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With all the style of an American Football franchise, Meadowbank Thistle uprooted to Livingston, where a soccer side was reborn after two decades in the shadow of Hibs and Hearts. Alex Horsburgh charts the life and times of a club now at the top of their division.

At 4.05pm on ll November l995. Livingston FC came of age. Jason Young‘s goal the first at the 4000 capacity Almondvale stadium completed Livingston's transformation frorn Meadowbank Thistle. Edinburgh‘s third team. to the great white hopes of West Lothian. fit for the next century with a new ground and room for further development should Livvy become to Scotland what Wimbledon are to England: a former non-league club who rose to the heights of top division soccer with a script borrowed from Roy ()f’l'lie Rovers.

Recent claims by Celtic’s Fergus McCann that Scottish football should go through a sort of ethnic cleansing, with smaller clubs like Livingston being killed off, brought howls of protest and an invitation to the team‘s all-ticket encounter with Cowdenbeath from Livvy boss Jim Leishman. But accusations that the club doesn't merit its place in the League are nothing new.

Back in l97-l when. in their previous incarnation of Ferranti Thistle. they were elected to the Scottish League instead of any of the four Highland sides, claims of Central Scotland bias came from Highlanders who felt that Second Division clubs were too mean to take the road to lnverness and all points north. Ferranti didn't even have a ground at the time. as City Park in liast l’ilton was deemed unsuitable. so the former works side for the electronics firm went cap in hand to Edinburgh's

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Die-hard Meadowbank tans protest to Bill Hunter in 3 Burns cartoon from The Absolute Game (PO Box 303,

Commonwealth Stadium. signed a deal to play home matches there and changed their name to Meadowbank in the process.

in the early 80s. a move to Portobello was mooted, but the plan to transform the old local outdoor swirurning pool into a new purpose-built stadium never rnaterialised. When Bill Hunter sold his building firm and became full-time Chairman of h'lcadowbank, his master plan to reinvent the club on a new site after continuing apathy in the capital to the 'l‘histle cause met with an outcry from the vociferous few who had adopted the club as a sort of sub- culturefl‘his brand of idiosyncratic support established the ground-breaking fanzines Aim! and Cheers. and even l)J John Peel and keyboard wiz Rick Wakeman became celebrity Meadowbank fans (with l’eel memorably travelling to a game against Queen's Park at llarnpden in the supporters' bus).

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Eventually Chairman Hunter or Mr Blobby as he was known to his critics got his way. Goodbye Edinburgh. hello Livingston.

Club amalgamation has often been a hotbed of debate in Scottish football. but realistically there is as rmtch chance of a Lanarkshire United or single Dundee team as Scotland winning the World Cup. Such changes might scent like half—time pie in the sky now. but the Livingston blue print may well be used by smaller Scots clubs in the future. If at first you don't succeed. reinvent yourself. was Bill Hunter's presumption. and Livingston have shown that relocation is the way to boost your llagging public profile and support if you're at the fashionable end of Scottish football.

Livingslmr l”(' continue (1 strong fill) (it l/l(’ top of Division 3‘ wit/i (l /I()Iii(‘ game against Ross County on 2 l)(’('.

Ball control

As rugby’s greatest lull-back, Gavin Hastings rewrote the record books, so perhaps it’s no surprise that his own lite story has had to be revised accordingly. indeed, such have been his achievements since the original version oi High Balls And Happy Hours in 1994 that an updated edition was clearly essential. With the help oi Clem Thomas, three new chapters

Football tans are hoping that next summer’s Euro Finals will similarly provide Gary McAllister with the pertect postscript to his autobiography, Captain’s log. In the meantime, the Leeds and Scotland skipper charts his transtormation from Old Traitord reject to world-class midfielder. Hangers tans, incidently, should turn straight to page 151 tor

McAliister’s thoughts on a move to Ibrox. John Brown is a player who has been there tor a few years already, and in Blue Grit, ‘Bomber’ touches on


profiles a man whose lite and career were tragically cut short. Davie Cooper - Tribute To A legend includes contributions from some at football’s biggest names, but the highlight is the lavish illustration which captures torever Coop’s unique poise and

On a lighter note, Hot Playing For Celtic stars author David Bennie as Glasgow’s answer to Fever Pitch superian Hick Hornby. All the classic games are teatured from lisbon 1967 to this year’s Cup Final (well, almost)

Hibs were Britain's first European representatives in 1955 and, tour decades on, two newly published volumes celebrate Leith’s finest. The Easter Read Story by John Mackay outlines the club’s history and the evolution at its stadium, while Simon Pia's Sunshine 0n leith contains tascinating interviews with Hibees past and present. From the other side of the capital, Hearts In Art by Andrew

Hoggan otters detailed statistics on every Hearts player since the war, accompanied by some rather sketchy

but amidst the humour and sociological comment, Scotland’s sad decline irom Euro champs to Euro chumps is most acutely observed.

his most controversial and memorable moments through the Souness years and beyond.

Graham Clark’s second oiiering

portraits. (Lorin McDougall) All titles are published by Mainstrm, except The Easter Read Story (John Donald Publishers).

have been added, covering the Five Nations and World Cup campaigns and the traumatic move towards protessionalism.

78 The List l-l4 Dec 1995