Meadowbank Thistle 6 Raith Rovers 0: Lessons To Be Learned

Added on 22 October 2011

Saturday 9th November 1985, a cold, bleak afternoon in Edinburgh. Like most Saturday afternoons in the 80's, I was watching Meadowbank Thistle in the company of my dad and my brother.

(Yes, I'm revisiting the day that Meadowbank beat Raith Rovers 6-0, which I've written about before, but some things demand to be written about again. And again.)

My dad and I started watching Meadowbank in the late 70's, going to the games that were close to hand, like Clyde and Queens Park, and slowly branching out to the Bernabéus of the north such as Cliftonhill and Ochilview Park. The first year we got a season ticket for Meadowbank Stadium, my dad called up and was put through to the Chairman. They gave us a father and son ticket, even though I was seventeen. By the end of the season I had grown so embarrassed of this legalised form of lifting me over the barriers, that I was paying myself in even though I could get in on my dad's ticket. (And when I say that I was paying myself in, obviously my dad was paying for it.)

My brother, who had some years earlier gone rogue and started supporting Celtic, joined us in the early 80's, and for the next ten years we pitched up at various shitty little football grounds in the pantheon of Scottish lower division football, getting our backsides frozen off and eating a panoply of bad pies.

In Meadowbank's history their biggest victory was 6-0, which they achieved twice. The first time was against Stenhousemuir. It was some time in the 70's, before we were regulars. We missed it, although we'd almost gone that day until I decided I couldn't be bothered. As the years passed, and 1-0's and 2-1's piled on top of 3-1's and 0-0's it looked like we might never actually get to see a 6-0. My name remained mud.

That bleak Saturday afternoon at Meadowbank Stadium the team arrived with four wins in thirteen league games so far that season, so no one was getting too excited. It was a particularly cold day, one of those days when it might say that it's 8 degrees, but when forty-five minutes of really shite football makes it feel like you're sitting in a freezer. The score at half-time was 0-0. I remember turning to my dad and saying, 'Let's get the fuck out of Dodge.'

Well, maybe not quite in those words, but I was definitely gripped by a sudden Robin Williams Dead Poets Society-esque seize-the-day vibe; why sit in misery, gloom and despair, waiting for someone to do something other than kick a ball as hard as possible in the direction they were facing, when we could get out of there, be free, and go and do something magnificent. I doubt I suggested that we ought to go and walk the Silk Road, invade a small African republic, row across the Atlantic or water ski the length of the Amazon; probably something more akin to eating dinner and watching Morse, but I was taken by the desire to get the fuck out of Dodge all the same.

My dad, not one to be gripped by such flights of spontaneity, refused. And then, out of nowhere, came the most majestic forty-five minutes of attacking, flowing football. A beautiful game. Chance after chance at both ends, the game could have finished 10-10. Instead, it finished 6-0 to Meadowbank, which I admit makes the memory all the more palatable. (Although the memory of Meadowbank losing 8-1 to Kilmarnock at the Stadium is equally vivid.)

What lessons can we learn from the game when Meadowbank beat Raith Rovers 6-0?

  • Football is a funny game.
  • Football is a game of two halves.
  • Never walk the Silk Road in haste, as you might miss something.

Earlier this year when a well known Scottish crime writer became a director of Raith Rovers, I sent a message on Twitter reminding her of the 6-0 thrashing. She never replied. Well all I have to say is: Gordon Brown! David Steel! Adam Smith! John Rebus! Val McDermid - can you hear me, Val McDermid!? Your boys took one hell of a beating!

Sadly, the next time the teams played, we lost 3-0. Yes, they were dancing in the streets of Raith that evening.