Game #58: Schalke ’04 v Borussia Dortmund

Game #58:
Schalke ’04 v Borussia Dortmund
German 1.Bundesliga
Ground: Arena Auf Schalke, Gelsenkirchen
Date: 08/12/2018
Result: 1-2
Attendance: 61,767

For my second game in my weekend in Germany I traveled from Bremen down to Gelsenkirchen, close to the Dutch border, for the biggest derby in German football. I was lucky enough to be able to get tickets for the “Revierderby”, the game between the arch rivals Schalke ’04 and Borussia Dortmund. From the moment I arrived in Gelsenkirchen it was very clear a big game was on. Several hours before kick-off there were already many people around in the centre and there was a heavy police presence. I took the tram to a supporters pub near the ground. The brilliant thing in Germany is that your match ticket is automatically a day ticket for local public transport. The advantages of that were clear as there wasn’t a traffic chaos around the ground like you’d expect for a game as big as this.

FC Schalke ’04 was founded in 1904 as Westfalia Schalke by a group of high school students. In their early years, they were mainly playing in unofficial local leagues. In 1924 they were renamed FC Schalke ’04. In 1927 they reached the highest tier in their region, where they quickly became a dominant force. In 1929 they won their division for the first time. Their most successful years were under the Nazi regime. The leagues were reformed into 16 equal regional leagues followed by a national championship. They were runners up in 1933 and won 6 national championships, the first in 1934 en the last in 1942, making them the most successful club of that era. They won the double in 1937. After the war, Schalke declined as German football was weakening, it took until the mid-1950’s to become a regional force again and in 1958 they won the German championship again, the last to date. When the Bundesliga got formed in 1963, Schalke were one of the members. In 1972 they finished second and won the German Cup for the second time. In 1982 they relegated to the 2. Bundesliga for the first time. They returned the next season, but got relegated again and returned immediately again. In 1988 they relegated for the last time, returning in 1992. Their only European trophy was in 1997, when they won the UEFA Cup after beating Internazionale on penalties. The club became a strong force in German football again since, finishing as runners up 5 times, including last season. They also won the German cup 3 more times, the last one in 2011. Schalke is owned by its members, of which there are 155,000, making them the 4th largest club in the world and the 2nd largest in Germany.

Schalke played from 1927 at the Glückauf-Kampfbahn stadium, which is now being used by a lower league side. In 1973 they moved to the Parkstadion, which was built for the 1974 FIFA World Cup and also used for Euro 1988. In 2001 they moved to the Arena auf Schalke, a ground with a capacity of 62,271. The North Stand is terracing with a capacity of 16K. As standing is not allowed in European matches, the capacity is reduced to 54,740 for those games. From the outside the stadium doesn’t look that attractive. However, when inside, it’s a very impressive stadion, especially due to the standing on the North Stand, where the most fanatic fans are who were creating a good atmosphere.

The games between Schalke ’04 and Borussia Dortmund are always big, it’s the biggest derby in German football. Both clubs are from the densely populated Ruhr region. The derby is called the “Revierderby”. The game was sold out in no-time, it’s usually very hard to get tickets for these games, which is why I couldn’t let this chance go! The atmosphere was great as expected, with both sides constantly making noise. Dortmund have been dominant so far this season and leading the league with a 7 point gap, while Schalke have been struggling and were in 12th place. BVB took the lead early on and were clearly the better side. Schalke did equalise in the second half though when they scored a penalty after VAR in the 61st minute. In the 74th minute the guests scored a second goal and they ran out deserved winners. This game was very enjoyable and the trip to Germany was great, definitely worth repeating!

