glasgow were similarly used to playing at a higher level of the Junior game. The game was hard-fought, full of commitment but with little in the way of goalmouth action.
Just five minutes remained when the Burgh were awarded a penalty, after what looked to an outsider at least to be a clear foul. The ensuing mayhem took nearly three minutes to calm as players pushed and shoved one another and the referee brandished several yellow cards. Eventually the spot-kick was coolly despatched. In added-on time the
Burgh sealed their hard-fought win with a spectacular second goal, a superb curled shot from outside the area. The home supporters were clearly delighted and I sensed several would be celebrating long into the night.
Keanie Park is a wonderful ground to visit and the way it is maintained reflects huge credit on the club’s committee and supporters. In the autumnal sunshine it looked simply magnificent. I’d recommend a visit here unreservedly, this was another top ground visit in the Scottish Juniors.