TT No.84: Mike Latham - Saturday 5 January 2013: Stagecoach West of Scotland Super League;          Petershill 1-1 Clydebank; Attendance: 450 (est); Admission: £5; Programme: £1; FGIF Match Rating: 4*.



Matchday images (17)


I’d been saving New Petershill Park for a rainy day- with its artificial surface the ground is usually playable even on the worst winter’s afternoon imaginable, though occasionally falls foul to frost forming in the shadow cast by the surrounding red-brick tenement buildings that help give the ground its distinctive character.


But I decided it was high time I visited Petershill’s new facility especially as their home game against Clydebank, first versus fourth in the West Super League promised to be one of the games of the season. The weather was remarkably mild for this time of year, the temperature gauge touching ten degrees as I journeyed through the centre of Glasgow and then headed off the M74 towards Springburn.


Petershill are one of the West Junior’s oldest and best supported clubs and with Clydebank bringing a big following this game had a real sense of importance. I was really impressed with Petershill’s new ground, with its modern new stand, excellent catering and social facilities and artificial pitch. There remain a few traces of the old Petershill Park which is now overgrown but undeveloped including the sign denoting the main entrance in a retaining wall a couple of hundred yards away.


The game was a highly skilful affair played at a good pace and intensity. Petershill scored early on and had the best of the first half- they are a well-drilled and fast moving side with some outstanding players. They also have a mean defence- just five goals conceded in 11 games before today- so it was surprising when the Bankies equalised early in the second half with a header from a fairly routine free-kick. In the end a draw was a fair result. An excellent pie, lentil soup and Bovril on sale to ward off the enveloping chill.


Petershill JFC, founded in 1897 played at Arrol Park, Atlas Park and Hawthorn Park until opening the old Petershill Park in 1935 with a specially arranged game between Rangers and Celtic attracting a crowd of 20,000. The ground later became famous for its huge covered enclosure, built a few years after the Second World War and for its superb playing surface. The ground was closed in 2005 and few traces now remain. Parts of the boundary wall still exist, with that sign marking the entrance for the players and officials is still extant, but the once immaculate pitch is now overgrown and left to the ravages of nature.


A few hundred yards’ away, above the enclosed five-a-side pitches that now provide valuable leisure facilities for the locals is New Petershill Park, an impressive complex that opened in 2007. There are state-of-the-art leisure facilities here and an office block with favourable rent terms behind the far goal. The social club is well appointed, its walls adorned with some of the great moments of the club they call the ‘Peasy.’ Petershill have won over one hundred cups during their history, including the Junior Cup on five occasions and have much of which to be proud. Their supporters are passionate but a friendly bunch; having seen them several times away from home over the past few years a number of familiar faces flashed up as soon as I entered the ground. The team also has a distinctive maroon and white strip, all because apparently one of their founding fathers was a Hearts supporter.


The Springburn area, the highest part of the City of Glasgow was built upon links to heavy industry, particularly the manufacturing of locomotive engines. Once, so it is Springburn's locomotive industry had a quarter of the global market share. These days the area is much changed but has benefitted from several regeneration schemes. Many of the distinctive red-brick and stone buildings remain and there are spectacular views across much of Glasgow’s landscape from the ground.


‘Played in Glasgow, Charting the heritage of a city at play,’ was written by Ged O’Brien with Simon Inglis as editor. Published in 2010 (ISBN 978 0954744 557) it is one of the finest sports history books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading; its depth of research, presentation and photographs simply awe-inspiring. Virtually every attendance record in Britain was set in Glasgow, O’Brien reminds us and on page 152 he devotes space to Petershill, who have helped set records of their own. When the Peasy reached the Junior Cup Final in 1951 there was an all-time juniors record crowd of 77,650 at Hampden Park to see them beat Irvine Meadow.


O’Brien points out that the depopulation of the once heavy industrialised area of Springburn and the closure of local industries left the club struggling with an over-sized ground in the midst of what had become one of the most deprived inner-city areas of Europe. As a result they entered into a pioneering partnership with the City Council and the North Glasgow Regeneration Agency to construct their new ground and sports centre to the immediate west of their old enclosure. Costing £5.6m and opened in September 2007 the Petershill Park Leisure Centre is a massive contrast to the old ground. But its artificial pitch is now in regular use by the local community and the adjoining six synthetic five-a-side pitches are also heavily subscribed. ‘This may not be junior football as we have known and loved it,’ O’Brien writes. ‘But it could well be the blueprint for the future.’ Having enjoyed my visit to New Petershill Park I’d happily second those admirable sentiments.

contributed on 05/01/13