Football Pies

Pie 183: The Forres Thistle Pie

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Hello pie fans and welcome to the second review from the Scottish Highlands as we dive into, what turned out to be, a rather substantial scotch pie offering from Logie Park.

If you want to read about the epic steak pie from the same venue then you can do so here, that one was definitely worth the 400+ mile round trip but before we find out if it was a day for double delight I wanted to give you an insight into that journey, one that very nearly resulted in an overnight stay in Forres itself.

The day started early, arriving at The Quiach, the regular post match watering hole for half eight with a roll and coffee in hand. There is a regular bunch that take the bus to these away games, and our numbers were boosted by an extra few who wanted to leave their cars at home and enjoy what had turned out be a first trip north in over five years.

The drive north was fairly uneventful, we rolled into town a couple of hours before kick off and quickly assessed our surroundings in search of the nearest pub knowing that the ground itself, which was situated on the outskirts, had no social club to fall back on. Having had a few in The Thistle Bar we boarded the bus and headed towards the ground which was situated at the end of a cul-de-sac in a residential area. There was no parking to speak off and so our driver Wullie made the bold – and what soon turned out to be foolhardy – decision to go off road and park up on the grass, 45 seconds later the bus was stuck.

The rain had been falling heavily the night before and in spells throughout the journey and whilst a couple of cars were already in situ there was a suspicion as the wheels moved away from the safety of concrete to swampy grass that trouble was imminent.

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It was. The wheels spun, and spun, and spun, the engine grunting and moaning as the gears were cranked over and over. Still in our seats we could feel the bus slip deeper and deeper into the mud, a look out the window showing the carnage being caused. We disembarked and did the only sensible thing by making our way into the ground hoping to resolve it at half time leaving a gaggle of bus drivers to get started. 45 minutes later, it was still stuck, and with Wullie looking more and more a broken man a few of us headed out and after some digging, some pushing and the snapping of at least two tow ropes (unused seatbelts) the bus was free, our camaraderie strengthened with the path home secure and our shoes a little muddied.

The trip itself was made by that bus story as the game was very little to write home about but as we made are way back towards the gate it was fair to say we had earned ourselves a pie. So without much further ado, let’s rate some pie.

Where: Logie Park, Forres Thistle 0-3 Pollok, Scottish Junior Cup Second Round

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Price: £2. I’ve noticed this is becoming a bit of a recurring trend where no matter the type of pie the price for each remains the same. £2 for a scotch pie is quite high for this level but then counter that with that being the same price as the steak and it all kind of balances out.

Presentation: Same as the steak on a double layer of kitchen roll.

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Meatiness: This pie was a whopper but quantity doesn’t always mean quality and to be honest I was a little bit disappointed with this one. The texture was what you would expect to see in a good scotch pie but my filling was a little cold meaning the flavours didn’t pop as much as you would want them too. The meat was a little pale and grey meaning that when eating your eyes that sense too felt a little underwhelmed.

Pastry: Much like the steak the top was a little loose from around the sides but it had a nice golden colour to it and held the substantial filling comfortably.

Brown Sauce: HP, elite sauce levels here.

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Overall: A big lump lacking a little a punch.

Gravy Factor: Bog standard bisto.

Think you have what it takes to be a judge at this year’s World Scotch Pie Championships, then luckily for you the organisers are running a competition which will see you become a judge for the day, details of which can be found below.

https://worldchampionshipscotchpieawards.org/be_a_judge_competition_.php

Next time out we are back in Ayrshire to cast our eyes over the Irvine Meadow Macaroni Pie. Until next time, go forth and eat pie!

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. Editor of Leading the Line, A member of the Scottish Women’s Football Media Team and a contributor to various football websites, podcasts and publications. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part-time Madrileno with a passion for food and football that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

 

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Pie 182: The Forres Thistle Steak Pie

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Hello and welcome to Meat Filled Pastries, this latest entry to the Pie Hall of Fame comes to you on Non League Day, a day where, with Scotland’s international exploits causing optical bleeding across the country, fans are afforded the opportunity to seek relief and turn their attention to the lower leagues of Scottish football.

