Who Are These Jobbers?
Scottish football is great, isn’t it? Once you bypass the sectarianism and general Springfield v Shelbyville nature of the Old Firm, you can take a lovely deep dive into the very pure nature of the beautiful game north of the border. There are so many layers of deliciousness to unpack when it comes to fitba that at times I am intensely jealous of.
Just a cursory glance at The Terrace Scottish Football Podcast’s best moments of 2017/18 Twitter thread throws up some absolute golden occurrences that we are sorely missing out on down south.
Incredible moments such as Queen of the South’s goalkeeper being injured by a cow, Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha arguing with fans in a bush in Luxembourg following a Europa League defeat, Gary Mackay-Steven falling into the River Kelvin after a night out in Glasgow, Hearts forgetting to order seats for their new stand, Hamilton Academicals being the victim of a bank fraud and just the entirety of Rangers TV.
Even our latest pre-season opponents made the list as the St Mirren faithful pelted former manager and Sunderland legend (?) Alex Rae with snowballs during half-time against Dundee United. Yes, Scotland has a truly unique football culture and one that I would like to fully embrace.
This will be billed as the Jack Ross Derby as our dashingly handsome manager heads back to Paisley to see those Buddies’ supporters that were so enamoured with him. So, what’s the craic with St Mirren?
*fires up Wikipedia*
Okay, formed in 1877, very good, promoted back to the Premiership in 2018, all checks out, play at St Mirren Park, that’s nice, managed by Alan Stubbs….
Wait, managed by who?!
Alan Stubbs? THE Alan Stubbs? The Alan Stubbs that abandoned Sunderland at the first sign of trouble despite them being the only club that would give him a contract? THAT Alan Stubbs? The one that admitted to openly celebrating when Sunderland conceded a last-minute winner to Everton while he still contracted to Sunderland?
THAT Alan Stubbs? Is snow forecast for Saturday? Anyone got a runaway cow? Anyway, enjoy the pie and Bovril in Bonny Scotland.
How Do I Get There?
It feels a little odd travelling north for a Sunderland away match, don’t you think? There isn’t the fond farewell to the Monkwearmouth Bridge and one last look at the seaside before being welcomed into the open arms of the A19. We haul our weary bones to the bourgeois south week after week, but it is now us where the land above us looks down and ask “where dae ye think ya gooooin’, laddie?” (I don’t know, I can’t write in a Scottish dialect, if I could I’d be all over Twitter hoovering up monster numbers).
Anyway, shall we go to St Mirren?
Unless you’re a complete moron, you’ll know that St Mirren isn’t actually a place and The Buddies play at St Mirren Park in Paisley, a short distance away from Glasgow.
If you’re driving take the A1 out of Sunderland heading towards Newcastle before exiting for the A69 at Denton Burn and begin your venture westwards. Join the M6 at junction 44 before meeting the A74 (M) at Gretna heading up to Glasgow where it will become the M74. Exit at junction 22 for the M8 following the signs for Paisley. Leave at junction 29 and take the second exit for the A726 and you will be able to find St Mirren Park (or Paisley 2021 Stadium).
Parking at the stadium is for permit holders only so find yourself some good old fashioned street parking. If you get lost, plop PA3 1RU into your sat nav.
If you’re voyaging across by train then you will have to change at Glasgow Central Station before hopping on a short train to Paisley. The closest station is Paisley St James, which is directly opposite the stadium.
A Love Supreme buses leave the Stadium of Light at 9am with fares costing £30. Book your place here.
Where Can I Get The Sesh Started?
You’ll be pleased to know Scotland has jumped fully on board with the ‘build-a-stadium-near-absolutely-nothing’ craze that has been taking England by storm for decades. Fortunately, Paisley is a veritable hive of alehouses, bars, taverns and saloons (God bless, university towns).
The consensus of paisley.org.uk - Paisley on the web! - the foremost website for all things Paisley, The Old Swan on Smithhills Street is the place to be for all you happening folk. According to the informative website, it has a “range of old and new clientele” and “Jacqueline who runs it was very welcoming”. What better endorsement could you want?
Should you decide to hop off at Paisley Gilmour Street Station then The Bankhouse is within walking distance while the delightfully named Hamishes’ Hoose on High Street is only a couple of minutes away. Let’s be honest though, you cannot come to Scotland and not visit a bar called Kilty Kilty. You’ll find this trendy watering hole on New Street and it’s open until 2am on Saturdays.
Alternatively, I don’t know, you could go to Glasgow or something.
I’m Staying Owa, Is There Owt To Do?
In Paisley, Sunderland has found a kindred spirit in both despising Coventry. While Sunderland supporters will drone on and on about Jimmy Hill and when we got relegated in 1970-whatever-it-was-ages-ago-please-let-it-go, we can now join hand-in-hand with our new Paisley friends to direct our ire to the suburb of Birmingham.
You see, both Paisley and Sunderland lost out on the 2021 City of Culture bid to that absolute non-descript city. Despite this, Paisley still hosts a series of events to boost the profile of the town and support its arts and culture scene. One event in question is Africa - Paisley 2021 which takes place at Paisley Town Hall on Saturday. It is a celebration of culture, music, food and fashion - there’s even some face-painting going on as well.
Hey, have you ever wanted to learn about the thread mill industry in Renfrewshire? You have? Well, isn’t this a wonderful coincidence! The Paisley Thread Mill Museum is opening its doors to the public on Saturday afternoon! There’s also Disco Boogie Night at The Glynhill Hotel & Leisure Club, a Learn to Crochet - Afternoon Tea Experience at Ta Ta Bellas Tea Room and karaoke at the Balnagowan Arms.
Honestly, why would you ever dream of going back into Glasgow?
What’s The Ground Like?
You know the Pirelli Stadium at Burton Albion? Well, this is exactly the same without the fun of bowling about terraces. Yes, the sad reality of football teams leaving their spiritual home and moving to a hobikit stadium in the middle of an industrial estate is not mutually exclusive to English lower league sides.
St Mirren left the wonderfully named Love Street in 2009 - their home for 115 years - to move into a soulless, featureless stadium simply named ‘St Mirren Park’, later renamed Paisley 2021 Stadium but we all know how that bid went. While it probably is an upgrade on their old stomping ground, it does grind the gears when clubs of this ilk make this decision.
There probably is a very sensible decision behind the move and I probably haven’t delved deep enough into the history of St Mirren to find it for myself but, you know, I just like those old grounds. Hey, the players, management and fans may like it now so who am I to judge.
Anyway, Sunderland supporters are in the North Stand where you can shout a lot of things at Alan Stubbs.