Glasgow is famous for many attractions, cultural wonders, and the greatest humour on the planet. As Scotland’s biggest city, it plays an incredibly important role in how Scotland is perceived. Glaswegians are famous around the world with a ridiculous amount of notable people calling the place home. The city and its surrounding areas also play host to a huge number of football clubs. The sport is imbedded into the framework of the area, and probably always will be. Rangers and Celtic will always control the landscape when it comes to media coverage, but there are plenty of hidden gems peeking their head out looking for a break.
One of the newest names in Glasgow’s football empire is Glasgow United Football Club. Don’t be fooled though: Glasgow United have a huge history to delve through. Famously known as Shettleston Juniors until 2021, their presence in Glasgow’s East End has played a huge part in a huge number of lives. Founded way back in 1903, the club has been seen as one of the more notable names in the Scottish Junior game. They have been regarded as a key hub in nurturing countless future professional players in the junior leagues, even receiving record British transfer fees for players. Plenty of league titles and regional cups fill the trophy cabinet with exciting memories of years gone by. Unfortunately, the Scottish Junior Cup is missing. In 1959, in front of over 65,000 supporters at Hampden, Shettleston came short: losing 2-1 to Irvine Meadow.
Presently, Shettleston have left their Junior roots and joined the Scottish senior football pyramid as part of the newly formed West of Scotland Football League. A huge number of former Junior clubs followed them in what is arguably the most exciting part of the new system. A new era needed a new name and thus, Glasgow United came to life. The club finished 9th in the WoSFL Conference ‘B’ last season, enough to earn a place in the restructured Second Division.
Today, I am excited to be attending the first game of the brand-new season in the West. Opening day always brings a sense of fluttering expectation, conscious worry, and a feel of the unknown. In the lower leagues, it signifies the return of local football. Punters gather to take in their community team, get behind new players and cheer on those they already love. I always feel privileged to watch games at this level. Today is no different.
Saturday arrived, and I headed to Greenfield Park to watch a Glasgow derby. Glasgow United took on Glasgow Perthshire to kick-off the new season. Here. We. Go!
Greenfield Park has been the home to my hosts for almost ninety years. Opening in 1933, the old ground looks as though it has plenty of stories to tell. A huge positive with weathered stadiums like this is how unique they are. No two parts are the same.
As you enter behind the goals, plenty of grey stairways, ramps and terracing are clear to see. The dugouts are tiny and battered and the terrace roof is rusty and discoloured. It all looks a bit uneven, pitch included. The word ‘character’ comes to mind. It’s a classic ‘sit where you want’ kind of situation, where bums are plonked on hardened benches behind the goal and cracked, grey concrete parallel to the pitch length. Even the nets are a bit imperfect, reminding me of the goals you’d play with at a boy’s club level.
None of these are negatives. I love grounds like this, where there is clearly so much history. It is built in the centre of the community and is easily accessible for locals. There is no bad view of the park with all four sides open to supporters. Furthermore, the snack bar is tremendous, integrated to the public outside and supporters inside.
The Shettleston Juniors Social Club is a place I have experience in. It’s a superb venue attached to the ground with cheap drink and a great atmosphere. I was there before the 2016 Scottish Cup Final amongst a wave of other Hibernian fans awaiting that special day in May. It’ll remain part of one of the best days of my life.
Grounds like Greenfield Park are the ones you long to see in person. They are rarely talked about, but you cannot help but feel part of history when you experience it. It’s not aesthetically pleasing by modern standards, but if its not broken, don’t fix it. 3/5.
The noise around Greenfield Park was limited. I was a bit surprised at the lower numbers in attendance, particularly for the first game of the new season. However, those who did take in the match were in good spirits. I overheard chats of positive expectation for the season ahead and a buzz for the fresh team on the park. A good mix of loyal, older supporters were mixed with younger fans enjoying the day with their pals and a carry-out. It all blended well into a good atmosphere on an individual level, where each group provided their own noise, in comparison to bigger stadia where supporters are usually in unison. Regardless, these punters were here to enjoy some local football, and that itself is a win. 2/5.
Quality of the Match
With the new season kicking off with much anticipation, Glasgow United started much the more positive. Central midfielder Dexter Morrison came close after five minutes. His strike from twenty-five yards hit the top of the Perthshire bar and away to safety.
