I've been lucky enough as a football supporter to have visited illustrious grounds such as Old Trafford and the San Siro on my various journeys. I have experienced the white hot atmosphere of Anfield on a European night and even fondly remember the days as a young boy standing on the vast terracing of the old (and better) Hampden. However none of these classic old grounds could have readied me for the wonderfully surreal surroundings of Central Park in Cowdenbeath.
After a fairly bland journey up the M8 (improved somewhat by sharing a car with two St Mirren fans as Celtic defeated them) we arrived in Cowdenbeath around half two. Our immediate impressions weren't exactly positive but the sun had broke out yet again as we squeezed our way through the narrow turnstiles and up the steps into the arena: to be greeted with a Union Jack fluttering proudly. However my disdain turned to disbelief at the sight of the stadium. Various countries flags were positioned over a racing track that stood between the terraces and the pitch with high fencing all around giving it some sort of quasi European look. As a result the pitch seemed a million miles away from where we were standing. The main stand seemed to be only half built with one section adorning new seats and the other just wooden benches. There were various Portakabins dotted around and we made our way to the only open one for our pie and Bovril.
Unfortunately on medical advice Jamie couldn't have a pie or Bovril (not sure if this applies for the remainder of the season) so he asked for some chips 'n cheese. The woman behind the counter apologised saying she didn't have any of that skooshy cheese. Baffled, Jamie happily accepted this but his relief at avoiding cheese in a can was tempered somewhat when he was given a carton of chips with three cheese slices on top. It was hardly a la carte. To be fair Kieran and I had a supposed 'Killie Pie' that was on offer but they turned out to be more of a sham than a Milli Vanilli concert.
We quickly realised we were standing amongst the Stirling Albion supporters (a decent turnout as well from the visitors) so we wandered round to behind the goals, an entire end to ourselves. The opening half hour was entertaining enough with Cowdenbeath looking sharper out the blocks, taking the lead after just 5 minutes. Stirling rallied and somehow found themselves 2-1 up at the break. By this point we had moved back round to where the Cowdenbeath and Stirling fans had mingled on the terrace. The second half was dreadful with Stirling happy to sit and soak up any Cowdenbeath attack of which there was very little. The highlight of the half came off the park as a 'Blue Brazil' fan and a visiting supporter exchanged often heated insults at one another much to our amusement. In the end Stirling grafted out the 2-1 win to remain top of the table.
As we departed the self titled 'Fife Maracana' the various battered and mangled racing cars were already arriving and the queues building for a night of motor madness. It merely added another layer of surrealism to an already wonderfully bizarre football trip.
Special mention has to go to the programme Cowdenbeath produce - The Blue Brasilian. An extremely informative and witty insight into players and games past and present.
Journey - 5/10
Pie - 1/10
Bovril - 4/10
Ground - 8/10
Game - 5/10