Football

Pie 185: The Port Glasgow Steak Pie

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Ahoy my meat filled mateys, are we all ready to set sail on another voyage of pie. I’ve written nearly two hundred of these intros now, and I’ve just realised that this one – in linking sailor patter to the fact the team’s pie in question has the word “Port” in its name – is perhaps up there as being one of the most tenuous to date.

It had been a pretty full on week both work wise and in the world of Scottish women’s football and so I made the decision to take advantage of some Friday night junior football and head along the M8 to take in the Inverclyde Derby, the second of the season and the second to be played on a Friday night, a rare but increasing occurrence on the Scottish junior football scene. It’s something that I am very keen to see more of, especially in derby scenarios such as these, and there is no doubting the attendance at Parklea on what was a cold, but clear night, was considerably larger than it had been if it was competing with a full Saturday card. The atmosphere was good accompanies by a good media presence and with the return fixture earlier in the season being equally well received I hope to see more like this in the future.

Having dashed to the game straight from work, via home to pick up my car, I headed into the ground hoping to find a tasty pie or two to double as my dinner. But were they tasty? Well there’s only one way to find out, without much further ado let’s rate pie number one from the home of the Port.

Where: Parklea Stadium, Port Glasgow 1-0 Greenock Juniors, West Region League One

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Price: I was a little surprised at the £2.50 price point when told of the options available to me but on presentation of the pastry I felt like I was getting a decent amount of bang for my buck.

Presentation: This was very substantial indeed sitting within a large tin foil tray on top of  a single sheet of kitchen roll. The most interesting thing though, in a section of these reviews where I know things can be a bit samey, I was also given a little wooden fork. A utensil that I was initially sceptical of before being happy to receive.

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Meatiness: I initially tried to eat this pastry without using my new wooden companion, however after a couple of bites it became apparent that there’s a reason it was there. The steak was well chunked, tender to the bite and generous enough to ensure (as previously intimated) you felt like you were getting your money’s worth. The gravy was smooth with a consistency the right side of both runny and thick to ensure it wrapped round the steak without causing an early explosion which was a relief because this meat and sauce combined made for a very tasty bite.

Pastry: A puff pastry case here the top golden with a lovely flake to the layers with the underside meshing with the filling exactly as you would want it to. The bottom was a little underbaked, a common challenge of putting your pie in tinfoil but it was solid enough to be lifted out the case clean and it was baked well enough to add the desired contribution to the overall taste profile.

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Brown Sauce: Luxury pies mean no brown sauce. I don’t think it was needed here either.

Overall: Substantial with a golden flaky top, with well cooked and seasoned meat and gravy.

Gravy Factor: I’ll take a gravy boat-full please captain. (Sorry, not sorry.)

Strong start. This is the first of two reviews from this game and next up is the more traditional scotch pie, the bastion of the scottish football catering scene, 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 Scottish Women’s Football writer 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 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 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.

Pie 177: The St. Johnstone Steak & Chorizo Pie

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Look, I know. You’re reading that heading and screaming at me to avoid the pre-amble this week. You want to know more about this delectable sounding double meat masterpiece. Patience my friends, the words will be flowing shortly but for now I need to do another little bit of self-promotion. I mean, what’s the point of having your own website if you can’t do that?

So what is it? Well, I have a new podcast project via Leading the Line. Episode One dropped this Tuesday where I interviewed women’s football journalist and co-author of “The Making of the Women’s World Cup” Kieran Theivam.

The pod has been set up with two aims in mind. One, to promote women’s football, particularly in Scotland, interviewing those within the game and those that pass comment on it and two, use the pod to help people promote their own projects and passions, giving a platform to those who are fulfilling a long held creative football based dream or project.

There are already four pods in the bag at the time of writing and I’m hoping over time to see it grow and make things more interactive. The link to subscribe on iTunes is here and you can also access it via all the usual podcast channels including Soundcloud where it’s hosted. I hope you enjoy it, and if you do, find the time to drop a wee five star review saying so. At some point I’m sure I’ll find a way to get a pie themed interview in there too.

Shilling done let’s get into the meat of this week’s footballing matters as we head to Perth where St. Johnstone took on Ross County in the Betfred Cup Group Stages. So without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: McDiarmid Park, St. Johnstone 1-2 Ross County, Betfred Cup Group Stage

Price: This pie was the match day special and was billed at a slightly higher price point than the standard scotch and steak pies on offer. At £2.80 this was one of the more extravagantly priced pastries to be entered into the annuls of Meat Filled Pastries but as I was soon to discover, sometimes, you get what you pay for.

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Presentation: The pie was housed in a large tin foil case with a substantially sized white napkin present to prevent the palm from any potential burn. That said it was still absolutely roasting!

Meatiness: Oh my. This was a delight. I’m not sure where to start! First the gravy, fluid but still thick, wrapping itself around a melange of steak and toothsome chorizo cubes, with the flavours of meat marrying with undertones of paprika from the seasoning within this widely known Spanish sausage. The chorizo used wasn’t cooking chorizo though but instead the air dried ready to eat version. Not that was a bad thing, in fact it was somewhat of a masterstroke as it added wonderful texture in amongst the tender steak and luscious gravy occasionally popping with a little burst of chorizo flavour.

Pastry: It came out clean from the pastry, itself a cause for celebration, although I was deliberately gentle to ensure so. The sides were baked just enough to hold but did require a little juggling to ensure the filling stayed within and the top was smooth and golden. Tin foil cases and pies with moist fillings aren’t always a match made in heaven but credit the Saints and Yorke’s their suppliers as this held together adequately.

Brown Sauce: It would have been highly disappointing had I seen anyone splashing this pastry. Definitely not needed.

Overall: Tasty gravy, well textured proteins and good pastry made for a fiesta of flavours.

