42 Grounds: Ground 8: Ochilview

Avid readers will remember the rules I set myself earlier in the season when I decided that when it is possible I should be trying for two games in a weekend.

That would tend to take the form of a Friday and a Saturday game or a Saturday and a Sunday game.

Given that the TV companies have all but dropped their interest in the Championship that only really leaves top flight games to be moved from their Saturday at 3pm slot.

That makes getting to lower league games on a Saturday a priority.

When BBC Alba stepped in to broadcast a game live at quarter past five today it opened up a window of opportunity and left me looking for a way to make a Saturday double header possible.

My original plan to visit Airdrie went out of the window and the search for a different game began.

Stenhousemuir became the obvious choice, with Google maps claiming it was a 15 minute drive, a quick jump in a taxi would surely be enough to get two grounds ticked off and keep me on schedule.

A further benefit to the change in plans was the later start and a chance to catch up with a few bits and pieces in the morning.

I was excited on the train, in the way that a football anorak does get excited by the prospect of two league games in a day a mere 30 minutes apart.

The later departure, just shy of midday also meant a quieter train, with the peace disrupted only by the rustling of crisp packets. Reminiscent of some Scottish football grounds, perhaps…

Even with tens of seats available and unreserved individually, in pairs and even in fours at tables, the phrase, always offered tentatively yet with a quiet confidence “I think you’re in my seat”, is uttered several times.

I understand the desire to sit on a reserved seat on a busy train, but when it is probably less than half full?

A group of tourists, in the correct seats thankfully, ask the conductor where the ‘bar’ is much to his amusement and to the amusement of those around them.

His joking response went down well. The ‘bar on wheels’ will suffice.

The ten minute changeover in Stirling went well and I was bound for Larbert station.

I read about the history of the club online and the fact that they were one of the clubs, along with my own, that Rangers had suggested could have been removed from the league in late 1960 due to poor support.

The only positive I can see is that fewer league grounds may have made this project slightly easier…

While we can joke about it now, perhaps the words of some figures in our game recently should encourage fans of smaller clubs not to become complacent.

Ochilview is a tidy ground, complete with an artificial pitch and a ground sharing rival.

As a Community Interest Company the club by definition serves the area it resides in.

If Stenhousemuir ceased to exist there would be a gap left that couldn’t easily be filled.

The club takes its role in the local area seriously, with children’s clubs regularly invited to games and young players often putting on the half time shows.

There is an impressive lump of terracing behind one set of goals. It seems to open only for big games but it serves as a nice accompaniment to the well built and designed main stand. The two stands mix functional with traditional and ‘looking safe’ with slightly less so.

I sat¬†in the ‘Norway Stand’ sponsored by Stenhousemuir’s Norwegian supporters. It runs alongside the pitch and is entirely seated.

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The seated ‘Norway Stand’ before kickoff.
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The closed terracing behind the goal.

The game kicked off and Peterhead started much the stronger.

Peterhead, led up front by the ever impressive Rory McAllister took an early lead following his strong play to set up Nicky Riley to net a goal.

The lead was doubled shortly after when Kevin Dzierzawski slotted past the Stenhousemuir goalkeeper.

The Warriors were limited to just a couple of chances from range and Peterhead would have felt unlucky to have not been further in front at half time.

The second half saw a much improved performance from a Stenhousemuir team that suddenly looked capable of passing the ball, keeping possession and beating defenders.

In the 68th minute Fraser Kerr guided a free kick past the Peterhead goalkeeper, getting just enough contact with his head to beat the outstretched Hobday.

Fraser Kerr was to be the hero of the piece when a second headed effort in the 77th minute levelling the game, much to the delight of the Stenhousemuir fans and announcer.

This was an important point for the Warriors who won their second point of the season.

A defeat would not only have left them with a solitary point but would also have seen them drop points on their nearest rivals in the league, Peterhead.

It is early days yet but there will be some optimism following a much improved second half performance.

In Willis Alves Furtado they have a player full of pace and strength and the occasional skilful touch. He was the one constant thorn in the side of Peterhead and with the support and guidance of some of the more experienced heads at stirling, he looks to have some potential.

The stand was full of young fans and this can only bode well for the future of the club.

Exciting matches like today’s along with the genuine feeling of belonging that a club working closely with its community can give will ensure their regular attendance.

Looking in as an outsider, The Warriors appear to be a club in good health, and most importantly, a good future ahead of them.

Stenhousemuir 2 Peterhead 2

Attendance: 331

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