Fantastic fields and where to find them

A young fan takes a memorable journey with his father.

By Calum Lewis

Nutmeg Young Football Writers’ Competition.

Winner: P7 to S3 category
Calum Lewis, Cults Academy, Aberdeen

This article first appeared in Issue 18 which was published in December 2020.

On the morning of Tuesday the 21st of July 2020, at 05:35 AM I woke up ahead of what was going to be one of the most eventful and exciting days of my childhood. My Dad and I were planning to visit all 12 Scottish Premiership Stadiums in one single day. With Coronavirus here and foreign holidays on hold, we both thought that this summer was a perfect time to travel Scotland and this was how we were going to do it.

Our first stop was Pittodrie Stadium, home of my beloved Aberdeen Football Club. Leaving our home on the outskirts of Aberdeen, we passed through the empty streets and silent roads. As the sun rose over Pittodrie we took our first photos of the day and crossed off our first stop on what was a tantalizing list.

After leaving Pittodrie at 06:30, we headed north. On the windy roads we passed many towns and even some highland league grounds. Two hours and twenty minutes later we arrived in Dingwall, the most northerly stop on our journey and the home of Ross County. This was not my first visit to the Global Energy Stadium, but we took a quick walk around, some photos and then began to head back south. 

Twenty minutes later whilst passing over the Kessock bridge in Inverness on the spur of the moment, we decided to add the Caledonian Stadium to our list, home of Championship side Inverness Caley Thistle.

We got out to take photographs, and upon doing so, the Commercial Director of Inverness, Keith Haggart, came out and enquired as to what we were doing. Upon telling him of our quest, he kindly invited us into the building where he showed us to pitch side, the dugout and then up to the boardroom, with its magnificent views and historic trophies. He gave us a warm welcome and plenty of info about the club but unfortunately, we could not stay too long, and we bid our farewells and headed south.

Next, we headed for Perth, having never been on this road before we were amazed at the outstanding scenery of Scotland and this helped pass the time on our long two-hour drive. We arrived at McDiarmid Park at Noon, where we once again stopped to take photos and had a swift bite to eat.

We left McDiarmid Park and headed further south to the place Celtic fans call “Paradise”. Arrival in east Glasgow was at 13:26, we scouted the area, to find the front entrance of the Glaswegian Colosseum. My dad and I once again took our photos of an extremely impressive viewing of what is still home to a European giant.

We then decided to take a quick detour to the National Stadium and after a confrontation with the sat-nav we arrived at Hampden Park and we stopped to take it all in. In recent years I may associate Hampden more with disappointment than triumph, that stadium remains impressive to the eye and somewhere that I look forward to celebrating greatness in the hopefully not too distant future.

Next on the list and heading west was Ibrox Stadium. We stopped at the famous steel gates. As a devoted Aberdeen fan, I think it is fair to say that we I don’t always see eye-to-eye with Rangers, but I can’t deny the history and stature of this Glasgow club and their stadium fits the bill of another, although perhaps sleeping, European giant.

After another disagreement with the Sat-Nav we arrived at St Mirren Park ten minutes later than expected. I had previously been there to watch my team Aberdeen play St Mirren and this time the weather was far, far better. After stopping to take in the Paisley scenery we swiftly headed south to Ayrshire.

Arriving in surprisingly sunny Kilmarnock, we made our way round the back of Rugby Park to the main entrance and once again took our pictures. It was shame, as with all the stadiums that we visited this day, that we could not spend more time at each. Each Scottish stadium has its own history, tells its own story and means so much to the fans which descend upon them every week.

Our next destination of New Douglas Park, home of Hamilton Academicals FC. Photos were swiftly taken and after a quick walk around the stadium we wasted no time with getting back on the road.

We reached Motherwell approximately twenty minutes later. This was another ground I had already watched Aberdeen play. Always a tough game for the Dons here and anytime you can leave Motherwell with a smile is a day well spent, we were glad that we did not have to worry about the on-field performance this day.

We headed east to Livingston and despite hitting the rush hour traffic we made it in good time and stopped for a look around the Tony Macaroni Arena. Despite being one of the smaller teams in the SPFL Livingston consistently punch above their weight. They boast a perfectly symmetrical European record (won one, drawn two, lost one) and are the first Scottish team to have had a Brazilian manager in Marcio Maxyimyo Barcello.

Our next stop was in Leith in Edinburgh, home of the Hibees. We arrived at Easter Road at 18:56, exactly one hour after stopping at Livingston. My Dad and I both thought that Easter Road was an impressive modern stadium. My previous visit at Easter Road to watch the Dons had resulted in a 3-0 thrashing of Aberdeen, it was a long drive home that day.

As time was thankfully on our side, we decided to make another quick detour, this time across Edinburgh to Georgie road home of Heart of Midlothian FC. Hearts will not grace us with their presence in the SPFL this season but that does not stop them from being one of the biggest clubs in Scotland and a quintessential stop on the great Scottish football stadium pilgrimage. The main stand at Tynecastle was again another newly built stand and again was very impressive. Our departure from Tynecastle was it was past 19.00 when we left Tynecastle and beginning to get dark but as we knew more stadiums were still to visited this kept us excited as we headed back north.

At 20:30 we arrived at Dens Park home of Dundee FC, although again not a premiership club we could hardly miss out taking photos here as our destination being Tannadice Park, home of Dundee United FC was just 200 yards down the road. We took out photos at the entrances to these two familiar and rival grounds knowing that we were now on the home stretch.

We then headed home to Aberdeen and arrived at 21:42. Our trip had taken us fifteen hours and forty-two minutes all together, the distance travelled all together was 577 miles and my dad even refrained from moaning about the cost of the fuel… I know that he enjoyed it just as much as I did.

It was a long, tiring but enjoyable day and I loved every second of the adventure. I was delighted that we had managed to complete our goal! My Dad and I are still deciding what our next football adventure will be, we hope that next time it’ll involve more fans.

Nutmeg Young Football Writers’ Competition.

Winner: P7 to S3 category
Calum Lewis, Cults Academy, Aberdeen

This article first appeared in Issue 18 which was published in December 2020.

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