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Chris Sweeney

McDiarmid Park - 30th Anniversary

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Hi all,

Sorry for any intrusion. I am a writer based in London and working on an article about McDiarmid Park and it’s anniversary, mainly giving it the place I feel it deserves considering it was the first all-seater in the U.K.

It’s for When Saturday Comes, another mag felt it was “too Scottish”. But I reckon it should be flagged up and written about.

Is there anyone here who has memories of Muirton and then leaving for the new stadium? I just want to get a feel for how the fans felt and what was it like to be the first group to make the move to a shiny, new, modern all-seater.

Thanks a lot in advance for any help.

 

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The article is about the first proper all-seater. Kilbowie had benches bolted onto terracing. So that’s a totally different thing, I am saying McDiarmid Park was the first of the new era of stadiums in Britain.

If anyone remembers the move, it would be great to make contact and I could get some real fan insight into the piece.

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Place was like a palace compared to muirton.

gutted there was no terracing .

no chipmunk crisps either but we did get a scoreboard.

 

try getting a copy of the old fanzine Wendy who . Should be enough in there to get an insight.

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17 minutes ago, Chris Sweeney said:

The article is about the first proper all-seater. Kilbowie had benches bolted onto terracing. So that’s a totally different thing, I am saying McDiarmid Park was the first of the new era of stadiums in Britain.

If anyone remembers the move, it would be great to make contact and I could get some real fan insight into the piece.

Try St Johnstone banter group on Facebook. You'll likely get more replys. 

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I like many were sad at losing Muirton at the time and could only remember the good times but looking back it was in a hell of a state and the club was skint.Following Bradford, the wooden infrastructure was outdated and dangerous and even our much vaunted turf ( the largest area in UK at the time) had started to show some signs of neglect. The new ground was all shiny ,all seated, and very well filled.

One innovation that was widely copied was showing live pictures of the match in refreshment kiosks to encourage people to not all rush at once.Whilst we never quite replicated Muirtons atmosphere it definitely was a huge step forward for the club.It also incorporates off field revenue streams that help the clubs finances. Would love to see another couple of thousand regulars but I suppose like me,old age and poor health are factors.Muirton still holds great memories but McD is now our home.

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13 hours ago, Chris Sweeney said:

Anyway if any fans remember the move, please reach out.

You don't seem to be getting much luck. If you do a search for a few different terms you may find some good stuff on here. A lot of the posters probably don't post anymore though.

Maybe if you reach out to https://twitter.com/stjohnstone1884 they could help you find some friendlier more helpful voices.

I only hit an age to go to the football when we moved to McDiarmid so I am unable to help, sorry. 

Edited by garydavidson

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Chris

born 1970 and used to live behind Muirton Park in Carnegie place.

Used to go round to turnstiles and ask someone to be my dad  and we got lifted over turnstiles to get in free, or go in once gates opened for last 20 minutes. John Brogan, Jim Morton were my heros growing up. remember getting in free and seeing us beating East Stirling 7-1 when i was 10.

Used to love being able to change ends at half time - no segregation in those days

Later Dad sometimes took us to games as sons always playing football.

remember dad and my younger brother and sister on terracing at ice rink end for midweek game against Hearts - and fights in town at train stations etc, mum working at ice rink and not happy youngest child (sister) at game afterwards.

remember when we drew Aberdeen in the scottish cup 1988 and, ground not suitable as no segregation. Think it was Aberdeen that paid for fencing to be put down middle of touchline shed terracing so game could go ahead at Perth. We lost 1-0 and highlights were on TV - novelty in those days

I was at last game at Muirton when we lost 1-0 to Ayr United, student at St Andrews at time.

time of epic cup semi final replay against Rangers at Celtic Park - Stevie Maskrey era first game 0-0 and lost replay 

I have an old leather stand seat removed after the final whistle made into a footstool.

Alex Totten era at McDiarmid was superb - winning league,  stylish victories.  3-1 win over Partick Thistle most memorable.

