“All about the football”: Taking a look at the women’s game in Scotland

ladies football pic 7

Edinburgh Caledonia celebrate scoring against Bonnyrigg Rose (Credit: SWF)

Women have long toiled to be recognised in the football world, but the tide is finally turning in their favour.

Women’s football has been around longer than you might expect. The first ever male international football match – Scotland versus England – was played in 1872. Only nine years later, the match was replicated, but only this time it was the women’s turn to play.

Between the two world wars, the Football Associations of Scotland and England banned the women’s game. The reasoning behind the ban is supposedly because the sport was considered ‘unfeminine.’ It’s enough to make your blood boil today, but such were the times. The tyrannical ban on the ladies’ sport forced teams underground as they sought out non-Scottish Football Association affiliated pitches to play on.

It wasn’t until between late 60s and early 70s that England and Scotland lifted their bans, reforming the inclusion of women into Football Associations.

Since then, ladies’ football has steadily grown in popularity and has started to gain more recognition in the mainstream media. The FA Women’s Super League (WSL) in England and The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in the US have garnered a great deal of recognition, attracting substantial financial backing from both advertising and endorsements as well as government funding.

In the WSL, many players are starting to rake in salaries reaching £60,000. The highest earner in women’s soccer, Alex Morgan, who plays for Portland Thorns in the NWSL, earns £1.9 million a year, including sponsorships and endorsements.

These figures are dwarfed, however, by the stratospheric incomes of male footballers even compared to the rates of standard workplace pay gaps, but it is still an enormous step in the right direction.

Scotland is still catching up with the rest of the world in fashioning a professional women’s football.

DSC_7252

(From left to right): Kim Dallas, Alba Losada, Sammy Hyett and Emma O’Sullivan ready for training (Credit: SWF)

Sammy Hyett is the founder, chairman and captain of Edinburgh Caledonia FC, a women’s football team in the South East Second Division of the Scottish Women’s Football League. She started practising when she was just four because there was no space left in gymnastics.

“It all started because there was available space,” Hyett says. “But, it became a bit of a novelty because there weren’t any other girls and when you were young nobody really minded if you were playing with the boys.”

The midfielder turned down a professional football scholarship in the US because she was expected to coach when she just wanted to play.

“I picked Heriot-Watt [University] because of the Hearts academy that’s there, I went along to the fresher’s football day and there were about 100 people there and I was the only girl.

“They obviously didn’t have a women’s football team then so they said I could come along and train, but I could be the best there and they still wouldn’t treat me the same. This was back in 2004, there weren’t options, I wasn’t going to get the same opportunities… so I started my own team.”

Hyett had a series of injuries after university, which stopped her from playing. She decided to build a women’s branch of the all-male Football Club of Edinburgh. Before long she took her team on a new path and formed Edinburgh Caledonia.

lfp 12

Edinburgh Caledonia FC (Credit: SWF)

Edinburgh Caledonia FC

“The SWFA have always said they want to be defined as the women’s section separate to the men,” Hyett explains.

“They’ve always seen it as a hurdle to cross, that they have to prove themselves to the men and there seems to be this stigma and we felt that about being with the guys’ club, so we left”

She adds: “I would’ve given anything to play professionally and I had the chance, my twin and I were offered to play for Ross County professionally, but we were offered a minimal amount a week to live off and we couldn’t because I had to work. That was the only opportunity in Scotland at the time.”

People like Hyett have laid the foundation for the new generation of talented female footballers to realise their talents and be recognised on the world stage.

Hyett says: “It’s always been about the football, I genuinely don’t know what I would do without a football at my feet.”

ladies football pic 5

Kim Dallas breezes past Dundee City player (Credit: SWF)

Edinburgh Caledonia has begun their season perfectly, currently sitting top of their division after two games, scoring 22 goals and conceding nil. Hyett and her squad are aiming for promotion to the SWFL 1 where they would be up against the likes of Celtic Academy and Rangers Development.

The Scottish Women’s National Football Team are also on a high. This season, they have been funded by the Scottish government for the first time which means the players have been able to train full-time as they prepare for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France this summer.

