I’ve travelled to East Lothian a few times now during my Scottish football quest. While I grew up a short distance away in Dalkeith, I have only begun to appreciate the wonderful landscapes, towns and people the county contains. If my visits to Tranent Juniors, Musselburgh Athletic, Preston Athletic and Haddington Athletic have taught me anything, its that the footballing nature within East Lothian is one based on a culture of community, challenge and purposeful hard work.
Many of the towns and villages in East Lothian were a general mix of rural farming and industrious production. The small settlement of Ormiston is no different and was in fact the first ‘planned’ village in Scotland, presumably to give a home to those who would be using the area’s potential for agricultural and coal mining. More people means more workers. Workers have breaks, and breaks mean time for organised sport. Enter football, and today’s hosts: Ormiston Primrose FC.
Said to have formed as early as 1890, Ormi have a bit of a raggedy history where a few different versions of the club have represented the village. It can maybe look a bit confusing, but I’ll try my best to make sense of it in a chronological order.
As said, the original club were formed in 1890 and largely competed in the local East of Scotland junior leagues. Although there is limited success in terms of silverware, they came incredibly close to lifting the pinnacle of Scottish junior football. In 1989, Ormiston reached the final of the junior ‘Holy Grail’ at Rugby Park, where they faced Cumnock Juniors for the right to lift the cup. However, a tap in from Cumnock’s Derek Love was enough to sent Primrose back to East Lothian with nothing but their heads held high.
A mile from Ormiston lies the village of Pencaitland. Similarly sized, the settlement’s football club was formed in 1919 and largely competed in the Amateur Leagues. After winning the Scottish Amateur Cup in 1984, they joined the East of Scotland set-up two years later. Pencaitland won the EoS First Division in 1995, thus gaining promotion to the Premier Division where they competed for four years. At this point, Ormiston Primrose and Pencaitland were separate entities.
This changed in 1999, where the two clubs chose to merge. From 1999, the club were named Pencaitland & Orimston FC (catchy, eh?), where they won the EoS First Division as a joint organisation before splitting again a few years later. Ormiston continued as simply Ormiston FC, while Pencaitland re-joined the amateur ranks as Pencaitland AFC. Unfortunately, the amateur club resigned from the LEAFA in October 2022. Hopefully they’ll be back kicking a ball in some capacity soon.
At the beginning of the 2022/23 season, Ormiston returned to their roots and are reusing the ‘Primrose’ suffix. Currently, they compete in the EoS Second Division and are finding their new surroundings difficult. Before start of play, the club find themselves languishing second from bottom, only propped up by Hawick Royal Albert. However, opponents Easthouses Lily are only a few positions ahead in the table, giving hope for both sides to achieve a much-needed win.
Primrose v Lily. A weird floral derby.
New Recreation Park is situated right on the edge of town, with layers of picturesque green fields in view on one side of the pitch. It is a fairly basic facility, with all four sides open to spectators with a small metal fence around the perimeter. Currently, there is no terracing or covered shelters, but this is something that is in the works for the next couple of years. The weather stayed dry today, but I can’t imagine it being much of a laugh in the pissing rain.
The new pavilion looks fantastic and is clearly an asset to the local community. Inside contains a fairly modern setting with plenty of equipment for local clubs and changing facilities for today’s teams. Parallel lies a small cabin where refreshments were served by kind and chatty volunteers. It was much appreciated.
Without any terracing, the best view in the house comes from a small embankment on the near side, where a few punters joined me in taking in today’s action. It is amazing how a small incline can give such a different view of the game.
Overall, I enjoy the setting surrounding New Recreation Park and the obvious local football feel It contains. There is clear work to do and facilities to build to make this feel like a proper arena, but for what it is at the moment there’s not much else you can ask for. I’m sure when supporters visit the ground in a year or two, there will be more to appreciate. For now, it scores a handy 2/5.
A small number of punters showed for today’s match up, leaving plenty of room on the embankment and fence. Local football is indeed important, but I wonder if Tranent’s match-up with Hearts B a few miles away impacted the attendance at New Recreation Park. Regardless, it is also important to recognise those who do make the journey to watch their local club. The handful of punters who did take in this league encounter would not be disappointed with the quality and passion on the pitch. I did also enjoy the number of dugs in attendance too.
