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NAME: Raydale Park
ADDRESS: Dominion Road, Gretna, Dumfriesshire, DG16 5AP
CAPACITY: Approx. 2,200.
CELTIC ALLOCATION: N/A - Gretna groundshare at Fir Park, Motherwell.
RECORD VICTORY: Gretna 0, Celtic 3, 23 March 2008.
RECORD DEFEAT: Gretna never beat Celtic.
BY CAR: From the M74, take junction 22 from the North or junction 23 from the South. Turn onto the B721 into Gretna. Cross Central Avenue and pass through a set of traffic lights, then take the 3rd left onto Dominion Road. The ground is on your right hand side.
BY BUS: Unknown.
BY TRAIN: The train station is about 15 minutes walk from the ground. Head for Gretna (not Gretna Green) and take the underpass into town.
PARKING: There is a car park at the ground.
WHAT TO EXPECT
No one to be in. The team no longer exists, having gone out of business. Another Gretna team now play in the East of Scotland league, but they cannot use Raydale Park and are currently sharing with Annandale. Prior to their demise, and with Raydale not up to SPL standards, Gretna had been groundsharing with Motherwell at Fir Park for season 2007/08.
Romance. Gretna is the home of the runaway wedding. Something to do with the laws in Scotland and England being different, English couples would run away, cross the border and get married in the first place they would find. In this case - Gretna Green. Add to that the whole fairytale story of Gretna Football Club and you have more romance than you can shake a stick at.
Gretna were founded in 1946. They started life in the Dumfries Juniors League, but quickly transferred their flag south of the border into the Carlisle and District League. Barring a single season in 1951-52 where they played in an ill-fated Cumberland League, they played in Carlisle and District until 1982.
In 1982, having won six titles in a row, they once more moved leagues. This time going into the newly formed Northern League Second Division. They were promoted to the First Division at the first attempt, and in between 1990 and 1992 they won back to back titles in that league, ensuring promotion to the First Division of the Northern Premier League. Don't worry, I struggle to understand the English League Pyramid naming conventions too!
This league would be their home until 2002. They attempted to return north of the border on two occasions - the first in 1993 when the Scottish League reformed into four divisions of ten teams. Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Ross County beat them on this occasion. When the SPL went to 12 teams and 2 new teams were required in 1999, they once again applied but again failed as Peterhead and Elgin City joined the SFL. However, on losing Airdrieonians in 2002 to closure, another space arose in the SFL and this time Gretna were successful.
In their third season in the SFL, Gretna won the Third Division title, breaking records along the way. Most goals, top goal scorer, highest points total... they all tumbled at the might of Gretna. The might coming from local businessman Brooks Mileson's money - something which allowed them to pay SPL wages at SFL level. In the following two season, Gretna would win the Second and First Division titles to catapult them into the SPL.
Gretna's league story is matched only by their Cup story. In both 1991-92 and 1993-94 they qualified for the FA Cup first round proper, giving them bragging rights for being the first Scottish team in the FA Cup since Queens Park in 1887. But it was their Scottish Cup run in 2005-06 which would see them get all the way to the final, losing out to Hearts on penalties. However, as a second division team, it was virtually unprecidented, and with Hearts in the Champions League they even made it into Europe... where they got gubbed by Derry City.
Unlike most fairytales, however, on reaching the SPL Gretna did not live happily ever after. 150 miles from their real home meant tiny attendances. Brooks Mileson's ill-health meant finanical problems. And in the end, Gretna not only got relegated straight back down again, but their crippling financial situation without their sugar daddy meant administration, points deduction and the threat of closure at the end of the season. Gretna FC resigned from the SFL on Tuesday 3 June 2008. A sad end to the fairytale, but ultimately a lesson for all the small clubs with big ambitions.
One interesting bit of trivia - Celtic played Gretna at three different locations in one season. Due to Motherwell's Fir Park fantastic ability to disintegrate when one team plays on it a season let alone two, Celtic's second away game to Gretna was played at Livingston's Almondvale Stadium, adding to the first game at Fir Park and the home game at Celtic Park. Three games, three venues. The only three games ever!
TIM FRIENDLY PUBS
Don't know - Celtic have never played at Raydale Park!
PUBS TO AVOID
Don't know - Rangers have never played at Raydale Park!
Latest page update: made by auldbhoy
, Sep 12 2008, 8:44 AM EDT
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