There, the women’s team of Scotland and England will face each other once again, 138 years after they first met on a pitch, but now in a very different world.

 

Making a console: Nintendo’s and Nintendon’ts

 

The Nintendo Switch is ready to reach the 2000 game threshold, but where does it go from there? 

It’s such a little piece of hardware, slightly bigger than a phone, smaller than most tablets but it packs a punch. It runs reasonably impressive games such as Zelda, Dark Souls and Fortnite without really any problems and the games library recently hit 1800 games… but there lies the problem.

While it might be impressive that such a compact, portable console can run intensive games, it’s no secret that Nintendo have never been one for keeping up with Joneses of the video game world. Sure, it’s impressive that the Switch can run a game originally released for the PS3 – but the PS3 was last generation, and graphics have moved on. The Switch, performance-wise at least, comes dead last in this console generation race.

4096px-Nintendo-Switch-wJoyCons-BlRd-Standing-FL

(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Developers make games for PC and with some minor alterations get them working on consoles. The PS4 and the Xbox One are about as powerful as mid market PCs. Modern games are built from the ground up to be extremely beautiful and technically impressive. Red Dead Redemption II for example takes up over 60GB of storage on the Xbox One. The Switch though? It only has 32GB of internal storage, meaning there isn’t even enough space on the hard-drive to store most modern games, never mind run them.

The Wii and the Wii U had the same problem. Developers just don’t want to make games for an awkward, under-powered console. Nintendo’s plan has always been to ignore this and instead make high quality games for their own console focusing on their own IPs that they hope will bring in both loyal fans and newcomers. This didn’t work.

For a while Nintendo was in a little bit of trouble. The Wii U just didn’t have enough high quality games to attract consumers to it, but the switch has found a rather clever solution.

Nintendo have opened the Switch to indie developers meaning anyone with some programming skills could make a game for the console. This has given The Nintendo library a much needed breath of fresh air. This turns the Switch’s weakness on their head. Under-powered becomes accessible and means anyone can develop for the console.

However: now the Switch market seems almost too accessible. Scrolling through new releases is like browsing the App Store, and the games there would be more at home on a mobile phone. This is a shame, as we know that the switch can do so much more.

The Switch is doing a lot right and has undoubtedly revolutionised gaming, and it’s great that it has a more expansive library than it predecessors. All Nintendo needs to make sure of is that it doesn’t over-correct. If it does, the Switch will have a bright future.

The 158-year-long battle for abortion rights in Northern Ireland

This year, as with years gone by, International Women’s Day is a chance for women in Northern Ireland to remind the world that reproductive rights are still not a given in all parts of the UK.

Women in Northern Ireland have severely limited access to abortion compared with the rest of the UK (Credit: Rachel Lee)

A lot has changed for women in the United Kingdom in the century since International Women’s Day was first established. The 20th century saw strides made in voting rights, access to contraception and equality in the workplace. For a contemporary issue, the official theme of International Women’s Day 2019 is “balance” – balance across boardrooms, media coverage, sports, and other less-than-progressive sections of society.

But for women in Northern Ireland, the most pressing issue of today is more fundamental – and one that has its roots all the way back in 1861.

It was in that year that the law governing access to abortion in Northern Ireland was passed and remarkably it still stands today, ostensibly unamended, 158 years later.

That’s why for many activists and human rights organisations the current battle over reproductive rights is what International Women’s Day (IWD) 2019 is all about.

“In Northern Ireland, we can’t talk about any other area feminism until people have the right to control their own bodies,” says Emma Campbell of Alliance For Choice, the largest pro-choice campaign group in Northern Ireland.

“The impact that has on the rest of your life – it’s economic, it’s mental health, it’s physical health, it’s about your family life and your job prospects. It kind of covers everything.”

These sentiments are shared by other activists who want to place the focus of IWD on reproductive rights.

“Whilst it’s fine to celebrate the gains made by women in the last 100 years, IWD has to be a protest against the massive oppression women still face in society today,” says Cerys Falvey, of the campaign group ROSA, a socialist party affiliated women’s group.

