Saturday 28 May 2016



Today's choice of game was another trip north of the border for the winner takes all relegation clash at the stupendous Volunteer Park.

The home of Armadale Thistle is another ex-Scottish League ground as Armadale FC played in the league from 1921 until 1933, when they were expelled from the league due to financial problems.

Volunteer Park has hosted football since the late 19th century, when C Company of the Royal Scots Volunteer Battalion moved to Armadale and began training on a field on North Street. Armadale Stars asked permission to use the site as a football pitch, and were allowed to do so on the condition that they joined the Volunteers. The club was renamed Armadale Volunteers and Volunteer field subsequently became Volunteer Park. In 1889 Armadale FC took over the ground and played there until their disbandment in 1894.

In 1910 a new Armadale FC were formed, taking over at Volunteer Park. This was the club that were admitted to the Scottish League Division Two. Their first game on 20th August 1921 (a 3-0 win against St Bernard's) attracted a crowd of around 4,000, a club record for a league game. The last league game in November 1933 (a 2-0 defeat to Alloa) attracted a crowd of just 300. The club eventually folded in 1935.

Armadale Thistle then arose from ashes in 1936 and have been playing in Junior football ever since. The club currently play in the  East Region Premier League. Former England international Joe Baker started his career at Armadale Thistle before moving on to Hibernian, Torino and Arsenal, amongst others.

Volunteer Park is another fine example of the type of ground you only seem to see in Scottish Junior Football and is one of the reasons it is worth the lengthy journeys north. There is a covered enclosure, well almost if you allow for the dilapidated roof, and there is crumbling terraces on three sides of the ground. The ground oozes history but it's sad to say if this ground was south of the border the health and safety brigade would probably condemn the place.

Today's clash was a huge winner-takes-all game at the bottom of the East Premier League with both teams needing the three points to ensure survival. The Armadale Ultras were out in force and they literally banged the drum througout the game.

The game turned out to be a bit of damp squib as Armadale ran out comfortable, and deserved, winners. Thornton Hibs offered no resistance as the toll of three games in a week finally caught up with them.

Darren Downie put The Dale 1-0 up inside the opening 10 minutes and were the dominate side in the first half. Gary Brown and another effort from Downie put Armadale 3-0 up early in the second half before Daniel McNab pulled a goal back for Hibs and, given their exploits last week in coming from 4-1 down to grab a point at Bathgate, maybe a repeat could've been on the cards.
However it wasn't to be and a second yellow card for Hibs' Mcnab made it mission impossible and another Armadale goal from Dave Taylor wrapped up the victory, ensuring another season of Premier League football for Armadale, whilst confirming Hibs' relegation back to the North Division.

If you have not visited Volunteer Park to watch a game of fitba then I urge you to make a trip here a priority, you will not be disappointed!

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