Meat Filled Pastries was set up with a view on shining a light on these clubs, the players who graft by day and then train hard at night, the coaches who become WhatsApp admins and fine arbitrators, the fans who stand in the wind and the rain, who share pints in strange little corner bars with their chosen travelling few, the volunteers who line the park, run the gate, bellow out the prizes on offer during the half time draw and of course, dish out sustenance to the ravenous hoards from kiosks of all shapes and sizes. Every one of whom are happy to call the beautiful game their mistress.

With the gap between the rich and the poor ever widening, with the relationships between those at the top and those in the terraces becoming more strained and distant I am forever grateful to the home that non-league football has provided me to embrace my fandom. If you’re reading this and still not decided to head to a game today then I encourage you to fire up your mobile and see what’s on offer near by.

Or, if you prefer, a bit further afield, something I found myself doing a couple of weeks ago as Pollok made the trip north to face Forres Thistle in the Scottish Junior Cup. There will be more on that journey in the next review but naturally, after having had a few beers, I headed to the hatch and made my order.

So without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Logie Park, Forres Thistle 0-3 Pollok, Scottish Junior Cup 2nd Round

Price: £2. An acceptable price for what was going to turn out to be an absolute belter of a steak pie.

Presentation: A double sheet of Kitchen roll. I assume more cost effective than a napkin but, having not yet fully investigated the finances behind this important part of the match day consumption process, an assumption is all that can be made. Either way those two sheets did the job required handily.

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Meatiness: Oh my, this was love at first bite. First the gravy, luscious and highly seasoned with a consistency that as you squeezed the pastry lid and base together gently let out a contented sigh of gravy, bulging the same way a full belly does after the belt has been loosened on a pair of trousers following a wholly satisfactory meal. The meat was tender and in generous sized chunks, toothsome, pleasingly tearing away from each other in strands exposing a wonderfully coloured steak still sporting a slight hue of pink. Multi-levelled deliciousness.

Pastry: Was it the prettiest pastry I had ever seen? No, the top was a little loose with the steam hole at the top showing signs of boil out as I peeled a salty sliver of what I like to call “gravy jerky” from the surface but it was beautifully baked. Thick enough to hold the filling but not too thick so that you end up with a raw inside coating with a lovely golden tinge all around.

Brown Sauce: No, no, no, no, no, no, no. No.

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Overall: Generous helpings of steak wrapped in highly seasoned gravy and held within well baked pastry. Lovely.

Gravy Factor: 24 carat gravy.

I’ll be back with another review from Forres as I share what was an interesting match viewing experience.

However until next time, go forth and eat pie!

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. Editor of Leading the Line, A member of the Scottish Women’s Football Media Team and a contributor to various football websites, podcasts and publications. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part-time Madrileno with a passion for food and football that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 181: The Hibs Ladies Mince Pie (c/o Spartans FC)

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Hello again and I’m back with another Leith laced pie offering as I headed to the north of Edinburgh for some Scottish Women’s Cup Quarter Final action as Hibernian Ladies hosted Hamilton Academical. For me, knockout football is the best form of the game that we all love. A game of all-or-nothing (yes, I know about replays you fun sponge!) with heightened stakes and no guarantee of ultimate glory, it may not be the definitive indicator of who the best team in a tournament is week in and week out but come final day you can almost always find a narrative, whether it be an underdog’s story, an unexpected hero, the dawning of a new era or the crowning moment of a successful dynasty.

It should be the thing that everybody wants to be in and nobody wants to be out of and in Scotland, I believe that we are fortunate to be in a position that all clubs still approach these tournaments in that manner.

That is no different in the women’s game and so I headed east in search of some piping hot cup action and of course a cheeky little pastry. So without much further ado let’s rate some pie!