Northern Ireland is unique in Western Europe for having the tightest controls over abortion, behind even the Republic of Ireland which voted in favour of legalising abortion during the “Repeal the Eighth” campaign of May 2018.

The 1967 Abortion Act that governs access to abortions in the rest of the UK was never extended to Northern Ireland. Instead, there’s only the Offences Against the Person Act, which makes it illegal for any woman to cause herself to have an abortion, even in cases of rape or incest.

Punishment for violating the 1861 Act can include life imprisonment. This is prompting many campaigners, including the Labour MP Stella Creasy, to point out that it is theoretically possible in Northern Ireland for a rape victim who has an abortion to be given a harsher sentence than her rapist.

This has lead to a situation where women have to choose between having an abortion illegally, most commonly by taking pills bought online, or travelling to Scotland, England or Wales to seek out safe, legal abortions.

According to Amnesty International, an average of 28 women a week make the journey to mainland UK in order to terminate their pregnancies.

This statistic was used by campaigners in late February, when 28 women, including actors from the popular BBC series “Derry Girls”, delivered suitcases filled with petitions to Westminster calling for the relaxing of Northern Irish abortion laws.

Actors from the hit TV series “Derry Girls” were among the women who delivered Amnesty International’s petition to Westminster in February (Credit: Amnesty International)

“28 women shouldn’t be travelling to the rest of the UK a week. We really need people in England, Scotland and Wales to put pressure on their MPs because our MPs in parliament, half of them don’t sit and the other half are the DUP who don’t properly represent the wishes of even their own voters” Campbell says.

Northern Ireland has been without a functioning parliament for over two years, which some people say prevents any hope of reform as health is a devolved issue.

But in June 2018 the UK Supreme Court ruled that access to abortion for women was not only a health matter but a human rights matter as well, which would make Westminster responsible.

The UK’s Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley, who has been facing calls to resign all week has contradicted this verdict, however, and there is no sign yet that Theresa May’s government will tackle the issue. To many critics, this appears to be down to the Prime Minister’s need for the support of the anti-abortion Democratic Unionist Party to get through the Brexit process.

“Until the DUP formed an unholy coalition with the Tories many people in the rest of the UK didn’t even know who they were and how much they’re holding us back,” says Campbell.

“And honestly, I think if the Tories didn’t need the DUP for Brexit at the moment, then we probably already have had extension of the rights to Northern Ireland.”

It seems unlikely, given how desperately Theresa May needs the DUP’s support at the moment, that Westminster will legislate for the changes they are obliged to by the Supreme Court.

ROSA “Time 4 Equality” campaign makes a list of five demands including access to abortion for women in Northern Ireland (Credit: ROSA)

Groups like ROSA look to the tradition of protest action in helping bring about change. International Women’s Day itself was brought on 110 years ago by mass demonstration and socialist campaigns.

“It would be a mistake to think we will be granted bodily autonomy from the goodness of politicians hearts… but with the right kind of campaign I’m confident (these changes) could happen quite quickly,” Falvey says.

“But I’m not one for making predictions.”

Alliance For Change’s “I’m a Life” campaign has been launched in time for International Women’s Day 2019. 

The tattered legacy of Michael Jackson

Paul Sinclair, David Paul, Olivia Otigbah and Luka Kenyon discuss the controversial Michael Jackson documentary “Leaving Neverland”, which aired last night in the UK.

They discuss the allegations, what the film means for Jackson, and his legacy.

 

To watch the Leaving Neverland documentary, click here.

 

Michael_jackson_1992.jpg

(Credit: Casta03)

Degendering nursing

This International Women’s Day, nurses of every gender will be working to save lives, showing us how both men and women are vital to the world of nursing.

Many students have endured 12-hour shifts working behind a bar or serving stuck-up people at an exclusive event, but they get paid for it (even if it is a measly salary). However, few students have spent seemingly endless shifts caring for a stranger, for free.