New stadium was impressive and proud how club is/was run by Geoff Brown, and now Son Steve, living within our means. It was an impressive bit of business to get ground built by Asda funds. Meant we've had a stable foundation for our current period of stability in the volatile world of football.

The new ground was all shiny but it did lack a bit of soul, 4 box model is a bit unexciting but the large crowds and exciting football made up for that.

Dad and I had season tickets in East Stand for 3/4 years 

Recent European adventures have created some great nights

I still prefer going to older more traditional grounds for the atmosphere i.e. at Scottish cup tie Vs Ayr United Somerset park 2 weeks ago.

I don't live in Perth anymore (30 miles away) but still probably go to more away games than home., 

happy to discuss experiences further..

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Older fans retain an abiding affection for Muirton. It was, in its day, a very fine stadium. By the end, it was dilapidated and worn. I think, even before the Bradford fire, the Centre Stand was declared unsafe and after Bradford all the stands were. 

It was a proper, old-fashioned stadium. That meant you could walk around the extent of the pitch and, as a kid, I used to migrate at half time so I was always behind our goal. There was segregation down the middle of the terracing for some games which prevented that, but that was always quite exciting as well, with the youngsters from both teams winding each other up. The Enclosure meant the noise and dust was exacerbated. You felt close to the action at Muirton.

But it had to go. This all happened at a time when the club was in dire straits, on and off the field. It was clear Muirton was beyond repair and the opportunity to move to a purpose-built stadium was one we couldn't refuse. The heart wanted you to stay at Muirton. The head told you, if you stayed, the club would be out of business in a couple of years and be another Third Lanark.

So, while McDiarmid will never have the atmosphere of Muirton, it was a positive change. It has also coincided with the longest and most sustained period of success in the club's history. The two things may be connected.

 

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Yeah, just to nitpick, and as others have said, I don't think it was the first all-seater stadium in the UK, but it was the first new all-seater football stadium to be built from scratch (the others prior to McDiarmid all became all-seaters through being renovated). People with better knowledge of this can correct me, but I reckon Ibrox was already an all-seater before McDiarmid was built? Possibly Pittodrie too?

Anyway, that aside - I was 8 when McDiarmid Park opened, and I never went to Muirton (sadly), but one thing I'd emphasize is how big an impact the opening of McDiarmid Park had on my generation of local kids. At the time, it felt like everyone my age was going to Saints games, because the new stadium was such a big deal locally. Prior to that I basically had no interest in football, but it was because of McDiarmid Park opening that my Dad started taking me to the early games. If it wasn't for McDiarmid Park, it's possible that I wouldn't be a Saints fan or even a football fan today.

The impact on the club's fortunes can't be underestimated either. Were it not for McDiarmid Park and the various revenue streams it's created for the club, I think it's highly likely that Saints would not have become the regular fixture in the Premier League that we are today - a club that has won a Cup and had regular trips to Europe. Geoff Brown's vision and foresight to go ahead with McDiarmid Park was what raised us above the level of clubs like Ayr, Morton etc, who even now, 30 years on, are still stuck at their old crumbling grounds (there are some in the media who insist that those clubs are "bigger" than Saints - whatever that means - and yet in the last 30 years they haven't played a single season of top flight football between them).

Saints are often viewed as quite an old fashioned club now, and it really feels like the club has had to be dragged kicking and screaming towards embracing things like the internet and modern approaches to fan engagement - but, back then, it could justifiably be argued that we were the most forward-thinking club in the UK.

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Sleepless - that’s great.

Could I possibly call you, just so I can take down your quotes and your name etc. As that is exactly what I was looking for, some proper fan input and that point of view. You can message me here or I can give you my email.

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22 minutes ago, blueheaven said:

Yeah, just to nitpick, and as others have said, I don't think it was the first all-seater stadium in the UK, but it was the first new all-seater football stadium to be built from scratch (the others prior to McDiarmid all became all-seaters through being renovated). People with better knowledge of this can correct me, but I reckon Ibrox was already an all-seater before McDiarmid was built? Possibly Pittodrie too?