Video of players coming on the pitch
Video of VAR decision resulting in a penalty for Schalke and the 1-1

Posted in Germany | Leave a comment

Game #57: Werder Bremen v Fortuna Düsseldorf

Game #57:
Werder Bremen v Fortuna Düsseldorf
German 1.Bundesliga
Ground: Weser-Stadion, Bremen
Date: 07/12/2018
Result: 3-1
Attendance: 41,500

For the first time since starting this blog, I went overseas to watch football. Together with a friend I traveled to Germany for a weekend over there, starting in the north of the country, in Bremen. Germany in December is always a good place to travel to, with their Christmas markets and festivities. In that sense Bremen was no disappointment. We explored the city and then went to the ground by tram.

SV Werder Bremen got founded in 1899 as Fußballverein Werder. In their early years they won a number of local championships. In 1920 they changed their name to Sportverein Werder Bremen with football as the main interest of the club. In 1922 they became the first German club to hire a professional coach. Their first real successes were when they won their regional league in 1934, 1936 and 1937. Germany didn’t have a national league until 1963 and the winners of the regional leagues played in the national championships. In none of their 3 appearances they qualified from the group stage (16 teams played in 4 groups for 4 semi finals spots). In 1961 they won the DFB Pokal (German Cup), their first national trophy. Werder Bremen were founder members of the Bundesliga in 1963, in which they constantly played except for 1 season in the 2nd Bundesliga in 1980/81. They won the league in 1965, 1988, 1993 and 2004 (in 2004 they won the double). They won the DFB Pokal a total of 6 times, most recently in 2009. In 1992 they won the European Cup Winners’ Cup and in 2009 they were runners up in the last UEFA-Cup before it was rebranded as the Europa League. In the last seasons they have struggled at time and got close to the relegation zone on occasions. However, each time they survived fairly comfortably in the end. Last season they finished 11th and they will be looking to improve now. Before this game, they were 9th in the table.

Werder Bremen play at the “Weserstadion”. The first stadium on the site got opened in 1909 on the banks of the Weser river, surrounded by green parks. In 1926 the first big stand got built. Between 1934 and 1945 the ground has mainly been used by the “Third Reich” regime, after which the Americans took it over. In 1947 it got reopened as the Weserstadion. It’s about 1 km outside of Bremen city centre with good connections by tram. Originally the ground had an athletics track, which was removed in 2002. Between 2008 and 2012 the ground has been completely revamped. It’s an impressive stadium now, with 2 tiers and a great view on the pitch everywhere.

The atmosphere at the game was great, it was a sell-out crowd with an impressive following from Fortuna Düsseldorf, who were bottom of the league. Werder Bremen were the stronger team and took the lead midway through the first half. The guests equalised from a penalty awarded after VAR just before half time. In the second half Werder took the initiative and scored 2 more goals, earning a well deserved 3-1 win. The experience of this trip was great. I haven’t been to many games in Germany in the past and it’s different from games in the UK, but a nice change. Bremen is a great city to spend time in and my trip was very enjoyable.

Video of players coming on the pitch and Werder fans creating a great atmosphere

Posted in Germany | Leave a comment

Game #56: Kilmarnock v Hibernian

Game #56:
Kilmarnock v Hibernian
Scottish Premiership
Ground: Rugby Park, Kilmarnock
Date: 1/12/2018
Result: 3-0
Attendance: 6,036

I’m closing in on “the 42”, with only 7 more to go: 2 in the Premiership and 5 in the Championship. My last one in Scotland before Christmas became Kilmarnock, I will go abroad and watch some games though. I drove from Dundee to Kilmarnock to go to Rugby Park.

Kilmarnock FC are the oldest professional football club in Scotland and got founded in 1869 by local cricketers who wanted to play sports outside their season as well. The game they played at first was more similar to rugby, but eventually they followed Queen’s Park FC and adopted association football instead. In 1873 they were founder members of the Scottish Football association and they played in the first ever Scottish Cup match in October 1873. They joined the Scottish Football League in 1895, and got elected to Division One in 1899. In 1920 they won their first Scottish Cup, followed by further wins in 1929 and 1997. They won their only top flight title in 1965 and the League Cup in 2012. They have played European football on 9 occasions, with the best result being a semi final place in the 1966/67 Fairs Cup, where they lost to Leeds United.

