The new season starts in a couple of weeks and the game which is receiving the greatest amount of interest is East Stirlingshire v Glasgow Rangers. As a lapsed East Stirling fan I have something of an insight on how Third Division teams play their football and how East Stirling play and operate in particular.
First though, here is a heads up for Rangers fans.
The game will be played in Larbert/Stenhousemuir. It’s easy to spot the park its beside the defunct McCowans toffee factory. Those of us of a certain age will fondly remember penny caramels which provided a lot of chew for not a lot of money. Care had to be taken however, because if you bought more than one you had to keep the second in your trousers/jeans/shorts. The toffee would melt and sneak out of the wrapper and adhere to the pocket lining and/or any sundry items located in said pocket including any fluff, grit and stuff. But I digress, this is unlikely to happen to many of the gents who will turn up for the first game of the new season.
Parking is achieved by driving north past the ground and is composed of a largely bumpy and overgrown and pretty much unused area. It’s also unlikely that there will be any offers to travellers by way of a small child offering to look after your car for the princely sum of a pound or a bottle of “ginger” which for some strange reason isn’t ginger at all. This should not be viewed as a racial slur against those stalwarts of Scotland whose hair is normally described as red. It isn’t really red either. Language is complex in Scotland but I know you know what I mean.
Inside the park there is seating. Not a lot of seating mind you but there is newish stand. Catering can be interesting given that the stadium sponsors own and run a chain of kebab/indian/burgers etc fast food outlets. There may be the regulation pies and bovril too though.
These are the joys of Third Division football. The actual team tactics are to kick the ball in the general direction of a chosen team mate which will invariably fall short or be too long. No matter though because the opposition will then do exactly the same thing. It’s not rocket science. Sometimes goals are scored. Sometimes the ball ends up in the net or in the street or someone’s garden. Not a problem I’m fairly sure that this type of issue has not troubled Rangers whilst playing at Ibrox but that was before and this is a new reality
East Stirling was up for sale a few years ago for around a million. Yes that does sound like a lot of money. To be fair the price tag reflected the value of the Fir Street ground which could have raised that amount if sold for development. The exact amount may have been higher than a million, like a million for the ground and thirteen pounds twelve and six for the contingent chattels.
The combined wage bill and the value of the cars that the Rangers players own would probably keep East Stirling in kebabs for a substantial number of years. The wage bill for a week for East Stirling is less than £300 for the all the team and the subs.
On a serious note, if East Stirling have an unusually good season rather than a normal one, they might lose out on promotion because Rangers would push them out if the plat offs. You laughed then didn’t you. Well Mr or Ms smarty pants, it happened exactly like that a few years back. That’s unfair. Very unfair indeed.
Not to worry though. Even if East Stirling won promotion they’d not take it. They could never afford it. It’s just not a starter.
Being short of cash is an issue for many football teams and may well get worse in the next couple of years. Will Sky just keep paying the same money to the SPL with no Rangers? Will all the other SPL teams not greatly miss the gate money from playing Rangers at least three times each year? But now they have a chance to maybe win more often? Really? Just what are they thinking about?
Celtic might clean up for the next three years apart from in Europe of course, where the big bucks are. They’re just not good enough, not even close.
If the teams in the SPL want justice then Celtic and Rangers need to play in a different country. Then the chairmen of the remaining SPL clubs could get out their wallets and spend serious money on facilities and players and hugely improve the quality of football played.
Let’s face it, thirteen pounds twelve and six per team just isn’t gong to cut it though.