Monday 29 May 2023

Ground #385 - Cliftonhill

Date: 6th May 2023
Location: Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, Scotland
Ground: Cliftonhill

My tenth new ground of 2023 was on Saturday 6th May at Cliftonhill in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, Scotland. The game was Albion Rovers vs. Stirling Albion in Scottish League Two.

Cliftonhill is in a residential area of Coatbridge on the eastern outskirts of Glasgow. The oval shaped venue is bordered by housing to the north and west, a courthouse to the east and a retail and industrial zone across the road to the south. It is very well served by railway stations with the nearest half a mile north at Coatdyke. In addition Whifflet to the south, Coatbridge Sunnyside to the north-west and Airdrie to the north-east are all around a mile away. The venue has been home to the club since construction in 1919 when they moved from Meadow Park where they had played since 1882.

The ground still retains a partial oval shape in light of its days as a multi-purpose venue when it hosted speedway and greyhound racing. This is seen most clearly at the unused western end where a semi-circle a flat grass behind the goal gives way to a raised grass bank behind. The opposite end of the field has been converted with the oval shape removed to make room for a car park. This end saw the installation of an uncovered concrete terrace in 2015 to allow for spectator segregation.

The main side of the ground is the southern side where the entrance turnstiles are located. The main stand has 489 seats for the back half with four supporting beams in front. In front of this is a covered concrete terrace with four more supporting beams holding up the roof extension. This gives the unusual situation for people in the back of the stand to have two rows of supporting beams. The players tunnel is in the middle of the bottom section. There is uncovered standing in front of this and to the eastern part of this side of the ground where a covered disabled supporters section is positioned. The western side leads up to a club shop demountable and viewing is not allowed. The northern side of the ground has a concrete terrace for the whole length which is mostly covered except for small sections at either end. However, this side has been closed to spectators for some time with it not in a fit state to be used.

This was the final game of the League Two season - Albion were bottom and facing down a fight to keep their league status via the relegation play-off. Stirling were at the other end of the table having secured the title but had not lost a game for over five months. Albion knew their task - they had to win and hope that Bonnyrigg Rose lost at home to Elgin. With this in mind it was the hosts who started the better - in the 9th minute Joe Bevan did well to ride a couple of challenges before laying off to Euan Mutale on the right of the area who saw his shot saved. The closest Stirling came was in the 34th minute was Flynn Duffy's shot low to the keeper's right was comfortably saved. A nervy first half gave way to a more open second with Rovers taking the lead six minutes after the interval. Blair Malcolm passed the ball to Joe Bevan on the left side of the box and he slotted into the far corner. The celebrations were short-lived though as word reached Cliftonhill that Bonnyrigg had scored against Elgin. News from New Dundas Park would only get worse as the afternoon progressed so when Albion Rovers added a second in the 75th minute the cheers were muted. This goal came about when Bevan's shot was saved with Charlie Reilly smashing the rebound into the roof of the net. Reilly then hit the top of the crossbar with seven minutes to go with a 2-0 win for Albion proved academic with Bonnyrigg's 3-0 win against Elgin securing safety in their first season in the league. Two weeks later Albion's 120 stay in the Scottish Football League came to an end when they lost 2-1 on aggregate to Lowland League winners Spartans who took their place in League Two for the 2023/24 season.

Result: Albion Rovers 2-0 Stirling Albion
Division: Scottish League Two
Attendance: 623

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