GLF 71: Christopher suggests that it might be time for us to find a hew home.
Time Fir A Change Of Scenery?
Willing to swap well-established plot to keen renovators who enjoy putting their own stamp on their home.Ideal for gardeners who enjoy a challenge. Plumbed for underfloor heating.Check with neighbours before planning any extension to existing shell.
Looking for fresh plot, ideally within a new development site.Off-road parking and good travel links essential.Must have four separate entertainment areas, good acoustics and unobstructed views to the garden.
If interested, please contact John on ( 01698 ) 333333.
......... if only it was that easy.But what exactly would be the benefits of us moving on to pastures new???
The Grass MUST Be Greener
Of course a lot of the reasons for flitting are going to be financial, and none more so than the playing surface.Lets face it, our park ain't magically gonna get better, we can at best call our undersoil heating inconsistent, and the 4,800-seater South Stand in particular has caused havoc as regards its recovery from cold snaps.One of the biggest ironies is that as the team serves up as good a passing game as we've had the pleasure of witnessing for the last 15 years or so, Fir Park does it's best to hamper it.We managed to (just) get away with it during our European charge last season, but again even yesterday (as I write) the combination of a poor surafce and Falkirk deciding to stop playing us at football and instead turn it into a battle stopped us from turning the heat up in our bid to get back into the Top Six of the SPL.Such is everyone at the clubs embarrassment of our stage that as we patiently endure call-off after call-off before starting our 2009 Scottish Cup campaign, we can't really have any gripes for fear of being reminded about glass houses and stones by a non-league outfit.
Surely the combination of potential action being taken against us by the SPL for further cancellations, the continued cost of try to maintain it and handicapping our free-flowing style of play must become a major factor in us packing up.
As estate agents try to kid us on with flowery phrases such as 'quaint', 'quirky' and 'unique' so our Theatre of Dreams is sold to visitors as a pleasant change from visiting the same breezeblock, identikit stadia around Scotland.Sounds pleasant enough, but then peeing up against a wall and getting your refreshments from the "caaaameeerooooon baaaar, cheeeewing guuuuuum" bloke were also retro opportunities that we don't seem quite as keen to replicate in the twenty-first century.
When you think of the SPL grounds that we visit year in and year out, the questions arise;
IS THERE ANY OTHER GROUND THAT THE TANNOY IS INAUDIBLE?
Just what is our Man In The Sky saying during home matches??I'll come on to it again in a moment, but in our Health & Safety-conscious world where you're not supposed to standeither where your seat is or to talk to a mate, sing or swear or anything else you care to think of, how can a top-flight club get away with a PA system which could be trying to advise the paying customers of anything from " Please ensure you collect your free season ticket book for next campaign to make up for all the crazy ideas we have month after month" to "Don't be alarmed but there are a swarm of very unpleasant bees heading for this vicinity, please depart from the ground immediately" yet all sounds like "Thnnn mi owma ff cr rgstritn muma effhawtymethen memmfffteee....."?!!?
IS THERE ANY OTHER GROUND WHERE THE PIE STALLS ARE SO POORLY LOCATED?
...and again, how is it a potential fire hazard or whatever excuse they dream up when one person is standing talking to you on the walkway of the East Stand at five to three, yet when dozens of people are queuing up at half-time to buy their food and drink a couple of metres away then all of a sudden that's not causes an issue. Surely not because only one of these activities in pouring money into the coffers of the money men???!!!??
IS THERE ANY OTHER GROUND WITH POORER POSITIONED TURNSTILES?
Whilst most grounds we visit have nice sprawling tarmac between the gate and any hazards, we ask our punters to queue next to or sometimes even on roads and for away fans to pass a late fitness test by doing a perimeter of the stadium to get to the South Stand.We have even lost our main challengers to the 'Worst Turnstiles' Award recently with St Mirren completing their flit from Love Street - who needs a set of scales in the house when those Paisley turnstiles let you know if you were approaching obesity levels!!!!!!
Some Refurbishment Required...
Since taking up residency in 1895, the main splurge of activity impovement-wise has taken place between the 60's and the 90's.How many of the disgruntled 'Well fans who saw the dosh attained from the sale of St John etc ploughed into our Main Stand would have foresaw that nearly half a century later it would still not be completed?!?!It wasn't until Mr Taylor and his pesky report came along that Mr Dickie put his day job to work to see us mishmash together a capacity of nearly 14,000 during the 1990's courtesy of the East, Cooper and South stands.Yet is seems every close season we need to spend just become compliant to host football for another nine months.The East Stand has survived 18 years by humbling thwacking some plastic tip-seats onto the existing terracing, yet we suffer that aforementioned tannoy (in)action, regularly wade through puddles to get out after a game and peer round stanchions from the original constructions whilst glancing to our left to see a 4,800 stand either half or unused every fortnight.The Main Stand tests the shins of those taller than our average centre forward and continually needs a lick of paint here and various other tweaks there to remain usable.As with your own house, at which point does continuous remedial work suggest that a move would be more cost-effective??
Don't get me wrong, bar a couple of visits to our boxes (pre-credit crunch of course) I have (whisper it) stood in my place in the back row of the East Stand for every single game since its inception and love my ownwee spot.But on this Valentine's Day romance must be conquered by boring practicality and that move to a shiny new home must be our aim sooner than later.
by Christopher Hutton
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