Kilmarnock have played at Rugby Park from 1877, although the ground was not at exactly the same location then. In 1899 they moved to a new Rugby Park ground, on the site of the current stadium. In the 1994/95 season the stadium got fully redeveloped to the 17,889 all-seater stadium it is now. The ground is in a residential area and even though it’s a modern all-seater, its history is clear when you walk around. I was in the West Stand, the main stand from where I had a great view.

The game was one-sided: Kilmarnock were very strong and Hibs were weak, with Killie running out 3-0 winners. In the second half there were 2 interruptions of about 15 minutes due to failing floodlights, in the 53rd and 68th minutes, with a 2-0 scoreline. The second time it went completely dark in the stadium for a few minutes and I thought the game didn’t restart, so did fans around me who were getting quite anxious. Much to their relief, and disappointment of the away fans, the game did eventually restart and Killie scored their third goal.

Posted in SPL | Leave a comment

Game #55: Fort William v Rothes

Game #55:
Fort William v Rothes
Highland League
Ground: Claggan Park, Fort William
Date: 24/11/2018
Result: 0-5
Attendance: 93

I have never visited a game in the Highland League so far. And that’s remarkable, as it’s a tier 5 league which technically covers Dundee (although the closest teams for me are in Aberdeenshire). The most isolated team in all of Scottish senior & junior football is undoubtedly Fort William FC, with their ground being seen as the most scenic one in Scottish football. For this reason this ground has long been on my list of places I wanted to visit. From Dundee I went to Glasgow, where I took the West Highland Line. A journey of over 3.5 hours through mostly stunning scenery took me to Fort William. I first visited the lovely town before walking to Claggan Park.

Fort William FC got founded in 1974, playing mainly friendlies and cup competitions. In 1983 they joined the North Caledonian League, finishing runners up in their first season, followed by a championship a year later, they also won several cups in those 2 seasons. This resulted in them finally being admitted to the Highland League in 1985, a league they tried to join for a long time. They finished 12th out of 17 in their first season, but the isolated location and the fact that shinty is the most popular sport in the region and not football meant that they have been struggling most of their seasons, finishing bottom 14 out of 18 seasons between 1996 and 2014. In 2018 they finished bottom again, with only 5 points. Their future in the Highland League was in doubt, but the club managed to continue in the league for this season. They are struggling again this season, with 2 draws and 16 defeats in their first 18 games. They are on -7 points as they had a 9 point deduction due to fielding an ineligible player. They only scored 13 goals and conceded a staggering 131, including a 13-0 loss against Fraserburgh and another 5 defeats with double figures. The first game against Rothes, today’s opponents, finished 11-1.

Fort William FC play at Claggan Park, a ground near Ben Nevis with stunning views over various mountains. Just for the views of the surroundings this visit was already worth it. The ground itself is simple, but decent. On one long end of the pitch was covered terracing, but this is now closed and fenced off. On the other side there are 2 small modern seated stands, with standing room around the rest of the pitch. There is an old social club and a modern building containing the dressing rooms and catering. Remarkably there is a small greenhouse within the ground, next to the male toilets. The ground itself isn’t the most special ground you’ll find, but the landscape around it makes it one of the most stunning places anywhere to watch football.

Early on it was already clear that Fort William were heading towards another defeat. Rothes were easily the better team. They scored early on and never looked like giving it away. At half time it was 0-3, in the second half they didn’t put too much effort in anymore, but still scored another 2. Had they been fully focused all game this would have been another large scoreline. The level of football wasn’t great, but the ground was worth the visit. Also, I can only have respect for a small team like this staying alive against all odds, thanks to the hard work of local volunteers.

