scotch pie

Pie 190: The Whitletts Victoria Onion Pie

Posted on Updated on

Welcome to the first new pie review of the roaring twenties, the roaring of course coming from the well stoked fires of pie hut ovens across the land as we continue on our quest for Pie 200. We’re back at Dam Park for a second review from the home of Whitletts Victoria where, on this afternoon, the home side who usually play in red and black played in blue and the away side, Darvel, who usually play in blue, played in red as the eccentricities of modern football showed no discrimination irrespective of the grade.

The first review from the Vics earned an honourable mention in The 2019 Meaties published on New Year’s Day where, as well as crowning Meat Filled Pastries best Non-Pie Pastry, Meatfree Pastry, Luxury Pie and Scotch Pie of 2019, the first ever Outstanding Achievement Award was issued so why not go take a look.

For now though let’s head back to the windswept terraces of South Ayrshire, and without much further ado, rate some pie!

Where: Dam Park, Whitletts Victoria 1-4 Darvel, West Region Championship

20191214_1342244146124288477029617.jpg

Price: Exactly the same as the Whitletts Victoria Scotch Pie coming in at a wholly reasonable £1.50.

Presentation: A rinse and repeat when compared with it’s scotch sibling, in fact, let’s just copy that same text “Presented on a large white napkin, ample for the pasty provided and for dabbing the lips.”

Meatiness: Much like the scotch offering this was a well filled pastry with a texture that was easy on the bite. There was a little peppery kick but to be honest if I hadn’t been called an onion pie by name I might not have known it at all. There was a couple of little slivers on inspection within but the sweetness that the onion usually brings to pastries of this nature wasn’t really there. It was tasty, just not quite what I was expecting.

Pastry: This pastry was well baked with a golden edge on the crust, the two steam holes that were the present the identifier that this should be an onion laced pastry. The bottom was sturdy and held the filling whilst the top was well sealed although not quite perfect in its presentation.

Brown Sauce: In a break from tradition when it comes to an onion pie I devoured this offering without going condimental. I reckon wee a blob or two of brown sauce wouldn’t have gone a miss though in retrospect.

Overall: Tasty enough but not very oniony.

Gravy Factor: A decent ladle full perhaps just missing that extra dimension.

It was a pretty decent double header from The Dam and I have high hopes that the 200 marker will come round in the not too distant future. What happens from there? Well we’ll have to wait and see as I have a couple of big changes coming up in my life soon that I suspect are going to take up quite a bit of my free time.

However until next time, and there’ll always be a 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 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.

The 2019 Meaties: The Meat Filled Pastries Awards

Posted on Updated on

Happy New Year! I wish you all a happy and adventure filled 2020. It’s the 1st of January 2020 and whilst this day signifies the start of a new decade for those that recognise that to be the case it also, more importantly, signifies the day that we find out the winners of the 2019 Meat Filled Pastries Awards, now dubbed The Meaties!

There are five categories this year, with the addition of a Meat Free Pastry Award as well as an award for Outstanding Achievement in the field of Matchday Pastries, given to a pie that year on year continues to deliver recognising the pastries that I can’t help but go back for.

the meaties.001

As always I preface these awards by saying that these are the opinions of Meat Filled Pastries and thus subjective and if I haven’t eaten it, then I can’t give it an award. The awards are given to those pies reviews reviewed for the first time in 2019 and if you’re thinking of one that you feel is better then get in touch and I’ll see what I can do for 2020.

For now though, let’s get straight into dishing out some pie-gh fives!

Best Non – Pie Pastry 2019: Pie 161: The Glenafton Athletic Sausage Roll

20190330_140520763092629979929188.jpg

In what was a fairly disappointing category this year it is perhaps fitting that a sausage roll that I suspect was thrown together at short notice by those who supply hot goods to Loch Park has risen to the top of the miscellaneous meat filled marvel pile. A generous wrap of golden pastry snuggled around a slab of well seasoned Lorne sausage. It was huge, it was good value and after much perusing of my year in pie it was the only candidate to win this first award.

I find myself wondering as I write whether or not this is a pastry you can even buy in the here and now.

Best Meat Free Pastry 2019: Pie 184: The Irvine Meadow XI Macaroni Pie

20191012_140723-1785177547354093162.jpg

A squat little pie that had a strong cheesy kick. Not only was the sauce delicious but the texture of the pasta was exactly what you would want from a macaroni pie, toothsome and intact meaning that with each bite you got a little pop as the air rushed through. The thing that made this pie stand out over the others was the moreishness to the bite, if the kiosk under the stand at Meadow Park hadn’t been the other side of the ground from where I was situated I may have gone and got another that day.

Honourable Mention

Pie 180: The SWNT Macaroni Pie (c/o Hibernian FC) – A well constructed and generous macaroni based pastry.

Best Luxury Pie 2019: Pie 177: The St. Johnstone Steak & Chorizo Pie

20190721_1509211716470108227344523.jpg

There was a lot of agonising over this one in what was an exceptionally strong and far reaching category in 2019. Eventually it came down to which first bite I remembered with the most clarity, the taste that still lingers in my mind and the review that seemed the most gushing in praise of the time, and so with those criterion in mind St. Johnstone are awarded the 2019 Best Luxury Pie Award. The gravy was luscious, the steak tore tenderly as I ate with an undertone of paprika provided by chorizo which itself added another texture. The pastry was golden and that day I also got an empire biscuit too. A worthy winner.

Honourable Mentions (There’s a Few)

Pie 182: The Forres Thistle Steak Pie – A huge pie packed with lots of steak and tasty gravy.

Pie 166: The Bohemian FC Chilli & Chorizo Pie – The first ever international entry into the Meat Filled Pastries Hall of Fame. The Irish side’s Chilli & Chorizo behemoth served with mash, peas and gravy was a rare pie treat from the League of Ireland.

Pie 173: The Linlithgow Rose Curry Pie – The finest curry pie to grace these pages, delicately spiced with chicken present in every bite.

Pie 185: The Port Glasgow Steak Pie – Whether you decide to use the wooden fork provided or not this generously proportioned steak pie has lots to love with a flaky golden top and layers of steak and gravy housed within.

Pie 165: The Clydebank Maryhill Breakfast Pie  Initially brought to my attention during the Bankies tenure at Lochburn Park if this award was to be dished out for concept alone it would be hard not to give it to this offering based in Glasgow’s West End. It might not have won this year but it is still a tremendous match day bite.

Best Scotch Pie 2019: Pie 171: The Kello Rovers Pie

20190525_133104(0)3827904469481530381.jpg

They say that controversy creates cash and for some this choice will prove to be somewhat controversial but for me in 2019 no scotch pie had me grabbing for more quite like this savoury little number from one of junior football’s most southerly outposts. Demolished in just a few bites this may not be a pie that fits into the most lauded of aesthetics with it’s misshapen casing and puddle of grease but it truly was a taste sensation.

Honourable Mentions

Pie 187: The Linlithgow Rose CFC Pie (c/o Linlithgow Rose) – Gentle with pepper and well textured, part of the excellent trio of pie options available at Prestonfield.

Pie 189: The Whittletts Victoria Pie – Packing a peppery punch this pie was well baked with a tasty filling and well complimented by a dod of Daddies Brown Sauce.

2019 Outstanding Acheivement in the field of Matchday Pastries: Pie 29: The Beith Chicken & Haggis Pie

img_oqmbwv-18824930337312654233.jpg

First reviewed five years ago now, there is no pie I look forward to more on a Pollok away day than the Beith Chicken & Haggis Pie. Chunks of chicken breast mixed with peppery haggis in a creamy well seasoned white sauce. The golden pastry egg washed and crimped on top lovingly finished with a piped swirl of mashed potato. Its year on year consistency making it a worthy winner of the first Outstanding Achievement Award.

So that’s it, the 2019 Meaties are over. What do you think? Do you disagree with any of the choices made? Where should I go next? What have been your pie-lights of 2019?

2020 will start as 2019 ended with a review from Whitletts Victoria as I look to close in on Pie 200 by taking on their Onion Pie, however until next time, go forth and have a smashing year as you maybe eat a pie or two!

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 189: The Whittlets Victoria Pie

Posted on Updated on

I hope everyone has had/is having a wonderful festive period, celebrating in whatever way leaves you with that warm and fuzzy feeling inside.

