non league

Pie 196: The Caledonian Braves Pie

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Bonjour et bienvenue aux pâtisseries farcies à la viande.

After a little break due to a bustling schedule, a schedule that I will soon be pining after for a multitude of reasons, Meat Filled Pastries is back as we take another foray into the Lowland League heading to Bothwellhaugh, the home of Caledonian Braves, one of the most intriguing clubs in Scottish non-league football.

Formed in 2011 the club were re-anointed as the Caledonian Braves following a spell as Edusport Academy and there remains a distinctly gallic feel to matchday proceedings with both the pie hit and the sole turnstile run by French students from the academy. Their cross channel influence is not the only driver of curiosity though as their approach to fandom is one that also raises eyebrows, especially to died in the wool traditionalists.

The super-abbreviated version of events is that in 2018 they implemented an online membership scheme called Our Football Club, changing their name and switching focus from a traditional matchday fanbase towards a far reaching global community where participants have the option, for a fee to help shape the clubs future. If it’s more depth you seek then I would recommend clicking here.

How it works long term remains to be seen. As an unbiased observer and somebody who has seen similar plans fail to fully ignite at other clubs in the past, the ambition to ascend the Scottish football pyramid and reach the Premiership is admirable but seems a stretch in their current guise.

I wish them well, I have no reason not to, and at time of writing they remain comfortably situated in the middle of the fifth tier, a level of positional sustainability that should be commended given the continuous clashing of non-league football’s teutonic plates in Scotland.

But how are the pies? Well, with hands well and truly frozen, I headed back out the ground and into the hospitality room/pie hut and got ready to chow down.

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

Where: Alliance Park, Caledonian Braves 2-3 Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic, Lowland League

Price: At £2, this is at the very top end for a non-league scotch pie, but you can always live with a little extra further down the pyramid, as long as the pastry matches up to it.

Presentation: You can maybe just see the plate keeking out under the large white napkin but if you can’t I can assure you there was one there. A bit superfluous in my opinion as the napkin was plenty, and when I went back for a second I politely said, “no, merci” to a paper platter.

Meatiness: This was a decent little pie. It was perhaps a little cool to the touch but it was well filled and had a gentle pepper kick, one that may have been more prominent if the pastry had a bit more heat. It held together well and all in all was a tasty enough bite.

Pastry: Well baked with a nice golden tinge to the edges. The top may be viewed as a little pale for some, and it definitely had a slight biscuity edge to it, but overall it did its primary role of containing the filling with minimal fuss.

Brown Sauce: If the pie was a little cool, the sauce was practically icy, with outdoor conditions playing a part for sure. One for those deviants who believe that condiments belong the fridge. Spicy enough though for a non-brand offering.

Overall: A solid if unspectacular effort from Alliance Park. I wouldn’t hesitate to have another should I manage to successfully take the right exit at the roundabout next time I’m in North Lanarkshire.

I’ve been sitting on this review for a while, for no other reason that I have been really busy with the women’s season kicking off just as the men’s one was getting to the best time of the season.

I write this now as I face the fact that I am soon set to find myself with an abundance of free time. Football has very much turned into my life and livelihood, something that an 8-year-old me would be marking the fuck out for, but just now it’s a case of battening down the hatches and making it to the other side.

Stay safe, look after one another, and if you ever feel yourself missing your football fix then remember there is a 196 pie reviews right here at your fingertips.

However until next time, and WE WILL get to Pie 200, 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.