Posted in Highland League | Leave a comment

Game #54: Rangers v Motherwell

Game #54:
Rangers v Motherwell
Scottish Premiership
Ground: Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow
Date: 11/11/2018
Result: 7-1
Attendance: 49,802

An advantage of Celtic and Rangers playing in the Europa League group stages is that it is now easier for me to plan visits to Premiership games while still going to lower league games on Saturdays. I’ve already been to Celtic, so this time I went to Glasgow and took the Subway to to Ibrox. I’ve previously tried to go there, but failed to get tickets. This time I managed to get a ticket in the away end, on invitation of a Motherwell fan. I’ve also visited the previous meeting between these 2 teams. That ended in a spectacular 3-3 draw, so I was hoping for another attractive game.

As is well known, Rangers re-started in League 2 back in 2012. Promotions in 2013, 2014 and 2016 got the club back to the top flight, also winning the Scottish Challenge cup and reaching the Scottish Cup final in 2016. They beat Celtic on penalties in the semi final before losing the final again Hibs. In their first season back in the Scottish Premiership, they finished third and qualified for the Europa League, but they lost in the first qualifying round to Progrès Niederkorn from Luxembourg. However, they finished 3rd again in 2018 and this time their Europa League campaign went considerably better. They managed to get through 4 qualifying rounds to qualify for the group stage, in which they currently have a decent chance of qualifying for the last 32.

Ibrox Stadium got opened in 1899, but in 1902 it suffered a disaster when a wooden stand collapsed, resulting in 25 deaths. After the disaster, the stadium got redeveloped and new safety regulations were put in place across the UK. In 1971, another disaster took place when 66 people died in a crush after an Old Firm derby. After this, the ground got redeveloped into a modern, safe, stadium. The modern stadium has an all-seater capacity of 50,817. The stadium in its current form opened in 1991, when the new Main Stand finished. The stadium kept its iconic facade and gates reading “Rangers Football Club”. Even though Rangers will never be my favourite club in Scotland (neither will Celtic), these features are very impressive and just the facade is already worth a visit to Ibrox. Also the stadium as a whole is impressive. A beautiful, iconic, stadium and I’m happy to have visited it.

The game itself was another goal fest, although it wasn’t exactly a close contest. Rangers took an early lead, Motherwell did equalise, but after a red card and a penalty, Rangers took the lead and ran out easy 7-1 winners. The Motherwell fans around me were understandably frustrated, with most leaving early. As the game was on 11th November, Remembrance Day events were going on in and around the ground. Overall it has been a good day out though, just a shame the game wasn’t more competitive.

Posted in SPL | Leave a comment

Game #53: Annan Athletic v Cowdenbeath

Game #53:
Annan Athletic v Cowdenbeath
Scottish League Two
Ground: Galabank, Annan
Date: 10/11/2018
Result: 0-2
Attendance: 374

There was only one more ground in League 2 to go, I took the train via Glasgow to Annan to finish my second league (after League 1). Annan is near the English border, close to Carlisle, so it was a long journey. I arrived a bit early and had a walk through the lovely town before heading to Galabank.

Annan Athletic FC got founded in 1942 and started playing in the Dumfries and District Youth League. When the war finished, this league got disbanded and Annan moved to the Dumfries and District Junior League. In 1951 this league got disbanded due to a lack of officials. After a year of abeyance, Annan Athletic joined the Carlisle and District League and the Cumberland Football Association. In 1977 they moved back to Scottish competitions by joining the South of Scotland Football League. They won the league twice and the League Cup 4 times before moving to the East of Scotland Football League in 1987. The following year, they won the First Division and got promoted to the East of Scotland Premier League, which they won 4 times, together with one League Cup in 2000. When local rivals Gretna went bust in 2008, Annan got elected to replace them in Division Three, largely due to their good facilities. They became the last new club elected to the SFL before the introduction of promotion/relegation. In their first decade in the league they reached the semi finals of the Scottish Challenge Cup twice. They reached the play-offs 3 times, including a 2nd place finish in 2014, but didn’t get promoted. They also beat Rangers at Ibrox in their first season in the 4th tier.