The Christmas and New Year tends to be a boom time for the fixture schedulers at the top end of the Scottish game with the games coming thick and fast ahead of a winter’s break in January. The lower leagues and non-leagues plough on through though, when weather allows of course, and it was a combination of that ability to plough through and a miserable Saturday afternoon that saw me forced to divert away from my original plan and head to Ayr to take in Whitletts Victoria v Darvel in the West Region Championship.

The wind and rain lashed across Dam Park for the near duration of the game with even the back of the large concrete stand providing little shelter and even some of the visiting substitutes decided it would be wiser to shelter under the steps in the terraces than shiver on the uncovered bench acting as dugout.

It’s a credit then to both sides that they managed to serve up an entertaining encounter with the visitors coming out 4-1 victors before heading to Dublin for their team Christmas night out later that day.

Days like these are when a tasty pie really comes into it’s own, but was it tasty? Well without much further ado let’s rate some pie!

Where: Dam Park, Whitletts Victoria 1-4 Darvel, West Region Championship

20191214_144914763820770150329953.jpg

Price: £1.50. I’ve said it a few times now but a quid and a half is excellent value for your matchday treat.

Presentation: Presented on a large white napkin, ample for the pasty provided and for dabbing the lips.

Meatiness: This was indeed a tasty treat. The pie was well filled with a distinct peppery linger throughout. A couple of people around me passed comment that they thought it was a bit strong but for me it was judged just right. It held well in the bite and had a little grease to ensure the filling was suitably moist.

Pastry: The top was crispy as were the sides and base. A very good bake with the shaping suitably round although the colour maybe was a little bit dull.

Brown Sauce: Daddies. The great pretender to the HP condiment crown, very much does the job.

Overall: Well baked, well filled with a nice peppery kick. Wonderful on a chilly winter’s day.

This is the first of a double header from the Vics with their Onion Pie next to come under the pie-croscope with the review preceded by the 2019 Meat Filled Pastries Awards which is always exciting. They’ll drop on New Year’s Day.

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 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 187: The Linlithgow Rose CFC Pie (c/o Linlithgow Rose)

Posted on Updated on

It’s been a wee while since I’ve written one of these, it’s not been intentional, but just a consequence of a busy end to the Scottish Women’s football season, one that reached a final spellbinding conclusion last Sunday. I write this review a week after what was perhaps, the greatest Scottish Women’s Cup Final in history, most certainly in my recordable life time, and the night before the end of season SWF Awards. If you’re here purely for the pastries you might want to skip the next couple of paragraphs, although I hope you don’t.

Women’s football has been pretty good to me over the last few months, I’d like to think as much as I’ve tried to be good to it. There have been times, especially since the end of this summer’s World Cup in France, where rest has been an under-utilised aspect of my life and on more than one occasion I’ve probably needed to stop and take a moment. Instead though I ploughed on and, as the ticker tape parade that echoed round Tynecastle with Glasgow City claiming a first Scottish Cup triumph since 2015 came to an end, I felt a strange sense of pride and belonging.

Football is magic, no matter the level, venue or gender of those involved, I’ve always felt this way about it. I still remember a t-shirt I would wear religiously when I was nothing but a bairn that had emblazoned across it, “Football is life, the rest is just a game.” Of course that’s not strictly true, but it can be hard to deny the transformative effect a healthy relationship with the beautiful game can have for some. I include myself in that number but it’s only in these last couple of months that I’ve felt that maybe my relationship could be something more than just turning up for every Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday…

As I took in my surroundings on Gorgie, as the last few fans got their cards and programmes signed by their heroes, some of the most accessible and generous people you will ever meet, both in victory and defeat, I suddenly realised just how tired I had been. I headed back to Glasgow, having one last convenience for dinner before completing a quick edit and heading to bed where I slept, for as long as the alarm set for the day job the following morning would allow, and then the next night I slept and then I slept again but as I headed to my slumber each evening I did so content, content that I took a chance and put myself out there and that people in turn took a chance on me. I have only really done this in full for one season, for some of those I’ve met over the campaign this has turned into their life’s work. I will never not be in awe of that and the manner in which they continue to tackle the hurdles they need to overcome.

I recently turned 34, and more than ever I’m acutely aware of my own neuroses but I also like to think I’m more comfortable with exactly who I am and football, in particular the women’s game, has helped me feel that way and I can tell you, that, that feels smashing.