Student nurses are, on a daily basis, exposed to the most intimate and private parts of a person, both physical and emotional – often before the end of their first year studying the degree. They face and overcome challenges every day that many will never even encounter in an entire lifetime.

It is no secret that nursing is one of the most tasking jobs a person could have, as they face working around dangerous diseases and are put under increased levels of pressure. Nurses often speak of the rewards and triumphs that come hand in hand with tragedies and hardships. Despite this, thousands of student nurses qualify every year as the future workforce of our NHS.

IMG_3805

Emma and Ian agree that male nurses can have a positive effect on both patients and staff (Credit: Emily Hewitt)

Emma and Ian are both in their final year at university and will soon qualify as nurses. Both feel they have a grounded understanding of what it is to be a nurse, saying that care and compassion are at the forefront of the job. Ian says: “Being open to the idea of holistic nursing” is important, where a nurse looks at a patient and sees a mind, body and soul and not merely another medical diagnosis.

Despite its reputation of requiring more strength – both physically and mentally – than other professions, nursing is ironically often considered to be a mainly female job (weren’t girls supposed to be weak and less strong than boys?). The number of male nurses in Scotland at a low, as they account for just 10% of the country’s nursing population. A report by NHS Scotland also found that these numbers have hardly increased in the last ten years. So, what is it like being a man entering a female-dominated profession? For Ian, his experiences has been mostly positive.

“The [worst things] that happens is that some females will request a female nurse for personal care, but I’ve not had that often. In the bank shifts I do just now, I’m caring for someone who hates males, but I’m okay to go and help with personal care because she knows who I am, and she knows what I’m like.

“Also, I have been working inwards with lots of elderly people, and they instantly ask, ‘are you gay?’, I always find that funny,” Ian adds.

Both Emma and Ian agree that bringing some testosterone into a ward is a positive thing. Not only could it help smooth down the occasional bumps amongst female counterparts when they disagree, many patients also enjoy hanging onto the arm of a man. Emma says:

“There was a time when I was looking after a man with dementia and he just wouldn’t listen to me at all, I don’t know if it was because I was a young woman. And there was an older male nurse that came along, and he listened to him and went with him instantly. So, I think that sometimes a male can be good for male patients, in getting through to them.”

Another issue nurses face in their profession is aggression from patients, and both Ian and Emma agree that having a man there could help people feel safer. Some may think this undermines the work of a female nurse, that women aren’t as equipped to handle the physical challenges that can present themselves. However, listening to their stories, it is clear that mixing it up in the gender department does not, in turn, decrease the hardships of being a student nurse

Some things, like Edinburgh’s stifling, rent prices, don’t discriminate based on gender. Ian and Emma both kept their part-time job while on placements, sometimes finishing a shift at the hospital and going straight into another shift.

Ian says: “When I was on my community placement in the summer, I worked 13 days in a row then had a day off, then repeated this for the month I had my placement, which was just too much.”

Emma and Ian may belong to different sexes, but their testaments of memories reveal that one’s ability to bond with a patient knows no boundaries.

Emma tells me: “Getting into nursing got me into community care job. I don’t do it anymore because I’ve got another job for now. There is a lady that I don’t care for now, but I still go and visit her. I just look out for her, to me that’s really positive, we get on really well, we’ve built a friendship through it.”

Ian has a similar  relationship with an elderly patient who he looked after on both of his placements.

“She doesn’t have the best memory and the second time, she had gone downhill a little bit. But she was fine and dandy back to her baseline, and I was the only person she could remember, which was quite nice. And she always asked the nurses if Ian could help her get ready.”

The start of this year has seen some improvements in young men applying to nursing jobs, but there’s still a long way to go. A little progress now, however, will hopefully mean a lot of progress in future.

For more articles on NHS staffing troubles, click here.

 

Podcast: Our favourite female characters

In this podcast, Liam Mackay, Bryce Arthur, Jade du Preez and Olivia Hill discuss their favourite favourite female characters in film.

You can also check out our movie and TV news round-up here!

Are single-sex schools still relevant?

