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.
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.
Welcome to another edition of Meat Filled Pastries and my first foray into the Lowland League this season but before we get into that let’s talk about the Fringe. Edinburgh’s month-long festival of comedy, music, dance, arts, cinema etc. is not somewhere you would usually associate with the humble pie. I mean, there will almost certainly be a food stall or two offering you this meaty staple and the word pie itself is rife with the kind of innuendo that an easy joke is made for – I should know – but all in all, barring a rather grisly murder reference in the Shakespeare tragedy Titus Andronicus where two victims are baked into a pie, it isn’t necessarily renowned for its theatrical prowess. Enter The Pieman Cometh. A Scottish football comedy that I took a trip to see during the week.
It’s safe to say that I may have been one of the few people to fit into the middle part of their target audience Venn diagram, given my love for both football and pies, and if I didn’t know better then I would have thought this play had been wrote specifically with me in mind. Like most shows of which I have no prior knowledge of I went in with fairly low expectations but I am pleased to report this was actually pretty enjoyable. The story is an often told one around the pitfalls of football finance and for some it will be all to familiar. Although there was nothing overly ground-breaking the perspective and narrative were both good. Some of the characters especially the elderly fan were strong and in this instance particularly relatable. The jokes came round often enough to keep you going and although the ending felt a little abrupt I’d recommend it as a decent way to spend an hour in Edinburgh especially if you have a fondness for football.
Arts critique out the way let’s move on to some more familiar ground, and so without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!
Where: Broadwood Stadium, Cumbernauld Colts 3-2 Kelty Hearts, Lowland League
Price: A fairly substantial £2 for a scotch pie sees this pastry priced more at a Scottish Championship level. It’s also extremely prudent for me to mention that I had to wait until just before half time for my pastry which – given the Friday night kick off – was also doubling as my dinner. I also noticed that they ran out before the half time interval was over, always a bone of contention for football fans.
Presentation: Presented on a medium-sized, if perhaps a little thin, white napkin. Just enough to support the pastry during consumption and mop up your face afterwards.
Meatiness: On first appearances I had my suspicions about where this pie came from, but what my meat filled trails have always taught me is always to take each pie on its individual merits. This pie was pretty good. The meat was well textured and had a good hit of pepper on the after bite. It was also the first pie in a very long time that had a little greasy dribble fall down my fingers. Not necessarily a bad thing, and in some ways it was weirdly nice to see the fat almost instantly harden in the ever Siberian-esque Broadwood conditions. It was perhaps a little flat in terms of quantity when checking the ratios against the pastry but all in all was tasty enough.
Pastry: This pie had a perfectly smooth top and the trim had earned itself a nice golden colour in the oven. Both the lid and base though were perhaps a bit too thick and as a result were slightly under done and a little bit doughy to the bite. It was however incredibly sturdy and I had little fears about losing and filling to the cold stone terracing below.
Brown Sauce: Yes, the pictures don’t lie. There was no sauce options on offer here. I don’t think in over six years of reviewing pies this had ever happened before and I’d hope it doesn’t happen again.
Overall: This pie tasted pretty good but the pastry was a little thick and the lack of condiments and running out are both match day catering faux pas’. Having managed to get one though I was happy enough.
Gravy Factor: I missed my brown sauce.
So a decent pie with a few teething problems on review of the overall pastry eating experience. Next up a return to the juniors for the first day of the new West Premiership season and a review from Renfrew.
So 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 as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. He currently acts as Heart & Hand Podcast’s resident Iberian football expert. 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.
Hello pie fans and welcome to another edition of Meat Filled Pastries home to all your football scran needs from Scotland and beyond. For this week’s review I headed east to Kelty in the Kingdom of Fife to see how the newly promoted Lowland League side are shaping up and to also get a look at how the club has transformed itself over the last couple of years since it’s decision to leave the junior ranks and seek pastures new in the Scottish senior football set up. I cover that very topic in the next edition of The Football Pink (of course I’ll be punting that on you in the not too distant future) and so won’t dwell on it here but would like to take a few lines to share a couple of observations from my visit to New Central Park.
The first thing that strikes you is the – and I hate using this word in a football context – branding. You would have to be blind not to know that you were at the home of Kelty Hearts. Along with the name of the club and crest plastered on any free bit of space the ground itself is awash with support from local businesses. I go to a lot of lower league football and never has a ground looked more like a Mexican football shirt than the barriers and walls here. The final thing to notice, and you will notice it, is the construction of a new all-seater stand, replacing what was before a fairly small piece of covered terracing. The Kelty Hearts twitter feed shows the transformation in tweet form and the difference is clearly there to be seen. This is a team, that on the face of it, are going places.
Whilst I wish Kelty Hearts success on their new adventure, I of course am even more interested in is how good their pies are. So without much further ado, let’s rate some pies.
Where: New Central Park, Kelty Hearts 4-1 Brora Rangers, Friendly
Price: £1.50 for a scotch pie. This seems to have evolved into the pricing sweet spot for a top level non-league pie. Considering that in your local butcher these can retail from anywhere between 80p to a £1+ per pie it’s really not much to pay for a hot lunch.
Presentation: Going back to that branding for a second and the presence of a medium-sized napkin that was not white but maroon, just went to show the thought behind the Kelty project.
Meatiness: This pie was an interesting one. Focusing on the meat first and the initial taste was very good. A savoury hit of loosely textured meat with a subtlety of spicing that was all in all a very pleasant bite. As I continued to make my way through my 3pm lunchtime snack I noticed an ever growing build up of salt in each bite. At first the strength of this was fine – I’m OK with a generous flurry of salt usually – but the closer to the end of the pastry I got the more that slight hum turned into a crescendo that eventually drew most of the moisture out of my mouth leaving me to reach for a cold beverage. I’m almost certain that this wouldn’t have been the norm and more an over-zealous hand when making the filling. Sometimes you give a pie the benefit of the doubt, and on this occasion it seems the right thing to do as up until then we were on to a winner.
Pastry: The pastry was a lot darker than you would usually have on a scotch pie, not as a result of an overbake but of something else, that despite six seasons of doing this I am unsure of exactly what. It would be remiss of me not to mention that the pastry walls were lacking a little in structure almost splitting exactly into quarters meaning that a little juggling was required but it all tasted fairly good.
Brown Sauce: HP – best of gear.
Overall: Rein in the saltiness and sturdy up those walls and you have yourself a pretty decent wee pastry here.
Gravy Factor: Mibbe just a few granules too many.
So that’s the second review of the season in the bag. As every season goes by it becomes that little bit more difficult to find new pastries whilst also regularly following your own team especially when they become settled in a league so I’m toying with the idea of doing some re-visits of previously reviewed pies. Especially some of the earlier ones where the reviews were mere footnotes compared with some of the behemoths that now can occupy these pages. Hopefully though I can keep those new pies coming.
Until then though, 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 as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. He currently acts as Heart & Hand Podcast’s resident Spanish football expert. 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.