Sunday, 16 January 2011

Ground down

Oh dear Fantasy Bob is in joke free territory again.

In commenting on Fantasy Bob's posting on Lesley Riddoch's Scotsman article earlier this week, a reader referred to Richard Young's study of lost cricket grounds in the West of Scotland.  FB recommends a scan of this document.  It is a true tragedy to think of so many clubs and grounds lost, probably for ever.  And disappointing to see how local government seemed ineffective in developing any strategic approach on this issue.

This study led FB to think about the situation in the East of Scotland.  FB doesn't have comprehensive knowledge, and the tale doesn't seem quite as tragic as in the West, but there have been some notable changes in facilities. 

Where MSPs are now at the crease.
Jock's Lodge - possibly the greatest loss, home to Royal High, a once proud club (despite having had to endure FB in its ranks for a number of years) now amalgamated with Stew-Mel.  Jock's Lodge was a fine hard wicket with an imposing view of Arthur's Seat towering over it.  But it had a sink estate opposite it and its pavilion was a regular target for break-ins and vandalism.  The ground was sold for housing and a Safeways car park in the late 1980s as Royal High moved to characterless Barnton.  FB has searched the web in vain for a picture of cricket at Jock's Lodge.  But even earlier the Royal High School used a small playing field that is on the site of what is now the Scottish Parliament - as shown in the photo right.

Kirkcaldy/Bennochy - once home to a thriving East League Division 1 club.  A hilltop ground - you could see the haar rolling in up the Forth.  Home once to Ray Joseph the meanest most aggressive bowler in the league.  Also in the area Dunnikier Park - not so far from Kirkcaldy a scenic place to play cricket.  Is cricket still possible in either of these locations?

Changes have affected Raeburn Place, once home of Edin Accies, although cricket may return once the pavilion has sorted itself out; at Newfield where Accies are currently playing the second field along East Fettes Avenue was recently converted to 2 all-eather hocky pitches with the loss of a fine cricket square; Union Park Corstorphine - not everyone's favourite but a valuable public park none the less; Bangholm - a fine dry field if a bit tight.  Malleny Park at Currie used to have an adequate plastic track - now vandalised beyond redemption.

Cricket at Campbell Park
But there have been some additions.  A new plastic track at Inverlieth (albeit set at a quaint angle to the terrain) and similar at the Gyle (a pretty bleak place to play cricket but a pitch none the less).  Campbell Park in Colinton, has been brought into play in recent years - and who knows its wicket may even be rolled one of these years.

FB would be pleased if any of his readers with longer or better memories could add to this list or report on the situation elsewhere.

This is of course part of a much wider issue of concern as rapacious developers eye open space and all playing fields are vulnerable.  Cricket facilities need more tender loving care than many other facilities and the years of austerity that are heavily forecast may put pressure on local authorities and clubs that makes them vulnerable. 

FB commends the work of Fields in Trust to protect the balance.


  1. good post FB,

    other 'lost' grounds (or grounds no longer used for cricket) in the East would include:

    Canal Fields (next to Meggetland)
    City Hospital
    Cramond (not sure what the name of the ground was)
    Bangour Hospital (used by Livingston for several seasons)
    John Watsons School (now the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art)
    Atlas Steel Works (Armadale)
    Meadowmill Sports Centre (used by Preston Village)
    Fettes Ave (Police)?

    must be others

  2. CJE - many thanks. FB doesn't pretend tohave comprehensive knowledge of this area so it is good to have these reminders. A full list would be a good record. FB hopes if other readers have any other candidates they will comment.