Annan Athletic have played at Galabank since 1953. They installed floodlights when they got admitted to the SFL in 2008. It’s a nice ground, with standing behind both goals. One side is covered and the other side uncovered. Despite the pouring rain, a few Cowdenbeath fans stood here all game. At the long and of the pitch there is a covered, seated, stand. Behind the covered terrace there is a nice club bar. The facilities are good for a League Two club, which explains why they were elected back in 2008. From 2015 the ground is being shared with Edusport Academy, who now play in the Lowland League. Annan Athletic reserves also play here, in the South of Scotland League.

The game was surprisingly convincing for Cowdenbeath, who look much better then last season when they had to survive a play-off against Cove Rangers to stay in the SPFL. Annan were poor and the visitors got a deserved 2-0 victory.

Posted in League 2 | Leave a comment

Game #52: Peterhead v Albion Rovers

Game #52:
Peterhead v Albion Rovers
Scottish League Two
Ground: Balmoor Stadium, Peterhead
Date: 03/11/2018
Result: 2-1
Attendance: 590

This time I went to the furthest SPFL club from any railway station: Peterhead. To get there I took a train to Aberdeen and then a bus that took 1h20 to the “Blue Toon”. Peterhead is a fishing town right on the cost in the far north-east of Scotland. It’s often quite cold there and it was no different this time, especially because of the cold sea air.

Peterhead FC got founded in 1891 and joined the league of the Aberdeenshire FA in 1900 until they left to join the Highland League in 1931. They won the league in 1947 in the first season after the war, followed by titles in 1949, 1950, 1989 and 1999. They also won the Highland League Cup 5 times and the Aberdeenshire Cup 20 times. In 2000 they got elected to the Scottish Football League together with local rivals Elgin City when the league (including SPL) got expanded from 40 to 42 clubs. In 2014 they won League Two, to which they returned after relegation 3 years later.

Peterhead play at the Balmoor Stadium, where they moved to in 1997 after they left Recreation Park where they played from the year they got founded. The facilities at the Balmoor Stadium are seen as the main reason why Peterhead were elected to the SFL in 2000. The ground has a capacity of 3,150, of which 1,000 seated at 2 stands opposite each other. There is uncovered standing all around the pitch. Despite it being a modern stadium, it’s a really nice ground with many people standing alongside the pitch, which creates a good atmosphere.

The game was quite bizarre. There was nearly a goal straight from kick-off with the Albion Rovers goalkeeper being too far in front of his goal, but he just managed to save the shot. Within 3 minutes Peterhead were 1-0 up and just over 10 minutes later 2-0 and they missed some big chances. Everything was looking like a hammering. It was still “only” 2-0 at half time though, where it could easily have been at least 5-0. In the second half, Albion Rovers played a lot better and pulled one back. Late on, they were even close to an equaliser, but Peterhead kept the 2-1 lead and got a deserved win. Because Edinburgh City lost at home to Clyde, Peterhead got the top spot as well.

Posted in League 2 | Leave a comment

Game #51: Livingston v St. Johnstone

Game #51:
Livingston v St. Johnstone
Scottish Premiership
Ground: Almondvale Stadium, Livingston
Date: 31/10/2018
Result: 0-1
Attendance: 1,476

At Halloween there was also a full list of fixtures in the Scottish Premiership. Realistically, there is only one SPFL club I haven’t been to yet that is doable for me to visit on a weeknight without having to take time off work. That club is Livingston, so after work I went down the M90 into West Lothian to watch them play a club who made a similar journey: St. Johnstone.

