sectional league cup
The nights are drawing in and for midweek fixtures in particular I have noticed the returning requirement to layer up as Scotland settles into autumn. The change on the seasons also makes finding fixtures that little bit harder as most non league teams aren’t equipped with floodlights and so it’s a case of taking my opportunities when the time and my calendar allows me too, which brings us to Lesmahagow.
One of the joys of following non-league football is that there is always an interesting ground or two along the way. Lesmahagow’s Craighead Park is perhaps one of the oddest but also brilliant wee grounds I’ve visited. Hidden just off a main road the only real sign you’ll have that some football might be going on is the sight of some cars seemingly abandoned on some grass just off the main road. Once parked up you begin your descent following a winding path until the gap behind the trees opens up to the park below. Your journey to the terraces is not complete though as you then navigate your way down further via the rustic staircase or down the grass banks that sweep towards the pitch below. At the near side end there is the clubhouse, changing rooms and pie hut. The far side has a relatively large by junior standards enclosure, with high stepped terracing either side of it. The other side sees the dugouts and some gentler terracing along with a grass bank, and sort of car park, where you can watch the game from too. Perhaps the most intriguing feature is the far away end, a huge grass bank that disappears into the trees behind it, if you continued to walk up and past it who knows where it will take you.
There is a certain enchanted whimsy to Craighead Park that I think every football fan should experience but I have to encourage you to beware of those midges. I’m still sporting bite marks nearly two weeks later! The question now though is, should you also experience the Lesmahagow pie? Well, there’s only one way to find out, and so without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!
Where: Craighead Park: Lesmahagow 3-1 Petershill, Sectional League Cup Semi Final
Price: At £1.50 this pastry from the Lesmahagow Snack Shak is priced in line with the most common junior scotch pie price point.
Presentation: This pastry hit me straight from the oven so I was very happy to accept my pie presented on a double layer of medium sized white napkins protecting my porcelain skinned fingertips and palm from the inferno.
Meatiness: This pastry was generously filled with the meat touching nearly all the edges. The texture was quite firm and as a result the meat wasn’t quite as forgiving to the bite staying staunchly in it’s pastry case with not a drop moving until your bite announced it was time. There was a very gentle pepper kick to the meat, perhaps a little too gentle for me, but by no means was it anything bad.
Pastry: The kick off time had caught the pie stall staff off guard so there was a pre-ordering system on the go as the oven worked its magic. I suspect that this in part played into the pastry perhaps being a little soft on the bottom and the delivery speed required to catch up with demand meant it arrived a little crumpled. The pastry could have maybe done with getting that all important few minutes to rest after coming out of the oven just to crisp up a little further. Whilst it was soft it still held very well throughout consumption.
Brown Sauce: HP. After the Easthouses Lily experience is was good to be greeted with some condimental familiarity. It definitely helped to add an extra wee kick to this pastry.
Overall: Generous portion size with solid pastry. Perhaps a couple of cracks of pepper and spice shy for me but brown sauce can be added for that extra punch.
Gravy Factor: A good dollop of gravy.
I’m not done reviewing from Lesmahagow yet though because I now bring to you the first ever BONUS EMPIRE BISCUIT REVIEW!
That’s right there were cake type things on my visit, and so I shunned the usual Snickers or Mars and plumped for an Empire Biscuit. At £1 you got a lot of biscuit for your buck. The shortbread had the right texture so that it was soft and crumbly to the bite (as can be seen by some of the cracks in the picture below) with a thick layer of white icing on top that left you buzzing for hours. On top was a small jelly sweet, this is perfectly acceptable on top of an empire biscuit as is a cherry however I do draw then line at any kind of chocolate button/smarties kind of deal. That’s not right.
The only thing I’d change on this mammoth biscuit would be perhaps the jam content, as a slightly thicker layer in this sweet sandwich would really have smashed it out the park. Give me that over a chocolate bar any day though. More of that please folks!
Right that’s all for this time out. I’m hoping that something can be fitted in this week before I head to Sweden on Friday where I’ll be taking in IFK Gothenburg v IF Elfsborg and hopefully something a bit random too. What the Swedish trip does mean though is that the next edition in my International Soccer Scran Series is fast approaching, and it’s been a while since I have done one of those.
Until next time 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 and 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.
Me llamo Chris. Yo como empanadas.
Sorry folks, the book has had to go on hold for a couple of weeks whilst I power through some intensive Spanish lessons. I drop to one lesson a week next month and the book writing can gather pace once again. My main focus just now is drawing an upside down question mark successfully, something that I’m finding far more difficult to do than the actual Spanish itself!
