St. Mirren 2v1 Hibernian
Scottish Premier League
5th January 2008
When I heard the news of St. Mirren’s future departure from their Love Street home, it became my personal ‘Mission to Paisley’ to visit an historic ground before the bulldozers and the superpower of Tesco moved in for the kill, therefore a mission which wasn’t impossible. However the bad weather this week left me flapping that my planned trip north would be a wasted one, but thankfully they’re made of stronger stuff north of the border and a bit snow won’t get in the way of some SPL fitba.
Paisley is the second largest town in Scotland after East Kilbride, located in the West Central lowlands, eight mile south-west of Glasgow in Renfrewshire, the club take their name from Saint Mirin, an Irish monk and missionary who in the 6th century established the first Church on the Banks of the River Cart and after his death the shrine of Saint Mirin became a centre of pilgrimage.
St. Mirren Park affectionately known as Love Street, opened in 1894, their fourth home after initially playing on a field at Shortroods, Thistle Park at Greenhills and then Westmarch, where they were based when they became founder members of the Scottish League in 1890.The Saints wanted to return to their original home at Shortroods, but had to settle on the cheaper option which was just across the road in Love Street, bought for £3,900. Love Street wasn’t so lovely in the early days, in fact it was a right tip, based next to a slaughterhouse with the club raising extra finances by using the land as a public refuse dump.
The first major work on the ground began in 1911 with the first terracing and the construction of a main stand, which was finally completed and opened some ten years later, in 1957 a cover was built over the enclosure and 1959 saw the installation of floodlights making their debut for a Scottish Cup tie v Peebles which the Buddies won 10-0 on their way to winning the trophy that season. The grounds record gate was back in August 1949, 47,438 for a League Cup tie against Celtic, while nowadays Love Street has an all seated capacity of 10,800.
I travelled to Paisley by train, catching the 955 from Newcastle Central to Glasgow Central, and then a replacement bus to my destination, I met up with fellow ground blogger and 100FGC member Jaimie Mac (squad no.81) from Fitba Daft, and after a couple of pre-match sherbets made our way to the ground.
When arriving at the stadium, we did a quick lap of the exterior of the stadium and it’s noticeable that the neighbouring residents dwellings are built as close to the stadium as possible(see web album)so those tenants won’t have far to go for their shopping in the future.
The ground is a mixture of new and old, we opted to go in the 4200 capacity North Stand, which was a good choice, the Buddies supporters make plenty of noise throughout, the stand is covered seating stretching the length of the pitch with the TV gantry suspended under the cowshed roof. The away supporters have the Laidlaw Scott Stand, this is a steep 3015 capacity all seated with access gained high at the back of the stand due to five-a-side pitches and health club facilities underneath. The opposite goal has the Reid Kerr College Family Stand, this has a smaller capacity of 2000 with a cantilever roof and like the rest of the ground the seats are black white and red.
The Main Stand which runs parallel to the middle third of the pitch has a capacity of 1,774, this has the classic look of two tiers with a smaller lower tier of five rows of seats, while upstairs is much larger, it’s flagged by terracing which is no longer in use at one side and a car park to the other, it’s exterior has the stylish and best combination of black and white stripes on the wall.
The match was an entertaining encounter with the Saints two up by half time, thanks mainly to a bit of dodgy keeping from Hibs’ man between the sticks Ma-Kalambay letting a cross (it definitely wasn’t an intended shot)by Ian Maxwell sail into the net in the 4th minute followed by another error allowing Gary Mason to make it two on 43, with the poor goalie leaving the field at half time to a cheeky standing ovation from the home support. Hibs showed a bit more urgency in the second half but the Saints were never in danger of letting it slip, even a late well taken goal from Antoine-Curier didn’t make for a nervous ending as the home side were better than the 2-1 score line suggests and the valuable points are much needed in their fight against relegation.
St. Mirren plan to move to a new purpose built stadium some time early next season in nearby Greenhill Road in Ferguslie Park, the current site has been sold to supermarket chain Tesco and the capital gained will finance the construction of the new stadium as well as paying off the clubs current debts, this all makes good business sense but again a famous and much celebrated ground disappears to be replaced by another bog standard version, which may be pleasing on the eye but …it won’t be love.(street)
Ground no.157 Love Street - Matchday web album (18 pictures)
Fitba Daft report
Previous 100FGC ticks;