Sunday, October 4, 2009

Continuing our series of things you don't see at the football anymore in Scotland (and things you don't see very much)....

(11) The Old Fashioned Pie Hut:

Changes in the surroundings that we watch our football in are inevitable really. We had years of little or no change at grounds throughout the UK. I know it’s easy to wallow in nostalgia, as we have been doing in this series, but some things from days of old added character to grounds and were a part and parcel of your day out at the fitba.

One such thing was your trip to the pie hut for some nourishment and refreshment. There was something about going to a old wooden pie hut that was magical when you were a kid. Looking back though, paying a visit to a rickety, free standing wooden shed to buy some food just seems bizarre. Where were all the health and safety people back then? Probably best they weren’t looking into the contents of the pies mind you.

Old Bayview had the two pie huts on the terraces at one point, before we were left with the one solitary one at the home end. It was a great place to get your fare, as you could stand in line and watch all the action at the same time, so it didn’t matter at what point during the game you went to get your pie and Bovril, you weren’t going to miss anything apart from in the few seconds that you actually got served.

That’s how it should be. You shouldn’t have to disappear underneath a lego built stand and queue for 20 minutes to get something to keep the winter chills away, either missing the match or the half time banter in the process. I know I’ve blamed all seater stadiums for killing a lot of things in these articles, but they have had a big part to play.

With all seater stadiums come the all new, shiny, clean, health and safety approved but characterless “concessions”. All silver, with fancy big ovens that, depending on the ground, still manage to serve you either cold pies or ones that seem to contain some kind of volcanic filling. It also seems to give carte blanche to the caterers at grounds like Hampden to charge extortionate amounts for sub standard fare.

Of course with the new food stalls comes the new food. A pie and a bovril has been a staple diet of the football fan for decades. Not now though. Kids grow up more expecting a burger and chips at the football these days, all washed down with a small plastic glass of some no name, no taste cola. You know, the ones they just pour out of a bottle that cost about a quid and they charge you about 30p a cup for. Some people claim to have even tasted a mythical Kirky hot dog, but others just ridicule them about that idea.

If I was to think of certain things that only remind me of going to the football growing up. One would be the smell of deep heat and linament that you could smell if you were near the dressing rooms at the smaller grounds and the other would be those small, plastic cups of purple “cola” that were fully sealed and you and had to try and stick the smallest straw in the world into to it to drink it. It wasn’t Coke, but it did the job!

On the whole, the pies at football have got a lot better. The days of some non descript, pink looking meat that just oozed grease from the minute you bit into it have gone at most grounds, but sadly not all.

You still get some old fashioned pie huts at the older grounds and thank goodness for that. Some even still resemble just a wooden shed, like at Forfar, and thankfully you can still always get a pie (or a bridie).

At grounds like Stenhousemuir (and East Stirling before they moved), old met new with new fare such as pakoras being sold out of the old fashioned hut. I’m all for that. Things do need to change with the times and food at the football probably is one of them.

It’s just not the same if it’s not out of a hut though. Or is that just me?

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