Anyway you’re here for pastry not paella patter so without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!
Where: McKenna Park, St. Anthonys 0-4 Pollok, Sectional League Cup, Section 5
Price: At £1.50 this is at the top end of the junior scale, 50p more than the offerings from Cambuslang Rangers and Vale of Clyde we have already encountered this season. A loftier price is greeted with loftier expectations.
Presentation: Covering all the bases here this pie is presented on a polystyrene plate along with a fairly large white napkin. Whilst the plate will I’m sure appease those of a frailer disposition I felt it was superfluous when you consider the size of the napkin provided. A grumble for the sake of grumbing I think because as you will soon see I quite liked this pie.
Meatiness: The last time I visited McKenna Park (in those dark days where Meat Filled Pastries had yet to exist) I remember getting a pie and being slightly disheartened to see some empty boxes from a high street frozen food purveyor. The pie was serviceable but it was slightly disappointing to know that a baker somewhere may have had something better to offer. It was then to my great joy that the boxes were nowhere to be seen (disclaimer: if it turns out these are the same frozen pies I owe said frozen food retailer an apology). The meat was both sweet and spicy, the heat being provided by pepper along with something else that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Whilst I love a peppery kick, one too strong can leave an acrid dry taste in the back of your throat, something that this mystery ingredient helped to avoid with great aplomb. It was very well filled, held together well whilst I chewed through and was sufficiently moist. I had two, partly because I was hungover, but mainly because I really enjoyed this meaty treat.
Pastry: The pastry was golden and crisp. There was some boil out which may have put some people off however I enjoyed the wee squirts of mince that had poked through and been crisped up by the oven almost like the crispy edges on a freshly grilled lamb burger. It was a bit rough around the edges and the top wasn’t quite as secure as it could be, popping up as I ate but these are small niggles for a well-baked pastry.
Brown Sauce: HP. Squeezy bottle. Minimal mess. Maximum taste.
Overall: Tasty filling that was both spicy and sweet. Well cooked pastry and a dollop of HP, either this is the best mass-produced frozen pie ever or The Ants have upped their pastry game.
Gravy Factor: Great Gravy. The bar for the 2015/16 season has been set.
Next time out will be a review from the Renfrewshire hills as on offering from Neilston Juniors is on the cards.
But 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. 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.
Hi again! Did you think I’d forgot about these meat flavoured beauties? If you did, you’re probably of the macaroni pie quaffing variety and have no place here. I kid, obviously, as all pie’s are welcome here but let me rationalise why this pie blog has been a few extra days in the making. You see footballing pies have passed my lips on more than one occasion in the last week or so but a combination of work and a familiar looking fixture list meant that none of these pies have been new to the world of Meat Filled Pastries, finally on Sunday this changed.
So with the kind of abandon that will be outlawed at Qatar 2022 I headed to Glasgow’s west end for a new pie adventure. Lets Rate Some Pie!
Where: Lochburn Park (Home of Maryhill FC) Clydebank v Pollok, Euroscot Sectional League Cup Final
Price: £1.10, exactly half the price of the previously reviewed Hampden and Rangers Scotch Pies.
Presentation: Presented within a white napkin of sufficient size that a badger could snuggly hibernate in as the winter months draw closer without it’s wee toe sticking out the bottom. This thing was huge and for that I am always grateful.
Meatiness: A scotch pie rammed with muttony goodness from first bite to last in which the meat was incredibly well seasoned. The mince was coarse and importantly still had enough texture to give it a satisfying bite. I think the highest praise I can give this pie is the following antidote. So, after consuming said pie I needed to visit the little boys room (also known as a well drained concrete wall behind the main stand), after doing the required business I started heading back to where I was standing when I suddenly noticed that the peppery after taste was still very clearly present within my mouth. With that lingering taste this pie had now marked itself out as a top contender.
Pastry: The pastry was golden and cooked just to perfection, with a bite that required your teeth to break through but enough give that none of the mince inside was at risk of ending splatted on the concrete. The bake on the pastry was consistent and such was my satisfaction at my first one, I quickly purchased a second which again reached these same high standards of crispy perfection combining wonderfully again with the aforementioned meaty goodness.
Overall: This was a cracking pie, great texture and meaty flavour that managed to linger long after the last bite had been devoured. A pastry shell that managed to be both soft and crispy whilst the brown sauce provided was none other than HP, a cherry meatball on top of this pie flavoured cake.
Gravy Factor: The kind of gravy that you would make too much of deliberately so that after your dinner you could pour the remainder onto your plate and happily sook it all up with half a loaf of bread.