Edinburgh. Embra’. Auld Reekie. Egg-in-burger. Scotland’s capital has a few interesting nicknames. Some nice, some not so much. Whatever your personal feelings and opinions on Edinburgh, its hugely significant historical and cultural importance has played a key role in how Scotland presents itself to the rest of the world.
I love Edinburgh. I grew up twenty minutes away in Dalkeith. As a city, Edinburgh is a wonderful mixture of old and new. Ancient and modern. I love the narrow closes and wide-open parks, the hidden pubs and thriving chains. The city speaks of legend, both of inquisitive scientific discovery as well as horrible and languishing dark practices. It is mesmerising at times. The view from Arthurs’ Seat is one I long to see for a lifetime. I moved to the West in 2017. The people of Glasgow are incredibly welcoming, friendly, and genuinely hilarious. However, as a city, Edinburgh will always have my heart.
The city has an extensive footballing culture largely dominated by Heart of Midlothian and my beloved Hibernian. Leith Athletic and St Bernards also had their time in the sun in the late 1800s/early 1900s but fell away relatively quickly. Since then, only four clubs have competed in the professional league system. Hibs, Hearts, Meadowbank Thistle and my hosts for today; FC Edinburgh.
Known as Edinburgh City until exactly a month ago, the club’s interesting change of branding needs a history lesson for context.
Chapter One – Founded in 1928, the original Edinburgh City were formed. They played as an amateur club, hoping to become the Edinburgh equivalent to Glasgow’s Queens Park. Playing in Edinburgh’s amateur leagues until 1946, the club struggled in professional football and left the set-up only three years later. They operated in the junior leagues until 1955, where the club were wound up and ceased activity.
Chapter Two – A new club in the city emerged in 1966. Named Postal United, they joined the East of Scotland League. During this time, the original club still existed through the Edinburgh City Social Club who continued trade despite the lack of actual football. They gave Postal United permission to use the Edinburgh City name in 1986, which they did until June 2022.
Chapter Three – After promotion to the third tier of the SPFL pyramid for the first time in history, the club wished to own the Edinburgh City name outright. The social club refused. With rumours of an expensive legal battle on the horizon, the club took proactive action and changed their name to FC Edinburgh, thus ending their affiliation with the Edinburgh City Social Club and subsequent Edinburgh City brand.
During their EC years, the club amassed a huge amount of success in the lower tiers and have since become Edinburgh’s third club. Their promotion from the Lowland League in 2016 made them the first outfit to achieve the feat since the expansion of the Scottish pyramid, which has since paved the way for plenty more. After five years of stability in League Two, promotion to League One was achieved in May 2022 after a dramatic victory over Annan Athletic.
Today, I get to experience the first competitive match played at the new Meadowbank. After years of ground-sharing with Spartans at Ainslie Park, Edinburgh are home. Arbroath are today’s visitors for a Premier Sports Cup group stage tie. Exciting new times await, and I’m buzzing to be a tiny part of these fresh beginnings.
This fixture signifies the return of Edinburgh to Meadowbank Stadium. The club had used the old Commonwealth Games site from 1996 and temporarily vacated in 2017 to allow reconstruction to take place. I’d visited Meadowbank in 2016 to watch Edinburgh take a huge step towards promotion from the Lowland League. The old grandstand, the used up running track and legendary jumbo-screen scoreboard are very memorable. It had a weird and wonderful continental vibe.
Today, Meadowbank looks and feels different. The running track still exists. Of course, it is a multi-purpose facility used for athletics. The grandstand that once stood now exists in a much smaller frame. A 500 capacity three row stand runs parallel to the entire pitch. It looks fresh and feels very similar to East Kilbride’s. Naturally, there will be complaints that it is too far away for the pitch and does not give the perfect vantage point. While I am inclined to agree, it genuinely was not anywhere near as rough as a I thought it would be. Sat in the middle row, I felt I could comfortably see the entire playing surface. Other viewpoints are to be created on the opposite side in the very near future, quenching the thirst of those who want it.
The ground also provided a superb food van, where very friendly staff offered a wonderful variety of food and drink. Usually, refreshments go relatively quickly at the football and close after half-time. This one stayed open the entire time and had plenty to choose from at the game’s conclusion.
Overall, I would suggest patience is the name of the game here. After all, the facility is brand new, has plenty of room to grow and will eventually serve as an important community sports hub for the capital. It is nowhere near the finished picture, but as far as test-events go, this one was pretty strong. I look forward to returning when further work has been completed. 2.5/5
Edinburgh’s return to Meadowbank brought a sold-out crowd, with punters desperate to see their local club return to the ground with many precious memories. There is no doubt it is a family friendly atmosphere, with plenty of children turning out in the glorious sunshine and the mingling of supporters. A plethora of Arbroath fans travelled from Angus to watch their team and made themselves heard in key moments of the game. In terms of a traditional football atmosphere, it was quiet. This is by no means a negative in the grand scheme, but a more energetic energy has always been my personal preference. 2/5.