Where: Ainslie Park, Hibernian 3-0 Hamilton Academical, Scottish Women’s Cup Quarter Final

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Price: £2 is a top end price for what some may view as a standard pie offering whilst conversely for those of you that would view this as a luxury item £2 is pretty fair. I’m somewhere in the middle.

Presentation: This pie came served on an off white paper plate, always a bit of a novelty, with some self service deep-blue coloured napkins. Sturdy base for peak pie consumption.

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Meatiness: This was really moreish but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. The filling, being a mince pie as opposed to scotch, was a lot looser with a more gravy like consistency with beef being the star of the show. It was well seasoned and there was a spicing to it that made my taste buds curious whilst also yearning for more. Enjoyable stuff.

Pastry: The pastry was fairly standard, held well and had a smooth top bringing pack memories of Bell’s pies of reviews past. This though was a level up.

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Brown Sauce: Wee sachets of HP. I always feel the wee sachets are a bit stingey in terms of the volume of sauce within but it was help yourself so I could dab aaway to my hearts content.

Overall: Decent pastry with a moreish meaty filling.

Gravy Factor: Goodness gravy me.

Next up I have a double dunt from the North Region Juniors and Logie Park, home of Forres Thistle.

However until next time, go forth and eat pie!

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. Editor of Leading the Line, A member of the Scottish Women’s Football Media Team and a contributor to various football websites, podcasts and publications. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part-time Madrileno with a passion for food and football that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 180: The SWNT Macaroni Pie (c/o Hibernian)

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There is a very Hibs heavy theme to this most recent tranche of reviews. It’s not deliberate, but with the women’s side being involved in the league, Scottish Cup and Women’s Champions League and the national side playing their most recent Euro 2021 qualifier at Easter Road, the fates have seen the north of Edinburgh become a hub of meat filled musings.

I’ve mentioned before that I now cover Scottish women’s football fairly extensively and in the last couple of weeks I have made the decision to move Meat Filled Pastries sister site, Leading the Line, to exclusively cover women’s football, particularly in Scotland. If you’re into that kind of thing I would highly recommend giving it a follow and of course subscribing to the podcast too.

Catering is still an evolving concept in Scottish women’s football but at Easter Road it has long been a staple so without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Easter Road, Scotland 8-0 Cyprus, Euro 2021 Qualifying Group E

Price: After driving from west to east through the torrential rush hour rain and, having forgot that dinner is a very important part of the day, I share no shame in claiming this pie for free as part of my role covering the game.

Presentation: Presented in the press lounge in a couple of big silver catering trays with on-brand large green napkins for moping any residuals from the corner of my mouth.

CheesyPastainess: Pretty tasty. It was generously filled with the cheese sauce wrapped around well cooked macaroni curls. There was no flouriness to the taste or the texture and the additional sprinkling of cheddar across the top had bubbled to just the right level, the best side of crispy to ensure the colour had changed but there was no burning on top or the cheese all coming off in one bite.

Pastry: Unlike a lot of macaroni pies the pastry here had a good golden tinge to it. There was a little bit of boil out which can be expected with cheese such a key component of the filling. It held the filling admirably and could be relied on in the tilt, a hand position that needs to be taken with the unpredictable macaroni potentially ready to tumble at any moment.

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Brown Sauce: As always with a macaroni pie I mix things up on the condiment front with a dod of tomato ketchup straight from a bottle of Heinz.

Overall: Pastry that held well encasing a nicely flavoured and generously portioned macaroni filling.

Gravy Factor: There’s a touch upon my lips, and that touch is a tasty macaroni pie.

I did say at the start that Hibernian would be a recurring theme and that theme continues as next up is a Mince Pie (not a Scotch pie) from Ainslie Park as Hibs Ladies hosted Hamilton Academical in the Quarter Finals of the Scottish Women’s Cup. As well as another new pie you can also look forward to me shoehorning some more Proclaimers based puns into this piping hot content. However until then, go forth and eat pie!

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. Editor of Leading the Line, A member of the Scottish Women’s Football Media Team and a contributor to various football websites, podcasts and publications. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part-time Madrileno with a passion for food and football that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

 

 

 

Pie 179: The Workington AFC Steak Pie

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The August Bank Holiday Monday is braw. In my particular part of Scotland, for most, this is a normal working day with the September Weekend taking precedent but for the rest of the UK, including me, it is a day where everything truly shuts down. That is everything bar the football and as such I have now made a habit of firing up the Groundhopper App and seeing what’s within a comfortable day’s reach.

Workington AFC, situated towards the Cumbrian coast, has long been on my radar and on discovering that they were to be at home to the wonderfully named Pontefract Collieries I booked my train tickets to head south of the border on what turned out to be a wonderfully sunny day.

Being a city boy it always strikes me how much towns such as Workington completely shut down during these days with the ten minute walk from the station to the ground feeling like a cut scene from Shaun of the Dead, the streets empty and doors closed. To be a resident on days like this would certainly take some getting used to but I knew I had dealt with any concerns about not being able to get a couple of pints during some pre-match scouting which revealed that the Tony Hooper Bar located inside the ground would be able to provide exactly what I was looking for.

I was even more grateful when it was announced that the visitors had been delayed by 45 minutes as a result of traffic and so, as I sat down to my second fruity cider of the day I decided it was time to deal with the real reason I was here, so without much further ado let’s rate some pie!

Where: Borough Park, Workington AFC 2-1 Pontefract Collieries, Northern Premier League Division One North West

Price: Much like in the case of the Bohemian’s Pie there was an option to turn my single pie into a proper feast with a Steak Pie being served with chips, peas and gravy for just £5. A deal like that is an insta-take after a couple hours of travelling.

Presentation: This meal came in a long, rectangular, yellow polystyrene box with cutlery and napkins available on a table beside the service window located in the bar.

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Meatiness: I had a slight worry as I went in to consume this pastry driven by a conversation between the person ahead of me in the queue and the kiosk proprietor who had suggested that it would be better with the gravy as the steak pies had come out “a bit dry”. It was a concern rightly shared because as I pulled apart the pastry with my plastic knife and fork it became clear that there was indeed very little gravy held within.

The meat was nice enough, fine strands with a slight hint of ale on the tastebuds, but it was indeed pretty dry and I soon found myself dipping my forkfuls into the pastry’s gravy surroundings. Tasty but perhaps needing a little more filling and a little less baking.

Pastry: The pastry had a good colour on it and proved to be a robust foe against my brittle cutlery. There was some boil out, again hinting at the dryness within, but the gravy helped soften everything although the bottom was not forgiving and I ended up picking that up like a form of meaty biscuit to make consumption much easier.

Brown Sauce: No brown sauce needed here thanks to the generous ladles of gravy, and side of mint-tinted mushy peas. The chips, which I should probably mention here, were fine.

Overall: Bit dry but gravy saved the day whilst paying just a fiver for a full lunch is value that can’t be sniffed at.

Gravy Factor: Glad it had some.

A decent pie was accompanied by an enjoyable game at Borough Park, with the home side running out 2-1 winners, the last ten minutes being particularly entertaining as the referee totally lost control of the game.

Next up I’m in Scotland’s capital where the women’s national side started their Euro 2021 qualifying campaign against Cyprus at Easter Road. I was working, but I still managed to snaffle a pastry.

However until next time, go forth and eat pie!

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. Editor of Leading the Line, A member of the Scottish Women’s Football Media Team and a contributor to various football websites, podcasts and publications. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part-time Madrileno with a passion for food and football that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 178: The Hibs Ladies Bridie (c/o Penicuik Athletic)

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Hello and welcome to Meat Filled Pastries, your home of Scottish football baking. It’s taken a wee while to get around to writing this next batch of reviews, so my apologies for that. I’m currently going through a glut of women’s football work and writing which is wonderful but is also keeping me very busy and hopefully your appetite was sated by my History of Pie and Bovril piece. People seemed to like that which was nice.

This review comes from Penicuik Park, normal home of East of Scotland Penicuik Athletic but, for one sodden August evening, also home to Hibernian Ladies as they took on Stirling University in the Scottish Women’d Cup. A 300+ crowd turned up for the game and with team sheets, kiosk and even a half time draw the game had a right “proper” feel to it.

I go back on forth on the entry requirements for SWPL football in Scotland, I think cover is necessary, but personally I can cope without seats, especially when sometimes the view and comfort of the seating is highly questionable *cough* Ravenscraig *cough*, and I think a more holistic view of fan experience sometimes needs to be taken into consideration. I’m writing these next three reviews whilst watching Chelsea v Spurs in the Women’s Super League and the level of coverage being afforded to the women’s game in England is something that Scotland has to find a way of grabbing on to. I continue to remain more hopeful, as opposed to expectant though.

One of the things that sometime’s leaves a little to be desired at women’s games is the catering so I was pleasantly surprised to see a fully stocked hut to make my dinner selection from. Having already had the Penicuik Athletic Pie some years ago I scanned the whiteboard before choosing myself a bridie and so, without much further ado, let’s rate some pie.

WherePenicuik Park, Hibernian Ladies 5-0 Stirling University, Scottish Women’s Cup 3rd Round

Price: At £1.50 this was very reasonably priced in the context of the non-league surroundings.

Presentation: This pie was handed to me wrapped in a double layer of circle-dimpled kitchen roll, more substantial than the standard white napkin which, of course, means that it was more than capable of doing the job required.

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Meatiness: I was ready to wax lyrically about this bridie, my natural inclination at present is to promote anything Scottish women’s football related to act as a counter to the many questions and observations that I have on a near game by game basis but, if I’m being honest, this bridie filling was just OK.

It was a little shy on quantity and what was there was needing a little extra crack of salt and pepper. It did the job but left me pining for something more.

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Pastry: The pastry was golden, aided by a brush of egg glaze before baking with the end result having the look more of an empanada than a bridie. It was really well baked on the outside and there was some flaking but as I peered inside, using the floodlights to guide me, I noticed there was a pretty raw looking layer of pastry. This will have hindered the balance, naturally dulling all the favours that it surrounded, and again whilst it was fine, it wasn’t one that was going to live long in the memory.

Brown Sauce: It probably could have done with a wee squirt of something but the bridie, in my opinion, is not a naturally condiment receptacle so none was used here.

Overall: It was all fine but the filling needed some added punch and to be more generous whilst the pastry was golden but also not quite right underneath.

Gravy Factor: Meh.

I don’t want this review to undermine the fantastic effort made by ‘Cuikie to host this midweek tie. They fully embraced the responsibility and also saw it as an opportunity to not only support women’s football but to also ensure that should Hibernian need a temporary home again then they would be first in line.

Next up is a special trip south of the border where I review the Workington AFC Steak Pie. However until next time, go forth and eat pie!

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. Editor of Leading the Line, A member of the Scottish Women’s Football Media Team and a contributor to various football websites, podcasts and publications. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part-time Madrileno with a passion for food and football that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Scottish Football Histories: Pie and Bovril

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It’s just hit quarter to three on a Saturday afternoon and I’m hungry. I’m always hungry at this time on a Saturday. Years of conditioning have meant that my arrival on the terraces is almost immediately followed with me presenting the questions, “Pie?’, “Bovril?”, to those around me. They are after all, to quote one of the country’s most well known fans website, “The staple diet of Scottish Football”. I have seen the devastation should one, or even both, drop to the floor. The joy and disappointment of that first bite and, on one occasion, seen them sent flying towards an official after a disagreement about an offside decision. For many, myself included, no match day experience can be complete without this humble pair, but how did they come to be so intrinsically linked with our national game and what is it about them that has seen them endure?

Given how ubiquitous they are to each other it is perhaps no surprise to learn that references to both in the newspaper archives come from the same time over 120 years ago. In the Friday 23rd September edition of the Glasgow Evening Post from 1892 an advert for a “Grand Football Match” at Ibrox promised “Bovril Served Hot”, accompanied by the sub heading, “Guard yourself against the possibilities of the chill or cold by drinking Bovril.” A description that seemed to suggest a cup of Bovril, taken either before or after the match, could have the same kind of health boosting properties that would be much later attributed to a bottle of Lucozade and a punnet of grapes. The Ibrox chiefs hadn’t stopped there though. In the same week an article in Scottish Referee boldly announced the news of An Innovation” as cups of Bovril were to be accompanied by hot pies with Rangers Secretary Mr. McAndrew accredited with “looking after the football public by placing within their reach refreshments of the best kind.” The spread at Ibrox was again gaining praise in a 1902 edition of the Dundee Evening Post with Bovril Hot Chocolate now available, “vended by a small army of boys smartly dressed in chef’s uniforms.” The drink was so popular in Glasgow’s south side that for a while one of the stands at Ibrox would become affecteonality knows as the Bovril Stand thanks to the large advertising presence within it. Bovril, along with the increasingly present scotch pie, had been a hit, with a further article in The Perthshire Advertiser from the same year proclaiming that the beverage “crowns the enjoyment (of a football match), with thrilling, warming, sustaining and invigorating comfort”. The marketeers had struck gold.

I realise that at this point, for some, knowing both what Bovril is and what constitutes a Scottish football pie will be in themselves the revelations of this piece. For those in the know, of which I am sure there will be many, then view this next paragraph as a quick history lesson to help provide some further context.

Bovril is, when put in simple terms, a beef tea, however to simplify it would be to undermine the complexity of this highly salted beef extract. Originally developed as a paste by Scotsman John Lawson Johnston in the 1870s his Johnston’s Fluid Beef was created as a solution to the task of having to supply Napoleon’s French Army with one million cans of beef without having the meat to do so. It would prove to be a huge success and in 1889 the Bovril company was formed. The name Bovril translating itself to mean “strength of an ox”, derived from the first two letters of the word “Bovine” and the letters “vril” taken from the electromagnetically charged “Vril-ya”, a superior being in the Edward Bulwer-Lytton novel The Coming Race.

With the brand now established it was often used to substitute meat during the war years and in the 1960s a granular form would hit the shelves to challenge more traditional stock starter products. A recipe change by current owners Unilever in 2004, means that Bovril is now vegetarian friendly however the taste remains the same and it’s that product that still hits the terraces to this day.

The history of pies is far longer but in some ways much easier to surmise as the concept of producing portable and time hardy meals date back tens of thousands of years. Even if we focus solely on the scotch pie, the quintessential match-day pastry, the date of first conception still remains fairly vague with a common consensus that they first appeared around 500 years ago, although whether they were first conceived in Scotland or England is still up for debate, much like all good Anglo-Scots origins stories.

Scotch pies are traditionally shaped into a round hot water crust shell and then filled with mutton and highly spiced with pepper, each butcher and baker in turn having their own variations on the theme. This variety led to the announcement of the first ever World Scotch Pie Championships in 1999 – founded by the Scotch Pie Club, an organisation itself formed just three years previous. The competition has grown considerably since with over 500 products entered at the 20th anniversary judging across 11 categories including, Best Football Pie and I am very fortunate that for a number of years now I have been part of these judging days as a result of my own pie obsession. It is also a commercial boon for any category winner. During an interview I conducted at the 2019 Awards, 2018 World Scotch Pie Champion Alan Pirie from the tiny village of Newtyle in Angus, told of how the day after he won the World Championship he received an order for 8000 of his winning pastries.

It hasn’t always been plain sailing for the scotch pie though as a recipe from a 1940 edition of the Daily Mirror showed. With meat supplies diminished during the Second World War, homemakers were encouraged to substitute mutton for beef and stretch their protein rations out even further with the addition of a can of tomato soup. A part soup/part beef pie would certainly raise a few eyebrows on the terraces these days but the scotch pie is not the only pastry vying for real estate on the tastebuds of Scottish football fans. Steak, haggis, curry, macaroni, vegan and novelty offerings such as The Breakfast Pie, a full Scottish breakfast wrapped in pastry, are just some of the variations that can be found in kiosks across the country but it is the legend of the Killie Pie that perhaps most endures.

Ask a question about pies in Scotland, and almost everyone will tell tales of The Killie Pie. A marriage of steak and gravy that transcends the terraces and has made its way into Scottish popular culture. When asking a fan the question, “Who does the best pies?” it will be often answered with a strong “Kilmarnock” despite the respondent having sampled a mere handful of its contemporaries, if any at all. Buyer beware though as The Killie Pie of today is not the same pie of Rugby Park Saturday’s past. A 2016 trademark dispute between Kilmarnock FC and suppliers Brownings the Bakers (who originally produced the two time Best Football Pie award winner) over the use of the word “Killie” meant that the original is no longer available with the Ayrshire side since changing supplier. The rebranded “Kilmarnock Pie” from Browning’s remains readily available outside of the KA1 postcode though and can even be bought in some supermarkets as well as popping up at a number of non-league venues in the region. Pies in Scotland mean business.

As does Bovril, especially in a country where football is usually viewed through a shivering lens, and there are more than a few idiosyncrasies that keep what constitutes a good and bad bovril distinct in the eyes of the consumer. For some, it isn’t complete without a few shakes of the pepper pot, done to add that little extra kick. For others there’s a kind of masochism in getting a really poorly mixed beverage. The paste or powder forming a ridiculously salty gloop at the bottom of the cup that you can’t help but stick your finger in before inevitably recoiling as a result of the over-exposure of savouriness that your taste buds have just undergone. Whilst big stadiums have high pressure water taps and scientifically costed measurements to do the mixing for you, the real joy of a Bovril comes from drinking it from an open polystyrene cup on a freezing cold day with the aroma visibly wafting across your cheeks and up your nostrils as you take those first few sips.

You can’t talk about the traditions of pie and bovril without acknowledging what the potential future may hold. The battle that clubs face in ensuring that their ground is where fans spend their free time has never been more contested, not just in a sporting context, but also when competing with lower cost, family friendly alternatives. In the 2018/19 Scotland Supporters Network Survey both cheaper catering and the sale of alcohol featured amongst the top five most suggested improvements to the match day experience and the presence of chips, burgers and hot dogs have long been a match day eating consideration. Whilst traditional tastes will always have their place it’s fair to ascertain that this diversification of the match day menu can only help to appease the demands of the fans. The same survey revealed that only 18% of them believe that Scottish Football is committed to a “high-quality fan experience.” and catering will be a significant consideration within that. For clubs to ignore this feedback would be at, best careless and at worst, ignorant.

I suspect though, that despite the competition, these items with over 120 years of history will continue to endure. In a 2012 interview with the Harvard Press author of The Omnivorous Mind, John Allen stated that, “The taste, smell, and texture of food can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back memories not just of eating food itself but also of place and setting.” It’s a statement that resonated with me as I thought about my own experiences on the terrace.

The exchange of coins, followed by a squirt of sauce and that first joyous bite. The solidifying of the grease that has dribbled down your thumb on a freezing December afternoon. Taking a couple of blows on a piping hot Bovril before taking the tiniest of sips to condition your mouth and then the inevitable scalding that will ruin your tongue for the days that follow. Those disappointments when the sold out signs go up and the excitement you feel when striding towards an away day pie hut you have been waiting all season for. For this fan at least, those old familiar feelings, will never be replaced.

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. Editor of Leading the Line, A member of the Scottish Women’s Football Media Team and a contributor to various football websites, podcasts and publications. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part-time Madrileno with a passion for food and football that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.