Raydale Park (Gretna)

Gretna currently play in the East Of Scotland League, part of the Scottish non-league set up. Despite them being sat on the west coast this is the perfect sort of crazy this club thrives on. After all, the last time I visited Raydale Park just three years ago this was an SPL ground.

IMG_3021

Yes, as in Scottish Premier League. I visited Gretna by mistake once with a friend, as they were the closest team whose game had beaten the snow. We arrived 30 minutes late and enquired on arrival about programmes. We were told there were none, until a scruffy bloke sidled up to us on the terrace and said he should be able to get us one.

IMG_3029

Ten minutes later and we both had one in our hands, free of charge no less. The scruffy bloke with a roll-up in his hand who got us the programme? None other than Brooks Mileson, Gretna’s then owner and chairman who subsequently bankrolled the tiny little village team from English non-league football to playing in the Scottish top flight, cup finals and even European football.

IMG_3037

Ridiculously, Raydale never hosted an SPL match due to a rule that clubs must play in a 6,000 dearer stadium (the entire population of Gretna is a quarter of that), and after Brooks’ death the club folded, reformed and battled their way back into Raydale after a brief hiatus in neighbouring town Annan.

IMG_3023

 

Not a lot has changed since I last visited Raydale some two or three tears ago. Amazingly, the temporary stand they had built to satisfy demand for a cup game against SPL side Dundee United is still in place, now with a roof. In fact, the only thing not there is the old terracing behind one of the goals. It gives the ground a slightly spooky feel to it, as if it’s missing something, and frustratingly it will be a long, long time until this is ever replaced, if at all.

IMG_3020

One of the most pleasing things is as I walked around the outside of the ground, snapping away, I was promptly invited in by the groundsman for a wander around. We had a chat about the old days, I got some fantastic photos and he backed up why I fell in love with this friendly little club. I dare say it’ll be a long time until a club invite me in off the street when I’m taking photos again.

God bless Gretna.

IMG_3041

IMG_3032

IMG_3026

IMG_3043

 

IMG_3018

IMG_3048

IMG_3031

 

IMG_3046

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s