2022 is alive and well. Omicron is still rife, and the Tories are having wild work events they can’t remember, but at least football fans are back in Premiership stadiums from Monday. What a time to be alive. Despite the 500-fan limit over the past few weeks, lower league clubs have been powering on with their season as best they can. It has been pleasing to see supporters up and down the country heading off to their local clubs to take in the beautiful game for the basic activity it is, watching a game of football. I hope those who have witnessed some local action enjoyed it and provide their clubs with support and publicity in the future. It’s the least we can do.
This weekend’s match takes me to Springburn, where Petershill FC ply their trade. As one of the more recognisable names in west of Scotland folklore, The Peasy were formed in 1897 and have remained a stalwart in the community ever since. Crowds from all over Glasgow’s north and east sides would flock to see the team, some official numbers totalling 19,000 upwards at one point. It is genuinely mind-blowing to think of how popular the junior game was in decades past.
In terms of success, Peasy are no strangers. A huge collective of silverware lies within the cabinets of New Petershill Park, justifying the huge number of punters attending games. The club have amassed an incredible number of Central Leagues, Glasgow Junior Cups and West of Scotland Cups in their time, but no achievements come close to the junior Holy Grail. Petershill have reached the final of the Scottish Junior Cup an outrageous nine times, lifting the cup on five of those visits. In a six-year period between 1912 and 1918, the club paraded the trophy around Springburn three times. They’re a popular club, and a big deal around these parts.
I’ve been eager to attend a Petershill match since my ‘groundhopping’ travels began in July last year. On a mild winter afternoon, I made the trip to New Petershill Park to take in the club’s West of Scotland Conference ‘C’ match against league strugglers Lanark United. With Peasy pushing top spot after last week’s terrific win over leaders Drumchapel United, I was looking forward to seeing what this exciting side could do.
Once again, work commitments meant I was in Glasgow’s core on Saturday morning. After finishing up my events for the day and gazing into the new Batgirl film set next to St Enoch’s, I was on my way to Springburn. It’s nice to see Glasgow’s unique architecture and atmosphere in the spotlight on the big screen. An easier than I anticipated jaunt north through the city centre brought me to today’s venue with plenty of time to spare. Finding New Petershill Park is simple, with plenty spectators’ cars already parked in alignment ready for the game. After pulling in, I was no different.
New Petershill Park is a relatively new multi-use venue in the heart of Springburn’s community. As well as the fantastic football facilities, NPP also hosts a gymnasium, dance studio, health suite, a bar and a function room. Upon entry, it is clean, organised, and homely. It pays tribute to the multitude of club sides the ground hosts, including women’s football giants Glasgow City, with pendants and memorabilia decorating the walls. After being welcomed at the door by friendly club staff, a door leads you outside where you are greeted by a flawless artificial playing surface.
NPP really is a great place to watch football for all. A 500-seater stand is the main attraction, consisting of two sections of regular seating with raised benches either side and small standing sections behind them. Three sides of the park are accessible, with a miniscule, raised embankment just behind the dugouts – presumably for away supporters on the busier occasions. Behind the goal to my left, I spotted an interesting feature to keep younger audiences entertained; a Teqball table. For those not familiar, the sport is essentially played in a ping-pong style on a similar sized but curved table, using your head, literally. I would highly recommend.
On the far side of the stand, The Coffee Cabin can supply your food and drink needs with approachable service and decent prices. I personally picked up a fancy-ass latte before taking my seat for the entertainment ahead. Furthermore, a huge shout out to whoever creates the match programmes. It was a terrific and informative read, with plenty of facts, statistics and data on today’s opponents and the leagues around the club. When you visit, make sure to pick up a copy.
Overall, I really, really like NPP. It has a wonderful setting, a comfortable feel and is clearly a mainstay in the community. It is not difficult to see why the venue is experienced in hosting UEFA Women’s Champions League football. I hope to return one day to experience it for myself. 4/5.
With the game kicking off, plenty of punters from both sides of today’s game flooded out of the function rooms almost at once. It is easy to identify the Petershill loyal. Numerous supporters kitted out in Peasy-branded scarves and jackets. This is clearly a support base intertwined with loyalty to their local side for a lifetime.
Despite limited noise throughout the match, the friendly community feel was clear. Old pals getting together to catch up, talk football and watch the match is a wholesome experience to be a part of, and something I enjoy whilst on my travels. Lanark brought a decent number of their blue and white army, providing encouragement and showcasing their own deep affiliations with the local club.
I enjoyed the good size of crowd for this match. However, I suspect a larger game in the broad spectrum of the season may bring a louder and more enthusiastic atmosphere. There are no negative connotations with this though, and I look forward to returning to NPP when the stakes are a bit higher. 2.5/5.
Quality of the Match
Heading into today’s spectacle, Petershill were pushing for top spot in Conference ‘C’ against a Lanark United side languishing at the bottom of the table. However, very little separated the two teams in the first ten minutes. A mixture of poor long-balls and tenacious ball-winning midfielders stopped any one side stringing any more than three passes together. The first big chance of the game came to Peasy midfielder Craig Quinn. He controlled a loose ball well in the box, but his half-volley was aimed directly into the chest of Lanark goalkeeper David Cherrie.