The Town’s electric start would be rewarded soon after. Some excellent midfield work by Paul Gordon saw the ball out to winger Jack Campbell. Skinning a defender in the process, he switched play to compatriot Dylan Martin and ventured into the box. Martin’s cross deflected into the path of striker James Gallagher, who with plenty of space and time cut the ball back to Campbell. With an open goal and a beaten ‘keeper, he couldn’t miss. It’s a goal I’d have been proud of scoring in FIFA 14. 1-0 United.
United were controlling the game well and could have been a couple of goals up by the twenty-minute mark. A thirty-yard free-kick looked goal bound, but Morrison’s effort was matched well by Banks in the Perthshire goal. Another good play from Dexter Morrison saw his spread find Martin on the wing, but again his effort was parried wide.
A second goal arrived. A superb bursting run by Jack Campbell saw him leave two Perthshire defenders in his wake before cutting the ball back for Paul Gordon. The midfield technician hit it first time with his left through a wall of bodies from twenty yards. The low drive may have caught Banks off guard, with the ball taking a bounce off the ‘keeper and into the net. United certainly deserved their two-goal lead.
Perthshire were struggling to find their rhythm, with long balls clearly not working. When playing the ball on the deck, they began to create opportunities. Firstly, a good cross in from right-back McIntyre found Munro free on the penalty spot. His close-range header was fired straight at Town ‘keeper Ewan Roche. He did well to react quickly, but a better header was required. Secondly, Patterson did well to turn his defender and surge into the box. His cut back found teammate Butler, with his striker’s shot being saved down low by Roche.
At the other end, Banks was called into action once more. More fantastic play by the United forward line resulted in Gordon setting up Gallagher. From a tight angle, Banks’ positioning did all the work as he saved yet another shot on target. United went into the half full of confidence and two goals up.
Half Time: Glasgow United 2-0 Glasgow Perthshire
With much to do in the second half, Perthshire needed a big performance. However, it was United who would start the final forty-five on the front foot. Jack Campbell continued to run riot down Perthshire’s right-hand side. He beat his man once more and crossed well from the by-line. He found James Gallagher who, with the entire goal at his mercy, hit his close-range strike against Banks’ legs. It looked easier to score, but it remained two-nil.
The second period wilted out as quickly as it began. No real opportunities presented themselves over the course of the thirty or so minutes, with most strikes on goal coming from Perthshire. However, they were largely pot-shots from outside the box with little chance of hitting the net. United did not look in any danger of conceding, with plenty of substitutions killing the momentum of the match for both sides.
They did have one final chance to add insult to injury. Substitute Matthew McLevy slipped in Craig Thomson, whose narrow-angled strike struck the post with force. The following corner saw the end of proceedings, with United ending the afternoon with a comfortable victory.
Full Time: Glasgow United 2-0 Glasgow Perthshire
The Town will be incredibly satisfied with their opening day win. They largely controlled the game through intricate play which exposed their opponents’ weaknesses. Jack Campbell ran riot down the right-hand side and easily could have contributed more goals and assists today. He looks a really good player. Midfielder Paul Gordon also had a fabulous game. His technical ability shone through, allowing him to contribute to most attacks. His left foot looked very dangerous. However, a special mention must go to maestro Dexter Morrison. I felt he strolled today’s game and looked incredibly comfortable all afternoon. His passing range, dribbling ability and conscious football mind made him a stand-out. For me, he will be one of the players of the division.
Perthshire will be disappointed to start the season so poorly. They had a couple chances here and there but looked largely unconvincing going forward. Their longball tactics did not work and will need to head back to the drawing board. However, there are a few individuals who looked a good level. With further cohesion, they look as though they have potential to have a positive season.
Overall, I was treated to a wonderful first-half full of excitement, chances, and technical ability. A couple of good goals and excellent individual performances made this journey more than worth it. Despite a fizzled out second period, I saw more than enough to cement the belief that there are gems in the lower leagues. This match deserves a 2.5/5.
As always, pricing at this level is incredible value. Glasgow United are a proud community club, and their prices reflect this. Admission is an exceptional £5, a quid cheaper than most of their league counterparts. Options at the snack bar looked great, but I opted for a coffee only, setting me back another quid. £6 for a ninety-minute game and a drink is unreal. 5/5.
Glasgow United finish with a respectable 12.5/20. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at a grand old ground filled with history and community vibrancy. This is only the beginning of an exciting new era for Glasgow United, and they look well equipped be a contender for the next step up. I look forward to seeing how their journey progresses.