Livingston v St. Johnstone
Ground: Almondvale Stadium, Livingston
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.