Like many others who have documented Maryhill FC in recent years, it feels like a sheer privilege to even be able to do so. In June 2019, the club issued a call for help. Financially, they were in bits. With a GoFundMe page set up, Maryhill received donations from far and wide but still looked in a lot of trouble. The unthinkable looked imminent. A club with over 130 years of history looked to be doomed. Then, weirdly enough, two sports joined forces to save The Hill. Glasgow based wrestling company Insane Championship Wrestling stood up and sponsored the club with enough cash to keep them afloat. With Scottish icon Grado and WWE wrestler Drew McIntyre amongst their alumni, ICW owner (and Maryhill local) Mark Dallas deserves a lot of credit for the work done for his community. His generosity and loyalty to the local football club will have meant so much to so many people.
In their long history, Maryhill have achieved more than most as a junior outfit. Through the late 1800s and early 1900s, The Hill were a big name in the Scottish Junior Cup. In a nineteen-year period, they finished runners up in the competitions four times and won the trophy outright once. They did add another Holy Grail to their cabinet in 1940, where in front of 26,000 at Celtic Park, they beat Morton Juniors 1-0 to secure the cup once more. The Maryhill trophy cabinet is also filled with a multitude of Central, Glasgow and Western titles. However, the last came a wee while ago, winning the Central District League Cup in 2006.
The club will be looking to add more silverware sooner rather than later after joining the senior leagues. After an 8th place finish in the West of Scotland Conference ‘A’ last season, they find themselves competing in the newly structured Second Division. It has been a slow start for The Hill though. Two defeats, no goals scored and five conceded leave them bottom of the table two games in. Today’s visitors Glasgow University arrive at Lochburn Park with a perfectly even record. One win, one loss, two scored, two conceded. This so called ‘West End Derby’ (not sure it will catch on) is the perfect opportunity for Maryhill to kickstart their season. The scene was set for a pulsating match.
The more grounds I visit in the Scottish lower leagues, the more I realise how incredibly unique a lot of the venues are. Each one has its own story to tell, perfectly in sync with its community and supporters.
Lochburn Park is no different, and I was pleasantly surprised by each aspect. The ground is situated in the middle of an industrial estate and would be very easy to miss if you were not actively looking for it. Its age-old black and red gates are the first element seen. It looks incredibly old-school and reminiscent of football grounds you see on Premier League Years in the early 90s. Entering through these gates allows the real attractions of Lochburn Park to make themselves known.
The Maryhill FC social club sits in a wee pavilion right next to the park. I was genuinely amazed by how modern, clean and welcoming the establishment is. It is decorated with plenty of Maryhill memorabilia, old team photos, signed tops and pendants from clubs up and down Scotland. It was also interesting to see pendants from the likes of London clubs Arsenal and Watford. I’d like to hear the story of how those ended up in Maryhill. The social club feels like the perfect wee hangout spot for a couple hours pre and post-match, where I was happy to learn iconic Scottish sitcom Still Game filmed a few scenes. My guest and I were more than happy to sink a few pints that’s for sure. Arguably the best part about this is ability to take your drinks out to the side of the pitch, so long as we brought our glasses back. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to drink and watch a football match in person before. It proved to be a popular element with the support and allowed for an easy-flowing atmosphere. The element of trust Maryhill provide their crowds must be commended.
As for Lochburn Park itself, it really is a thing of beauty. The pitch sits below all four sides with walls running the perimeter of the playing surface. It’s like watching a match in a massive shoebox. This is not a bad thing of any means, as it allows a superb view from any standing position in the arena. It also means the pitch is incredibly narrow, allowing for passing styles of play to shine. Each side of Lochburn Park is different. We stood next to the social club with most of the other supporters. The changing rooms are opposite with a weird looking warehouse roof-like structure holding it up. Opposite one goal is the single bleacher-style seating area while the other is a standing area with good-looking graffiti styling its walls. Words can only do so much justice though. Get yourself to Lochburn Park to experience it yourself. Between the social club and the park itself, it deserves a score of 4.5/5.
In terms of numbers, I was expecting a wee bit more. Maryhill’s SPFL team Partick Thistle were away from home, suggesting there may be a Jags contingent supporting their lower league club. It didn’t appear Glasgow Uni brought a great deal of support either.