A fair few Easthouses supporters travelled the short distance from Midlothian to take in this game, largely gathering beside the pavilion and alongside the Lillies’ dugout. They made to make plenty of noise in key moments in the game.
Overall, I feel this also deserves a sturdy 2/5.
Quality of the Match
Even at this stage in the league season, it feels as though is a must-win for both teams looking to avoid relegation. For Ormiston, the afternoon could not have started in a worse fashion. A corner two minutes in was met by a wall of hesitation, with not one Ormiston player taking responsibility of the ball. In the end, it bounced off the head of a defender, hit the post and went in. Disastrous.
Easthouses went close to a second ten minutes later. An excellent through ball from Number 10* saw striking partner Number 11 with just the trialist Ormiston ‘keeper to beat. The stopper did well to meet the strike and put it past for a corner.
Halfway through the half, Primrose went close to scoring themselves. A horrible back-pass from Easthouses’ Number 5 was intercepted by Jay Murray, before laying it off to Dylan Hamilton. His strike was saved terrifically by the Easthouses goalkeeper resulting in a ridiculous stramash. The ‘keeper produced another block with his feet before his defenders cleared two goal-bound efforts off the line. I genuinely have no idea how Ormiston didn’t score.
They did hit the back of the net soon after through an excellently worked short corner. Chris Hogg’s ball to the edge of the box was met by Jay Murray who whipped a superb ball to the back post. Midfielder Sean Ballard read the script and put the ball into the net with a diving header. A well-deserved equaliser.
Half Time: Ormiston Primrose 1-1 Easthouse Lily
With plenty on the line, the second half began with more bookings than chances. Tackles flew in, hands were raised and tempers flared. It would go on to create a tense atmosphere and a battle on the park.
Easthouses would strike first in the second period. Some well worked play out to Number 17 on the right saw a tempting ball to the back post. Number 11 gladly took the bait and made a good connection with the cross, bounding the ball into the net with the Houses’ bench erupting.
Ormiston should have been level almost immediately. A free-kick into the away box was flicked over to Ben Maxwell, who only had the ‘keeper to beat. His low strike was saved well by the Easthouses ‘keeper who was increasingly becoming more and more important to the visitors.
The ‘keeper would be called into action once again. Some excellent battling from Jay Murray saw him win the tussle with Number 5, before playing an excellent cross-box ball to Scott Walker. The winger’s first-time strike was well saved once again to deny the hosts another equaliser.
They’d get it with only a short time left on the clock. More excellent build up play allowed Ben Maxwell space to cross for Jay Murray. The striker’s first-time finish nestled into the net, much to the delight of the home players and support.
Full Time: Ormiston Primrose 2-2 Easthouses Lily
Local football is class, especially when there is something on the line. It was clear and obvious how much this game meant to the two teams on the pitch, with passion ingrained into the play. I feel Easthouses will naturally be disappointed to have chucked away the lead twice but can also count themselves fortunate with the form of their goalkeeper. He pulled off some incredibly important saves in key moments in the match and consistently barked instructions to his backline. An impressive performance.
I think Ormiston will be disappointed themselves, given how much they pressed for a winner at the end. I believe they had the better of the chances and perhaps should be walking away from today’s encounter with three points. I felt Jay Murray in attack was fantastic. He worked incredibly hard throughout the match, forcing mistakes and carrying the ball with purpose. He deserved his finish and was maybe unlucky that more opportunities did not fall his way. He looks a superb asset for Primrose.
Overall, I genuinely enjoyed what I witnessed today. I saw two teams put in a battling performance to share the spoils. I took in some superb goals, witnessed tempers flare and saw two teams play purposeful football. I feel this encounter deserves a solid 3.5/5.
Like most clubs at this level, football is incredibly affordable. I paid a mere £6 for entry and a quid for a coffee. I’m not a meat-eater myself, but steak pies were reasonably priced at £1.50, with any confectionary tallying up to a mere fifty pence. Excellent prices which deserves nothing less than a 5/5.
Ormiston Primrose come in with a final score of 12.5/20 and find themselves in the midriff of the TSFA League Table. I genuinely enjoyed my time with the club and believe there is plenty of potential there to grow. I’m sure in a year’s time New Recreation Park will be looking the part with a new stand and a team pushing forward. I wish to be there to see it, and I’m sure it’ll come to fruition.
* I could not find any information for Easthouses’ team line for today’s match, nor could I find any squad details online.