Livingston have a controversial history. They were originally founded in 1943 as Ferranti Amateurs, a works team playing in the Edinburgh Amateur League. In 1948 they got renamed to Ferranti Thistle and joined the Edinburgh and District Welfare Association. In 1953 they joined the East of Scotland League. In 1974 they were voted in the Scottish Football League after the demise of Third Lanark. They were renamed Meadowbank Thistle and moved to Meadowbank Stadium. Most of their history, they were playing in the bottom tier of the SFL. In 1995 chairman Bill Hunter claimed that the were in severe financial difficulties and faced being closed down. Because of that, and despite severe opposition from fans, the club moved 20 miles west to Livingston and got renamed Livingston FC.

In their first season as Livingston FC they got promoted to the Second Division as champions. In 1999 and 2001 they promoted again and ended up in the SPL. They finished their first season in the SPL on a 3rd place behind the Old Firm clubs and qualified for the UEFA-Cup. In 2004 they won the Scottish League Cup, but they finished that season in administration. In 2006 they got relegated to the First Division. In 2009 they went into administration again. They got saved from liquidation by a takeover, but financial irregularities resulted in them being demoted to the Third Division. Successive titels followed, meaning the club returned quickly to the First Division. In 2015 they won the Scottish Challenge Cup, but they got relegated back to League One via the play-offs a year later. In 2017 they won the league to return immediately to the Championship. In the Championship play-off final they beat Partick Thistle to return back to the top flight for the first time since 2006.

Livingston play at the Almondvale Stadium, which got opened in 1995 when the club moved to Livingston. It’s a modern all-seater stadium with a 9,512 capacity and artificial grass. It’s not really a stadium that I like, as I like the more traditional (older) football grounds and this ground was both too modern and too standard for my liking. All home fans sat on the main stand, with the guests from Perth being housed in a few blocks in the opposite East Stand. Before kick-off there was an appropriate minute’s silence for the tragic helicopter crash in Leicester in the weekend. The game was disappointing from Livingston’s perspective, they never looked like winning after St. Johnstone took an early lead. The guests kept this lead and managed to record a third consecutive win and clean sheet. Remarkable as the last game before this run was a 6-0 humiliation by Celtic. Having visited this game, I’ve reached the 32 in my aim to finish the 42. However, I don’t think I will return here soon. The ground isn’t to my liking and I can’t have much sympathy for their history considering the controversial move in 1995.

Posted in SPL | Leave a comment

Game #50: Heart of Midlothian v Celtic

Game #50:
Heart of Midlothian v Celtic
Scottish League Cup semi-final
Ground: Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Date: 28/10/2018
Result: 0-3
Attendance: 61,161

The semi finals of the Scottish League cup were a major cause of controversy even before any ball was kicked. The SPFL planned the semi final weekend just after a European week. With Celtic and Rangers both qualifying for the Europa League group stage it became clear neither could play on a Saturday as they have to play a European game on the Thursday. When both teams reached the semi finals, many people involved in the planning of the semi finals will have hoped they would be drawn together, so they can play on Sunday and the other game can be on Saturday. However, the draw kept both teams apart with Celtic playing Hearts and Rangers playing Aberdeen.

The original plan of the SPFL was to play both semi finals at Hampden Park on the Sunday, with Aberdeen v Rangers in the early afternoon and Hearts v Celtic in the evening. Unsurprisingly, neither the non-Glasgow clubs, nor the local authorities were very pleased with the plan. The SPFL claimed that due to a contract they had to play both at Hampden Park. However, as pressure mounted, the SPFL got an exception to the contract and they decided to move the Hearts v Celtic game to Murrayfield, home of Scottish Rugby. This time Celtic were unhappy as they claimed this was an unfair advantage to Hearts with the ground being virtually next to their Tynecastle ground, conveniently ignoring the fact that they are advantaged for almost every other semi final and final in Scottish cup competitions against non-Glasgow opposition by playing in their own city, not far from Parkhead.

