Ground #: 26
Ground: Raydale Park
Competition: East of Scotland 1st Division
Kick Off: 2:30pm
Gretna FC (2008) 5
Nicholson 3’,10’,33’, Carmichael 12’, Renyard 15’
Being up in the North of England on ‘boyfriend duty’ this summer, I was tempted to get a sneaky game in up here. Looking at fixtures, Carlisle were at home to Brentford – didn’t fancy it. Penrith were at home to Morpeth Town – could be interesting. Yet then I found out the new Gretna were at home and at their spiritual home too at Raydale Park. This being a ground I had wanted to see Hearts play at in the SPL, I would have to make do with Edinburgh based (roughly) side Ormiston. They also play in maroon too. It was fate. So made the train journey from Carlisle to Gretna Green, although it was a bus replacement service on. Then took the short,
delightful, grim walk through Gretna to Raydale Park.
Gretna is a small town on the Scotland/England border in Dumfries and Galloway which is famous for the “run-away” place to get married. Due to Scottish marriage law being less strict than in England, it was common for young couples to run across the border, get married and then go back home and wait for the inevitable divorce a few years later. (Their fault for getting married so young) Today, as many as 1/6th of Scottish marriages still take place here. Also in Gretna is the shopping complex – Gretna Gateway – a small outlet centre and the football team, Gretna FC (2008). Its hard to mention the club formed last season without mentioning the old club that came before it, Gretna FC. The old club, although Gretna 08’ have no legal connection to the previous club, had been playing in the Northern League until 1992 when it won promotion to the Northern Premier League (or Unibond) where it then decided its future lay in Scottish football. Having previously applied to the SFL in 1993 and 1999, they were finally accepted in 2002 taking the place of Airdrieonians. Then Brookes Mileson started his financial input and the club won successive promotions in 2005, 2006 and 2007. In 2006, they also reached the Scottish Cup Final where they outplayed SPL side Hearts (it was awful to watch), but the Tynecastle side came through on penalties. Their season in the SPL was a disaster, finishing bottom and then Mileson became ill and Gretna’s financial problems caught up with them and were liquidated. Annan Athletic took their place in the SFL. Ironically, Gretna’s last ever game was against us, when a 90th minute Gavin Skelton winner meant they finished on a high with a 1-0 win. The final programme is below.
The new club were set up in the summer and formed themselves as Gretna FC (2008). They dropped down to the East of Scotland League Division 1 and last season played most of their home games away from Gretna at a public park in Annan called The Everholm, however when a property developer bought Raydale Park, Gretna were allowed back to play but the length of time remains unclear. The new team have had a reasonable start to life. Finishing 4th out of 12 in the EOS 1st Div last season, they also won the Alex Jack Cup as their first piece of silverware. Promotion is the aim this season and with a youthful side who have some talent, they look a good bet to go up. Raydale Park is still a great looking ground and credit must go to the groundstaff who got the ground up to standard. Running down one side of the pitch is a covered standing area, however with nobody there except ballboys, that was probably closed off – or for the vast amount of Ormiston fans. Down the other side was a covered seating area and the open kitchen which served a cracking Scotch Pie and Irn Bru. Behind one goal was a covered seating area called the South Stand which looked up to date and extremely tidy. Behind the other goal was what I presume was temp seating that is no longer there. Now a large grass space is behind the goal allowing for players to have a larger space to warm up.
The team they welcomed to Raydale for their season opener was Ormiston FC. Ormiston were a result of a merger between Ormiston Primrose and Pencaitland in 1998/1999 to become Pencaitland and Ormiston FC, however the Pencaitland name was dropped in 2002. Ormiston are normally towards the bottom of the league, and finished 9th last season with 20 points. Hailing from just outside Edinburgh and playing in maroon, they were maybe the team I supported today, but I just sat with the larger section of Gretna fans and kept my mouth shut. Ormiston would need to be defensively tight to keep Gretna at bay. So when the game kicked off and Gretna won a corner within 20 seconds it was clear how up against it Ormiston would be. They only lasted another minute as Gretna played the ball through again, and when the ball was hooked over and through the defence, Tony Nicholson brought the goalie out before easily shooting past him, 1-0. Ormiston then seemed to collapse as Gretna looked to score on every opportunity. They did on 10 minutes when a long free kick wasn’t cleared properly and Nicholson scored from Dan Carmichael’s cross. It was 3-0 minutes later, an awful Ormiston free kick from the goalkeeper was collected by Carmichael who ran at the Ormiston defence before smashing it in. Then when on 15 minutes, Gretna’s David Renyard decided to take a shot from outside the area that flew straight in for goal # 4, this game looked like an absolute raping would be taking place. So much so, that Ormiston then went 5-4-1 and ultra defensive that seemed to pay off as they stopped Gretna scoring straight after. They also had their first chance when a free kick just missed the top of the bar. They didn’t hold out for long however, as on 33 minutes, Carmichael completed his hat-trick as he collected a cross and volleyed over Ormiston goalkeeper P.Cadger and in for 5. Cadger did make a save towards the end of the half to stop Nicholson adding a 4th. At half time it was then 5-0, Ormiston shell shocked after being completely outclassed.
The second half kicked off with it being clear that Gretna were to take the 2nd half a lot easier but still creating chances as Ormiston player Brian McEwan was the hero after clearing 3 shots off the line and goalkeeper Cadger also making a great save (or lucky) to deny Gretna a 6th. Gretna themselves were lucky to keep their clean sheet when peeing about at the back, an Ormiston striker intercepted a loose ball but lacked the final pass to make it a proper goal scoring opportunity. Gretna fans were also becoming frustrated that no goals were being added to the 5 scored in the first half as Ormiston had managed to steady the ship, shame it had already sunk. The final whistle blew with not much happening in the final 10 minutes. Gretna’s first half romp allowing them to charge to the top of the table and continued their good run on Tuesday with a 3-0 win over Gala Fairydean. While Ormiston managed to bag a 2-1 win away at Eyemouth United. (I dread to think how bad Eyemouth must be)
A good day out then in Gretna with some good weather and decent football, especially from Gretna’s front line. I think Gretna should win this division this season while Ormiston will most likely end up around their 9th place from last season. I’m also glad I managed to make Raydale Park while it was still open. A great ground that should be hosting a higher level of football and may get its chance again as this new club go from strength to strength on much solid financial foundations than its former team.
- Match: 6.5/10 (1st half was great, 2nd not so much)
- Value for money: 7/10 (not complaints at paying £4 for this level)
- Ground: 7/10 (good to finally see Raydale Park)
- Atmosphere: 4/10 (190 people can’t make that much noise)
- Food: 9.5/10 (Scotch Pies and Irn Bru should be served at EVERY game)
- Programme: 5/10 (what was there was good, but 12 pages for £2 is a tad overpriced)
- Referee: James Carberry – 7/10 (seemed to do well, no linesmen either)