Gravy Factor: Super Salsa!

I’m glad I took my detour home to Glasgow via Perth as this was a wonderful treat. As a little bonus, and to round off a smashing match day feed, I had some pudding in the form of an Empire Biscuit. It was just the ticket although controversially adorned with a cherry as opposed to a jelly. So as well as your pie thoughts, let me know what goes on top of your dream Empire Biscuit?

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That’s it for this week so until next time, remember to support your local side, big up women’s football and of course 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 175: The Kelty Hearts Steak Pie

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Hello and welcome to the second review of the 2019/20 season as we head to Fife where Kelty Hearts hosted Penicuik Athletic in the final of a pre-season tournament held at New Central Park, home of The Maroon Machine. A venue that is beyond recognition from the side’s junior football days.

Along with the renovation works it’s been an eye-catching summer for the Fife side with the appointment of Barry Ferguson as manager soon being followed by a number of high profile signings. Whilst the capture of right back Gary Cennerazzo from league rivals Spartans may have gone under the radar the landing of Forfar Athletic duo Dylan Easton and Thomas O’Reilly, East Fife’s Scott Linton and Inverness Caledonian Thistle striker Nathan Austin certainly did not, with the latter scoring 11 times in 47 appearances for the Championship side last season.

It’s not just Kelty though that have been raising some eyebrows further up the pyramid. East Stirlingshire, who in 2017 became the first side to be relegated after a 42nd place finish, have added SPFL quality to their ranks as a result of some fresh investment. Nicky Low and Bobby Barr have both dropped out of the league to bolster The Shire midfield. Eddie Malone and Willie Dyer bring over 30 years of SPFL playing time to the defence whilst 38-year-old Peter MacDonald will feel he still has the ability to score goals for the Falkirk side.

East Kilbride, the current defending champions have added to an already talented squad with the coups of former Queen of the South goalkeeper Alan Martin and former Republic of Ireland international Darren O’Dea. The former Celtic and Dundee defender marrying coaching duties at Motherwell with a playing stint at K-Park. Spartans are always contenders, whilst it will also be interesting to see how East of Scotland champions Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic fair having finally been promoted following the installation of floodlights at their New Dundas Park home. If early season results are anything to go by then it looks like Berwick Rangers are going to struggle whilst the innovative BSC Glasgow and Edusport Academy along with Cumbernauld Colts all have ambitions to grow their organisations both on and off the field.

It makes for a fascinating Lowland League campaign ahead, especially when you consider that there is only one place available in the Pyramid Play-off Finals with the obtaining of that one spot no guarantee that promotion will follow. It would be hard not to have some reservations about the financial sustainability of some of the projects currently being undertaken, especially with such a small target for these clubs to aim for but as fans, especially at this level, you have to trust the process. There is also a competitive scene bubbling underneath the Lowland League and for the other sides yet to be mentioned there will be an awareness that relegation would not lead to an immediate return.

Kelty Hearts opponents Penicuik were one of the three East of Scotland Conference winners last season. They would lose out to the aforementioned Bonnyrigg Rose in the champions play-off round and whilst I remain sceptical that for a number of clubs in the East the junior defection was a step that they maybe didn’t need to make there is no arguing that it has freshened things up with the newly restructured Conference A looking particularly exciting this season.

One thing that I will of course be keeping an eye on is whether the quality of catering on offer at the game will go hand in hand with on-field improvements which brings us nicely round to this latest review, Pie 175: The Kelty Hearts Steak Pie.

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

Where: New Central Park, Kelty Hearts 4-0 Penicuik Athletic, Pre-Season Tournament Final

Price: £2. I’d say this is pushing the top end for a steak pie in a non-league context however as it didn’t break the £2 barrier I’m happy enough to accept the pricing here.

Presentation: Well this was a little bit different. The pie was taken from under the heating lamps and placed into one of those half paper/half plastic bags that you see in canteens across the land. Inside the bag was a small thin white napkin for post consumption mouth dabbing. Functional, if a little unusual.

Meatiness: This, I’m sorry to say, wasn’t great. I feel like I can’t give a true account of how this filling tasted due to how overdone it was. There was a mix of chunks and stew but everything was over-powered by the pastry (more of that in a moment). There was a little bit of boil out even that had been blackened and I’d found myself wondering as I ate whether this was leftovers from the previous days play. I’d undergone a two hour round trip for my lazy Sunday football fix, but there will be football fans that will go even further when supporting their team, and for them to be presented with this would be a bit of a disappointment.

Pastry: It was burnt, quite badly in places. The puff pastry layer on top in particular whilst on appearances looked acceptable was dry and once I finished eating I was glad for the relief of a can of fizzy pop.

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Brown Sauce: I think brown sauce would have helped a bit here, but as this was a luxury pie none was to be applied.

Overall: Pretty disappointing, the work that Kelty Hearts have done to transform New Central Park has been incredible over the last few years and I would say as a neutral the match day experience is definitely one of the best at the level whilst things are clearly moving in the right direction on the pitch. Sadly, in this instance though, the pies need a re-think.

Gravy Factor: Blackened gravy, there’s something good lurking in there but sadly somebody has taken their eye off of it.

Look, I hate being critical of pastries. I always try and spin a review in as positive light as possible, but at the same time I’m not going to lie and say every pie I have is awesome as I also believe that if you are asking people to part with their cash then you should be providing something that merits that investment, especially when the purchase of a pie is as habitual as going to the game itself for some people. Hopefully this was just a one off.

That’s it for this week, so until next time remember to support your local side, big up women’s football and of course, 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 he also currently acts as Heart & Hand Podcast’s resident Iberian football expert, hosting “The Isco Inferno” a weekly take on all things Spanish football. 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.