As football at Murrayfield is quite a rare occurrence, I decided to go to this game. The ground was opened in March 1925 as the national rugby stadium in a Five Nations game against England for a 70,000 attendance. Scotland won their first ever Five Nations Grand Slam that year. The army used the ground for the Second World War. In 1983 the East Stand got built and in the early 1990’s the ground got further redeveloped to the 67,144 capacity all-seater ground that it is today. Other the Scottish national rugby team, Edinburgh Rugby played here between 1996 and 2017. Murrayfield hosted matches of the 1991, 1999 and 2007 Rugby World Cups. American football team Scottish Claymores also played here between 1995 and 2002 in the NFL Europe league. The ground has been used for football when Hearts played 4 home games there last season when Tynecastle was being redeveloped. Celtic played 2 Champions League qualifying matches here in 2014. Between 2004 and 2007 Hearts played their European fixtures here as Tynecastle didn’t fit the UEFA requirements in those years. Both Hearts and Hibs also played a pre-season friendly against Barcelona here. Recently, Murrayfield was an option to replace Hampden Park as the national football stadium. However, the SFA ultimately decided to remain at Hampden.

I had tickets for the Hearts end. I took the train to Haymarket where I met a friend with who I had a pre-match drink in the one bar near Tynecastle that was still allowing in people when we got there. Hearts impressively nearly sold out their 30,000 allocation, meaning they were taking more fans than fit in Tynecastle. From the pub we took the short walk to Murrayfield. There was just a large group of fanatic Hearts fans walking as well, who were singing some sectarian songs. Games against Celtic unfortunately bring out the extremes in the Hearts support, while normally sectarianism isn’t much of a problem in football in Edinburgh. The game was close in the first half and I started thinking Hearts might pull off a win. Early in the second half, Celtic scored a penalty. A howler by the Hearts goalkeeper resulted in the 2-0, after which Celtic never looked in danger anymore. A distance shot resulted in the final score of 3-0.

I’m glad I went to this game as Murrayfield is an impressive stadium and it might be many years before football is being played again there.

Posted in Scottish League Cup | Leave a comment

Game #49: Ross County v Greenock Morton

Game #49:
Ross County v Greenock Morton
Scottish Championship
Ground: Victoria Park, Dingwall
Date: 27/10/2018
Result: 5-0
Attendance: 3,481

Another long journey awaited me this time. I took the train from Dundee via Perth to Inverness, where I took the bus to Dingwall to visit Ross County v Greenock Morton. Dingwall is a lovely town and I’m happy I took some time walking around and seeing the place before going for my usual pre-match drink.

Ross County got formed in 1929 as a merger of local clubs Dingwall Victoria United and Dingwall Thistle. Both clubs played in the North Caledonian League, but applied for a place in the Highland League together. Ross County was the club that became a part of the Highland League as a result. They won the title in 1967, 1991 and 1992 and also earned themselves a reputation as “giant killers” in the Scottish Cup with the best result being a 0-4 away victory against Forfar Athletic in January 1994. Only 3 days after that famous victory, they got elected to the Scottish Football League together with Inverness Caledonian Thistle after restructuring created 2 new places in Division Three. In 1999 they won the division and got promoted, followed by another promotion in 2000 when re-structuring of the leagues saw them end up in the First Division. In 2007 they got relegated, but they returned immediately. In 2012 they got promoted to the Scottish Premier League. They remained in the top flight until relegation in 2018.

Ross County have played at Victoria Park from their foundation in 1929. There are 4 all-seater stads, with me sitting on the main (west) stand. The away fans were located in opposite east stand. Remarkable thing is that the capacity of the ground (6,541) is larger than that the population of Dingwall (5,491). However, the club draws support from the wider county. There is a nice bar under the main stand from which you can enter the ground and see a part of the pitch, hence why the bar is only accessible to people with a ticket. The game was very one-sided with Ross County easily seeing off a woeful Greenock Morton, the final score was 5-0. This was another good trip and again I encountered many very friendly people. Altogether a great day out.

Posted in Championship | Leave a comment