Do single-sex schools still have a place in our society? (Credit: Luka Kenyon)

Whether single-sex schools still have a place in society today is a much contested issue.

It’s something I’ve thought about a lot since leaving the all-girls secondary school I attended for eight formative years of my life. There’s a valid argument that dividing pupils by gender is an antiquated idea, but I think the system still has merit today.

I honestly believe that I owe all of my self-confidence to being surrounded by kind, wonderful and phenomenally driven women.

Attending an all-girls school meant that I was not impacted by the gender stereotypes I may have been at a mixed school, as all activities and subjects were available to us without question.

I went to an all-girls school for eight years (Credit: Luka Kenyon)

I only realise now how important it was to have this ‘girl power’ rhetoric constantly reinforced. I felt more myself at 18, having been surrounded by the same girls since I was 11, than I perhaps do now after four years at university.

Some research has been done into the benefits of single-sex education, and in exam season there are often articles suggesting that single-sex schools perform better.

Grace Duncan, 21, who attended an all-girls school in London said, “I think going to a girls school made me more confident to follow my own path and helped me recognise that I’m no less competent than a man. It also gave me a strong circle of female friends that I know will weather any storm, because once you’ve survived eight years in an all-girls school together you can survive anything.”

In contrast, some girls feel cheated that they have missed out on a mixed education. Lucy Booth, who was in  a single-sex school from age five says, “I would have liked to experience what school was like with boys. I had problems with girls being cliquey at school and there was no one to go to about it. Girls schools are all about what the girls want and need which is good, but I think we need to learn to be with boys because leaving a girls school when you’ve been there since age five is terrifying.”

Maybe a middle ground needs to be found in single sex education as Rachel Fox, who went to an all-girls boarding school with an all-boys partner school, describes. She said, “We had a diamond structure to our school, where we were mixed for primary, separated for classes from S1 to S5 and then in classes together again in our last year. It was good because we were separated for the most important years when we needed to concentrate on our grades”.

I found my all-girls school a safe and positive environment, but this is not always the case. Major improvements need to be made to how single-sex schools handle their LGBT+ pupils. Single-sex schools will only remain relevant if they learn to handle gender identity appropriately.

Layla Moran MP introduced a bill to the House of Commons on Wednesday arguing that gender neutral school uniforms should be adopted by all schools, something that could definitely stop single-sex schools from gender stereotyping or excluding their LGBT+ pupils. Read more about the bill here.

1919 – 2019: A century of women’s success

In celebration of International Women’s Day, and to reflect on Women’s History Month, this timeline highlights ten major changes which have made the world a better place for women over the last century.

1921: Edith Wharton becomes the first woman to win Pulitzer Prize

Wharton’s novel The Age of Innocence examined the narrowness and bigotry of the upper class in turn-of-the-century New York. Wharton rewrote history as she became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for her novel. She followed this success by becoming the first woman to receive an honorary doctorate from Yale.

1932: Amelia Earhart flies solo across the Atlantic

Earhart became the first woman to fly non-stop across the Atlantic and is the only person since Charles Lindbergh to do so. In her famous red Lockheed Vega, she flew from Harbor Grace in Newfoundland, Canada and landed near Londonderry in Northern Ireland 15 hours later. Proving she was both a brave and capable pilot, Earhart became an overnight worldwide phenomenon.

Amelia Earhart in airplane

Amelia Earhart in airplane (Credit: Wikipedia)

 

1941: Women serve in the armed forces for the first time during World War II

As most British men were defending their country on foreign soil, the women back home took on a host of jobs traditionally done by men during the Second World War and many ended up in the armed forces. By 1943, there were over 640,000 women in the army which included The Women’s Royal Naval Service, the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force and the Auxiliary Territorial Service.

1955: Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a bus to a white man

When Parks, a black seamstress, refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama city bus in 1955, she set in motion a course of events that would change history. Through this spontaneous act, she sparked the civil right movement in the United States. Leaders of a local black community organised a bus boycott, which eventually lasted 381 days, on the same day Parks was charged with violating segregation laws.