However, with the drink flowing and an exciting match on the pitch the noise levels were decent. Even with their club 2-0 down, the Maryhill loyal kept their heads and encouraged their team on. For a team who were bottom of the league at this point with no goals to their name, fair play. I feel it deserves a score of 2/5.
Quality of the Match
Today’s entertainment started off sluggishly, with both sides putting out well needed feelers. The first real chance fell for the hosts on the ten-minute mark. A wonderful through ball sent Adam Bridges on his way. One-on-one with the Uni ‘keeper, his weak strike was saved comfortably on the ground.
This scare wakened the Uni players, who responded with a chance of their own. Their number nine* lead the line relatively well in the first half and should have put them in front. He made his way into the Maryhill box, wriggled away from a couple challenges before misfiring a shot wide of the post. A wasted opportunity.
Further chances came few and far between in the first half. A midfield battle ensued with neither team really coming out the better.
Glasgow Uni did the take the lead close to the whistle. A free kick won on the far side swept to the back post was met by the The Students’ number five. His header fell to number ten, whose deflected strike flew past the trialist Maryhill ‘keeper.
However, there was time for two more opportunities for the home side. Firstly, a free kick was swept just wide by Callum Imrie before a strike from the edge of the box by Shaun Roberts also flew past the post.
Half Time: Maryhill 0-1 Glasgow University
The second period started as it meant to go on. A floated free kick to the back post by Bridges was directed goalwards by a Uni defender, forcing a decent save from the away ‘keeper.
Despite Maryhill pressure, Glasgow Uni doubled their lead. A corner directed to the back was met well by Uni’s number five, who had the simple task of heading home. Two-nil to the Uni, with a long way back for the hosts.
Maryhill responded in rapid fashion. Five minutes after conceding they had a golden opportunity to cut the deficit. Pacey striker Haydn Long broke into the box and was taken down, with the penalty being awarded instantly. Jack MacLaren stood up to the task and fired the ball into the bottom corner. Game on.
The hosts had the tails up and pushed for an equaliser. MacLaren twisted and turned away from his defender before unleashing a great strike. It may have been saved well by the Uni ‘keeper but it proved to be a wonderful statement of intent.
Step up Adam van den Brink. After being subbed on in the seventieth minute, he made an immediate impact. After being sent for a run on the right, his pinpoint cross found the head of MacLaren whose goalward effort could not be stopped. The comeback had been complete, but the hosts would not stop there.
Four minutes later, Van den Brink was sent through after great work by Ward. Van den Brink took a single touch before firing a left-footed effort into the far corner much to the delight of the home support. An unbelievable strike that ensured Maryhill’s turnaround.
Shellshocked, Glasgow Uni were suddenly searching for an equaliser. They almost achieved it through their number eleven. After dancing away from his defender his strike could only be hit straight at the ‘keeper.
The winger had a final opportunity to level the game. A good dummy and solo run looked to send hearts into mouths for the Maryhill support, but thankfully his end strike could only directed into the gloves of the home goalkeeper.
Naturally, the final whistle was greeted by extended cheers, applause, and excitement. If there’s a way to get your first three points of the season, its by coming back from two goals down.
Full Time: Maryhill 3-2 Glasgow University
I thoroughly enjoyed today’s entertainment. It is incredibly rare to see a team perform a comeback like this. Even after having the majority of the chances, the home side found themselves two-nil down. It takes a lot of heart, belief, and perseverance to force a way back into a match. Maryhill achieved this in some style. You certainly can’t bat your eyes at five goals, a marvellous comeback, and some wonderful individual performances. I feel the match deserves a good score of 3.5/5.
For a match of this quality, we paid a mere £6 for entry. Pints were well priced at £3 each, with the legendary Maryhill breakfast pie costing £2.50. This level of football is always incredible value. Maryhill represented this well today. 5/5.
Maryhill end the weekend with a score of 15/20. I loved the experience at Lochburn Park and feel it is a must-visit when it comes to lower league Scottish football. It is a truly unique venue with a good level of football, a superb social club and the incredibly rare ability to guzzle pints while watching a game. Do yourself a favour and get along. You won’t regret it.
*I could not for the life of me find any information on any of the Glasgow University player names or the 2022/23 squad in general.