Quality of the Match
For the opening ten minutes, the teams sized each other up with neither pushing too hard. The first opportunity fell to Edinburgh key man Innes Murray. The creative midfielder is a firm fan favourite for the capital side, but his initial strike from 20 yards rolled wide of Derek Gaston’s goal.
The visitors created their first chance soon after. Some intricate one-touch football pushed Arbroath to the edge of the area, with Liam Donnelly’s curling effort being held easily by Sam Ramsbottom.
It felt fitting for Edinburgh to score the first goal of Meadowbank’s new era. It came in spectacular fashion after some good midfield work from Innes Murray. His touch and lob to marauding left-back Callum Crane was caught perfectly on the volley. The ex-Hibs youngster’s strike flew past Gaston to give Edinburgh the advantage.
It could and probably should have been two a short while after. With Edinburgh having the best of the forward play, a corner to the front post missed everyone and met Liam Fontaine’s right boot. The experienced centre-back swung at the ball from 6 yards out, but his effort trickled wide. A missed opportunity.
Arbroath pulled themselves into the game and earned their reward. Some excellent build up play saw Nicky Low find teammate Michael McKenna on the break. Goal scorer Callum Crane brought the Lichties’ man down inside the box, giving referee Gavin Duncan no option. Low stepped up and fired the penalty down the middle. Game on.
Edinburgh responded almost instantly. More good work from the Citizens midfield found Ryan Shanley in the visiting box. He twisted well and unleashed what seemed a goal bound strike. A handy deflection saw the ball fly just over the bar and out for the corner, ending the half’s drama.
Half Time: FC Edinburgh 1-1 Arbroath
The second half began similarly to the first. An excellent run forward by Edinburgh right back Ciaran Brian brought his team up the field. His low cross found Innes Murray in the box but the midfielder’s stretched effort from the penalty spot spun wide.
It was time for the goalkeepers to show their worth. Firstly, a well worked move found the ever-present Murray once more. His powerful strike was sent central but was good enough to force Gaston into an acrobatic tip over the bar. Two minutes later, a pinpoint strike by the impressive Nicky Low was met expertly by Ramsbottom. At full stretch, the Edinburgh goalkeeper pushed the ball over to keep the scores level.
Arbroath substitute Daniel Fosu was next to go close. After a succession of brave blocks, the ball was cut across box to find the big striker fifteen yards out. His powerful strike pummelled the bar and looked a missed opportunity. A corner was given though, with credit going to Ramsbottom for another excellent save.
The visitors did get their breakthrough. Nicky Low’s expert cross to the back post was met first time by Arbroath legend Bobby Linn. The striker’s controlled and purposeful effort flew into the far corner, much to the delight of the travelling Lichties. It was a very aesthetically pleasing finish.
Arbroath took the game by the scruff of the neck and ended the game as contest in style. Once again, Bobby Linn providing the goods. The striker cut inside from twenty-five yards and unleashed an unstoppable strike into Ramsbottom’s top corner. After his penalty miss in the play-offs last season, he is back to showing his undeniable talent so far this year.
Edinburgh fizzled out but did have one final chance. A powerful run up the left by Kieran MacDonald found teammate John Robertson. He jinked past two Arbroath defenders before firing over from a tight angle.
Full Time: FC Edinburgh 1-3 Arbroath
Edinburgh’s return to Meadowbank may not have ended in fairy-tale, but there are certainly plenty of positives to take from today’s match. For much of the match, they played toe-to-toe with a club inches away from playing Premiership football this season. They have the buildings of a successful team, with a healthy mix of youth and experience. This is well documented buy the centre-back pairing of Liam Fontaine and Jack Brydon. A Scottish Cup winning legend with Hibernian, he could be seen talking the on-loan Hibs youth player through the game. Brydon is incredibly talented himself and could prove to be key in his second spell with Edinburgh. The capital club will now aim for a successful League One campaign: the first in the club’s history. After today’s showing, I am confident they’ll provide plenty of problems for those challenging at the top.
Arbroath will be pleased with this result. After going a goal down, Dick Campbell’s side were unphased and played football how they knew they could. They adapted, passed the ball well and got the breaks they deserved. Bobby Linn will get the plaudits for his incredible strikes, but the Lichties midfield controlled the game for most of the contest. Michael McKenna showed his worth with a dominant display and Nicky Low proved to be an incredibly important playmaker. I can see Arbroath pushing for the play-offs once more, but I’m sure Dick Campbell will be happy with avoiding relegation!
Overall, I saw a very competitive game between two sides looking to impress. They both did in their own way. As an experience, I witnessed some excellent football, three wonderful goals and a genuinely interesting matchup. It scores a worthy 3.5/5.
I paid £12 for this Premier Sports Group Stage tie and felt it was worth every penny. To be a very small part of history for FC Edinburgh’s return to Meadowbank was a genuine pleasure. The food and drink were also reasonably priced for League One level. No complaints from me. 5/5.
The first club to be placed in the TSFA League Table for Season 2 scores a worthy 12.5/20. I enjoyed my visit back at Meadowbank and can appreciate the future work to be done. I’ll make sure to return to see the changes in action. Do yourself a favour and join me in their journey.