It is with a mixture of delight and apprehension that I greet the end of the Myreside experiment.
In the years of supporting Edinburgh, we’ve been through so many failed experiments.
On the plus side, we’ve had the joy of experiencing previously unexplored corners of the city. I eagerly await the “Former Edinburgh Grounds Walking Tour” show at this year’s Fringe!
It’s heart-warming to see the club finally listen to the idea of a “Mini-Murrayfield” option that has been getting suggested for years, particularly by the oft-ignored and long-suffering Supporters Club.
So what went wrong with Myreside?
For me it was hubris and a lack of willingness to listen to fans, until it was too late. By the time this season rolled round, a number of the issues had been solved, but with attendances never topping 4k this year, it certainly didn’t catch the imagination of fans locally. This despite a team that were (and are still) showing a huge improvement in form and becoming a joy to watch under Richard Cockerill’s guidance.
As an out of town Edinburgh fan, it genuinely beggars belief that you would move from a stadium with amazing public transport links and with plentiful parking to a school ground that has neither. When I e-mailed Edinburgh Rugby about this, I described this as “irresponsible”, a comment I stand by.
Like most cities, Edinburgh struggles with traffic congestion and parking issues. Moving one of the city’s biggest sports teams into a cramped residential area was never wise. It also meant a lot of travelling fans having to wearily give up on the team they supported unless they were on BBC Alba, as making kick-off on a Friday evening became an exercise in futility.
Some of the other problems with Myreside almost seem comically bad, especially when you consider how slick the match day experience is at BT Murrayfield on international days.
Having most of the food vans and bars situated before the ticket checks often resulted in a dextrous juggling of food, beer and tickets. Sure, that’s annoying on a wet Friday night, but if you can pull that off on the Royal Mile in August, tourists will throw money at you. The unlit, honking, Portaloos right next to one of the burger vans also acted as a more effective healthy eating message that any number of NHS campaigns.
However, the sight of fans in Wheelchairs getting soaked by run-off rainwater from the stands is the most embarrassed I’ve ever been as a supporter (yes, worse even that that season where we lost to everyone in our Heineken Cup Pool!). This was thankfully remedied in time for the next game but it’s the kind of thing that should have been anticipated in advance of the move.
If any good comes from this, it’s a hope that the club has learned lessons from this and put them to good use moving forward. We have a great team and a number of wonderful, passionate/demented fans.
I’m looking forward to returning to our Castle and enjoying the company of both.
by Phil Dyreside