Meat Filled Pastries has always played a part in this too, a constant when the well was running dry or the enthusiasm wained and so it will be nice, for a little while at least, to get back to writing about these meaty marvels, and so, without much further ado let’s rate some pie!

Where: Prestonfield, Linlithgow Rose CFC 0-2 Pollok, Scottish Junior Cup 3rd Round

Price: £1.50, a pie price point I think we can all get on board with.

Presentation: Classic presentation, handed over the counter on top of a medium-sized white napkin, exactly what you need.

Meatiness: This was delicious, which will not come as a surprise to anyone who has had the Curry Pie and/or the Steak & Haggis Pie at Linlithgow Rose, two standout pastries in their own right. The filling was moist with a texture that gave a little to the bite but still held itself well and was generously filled, seasoned to a tee with a light spicy linger as you ate. My disappointment that the two aforementioned were sold out was soon washed away by the flavours of this pie crashing over my taste buds.

Pastry: Well formed and round, the lid clearly having been pressed into the sides by the finger tips of its maker, a little cross on top to let the steam out. The pastry may have been perhaps a little thick for some but for me it’s sturdiness resulted in a very satisfying first bite.

Brown Sauce: HP, nothing to complain about with that as I adorned my pie with a swirl.

Overall: Linlithgow Rose have emerged over the last few months as a genuine contender as best matchday pastry provider around, with consistency of product and quality across the range being clear to see. This scotch pie is a very welcome addition to the Meat Filled Pastries scene.

Gravy Factor: Bangin’ Bisto.

A lovely return to the pie scene that, and a special mention to those involved with the Little Rosey Posey who really went all out for what would have been one of the biggest games in their short history in the junior game. There should have been a review from Firhill coming next but I’ve lost all my pictures and notes from that day so where next is as big a mystery to me as it will be to you, 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 186: The Port Glasgow Pie

Posted on Updated on

Hello pie pals and welcome to the second of two reviews from the Inverclyde Riviera. I shared a little of my experience from that game last time out in Pie 185: The Port Glasgow Steak Pie, so go check that out as I write this fresh off another round of Friday Night Junior football. I continue to believe that it is a concept that junior sides with the capability to make happen explore.

I am now just two weeks away from World Pie Championships Judging Day and so with that in mind I thought I’d share a short audio piece I did at this year’s awards dinner. It’s a bit rough around the edges but it still tells a good wee story and features some of the biggest names in the Scottish pie making world so why not check it out.

 

I’m also still smashing out the content over on Leading the Line, so if you enjoy women’s football or are keen to learn more than go have a look and give it a subscribe as the season hurtles towards its close.

For now though and without much further ado, let’s get back to the pastries with review number two from Parklea, let’s rate some pie!

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

img_20191025_231938_3496952542129853498307.jpg

Price: £1.50 is a fair price for a scotch pie in the world of junior football. No complaints here.

Presentation: It was presented on a single sheet of white kitchen roll, fairly standard. Weirdly though, as was the case with the steak pie where it made some sense, I was offered a fork, a first in seven seasons of pie consumption. I politely turned it down but if you enjoy a fork to consume a scotch pie on the terraces with then please get in touch.

Meatiness: This was a good scotch pie. It had a strong pepper kick, a sensation I hadn’t felt for a while in a pie, with a long spicy linger that provided a strangely warming effect on a cold October evening. It was well formed and safe to the bite. Well filled, well seasoned, tasty, spicy and just a little bit moreish.

Pastry: There was a slight chew to the pastry but overall it was a well baked shell which held the filing securely with the top edges of the rim golden and crispy and the base sturdy.

Overall: A very good scotch pie with a nice pepper kick.

Gravy Factor: Aaaaah, bisto.

So it was not only a double dunt review from Port Glasgow but it was also a double dunt of tasty pastries too. Next time I head east once again to Linlithgow, the home of many a tasty pastry, as Pollok face Linlithgow Rose CFC in the Scottish Junior Cup. 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

Posted on

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.

20190928_1444151221055371765255753.jpg

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

img_20190928_193838_9957065427298455986658.jpg

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.

20190928_1420567068480034184604541.jpg

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.

20190928_1422245837174832141987820.jpg

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.

 

20190928_1444151221055371765255753.jpg

Scottish Football Histories: Pie and Bovril

Posted on Updated on

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.