It’s been a while since my last adventure. A dense mixture of university placements and work commitments have left little time to continue my venture into the kaleidoscope of lower league Scottish football. As a postgraduate teaching student, I am fairly buzzing for the time when the workload dies down and I can continue to explore a world I enjoy so much, preferably exploring more than just the central belt.
Thus, this weekend I’ll be staying in the county I visited last: West Lothian. On my last journey, I witnessed a ridiculous penalty shoot-out win for West Calder in an incredibly hard-working and industrious part of the country. Today’s hosts Fauldhouse lie close to the North Lanarkshire – West Lothian border and share a similar story to most other towns and villages in this part of Scotland.
An old mining town, Fauldhoose hosts familiar rows of old miner houses, closed off pits and a population fondly remembered for bringing the money into the local community. I’m sure plenty of memories of hard graft flow through these old streets.
A rising population of workers naturally calls for a village football team and thus, the formation of Fauldhouse United in 1919. With over a hundred years of play, United have picked up a decent accumulation of silverware. Their most successful period undoubtably came in the mid-1940s with the Brown Cup, East of Scotland Junior Cup and Edinburgh and District League making their way to the village on at least one occasion between 1945 and 1946.
However, Fauldhoose’s finest moment came in the Scottish Junior Cup final of ‘46. A whopping crowd of over 44,000 piled into Scotland’s national stadium to see Fauldhouse dispatch of Arthurlie 2-0 to lift Scottish football’s holy grail. It was to be their 43rd consecutive match without defeat that season. It may be the only time the club have lifted the famous trophy but it leaves a fond memory for the village as a whole.
Nowadays, Fauldhouse have joined a large contingent of their West Lothian comrades and left the Scottish Junior set-up, opting for a shot at advancing up the pyramid in the East of Scotland Football League. If they are to make it to the top, they’ll have to make it from the bottom tier. The club currently find themselves 8th in a 10 team EoS Third Division and are looking to consolidate themselves as a contender for promotion in the next few seasons. To get there though, they’ll have to beat some quality opposition. Today’s opponents and West Lothian rivals Armadale Thistle exist as one of those teams. Thistle find themselves in 2nd behind runaway leaders Bo’ness Athletic and will be searching to achieve promotion as soon as possible. Plenty to play for.
Tucked away inside a typical Scottish housing estate, Park View is a hidden gem in the village. Walking through the small car park brings you a pretty decent pavilion armed with a nice wee kitchen where a friendly husband and wife duo serve a variety of food and drink options. Club volunteers always seem to make a good impression when visiting clubs lower down the pyramid.
‘The Coo Shed’ is the single covered area in Park View and serves its purpose well. Located just behind both dugouts it gives a good, elevated view of the pitch with a few seats for those that need it. It also provides easy access for the Fauldhouse loyal to shout all the abuse they want at the opposition bench. Despite its ruggedness and weathered look, it provided a much-needed shelter for most punters to escape the cold wind. The rest of Park View is open to supporters to stand at basic metal railings while surrounded by a good-looking tree line to protect the playing area from the windy elements.
Overall, while a pretty basic set up, Park View oozes character. The Coo Shed provides a welcome vantage point to a well-kept playing surface. It is a nice mix of rustic and modern with a nice sprinkle of natural in there as well. It is an ample venue for the village and I’m sure it plays its part in the community quite well. 2/5.
A decent wee crowd turned up for one of many West Lothian derbies in the EoS Third Division. A decent mix of old and young lined the metal railings, with the travelling Armadale supporters opposite the Coo Shed. While most Fauldhouse supporters took their place in the Shed, it was the small group of ‘Ultras’, armed with a club flag and plenty of cans who provided most of the atmosphere and shouts. While most of said shouts were produced for the benefit of today’s referee (who I thought had a decent game), it always gives an amusing element to the spectacle. 2.5/5.
Quality of the Match
After an impeccably observed minutes silence, the first 15 minutes were a slow affair with both teams testing the waters. Despite no real clear-cut chances, Armadale’s Fraser Keast looked dangerous and provided most of the link up play in the final third.
Keast’s hard-work almost provided the opener. After a good first touch, he floated the ball over to strike partner Robbie Feeney who could only see his close range header deflected just wide. It looked an obvious goal, but the Fauldhouse defence stood strong.
Despite the away side largely beginning to dominate possession, it was the hosts who took the lead. A superb low cross from right-back Ritchie Kirwan found striker Mark Duffy who angled a superb first-time effort into the far corner. A sucker-punch for sure but it took Fauldhouse into the break a goal up.
Half Time: Fauldhouse United 1-0 Armadale Thistle
Some strong words must have been said in the away dressing room, as Thistlecame out storming in the second half. A lovely low cross into the box found Robbie Feeney who took a touch and drilled under the legs of ‘keeper Daniel Tobin from a tight angle to level the scores.
A few chances came and went for both sides with Fauldhouse more than holding their own in the contest. The home side came close with a deflected effort at the back post while Armadale unleashed a few decent efforts from range. A third goal in the game looked inevitable.
That goal came for the away side. An increase of pressure resulted in multiple corners in succession, with one being bundled in by left-back Sammy Watson. The defender found himself in the right place at the right time and gave the leverage Armadale required to see out the game.
No real chances came after and despite a few scuffles and debatable tackles, the away side saw the game out and deservedly so.
Full Time: Fauldhouse United 1-2 Armadale Thistle
Despite the result, I believe Fauldhouse can come away from the contest with their heads held high. To push a side destined for promotion with a good performance is a welcome sign and provides hope to turn positive performances into points. They had some decent passages of play and will be happy with the pressure they surmounted on one of the best teams in the division. They’ll be absolutely fine going forward and will hope to gain some consistency for next season’s potential promotion push.
Armadale will be delighted to have come from behind to take the 3 points back to Volunteer Park. Their quality showed with their domination of possession and possibly should have turned a few half-chances into goals. For me, their forward line of Fraser Keast and Robbie Feeney were exceptional, and it is clear why Thistle have scored so many goals this season. With promotion on the horizon, they’ll look to assert themselves in the EoS Second Division next season. I’ll be there to see them at some point.
Overall, I was treated to a battling performance from both teams and some excellent finishes. I feel today’s encounter deserves a decent 3/5.
Like all pricing at this level, it is very difficult to complain about absolutely anything. I paid a measly £6 for entry into Park View and a further couple quid for food and drink. Every club at this level provides excellent value for money. Fauldhouse United are no different and deserve every inch of their 5/5.
Fauldhouse United finish the day with a decent 12.5/20. Park View is definitely worth a visit with its rustic structure, friendly feel and community vibe. The village of Fauldhouse might be tucked away in West Lothian’s countryside but it welcoming to see a club continuing their work for the community they represent. I’ll be back in the county soon to experience a lot more.
Leave a Reply