Holm is Where the Heart Is – Clydebank FC – 04/09/2021

A sizeable crowd at Holm Park

Background

Clydebank are a club reborn. Their history in the in last forty or so years has been a rollercoaster to say the least. The club are a phoenix, rising from the ashes of the Clydebank FC best known for competing in the old Scottish Premier Division with raucous matchdays at Kilbowie being the norm. After severe and long-winded mismanagement, Clydebank found themselves without a home and bought out by a consortium from Airdrie who moved them to the North Lanarkshire town.

The current Clydebank were formed in 2003, with their debut season coming in 2003/04 in the West Region structure of the Scottish Junior system. Their success since then has been well-versed. A loyal following of 1000+ supporters a game watched their club climb the ranks and reach the final of the Scottish Junior Cup in 2009. The Bankies may have fallen to Auchinleck Talbot that day, but the fans had their club back. The only way was up.

On Saturday, I decided to see what the club were up to in their top of the table clash against Pollok FC. Both teams were riding high in the West of Scotland Premier Division and a highly competitive fixture was on the cards. Clydebank were unbeaten in the league going into the game, with an expectant Holm Park waiting for them.

The Journey

This was my longest journey so far, which seems pathetic considering it’s only a 35-minute drive away. I had finally broken the barriers of Lanarkshire and entered the unknown wilderness of West Dunbartonshire. A saunter across the M74, past the SECC and down past Yoker brought me to Holm Park. I swiftly parked across the road from Yoker train station and strolled the 10 minutes or so to the ground. Easy journey, easy to find, easy days.

Facilities

Clydebank currently groundshare Holm Park with Yoker Athletic. As you approach the ground, both clubs’ badges are proudly displayed either side of the entry gate. Holm Park has recently undergone some improvements, which are clear to see. The small stand on the right-hand side looks decent for what it is, and the embankments on both sides of the park allow a towering view of the game. I’ve always enjoyed an old-school feel to a ground, with supporters allowed to stand and gather with their pals at matches. The embankments provide exactly this and facilitated the ability for an atmosphere to gain traction.

A steakhouse on wheels around the corner meant plenty of food and drink options were available. As someone who doesn’t eat a lot of meat, I opted for chips & cheese. No complaints from me. The toilets were a welcome sight, having had to hold my desires at Caledonian Braves the week before. A flag in the corner waving Clydebank colours was also on display. It might seem daft, but I genuinely appreciate small things like this. Showcasing your brand is part of football and for clubs in Tier 5 or below, it’s important.

Overall, I really like Holm Park for what it is. There is enough room to feel comfortable, but it’s tight enough to provide a fiery atmosphere. I believe a score of 3.5/5 is suitable.

The wee stand starting to pack up.

Quality of the Match

Pollok started the game on the front foot and applied pressure from the offset. However, a comfortable save for Jamie Stevenson in the Clydebank goal was all they could muster in the first five minutes. The Bankies started slowly but had the first big opportunity of the game. A clear dive outside the Clydebank box was waved away by the referee and resulted in a quick and incisive break-away. A lovely through ball found it’s way to Hamish McKinley. His chance was squandered by what looked like an important save by Jordan Longmuir to divert the ball past the post. The referee gave a goal-kick, with Clydebank’s momentum slipping away as a result. Pollok gained the lead shortly after. Good play down the right-hand side resulted in a precise pass to cut open the Clydebank defence. Pollok striker Josh Weir smashed the ball in from an acute angle to give the visitors a well-worked lead.

They almost doubled their advantage with a looping volley towards goal. An airborne Stevenson produced a very aesthetically pleasing save, holding the ball well. Another good chance for the away side went array after a free header was nodded wide of the post. With four bookings between the teams in quick succession, Pollok ended the half strongly in a fiery contest.

Half time: Clydebank 0-1 Pollok

The second half started with heated intensity. Pollok had a good chance when Josh Weir saw his near post effort uncomfortably saved by Stevenson. Weir’s rebound across goal was cleared off the line by the Clydebank defence, who lived to see another day. Soon after, chaos erupted. What looked to be a strong but fair challenge on the edge of Clydebank’s box allowed the ball to be played forward to Hamish McKinley. With the Bankie’s striker in on goal, the referee blew his whistle. The crowd exploded. To make matters worse, Frazer Johnstone was shown his marching orders for an apparent ‘off the ball’ incident, after the referee discussed it with the linesman at length. The home side were now a man down after being on the verge of equalising.

The home crowd did not have much time to regain their breath as the hosts looked to be playing better with ten men and saw this as a ‘nothing to lose’ opportunity. A good ball swung in from Clydebank’s left saw Adam Hodge free at the back stick. His uncontested header soared over the bar seeing a huge opportunity squandered. The match swiftly began to turn into a basketball match with quick breaks at both ends. Pollok’s Josh Weir blasted a strike over the bar from close range before a fantastic save by Longmuir denied Clydebank a forceful equaliser. Jamie Stevenson had another good save to make as he tipped a low, driven shot round the post. Clydebank’s final opportunity to rescue the game came with minutes to go. A huge scramble in the box was eventually cleared by a desperate Pollok defence who wiped the sweat from their forehead.

Their reward came a minute later. Clydebank’s gaps at the back were penetrated with a swift counter-attacking move. Adam Forde found himself cutting in on his left foot before sweeping the ball past a diving Stevenson. A lovely finish. With almost the last kick of the ball, Pollok had doubled their advantage and officially killed the game.

I feel as though this game was decided on very fine margins. Pollok deservedly lead at half time. Their constant pressure was telling, with their midfield controlling the engine room. Clydebank came back strong after the interval, and if it wasn’t for the sending off, I wonder if they’d have been able to roar back into the contest.

Full time: Clydebank 0-2 Pollok

Overall, I saw a highly entertaining encounter. Plenty of bookings, tackles and heated on-field debates provided ample fuel for the proverbial fire. Two well taken goals, an even contest and a highly debatable red card gives this match a strong 3.5/5.

Atmosphere

Holm Park provided the biggest and loudest crowd of my travels so far. Hundreds of supporters from both clubs poured in and quickly filled the embankments up with excitement and expectancy. With these two clubs being some of the largest names in the junior game, this size of crowd is hardly surprising. Supporters of all ages were present, further representing the history the clubs bring to the Scottish game.

I’m not sure if there’s a huge rivalry between Clydebank and Pollok, but the game certainly played out like one. A heated encounter saw late challenges, a multitude of bookings and the aforementioned red card. Naturally, with such high stakes, the crowd added an intense atmosphere as these events took place and provided the noise that we’ve all craved during the COVID months. 4/5.

Pricing

I paid £7 for this experience, and it was worth every penny. Although this level of pricing is relatively the same throughout the Premier Division, it felt like a steal due to the size of both clubs and the importance of the game. I also paid £4 for my chips & cheese, which I honestly have no comparison for. The vast majority of clubs in Tier 5 and below will receive a score of 5/5. Clydebank are no different.

Final Score

Clydebank score a high 16/20 to push them up towards the higher places in the Scottish Football Adventures League Table. A thoroughly enjoyable experience that opened my eyes to just how much history and loyalty Clydebank FC have. I’ll be back one day.

– Connor

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