Saturday 25th March 2017 ko 15.00
East of Scotland League
TYNECASTLE 2 (Mayer 14 Crabbe 19)
I’ll admit it, as hop organisers Chris Berezai and I took a bit of a gamble with this one. Here’s the dilemna we had, on one hand we listened to the hoppers and they often tell us that scheduling 4 games is too much. Scheduling three isn’t an issue in itself but the risk is that if you put a game at around 3pm you run the risk of some of the hoppers doing “Off piste” and taking in another game.
Possibly the most extreme example of that happened on the March 2013 Northern Hop where roughly 400 saw the first and last games at Celtic Nation and Penrith but only 208 attended the middle game at Whitehaven. The trouble is that with this hop, the travel times meant that starting at Eyemouth and finishing at Hawick, and our coach driver’s hours pointed to a 3 game day with Coldstream kicking off at 3.
We advised accordingly, and the fact that the crowd rose from the morning game can be attributed to Coldstream energising their own community. I’ve said it before, but given the choice I’d far rather see a bumper crowd made up of locals than hoppers. After all, a hopper is unlikely to return, but a local might.
On a personal level this was the ground I wanted to visit the most, Coldstream is the first Scottish town I ever visited, mainly as the route to Edinburgh looked quicker using the A697 rather than the A1. Yes, I was wrong, very wrong! But the town is well worth a visit even if all you do is catch a glimpse of the Marjoribanks statue, just about the first thing you see after you cross the border.
If we did lose anyone to another game, it was unquestionably their loss. I’d been told by the usual suspects that Home (pronounced as Hume- Alec Douglas-Home is buried here) Park wasn’t worth visiting, and as usual those suspects were entirely wrong. Apart from anything else, the ground has seen massive improvements over the last year or so, including the best example of a tucked-away stand since Fffostrasol !
But what I loved most about Coldstream was their good old fashioned charm. I loved the stovies, I loved the teams being piped on to the pitch, and I loved the ladder leaning up against the wall so stray footballs could be retrieved from the school next door. This is why I love non-league football and why I help organise these events.
Sadly for our hosts great hospitality didn’t add up to a win. Tynecastle looked a good side, and two quick goals were sufficient for them to snaffle the 3 points, although Coldstream were hampered by a series of injuries, that left them playing the last few minutes with 10 men.
That said I suspect Tynecastle would have prevailed even if Coldstream hadn’t been so unlucky. But this was a visit where the occasion was more important than the result. Coldstream were wonderful hosts, and it was with some regret that I took one final lingering look at the snowcapped Cheviots and made for my car.