Rosaparks

Rosa Parks (Credit: Wikipedia)

 

1963: Valentina Tereshkova becomes the first woman to fly to space

Tereshkova was a Soviet cosmonaut and was the first woman to travel into space in June 1963. During three days, she orbited the Earth a total of 48 times. It was her only trip to space and she later toured around the world to advocate for Soviet science. Inspiring women everywhere, she once said: “If women can be railroad workers in Russia, why can’t they fly in space?” Tereshkova still remains active in the space community.

A protrait of Valentina tereshkova

A protrait of Valentina Tereshkova (Credit: Wikipedia)

 

1979: The United Kingdom elects its first female Prime Minister

Margaret Thatcher was the first female Prime Minister in Britain and served from 1979 until 1990, making her the longest-serving British Prime Minister of the 20th century. However, Thatcher was a controversial figure, often criticised as she reduced the influence of trade unions, changed the terms of political debate, scaled black public benefits and privatised certain industries.

1988: Julie Hayward becomes the first woman to win a case under the amended Equal Pay Act

Hayward was a canteen cook in Liverpool whose work was valued less than her male colleagues and was paid less. Supported by the GMB union and the Equal Opportunities Commission, she took her case to the House of Lords and eventually claimed equal pay for work of equal value.

1994: The United States Congress passes the Violence Against Women Act

The Violence Against Women Act is a landmark piece of legislation brought in by Bill Clinton that expanded the juridical tools to provide protection to women who had suffered violent abuses. It improved criminal justice responses to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking in the United States, passing with an exceptional $1.6 million budget.

2010: Kathryn Bigelow becomes the first women to win an Oscar for Best Director

The 2008 film The Hurt Locker picked up a total of six Oscars in March 2010 as well as the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director. But it was the American director Bigelow winning an Oscar for Best Director for the film that made the headlines. She was the first woman to take home the award and triumphed over her ex-husband, James Cameron.

Screen Shot 2019-03-08 at 09.27.13

Kathryn Bigelow (Credit: Wikipedia)

 

2018: Corinne Hutton becomes first female quadruple amputee to climb Mount Kilimanjaro

At 48, Hutton completed her ascent of the highest free-standing mountain in the world and is believed to be the first quadruple amputee to do so. After losing both hands and feet to sepsis in 2013, she set up Scotland-based amputee charity Finding Your Feet to offer peer support to all amputees in all stages of their life. Through her climb, she raised nearly £40,000. Hutton became the first Scottish double hand transplant recipient at the start of 2019 and now has two hands.

 

Soundtracks in, symphonies out?

Wizards, witches and even muggles are invited to watch as the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) bring the music from Harry Potter to life.

The Music of Harry Potter, which will include the scores from all eight movies, will be bringing magic to Edinburgh’s Usher Hall on March 15th.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Music of Harry Potter will take place in the Usher Hall on March 15th (Credit: Kevin Rae)

Richard Kaufman, a Grammy award winning Hollywood conductor, will lead the orchestra in exploring John William’s music from the iconic franchise, including Hedwig’s Theme, Hogwarts Forever, and Nimbus 2000.

The audience will be left to imagine Hogwarts, though, as no movie footage will be screened. To encourage a more magical feel to the concert, people attending are encouraged to dress in their House robes or as their favourite character with prizes for the best dressed.

For more information on this event and to purchase tickets, click here.

However, this type of event – an orchestra playing scores of successful movies – is not new, and it’s a trend that doesn’t seem to be disappearing any time soon.

The Usher Hall will also be the setting for the RSNO’s The Music of John Williams and Back to the Future in Concert.

Recently, it was announced that the BBC’s Blue Planet 2 would be brought to the stage, following the success of the BAFTA award winning television series.

The 13 date tour will be accompanied by film sequences from the TV series, which began raising the public’s awareness of the fragility of the planet when the programme was first broadcast in 2001.

On the tour’s page, it states:

“The live concert adaptation is an extension of that striking visual and environmental narrative.”

