Saturday 30 October 2021

Ground #359 - Victoria Park

Date: 18th September 2021
Ground: Victoria Park
Location: Dingwall, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland

My ninth new ground of 2021 was on Saturday 18th September at Victoria Park in Dingwall, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland. The game was Ross County vs. Heart of Midlothian in the Scottish Premiership.

Victoria Park lies close to the banks of Cromarty Firth. It sits within the wider Jubilee Park which runs up to the Rivery Peffery to the north. In the park is an additional pitch behind the eastern side with trees beyond this. There is housing to the south and a camping and caravan site to the west. The venue is directly opposite Dingwall railway station and has been home to the club since 1929.

The West Stand is the designated 'main stand' as includes club facilities such as the reception, club shop and Staggies Bar and Grill. The ticket office is served via demountables in the car park which is situated on this side of the ground. For the side of the stand facing towards the pitch it is a single tier split into an upper and lower section. Corporate boxes run along the back with the section for officials and the primary TV camera position in the centre. The two 'dugout' areas are in directly in front of this seating.

The East Stand is where I watched the game from - it is similar in nature to the West Stand also being split into upper and lower sections. There are disused boxes at the back of this stand. The South Stand, known as the Jail End is the smallest stand at the ground and is the only one with supporting beams restricting the views in some seats. There is also a tea bar at the northern end of this stand. Finally the North Stand, known as the Academy End, is the tallest by a narrow margin and is given over to away supporters. As the name suggests the structure backs onto the Highland Football Academy.

The two sides had opposing starts to the season with Ross County winless after their first 5 and Hearts unbeaten after theirs. The opening goal came after just nine minutes when Gary Mackay-Steven played a good ball through to Liam Boyce on the left. Boyce's shot took a deflection off Jack Baldwin which saw it sneak inside the near post as the goalkeeper went the other way. If Hearts were hoping the hosts would have their heads drop after this they were mistaken as Ross County equalised within barely a minute. It came on the edge of a crowded Hearts box as Jordan White laid the ball off for Blair Spittal who managed to find a gap in the bodies to steer the ball into the far corner. The hosts had Ashley Maynard-Brewer to thank for keeping the scores level as he got down well to deny Armand Gnanduillet twice - firstly from a fierce drive in the 18th minute and then a header in the 23rd minute. The hosts pushed forward after this and while Ross Callachan could only steer Regan Charles-Cook's cross onto the roof of the net the Highland side would get their noses in front for the first time on the stroke of half-time. Charles-Cook managed to knock the ball from the byline to the six-yard box and Blair Spittal's shot hit Hearts' John Souttar and found the net. The visitors attacked in the second period and restored parity in the 66th minute through an excellent Stephen Kingsley free-kick. It was the away side who came closest to snatching a winner when Liam Boyce headed into the side netting but there were no more goals as an entertaining contest drew to a conclusion. 

Result: Ross County 2-2 Heart of Midlothian
Division: Scottish Premiership
Attendance: 3,802

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