10 May 2013

Please Go Back To Brockville

by Owen O'Donnell

To any non locals, at the end of Hope Street in Falkirk there is a Morrisons supermarket. Outside this supermarket sits an old fashioned turnstile. It is the only surviving part of the football ground that stood there on this day ten years ago.

Brockville Park was rammed to capacity on the 10th May 2003 where the Bairns would play at their original home (a 3-2 defeat to Inverness Caledonian Thistle) for the last time before the bulldozers moved in. 

The ground being in a state of decline for many years and the SPL stadium criterion left the club no choice but to say goodbye.

The ground was small and mostly terraced, while this could provide a fiercely intimidating atmosphere on matchday, the 8,000 capacity did not meet the guidelines of the Scottish Premier League which demanded a 10,000 all seated stadium.

The match against Inverness should have been the site of a promotion party as Falkirk had won the First Division by nine points in the 2002-03 season. Not so said the governing bodies. Despite pleas from the club to be allowed to ground-share until a new home could be built, the SPL guidelines at the time stated that this would not be allowed. This was not the first time Falkirk had been denied promotion on account of their ground.

Motherwell, the team who was spared relegation thanks to this technicality, would go on to share Fir Park with Gretna after their promotion four years later. The SPL minimum capacity was also reduced to 6,000 by this time. They moved to the newly-built Falkirk Stadium on the outskirts of Grangemouth in 2004 and gained promotion the next year. However, was it worth it? 

With attendances across the country in decline and Falkirk's average attendance over their three seasons in the top flight coming in at roughly 5,500 - still 4,000 shy of the stadium's capacity and 2,000 short of Brockville's lowest capacity - it wouldn't appear so.

Brockville, for all it's flaws, was a good ground in need of renovation. It was in the middle of the town and a stone's throw away from the train station for travelling fans. What's left is an incomplete, cookie cut stadium that struggles to be filled to even half of its capacity. It's all good though, it can host concerts for washed up 80's pop stars and blast "Is This The Way To Amarillo?" after every goal. It wasn't funny when Tony Christie played it at Big In Falkirk that one time and it isn't clever to name the executive suite after a charity one hit wonder.

The highest attendance this season was 4,804 against Partick Thistle on the day when Thistle gained promotion to the SPL and they arguably outnumbered the Falkirk fans. Attendances at Brockville were even struggling to reach that number by the end of its existence. 

It would appear that this is one of the downsides of modern football. As long as the ground is all seated and near enough to a motorway for the convenience of those who drive to the game from any of the big cities who cares really? This exact situation would have cropped up again and was even briefly discussed had it been Morton who were promoted instead of Partick Thistle due to the "inadequate" state of Cappielow.

In my very humble opinion, small town clubs such as Falkirk and Morton should not be bullied into updating stadia for a league where even the biggest clubs are barely breaking the original "10,000 capacity" limit.

3 comments:

  1. We have to remember the reason why all seaters were introduced, though - Bradford City are pretty much an English version of Falkirk and suffered horror. Admittedly, police control was another reason, and your points are valid. But it wasn't just a random decision to bring in the seats.

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    1. Totally understand the point about Bradford and why seats were needed. I just felt that Brockville could have been updated to bring seats in as well as general renovation. Not to mention the fact the Falkirk Stadium is on the edge of the Grangemouth Petrochemical plant's blast zone, hence the lack of completion.

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  2. Think the Ibrox Disaster also played a huge role in the introduction of all-seater stadia.

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