Anyway, that aside - I was 8 when McDiarmid Park opened, and I never went to Muirton (sadly), but one thing I'd emphasize is how big an impact the opening of McDiarmid Park had on my generation of local kids. At the time, it felt like everyone my age was going to going to Saints games, because the new stadium was such a big deal locally. Prior to that I basically had no interest in football, but it was because of McDiarmid Park opening that my Dad started taking me to the early games. If it wasn't for McDiarmid Park, it's possible that I wouldn't be a Saints fan or even a football fan today.

The impact on the club's fortunes can't be underestimated either. Were it not for McDiarmid Park and the various revenue streams it's created for the club, I think it's highly likely that Saints would not have become the regular fixture in the Premier League that we are today - a club that has won a Cup and had regular trips to Europe. Geoff Brown's vision and foresight to go ahead with McDiarmid Park was what raised us above the level of clubs like Ayr, Morton etc, who even now, 30 years on, are still stuck at their old crumbling grounds (there are some in the media who insist that those clubs are "bigger" than Saints - whatever that means - and yet in the last 30 years they haven't played a single season of top flight football between them).

Saints are often viewed as quite an old fashioned club now, and it really feels like the club has had to be dragged kicking and screaming towards embracing things like the internet and modern approaches to fan engagement - but, back then, it could justifiably be argued that we were the most forward-thinking club in the UK.

Thanks for the input.

Would you be up for giving me a few quotes on the phone?

Just you had some interesting points and it would be good to include them properly about how it engaged the younger generation which I hadn’t considered. I was more about how it might turn off the older generation.

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15 minutes ago, Chris Sweeney said:

Thanks for the input.

Would you be up for giving me a few quotes on the phone?

Just you had some interesting points and it would be good to include them properly about how it engaged the younger generation which I hadn’t considered. I was more about how it might turn off the older generation.

Sure - drop me a PM and we can sort something out.

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3 hours ago, blueheaven said:

Yeah, just to nitpick, and as others have said, I don't think it was the first all-seater stadium in the UK, but it was the first new all-seater football stadium to be built from scratch (the others prior to McDiarmid all became all-seaters through being renovated). People with better knowledge of this can correct me, but I reckon Ibrox was already an all-seater before McDiarmid was built? Possibly Pittodrie too?

Anyway, that aside - I was 8 when McDiarmid Park opened, and I never went to Muirton (sadly), but one thing I'd emphasize is how big an impact the opening of McDiarmid Park had on my generation of local kids. At the time, it felt like everyone my age was going to Saints games, because the new stadium was such a big deal locally. Prior to that I basically had no interest in football, but it was because of McDiarmid Park opening that my Dad started taking me to the early games. If it wasn't for McDiarmid Park, it's possible that I wouldn't be a Saints fan or even a football fan today.

The impact on the club's fortunes can't be underestimated either. Were it not for McDiarmid Park and the various revenue streams it's created for the club, I think it's highly likely that Saints would not have become the regular fixture in the Premier League that we are today - a club that has won a Cup and had regular trips to Europe. Geoff Brown's vision and foresight to go ahead with McDiarmid Park was what raised us above the level of clubs like Ayr, Morton etc, who even now, 30 years on, are still stuck at their old crumbling grounds (there are some in the media who insist that those clubs are "bigger" than Saints - whatever that means - and yet in the last 30 years they haven't played a single season of top flight football between them).

Saints are often viewed as quite an old fashioned club now, and it really feels like the club has had to be dragged kicking and screaming towards embracing things like the internet and modern approaches to fan engagement - but, back then, it could justifiably be argued that we were the most forward-thinking club in the UK.

Ibrox still had a standing enclosure at the front of their main stand at that time. Pittodrie was the first all seater, certainly in Scotland, excluding kilbowie because nobody actually sat on those benches, we all stood on them.

It was the first after the Taylor report and a leading light for most small clubs.

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