Half an hour passed and Petershill began to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Stephen Docherty came close after a wonderful touch and turn at the edge of the box. At a slight angle he arrowed the ball towards the far corner, with his spectacular effort being met by an equally impressive save from Cherrie. It began a largely frustrating afternoon for the Peasy striker, who was sent through on goal a minute later. A poor first touch saw the chance go begging though, a common theme moving forward.
Petershill began to dominate. With David Cherrie pulling off saves left and right, it would take a lapse of concentration to provide the breakthrough. After a long ball sent forward by Peasy ‘keeper Steven McNeil, a well won header by David Aubrey sent Docherty on his way once again. The striker managed to reach the ball ahead of towering centre back Dom Chiedu, who got his legs tangled with his maroon-cladded opponent in the box. To me, it looked an obvious penalty. The referee agreed and gave Petershill the opportunity to break the deadlock. Ross McCabe stepped up confidently to drill the ball into the top-right corner and give the home side a well-deserved opener.
The Yowes woke up straightaway and finally created a few chances of their own. The best of the bunch fell to striker Jake Hughes. A few awkward bounces in the Peasy box saw McNeil hesitant to rush out to meet the ball. Hughes’ lunging effort was not enough on this occasion, however. Lanark’s number ten had another chance soon after. After skipping past two Peasy defenders, the angle proved too tight for his left footed drive, which flew wide of the post.
With Lanark beginning to showcase what they could do; their task was about to get increasingly difficult. Chiedu, already on a booking, lunged in on Petershill attacker Ronan Sweeney. His rash decision deservedly resulted in a second yellow to send the defender into the changing rooms a minute before the half-time whistle. It meant the visitors went into the half a goal down and a man short.
Half time: Petershill 1-0 Lanark United
Petershill met expectations in the second half and dominated throughout. Sweeney started the pressure off with a sly chip to the back post, but with no takers, Lanark lived another day. A wave of corners came Peasy’s way in a mixture of both short and long. A short corner to right-back Luke Watt brought the defender within shooting range, but his weak-footed strike fell comfortably in Cherrie’s arms.
Further chances came and went for Petershill. However, a well struck volley from Sweeney, a blazed effort from Quinn and a saved effort from substitute Ben Harwood couldn’t hit the Lanark net, much to the frustration of the majority of NPP. The Yowes were defending resolutely and began to push their own pressure. A deflected effort met the head of Hughes inside the box, which luckily for the home side landed comfortably in McNeil’s gloves. It was beginning to feel like Peasy may rue the multitude of squandered chances coming their way.
With five minutes to go, Petershill cranked up the heat once again. Luke Watt’s excellent work on Lanark’s right-hand side took him into shooting range for a second time. His exquisite driven effort was once again beaten wide by the Yowes stopper, who was putting in an assured performance.
Finally, the Peasy support breathed a huge sigh of relief. After another ball sent through for Docherty, the striker had his goalward strike blocked. The resulting rebound fell kindly to Craig Quinn who showed similar composure to Andrea Pirlo’s panenka against England. He coolly lifted the ball over David Cherrie, to a huge roar from the Peasy faithful. The midfielder’s muted celebration was perhaps a release of frustration after several missed chances to extend Petershill’s goal difference.
Full time: Petershill 2-0 Lanark United
Petershill’s dominating performance will be pleasing for the home side. On another day, Peasy’s afternoon could have been far more comfortable had they been more clinical. A large reason for Petershill’s attacking prowess fell to the battling performance of the midfield. For me, Antony Eadie controlled the middle of the park and worked incredibly hard to set up attacks for his side. He went about his business efficiently and impressed throughout the ninety minutes. On the right, Luke Watt powered up and down all game. He looked comfortable in defence and dangerous in attack, with the right-back whipping in tempting crosses and vigorous set-pieces. Overall, Petershill will be delighted with the end result, but will be naturally disappointed with how open the game was left. With an energetic and technical squad, I would expect them to push Drumchapel and Neilston for promotion this season.
This is the second time I have seen Lanark United this season, with defeats occurring both times but not without their own missed opportunities. Had the team not gone down to ten, I suspect the game would have been closer. The Yowes will be disappointed not to have been clinical themselves but will take confidence from their brave and battling defensive performance, especially if David Cherrie keeps putting in dominating goalkeeping performances. I wish the club well for the rest of the season.
On the whole, I was thoroughly entertained by today’s spectacle. I was treated to a whirlwind of chances, some fantastic individual performances and plenty of talking points. I feel a score of 3/5 for this match is a fair assessment.
Like every club at this level, Petershill provide an affordable matchday experience for everyone. I paid £8 for entry, £1.50 for a programme and £2 for a coffee which for me, is outstanding value. Easily, the pricing scores a comfortable 5/5.
Petershill score an impressive 14.5/20 and move themselves into the upper echelons of the TSFA League Table. I really enjoyed my trip to NPP and feel good about ticking the ground off my list. As a bonus, I was treated to an entertaining match, a superb facility, and a welcome atmosphere. I’ll be back soon enough for my inaugural SWPL match when Glasgow City will be under the microscope. I’m looking forward to it.