But why has the orchestra, which was typically entertainment for the upper classes, started to play the soundtracks of much-loved movies?

In a sense, the ensemble might be adapting – or maybe evolving is a better word – to how music is created, listened to, and loved by the public today.

Over the past few years, movie soundtracks have become more of an indicator for how worthwhile the film will be. This might have been similar in the past, but iTunes and Spotify have made listening to scores simple. A quick download, and the soundtrack for Guardian of the Galaxy is on your mobile. A press of a button and Shazam has found your favourite song from The Breakfast ClubThe Greatest Showman soundtrack was so popular that it was released again, with chart-topping artists performing the songs. 

There is no denying it – soundtracks are strong right now, and that seems to have created an opening for the orchestra. But lifestyle-related issues could have also effected this change.

Songs most people listen to now are short – four or five minutes at the most. In comparisons to classical music, this is a minuscule length of time, especially as Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 goes on for over an hour. People do not have the time or patience now to listen to something that length, even if it is one of the most celebrated pieces in music history.

The cost of making the music, as well as how people relate to the music, might even factor into why soundtracks are in and symphonies are out – it appears to be yet another change society has gone through.

To see upcoming events at the Usher Hall, click here.

So long, Meadowbank

Meadowbank Stadium is home to many sporting moments etched forever in the minds of both athletes and spectators – including the 1986 Commonwealth Games. Understandably, there was a mixed reaction when the stadium closed its doors for the final time in 2017.

Some were happy to see the old, worn-down place go. After all, it’s set to be replaced by an all-new sporting facility in 2020. Others were left feeling dejected, nostalgically looking back at countless matches, competitions and general feel-good moments that took place in one of the city’s great sporting grounds.

2019 has seen demolition of the old stadium recently completed, as building work for the £45 million replacement is imminent. But there is one more thing that has been lost with the old place, one relic of Edinburgh’s artistic flair that hasn’t been at the forefront of the closure as much as its sporting accolades: the music.

Used as an occasional replacement for the nearby Usher Hall, Meadowbank was temporary home to a surprisingly elite list of musicians and groups known the world over. Scotland’s own Simple Minds headlined the 25,000 capacity space back in 1989, when the band were arguably at their peak, the same year they achieved their only UK number one “Belfast Child”.

Among a string of names to drop by the venue in the 90s was the legendary singer/enigma Prince, bringing his infectious grooves to the city in 1993. To think of Prince strutting his stuff just a stone’s throw from Easter Road today seems like a far-fetched fable, but strut he did. The gig was even presented in conjunction with Forth One. Prince on Forth One…wild.

The 2000s saw Meadowbank host the short-lived but critically-acclaimed T on the Fringe Festival, in which major acts would descend upon the sporting venue to perform as part of that year’s Fringe Festival. An impressive array of artists would grace the stage during those few years, including Muse, Foo Fighters, Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails.

11143173_10153974621498146_5699359805251581738_o

Idlewild, including Rod Jones (far right). (Credit: Mihaela Bodlovic)

Edinburgh’s own Idlewild opened for grunge pioneers Pixies at the old sports ground in 2005, sharing the bill with fellow Scots Teenage Fanclub. Idlewild guitarist Rod Jones reminisces about a magical moment, in which he got to share the stage with his heroes in his hometown:

“For us it was a really special moment, playing between two of our favourite bands in our hometown,” he muses. “I’ve always been a huge fan of both Pixies and Teenage Fanclub, and remember feeling fairly surreal – but excited – looking over to the side of the stage and seeing Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub) and Frank Black (The Pixies) watching us.

“I remember it being a pretty special night,” Rod continues, before mentioning another great bonus to playing a show in his hometown: “Always nice to be able to walk home from a gig!”

In recent years, the grounds have been used less and less frequently, with a 2016 Elton John concert marking the last time music would emanate from that breezy sports track. Gone, but certainly not forgotten, Meadowbank will hold a place in the hearts of many music fans who got to experience their favourite tune, their icon, or their bucket list band there.

Read more EN4 News coverage of Meadowbank here.

%d bloggers like this: