So after much talk and deliberation about going to visit grounds we’ve never been to before, we were on the road to Fife for hopefully the first of many tours with the first match choice being Cowdenbeath hosting Greenock Morton.
We had a beautiful day for travelling and for watching football, we’ve planned the route well in advance and borrowed a sat nav which got us there in ample time! To pass the car journey we’ve tuned into BBC Scotland’s ‘Sports Sound’ and joked about the potential of meeting this guy “Ken” the people in this part of the world all talk about!
Once in town the ground is well sign posted and we parked in what looked like a local leisure centre car park which is literally two minutes walk away from the entrance. There isn’t that much detail to describe Central Park. It’s oval shape design probably has something to do with it’s dual purpose which is hosting football and the stock car racing.
There appears to be only one way into the ground, a couple of turnstiles next to a big fence which are used for everyone entering. Once in, you have the option of walking round to the terraced areas or going into the main stands.
As we walked round to the back of the main stand there is the “Blue Brazil Shop” which is a portakabin selling club merchandise, and the main entrance which was for players and officials. Underneath the stand are toilet facilities and a catering area. We eventually took up a position that allowed us as decent a view of the pitch as we could get having tried a few other areas prior to settling for this one.
Just before the teams finished the warm up we were drawn to watching this guy in a suit walking about the pitch quite the thing, hands in his pockets, without a care just strolling about. Turns out to be the distinctively facial haired QC, Donald Findlay who is the current Cowdenbeath Chairman!
The game got under way with the home side in their distinctive blue kit with Morton in their yellow away colours. Both teams shared the early possession and made some progress in getting forward without any real threat on either goal. The central midfield area proved to be an interesting contest with the experienced Colin Cameron, Cowdenbeath’s player/manager up against the combative figure of Fouad “Freddy” Bachirou for Morton.
After eleven minutes it was the Greenock side who took the lead when a Taggart cross on the right was headed home from close range by Peter Weatherson. Morton continued to exert themselves on the home team and doubled their lead with twenty five minutes on the clock. David Graham’s cross found Weatherson in the box who controlled and finished low into the net for 2-0.
Just after the half hour mark it was nearly three when a galloping run by full back Scott Taggart ended with a stunning shot from about twenty five yards which thundered off the bar. Had it gone in it would have given Cowdenbeath a mountain to climb however, five minutes after that scare the hosts were back in the match, albeit against the run of play.
A Scott Linton corner landed in the middle of the goal and the Morton defence didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory. The Ton keeper, Derek Gaston was left exposed as John Armstrong lurked to head home at the back post to change the complexion of the game and provide interesting half time team talks in both camps.
The second half was literally seconds old when Morton extended their lead. A through ball by O’Brien was latched onto by Archie Campbell who calmly slotted his shot past Thomas Flynn in the home goal. It certainly delighted his female fan club in the away end who shouted encouragement to “Erchie” throughout the match!
Cowdenbeath then lost their towering centre forward, Lewis Coult to injury before things worsened even further for the hosts when Morton added another. Some nice link up play on the right by Weatherson was rewarded with a fourth goal when David O’Brien collected the ball and went through to get a shot in that came off the under side of the cross bar to make it 4-1.
With an attendance of 611 present there were certain points in the match when you could hear player’s shouts, instructions and the odd bit of choice language on the park! After one foul too many Colin Cameron found his name being taken by the referee, Stephen Finnie. As Cameron walked away it was somewhat amusing to see a seasoned professional being summoned by the official shouting his full name twice to come over to him like a naughty school boy! At around the same time, the tannoy announcer came on to advise that the winner of the half time draw had not come forward to collect the £174 prize!
The game looked to be over as a contest and it appeared as if Morton boss Allan Moore thought the same as he substituted his two front men, and scorers, Weatherson and Campbell for two fringe players, Wallace and Stirling. With 82 minutes played, Cowdenbeath’s perseverance paid off when a long throw into the box wasn’t cleared and from close range Mark Ramsey scored to make the scoreline a more respectable 4-2.
Just after that goal we had become conscious of a droning sound outside, before concluding it could be cars maybe having a warm up before a race later that evening. As some fans began to drift to the exits, Cowdenbeath were still causing problems for the visitors. Keeper, Derek Gaston had to deal with a good effort from Scott Linton and Mark Ramsey also saw a shot go over the bar.
Morton were under sustained pressure and the full time whistle couldn’t come quick enough. With four minutes of added time played, Cowdenbeath scored a third goal when, from a similar scenario as the last goal, James Stevenson headed in from a few yards out following an initial throw in from Scott Linton. You would have thought that would be time, but still referee Finnie played on!
With the time nearly 5pm and in the sixth minute of stoppage time, Morton’s players and fans were delighted when it was all over and a hard fought 3 points went back to Greenock. As we got outside the place was a hive of activity with groups of people and their families mulling around the back of the stand. There was a queue of traffic trying to park outside, comprising mainly of cars and vans with trailers as they brought their cars to race. For a moment it seemed to be busier outside the ground than inside for the football!
Central Park is quite an intriguing venue. The main stand is almost split into two small stands, with both combined covering the length of the pitch.
The one nearest the entrance is the newest and is occupied by the home support, the older one, which is where we were is for the away fans. It is an old fashioned wooden stand with metal benches, some of which were insecure and for the best view it is best to sit in the middle or the front. If you sit at the very back you won’t see the ball if it’s played high in the air and there are numerous posts and pillars which obstruct your view, not to mention a perimeter fence.
Directly opposite is terracing which had a mixture of supporters from both clubs and there didn’t seem to be any animosity when the goals were scored. There is some limited terracing behind both goals with some sections having small grass embankments which are fenced off and unavailable for use. I would imagine the terrace is probably the best area to watch the game without a restricted view, though granted not everyone likes to stand at a football game.
It certainly isn’t the most modern of football grounds but there is something homely and traditional about it, so much so that I opted to use one of the pictures taken as you enter Central Park as the main photo on the blog home page!