Saturday, 5 February 2011

Grounds of hope

An imposing frame...
Arriving at Airdrie United's 10,171 all-seater Excelsior Stadium, still known to most of their supporters as New Broomfield, is a bit of a culture shock. This palace of football (relatively speaking) is an SFL Second Division football ground? Surely not...

Well, its beneficiaries - not the favourite club in the league, given their emergence in 2002 at the expense of Clydebank - certainly have aspirations greater than that. Don't mention the words "SPL2". Nor around here, anyway. But in the meantime it served very nicely as Dumbarton's visiting theatre of dreams on a chilly Tuesday night earlier this week.

As the indispensible online Scottish Football Ground Guide puts it: "The Excelsior is a smart looking all seated ground comprising four separate, single tiered, covered stands. The Jack Dalziel Stand (named after a former Airdrieonians Chairman) at one side of the pitch, is the largest of the four stands. Impressive looking, it has a row of executive boxes running across the back. The other three stands are of an equal height which gives the ground a balanced look. The corners of the ground are open apart from the tall floodlights."

Actually, it looks rather larger than its ten thousand capacity. Whereas, in my experience, many lower league English grounds seem smaller than they really are.  It also has the merits of being well designed, if not over imaginative, and very unlike the hideous soap boxes that emerged in the 199os among clubs that had to upgrade but couldn't afford a graduate architect.

As for the artificial pitch - well, I retain and inherent bias against them, but I have to confess that as utility playing surfaces they have improved beyond all recognition since they days of those hideous, lumpy, bouncy monstrosities that QPR and others introduced to the world way-back-when. Give me manicured grass and day, though.

No comments: