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In Search of the SWPL

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The second half of the Scottish Women’s season is about to get underway following the traditional midsummer break. Hibernian and Glasgow City sit head and shoulders above the rest with the Edinburgh side looking to end City’s 11 year run of domestic dominance. Both sides on 35 points with 11 wins and two draws to their names with an end of season showdown already feeling inevitable. I often attend women’s games, choosing real life entertainment against whatever Premier League fixture have cobbled together under the guise of “Super Sunday” but for many a stigma remains, one that dictates that the quality isn’t very good and that nobody really cares. But what’s the cause of this and is there a resolution to be found?

A first attempt to find a list of women’s fixtures instantly flags an issue. Whilst the Scottish Women’s Football (SWF) website is a reliable source, including regularly updated kick off times and locations across all senior women’s leagues it’s a resource that is only known to those that know. Google obviously helps but statistics dictate that your average fan is more than likely to head to one of the two behemoths of web/app based sports coverage in the UK, namely the BBC and Sky Sports. The problem is should you rely solely on these then your search for Scottish women’s fixtures will be ultimately fruitless.

This, along with coverage in general, been a constant source of bemusement to me for some time, with BBC Scotland particularly culpable such is their perceived lack of ability to cover the mere basics. A deficiency made even more stark when you look at the coverage the women’s game gets south of the border on the very same site. While an entire subsite is dedicated to the women’s game direct from the BBC Sport home page this is very much an England centric proposition. Here you can find latest news from the clubs, view fixtures and league tables. It would be remiss of me not to mention that Scottish football does feature but the aforementioned basics are nowhere to be found.

Then there is the Women’s Football Show a regularly scheduled look at the going on’s within the Women’s Super League (WSL) including match highlights and interviews with prominent figures. The Women’s FA Cup Final is now a key part of the BBC’s May Bank Holiday schedule, broadcast in full HD and with over 45,000 in attendance at this years final. It feels like a big deal. Meanwhile in Scotland fans are treated to BBC Alba and picture quality that would have raised cries of derision twenty years ago. At least you’ll get to brush up on your Gaelic. There will be some people who read this and automatically go into defence mode, how it’s not Scotland’s fault and how we are forever marginalised on a UK scale. There is a smidgen of merit in that, anybody who has lived in the south of England particular will have had at least one conversation about Scotland that has left you dumbfounded in its ignorance but are the people that should be held for account not those in charge of the BBC Sport Scotland mandate? Is it not their job to be that voice?

There is some evidence they are trying though, albeit in a near typical backwards fashion. During the World Cup a common consensus formed that Alex Scott – by taking the rare approach of combining enthusiasm and research to her football punditry brief – was a welcome addition to the coverage. Sportscene had already followed that path somewhat and have had current and former Scottish Women’s footballers appear on Sportscene and Radio Scotland to pass comment on frequent occasion although the coverage itself on these outlets can sometimes leave a lot to be desired. There is also, usually, a couple of articles buried on the Scottish Football section of the website giving a summary of the weekend’s action although it’s regular brevity leaves you wondering how much pressure is put on to produce high quality content. BBC Alba does at least play the game a little, not only showing the Scottish Cup Final but regular coverage of both international women’s football and the odd Glasgow City European adventure, though once again you do have to ask if this really is the best way to get new eyes on the game?

I’m not sure that the blame should be left solely at the BBC’s door though. Imagine if you will that you have somehow made your way to the SWF website and now find yourself looking at the upcoming Sunday’s fixtures. The likelihood is that you will already support a men’s side and so naturally you peruse the page looking for their female equivalent.

Unfortunately that doesn’t always work.

Let’s take this weekend for example. Not only is it the return of the women’s season but it is also kick off time for the SPFL. On Sunday, Aberdeen play Rangers in the stand out fixture of the weekend as Steven Gerrard makes his league debut away to one of the teams his side will be looking to overhaul. With a 1pm Sunday kick off to allow for TV coverage you would think that this would provide you the perfect opportunity to get yourself down to your first women’s match. Well, I’m sorry to report, you would be wrong. Whilst the seagulls at Pittodrie look on in hungry anticipation of that first flung pie in the SWPL Aberdeen travel to Dalkeith to take on Hearts at 2pm whilst Rangers travel to Station Park to take on Forfar Farmington. The kick off time there? 1pm. So I ask, as a fan with a stronger connection to the men’s side than women’s of one of these two sides, what choice are you most likely to make? For many it’s an easy decision.

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This isn’t confined to same club conflicts though and often top women’s games are forced to clash with the best that Scottish football offer. For example, the 2017 Scottish Women’s Cup Final was played at the same time as the men’s Scottish League Cup Final. I mean give yourselves a chance! Now there’s reasons for this, pitch availability I have seen often cited but when the SWPL, and in turn the SFA, don’t make the game a priority how can they expect a fan too?

Irrespective of the challenges above you’ve thrown caution to the wind and picked a fixture, the next thing you need to know is where you need to go. Most women’s clubs will have somewhere that they call “home”. Teams with affiliations to their male counterparts will often ground share such as Forfar Farmington (Station Park) and St. Johnstone (McDiarmid Park). Some clubs will host their women’s fixtures at local junior or lower league ground such as Rangers at New Tinto Park just a ten minute walk from Ibrox and Hibernian at Ainslie Park home of Lowland League Spartans. The recurring theme, and by association the problem, is that while these teams will have a “home” none of them are a place that they could call their own and so on occasion they have to go on the move. Where they move to though is often telling of the challenges the women’s game in Scotland faces.

Let’s take a look at the 3rd Round of the SSE Scottish Women’s Cup. Scottish women’s football most successful club and current SWPL champions Glasgow City host league counterparts Stirling University. The dominant force in Scottish women’s football for well over a decade have been most recently based out of Petershill Park in the north of the city. For this tie, arguably the pick of the round, they find themselves based at St. Mungo’s Academy, a school linked sports complex close to their spiritual home. They’re not the only ones though, Hearts usually based from Kings Park, home of Dalkeith Thistle, host Spartans at Glencorse Community Centre. It’s hard for critics to take the women’s game seriously when you’re watching teams being hurried off the park because the local men’s amateur game is next up.

So you’ve managed to find a fixture, you’ve mapped your path there and triple checked the kick off time. You walk up to the venue and find yourself wondering just what should you expect from your first women’s football experience? The honest answer is pretty much anything.

Much like at any level or grade of football the quality of play in show could be anything from utterly mundane to totally ludicrous with the majority falling somewhere in between. For example, a Scottish Cup tie between Blackburn United and Ayr United that I attended earlier in the season finished 10-9 after extra time, it was a mere 8-8 after 90 minutes. The quality wasn’t great but the drama as the game ebbed and flowed would be the stuff of TV executive wet dreams. An hour later I was back in Glasgow watching a fairly tame 2-0 win for Queen’s Park against Morton. You are probably more likely to get the odd 15 goal procession as the standard varies greatly from top to bottom but even those sometimes provide their own strange little spectacle.

Quality of play aside, what else do you need to know? Well, it’s a bit of a bargain with even the top sides rarely charging more than £5 although I would suggest that you have low expectations around catering facilities. Scotland games aside I am yet to find a women’s game where a pie can be had although usually there’ll be a way to at least find a beverage. Also whilst modern football stadia confines you to just one seat, given the relative sparse nature of the crowds and the types of venues these games take place at, you will be free to roam the terraces looking for the perfect spot. You will also invariably end up in a conversation with someone who is usually a friend or relative of one of the players.

All that being said the experience you have will be very much dependent on your mindset going into it. If you go with expectations of seeing the female versions of Messi and Ronaldo duelling in front of a packed stadium then I suggest you have a re-think. If however, you turn up with an open mind then I suggest the experience you have will be considerably better than lying flat on your couch as Huddersfield and Southampton do battle in pursuit of 15th place in the Premier League.

In a country where the women’s national side is infinitely more successful than their male counterparts it seems strange to say that the domestic game hasn’t really progressed all that much. Whilst Hibernian have emerged as real challengers to Glasgow City’s monopoly on the SWPL title, a recent top of the table clash between the two had an attendance no more than a couple of hundred and was delayed due to a lower league game being played on the same pitch running late. Top Scottish players now in the main play abroad and I have no doubt that some of the challenges covered here will have played a part in that.

Taking all things into consideration though it is important that you don’t let the sparse attendances make you think that the SWPL doesn’t matter. That you don’t use the occasional sloppy pass as a trigger to question it’s quality. Don’t let a 12-0 win let you think it isn’t competitive and don’t let a lack of media presence let you think that it’s not worth talking about. So why not take a chance one Sunday afternoon, you just might like it.

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Pie 138: The Dumbarton Steak & Gravy Pie

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Those three days between the end of the World Cup and the start of my football season were some of the most challenging of my life. Yes, it was almost certainly the best tournament I had lived through but nothing ever really beats being at an actual game. I was excited to start at a new ground in Bo’ness and of course with a new pie review as I followed my team Pollok east for some friendly action. Imagine then my disappointment as I scanned the terraces of Newtown Park to see that my post work dash to West Lothian was not going to be rewarded with a meat filled pastry dinner. I really hoped this wasn’t going to be a sign of things to come.

Fast forward to the following Saturday and a message exchange with my Kilmarnock supporting mate from uni saw me off to Dumbarton. Going “undercover” as an away fan is always a unique experience, the fans tend to be that little bit more boisterous, fuelled by a travel beer or two, the characters slightly more eclectic and the whole day just that little bit more enjoyable than taking seat with some of the home team regulars.

Despite the pies selling out at half time due to the volume of travelling fans I had snagged a pie just past the half hour mark, and with it securely wrapped inside my paw I welcome you to Season 6 of Meat Filled Pastries with Pie 138: The Dumbarton Steak & Gravy Pie.

Without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: The C&G Systems Stadium, Dumbarton 2-4 KIlmarnock, Betfred Cup Group Stage

Price: As it was the first pie of a new season I thought I would treat myself to a little bit of luxury but at a whopping £2.60 – a full 70p more than a scotch pie – I was slightly aghast. Now maybe it’s because this was the first game of the season but when I looked up at the price board an audible “whit!” could be heard coming out my mouth. Remember this is Scottish League One fayre, not Ibrox or Parkhead. I was quite taken aback.

Presentation: A common presentation style for a steak based pie of a tinfoil case and medium-sized white napkin although the mis-shapen nature of the case (more pear shaped than round) should have hinted about the taste experience that was about to follow.

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Meatiness: The meat content of this pie was dispersed in some what of a higgledy piggledy manner meaning that at one side you were biting into some pastry lightly tickled by gravy whilst at the other there was a wealth of meaty treasure to be found. Various sized chunks of meat wrapped in a well seasoned if not particularly mind-blowing gravy. The meat was cooked well but didn’t leave you yearning for more nor wishing you’d never took a bite. It was just there.

Pastry: The pastry was on the surface fine. A nice golden tinge to the edges although the top was perhaps looking a little under-baked. The side walls had cracked quite a bit leaving its structural integrity in question but all in all it was holding and seemed passable without being in any danger of making it on “the best pies I have eaten” list. Then I took a bite. A bite of raw, sticking to the tinfoil bottom layer of something that  was…well it was awful. Claggy to the bite and with the ability to roll it up in a ball between my fingers. By the time I had finished my pie I needed more than a few slurps of fizzy pop to wash my mouth clean and seperate the paste from my teeth. Poor.

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Brown Sauce: Just a reminder that luxury pies require no brown sauce although in this instance it may have helped with the pastry.

Gravy Factor: We were on our way to an OK steak and gravy pie, with a golden if under-baked top and a decent filling however that base. That mush of paste masquerading as pastry was the definition of, no nice.

Overall: Not a fan.

Well I hope that’s not the season standard going forward. Luckily we have an early shot at redemption as I headed to Fife to take in a pre-season friendly between Kelty Hearts and Brora Rangers and of course scran a pie. I’ll keep you posted if anything interesting happens along the way, however, until next time go forth and eat pie.

Just maybe not this one.

One last thing. If you like football and scran then follow me on Twitter @MFPTasty and for a more food and travel based experience then have a look in Twitter for @mershdoes.

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, The Football Pink and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part-time Madrileno with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

 

 

International Soccer Scran Special: 1. FC Nürnberg

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With the regular football season now officially over, and the World Cup in Russia upon us now seemed as good a time as any to add another chapter to the International Soccer Scran Special Series, a long overdue summary of my trip to Bavaria and in particular the Max Morlock Stadion in Nuremberg, a footballing stop off during a stag weekend that took us to Munich and Augsburg too. In fact the initial plan was to head to the Bavarian Derby between the two aforementioned clubs but an imminent Bayern title party in Swabia coupled with the German fans renowned for selling out grounds meant that tickets were hard to come by and whilst some were acquired there was not enough to facilitate the entire group and so Plan B was formed and a day in Nuremberg awaited us. So without much further ado let’s get elbow deep in a world of pretzels, tiny sausages, beer and some coverage in a local news outlet.

Location

Nuremberg is situated an approximate two hour train journey from central Munich. There is a “slow” train and a “quick” train that takes you to and from Bavaria’s biggest and second biggest cities. Unsurprisingly the “slow” train is a bit cheaper and, even cheaper still if you’re travelling in a large group, with our fare tumbling from around 80 per person to just 15(ish). Although we did eventually get the cheaper fair we hadn’t planned the journey very well and so on the slow train we arrived into Nuremberg’s main station just ten minute’s before kick off. The fates started to turn in a favour though as on exiting the station we were greeted by a thankfully quiet taxi rank and a short 15 minute ride later, which passed a game between the home town teams youth side at the side’s training complex, we had arrived at the Max Morlock Stadion.

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The ground is like many stadia in Germany serviced with a running track with the main stands to the side providing a closer view whilst the oval curves at the end providing views, that whilst a bit further away, are excellent values for money. Having taken the stairs to our seats in the top deck I was intrigued by the view through the plexiglass to an open piece of land behind the stand. Luckily somebody more up on their history than me identifed this as The Nuremberg Rally Grounds, home to a decades worth of Nazi propaganda. The stadium itself used as a hosting ground for the Hitler Youth and Nazi centric sporting competitions. When you think about the many modern stadiums built beside wasteland, industrial estates and shopping centres on the edges of cities and towns this trip to Nuremeberg led to a surprising and unexpected moment of reflection back to very different times.

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Eating Outside the Ground

The Max Morlock Stadion, as previously hinted at, is situated a decent distance away from the main centre of Nuremberg and with very little around it so if you do have a preference for snacking before going to a game then I’d suggest hanging out in the centre where you have your expected mix of Bier Halles and high street restaurants. Beside the main station there is an interesting historical looking (although I suspect very modern) little conclave with some shops, cafes and bars. There’s plenty of options to choose from but I suspect a review of Nuremberg city centre is not what you came for though so let’s get out that taxi and into the ground.

Eating Inside the Ground

Entry into the stadium is via a gated perimeter which, one navigated, presents you with a decent selection of food and beverage options. As this was a stag do let’s start with the important stuff, an item close to every Bavarian’s heart, the beer. Firstly, and this is a strange thing to have to call out, they are alcoholic and can be taken into the stand with you. Served in a rather nifty branded plastic up, emblazoned with the 1. FC Nürnberg crest. A bit of further reasearch showed that this is a fairly common theme at grounds across Germany. I found myself thinking that if it wasn’t a) so fragile and b) be absolutely minging by the time you got it home, it would make a nice souvenir of your trip. I’d love to give you a price per pint but stag do’s aren’t necessarily the place for that kind of detail although if you had to push me I think it was around the £4 mark. Expensive but about average when you are part of a captive audience.

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Your main food options were, also refreshingly traditional, pretzels and sausage. I think it’s fair to say that you’ve not really experienced a pretzel until you’ve been handed a face size Bavarian version of this baked good. There were two varieties that I could see. Plain, dusted unmistakably with salt, and cheese. Naturally, I conspired to try both and whilst each provided that combination of soft white dough and chewy dark brown crust that anyone who has ever had a soft pretzel will know the cheese version provided that extra level of flavour that the plain salt didn’t have. The flavour profile enhanced by those crispy bits that only cheese can provide when it catches on the bottom of the tray. They really are the ideal snack/hangover meal replacement to go with a beer.

Post game and with the beer hunger still rumbling on I made use of another kiosk situated on the perimeter of the stands and had a roll and sausage. Not square, as often found back home in Scotland and neither large and long like the Bratwursts and Bockwursts of your Germanic dreams but a more local speciality known as the Nurnburger Rostbratwurst. Three of them to be precise, tidily stuffed inside a simple white bread bun like a trio of meaty soldiers and (when you actually manage to locate the condiments) topped with ketchup and mustard. Like their much larger wurst brothers these are usually grilled however their differentiation in flavour is the addition of marjoram to the sausage mix. Although the sausage is much smaller, meaning that the casing to meat ratio is drastically increased I enjoyed the more regular pop that these tiny, tasty bangers provide.

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German football is often championed as the crème de la crème in relation to a fans match day experience and with cheap tickets, noisy supporters, proper beer and a wide range of food options it’s easy to see why. It also, like football across the globe, gets covered extensively from the very bottom to the very top. Sometimes the local press will even grab a bunch of drunk Scottish folk in Where’s Wally outfits and ask them what they are doing there. So if your German is half-decent, and you want to see what our man Jambo made of our day then you can do so here.

1. FC Nurnberg Soccer Scran Top Tips

  • Big groups equal discounted travel from Munich, just get your timings right for kick off.
  • Take some paper towels with you so that you can take home a branded plastic cup for free.
  • If you’re sitting in the end nearest the main entrance then make sure to take a look at the Nuremberg Rally Grounds, might as well learn something whilst you’re here.

I had been to Germany a couple of times before this and somehow managed to conspire to not get to a football game so this was a good day for checking things off my footballing bucket list. Overall the version of Bavaria that I saw during my long weekend there played very much into the stereotype of beer, beer festivals, sausage, pretzels, and just when you think you can’t manage another one more beer (and sausages. and pretzels).

Next up I’ll tackle my biggest International Soccer Scran piece until last as I do a retrospective on my time in Madrid both last year and for a few days this covering games from the Bernabeu to the Polideportivo Vicente Del Bosque and everywhere in between.

However until next time go forth and eat pie (or pretzels!)

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, The Football Pink and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part-time Madrileño with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

 

Pie 137: The Glasgow Perthshire Pie

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So here it is, my last pie review of the 2017/18 season. A season that has taken me across Scotland and Spain with some stop offs in Germany and Portugal along the way. I went to my first game back in July with no inclination to start doing the pie reviews again as I thought it had run its course but I’m glad I’ve come back to it. It’s helped to re-kindle what has sometimes felt a lost love for writing and whilst I still struggle to juggle real life with my aspirational one I feel I’m slowly starting to win the battle.

I don’t believe in recapping what I think has been the best or worst but instead reflecting on the opportunities it has presented to date and the new people that I’ve met whilst focusing on what will be hopefully forthcoming in the future, pie related or otherwise.

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

Where: Keppoch Park, Glasgow Perthshire 1-2 Pollok, Central League Cup Semi Final

Price: Advertised at £1.50 the total bill of £3.20 for two pies and a bottle of water (advertised at 50p) would suggest that this pie was £1.35 which doesn’t seem right at all. For the sake of this piece let’s call it £1.50. Maybe I got it wrong.

Presentation: It always seems fitting to book end the start and end of the season with the ever classical medium-sized white napkin. It always does the job.

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Meatiness: This was a well filled pastry. The texture was good if maybe a little loose meaning that on a couple of occasions a bite was followed by a quick juggle on the bottom lip to ensure that the meat didn’t hit the grass bank beneath me. There was a light pepper kick to this pastry that didn’t have much linger to it and overall whilst there was a hint of meaty flavour it perhaps lacked a little punch overall.

Pastry: The pastry was crisp and had a nice golden tinge to it but as can be seen in the pictures had a few cracks in the side walls meaning the structural integrity of the pie was let down a litte. That aside though there was nothing wrong with it from a taste perspective.

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Brown Sauce: Missed the brand but came in one of the large squeezy bottles you would often see at food vans and cash & carry’s alike. Did the job.

Overall: Generous filling that perhaps needed a little bit more oomph.

Gravy Factor: Just a spoonful shy of the perfect  flavour and consistency.

So that’s it, another season in the books, but keep your eyes peeled on the site during the off season as my evolution to more football and food based content continues with the next two installments in my International Soccer Scran Series. I might throw a couple of World Cup things in there too.

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. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, The Football Pink and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part time Madrileno with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 136: The Fauldhouse United Steak Pie

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So here it is. What’s shaping up to be the penultimate pie review of the football season, a second offering from Fauldhouse United this time in the form of a Steak Pie.

One of the things I’ve always found a little confusing when eating my way through the pies of Scotland and beyond is the lack of advertisement at pie stalls about where they get their pastries from. It seems to me a fairly easy win for the supplier, a captive and very local audience, who after tasting your pie could decide that this is the only thing they want to have for their dinner until they their ultimate breath. Their problem, unless they pipe up and ask, they don’t know where it comes from.

To be fair this isn’t always the case, here at Fauldhouse there are Bell’s advertisements everywhere, Rossvale have McGhee’s as a main sponsor, Beith are supplied by Irvine’s and there’s a World Champion Certificate for Boghall Butchers at Bathgate Thistle. Pars seem to supply half of the Scottish Premiership whilst The Kandy Bar provide pies to a number of Ayrshire region teams. The Killie/Kilmarnock Pie made by Browning’s is perhaps the ultimate demonstration in how you can make your product synonymous with an entire genre.

The names above are some of the most recognised on the Scottish Butcher/Bakery scene and the impact that a strong association with a football team has cannot be underestimated. If you are a butcher or baker who supply a football club have a think about how you advertise that fact in the coming season. Advertising boards and programme inserts are great but for me that association comes best when you hand over your money or look down on your napkin. You know if your pies are great, so when they are why not shout about them.

For now though let’s continue with part two of my Fauldhouse adventure. So without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Park View (Take 2), Fauldhouse United 0-4 Tayport, East Premier League

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Price: £1.20. Perhaps a first since I have started this website (I’ve checked and I can’t see any evidence to the contrary) in that the price for the Steak Pie is exactly the same as the Scotch Pie. A Luxury Pie at a Scotch Pie price. What a time to be alive!

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Presentation: A medium-sized white napkin, replacing the gargantuan piece of kitchen roll that my earlier scotch pie had adorn it. More than capable of doing the job required of supporting my second pastry helping of the day.

Meatiness: Ach! I hate this, I want every pie I eat to be one of the best things I have ever had but unfortunately for this steak pie it just wasn’t to be. The filling reached about half way up the pie, meaning that it felt a bit stingey and to get a proper look inside I had to use my fingers to spread the pastry floor and ceiling apart. The filling was more gravy like in consistency with only one or two small to medium-sized chunks. It was alright but nothing more.

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Pastry: I could literally copy and paste the summary of the pastry from Pie 135: The Fauldhouse United Pie as the pastry shell was exactly the same in colour and construct but I’m going to be even lazier than that and ask you to follow this link instead.

Overall: Nothing terrible but nothing more than OK.

Gravy Factor: Meh, but with steak.

So there you have it, Fauldhouse United, a great wee club with a bit of room for improvement on the pie front. I’m writing this on a Saturday morning a couple fo hours before I head to Glasgow Perhtshire for what I think will be my last pie review of the season. From there I’ll move onto my International Soccer Scran Series before seeing what inspiration the World Cup brings.

However as always, 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. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, The Football Pink and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part time Madrileno with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 135: The Fauldhouse United Pie

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As promised the pie reviews are coming thick and fast with the first of two from the East in the form of this Scotch Pie review from Fauldhouse United. After Pollok’s game on Saturday was postponed due to some rather grim events in the Rutherglen area the preceeding evening a quick browse of the fixture list was required. With East Region junior football in just the teeny tiniest bit of turmoil I thought I’d take the opportunity to take in a fixture between two of the teams who have not made a move to leave the current junior set up.

Over the past few weeks there has been a lot of hyperbole around the phrase “there’s nothing quite like the juniors.” Events like the ones I encountered at Park View play in to that way of thinking.

The passing of a figure close to the club had brought his friends and family together under the main enclosure at Park View for a swig of Buckfast in his memory. The match itself was pre-faced by a minute’s silence and then a minutes applause. An act carried because “that’s how he wanted it, something a bit different.” Yes, it would be foolish to argue that Joe Punter at Ibrox, Pittodrie or Tynecastle would struggle to have arranged such a send off but to suggest that the same could not be achieved at Coldstream, Huntly or Dalbeattie seems just a little naive.

It’s a fascinating topic given the near radio silence by some of the biggest figures in the junior game, but I don’t want to get bogged down in the pros and cons of the Great Eastern Escape just now, that’s for another time, and another forum. No, for now, let’s focus on the positives and raise a glass to Fauldhouse and all the other clubs across the country, no matter what league they play in, who take their time to acknowledge their fans of the past, present and, judging by the children I saw running around in their tops at Park View, their future too.

So with that said, and without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Park View, Fauldhouse United 0-4 Tayport, East Premier League

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Price: £1.20, pretty much the pricing sweet spot for a junior pie.

Presentation: This pie came with a veritable blanket’s worth of paper towel. If you were so inclined you could turn your pie into a tiny trampolinist tossing your pastry gaily in the air performing all manner of twists, somersaults and flips.

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Meatiness: I’ve always believed that honesty is the best policy when doing these reviews and if I’m being honest this pie was a little underwhelming. The filling seemed a little bit tight in its volume and although there was a pepper kick the linger for me was a little too brief. The texture was OK but it’s not one that has lived long in the memory. All in all, it was just kind of there.

Pastry: The pastry had a flat top to it without the presence of a hole and the positioning on the pastry was a bit higgledy piggledy. The pastry was sturdy with a slight bread like taste to it. Did it secure hold the filling within? Yes. Did it have a nice golden tinge to it? Yes. Did it blow me away? Not really.

Brown Sauce: HP. Name brand brown sauce always squeaks out an extra brownie point or two.

Overall: My expectation is that the pies at Park View are provided by one of their main sponsors Bells. My suspicion is that these are the same pies that go to supermarkets throughout the country. If financially this makes sense for the sustainable running of the club then I can get on board with it. However as a guy who has tried pies across the country, produced by places both big and small, this pie was a little short of the mark.

Gravy Factor: Meh.

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, The Football Pink and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part time Madrileno with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

Pie 134: The Pollok Bridie

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Hello and welcome to the first of three quick fire pastry reviews over the coming days. This time out a taster from my home town club Pollok FC where I shun the pie for a bridie, something, that I should admit to right now, as not being my favourite combination of meat and pastry. The reason for this rapid review process is that over the summer period I’m working towards a slight shift in what the content of this site will include.

Firstly, don’t panic, the pie reviews will still be forthcoming but as the new grounds become sparser I wanted to take this opportunity to branch out a little and morph the site into a kind of football & food hybrid. In the past I have written fairly regularly about Scottish football but as I hope my International Soccer Scran Series (Benfica Club Portugalete) shows I’m keen to come at things with a new angle. With that in mind, this week I completed my first piece of non football food related writing in a long time with Russia 2018: 32 Reasons to Support Everyone! A Scottish supporter’s guide to ensuring that no matter who wins you too can claim a piece of that glory. It also features a player from today’s hosts so why not give it a read. For now though let’s get back to what brought you here in the first place.

Without much further ado, let’s rate some bridie!

Where: Pollok 6-0 Wishaw, Newlandsfield Park, Central League Cup 3rd Round

Price: £1.20, a few pence cheaper than the pie options at Newlandsfield, but given my lack of dinner at the time I would’ve paid twenty quid to prise the last hot food item available from the pastry seller’s cold, dead fingers.

Presentation: Simply presented on a medium-sized white napkin, perhaps something a little more substantial is required for a bridie, as in this instance the heat of the product mixed with the more porous nature of the bridie’s puff pastry meant that once I had finished eating my napkin, now adorned with a fine film of grease, it was no use for mopping my mouth.

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Meatiness: Unlike the more commonly known Cornish Pasty south of the border it will very rarely contain any form of potato or vegetable however there can be some onion present dependent on the whim of the butcher or baker. In this instance there was an onion flavour with a few translucent slivers visible to the eye. The flavour was distinctly of bridie and most importantly, the filling stacked up well against the puff pastry casing. This sounds simple but even at World Championships the meat to pastry ratio can be bafflingly low, and so for that, this bridie should be commended.

Pastry: Puff as opposed to short crust is the normal pastry of choice for a bridie. This adds a lovely flaky texture to a pastry along with a slightly softer lining that caresses the meat within but it does invariably end up with you crop dusting the terrace around your feet. This bridie was no different. That said the pastry was absolutely fine even if a few small shards got caught between my teeth.

Brown Sauce: Logistically condiments on a bridie are a nightmare. Unlike a pie there is no pastry wall to contain the sauce so this bridie was had bareback although my inclination is that if you can be bothered with watching for those drips it’s an action that shouldn’t be frowned upon.

Overall: Ordered a Bridie. Tasted like a Bridie. Not quite as good as a pie.

Gravy Factor: If you want a bridie this ain’t a bad example to have.

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, The Football Pink and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part time Madrileno with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.