You know who doesn’t get enough credit?
Lower League pie stall workers.
Welcome to another edition of Meat Filled Pastries as we get back on more familiar ground with a Scotch Pie from Clydebank FC, more of that in a moment, but first an open declaration of thanks to those men, woman and children who forego any desire to take up a hobby or actually watch a game of football and instead spend their Saturday afternoons helping to feed a few hundred or so hungry supporters come rain or shine.
Often these individuals are friends and family of club staff, roped in one day as a favour but can still be found standing there twenty years later, as integral to the fabric of a football club as the often more heralded kit men and groundskeepers. Without these soldiers, no tongues would be burnt on a roasting hot Bovril and no pie would be on offer to help soak up the hangover or temper the effect of a few away day beverages.
To say it was wet on the day of my visit would be an understatement. Despite two pairs of socks and an un-ripped pair of shoes my toes had turned to ice and the rain lashed in fits and starts against the hardy few unwilling or unable to fit under the small shelter on the far side of the ground. I was late, and the crowd was large, so on arrival I headed straight to the freight container doubling as a pie stall behind the main clubhouse to get a pie and some heat.
The queue was long and as I stared at the opening where the food and drink were being delivered I was surprised to see just one girl, no more than 16, valiantly dealing with the wet and hungry hoards. She was a whirr of activity juggling pies and teas whilst trying to re-stock a rapidly decreasing sweet and crisp section. Football fans can be brutal in these circumstances, but on this given Saturday, despite the wind and the rain, our heroine was treated with nothing but thanks and support from a group of people who realised they would never want to be the other side of that counter.
Clydebank Pie Lassie, I salute you and all your pie providing peers because without you this near 5 year journey of pie based nonsense may have ceased to continue. Thank you.
With my pie now safely in hand it was time to get down to some serious business, and so without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!
Where: Holm Park, Clydebank 0-1 Pollok, West Superleague Premier Division
Price: £1. A 12 sided bargain if ever there was one. You could buy 2.7 Clydebank Scotch Pies for the price of one (fairly awful) Queens Park Cheese & Onion Pie.
Presentation: Such was the demand for pies at Holm Park that when it came time for me to be presented with my pastry the white napkins were gone and had been replaced with a sheet of floral kitchen roll wrapped around the pie creating the effect of a meaty pass the parcel. There was only going to be one winner though in this game and that was me!
Meatiness: There was something a bit different about this scotch pie. The meat inside was in the form of a fairly solid block more akin to a burger than the more crumbly nature that ground mince usually provides. I’d also say the taste was more predominant in beef than any combination of the former with lamb or mutton. The block texture did mean the pie was filled very well and although the meat itself tasted both meaty and savoury it didn’t have the gentle pepper kick I so often crave. It was definitely worth eating, just not what I was expecting.
Pastry: My intrigue continued with the pastry, golden brown and very crisp but not burnt with almost a biscuit texture to it which did make the pastry come away in small shards as I chewed. It was certainly sturdy enough to hold the meaty goodness within, something that I was thankful for as I juggled the pie and my umbrella between my hands whilst trying to grab a bite.
Brown Sauce: HP. The best kind, although due to the rain far more copious an amount than I would usually aim for.
Overall: This pie did the job of filling the hole that a lack of breakfast provided but I have an inkling that the pie source may not be that of a butcher or baker. That said, in today’s football food climate a quid for a pie is nothing to be sniffed at.
Gravy Factor: Consistently Gravy.
So that’s another review in the books, and speaking of books, I have a genuine ambition to finally nail down something that marries this journey of pie with my adventures in the world of football. I have a couple of concepts down but they need some fine tuning and a heavy dose of planning on my part so we’ll see how that goes but until next time, go forth & eat pie!
Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, The Football Pink and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.